Purpose of the Church Pt2 Teach Sound Doctrine

Is it enough to “just believe in Jesus” in some structureless sense that separates “faith” from any particular doctrine about Him, or is doctrine—and the content of our faith—really important after all?

Scripture plainly teaches that we must be sound in the faith—which is to say that doctrine does matter.
1 Timothy 4:6(ESV)6 If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed.

 2 Timothy 4:2-3(ESV)2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,

Titus 1:9(ESV)9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

Titus 2:1(ESV)But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.

Sound Doctrine matters a lot.

1 Timothy 6:3-4(ESV)3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions.

The purpose of the church is to teach and preach sound doctrine while protecting the flock from wolves and false teachers. The Bible is clear that we are not to treat wolves in the same way that we treat sheep. The great Protestant Reformer Martin Luther said it well: “With the wolves you cannot be too severe; with the weak sheep you cannot be too gentle”. Luther also said, A preacher must not only feed the sheep so as to instruct them how they are to be good Christians, but he must also keep the wolves from attacking the sheep and leading them astray with false doctrine and error;

Sound, biblical doctrine is a necessary aspect of true wisdom and authentic faith. The attitude that scorns doctrine while elevating feelings or blind trust cannot legitimately be called faith at all, even if it masquerades as Christianity.

God holds us accountable for what we believe as well as how we think about the truth He has revealed. All Scripture testifies to the fact that God wants us to know and understand the truth. He wants us to be wise. His will is that we use our minds. We are supposed to think, meditate, and above all, to be discerning.

The content of our faith is crucial. Sincerity is not sufficient.Paul charges Titus, Titus 2:1 (ESV)“You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine”. Such a mandate makes it obvious that sound doctrine is important. But why is it important? Does it really make a difference what we believe? If I were to ask you what you think is the largest problem facing the church in America, what would your response be?

“A lack of biblical discernment. The church basically suffers from spiritual AIDS. It could die of a thousand heresies because its immune system is so totally deficient” John MacArthur

Discernment = In its simplest definition, discernment is nothing more than the ability to decide between truth and error, right and wrong. Discernment is the process of making careful distinctions in our thinking about truth. In other words, the ability to think with discernment is synonymous with an ability to think biblically.

1 Thessalonians 5:21-22(ESV) teaches that it is the responsibility of every Christian to be discerning: 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil. The apostle John issues a similar warning when he says, 1 John 4:1(ESV)Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. According to the New Testament, discernment is not optional for the believer-it is required.

Here are a few reasons the church is in the crisis it is in.

1The rise of extreme tolerance – The church is reluctant to take a definitive stand on any issue.

2A refusal to shun the world – The church is preoccupied with image and influence.

3A failure to interpret Scripture accurately.

4A lack of spiritual maturity.

Many men get told stuff for going too far but no one says anything about those cowards that do not go far enough. We need pastors that will teach and preach sound doctrine not tickle and entertain the ears of people. The Word is a sword and the sword is to cut not to entertain.

Sound doctrine is important because our faith is based on a specific message. The overall teaching of the church contains many elements, but the primary message is explicitly defined: 1 Corinthians 15:3-4(ESV)For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,. This good news is not open for interpretation, and it is “of first importance.” Change that message, and the basis of faith shifts from Christ to something else. Over time the methods may change bit the message must stay in tact. Our eternal destiny depends upon hearing “the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation” Ephesians 1:3(ESV)Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,; Romans 5:8-9(ESV)but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 

To proclaim the truth and to support the truth through Scripture and reason, this is the greatest need of the church.” John MacArthur

“There are too many ballpark interpreters and preachers. The theological atmosphere of evangelicalism is saturated with a dense fog of uncertainty and misplaced emphases in handling the Word of God. Many churches are on the rocks because of careless hermeneutics, ignorance of biblical languages and unsystematic theology. Rough estimates as to what this or that passage means will not do. We need qualified preachers and teachers who will take the time and make the necessary sacrifices to do their homework well and bring clarity to the minds of God’s people as they read and study God’s holy Word.”

The biggest problem facing the church is lack of discernment. If you can’t discern the truth you can die of a thousand heresies. It’s just like spiritual AIDS. A deficient immune system leaves you susceptible to dying at the hands of a thousand illnesses.

Along with the responsibility to teach, preach, and instruct, part of the responsibility of ministry is to reprove, rebuke and exhort
2 Timothy 4:2(ESV)preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.; Titus 1:9(ESV)He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. And in that vein, it needs to be said that a massive part of Christianity lacks discernment.

As shepherds we must teach and preach sound doctrine and show people how to have spiritual discernment. You must know what you believe, why you believe and be able to give a defense on it.
1 Peter 3:15(ESV)5 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
Titus 1:15-16(ESV) To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work. Knowledge of what the gospel teaches about various subjects is the preventative vaccine that enables the believer to resist false teaching. Truly embracing this vaccine produces not merely head knowledge of the gospel, but good works that flow out genuine saving faith.

Sound doctrine is important because the gospel is a sacred trust, and we dare not tamper with God’s communication to the world. Our duty is to deliver the message, not to change it. Jude conveys an urgency in guarding the trust:
Jude 1:3(ESV)Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. Philippians 1:27(ESV)27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, To “contend” carries the idea of strenuously fighting for something, to give it everything you’ve got. The Bible includes a warning neither to add to nor subtract from God’s Word
Revelation 22:18-19(ESV)18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. Rather than alter the apostles’ doctrine, we receive what has been passed down to us and keep it “as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus”
2 Timothy 1:13(ESV)13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

Sound doctrine is important because what we believe affects what we do. Behavior is an extension of theology, and there is a direct correlation between what we think and how we act. For example, two people stand on top of a bridge; one believes he can fly, and the other believes he cannot fly. Their next actions will be quite dissimilar. In the same way, a man who believes that there is no such thing as right and wrong will naturally behave differently from a man who believes in well-defined moral standards. In one of the Bible’s lists of sins, things like rebellion, murder, lying, and slave trading are mentioned. The list concludes with “whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine”
1 Timothy 1:9-10(ESV)understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, In other words, true teaching promotes righteousness but sin flourishes where “the sound doctrine” is opposed.

Sound doctrine is important because we must ascertain truth in a world of falsehood. 1 John 4:1(ESV)“Many false prophets have gone out into the world”. There are tares among the wheat and wolves among the flock

Matthew 13:25(ESV)25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.
Acts 20:29(ESV)
29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; The best way to distinguish truth from falsehood is to know what the truth is.
Many times when those who stand firm in God’s Word as truth and call out false teachers they are told they have a critical or judgmental spirit, it is because we have stepped on the tender toes of a false teacher that is teaching the opposite of what biblical Christianity teaches. We are told that they are humble people with good hearts, and we need to stop bashing them. We are also told that we are false teachers because we are creating disunity in the Body of Christ, first off if they are a false teacher then they are wolves and not part of the Body, secondly we (true teachers) can back up what we say in scripture in context, we do not cherry pick and take scriptures out of context to make our doctrines.

May I suggest that these well-meaning scolders and followers of false doctrines  are possibly venting at the wrong people? The real dividers in the Church can be found throughout scripture.
Romans 16:17-18(HCSB)17 Now I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause dissensions and obstacles contrary to the doctrine you have learned. Avoid them, 18 for such people do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites.They deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting with smooth talk and flattering words.

Some will say we need to be in “unity” yes we will be in unity with those teacheras and churches that teach sound doctrine, not doctrines that will send people to hell.

Sound doctrine is important because the end of sound doctrine is life.
1 Timothy 4:16(ESV)16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. Conversely, the end of unsound doctrine is destruction.
Jude 1:4(ESV)For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Changing God’s message of grace is a “godless” thing to do, and the condemnation for such a deed is severe. Preaching another gospel (“which is really no gospel at all”) carries an anathema: “let him be eternally condemned!” Galatians 1:6-9(ESV)I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

Sound doctrine is important because it encourages believers. A love of God’s Word brings “great peace” Psalm 119:165(ESV)Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble. and those “who proclaim peace . . . who proclaim salvation” are truly “beautiful”
Isaiah 52:7(ESV)How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”. A pastor “must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” Titus 1:9(ESV)He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it..

The word of wisdom is Proverbs 22:28, (ESV) Do not move the ancient landmark that your fathers have set. If we can apply this to sound doctrine, the lesson is that we must preserve it intact. May we never stray from “the simplicity that is in Christ” 2 Corinthians 11:3(ESV)But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

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Spiritual Warfare Pt7 Helmet of Salvation

Ephesians 6:17(ESV)17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, This instructs us to put on the whole armor of God and to “take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” When a soldier suited up for battle, the helmet was the last piece of armor to go on. It was the final act of readiness in preparation for combat. A helmet was vital for survival, protecting the brain, the command station for the rest of the body. If the head was badly damaged, the rest of the armor would be of little use.

The assurance of salvation is our impenetrable defense against anything the enemy throws at us. Jesus said, Matthew 10:28(ESV) And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. The idea in this verse is that, as we prepare for Satan’s attacks, we must grab that helmet and buckle it on tightly. Salvation is not limited to a one-time act of the past or even a future hope. God’s salvation is an ongoing, eternal state that His children enjoy in the present. It is daily protection and deliverance from our sin nature and Satan’s schemes.

The fifth piece of God’s armor is represented by the Roman soldier’s helmet, without which he would never enter battle. Some of the helmets were made of thick leather covered with metal plates, and others were of heavy molded or beaten metal. They usually had cheek pieces to protect the face.

The purpose of the helmet, of course, was to protect the head from injury, particularly from the dangerous broadsword commonly used in the warfare of that day. That was not the much smaller sword mentioned later in this verse, but was a large two–handed, double–edged sword.

The fact that the helmet is related to salvation indicates that Satan’s blows are directed at the believer’s security and assurance in Christ. The two dangerous edges of Satan’s spiritual broadsword are discouragement and doubt. To discourage us he points to our failures, our sins, our unresolved problems, our poor health, or to whatever else seems negative in our lives in order to make us lose confidence in the love and care of our heavenly Father.

Since Paul is addressing believers, putting on the helmet of salvation cannot refer to receiving Christ as Savior. The only ones who can take up any piece of God’s armor, and the only ones who are involved in this supernatural struggle against Satan and his demon forces, are those who are already saved.

Trusting in Jesus Christ, immediately saves from the penalty of sin. For believers, this first aspect of salvation, which is justification, is past. It was accomplished the moment we trusted in Christ, and that particular act of faith need never be repeated, because we are secure in our Father’s hands—from whom, as we have just seen, we can never be snatched. John 10:28–29(ESV)28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. We are forever saved from condemnation. Romans 8:1(ESV)There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

When people come to know Christ as their Savior, they are brought into a relationship with God that guarantees their eternal security. Jude 24-25 (HCSB) Now to Him who is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless and with great joy, 25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time, now and forever. Amen.

God’s power is able to keep the believer from falling. It is up to Him, not us, to present us before His glorious presence. Our eternal security is a result of God keeping us, not us maintaining our own salvation. Because if we had to “MAINTAIN” our Salvation then it would be a works based salvation, not a grace based salvation.

The Lord Jesus Christ proclaimed, John 10:27-29(ESV) 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. Both Jesus and the Father have us firmly grasped in their hand. Who could possibly separate us from the grip of both the Father and the Son? Jesus tells us that he gives eternal life to the sheep, the Christians.  He clearly and definitely states that they shall never perish.  There is no qualifier here.  There is no statement such as, “they shall never perish if they remain faithful.”  There is only the clear declaration that they shall never perish.  This inability to perish is a result of the Lord Jesus giving them eternal life. Furthermore, Jesus says that no one shall snatch them out of his hand, which further emphasizes the idea that those who have eternal life will never perish.  But, can we snatch ourselves out of Jesus’ hand?  No, we can’t because the term “no one” includes the person who is saved.  Therefore, you cannot snatch yourself out of Christ’s hand.

There are opponents to this position that would state elsewhere in Scripture such declarations exist that teach we can lose our salvation.

Ephesians 4:30 (HCSB) And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by Him for the day of redemption. tells us that believers are “sealed for the day of redemption.” If believers did not have eternal security, the sealing could not truly be unto the day of redemption, but only to the day of sinning, apostasy, or disbelief. John 3:15-16 (HCSB) so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life.16 “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. This tells us that whoever believes in Jesus Christ will “have eternal life.” If a person were to be promised eternal life, but then have it taken away, it was never “eternal” to begin with. If eternal security is not true, the promises of eternal life in the Bible would be in error.

What sin is so big that Jesus’ death could not atone for it? There is none that I know of. Every sin that man can commit against God and man, even the most heinous was dealt with at the cross of Calvary. If this is so, then what sin can be so bad that it would cause God to “unforgive” that which He has already paid for?

Our eternal security is based on God’s love for those whom He has redeemed. Our eternal security is purchased by Christ, promised by the Father, and sealed by the Holy Spirit. Those who were indwelt by the Holy Spirit will war with their sin and not seek to abide in it.  Those who declare that they are eternally secure and then go out and sin on purpose in any manner they so choose are probably not saved to begin with since this is contradictory to what Scripture teaches.  1 John 2:4-5 (HCSB) The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” yet doesn’t keep His commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly in him the love of God is perfected. This is how we know we are in Him:

The second aspect of salvation, which is sanctification, involves our life on earth, during which time we experience a measure of freedom from the dominating power of sin. Being now under God’s grace, sin no longer has mastery or dominion over us; we are no longer sin’s slave but God’s slave.
Romans 6:14(ESV)14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. Romans 6:22(ESV)22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.

Paul shows these first two aspects of salvation side by side in the previous chapter of Romans 5:10(ESV)10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. Christ’s death saved us once and for all from sin’s penalty, and His life within us now is saving us day to day from sin’s power and mastery.

The third aspect of salvation is future, the aspect of glorification, when we shall one day be saved altogether and forever from sin’s presence. Looking forward to that glorious time, John says, 1 John 3:2(ESV)2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. To be like God is to be without sin. We rejoice that this aspect of our salvation “is nearer than when we believed” Romans 13:11(ESV)11 Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.

It is this final aspect of salvation that is the real strength of the believer’s helmet. If we lose hope in the future promise of salvation, there can be no security in the present. This, no doubt, is why Paul calls this same piece of armor “the helmet” which is “the hope of salvation” (1 Thessalonians 5:8(ESV)8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.. “Having the first fruits of the Spirit,” Paul explains in Romans 8:23–24(ESV)23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?
The helmet of salvation is that great hope of final salvation that gives us confidence and assurance that our present struggle with Satan will not last forever and we will be victorious in the end. We know the battle is only for this life, and even a long earthly life is no more than a split second compared to eternity with our Lord in heaven. We are not in a race we can lose. We have no purgatory to face, no uncertain hope that our own continued efforts or those of our loved ones and friends will perhaps some day finally make us acceptable to God. We know that whom God called He predestined,
Romans 8:28-30(ESV)28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. There is not the loss of a single soul from predestination to justification to sanctification to glorification. That is God’s unbroken and unbreakable chain of salvation (cf. John 6:39–40(ESV)39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”;
John 10:27–30(ESV)27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

The blood of Jesus saves every and exactly everyone He wanted it to save and those that it was meant to save, not one less and not one more.

Notice it says “My Sheep” not the goats, not the wolves, but the sheep. Not everyone who sits in the church and claims to know Jesus is a sheep.

We have a certain hope, “a living hope,” as Peter calls it. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” he exults in his first epistle,
1 Peter 1:3–5(ESV)3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. That is the salvation which is our helmet. Our helmet is the certain prospect of heaven, our ultimate salvation, which “we have as an anchor of the soul” Hebrews 6:19(ESV)19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,

To the worldly, fleshly Corinthians who were self–centered, divisive, and confused about the resurrection, Paul said,1 Corinthians 15:32(ESV)32 What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” If the Christian has no future element of salvation to look forward to, if, as the apostle had said a few verses earlier, 1 Corinthians 15:19(ESV)19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. Paul’s own spiritual helmet was his firm hope in the completion of his salvation.
2 Corinthians 4:17–18(ESV)17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. The faithful believer does not “lose heart in doing good,” because he knows that “in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary” (Gal. 6:9).

To the persecuted and under attack Christians to whom he wrote, Jude gave sobering warnings about false teachers, Jude 4(ESV)4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. But he began the letter by addressing believers as Jude 1(ESV)Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for[b] Jesus Christ. Tereo (the verb behind “kept”) means to guard, keep watch over, and protect. God Himself guards, watches over, and protects every person who belongs to Him. Jude ended the letter by assuring believers that He keeps you from stumbling.
Jude 24(ESV)24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy,

1 Thessalonians 5:23(ESV)23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The word behind “keep” in this verse is not tereo, as in verse 1, but phulasso, which has the basic idea of securing in the midst of an attack. No matter what our spiritual enemies may throw against us, we are secured by God’s own power.

Because of the power of the cross, our enemy no longer has any hold on us,He knows that, but he also knows that most of God’s children do not know that—or, at least, they do not live as if they know. We must learn to keep our helmets buckled so that his fiery missiles do not lodge in our thoughts and set us on fire.

There are several actions a believer can take to keep this helmet fastened and functioning:

1. Renew our minds. Our minds are battlefields. The outcomes of those battles determine the course of our lives. Romans 12:2(ESV)2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. instructs us to renew our minds by allowing the truth of God’s Word to wipe out anything contrary to it. Old ideas, opinions, and worldviews must be replaced. We must allow God’s truth to continually wash away the world’s filth, lies, and confusion from our minds and adopt God’s perspective.

2. Reject doubts that arise from circumstances. Human beings are sensory creatures. What we cannot fathom with our five senses, we tend to disregard. If we allow them to, circumstances may convince us that God does not really love us or that His Word is not true. It is impossible to have faith and doubt at the same time. God rewards our faith. With the helmet of salvation firmly in place, we can choose to believe what appears impossible.

3. Keep an eternal perspective. When life crashes in around us, we must remember to look up. Our salvation is the most precious gift we have received. Keeping our eyes on that can help us weather life’s storms. We can choose to live our lives by the motto “If it doesn’t have eternal significance, it’s not important” Matthew 6:20(ESV)20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

4. Remember that victory is already accomplished. When we consider ourselves “dead to sin but alive to God” Romans 6:11-14(ESV)11 So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires. 13 And do not offer any parts of it to sin as weapons for unrighteousness. But as those who are alive from the dead, offer yourselves to God, and all the parts of yourselves to God as weapons for righteousness. 14 For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under law but under grace., we eliminate many of the opportunities Satan uses to entrap us. When choosing sin is no longer an option for us because we recognize ourselves to be “new creatures”
2 Corinthians 5:17(ESV)17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come., we effectively cut off many avenues of failure.

5. Find all our hope in Him. Psalm 73:25(ESV)25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. Our helmet is most effective when we treasure what it represents. The salvation Jesus purchased for us cannot share the place of importance in our hearts with earthly things. When pleasing the Lord is our supreme delight, we eliminate many of Satan’s lures and render his evil suggestions powerless.

As we wear the helmet of salvation every day, our minds become more insulated against the suggestions, desires, and traps the enemy lays for us. We choose to guard our minds from excessive worldly influence and instead think on things that honor Christ Philippians 4:8(ESV)Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. In doing so, we wear our salvation as a protective helmet that will “guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7; cf. Isaiah 26:3; 1 Peter 1:5).

How to Identify False Teachers

Titus 1:10-16(HCSB)10 For there are also many rebellious people, full of empty talk and deception, especially those from Judaism. 11 It is necessary to silence them; they overthrow whole households by teaching what they shouldn’t in order to get money dishonestly. 12 One of their very own prophets said, Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.13 This testimony is true. So, rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith 14 and may not pay attention to Jewish myths and the commands of men who reject the truth.15 To the pure, everything is pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; in fact, both their mind and conscience are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny Him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, and disqualified for any good work. This passage shows us how to deal with false teachers. But before noting what that passage tells us, it is important to note that in

Titus 1:5-9(HCSB)The reason I left you in Crete was to set right what was left undone and, as I directed you, to appoint elders in every town: one who is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful[a] children not accused of wildness or rebellion. For an overseer, as God’s administrator, must be blameless, not arrogant, not hot-tempered, not addicted to wine, not a bully, not greedy for money, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, righteous, holy, self-controlled, holding to the faithful message as taught, so that he will be able both to encourage with sound teaching and to refute those who contradict it. This provides us with qualifications for elders. Within the context of Titus, then, the necessity of biblically qualified elders is in part rooted in the need to deal with false teaching.

Having established that, in Titus 1:10-16 Paul identifies three ways that gospel-centered churches handle false teaching:

1. Gospel-Centered Churches Recognize False Teaching/Teachers
Titus 1:10-13(HCSB)
10 For there are also many rebellious people, full of empty talk and deception, especially those from Judaism. 11 It is necessary to silence them; they overthrow whole households by teaching what they shouldn’t in order to get money dishonestly. 12 One of their very own prophets said, Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.13 This testimony is true. So, rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith

When doctors are in medical school, part of their training involves diagnosing illnesses by the symptoms that present themselves. In the same way, Paul provides us with some diagnostic tools to recognize false teaching. He instructs us to observe their character (insubordinate, empty talkers, deceivers, etc.), their tactics (upsetting whole families, playing to the culture), and their motivation (shameful gain).

2. Gospel-Centered Churches Rebuke False Teaching/Teachers 

Titus 1:13-14(HCSB)13 This testimony is true. So, rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith 14 and may not pay attention to Jewish myths and the commands of men who reject the truth.

When Paul says “Rebuke them sharply” he uses a play on words with the false teachers’ promotion of circumcision. In effect Paul says something like, “Use the sharp knife of correction with those who wield the dull blade of circumcision.” Paul is not advocating legal action, nor is he promoting a witch hunt. But false teaching is so dangerous that it requires corrective action. The goal of that corrective action is “so that they may be sound in the faith” (1:13). The word translated “sound” can also mean healthy. True spiritual health comes from the gospel, not false teaching.

3. Gospel-Centered Churches Resist False Teaching/Teachers (Titus 1:15-16)

Knowledge of what the gospel teaches about various subjects is the preventative vaccine that enables the believer to resist false teaching. Truly embracing this vaccine produces not merely head knowledge of the gospel, but good works that flow out genuine saving faith.

Regardless of whether you are an elder or not, every believer is responsible for being so familiar with the true gospel that false teaching is immediately obvious. The gospel is the only way that we can be made pure, because it points us to the only one who is truly pure-Jesus Christ.

Jesus warned us that “false Christs and false prophets” will come and will attempt to deceive even God’s elect.
Matthew 24:23-25(HCSB)23 “If anyone tells you then, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Over here!’ do not believe it! 24 False messiahs[a] and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 Take note: I have told you in advance.
2 Peter 3:3(HCSB)First, be aware of this: Scoffers will come in the last days to scoff, living according to their own desires,

Jude 17-18(HCSB)17 But you, dear friends, remember what was predicted by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; 18 they told you, “In the end time there will be scoffers walking according to their own ungodly desires.”

The best way to guard yourself against falsehood and false teachers is to know the truth. To spot a counterfeit, study the real thing. 2 Timothy 2:15(HCSB15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth. Any believer who “correctly handles the word of truth” and who makes a careful study of the Bible can identify false doctrine. For example, a believer who has read the activities of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in will immediately question any doctrine that denies the Trinity. Matthew 3:16-17(HCSB)16 After Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on Him. 17 And there came a voice from heaven: This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him! Therefore, step one is to study the Bible and judge all teaching by what the Scripture says.

Jesus said “a tree is recognized by its fruit” Matthew 12:33(HCSB)33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. When looking for “fruit,” here are three specific tests to apply to any teacher to determine the accuracy of his or her teaching:

1) What does this teacher say about Jesus? In Matthew 16:15-16(HCSB)15 “But you,” He asked them, “who do you say that I am?”16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!”, and for this answer Peter is called “blessed.” In 2 John 9(HCSB)Anyone who does not remain in Christ’s teaching but goes beyond it, does not have God. The one who remains in that teaching, this one has both the Father and the Son. In other words, Jesus Christ and His work of redemption is of utmost importance; beware of anyone who denies that Jesus is equal with God, who downplays Jesus’ sacrificial death, or who rejects Jesus’ humanity.
1 John 2:22(HCSB)22 Who is the liar, if not the one who denies that Jesus is the Messiah? This one is the antichrist: the one who denies the Father and the Son.

2) Does this teacher preach the gospel? The gospel is defined as the good news concerning Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, according to the Scriptures

1 Corinthians 15:1-4(HCSB)Now brothers, I want to clarify[a] for you the gospel I proclaimed to you; you received it and have taken your stand on it. You are also saved by it, if you hold to the message I proclaimed to you—unless you believed for no purpose. For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

As nice as they sound, the statements “God loves you,” “God wants us to feed the hungry,” and “God wants you to be wealthy” are not the complete message of the gospel. As Paul warns in Galatians 1:7, not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are troubling you and want to change the good news about the Messiah. No one, not even a great preacher, has the right to change the message that God gave us. Galatians 1:9(HCSB)As we have said before, I now say again: If anyone preaches to you a gospel contrary to what you received, a curse be on him!

3) Does this teacher exhibit character qualities that glorify the Lord? Speaking of false teachers, Jude 11(HCSB)11 Woe to them! For they have traveled in the way of Cain, have abandoned themselves to the error of Balaam for profit, and have perished in Korah’s rebellion. In other words, a false teacher can be known by his pride (Cain’s rejection of God’s plan), greed (Balaam’s prophesying for money), and rebellion (Korah’s promotion of himself over Moses). Jesus said to beware of such people and that we would know them by their fruits.
Matthew 7:15-20(HCSB)15 “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves. 16 You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So you’ll recognize them by their fruit. 

For further study, review those books of the Bible that were written specifically to combat false teaching within the church: Galatians, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, and Jude. It is often difficult to spot a false teacher/false prophet. Satan masquerades as an angel of light and his ministers masquerade as servants of righteousness
2 Corinthians 11:14-15(HCSB)14 And no wonder! For Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.15 So it is no great thing if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their destiny will be according to their works. Only by being thoroughly familiar with the truth will we be able to recognize a counterfeit.

How would you recognize counterfeit/False Christianity?

In 2 Peter 1 we read about genuine believers. And in 2 Peter 2 we read about counterfeit believers. If you put these chapters side by side you will see the difference between authentic and counterfeit believers.

1. Different Source—Where does the message come from?

Peter says,2 Peter 1:16(HCSB) For we did not follow cleverly contrived myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; instead, we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. And then he says the false teachers exploit you “with stories they have made up”

2 Peter 2:3(HCSB)They will exploit you in their greed with deceptive words. Their condemnation, pronounced long ago, is not idle, and their destruction does not sleep.. So the true teacher sources what he says from the Bible. The false teacher relies on his own creativity. He makes up his own message.

2. Different Message—What is the substance of the message?

For the true teacher, Jesus Christ is central. 2 Peter 1:3(HCSB)His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. For the false teacher, Jesus is at the margins: 2 Peter 2:1(HCSB)But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, and will bring swift destruction on themselves.

Notice the word secretly. It’s rare for someone in church to openly deny Jesus. Movement away from the centrality of Christ is subtle. The false teacher will speak about how other people or yourself can help change your life, but if you listen carefully to what he is saying, you will see that Jesus Christ is not essential to his message.

3. Different Position—In what position will the message leave you?

The true Christian message 2 Peter 1:4(HCSB)By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires. Listen to how Peter describes the False Teacher’s message:
2 Peter 2:19(HCSB)19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption, since people are enslaved to whatever defeats them. The true gospel is teaching people how to escape corruption, while the counterfeit is mastered by it.

4. Different Character—What kind of people does the message produce?

The true gospel message pursues goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brother kindness, and love 2 Peter 1:5-8(HCSB) For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. The counterfeit gospel is marked by arrogance and slander They also “despise authority”. This is a general characteristic of a counterfeit gospel message.
2 Peter 2:10(HCSB)10 especially those who follow the polluting desires of the flesh and despise authority. Bold, arrogant people! They do not tremble when they blaspheme the glorious ones;
They are “experts in greed” and “their eyes are full of adultery”

2 Peter 2:14(HCSB)14 They have eyes full of adultery and are always looking for sin. They seduce unstable people and have hearts trained in greed. Children under a curse!

5. Different Appeal—Why should you listen to the message?

The true teacher appeals to Scripture. 2 Peter 1:19(HCSB)19 So we have the prophetic word strongly confirmed. You will do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp shining in a dismal place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. God has spoken, and the true teacher appeals to his Word. The false teacher makes a rather different appeal: 2 Peter 2:18(HCSB)18 For by uttering boastful, empty words, they seduce, with fleshly desires and debauchery, people who have barely escaped from those who live in error.  So the true teacher asks, “What has God said in his Word?” The false teacher asks, “What do people want to hear? What will appeal to their flesh?” True teachers are Prophets, they do the will of God, False teachers do the will of the people they are politicians.

6. Different End—Where does the message ultimately lead you?

Here we find the most disturbing contrast of all.
2 Peter 1:10-11(HCSB)10 Therefore, brothers, make every effort to confirm your calling and election, because if you do these things you will never stumble. 11 For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly supplied to you. The false teacher will experience “swift destruction” 2 Peter 2:1-3(HCSB)But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, and will bring swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their unrestrained ways, and the way of truth will be blasphemed because of them. They will exploit you in their greed with deceptive words. Their condemnation, pronounced long ago, is not idle, and their destruction does not sleep.

Jesus tells us that there will be many who have been involved in ministry in his name, to whom he will say, Matthew 7:21(HCSB) “Depart from me; I never knew you” Don’t Be Naïve  We must not be ignorant, Peter’s plain statement reminds us that the church needs to be protected. Among the many wonderful people who come to through the doors of the church each year, some would do more harm than good. They may seem the nicest of people, but they do not believe in the authority of the Bible or the exclusivity of salvation in Christ. We welcome such people, because they need Christ as much as we do, but we must not allow them to have influence in the church.

Spiritual Warfare

There are two primary errors when it comes to spiritual warfare—over-emphasis and under-emphasis. Some blame every sin, every conflict, and every problem on demons that need to be cast out. Others completely ignore the spiritual realm and the fact that the Bible tells us our battle is against spiritual powers. There is an invisible spiritual world, and there is an invisible spiritual war. Somehow most Christians especially in America and now we are stating to export this false teaching that Christianity is anything but war. Most churches do not even preach on spiritual warfare even though the bible explicitly states it numerous times. We have bought into a christianity where you can have your life and sprinkle some Jesus on top and totally ignore the warfare. We are not on a cruise ship, we are on a battleship, we cannot trade in our weapons of warfare for sipping drinks with little umbrellas in it by the pool.
2 Timothy 2:3-4(HCSB)3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in the concerns of civilian life; he seeks to please the recruiter.

As soon as we confess Jesus as our Lord and Savior we are drawn into a spiritual battle. It is a battle where eternal death or eternal life is at stake. It is a battle with one who is 100% committed to drawing us away from God. It is a battle that calls us to make the spiritually lost a priority as we stand in unity with Jesus. Is this the battle that we are winning? Are we truly concerned that there are real people that will die and go to Hell? Are we concerned with it? Do we know that we are in a battle, even though it is invisible and spiritual it is real and it is eternal.

There are three enemies that we deal with and have to discern which they are so we can engage them in battle correctly. The World, The devil and the Flesh.

Ephesians 2:1-3(HCSB)And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world,(the World) according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens(The Devil), the spirit now working in the disobedient. 3 We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also.(The Flesh)

The basic strategy for our warfare:

Crucify our flesh. Romans 8:12-14(HCSB)12 So then, brothers, we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh, 13 for if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.14 All those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons.

Hate the world system. 1 John 2:15-17(HCSB)15 Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. 16 For everything that belongs to the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle—is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God’s will remains forever.

Stand against the devil. Ephesians 6:10–18(HCSB)10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. 12 For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. 13 This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. 14 Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, 15 and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace.16  In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. 18 Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.

But the key to successful spiritual warfare is finding the biblical balance. Jesus sometimes cast demons out of people; other times He healed people with no mention of the demonic,sometimes we have to separate ourselves from the world,and othertimes we have to as the apostle Paul instructs Christians to wage war against the sin in themselves. Romans 6:1-13(HCSB)What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? 2 Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life. 5 For if we have been joined with Him in the likeness of His death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of His resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that sin’s dominion over the body may be abolished, so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, 7 since a person who has died is freed from sin’s claims.8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him, 9 because we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again. Death no longer rules over Him. 10 For in light of the fact that He died, He died to sin once for all; but in light of the fact that He lives, He lives to God. 11 So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires. 13 And do not offer any parts[i] of it to sin as weapons for unrighteousness. But as those who are alive from the dead, offer yourselves to God, and all the parts of yourselves to God as weapons for righteousness. 14 For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under law but under grace.

There’s four facts that, before we talk about this, you absolutely need to know.

Fact No. 1:  God has defeated Satan. The bell just din’t ring yet. He has delivered us from sin’s penalty, and power, and ultimately will deliver us from sin’s very presence. In the meantime, we’re involved in guerrilla warfare with demonic forces.

Fact No. 2:  As believers, we have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light with all the rights and privileges and position that being a child of God involves.

Fact No. 3:  The spiritual battle that we fight involves a responsibility on our part to put on the spiritual protection that God has provided for us.  We can and we will resist the enemy’s attempts to deceive, accuse, and cast out when we stand firm by what?  First, being honest with God about ourselves and others: This is the prerequisite to all spiritual battle.  Second, responding to the truth that God shows us about His will for our lives which includes righteous living.  And third, a clear understanding of the Gospel and taking opportunity to readily share it by evangelism.

Fact No. 4:  The vast or great majority of all spiritual warfare never need go beyond the regular practice of living out your position in Christ by faith.  What we’re talking about now is not necessarily the norm.  Our practice of Paul’s metaphor, the spiritual armor, protects us from Satan’s ongoing attempts to break our fellowship with Jesus and, as a result, greatly minimizes any impact of the enemy.

Ephesians 6:10–12(HCSB) 10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. 12 For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. This text teaches some crucial truths: we can only stand strong in the Lord’s power, it is God’s armor that protects us, and our battle is ultimately against spiritual forces of evil in the world.

Some suggest all we need to do is bind Satan-and just say, “Satan, I bind you,” and he is caught. They cite Matthew 12:29(HCSB)29 How can someone enter a strong man’s house and steal his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house.,

But Jesus was dispelling the Pharisees’ foolish accusation that He worked under Satan’s power (Matthew12:27-28), not relating a scenario whereby believers could “bind” Satan. He used the illustration of a thief, who, planning to rob a strong man’s house while the man was there, would first have to bind him or risk being arrested and beaten. Jesus’ point was that He had demonstrated to the Pharisees and all Israel His power over Satan and the kingdom of evil. Only God has the power and authority to enter the very house of Satan, successfully bind him, and carry off his property. Even Paul was hindered by Satan

1 Thessalonians 2:18(HCSB)18 So we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and again—but Satan hindered us. Are we to assume he didn’t know the correct formula?

There is no magic phrase or mantra we can say that will bind Satan, but God has not left us without a divine strategy for dealing with him. God’s strategy centers on objective truth, not subjective experience. It begins with sound doctrine, not mystical technique. Yet ironically, those who talk most about warfare against Satan often minimize the importance of doctrine.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5(HCSB)3 For though we live in the body, we do not wage war in an unspiritual way, 4 since the weapons of our warfare are not worldly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments 5 and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.

A word of caution concerning spiritual warfare is in order. Nowhere in Scripture are we instructed to speak to demons or to Satan. The name of Jesus is not a magic incantation that causes demons to flee from before us. The seven sons of Sceva are an example of what can happen when people presume an authority they have not been given Acts 19:13–16(HCSB)13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists attempted to pronounce the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I command you by the Jesus that Paul preaches!” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 The evil spirit answered them, “I know Jesus, and I recognize Paul—but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them all, and prevailed against them, so that they ran out of that house naked and wounded.

Even Michael the archangel did not rebuke Satan in his own power but said Jude 1:9(HCSB)9 Yet Michael the archangel, when he was disputing with the Devil in a debate about Moses’ body, did not dare bring an abusive condemnation against him but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”.

When we start talking to the devil, we run the risk of being led astray as Eve was. Genesis 3:1–7(HCSB)Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. 3 But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.’” 4 “No! You will not die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 Then the woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. Our focus should be on God, not demons; we speak to Him, not them.

Ephesians 6:13–18 is a description of the spiritual armor God gives us. We are to stand firm with the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, and by praying in the Spirit. What do these pieces of spiritual armor represent in spiritual warfare? We are to know the truth, believe the truth, and speak the truth. We are to rest in the fact that we are declared righteous because of Christ’s sacrifice for us. We are to proclaim the gospel no matter how much resistance we face. We are not to waver in our faith, trusting God’s promises no matter how strongly we are attacked. Our ultimate defense is the assurance we have of our salvation, an assurance that no spiritual force can take away. Our offensive weapon is the Word of God, not our own opinions and feelings. And we are to pray in the power and will of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 13:13-14(HCSB)13 Let us walk with decency, as in the daylight: not in carousing and drunkenness; not in sexual impurity and promiscuity; not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desires.

Jesus is our ultimate example of resisting temptation in spiritual warfare. Observe how Jesus handled direct attacks from Satan when He was tempted in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1–11). Each temptation was combatted with the words “it is written.” The Word of the living God is the most powerful weapon against the temptations of the devil. Psalm 119:11(HCSB)I have treasured Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against You.

The first part of the armor is the belt of truth. God never intended His people to worship Him apart from the use of their minds. Real spirituality begins with a precise understanding of truth. Yet much of contemporary Christianity is heading down the paths of mystical experience and fantasy.

We don’t battle Satan with magic words and imaginary forces; we rely on the power of His truth as it brings even our thoughts captive to our Lord. That is genuine and ultimate victory over satanic forces.

No matter how Satan attacks, the solution is the same. We stand in the truth. We don’t need to learn hidden strategies to fight Satan. God’s truth is the supreme weapon against the father of lies. John 8:44(HCSB)You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars. Only when we know the truth and commit ourselves to obey it will we stand strong.

Who is Jesus pt3 Son of God

 

One of the most important questions you will ever ask and answer in your life is: “Who is Jesus?” Do you question whether Jesus is, in fact, God, the second person of the Holy Trinity and the savior of the world? And did his death on the cross actually pay for the sins of all people for all time? Why is it so important that we get the deity of Christ correct? Why is it so important that we understand who Jesus is? Because Jesus said

John 8:24(HCSB)24 Therefore I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.

If we get the deity of Christ wrong everything else is null and void.

The Son of God

The New Testament recounts few instances when God was heard speaking from heaven. When He did, it was normally to announce something startling. God was zealous to announce that Jesus Christ was His Son. At Jesus’ baptism, the heavens opened and God’s voice was heard, saying,
Matthew 3:17(HCSB)17 And there came a voice from heaven: This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him!  Elsewhere, the Father declared from heaven, Mark 9:7(HCSB)7 A cloud appeared, overshadowing them, and a voice came from the cloud: This is My beloved Son; listen to Him! Thus, the title conferred from on high to Jesus is Son of God.”

Jesus is not God’s Son in the sense of a human father and a son. God did not get married and have a son. God did not mate with Mary and, together with her, produce a son. But what exactly does “Son of God” mean? We know it cannot be literal, for that would mean that the “Father” procreated him by a woman or a goddess (as the pagan religions, which had such human activities among the gods). These ideas are foreign to the true faith of the Bible. There is no heavenly consort; God has no wife; there is no goddess. Jesus is God’s Son in the sense that He is God made manifest in human form John 1:1-2(HCSB)In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.
John 1:14(HCSB) The Word became flesh and took up residence among us.
Jesus is God’s Son in that He was conceived in Mary by the Holy Spirit. Luke 1:35 (HCSB)declares, “The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.’”

In reference to Jesus, the term, “Son of God,” does not mean that Jesus is the literal offspring of God as if God had some form of sexual relations with Mary to produce Jesus. God is spirit John 4:24(HCSB)24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” and spirit does not have flesh and bones Luke 24:37-43(HCSB)37 But they were startled and terrified and thought they were seeing a ghost. 38 “Why are you troubled?” He asked them. “And why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Look at My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself! Touch Me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” 40 Having said this, He showed them His hands and feet. 41 But while they still were amazed and unbelieving because of their joy, He asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish, 43 and He took it and ate in their presence., so God the Father is not the literal father of Jesus as in terms of how a man and a woman have children. Is that would indicate that Jesus was not the second person of the trinity but a created being.

During His trial before the Jewish leaders, the High Priest demanded of Jesus, Matthew 26:63-66(HCSB)63 But Jesus kept silent. Then the high priest said to Him, “By the living God I place You under oath: tell us if You are the Messiah, the Son of God!”64 “You have said it,” Jesus told him. “But I tell you, in the future you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? Look, now you’ve heard the blasphemy! 66 What is your decision?” They answered, “He deserves death!”

The Jewish leaders responded by accusing Jesus of blasphemy. Later, before Pontius Pilate, John 19:7(HCSB)7 “We have a law,” the Jews replied to him, “and according to that law He must die, because He made Himself the Son of God.”

Why would His claiming to be the Son of God be considered blasphemy and be worthy of a death sentence? The Jewish leaders understood exactly what Jesus meant by the phrase “Son of God.” To be the Son of God is to be of the same nature as God. The Son of God is “of God.” The claim to be of the same nature as God—to in fact be God—was blasphemy to the Jewish leaders; therefore, they demanded Jesus’ death, in keeping with Leviticus 24:16(HCSB)16 Whoever blasphemes the name of Yahweh is to be put to death; It is expressed very clearly, Hebrews 1:3 (ESV)“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being.”

Another example can be found in where Judas is described as the “son of destruction.” John 17:12(HCSB)While I was with them, I was protecting them by Your name that You have given Me. I guarded them and not one of them is lost, except the son of destruction, so that the Scripture may be fulfilled. John 6:71(HCSB)71 He was referring to Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son,one of the Twelve, because he was going to betray Him. This tells us that Judas was the son of Simon. What does John 17:12 mean by describing Judas as the “son of destruction”? The greek word apoleia means “destruction, ruin, waste.” Judas was not the literal son of “ruin, destruction, and waste,” but those things were the identity of Judas’ life. Judas was a manifestation of apoleia. In this same way, Jesus is the Son of God. The Son of God is God.

In some translations Jesus is referred to as the “Only begotten son of God” False teachers have latched onto this phrase to try to prove their false teaching that Jesus Christ isn’t God; i.e., that Jesus isn’t equal in essence to God as the Second Person of the Trinity. They see the word “begotten” and say that Jesus is a created being because only someone who had a beginning in time can be “begotten.” What this fails to note is that “begotten” is an English translation of a Greek word. As such, we have to look at the original meaning of the Greek word, not transfer English meanings into the text.

The Greek term translated “only begotten” is monogenes, a word used nine times in the New Testament that can mean one of a kind or unique. For example, Luke uses the term three times to refer to an only child (Luke 7:12; 8:42; 9:38). The writer of Hebrews uses the term to refer to Isaac, the only son of Abraham and Sarah, the son of the promise Hebrews 11:17(HCSB)17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac. He received the promises and he was offering his unique son,. Modern translations generally translate monogenes in John 3:16 as “one and only Son” or “only Son” to reflect this definition. John 3:16(HCSB)16 “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

But does this mean Jesus was somehow born or created by God the Father? It does not. Instead, the emphasis is on Jesus as one in unique relationship with the Father. The Bible often uses Father and Son with God and Jesus to explain their relationship in terms we can better understand as humans, but this does not mean Jesus was created by God the Father. The bottom line is that terms such as “Father” and “Son,” descriptive of God and Jesus, are human terms that help us understand the relationship between the different Persons of the Trinity. If you can understand the relationship between a human father and a human son, then you can understand, in part, the relationship between the First and Second Persons of the Trinity. The analogy breaks down if you try to take it too far and teach, as some Christian cults (such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses), that Jesus was literally “begotten” as in “produced” or “created” by God the Father.

Other passages in the Bible make this very clear. For example, John 1:1-3(HCSB) states, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3  All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created.

The use of monogenes in John 3:16 is similar to what is seen in other passages of Scripture to refer to Jesus as unique. For example, John 1:14(HCSB) shares, The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:18(HCSB) includes, No one has ever seen God. The One and Only Son— the One who is at the Father’s side— He has revealed Him. John 3:18(HCSB) adds, 18 Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.
1John 4:9 notes, 9 God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him.

The understanding that Jesus is completely unique, yet not a created being, was so important in the early church that it was emphasized in one of the earliest creeds, the Nicene Creed: “I believe…in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.” This statement sought to make clear that Jesus is both eternal and is the one and only Son of God sent to offer salvation to the world.

Jesus is the Son of God in that He is the manifestation of God in flesh John 1:1(HCSB)In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:14(HCSB)4 The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. Jesus was as much human as you or I, but He was also a completely different type of human, because unlike us, He was without sin. Like other humans, He was born of a woman, but His conception was completely different, having been conceived in the virgin Mary (Luke 1:35(HCSB)35 The angel replied to her: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God. by the Holy Spirit that He should not ‘inherit’ the imputation of Adam’s sin.

As the Son of God, Jesus was the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, but His glory was veiled by His humanity Hebrews 1:3(HCSB)3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. One day all of mankind will see the Son of God coming in power and glory and every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus, the Son of God, is Lord Philippians 2:10-11(HCSB)so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow— of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth—11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

If Jesus is not the divine, eternal Son of God, of one substance with the Father, then all Christian worship of him is idolatrous. But if he is the true and living Lord, then all worship must be in Christ Jesus, for no one comes to the Father except by the Son

Time Talents and Treasures

Where are you spending your time, talent and treasures on?

Time –  Are we valuing the things of God with our time? or for selfish pleasure? Ephesians 5:15-16(HCSB)15 Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise— 16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil.

There is no doubt that the responsibilities and pressures of this world scream for our attention. The myriad of things pulling us in different directions makes it all too easy for our time to get swallowed up in mundane, lesser matters. Those endeavors which have eternal value, then, often get relegated to the back burner. To avoid losing focus, we need to prioritize and set goals.

We need to place our focus on that which is eternal as opposed to the fleeting pleasures of this passing world. Accordingly, we should move forward with diligence and divine purpose as the courses of our lives progress toward God’s ultimate goal. We are to accomplish as much as we can with the time He has given us. We will be eternally rewarded for investing our time in good works. We should live as if each minute counts – because it really does.

If we want to honor God with our time, we have to realize that our time is not our own, it is God’s time. Unfortunately, we too often think that our time is ours to do whatever we wish with it. If we want to work, we can do that, if we want to watch television, we can do that, if we want to waste it doing nothing, we can do that. If we want to go do things we know are wrong we can do that. If we feel like coming to church, we can do that too. Certainly God has given us this freedom of choice, but God teaches us through the Bible tells us that nothing we have is our own, it is God’s.
Psalm 24:1(HCSB)The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the Lord;

Talents – are we using our talents for advancing the Kingdom or for pleasure and selfish gain? The gifts we have received are not ours alone. God gave them to us for the purpose of serving Him and serving other people. Romans 12:4-8(HCSB)4 Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, 5 in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. 6 According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts.If prophecy,use it according to the standard of one’s faith;7 if service, in service; if teaching, in teaching; 8  if exhorting, in exhortation; giving, with generosity;leading, with diligence;showing mercy, with cheerfulness.

In His Parable of the Talents, Jesus taught that we must use our gifts wisely. A talent was a very large sum of money, about 80 pounds (36 kg) of silver. Before leaving on a journey, a wealthy man entrusted his fortune to his servants for the time he would be away. Two of the servants used the money wisely to earn income for their master. However, the third servant did not put the money to good use, and the master was very displeased. Here is the parable:

Matthew 25:14-(HCSB)14 “For it is just like a man going on a journey. He called his own slaves and turned over his possessions to them. 15 To one he gave five talents;[c] to another, two; and to another, one—to each according to his own ability. Then he went on a journey. Immediately 16 the man who had received five talents went, put them to work, and earned five more. 17 In the same way the man with two earned two more. 18 But the man who had received one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground, and hid his master’s money.

19 “After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five talents approached, presented five more talents, and said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. Look, I’ve earned five more talents.’

21 “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy!’

22 “Then the man with two talents also approached. He said, ‘Master, you gave me two talents. Look, I’ve earned two more talents.’

23 “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy!’

24 “Then the man who had received one talent also approached and said, ‘Master, I know you. You’re a difficult man, reaping where you haven’t sown and gathering where you haven’t scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went off and hid your talent in the ground. Look, you have what is yours.’

26 “But his master replied to him, ‘You evil, lazy slave! If you knew that I reap where I haven’t sown and gather where I haven’t scattered, 27 then you should have deposited my money with the bankers. And when I returned I would have received my money back with interest.

28 “‘So take the talent from him and give it to the one who has 10 talents. 29 For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have more than enough. But from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 30 And throw this good-for-nothing slave into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

The master represents God in this parable, and the servants represent us. The English word talent, meaning our natural abilities, is derived from this parable. That is fitting because the lesson of the parable is that we must use our talents and abilities, as well as our wealth, in God’s service. If we do not use our gifts wisely, God will consider us to be wicked and lazy like the third man in the parable.

It would seem that the more we give to others, the poorer we become, but just the opposite is true! Service to others brings meaning and fulfillment to our lives in a way that wealth, power, possessions and self-centered pursuits can never match. As Jesus said,Luke 6:38(HCSB)38 Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over—will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”

Treasure – are putting our treasure in advancing the kingdom of God or our own Kingdom?
Matthew 6:21(HCSB)21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 25:31-46(HCSB)31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35
For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 

I was naked and you clothed Me;

I was sick and you took care of Me;

I was in prison and you visited Me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or without clothes and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and visit You?’

40 “And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’ 41 Then He will also say to those on the left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels!

42 

For I was hungry

and you gave Me nothing to eat;

I was thirsty

and you gave Me nothing to drink;

43 

I was a stranger

and you didn’t take Me in;

I was naked

and you didn’t clothe Me,

sick and in prison

and you didn’t take care of Me.’

44 “Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or without clothes, or sick, or in prison, and not help You?’

45 “Then He will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me either.’

46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Proverbs 3:9(HCSB)Honor the Lord with your possessions and with the first produce of your entire harvest; 10  then your barns will be completely filled,and your vats will overflow with new wine.

God does not condemn anyone for having riches. Riches come to people from many sources, but He gives grave warnings to those who seek after them more than they seek after God and trust in them more than in God. His greatest desire is for us to set our hearts on things above and not on things on this earth.

Luke 12:42-48(HCSB)42 The Lord said: “Who then is the faithful and sensible manager his master will put in charge of his household servants to give them their allotted food at the proper time? 43 That slave whose master finds him working when he comes will be rewarded. 44 I tell you the truth: He will put him in charge of all his possessions. 45 But if that slave says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and starts to beat the male and female slaves, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46 that slave’s master will come on a day he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers. 47 And that slave who knew his master’s will and didn’t prepare himself or do it will be severely beaten. 48 But the one who did not know and did things deserving of blows will be beaten lightly. Much will be required of everyone who has been given much. And even more will be expected of the one who has been entrusted with more.

Trials in the Wilderness

Why  did  God  make wilderness  places  anyway? Certainly, without them it would be difficult for us to appreciate trees and green pastures. God also knew that the wilderness is an ideal place to test his people and to help them learn  faith and endurance.

We don’t do a good job as Christian believers telling unbelievers that sometimes, even with Jesus, life is hard. We like to tell them, “Life is hard. Give your life to Jesus. Everything will be better, then you go to heaven.” We forget to tell them about the middle called life. Life is hard. You meet Jesus and it gets harder, and then it gets better when you see Him after death or when He comes back which ever comes first. The Christian life is the best life, but it’s not the easiest life, and sometimes the closer you are to Jesus, the more opposition you receive, just as Jesus received opposition.

Since the wilderness is a common experience of our faith, we need to learn about it and especially we need to learn the rules of spiritual survival in this wilderness. We might ask the question, when are we most likely to  experience the wilderness? Strangely, these experiences often come on the heels of great spiritual breakthroughs.The children of Israel were just miraculously delivered through the sea as they escaped from Pharaoh and Egypt. They had also just received the law and had experienced the very presence of the Living God in smoke and fire. Very soon after their mountain-top experience they had to wander in the wilderness. Many centuries later, after Jesus was baptized and after He heard the voice of God speaking to Him from  heaven He was led into the desert to be tempted by the devil forty days and forty nights. Mark 1:9-12(HCSB)In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. 10 As soon as He came up out of the water, He saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending to Him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: You are My beloved Son; I take delight in You! 12 Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness 40 days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and the angels began to serve Him.

What can the wilderness do for us?  It can make us rugged, tough, and strong in faith. It can cause us to develop endurance and to acquire maturity.

James 1:2-4(HCSB)2 Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. Joshua and Caleb were survivors  of  the forty-year wilderness journey. In Joshua 14, Joshua had the strength and maturity to lead Israel into the land and to gain victory over a numerous and well-armed nation of people. Caleb, at age 85, was able to take the mountain of Hebron and drive out the giants who had lived there for centuries. There were many other examples in Israel’s history of wilderness experiences.  David was a man that spent many years in the wilderness in caves and hide-outs. Much of the Book of Psalms was written as a result of his sufferings in the wilderness. Elijah was another person who spent time in the wilderness right after the epic showdown between himself and the prophets of Baal,

1 Kings 19:1-5(HCSB)Ahab told Jezebel everything that Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “May the gods punish me and do so severely if I don’t make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow!”

3 Then Elijah became afraid and immediately ran for his life. When he came to Beer-sheba that belonged to Judah, he left his servant there, 4 but he went on a day’s journey into the wilderness. He sat down under a broom tree and prayed that he might die. He said, “I have had enough! Lord, take my life, for I’m no better than my fathers.”, and so was  John  the Baptist who was referred to as “…a voice of one calling in the wilderness…
 Matthew 3:3(HCSB)3 For he is the one spoken of through the prophet Isaiah, who said: A voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way for the Lord; make His paths straight!

Then there was Jesus, coming  directly out of the wilderness to begin his ministry in Galilee.  Not only does the wilderness breed character; it also breeds humility.  When Moses lived in Egypt the was a man mighty in word and deed. Acts 7:22(HCSB)22 So Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in his speech and actions.

However, when God finished with him with many years in the wilderness, Moses was unable to talk and had to have Aaron go along as his spokesman.
Exodus 4:13-16(HCSB)13 Moses said, “Please, Lord, send someone else.” 14 Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses, and He said, “Isn’t Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, he is on his way now to meet you. He will rejoice when he sees you. 15 You will speak with him and tell him what to say. I will help[g] both you and him to speak and will teach you both what to do. 16 He will speak to the people for you. He will be your spokesman, and you will serve as God to him.

God humbled him and he became the meekest man on earth.

Numbers 12:3(HCSB)3 Moses was a very humble man, more so than any man on the face of the earth. Therefore, God  was able to do mighty things through him. God desires to break down our self-indulged life in exactly this way so that He can get the glory.

The  wilderness can be a lonely place. Many of us try to escape the wilderness and God’s plan of testing for our lives. The challenge of the wilderness is that we don’t control it. We can throw a hissy fit and it will not go away. In fact, the wilderness feels like it will last forever… as though God really has forsaken us. The reality of the wilderness from Job to Joseph to Jesus to Paul is that it does not last forever. It is a season, quite often a short one. The healthiest response is to receive the wilderness as part of our assignment from Jesus and allow it to have its effect on our character and faith. The wilderness deepens our hearts in maturity in a way that success cannot.

The wilderness can feel like it will last forever. The greatest danger of going through a season in the wilderness is building a thought process that suggests it’s normal, permanent and hopeless. The wilderness is a season, not a way of life. It produces a fruit and serves a purpose and then comes to an end. It is only the devil who would like to convince us that the wilderness is permanent.

The wilderness with all its testing is precious 1 Peter 1:6-7(HCSB)6 You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials 7 so that the genuineness of your faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. When we think back over all those trials, it often brings  tears to our eyes. It softens our hearts. It is such a vital part  of the salvation experience, and it deeply affects the way we relate to and minister to others.

3 THINGS GOD DOES SAY ABOUT TRIALS

James 1:2-4(HCSB)2 Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. What he does say is that life is sometimes hard. “Consider it all joy.” “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you experience various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”

1. YOU ARE GOING TO GET TRIALS

Three things he says. “Whenever you experience various trials” He doesn’t say “if.” You’re going to get trials. A hundred percent. New Christians, don’t be shocked by this. “Oh my gosh, a trial came. Christianity isn’t working.” No, it’s working. James starts there. Welcome to Christianity 101. It’s going to hurt when trials come.

So, point number one, when trials come, don’t say, “God, how come, where, why? I don’t understand. What? I had no idea. Had I known this, I would have—what, what?” God says, “No, I told you they’re coming.” Some of you are in them right now. Some of you see the clouds on the horizon.

2. KNOW THIS: IT’S A TEST AND AN OPPORTUNITY

“When the trials come, know this.” It’s very strong. “Know this.” Don’t forget this. Hold this truth in your hand. Cling to it. Here’s your life vest, right? Like, keep it close. Know this: when a trial comes, it’s a test. A test can be a good or a bad thing. It depends on how good you are at taking the test. If you pass the test, it’s actually really encouraging. How many of you have taken a test, maybe even in school? You’re like, “I took the test. It was a little stressful. I got a good grade. That was pretty awesome.” Life is filled with tests, spiritual tests. A trial is a test.

Here’s what it means: it’s an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to prove who you are in Christ, to see who you’re becoming in Christ. When it first hits, a trial feels like an attack. And he says, “I want you to know this. It’s a test.” and whether you fail the test or pass the test you will learn something from it. Sometimes we learn when we pass it and sometimes we learn after we fail it to never do that again.

3. YOU WILL GET TRIALS OF VARIOUS KINDS

The trials are of various kinds. Financial, emotional, physical, spiritual, mental, relational, marital, vocational. Various. He says, “experience various trials.” You know what this means? You don’t know where it’s coming from next. It could be coming from anywhere. Any aspect of your whole life, a trial could come from there. And they don’t always come one at a time.

How many of you have noticed that? Ouch, ouch, ouch, hey! various trials. And sometimes what happens is, you get through a trial in one area of your life, you’re like, “Glad that’s over,” and then there’s a trial in another area of life. I got my finances in order, and then my relationship fell apart. Now I’m in another trial.

The thing about trials is that it is supposed to produce, pain. Many of us do not like pain,I say that because some may and y’all are freaks. Pain is God’s way of telling us there is something wrong that needs to be fixed. But we humans do not like pain so we try to numb the pain instead of fixing it and thats where addictions come into play.

DON’T COMPARE TRIALS

Do not compare your trials with other people’s. See, some of you, you have great wisdom and experience in some areas and other people have other wisdom and experience in other areas. So, some of you, let’s say, financially, you’ve got a lot of experience and wisdom. If a financial trial comes into your life, you have some wisdom on what to do with that.

Some of you are like, “I don’t know, finances So, when it comes to balancing a budget and setting my finances, I feel very overwhelmed very quickly.” Well, it’s not fair for this person to say, “That’s not a big deal. That’s just a little trial.” It’s a very big deal to them.

On the other hand, this person might have an enormous emotional capacity and a large capacity for relationships, trauma, and drama, and this other person might have a spoonful. Well, it’s not fair for this person to say, “Well, hey, come on, just roll with it. You need to be, you know, more emotionally present and compassionate.” They’re like, I like numbers, not people.”

We’re all different. We get various kinds of trials. And God doesn’t cause evil to come upon us, but he’ll use evil for our good and his glory. And sometimes God allows a trial to come in in our area of weakness. And so what’s hard for you is easy for someone else, and the same is true on the other hand.

STEADFASTNESS & MATURITY

So, he’s telling us that trials will come. We need to know that they are a test and that we shouldn’t compare our trials to others. And ultimately if we’ll avail ourselves to them, it could produce two things: steadfastness and maturity.

Steadfastness is this perseverance, this fortitude. The Bible uses the language elsewhere of, “Stand firm.” It’s like a command to a soldier, “Hold your post.” Steadfastness. You endure, you persevere, you weather the storm, you make it through, you don’t give up, you don’t give in. And he says, “If you will receive it as a trial, a test, and an opportunity, and produce steadfastness, then it’ll result in maturity.”

What this means is you’ll become more godly, you’ll become more like Jesus. The trial will be used to transform you. OK, how many of you want to be more like Jesus? How many of you want a trial? OK? Just so you know, they’re the same question. Right, it’s like, “I want to be buff without working out. I want to learn a lot without reading books.” It doesn’t work that way. Cause, effect; reap, sow. Steadfastness produces maturity.

The reason why some of you are immature is because you have no steadfast.

But if you have a hard relationship and quit, and have another hard relationship and quit, and have a hard job and quit, and have another hard job and quit, and go to a church and have a conflict and quit, and go to another church and have a conflict and quit, you know what you don’t do? Mature, because you don’t have endurance. Paul says it this way: “Endurance produces”—what? Character. Romans 5:2-4(HCSB)2 We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, 4 endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope.
James is saying the same thing. Endurance produces maturity. What that means is your godliness is not in spite of your problem or around your problem, it’s what God will do in and through you through your problem. And he says, “I need you to know this so that when you’re in the middle of it, you receive it as an opportunity from God and not an obstacle.”

Maybe what’s happening to you isn’t good, but God is. That’s James’ next point. So, his first point is that life is sometimes hard. And then he says, “But God is always good.” And this is foundational. James 1:5-8(HCSB)5 Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 An indecisive man is unstable in all his ways., “If any of you lacks wisdom.” OK, let’s just stop right there. Raise your hand if you lack wisdom, OK? Anyone who didn’t raise their hand really lacks wisdom.

God’s asking, “Does anybody need help?” “Ask God, who gives generously to all.” That includes you and me. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done. “Without reproach, and it will be given to him.” There’s a promise. Tie your joy to that.

But let him ask in faith, without doubting, for the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord; An indecisive man is unstable in all his ways.” He says, “When a trial comes, it’s like a storm.”

So all of a sudden, he wants our imagination to set sail out on the sea. He says, “Now think of a storm, like the one that Jesus and his disciples were in out on the lake.” What happens in a storm is the clouds roll in, it gets dark, you can’t see land. You don’t know where safety is because it’s not near. All of a sudden, everything becomes very unpredictable and violent, things become unstable and uncertain, and you feel unsafe. And now it feels like forces that are far beyond your control are in control of you, which means you feel out of control. It’s anxious; it’s stressful.

He says, “When those storms come”—how many of you are in a storm? Not just normal life storm. How many of you came through one not too long ago? How many of you are fearful because you see one on the horizon? He says, “When that happens, you need wisdom.”

There’s a difference between wisdom and knowledge. Knowledge is not bad, but knowledge is not enough. Knowledge is knowing the truth, wisdom is knowing what to do with it. Knowledge is theoretical; wisdom is practical. Knowledge fills your mind; wisdom guides your life. Knowledge is truthful; wisdom is useful. Knowledge provides information, wisdom provides transformation. Knowledge tells you what to believe, and wisdom tells you how to behave. You can have knowledge without wisdom, but you can’t have wisdom without knowledge. That’s why wisdom has very little to do with your IQ. There are smart people who make dumb decisions.

Don’t make a dumb decision today, use wisdom today and repent. There is salvation for you, there is the complete forgiveness of sin, but you need to make a pathway through the wilderness of your heart, a pathway of true repentance and embrace Jesus Christ as Savior. Salvation can’t come from man.  If we’re ever to be delivered from sin, if there’s ever to be comfort for anybody, any sinner, the Lord has to bring it Isaiah said, the Lord is coming.  But tell them this before He comes, there will be a voice of one crying in the wilderness, “Make ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.”  Before the Lord comes there’ll come a prophet pointing to Him and that’s John.  John’s the fulfillment of Isaiah 40:3-4(HCSB)3 A voice of one crying out: Prepare the way of the Lord in the wilderness; make a straight highway for our God in the desert. 4  Every valley will be lifted up, and every mountain and hill will be leveled; the uneven ground will become smooth and the rough places, a plain.

 

And what did John say?  He came along and preached forgiveness of sin. According to Matthew 3:1-3(HCSB)In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!” 3 For he is the one spoken of through the prophet Isaiah, who said: A voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way for the Lord; make His paths straight!, he said there’s forgiveness. Your sins can be forgiven. Your sins have been paid for. Your warfare is over.  I’m telling you there is forgiveness.  But if you want that forgiveness it calls for repentance, it calls for repentance that’s deep. You say, “What’s that all about?”  Well look back at verse 3. It was written in the words of Isaiah in Isaiah 40, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness,” we know that’s John, he’s telling people make ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight, get His path ready.  And Isaiah and here, of course, in John’s case and Luke, they’re using an analogy.  If a king is going to come to a town or a village, he would send a herald or a forerunner ahead a few months and say you’ve got to get ready, the king is coming, you’ve got to make the road ready so he can come with ease and dignity into your city.  That’s what John did.  He said the King is coming, Messiah’s coming, you’ve got to get ready and ready means you can…you need to have your sins forgiven and that calls for repentance and a deep repentance that even acknowledges you’re outside the covenant. But John is saying to them, look, if you want to be ready to receive the King as a nation, it starts with individual repentance..  And repentance is described in the analogy.

 

How do you make ready the way of the Lord?  How do you make His paths straight so He has access?  How do you do that?  Well, you take the low places, the ravines, you bring them up.  You take the high places, you bring them down.  You take the crooked places, you just straighten them out.  You take the rough places, you smooth them over.

 

What’s he talking about?  Well let’s just make it simple.  The wilderness here is your heart. The voice is crying in the wilderness, “Get the pathway through the wilderness ready.”  The wilderness is really the heart.  It’s the sinful heart, the sinful mind through which a path must be made.  And that path is the path of repentance.  And this is a magnificent analogy of what repentance is like.  Here’s where it starts.  Every ravine shall be filled up.  What’s that?  Low places, comparable to the low, dark, hidden things of the heart.

 

See, repentance involves an honest dealing with the depths of wickedness in your heart and mine.  You’ve got to go down deep into the ugly muck of your sinful life and bring it up.  And then he says, “Every mountain and hill shall be brought low.”  You know, we are not only good at hiding the filth down low, but we are really good at elevating themselves in self-righteous ways.  You’ve got to… You’ve got to knock down the proud, haughty, self-righteous attitudes.

And then you’ve got to take the crooked places and straighten them out.  That’s the word skolios, from which we get scoliosis, which is a curvature, the devious, the deceitful, the lying, the perverse.

 

So you’ve got to dig deep into the filth of the hidden things.  You’ve got to go high and pull down your pride and self-righteousness.  Then you’ve got to deal with all the perverse, devious, deceptions of the heart.The wilderness shows us where  the low and the highs are.

And then he says, “And the rough roads smooth.” What’s that?  I’ll tell you. Anything that…anything that’s laying out there on the road of repentance.  Could be self-love, could be love of money, could be love of the world, could be lust of the flesh, could be indifference, could be apathy, could be unbelief, any of that.

 

You want to get the path ready through the wilderness of your heart?  Then repent and that means deal with the deep, base, hidden, secret, dark, low things.  That means deal with the pride of your life; bring it all down to where it needs to be.  Deal with the deception, the perversity, the wickedness, the devious elements and everything else, all the junk laying out there in your life that needs to be wiped clean.