Ephesians Pt 11

Ephesians 4:17-24(HCSB)17 Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer walk as the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their thoughts. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts. 19 They became callous and gave themselves over to promiscuity for the practice of every kind of impurity with a desire for more and more. 20 But that is not how you learned about the Messiah, 21 assuming you heard about Him and were taught by Him, because the truth is in Jesus. 22 You took off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires; 23 you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds; 24 you put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.

Ephesians 4:17-18, in which Paul describes how some in the church, who were supposed to be God’s friends, were in reality acting more like His enemies. They were doing so because of their “futile”(fruitless, pointless, useless) thinking, which led to a “darkened understanding” and a hardening of their hearts. Paul, then, in one sentence, summarizes for us how this futile thinking shows up in one’s behavior, and how to identify those to whom his cautionary reminder in verses 17-18 applies. It shows up in what Paul refers to, in verse 19, as “promiscuity”. To live in promiscuity is literally to live “without restraints”, to do whatever you feel like doing, regardless of what God or anybody else says about it. Those who are promiscuous decide for themselves what is right or wrong, they do whatever they “feel” is right, they live in total subjectivity and can not tolerate any kind of disagreement or correction (the hardened hearts of verse 18). These first century Ephesians would, in fact, be very comfortable in our post-modern, relativistic society, in which truth and morality (right and wrong) are determined by the sovereign individual rather than the sovereign God. Due to the hardening of their hearts, any attempt at criticism or correction may be seen as “hateful, bigoted, intolerant”, even referred to as “hate speech”. Say unto thine own heart, “I am mine own redeemer.” Life is the great indulgence – death, the great abstinence. Therefore, make the most of life – HERE AND NOW ! Satanism 101. Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law, there is no wrong there is no right, there is only pleasure and pain, if it feels good do it, if it makes you feel bad then don’t do it. Satanism is all about feelings and what make you feel good, self gratification at all costs. Christianity doesn’t always feel good. Doing what God says doesn’t always feel good but it is the right choice. We cannot go off of feelings. We have to go off of scripture. It should be noted here that Paul uses the definite article with the word sensuality here, referring to “promiscuity”, the form of sensuality which was prevalent in Ephesus at the time, and is still very prevalent in our present culture, the lack of restraint which comes from futile or useless thinking, thinking that the individual is lord, rather than God being lord. This futile thinking and hardening of the heart leads to them “giving themselves over” to promiscuity. Having decided that they will be lord, that they will define truth and morality for themselves, they become enslaved by sensuality, for we are enslaved by what we give ourselves over to. This giving themselves over to sensuality will result in their “the practice of every kind of impurity with a desire for more and more”, indulging in whatever kind of “uncleanness” that they feel like indulging in, unrestrained by the word of God or anything else, living with an unbridled flesh and an unchecked will, becoming the sole arbiter of what is right or wrong, or whether right and wrong even exist.

The connection between sexual immorality and idolatry is best understood in the context of 1 Corinthians 6:18(ESV) “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.” The bodies of believers are the “temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20(HCSB)19 Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body. Pagan idol worship often involved perverse and immoral sexual acts performed in the temple of a false god. When we use our physical bodies for immoral purposes, we are imitating pagan worship by profaning God’s holy temple with acts He calls detestable (1 Corinthians 6:9–11(HCSB)9 Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality, 10 no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom. 11 And some of you used to be like this. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Therefore I do not believe in “accountability partners” for pornography or sexual immorality if the Holy Spirit is not enough of an accountability partner than no person will be. If you as a christian can masturbate to porn knowing you have the Holy Spirit residing in you, then a partner will be of no help.

The sin you tolerate today will become a stronghold tomorrow. No one ever wakes up and says they want to be a child molester, no one wakes up and says I want to be addicted to heroin, no one wakes up and says “I think I want to be an alcoholic.”. Its starts with one look at a porno, one toke off a joint, one sip of beer.

The enemy is crafty and knows how to deceive. It is his primary job. He will give you a taste of sin a little at a time until you are hooked and so far deep into it you look around one day and say “how did I get here”. It goes back to the sin you tolerate today becomes a stronghold tomorrow.

Genesis 4:7(NLT) You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”

Our sin problems are a result of a worship problem. When we cant let go of our sin it’s because we don’t fully believe we serve a big enough God or we love that sin more than we love God.

We all worship something, what you glory in you will sacrifice for. If you glory in video games you will sacrifice for it. If you glory in making out you will sacrifice for it.Sexual immorality is idolatry. Anything you put above God or worship instead of God is idolatry.

Romans 6:16 (NLT)Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. 

2 Peter 2:19 (NLT)They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of sin and corruption. For you are a slave to whatever controls you.

Those who are in sexual immorality have made self gratification their god. They have  enslaved themselves to it and worship it and allow it to control and destroy them. The idol always lies. It tells you you can have your pleasure without any consequences. You don’t just look at porn, engage in sex without being married, etc.  you worship self. And here’s the truth: we’re all worshipers. We are passionately giving ourselves away to someone, to something, to a cause, to a person, to an experience, to a pleasure, to a pursuit, to a passion. We give ourselves away. We give our money, our time, our energy. It’s what we talk about. It’s how our identity is formed. It’s what we commit ourselves to. We’re all worshipers, Christians, atheists, those who are members of other religions, all are worshipers. The only question is who or what are you worshiping?

What you glory in you sacrifice for, what you sacrifice for is what you worship. And make no mistake: Every time you see an image, lust in your heart, go surfing on the Internet, you’re worshiping. You’re not worshiping the Creator; you’re worshiping the created, and it’s idolatry. And the issue goes deeper than just sexual orientation or preference. It goes down to the root issue of idolatry. You can’t simultaneously worship Jesus Christ, the Creator God, and be into porn or sexual immorality, you can’t. You can’t worship the Creator, while worshiping the created. It’s one or the other. So, for some of you, your problem is not just behavioral. It’s not that you just need to change the way you act. You need to alter the God you worship. Sometimes, when we’re sinners, when we think of what we want, we find a way to rationalize, justify, and excuse our behavior.

If you claim to believe in Christ, but are living just as you did before you believed in Him, you need to examine whether you truly believe in Him. Becoming a Christian requires turning from your sin to God (repentance). But repentance is not a one-time event. It defines the lifestyle of a believer. God changes us radically at the moment of salvation by imparting new life to us, but this is followed by a lifetime of changing into the image of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 3:18(NLT)18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

The changed life stems from the transformation that God works in us through the gospel as we put off the old life, are renewed in our minds, and put on the new life in Christ.

In Romans 6 and in Colossians 3:9(NLT)Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds, Paul refers to the putting off of the old man as an accomplished fact. When Christ died on the cross, we died with Him positionally. When He was raised from the dead, we were raised up with Him. We are to figure these facts to be true in our daily practice, so that we will not give in to sin (Romans 6:11(NLT)11 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. But, although we died with Christ, in other places Paul commands us to put to death our members that are on the earth.

Romans 8:13(NLT)13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.

Colossians 3:5(NLT)So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.
Why do we need to put to death our members if we already died?

We must daily apply experientially the facts that are true of us positionally. So, yes, at the moment we got saved, we put off the dirty clothes of the old life. But, every day we must figure that this is so by putting off everything associated with the old life and putting on the new life in Christ.

God is the creator of this new man. As we saw in Ephesians 2:10(HCSB)10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them. This shows that the changed life of the believer is not something that we can conjure up by our own will power. God created us anew in Him. But, at the same time, we must walk in the good works that He has prepared for us.

The first step is cognition. God’s pattern for spiritual growth starts with understanding what the Bible says and what it means. The meaning of the Scripture is the Scripture—if you don’t know what it means, you don’t have the truth. So the process of spiritual growth starts with understanding what the Bible says. This is the importance of being under spiritual leadership that is steeped in biblical knowledge and truth.

True sanctification begins with renewing your mind. (Greek – Metanoia) You must know the truth, plain and simple. There’s no premium on ignorance in sanctification. You’re not going to get there through some emotional or mystical experience. Spiritual growth won’t happen by osmosis—it requires the discipline of constantly putting God’s truth in your mind.

Hebrews 13:8-9(HCSB)8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 9 Don’t be led astray by various kinds of strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be established by grace and not by foods, since those involved in them have not benefited.

There are no shortcuts in sanctification—a lack of biblical knowledge will always stun your spiritual growth. Apart from the truth of Scripture, there simply is no mechanism to restrain your sinful flesh. Legalism can’t do it. Good Intentions can’t either. The only certain method for true spiritual growth starts with absorbing God’s eternal truth.

Charles Spurgeon stated the following…

Imagine that there is a pig and I am standing about 100 ft away from a pig. To one side of me is a beautiful 7 course dinner and to the other side of me is a large bucket of slop.

The pig is released, which side is he going to run to? To the slop side of course!

Why? Because he is a pig and that is all that pigs know.

Now imagine if you will that we were able to change that pig into a man, all the while he is eating the slop. What will happen?

The odds are that he will lift up his head and look around at his environment and then spit out the slop he was feeding upon when he was a pig.

Why? Because he is no longer a pig that is able to feed upon slop, but a man needing a form of food to give him nutrition so that he might live.

This man is now a new creature and is no longer a pig.

Now from time to time he may even have pig thoughts about the wonderful slop he once ate when he was a pig. He may even go to the slop bucket from time to time, smell it, look at it. But the moment he feeds upon it what will happen? He will spit it out because he is no longer a pig but a man. Even if he as a man he forces himself to eat the slop, which men are able to do, it will eventually cause him to vomit it all up and make him sick possibly unto death because his body no longer accepts slop because he is a new creature.Now if one thinks he is a man and can still stomach the slop day in and day out, what makes him think he was changed into a new creature in the first place? If he is feeding upon the slop of the world and does not get sick to his stomach, maybe he was never changed into new creature in the first place and to this day remains a pig.

2 Corinthians 5:17(HCSB)17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.

When we are truly converted, we can no longer stomach the slop of the world, the fleshly sin that we once indulged in.

When we entertain the sin, and all of us do from time to time, it makes us sick with guilt and shame because it is the Holy Spirit working in our lives chastening us from the inside out because God loves us as His children. Scripture says that God chastens His own.

Luke 15:11-21(HCSB) He also said: “A man had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate I have coming to me.’ So he distributed the assets to them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered together all he had and traveled to a distant country, where he squandered his estate in foolish living. 14 After he had spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he had nothing. 15 Then he went to work for one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to eat his fill from the carob pods the pigs were eating, but no one would give him any. 17 When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have more than enough food, and here I am dying of hunger!18 I’ll get up, go to my father, and say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. 19 I’m no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired hands.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. 21 The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son.’

The son was in the pig slop eating pig pods, stuff that would fill up his belly but give him no nourishment, how much do we take in throughout the week that fills us up but gives us no spiritual nourishment?

1 Corinthians 6:9-11(HCSB) 9 Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality, 10 no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom. 11 And some of you used to be like this. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

There is a difference between continuing to sin and continuing to live in sin. No one reaches sinless perfection in this life, but the redeemed Christian is being sanctified (made holy) day by day, sinning less and hating it more each time he fails. Yes, we still sin, but unwillingly and less and less frequently as we mature. Our new self hates the sin that still has a hold on us. The difference is that the new creation is no longer a slave to sin, as we formerly were. We are now freed from sin and it no longer has power over us. Now we are empowered by and for righteousness. We now have the choice to “let sin reign” or to count ourselves “dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus”

Romans 6:11-12(HCSB)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. Best of all, now we have the power to choose the latter.

God is getting you ready to live with Him forever. He is getting you ready to accept His inheritance. Proverbs 17:3(NLT)Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the Lord tests the heart.

How HOT does the fire have to get?? As HOT as we let it.
God doesn’t care about your reputation; He cares about your Character.

For Godly character to be in us HE has to work our fleshly character out of us. God doesn’t change our personality, He changes our character.

Character is what you are behind closed doors, when no one is watching, when your all alone, when you don’t have to wear the “mask” in front of people.

Character in the believer is a consistent manifestation of Jesus in his life. It is the purity of heart that God gives becoming purity in action. God sometimes uses trials to strengthen character:
Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Being saved is a nature change not sin management. The highest a lot of us take it is we teach you to act like us, dress like us, talk like us. Never really dealing with the underlying sin problem. Jesus is the answer to the sin problem.

James 4:7-10 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

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What is the meaning to the Christian Life?

What is the meaning of the Christian life?

The WestMinster Shorter Catechism states it this way.
What is the chief end of man?

  1. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
    Here are two ends of life specified. 1. The glorifying of God. 2. The enjoying of God.

First. The glorifying of God, 1 Peter 4:11(HCSB)11 If anyone speaks, it should be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen. “That God in all things may be glorified.” The glory of God is a silver thread which must run through all our actions.
1 Corinthians 10:31(HCSB)31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory. Everything works to some end in things natural and artificial; now, man being a rational creature, must propose some end to himself, and that should be, that he may lift up God in the world. He had better lose his life than the end of his living. The great truth asserted is that the end of every man’s living should be to glorify God. Glorifying God has respect to all the persons in the Trinity; it respects God the Father who gave us life; God the Son, who lost his life for us; and God the Holy Ghost, who produces a new life in us; we must bring glory to the whole Trinity.

Q. What is it to glorify God?

Glorifying God consists in four things:

1.Appreciation, 2. Adoration, 3. Affection, 4. Subjection.

Appreciation. To glorify God is to set God highest in our thoughts, and, to have a venerable esteem of him. Psalm 92:8(HCSB)But You, Lord, are exalted forever.
Psalm 97:9(HCSB)For You, Lord, are the Most High over all the earth; You are exalted above all the gods, There is in God all that may draw forth both wonder and delight; there is a constellation of all beauties; he is prima causa [the first cause], the original and spring-head of being, who sheds a glory upon the creature. We glorify God when we are God-admirers; admire his attributes, which are the glistening beams by which the divine nature shines forth; his promises which are the charter of free grace, and the spiritual cabinet where the pearl of price is hid; the noble effects of his power and wisdom in making the world, which is called “the work of his fingers.” Psalm 8:3(HCSB)When I observe Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You set in place, To glorify God is to have God-admiring thoughts; to esteem him most excellent, and search for diamonds in this rock only.

Glorifying God consists in adoration, or worship. Psalm 29:2(HCSB)Ascribe to Yahweh the glory due His name; worship Yahweh in the splendor of His holiness. A divine worship which we give to God as his royal privilege. Nehemiah 8:6 (HCSB)Ezra praised the Lord, the great God, and with their hands uplifted all the people said, “Amen, Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. This divine worship God is very jealous of; it is the apple of his eye, the pearl of his crown; which he guards, as he did the tree of life, with cherubims and a flaming sword, that no man may come near it to violate it. Divine worship must be such as God himself has appointed, otherwise it is offering strange fire,
Leviticus 10:1-3(HCSB)Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu each took his own firepan, put fire in it, placed incense on it, and presented unauthorized fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them to do. Then fire came from the Lord and burned them to death before the Lord. So Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord meant when He said: I will show My holiness to those who are near Me, and I will reveal My glory before all the people.” But Aaron remained silent. The Lord would have Moses make the tabernacle, “according to the pattern.” Exodus 25:40(HCSB)40 Be careful to make them according to the pattern you have been shown on the mountain.. He must not leave out anything in the pattern, nor add to it. If God was so exact and curious about the place of worship, how exact will he be about the matter of his worship! Surely here every thing must be according to the pattern prescribed in his word.

3. Affection. This is part of the glory we give to God, who counts himself glorified when he is loved. Deuteronomy 6:5(HCSB)Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. There is a twofold love: 1. Amor concupiscentiae, a love of lust, which is self-love; as when we love another because he does us a good deed. A wicked man may be said to love God, because he has given him a good harvest, or filled his cup with wine. This is rather to love God’s blessing than to love God. 2. Amor amicitiae, a love of delight, as a man takes delight in a friend. This is to love God indeed; the heart is set upon God, as a man’s heart is set upon his treasure. This love is exuberant, not a few drops, but a stream. It is of the highest quality; we give God the best of our love. Thus to love God is to glorify him. He who is the chief of our happiness has the chief of our affections.

4. Subjection. This is when we dedicate ourselves to God, and stand ready dressed for his service. Thus the angels in heaven glorify him; they wait on his throne, and are ready to take a commission from him; therefore they are represented by the cherubims with wings displayed, to show how swift they are in their obedience. We glorify God when we are devoted to his service; our head studies for him, our tongue pleads for him, and our hands relieve his members. The wise men that came to Christ did not only bow the knee to him, but presented him with gold and myrrh. Matthew 2:11. So we must not only bow the knee, give God worship, but bring presents of golden obedience. We glorify God when we falter at no service, when we fight under the banner of his gospel against an enemy.

A good Christian is like the sun, which not only sends forth heat, but also brings light.  Thus, he who glorifies God has not only his affections heated with love to The Almighty, the Christian also brings forth the light that is in him to a dark and dying world. Matthew 5:13-16 HCSB ““You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men. “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

The Christian life is supposed to be a life lived by faith. It is by faith that we enter into the Christian life, and it is by faith that we live it out. When we begin the Christian life by coming to Christ for forgiveness of sin, we understand that what we seek cannot be obtained by any other means than by faith. We cannot work our way to heaven, because nothing we could ever do would be sufficient. Those who believe they can attain eternal life by keeping rules and regulations—a list of do’s and don’ts—deny what the Bible clearly teaches. Galatians 3:11(HCSB)11 Now it is clear that no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous will live by faith. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day rejected Christ because He told them this very truth, that all their righteous deeds were worthless and that only faith in their Messiah would save them.

In Romans 1, Paul says that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the power that saves us, the gospel being the good news that all who believe in Him will have eternal life. When we enter into the Christian life by faith in this good news, we see our faith grow as we come to know more and more about the God who saved us. The gospel of Christ actually reveals God to us as we live to grow closer to Him each day. Romans 1:17(HCSB)17 For in it God’s righteousness is revealed from faith to faith,  just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith. So part of the Christian life is diligent reading and study of the Word, accompanied by prayer for understanding and wisdom and for a closer, more intimate relationship with God through the Holy Spirit.

The Christian life is also supposed to be one of death to self in order to live a life by faith. Paul told the Galatians, Galatians 2:20(HCSB)20 and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Being crucified with Christ means that our old nature has been nailed to the cross and has been replaced by a new nature which is Christ’s
2 Corinthians 5:17(HCSB)17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. He who loved us and died for us now lives in us, and the life we live is by faith in Him. It means sacrificing our own desires, ambitions, and glories and replacing them with those of Christ. We can only do this by His power through the faith that He gives us by His grace. Part of the Christian life is praying to that end.

The Christian life is also supposed to persevere to the end. Hebrews 10:38-39(HCSB)But My righteous one will live by faith; and if he draws back, I have no pleasure in him.39 But we are not those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and obtain life. Hebrews addresses this issue by quoting from the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk: “Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” God is not pleased with one who “draws back” from Him after making a commitment, but those who live by faith will never draw back, because they are kept by the Holy Spirit who assures us that we will continue with Christ until the end. Ephesians 1:13-14(HCSB)13 When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. 14 He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession, to the praise of His glory. The writer of Hebrews goes on to verify this truth in verse 39: But we are not those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and obtain life. The true believer is one who believes to the end.

So the Christian life is one lived by faith in the God who saved us, empowers us, seals us for heaven, and by whose power we are kept forever. The day-to-day life of faith is one that grows and strengthens as we seek God in His Word and through prayer and as we unite with other Christians whose goal of Christlikeness is similar to our own.

Ephesians Pt8 God is in control of everything

Ephesians 3:14-21(ESV)14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

The church at Ephesus was dear to Paul. His ministry among them spanned three years. The church there began with just twelve believers (Acts 19:7), but through faithful effort they experienced amazing growth. Knowing the success in Ephesus, Paul desired them to remain focused on the Lord, while maintaining their priorities. Verses 14-17 speaks about the Holy spirit. The indwelling of Christ is not a consequence of the gift of the Spirit; it is identical with it, for the office of the Holy Spirit is to dwell in us and help us to bear the likeness of Christ.

Colossians 1:27(HCSB)27 God wanted to make known among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

The promise of the Holy Spirit is the one who dwells within you. The Spirit of Christ.

John 14:15-18(HCSB)15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. 17 He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you.

The same Spirit that dwelt in Jesus and raised Him from the dead, dwells within us and this is our hope of glory.
Romans 8:8-11(HCSB). 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10 Now if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through His Spirit who lives in you.

If I were to ask you to describe God what would you say? That He is Spirit? Truth? Love?

Transcendence describes how God is above or superior to everything in creation, and immanence describes how God is involved in creation. Some people see them as contradictory—how can God be outside and above everything and yet be involved in everything?

God is higher above creation than we can even imagine, Look at the verse again: Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think

What is it that God can do? He can do exceeding (the Greek word is “hyper” as in hyper-drive) abundantly more than we can ask or even think. In other words God can do way more than even the most complex thoughts our minds can muster. Now if He can do more than we can imagine then He must be way more than we can imagine.

Think about some of these verses:

Isaiah 55:8-9(HCSB)8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.”This is the Lord’s declaration.9 “For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 40:13-14(HCSB)13 Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, or who gave Him His counsel?14 Who did He consult with? Who gave Him understanding and taught Him the paths of justice? Who taught Him knowledge and showed Him the way of understanding?

The difference between God and man is as great as the distance between outer space and earth—it’s infinite! God is beyond teaching. He doesn’t ask us what we think, and He doesn’t seek our approval or our advice.

God is independent from and above everything else: He doesn’t need to eat or drink, He doesn’t need oxygen, He can’t die, He doesn’t age, He can’t be sick or injured, He doesn’t fail, He doesn’t seek wisdom, and He isn’t fooled. He always accomplishes His purposes and He knows everything that has ever happened and ever will happen. He ordains it!

He is superior to everything and exceedingly far above it. You can’t explain Him or define Him even if you used every word in every language and tried it for eternity. By His own definition He is: “I AM THAT I AM.”

Exodus 3:13-14(HCSB)13 Then Moses asked God, “If I go to the Israelites and say to them: The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ what should I tell them?” 14 God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.”

God is above all, Yet, God still indwells His people and is active in His creation

Colossians 1:17(HCSB)He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.

Hebrews 1:3(HCSB)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.

The relationship between God and His saints is a very personal and intimate one. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14(HCSB)The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son[c] from the Father, full of grace and truth.; the Spirit fills and seals us; the Father has called us and holds us in His hand (John 10:29(HCSB) My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.).

This God who’s so high above us is yet involved with us. No one and no thing has any life, movement, or being without it coming from the transcendent God!

His involvement is for His own eternal glory

The Westminister Shorter Catechism asks the question, “What is the chief end of man?” Many of us know the answer. “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” While this is not a phrase drawn directly from Scripture, the wisdom behind it surely is. The Bible tells us with great clarity that man was created in order to bring glory to God. Thus the chief end of Christians and of the church is to bring glory to God.

There’s a trend in modern Christianity that basically says the purpose of God is to satisfy man. He reigns in heaven so that we can have a wonderful and happy life. He saves us so that we can have assurance in the afterlife and peace in the present one. Most people don’t come right out and say it like that, but that whole idea that God is here to love me and serve me is at the heart of their doctrine.

Why do we go and witness? Is our primary reason so that people can be saved? Or is it that God is glorified? Do you see the difference? We’re not going to help God out—He doesn’t need anything from us. We go and witness because God is worthy to be praised and our witness brings Him glory.

And when we think of missions in this way there’s no chance for failure as long as we preach. “Unto Him be the glory.” That’s the whole point of our entire existence—He must increase and we must decrease. John 3:30(HCSB)30 He must increase, but I must decrease.” And on earth this glory is in the church—that is, He is glorified by the fact that He loves us and has redeemed us. Remember when Jesus prayed for the disciples and for everyone who would believe through their word?

John 17:23(HCSB)I am in them and You are in Me. May they be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me.

God is Sovereign and His providence

Sovereignty describes God’s absolute control over everything, always and forever. He is not dependent on anything outside of Himself, never has been, never will be. (This is why His creature, man, cannot initiate his own salvation by his, man’s choice).

Providence is from latin, pro videre, seeing in advance, and also means God really establishes, ordains whatever comes to pass.

Just suppose next Sunday Day morning you were showering and listening to the radio. The newscaster announced that the night before at exactly midnight every house of prostitution, every porn shop, every gambling casino, and every house of any kind of sin very mysteriously collapsed and were totally destroyed. Your reaction would probably be, “Praise the Lord.” When you went to Sunday School somebody would ask you, “How do you account for that? What do you think happened?” I am sure you would reply, “It was the hand of God. God was surely in that.” Of course, you’d be right. The unbelievers may not accept your explanation, and the newspapers and TV newscasters may be inventing all kinds of theories, but you would attribute the whole thing to God and rejoice in His sovereign work.

Now just suppose the following Sunday morning you were again shaving and the same newscaster said, “Last night at exactly midnight every single Bible-believing church in the country very mysteriously collapsed and was totally destroyed.” I wonder what you would say then? Would most Christians say, “Bless the Lord,” or would they say, “It was the devil”?

Why would anyone blame – or rather, credit – God for the first situation (the destroying of the bad places), and then credit the devil with the destruction of the churches? If we understood the Scripture clearly, especially texts like Romans 11:36(HCSB)36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. and Romans 8:28(HCSB)28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. we would be forced to acknowledge the hand of God both times. God sovereignly controls every single thing that happens, whether it be “good” or “bad.” God is involved, in one way or another, in every event and each minute detail of that event. This is what we mean by “The Sovereign Providence of God.” If this is not true, then we really have no sure hope for our lives in this confused generation.

When people blame all the good on God and all the bad on the devil, they are guilty of an ancient heresy called “dualism.” Dualism basically sees God and the devil (good and bad) as two independent and sovereign powers struggling for ultimate control of this world. We earnestly hope “our side” wins, but at times it does not look too good. Unfortunately most Christians today are guilty of believing that very heresy. This is especially true of the charismatic movement as well as anyone else that emphasizes health and wealth as the birthright of every Christian, and blames the devil for everything that hinders our “personal happiness”. This is the heresy of dualism at its worst.

Why do sincere Christians do this? Why do they blame the good on God and the bad on the devil, unconsciously denying the sovereignty of God? It is probably because they are trying to “protect” God. They are trying to make it easier to believe and love Him by exempting Him from anything that appears to be bad and crediting Him with everything that appears to be good. A young nurse who worked in the emergency ward of a hospital told me that when anyone from a particular church in that town had an accident, the pastor would rush down to the hospital. His first words to the victim and family were, “Remember, God had nothing to do with this.” I suppose the poor man was afraid the people might desert the faith. If you’ll just think that preacher’s statement through for a moment, you can see it is ridiculous. The man may have been trying to “protect God,” but in reality he was laying the groundwork for despair and unbelief. He was leaving the injured person totally in the hands of either Satan or blind cruel fate. He was unconsciously moving God right out of the picture when the person needed most the assurance of God’s sovereign control.

We must stop looking at life as positive or negative. This is not buddhism there are no positive and negative energy.

God not only has a plan, but He also carries out that plan. God is always in total control of all things and is constantly at work in accomplishing His plan.
Isaiah 10:5-11(HCSB)Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger—the staff in their hands is My wrath.6 I will send him against a godless nation; I will command him to go against a people destined for My rage, to take spoils, to plunder, and to trample them down like clay in the streets. 7 But this is not what he intends; this is not what he plans. It is his intent to destroy and to cut off many nations. 8 For he says, “Aren’t all my commanders kings? 9  Isn’t Calno like Carchemish? Isn’t Hamath like Arpad? Isn’t Samaria like Damascus? 10 As my hand seized the idolatrous kingdoms, whose idols exceeded those of Jerusalem and Samaria, 11 and as I did to Samaria and its idols will I not also do to Jerusalem and its idols?”

Sometimes God’s plan calls for revival and there will be a day of Pentecost when thousands of souls will be swept into the Kingdom of God. There are other times that His plan calls for judgment. Isaiah calls God’s judgment His “strange work,” but it is nonetheless God’s work. Just as there will be a day of Pentecost when thousands are saved, so there will be a day of judgment when a universal flood sweeps nearly the whole human race into everlasting damnation. We must see that God is just as much the author of one as He is the other. Whether it is Pentecost or whether it is the Flood, whether they are the events of Acts 2 or the events of Genesis 6, God is in total control and is working out His own plan. The rain and full harvest, as well as the drought and empty barns, are from the hand of the same sovereign God. We must learn to praise Him under both circumstances (Psalm 34:1(HCSB)I will praise the Lord at all times;His praise will always be on my lips.

In working out His own plans, God uses everybody, even the devil. Now at first that shocks some people: “What! God uses the devil?” That is exactly right. Everybody, even the devil, serves God’s purposes. Remember Satan is God’s Satan, he is His puppet. He cannot do anything that God does not allow. If he could then that would make him sovereign and not God. Now a servant may serve through gritted teeth, and he may hate his servitude; but he is, nonetheless, a servant. So it is with the devil. The devil has never done one thing out of love or obedience to God. He has never done one thing in order to knowingly bring glory to God. Everything the devil does, he does because he hates God and because he is trying to frustrate the purposes of God. However, in the end, everything the devil does will surely further the purposes of God. If ever there was a born loser, it is the devil, himself. In the final day, it will be shown that the devil never won a single time. And that includes the Garden of Eden!

There is alot of truth in this classic statement from one of the Puritans. “What God sovereignly decrees in eternity, man will always demand in time.” Man’s “free will” will always freely choose the very thing that God has sovereignly ordained and God’s purpose will be fulfilled; just as surely, man will be responsible for his every act of sin. I know of no passage that sets forth this truth as clearly as Matthew 27. The whole chapter is loaded with vain attempts by men to deny personal responsibility. First, Judas tried to deny his responsibility for the death of Christ by pleading Christ’s innocence and giving the thirty pieces of silver back to the chief priests and elders. They, in turn, replied, “What is that to us? That was your responsibility.” Was it not their duty to be certain that Christ was, indeed, guilty and worthy of death? Certainly it was!

We are not responsible for the results of what God does with our acts; we are totally responsible for the acts themselves. That, and that alone, will be the basis upon which God will deal with us.

An elderly lady was praying out loud in front of an open window. She had neither food nor money, and she was pleading with God to supply her with something to eat. Two boys heard her and decided to mock her faith. They went down to the store and bought a loaf of bread and a quart of milk. Then they stealthily put the milk and bread through the window. When the lady opened her eyes and saw the food, she praised God for hearing and answering her prayers. The boys stuck their heads up above the window sill and said, “Woman, you are stupid. God did not send those things. We put them there, and we did it just to prove to you how dumb you are. God did not bring that milk and bread; we brought them.”

What would you say in a case like that? The lady smiled, thanked the boys for the food, and then said, “Thank You God for getting me these groceries and getting the Devil to pay for it!” I am sure you see the difference. When the mailman brings an electric bill for two hundred dollars, you do not get upset with him. He did not send it; all he did was deliver it. This is the principle that we must see in all of the difficult things that happen. Thomas Watson was a Puritan with the ability to put great truth into short, concise statements. If you understand the following quote, you have the whole message: “God always has a hand in the action where the sin is, but He never has a hand in the sin of the action.” It does not matter what happened, where it happened, when it happened, or to whom it happened. If it happened, then God had a hand in it; He controlled it. However, God is not guilty of the sin or hatred in the hearts of men that caused the sin in the situation.

Few people realize how important this particular principle is in our Christian life. We are told in Scripture to “humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God” and to submit to Him. However, we are also told to “resist the devil” and never to yield to his wiles and temptations. The problem lies in knowing and recognizing the difference between these two things. Many Christians, under the guise of “resisting the devil,” may well be actually fighting the sovereign providence of God. Other believers, under the guise of piously “turning it all over to God,” may be deliberately ignoring their personal responsibility to obey clear principles and fight temptation. Until we learn to see both the hand of Satan and the hand of God, we may be fighting God when we think we’re “resisting Satan,” and vice versa.

Isaiah 45:6-7 (ESV)That people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.

Even though all sickness and affliction are under God’s control and are part of His purposes, it is NOT true that they are all chastisement for sin. Some affliction is definitely chastisement for sin and is sent to bring us to repentance and effect specific change in us; however, that is not true all of the time. Sometimes God allows His people to suffer just to demonstrate the power of His grace. It is wrong for a Christian to ever feel that God is “getting even” and punishing him when affliction comes. God only punishes sin in one of two places: he either punished it in Christ and the penal debt is totally paid, or else He punishes it in the sinner in hell. Even when affliction comes into our life as chastisement, it is never penal [that is, from God as judge], but the chastisement is always remedial [that is, from a loving heavenly Father]. Our Father teaches us through affliction, but He never punishes (penally) us.

Ephesians Pt4 Regeneration precedes faith

Ephesians 2: 1-10(HCSB)And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, 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. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, 5 made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! 6 Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, 7 so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.

In verses 1-3 Paul reminds the church in Ephesus of their former spiritual state prior to coming to faith in Christ. Christ is alive because of His righteousness, but we are dead, because of our sins. After a person is regenerated, that person cooperates by exercising faith and trust. But the first step is the work of God and of God alone. Grace focuses on the forgiveness needed because of the current state we are in. It is a gift that is not earned, but it is more than that. We didn’t simply live in a way not to earn salvation; we lived in a way characterized by fighting, kicking, and screaming against receiving the gift. That is how our lives were characterized.

The reason we do not cooperate with regenerating grace before it acts upon us and in us is because we cannot. We cannot because we are spiritually dead. We can no more assist the Holy Spirit in the quickening of our souls to spiritual life than Lazarus could help Jesus raise him for the dead. Dead men do not cooperate with grace. Unless regeneration takes place first, there is no possibility of faith. Regeneration precedes faith.
Regeneration is seen first of all as a supernatural work of God. Regeneration is the divine work of God the Holy Spirit upon the minds and souls of fallen people, by which the Spirit quickens those who are spiritually dead and makes them spiritually alive. This supernatural work rescues that person from his bondage to sin and his moral inability to incline himself towards the things of God. Regeneration, by being a supernatural work, is obviously a work that cannot be accomplished by natural man on his own. If it were a natural work, it would not require the intervention of God the Holy Spirit.

Regeneration is a monergistic work. “Monergistic” means that it is the work of one person who exercises his power. In the case of regeneration, it is God alone who is able, and it is God alone who performs the work of regenerating the human soul. The work of regeneration is not a joint venture between the fallen person and the divine Spirit; it is solely the work of God.

The monergistic work of regeneration by the Holy Spirit is an immediate work. It is immediate with respect to time, and it is immediate with respect to the principle of operating without intervening means. The Holy Spirit does not use something apart from His own power to bring a person from spiritual death to spiritual life, and when that work is accomplished, it is accomplished instantaneously. No one is partly regenerate, or almost regenerate. Here we have a classic either/or situation. A person is either born again, or he is not born again. There is no nine-month gestation period with respect to this birth. When the Spirit changes the disposition of the human soul, He does it instantly. A person may not be aware of this internal work accomplished by God for some time after it has actually occurred. But though our awareness of it may be gradual, the action of it is instantaneous.

John 3:1-8(ESV)Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
The result of our regeneration is first of all faith, which then results in justification and adoption into the family of God. Nobody is born into this world a child of the family of God. We are born as children of wrath. The only way we enter into the family of God is by adoption, and that adoption occurs when we are united to God’s only begotten Son by faith. When by faith we are united with Christ, we are then adopted into that family of whom Christ is the firstborn. Regeneration therefore involves a new genesis, a new beginning, a new birth. It is that birth by which we enter into the family of God by adoption.  It’s important to see that regeneration is a gift that God disposes sovereignly to all of those whom He determines to bring into His family.  John 1:9-12(ESV)9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
Titus 3:1-7(ESV)Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 

John 15:16 (ESV )You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

Ezekiel 36:25-27(ESV)25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

1 Peter 2:9 (ESV)But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

2 Thessalonians 2:13(ESV)But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.

John 6:44(ESV)44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
Why does He get to do all the choosing?
Psalm 115:3(ESV)Our God is in the heavens;He does all that he pleases.

Flesh can only produce flesh- that’s true and factual, Regenerating work of the Spirit is supernatural – Shai Linne

John 6:60-71(ESV)60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” 71 He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray him.

1 Corinthians 2:14(ESV) – The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

2 Corinthians 4:3-4(ESV)3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

1 Corinthians 1:18(ESV)18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

The call goes out by preaching the gospel, the Holy Spirit does the work of regeneration in the hearer’s heart, if the hearer is elect the hearer’s heart turns from stone to flesh, therefore the elect will respond by faith to the gospel message while the non-elect turn their ear and think it foolishness.
All of God’s “chosen” will be saved without exception; they will hear and respond because they have spiritual ears to hear the truth. How do we know if we are among the few that have ears to hear? By responding to the call. Assurance of this certain call, this chosen call, is from the Holy Spirit. If we listen with our spiritual ears and respond to the invitation, there will be fear and trembling in our souls as we recognize that it was God’s work in us that caused our salvation.

Romans 10:13-15(ESV)13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
Many people hear the call of God which comes through His revelation of Himself through two things—the creation and the conscience/Holy Spirit within us. But only the “few” will respond because they are the ones who are truly hearing. Jesus said many times, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 11:15; Mark 4:9; Luke 8:8, Luke 14:35). The point is that everyone has ears, but only a few are listening and responding. Not everyone who hears the gospel receives it but only the “few” who have ears to hear. The “many” hear, but there is no interest or there is outright antagonism toward God. Many are called or invited into the kingdom, but none are able to come on their own. God must draw the hearts of those who come; otherwise they will not. The Puritans had a saying: “The same sun that melts the ice hardens the clay.” If some of those scriptures were hard to hear listen to a few more.

1 Peter 2:4-8(ESV)4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” 7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” 8 and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

Exodus 7:3-4(ESV)“But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my people the Israelites.”

Romans 9:13-23(ESV)13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion,[b] but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—
From a human perspective, it seems wrong for God to harden a person and then punish the person He has hardened. Biblically speaking, however, we have all sinned against God (Romans 3:23(ESV), and the just penalty for that sin is death (Romans 6:23(ESV). Therefore, God’s hardening and punishing a person is not unjust; it is actually merciful in comparison to what the person deserves.

There will be no one in hell who does not deserve to be there. No one will be there who can give a good reason, a warranted reason why they shouldn’t be there. And all of the world will know this and will vindicate God in it. There will be no doubting of the justice of God at the last day. That is the first thing that has to be said, biblically, that no one will be in hell who doesn’t deserve to be there. No one will be in hell who is not in a state of rebellion against God. I think the Bible portrays God’s election and predestination as choosing graciously to save some sinners, not choosing to make some really good people bad. It always pictures him as rescuing sinners before the foundation of the world. Christ is slain for sinners before the foundation of the world.
Revelation 13:8(ESV)8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.

God in His perfection wrote the doctrine of election

God does what He wants- that’s what it means to be Sovereign Ruler

Psalm 65:4(ESV)Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts!

Matthew 11:27(ESV)27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

Who can argue with the people that God chooses?

Israel and not Egypt, Peter and not Judas

Humanly speaking, it should have been Saul and not David

The inheritance should have been Esau’s and not Jacob’s

Here are a few facts: we were dead in sin;we were deceived by Satan;and we were sentenced to hell. These are not part of our cultural assumptions about mankind. Virtually no one, outside a fairly small group of evangelicals, seriously believes that without a Savior all people are dead in sin and incapable of any spiritual good; and that without a Savior all people are captured and blinded by an evil, supernatural person named Satan; and that without a Savior all people are under the wrath of God and sentenced to eternal torment in hell. There are two fundamental reasons why these things are not believed:

1because they are unflattering to human nature, and

2because they have to be learned from God not man.

If there is going to be any salvation at all, there must be a divine revelation. God must reveal these things to us or we perish. We can’t find them out from YouTube or radio or medicine or psychology or art. We learn the truth about ourselves from the Word of God. And once our eyes are opened to the truth that God reveals, then we can see confirmations of it in virtually all the sciences and arts. The norm of the world in which we live is evil. Our default destination is Hell not Heaven. During the age in which we live, God permits that certain things are under the control of Satan.

Paul says in Galatians 1:3(ESV)“Christ gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age.”

Colossians 1:13(ESV)“God has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.”

And John says in 1 John 5:19(ESV)“We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in the [power of] the evil one.”

So God has indeed begun to save people from the power of darkness. At the cross the decisive death blow was struck against Satan (Colossians 2:15; Hebrews 2:14).
1 John 4:4(ESV)”He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world”.
By and large the world rejects the Savior. And without a Savior the prince of the power of the air reigns over the sons of disobedience. Nevertheless, the way of the cross is narrow and there are few that find it, and the way of Satan is broad and there are many that find it. Why? Because that is their natural state as children under wrath. We are all born sinful.

But the gloriousness of the gospel is this:
1 Corinthians 15:3-6(ESV)3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.

Romans 6:6-10(ESV)6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 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.

The gospel is called the ‘good news’ because it addresses the most serious problem that you and I have as human beings, and that problem is simply this: God is holy and He is just, and I’m not. And at the end of my life, I’m going to stand before a just and holy God, and I’ll be judged. And I’ll be judged either on the basis of my own righteousness–or lack of it–or the righteousness of another. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus lived a life of perfect righteousness, of perfect obedience to God, not for His own well being but for His people. He has done for me what I couldn’t possibly do for myself. But not only has He lived that life of perfect obedience, He offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the justice and the righteousness of God.

Before salvation, we were degenerate; after salvation we are regenerated. The result of regeneration is peace with God Romans 5:1(HCSB)Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ., new life, and eternal sonship. Regeneration begins the process of sanctification wherein we become the people God intends us to be. Regeneration is God’s making a person spiritually alive, as a result of faith in Jesus Christ. Our rebirth is distinguished from our first birth, when we were conceived physically and inherited our sin nature. The new birth is a spiritual, holy, and heavenly birth that results in our being made alive spiritually.

The regenerate man has forever ceased to be the man he was; his old life is over and a new life has begun; he is a new creature in Christ, buried with him out of reach of condemnation and raised with him into a new life of righteousness Regeneration is a real thorough change, whereby one is made a new creature

2 Corinthians 5:17(HCSB)17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.

The Lord God makes the creature a new creature, “as the goldsmith melts down the vessel of dishonor, and makes it a vessel of honor.”

Regeneration is a change of qualities or dispositions. Bad qualities are removed, and contrary dispositions are replaced. We will sin but we do not make a practice of sinning.

Colossians 3:9-11(NLT)9 Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. 11 In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

It is a change into the likeness of God. Regeneration is a radical change. Just as our physical birth resulted in a new individual entering the earthly realm, our spiritual birth results in a new person entering the heavenly realm. After regeneration, we begin to see and hear and seek after divine things; we begin to live a life of faith and holiness.

Philippians Pt 7 Simul Justus Et Peccator

Philippians 3:12-21(HCSB) 12 Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, 14 I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. 15 Therefore, all who are mature should think this way. And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this also to you. 16 In any case, we should live up to whatever truth we have attained. 17 Join in imitating me, brothers, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. 18 For I have often told you, and now say again with tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction; their god is their stomach; their glory is in their shame. They are focused on earthly things, 20 but our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21 He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of His glorious body, by the power that enables Him to subject everything to Himself.

It is also quite possible that the Judaizers, the Jewish teachers who were plaguing the Philippian church, were telling the Philippians that spiritual perfection was available if they would be circumcised and keep the law.  It is also true that there were heretics floating around at that time who believed you could reach a certain level of knowledge in which you attained perfection.  So, to answer the Gnostics who thought they had reached that level, to answer the Judaizers who thought they had reached that level through circumcision and law-keeping, and to answer anybody else who might assume that because he had the knowledge, the righteousness, the power, the fellowship, and the glory of Christ he was therefore perfect, he quickly in verse 12 launches into a passage which is a total disclaimer of any spiritual perfection.  That’s his intent in this passage.  He wants us to know that he is not perfect.  He has not reached moral perfection. He has not reached spiritual perfection, even though he is a new creation; even though he has a new heart and a new disposition which desires strongly holy things; even though he has union with Jesus Christ and a new mind – the mind of Christ – even though he has new standing before God and is accepted by God and entitled to heaven and has the righteousness of Christ covering him; even though he has the indwelling Holy Spirit, who is the power of God; even though he has promised future glory and indwelling glory in that Spirit, he has not arrived – he is not perfect.  He is still temptable.  He is still the possessor of his unredeemed flesh.  He is still a sinner. The very heart of the gospel is in Martin Luther’s latin phrase, “Simul Justus et Peccator.” This means that a Christian is at the same time both righteous and a sinner. Human beings are justified by grace alone, but at the same time they will always remain sinners, even after salvation and baptism. The doctrine of “simul justus” is not an excuse for lawlessness, or a license for continued sinful conduct; rather, properly understood, it comforts the person who truly wishes to be free from sin and is aware of the inner struggle within him.  Romans 7:15-25(ESV) For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

 

Thus, any thought of perfection must be set aside in favor of pursuing the perfection that every believer must recognize he doesn’t have.  That’s the point.  He had already been placed in Christ, already accepted by God, already gifted with all of these tremendous things, and yet he was not perfect.  He had not arrived.

 

Peter understood it when Peter wrote in 2 Peter 3:18(HCSB)18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.  He was saying the same thing Paul is saying here.  There’s a growing process.  When you’re saved, yes, you receive the knowledge of Christ; yes, you receive the righteousness of Christ, positionally, imputed to your account; yes, you receive the power of Christ in your life; yes, you receive the fellowship of Christ in communion with Him; yes, you receive the glory of Christ but not in perfection. And so there must be growth.  There must be the pursuit of the goal.  There must be the running of the race.  That’s his point.  The pressing toward the mark.

But why do all this if we are already guaranteed Heaven? First of all, it glorifies God.  And that’s what a Christian is supposed to do with his life is bring glory to God.  Secondly, it verifies regeneration.  It makes demonstrable the fact that you are truly changed because you’re in the progress of making it visible that your life is being changed.  Thirdly, it adorns the truth.  It lets you literally wear the truth of God so others can see it.  Fourthly, it grants you assurance.  When there is spiritual progress in your life there is the sense that you belong to God, because you can see His work and your calling and election become sure.  Not only that, it preserves you from the sorrows and the tragedies of spiritual weakness, which are not enjoyable to any believer any time.

The apostle Paul is trying to show the readers in Philippi that because he is a Christian does not mean he has attained perfection.  But beyond that, I believe he is trying to teach all of us and all generations that perfection in this life is a goal, not an achievement.  It is something you pursue but never reach.

Jesus tells a parable of a fig tree that bears no fruit in Luke 13:6:9(ESV)6 And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ 8 And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. 9 Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”

Fig trees were planted in vineyards and taken care of by gardeners who worked for the owners of the vineyard.

The fig trees represents us/ the church, the owner represents God and the gardener is Jesus interceding for us. God is basically saying all these trees (Church goers) are bearing fruit but this one is not, so cut it down and remove it, then Jesus intercedes and says 1 more year let me dig around it and put manure, then if it still does not bear fruit then remove it.

Healthy Fig trees that are fruit producing are pruned very little. The thinning stimulates new growth and it increases fruit size. Fig trees that do not produce fruit are thinned out meaning the diseased, weak and dead limbs during the dormant season, the following season if it doesn’t produce fruit they are chopped down and burned.

In the parable Jesus is pleading the case with the creator God to have mercy on the people who look like the other Christians but bear no fruit. He is saying let me prune them and put manure on them and if that doesn’t work then cut em down and burn them. Pruning is a good thing alot of times we think we are going through stuff, we think the whole world is against us God is far from us, our cat has an attitude but it is a pruning to produce fruit and it could possibly the last pruning. The manure we sometimes endure is healthy for us to produce fruit later on. Manure is used a fertilizer. We need discernment to recognize what is going on. People, jobs, things, places etc are pruned from our lives and we think it is so horrible but in all actuality it’s a pruning. Those things were the diseased, dead and weak limbs keeping us from bearing fruit.

Hebrews 13:17(ESV)17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

We are spirit , soul and body. When we are Justified our spirit is instantly saved, but our soul(mind,will and emotions) are in a constant state of being saved(sanctified). Then our body will be saved when we die(Glorified).

The one of the main jobs of the pastor is to help you along with the middle part. Sanctification, people especially in America do not like being told what to do, they lash out, call names, try to justify their sins, do everything they can except to obey the Word and repent. Dont believe me? want to check my messages?

Spiritual living, the Christian life, is a process of pursuing Christlikeness.  The Christian life is a process of pursuing Christlikeness, that in simple terms is the direction of the whole matter of sanctification.  We must become more and more like Jesus Christ.  Simply stated, that is the Christian life to be more like Jesus and less like our old selves. Obedience to Jesus Christ is the Highest Form Of Worship Love is a choice. You have to choose to Love Jesus Christ enough to Obey Him. John 14:15(ESV)“If you love me, obey my commandments.

 

Being Obedient to the Word of God means putting your faith hope and love for Jesus Christ in action.  Jesus Christ Himself is the living Word of God and He is God.Obedience has always been the Highest form of Worship. That is why it was the disobedience of Adam and Eve in the garden that brought sin and death into the world. Christians have to practice what Jesus Christ preached. Reading The Bible, Prayer and Giving are the three basic elements that we as Christians should be doing on a daily and weekly basis.
Matthew 7:21-24(HCSB)21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ 23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!’24 “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock.

You remember when Jesus came and called His disciples, He said, “Follow Me.”  And that particular command has not been replaced or improved upon.  The whole matter of the Christian life and Christianity is this matter of following Christ to become more and more like Him.  The apostle John said that if you belong to Christ, if you abide in Christ, then you ought to walk as Christ walked.  The apostle Paul, writing to the Galatians, said, “I have pain until Christ is fully formed in you.”  And writing to the Corinthians he said a couple of times, “Be followers of me, as I am of Christ.”

John 14: 23-24(HCSB)23 Jesus answered, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 The one who doesn’t love Me will not keep My words. The word that you hear is not Mine but is from the Father who sent Me.

 

But most significant, perhaps to us, is the word of God the Father.  Romans 8:5-11(HCSB)5 For those who live according to the flesh think about the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, about the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10 Now if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through His Spirit who lives in you. Christ called us to be like Him. God’s purpose in the beginning, that we be made like Jesus Christ. Now, the goal then of every Christian’s life is to be like Christ.  That is the goal.  That is the thing which we pursue. That is the purpose of our time here, and that is the pursuit of our sanctification.  It then becomes the life-long objective of every Christian to become more and more and more like Jesus Christ.  That is as basic as it can be stated.

The most important thing to say is that it is a life of confidence in God. And the foundation of our confidence is this promise: The furnace of affliction in the family of God is always for refinement, never for destruction. Which simply means that life in the refiner’s fire is a life of trust in the unchanging, purifying love of God.

1 Peter 4:12(NLT)12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. 13 Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.

God is more concerned with your character than He is with your comfort.

God is more concerned with your holiness than He is with your happiness.

God is more concerned with you as a person than He is with your possessions.

God doesn’t care about your reputation; He cares about your Character.

For Godly character to be in us HE has to work our fleshly character out of us. God doesn’t change our personality, He changes our character.

Character is what you are behind closed doors, when no one is watching, when your all alone, when you don’t have to wear the “mask” in front of people.

Godly character is the result of the Holy Spirit’s work of sanctification. Sanctification, or in its verbal form, sanctify, literally means “to set apart” for special use or purpose, that is, to make holy or sacred. Therefore, sanctification refers to the state or process of being set apart, i.e. made holy.

Character in the believer is a consistent manifestation of Jesus in his/her life. It is the purity of heart that God gives becoming purity in action. God sometimes uses trials to strengthen character:
Romans 5:3-5(NLT) We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

To have Godly character we must kill the flesh and feed the spirit.

Galatians 5:17(NLT) The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.

The closest thing to a biblical definition of the flesh is Romans 8:7-8,(ESV)“The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

So the flesh is the old “me” who used to rebel against God. In the flesh I was hostile and insubordinate. I hated the thought of admitting I was dead with sin. I defied the idea that my greatest need was God to make me alive. In the flesh I trusted my wisdom not God’s. So nothing I did in the flesh could please God, because “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). And the flesh does nothing from faith.

So “the flesh” is the old self-reliant, faithless me. This is what died when God saved me. God clamped the arteries on my old unbelieving heart of stone. And when it died He took it out and gave me a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26).

‘What’s the difference between this new heart that lives and the old one that died? Galatians 2:20(ESV)20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. The old heart that died trusted in itself; the new heart banks on Christ every day.

How do dead people do battle with sin? They do battle with sin by trusting the Son of God. They are dead to Satan’s lie, which goes like this: ‘You will be happier if you trust your own ideas about how to be happy instead of trusting the counsel and the promises of Christ.” Christians have died to that deceit. So the way they fight Satan is by trusting that the paths and promises of Christ are better than Satan’s.

Building Spiritual Walls and Gates

We always hear of people who build walls around their hearts. ” That person is walled up” The city of Jerusalem (City of Peace) had walls, the reason they had walls was to keep the enemies out, but they had gates, and the gates had different uses. the same with our lives, we have to have walls for protection to keep the enemies out but we have to have gates to let the good stuff in and let the bad stuff out, but those gates need to be protected and usually that is where we fail the most.

The book of Nehemiah one of the history books of the Bible, continues the story of Israel’s return from the Babylonian captivity and the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. It serves as a great metaphor for living the spiritual life. In the book, the Temple represents our heart (where God meets with us); the city of Jerusalem represents our mind; the walls of the city represent our spiritual walls and the health of our relationship with Christ, and the gates of the city represent our eyes, ears and mouth.

Nehemiah built the city walls and installed the gates to protect the city and the temple. Walls keep bad stuff or bad people out. Gates allow good stuff and good people in. But sometimes, the gates allowed bad stuff and bad people in. It’s not what the gates were designed for, but it happened because those in charge of the gates weren’t guarding them like they should.

Nehemiah was a Hebrew in Persia when the word reached him that the Temple in Jerusalem was being reconstructed. He grew anxious knowing there was no wall to protect the city. Nehemiah invited God to use him to save the city. God answered his prayer by softening the heart of the Persian king, Artaxerxes, who gave not only his blessing, but also supplies to be used in the project. Nehemiah is given permission by the king to return to Jerusalem, where he is made governor.

In spite of opposition and accusations the wall was built and the enemies silenced. The people, inspired by Nehemiah, give tithes of much money, supplies and manpower to complete the wall in a remarkable 52 days, despite much opposition. This united effort is short-lived, however, because Jerusalem falls back into apostasy when Nehemiah leaves for a while. After 12 years he returned to find the walls strong but the people weak. He set about the task of teaching the people morality and he didn’t mince words. Nehemiah 13:23-27(HCSB)23 In those days I also saw Jews who had married women from Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. 24 Half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod or the language of one of the other peoples but could not speak Hebrew. 25 I rebuked them, cursed them, beat some of their men, and pulled out their hair. I forced them to take an oath before God and said: “You must not give your daughters in marriage to their sons or take their daughters as wives for your sons or yourselves! 26 Didn’t King Solomon of Israel sin in matters like this? There was not a king like him among many nations. He was loved by his God and God made him king over all Israel, yet foreign women drew him into sin. 27 Why then should we hear about you doing all this terrible evil and acting unfaithfully against our God by marrying foreign women?” He reestablishes true worship through prayer and by encouraging the people to revival by reading and adhering to the Word of God.

Nehemiah led the Israelites into a respect and love for the text of Scripture. Nehemiah, because of his love for God and his desire to see God honored and glorified, led the Israelites towards the faith and obedience God had desired for them for so long. In the same way, Christians are to love and revere the truths of Scripture, commit them to memory, meditate on them day and night, and turn to them for the fulfillment of every spiritual need. 2 Timothy 3:16(ESV) tells us, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” If we expect to experience the spiritual revival of the Israelites we must begin with God’s Word. Nehemiah 8:1-8(HCSB)1 all the people gathered together at the square in front of the Water Gate. They asked Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses that the Lord had given Israel. 2 On the first day of the seventh month, Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly of men, women, and all who could listen with understanding. 3 While he was facing the square in front of the Water Gate, he read out of it from daybreak until noon before the men, the women, and those who could understand. All the people listened attentively[a] to the book of the law. 4 Ezra the scribe stood on a high wooden platform made for this purpose. Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah stood beside him on his right; to his left were Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hash-baddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam. 5 Ezra opened the book in full view of all the people, since he was elevated above everyone. As he opened it, all the people stood up. 6 Ezra praised the Lord, the great God, and with their hands uplifted all the people said, “Amen, Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. 7 Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah, who were Levites,[b] explained the law to the people as they stood in their places. 8 They read out of the book of the law of God, translating and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was read.

Each of us ought to have genuine compassion for others who have spiritual or physical hurts. To feel compassion, yet do nothing to help, is unfounded biblically. At times we may have to give up our own comfort in order to minister properly to others. We must totally believe in a cause before we will give our time or money to it with the right heart. When we allow God to minister through us, even unbelievers will know it is God’s work.

The walls around Jerusalem have been torn down, built up, and moved many times. In AD 70, they were destroyed by the Romans, and in 1033 by an earthquake. The walls as we see them today were built in the 1500s.

While Nehemiah served King Artaxerxes in Babylon, he heard of the ruined state of Jerusalem. He was given authorization and supplies to go there and restore the walls and the gates. When Nehemiah arrived, he made a detailed inspection of the walls and gates (Nehemiah 2:11–16) and organized the people to start the rebuilding effort (Nehemiah 2:17–3:32). When the wall was rebuilt, it probably encompassed the same area as before, except it may have excluded the king’s gardens in the southeast. Starting from the east corner of the north wall, Nehemiah went counterclockwise:

Sheep Gate: North central, just north of the Temple Mount. Near where the sheep market was for the temple sacrifices. Sheep Gate

(Nehemiah 3:1-32)

The very first gate mentioned is the sheep gate. It was called the sheep gate because this was the gate which the sheep and lambs used in the sacrifice were bought through.

Personal aspect: No prizes for knowing that this speaks of the very first experience we come into in our Christian life – that is, a realisation that Jesus was the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. The sheep gate then speaks to us of the cross and the sacrifice that was made for our sins. It is the starting point of everything but you will also notice if you read the entire chapter that the sheep gate is also mentioned at the very end once we have come full circle. That is because everything starts and ends with Jesus’ death on the cross.

 

Prophetic aspect: This gate points to the first coming of Jesus Christ 2000 years ago to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). He is the sacrifice foretold in this sheep gate. He is the door by which everyone must enter to be saved (John 10:7-9).

Fish Gate: (Nehemiah 3:3) Northwest, just northwest of the temple. The Fish gate was mentioned next. It was called the fish gate because the fisherman of Galilee would bring their catch in through this gate to be sold. The Fish Gate was one of Jerusalem’s main entrances. King Manasseh had built it after God sent the Assyrians to capture him and teach him humility (2 Chronicles 33:14). Nehemiah had the sons of Hassenaah rebuild it (Nehemiah 3:3). Zephaniah prophesied that a cry will come from the Fish Gate on the Day of the Lord (Zephaniah 1:10).
Personal aspect: For us, it speaks of evangelism as we have been called to be ‘fishers of men’ (Matthew 4:19). It is a natural progression in our Christian life that after seeing that Jesus died for our sins, we would then want to tell others about it. Surveys have shown that believers who have been saved less than two years win the most people to the Lord. Their simple testimony of what Jesus has done in their lives qualifies them to be great ‘fishers of men.’ So this is the next step in the Christian life.

Prophetic aspect: This gate speaks of the church in the first century (the apostolic era) where believers on fire for God sacrificed all and went out to turn the world upside down with the message of Jesus Christ! And that is what happened. Starting with the Jews and then traveling out to the Gentiles in the then known world, the Apostles and disciples of the Lord truly were ‘fishers of men’ and the growth of Christianity spread rapidly during the first century.

Old Gate (Nehemiah 3:6) Following from the Fish gate was the Old gate. Nehemiah is the only book in the Bible where it is called the Old gate and it may have been one of the original gates made. Old Gate it is near the northwest corner of the wall, west of the Fish Gate.

 

Personal aspect:  This speaks to us of the old ways of truth. A young Christian having experienced the sheep gate, then the fish gate, soon sees the need for experiencing the old gate. This means learning the old ways of truth that never change. Jeremiah 6:16(NLT) states ‘Thus says the Lord, Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls.’ Too many Christian’s today want something new. The latest teaching, the latest experience… Or they try to change truth to make it acceptable with what the world thinks is right ‘today’ (which may not be the same as what it thinks ‘tomorrow’.) But the Ancient of Days calls us back to His long established ways that do not change and remain the same yesterday, today and forever.

Prophetic aspect: Prophetically this speaks of the period of the Church Fathers around 100-325 AD (sometimes known as the Ante-Nicene era). This was a period where a defence of the faith and the truth of God were further established to counter attacks and persecution from unbelievers.

Valley Gate: (Nehemiah 3:13) West central, south of the present wall of Old City. The gate that Nehemiah used when he did his inspection of the walls. Several valleys surround Jerusalem and this gate apparently opened out to the valley of Hinnom.

Personal aspect: Examining the picture above you notice that there is a long distance before you come to the next gate, which is the valley gate. For a new Christian the Lord allows a ‘honeymoon’ type period where He teaches you and His presence is strong in your life. This can go on for some time as indicated by the positioning of the old and valley gates. But sooner or later the valley gate must come. The valley gate speaks to us of humbling and trials – valley type experiences used by the Lord for our personal growth. Never easy but the Christian needs to remember that in the natural nothing really grows on the mountain tops, but it certainly does down in the valleys. So it is in the spiritual. Never a nice experience but it always produces fruit.

Prophetic aspect: In the history of the church the valley gate would speak of the humbling and suppression of the true church following on from when ‘Christianity’ was made a state religion under Constantine (~390AD). Pagan rituals were adapted and brought into the ‘church’ and spiritual regression ensued. This long period continued with the ‘dark ages’ and the further establishment of Roman Catholicism as the face of ‘Christianity’ to the world.

Dung (Refuse) Gate (Nehemiah 3:14) Very southern tip, facing southwest it exited out to a garbage dump in the Hinnom Valley where, in the days of King Manasseh, child sacrifices took place (2 Chronicles 33:6). All of Jerusalem’s refuse and rubbish was taken out through the dung gate, down to the valley of Hinnom, where it would be burned.

 

Personal aspect: Again there is quite a distance to the next gate indicating that, unfortunately, the valley experience can carry on for some time. But the result of that experience is clearly seen in this next gate – the dung gate. This is where the rubbish is removed and this is what happens in our own life. Valley experiences are used by the Lord to clear away the rubbish so that true faith, refined by the fire, can come forth and produce fruit. Clearing away the rubbish in our lives is never easy but the benefits of this experience can be seen in the next gate. You will notice also that at this point of your Christian life there is a dramatic ‘turning of the corner’ that takes place. From the diagram above, up until this point we have been moving downward and the experiences have been hard, but having come to this point there is a sharp turn in the road and we begin to move upward again.

Prophetic aspect: The dung gate speaks of the rubbish that became established within the ‘church’ during the dark and medieval ages leading up to the reformation. Some of doctrinal ‘rubbish’ that needed removing included the teachings of indulgences, purgatory, salvation by various sacraments and works, exaltation of Mary as the ‘Mother of God’ and the man-made church hierarchy and papal authority. There was a lot to be removed!

Fountain Gate:(Nehemiah 3:15) Southern tip, facing east. The east gate that led out from the Pool of Shelah to the king’s gardens and the stairs that went down the eastern slope. The fountain gate is located near the pool and was often used by the people for cleaning before proceeding on to the temple.

Personal aspect: You will notice from the picture that the fountain gate is located extremely close to the dung gate. In other words, after a valley type experience where rubbish in our lives is cleared out through the dung gate, true faith comes forth and the fountains begin to flow quite quickly! This speaks to us of the living waters of the Holy Spirit that cleanse our lives and empower us for our Christian life. Jesus said: ‘Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” (John 7:38)

Prophetic aspect: In church history, this speaks of the period beginning with the reformation (1517-1600). It was a time when the truth of God’s word was established again as Bibles were printed for the common man to read and the key truth of salvation by grace through faith opened the fountains of salvation to flow again.

Water Gate: (Nehemiah 3:26) Facing east, south of the current Old City walls. The Water Gate led down to the Gihon Spring which was located adjacent to the Kidron Valley The eastern wall on the south end apparently was abandoned and a new wall built farther west, turning the southern section into more of a tail. The new wall excluded the tomb of David and most of the water tunnel that fed the Pool of Shelah by the Dung Gate. But the narrow confines included the upper house of the king, the home of the high priest, and the ascent to the armory. After the wall was built, Ezra read the people the Law from a square by the Water Gate (Nehemiah 8:1).

 

Personal aspect: The next gate we arrive at is the water gate. The water gate is a picture of the word of God and its effect in our life. Ephesians 5:26(NLT) states ‘… having washed her by the water of the word.’  Psalm 119:9(NLT) states that it is only through God’s word that we can be clean. It is no coincidence that this gate was located next to the fountain gate as the two often go together. The Holy Spirit is the one who makes the word of God alive to us personally, allowing cleansing, encouragement and direction to take place in our life.

Prophetic aspect: From 1600-1900 the word of God made a dramatic impact in the lives of many around the world. Some of the great men of God preached the word including John Bunyan in the time of the Puritans, John Wesley, George Whitefield, Charles Spurgeon, D.L Moody among others. The preaching and cleansing of the word went forth into countries and continents previously starved of the word through men such as Hudson Taylor, Adoraim Judson and William Carey.

Horse Gate:(Nehemiah 3:28) East side, just east of the royal palace and southeast of the Temple Mount. Near where the priests had their homes. The horse gate was  close to the King’s stables and the men of Jerusalem would ride their horses out of this gate to war.

Personal aspect: The horse gate speaks to us of warfare as horses were used in battle and became a symbol of war. Revelation 19:11(NLT)’I saw Heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness does He judge and make war.’ Spiritual warfare, as we will see in this entire study on Nehemiah, is a requirement of every Christian because we are all in a battle whether we know it or not. It is also interesting that the horse gate follows the water (word) gate for as the word goes forth the spiritual warfare is sure to increase!

Prophetic aspect: Horses speak of speed and war. From the 1900’s onwards both of these certainly apply! The speed of medical, technological, industrial and scientific advancements was beyond comparison. And yet with it came two world wars, countless wars between nations and constant ethnic unrest. For the church it has been one battle after another with the rise of the cults, Biblical criticism. Modernism and liberalism leading to an increasing apostasy within the church. The ultimate fulfilment prophetically of the horse gate will be in the Tribulation – the Day of the Lord as described in Revelation 6-19.

East Gate (Nehemiah 3:29) Just north of the Horse Gate, it led to the temple.

The East gate is located on the opposite side of the Mount of Olives.

Personal aspect: Ezekiel 44:1-3(NLT)… the gate that looked toward the east, and it was shut. The Lord said to me, ‘This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it, for the Lord God of Israel has entered by it.’ The east gate opens and looks toward the Mount of Olives and we know that when Jesus returns He will return to this mount. (Zechariah 14:4(NLT). He will then enter Jerusalem by the east gate. The east gate then speaks of the return of Jesus Christ. For our Christian life it shows us of our need to live with this hope and to long for His return. A specific crown is even given to those who do this (2 Timothy 4:8(NLT).

Prophetic aspect: Please take note how the last three gates (Horse, East and Inspection gate) in the picture are very close together because so are the events which they symbolise. Prophetically the east gate is very close to the horse gate because the day of God’s wrath ends with the coming of the Lord Jesus to Jerusalem on earth. (See Zech chapter 14).

Muster Gate (AKA Inspection Gate) (Nehemiah 3:31): Between the East Gate and the northeast corner of the wall. Also known as the Miphkad gate. The word in Hebrew has a military connection and according to tradition it was at this gate that David would meet his troops to inspect them.

Personal aspect: The final gate is the inspection gate. This gate speaks to us of the examination of our lives by the Lord. This occurs in this life as indicated by Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:4(NLT): ‘For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord.’ The ultimate fulfilment is at the judgement seat of Christ (as spoken of in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, 2 Corinthians 5:10(NLT) where our lives are inspected and rewarded appropriately. In our Christian experience we should be living with this in mind. We are called to live our lives with eternity in view, caring more for the things of eternity than the temporal that we see around us.

Prophetic aspect: Following the return of the Lord there is a judgement of the nations that will occur as well. This is recorded in the sheep and the goats judgement in Mathew 25:31-46. From here he will separate all the people into those that can enter into His kingdom on earth (sheep) and those that are to go into everlasting destruction (the goats). And then the Lion of Judah shall reign in His Messianic Kingdom!

Apply the metaphor to our spiritual lives. We build our spiritual walls each day as we engage in spiritual disciplines (reading the Bible, praying, obeying God…). We put a lot of work into building those walls, because we want to do our best to follow the Lord. But there’s a problem. Sometimes, we don’t do a very good job of guarding our gates (our eyes and our ears). We allow bad stuff to come into our city (our mind), and give it access to our temple (our heart). All the hard work we put into building our walls is now compromised, because we didn’t guard our gates.

Genesis 4:7(HCSB) 7 If you do what is right, won’t you be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

The Enemy will get into our hearts and minds any way he can. If we’ve built strong spiritual walls with no gaps in them, he’s going to attack us at our gates. We need to be as diligent about guarding our gates as we are about wall-building. So, the question is, are we?

I think we underestimate the power of media in our lives. Not just “the media,” though I’m including them. I’m talking about all the types of media that we watch or listen to in a given day or week. Music, television, magazines, newspapers, email, advertisements, gossip… We let that stuff into our brains! Are we being selective enough?

We shouldn’t be naive about this. There is programming going on. When we open our eye-gates and our ear-gates to the media around us, it gets into our brains. If enough gets in, it will make its way to our hearts. That’s okay if we are only opening our gates to God-honoring messages. Program away! It will help us walk straighter. But most of us are not guarding the gates carefully enough, and bit by bit, we are filling our minds with things that don’t honor God.

When I teach kids, I do an illustration of this with a large bowl of water and some food coloring. I tell them that the bowl of water represents their minds as God created them – pure and clean. The food coloring represents some of the bad stuff we can let into our heads – profanity, the Lord’s name used in vain, music with inappropriate themes, movies with inappropriate scenes, jokes with inappropriate punch lines, stories told from inappropriate motives…

Each time I mention a new bad thing that can get into our minds, I have one of the kids drop a little food coloring into the bowl. By the time I’m done, the pure, clean water is dark and murky. It doesn’t take much to spread all throughout the water – just like it doesn’t take much bad stuff in your gates before your thinking starts to change. “It’s not so bad.” “Everyone is doing it.” “You can’t get away from it – you just have to ignore it.” “That’s just the way things are these days.”

Our brains are incredible. They can hold more data than any computer on earth. But the bad news is that they never purge all the bad information and images we put in them. Once it’s in, it’s in for good and forever. Our only hope is that we can dilute it by allowing more good stuff in our gates. That’s hard work, and it takes time.

Nehemiah set up rules for guarding the gates of Jerusalem, and he got rid of all the riff-raff that were hanging right outside the gates. Maybe we should do the same. A few gate-keeping rules might do us some good.

These are the places where things come into our minds. It’s important that we exercise some control in this area, because what gets in begins to influence how we think and how we act over time.

There’s one more gate that I may not have mentioned; it’s your mouth gate. While the ear and eye gates control what comes into your mind, the mouth gate controls what comes out of it.

You may have heard this expression before. GIGO means “Garbage In – Garbage Out.” It mainly refers to computers (i.e., don’t blame the computer…if you put in bad programming, you’re going to get a bad result.), but it applies to our mental computers, as well. If you stock your brain full of garbage, be certain that it will find it’s way back out – usually through your mouth gate.

Men, if we allow large shipments of sexual images to enter our eye gates, it won’t be long before it affects our thinking. We will start to see women more as objects than as people. When enough shipments come in, some of that thinking will find its way across our lips; I almost guarantee it.

We’ll find ourselves making lewd jokes or engaging in sexual innuendo. We’ll talk about co-workers and neighbors in terms of how they look rather than focusing on their more meaningful qualities. We’ll find it hard to resist the double entendre when we hear someone make a harmless remark.

Women, your temptation comes through both your ear gates and your eye gates. If you listen to frequent gossip and critical assessment of those around you, it will start to color your thinking. Before long, you will find yourself evaluating people in just the same, graceless way. If you watch shows or read magazines about shallow, superficial judgments of others, you will struggle not to descend to the same behaviors in your personal life.

You’ve heard the principle, “what goes up must come down.” How about “what goes in must come out?” The more junk you allow in your ear gates and eye gates, the more likely it is to find it’s way into what you talk about and how you talk about it. Jesus was communicating this principle when he said:

Matthew 15:17-20 (HCSB)17 “Don’t you realize that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is eliminated? 18 But what comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and this defiles a man. 19 For from the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual immoralities, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies. 20 These are the things that defile a man, but eating with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”

Be careful what you allow in through your gates. When your heart and mind are full of garbage, you won’t be able to hide it long before the neighbors start noticing what you’re putting on the curb.

Are We Condoning Satanism in the Modern Church?

Knowing what you believe and why you believe it could mean the difference between following a true teacher or a false teacher, it could mean the difference between eternal life or eternal damnation. 1 Timothy 4:1-8(HCSB) Now the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, 2 through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared. 3 They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods that God created to be received with gratitude by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing should be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 since it is sanctified by the word of God and by prayer. 6 If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished by the words of the faith and the good teaching that you have followed. 7 But have nothing to do with irreverent and silly myths. Rather, train yourself in godliness, 8 for the training of the body has a limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

Paul said to Timothy, 2 Timothy 4:1-4(HCSB) I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, and because of His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching.3 For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new 4 They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths.

This should sound an alarm in the the heart of every preacher, pastor, and teacher to seriously reevaluate their ministry — are we encouraging sin by not warning? If so, we’re heading down a dangerous path.

I believe that we can be both loving and truthful. How can we warn if we won’t confront? How can we correct if we won’t challenge? How can we contend for the faith if we won’t question lifestyles that oppose it?

The Book of Satan IV
Say unto thine own heart, “I am mine own redeemer.”

Life is the great indulgence – death, the great abstinence. Therefore, make the most of life – HERE AND NOW !

TD Jakes says “When we feel misaligned, without passion or rhythm, we’re not being guided by our instinct. “Most people are manipulated by the needs of others, the paycheck that supports them and the demands that dominate them,” he writes in Instinct . “On this path we eventually live like slaves to a man-made system. We chase the goals of others instead of pursuing our own dreams. We anesthetize our despair with the next purchase, pill or plunder. We do what we think we should instead of living beyond what logic alone can dictate.”

The feelings of disconnect, despair and foreboding that result from living outside our divine purpose make us what Jakes calls “a lightbulb without a lamp.” But when we listen to our instinct and ultimately follow it to realize our potential, “it is the feeling of fitting in, like a piece in a puzzle,” he writes. “It is the innate satisfaction that comes from giving the gifts that you and you alone can contribute to the world.”

Instinct, he says, is fundamental in finding his direction—both small and large. “Whatever you do with your life, it should honestly be the outflowing of who you are. That way you don’t have to work hard to manufacture it. It’s best when it is organically and artistically an outpouring of your gift, your talent, your perspective.”

Joel Osteen makes you feel good. He’s positive. He is encouraging. That’s what draws some 30,000 people a week to Lakewood Church in Houston. It’s also why Osteen’s book Your Best Life Now, is on the New York Times bestseller list.

It’s time to use our words to declare good things! Speak blessings over your life and your family. Throughout the day, say things such as, “I have the favor of God. I am strong and healthy. I’m well able to do what I need to do.

Did you know that what you say about yourself has greater impact on you than anything anybody else says about you? Many people are overly critical of themselves, saying, “I’m so clumsy. I can’t do anything right.” “I’m so overweight. I’ll never get back into shape.” “I never get any good breaks.”

They may not realize it, but they are cursing their future. Those words sink into their minds. Before long, they develop a defeated mentality, low self-esteem and diminished confidence. Worse yet, those negative mindsets can interfere with God’s plan for their lives.

One of the best ways to break free from such strongholds is simply by speaking words of victory. Every day, look in the mirror and declare, “God’s Word says I am strong. God is fighting my battles for me. I’m excited about my future.”

Maybe you are lonely because you don’t have a lot of friends. Instead of complaining, start declaring, “God is bringing great people into my life. I know He loves me, so I can risk loving others.”

Speak blessings over your life, and as you do, you’ll go out with more confidence, you’ll be more congenial and, in turn, you will attract new friends.

When discouragement comes, instead of sitting back and accepting it, say, “No, I’m a victor and not a victim. I may have been defeated before, but the past is the past. This is a new day.”

It’s not enough just to think it; you need to hear it, because what we constantly hear ourselves saying we will eventually believe.

Some people live in a perpetual state of financial crisis. They can’t seem to pay their bills — always living “under their circumstances” and constantly speaking defeat.

If you are struggling financially, remind yourself repeatedly, “I am the head and I am not the tail. I will lend and I will not borrow. Everything I touch will prosper and succeed.”

Understand, it’s not enough to avoid saying anything negative; you must go on the offensive and start making positive declarations over your life. Remember, your own words will have more impact on your future than anything anybody else says about you.

Friend, if you’ll do your part and speak words of victory, God will pour out His favor in exciting, fresh ways in your life, and you will live the abundant life He has in store for you.

The Satanist shuns terms such as “hope” and “prayer” as they are indicative of apprehension. If we hope and pray for something to come about, we will not act in a positive way which will make it happen. The Satanist, realizing that anything he gets is of his own doing, takes command of the situation instead of praying to God for it to happen. Positive thinking and positive action add up to results.

When a Satanist commits a wrong, he realizes that it is natural to make a mistake – and if he is truly sorry about what he has done, he will learn from it and take care not to do the same thing again. If he is not honestly sorry about what he has done, and knows he will do the same thing over and over, he has no business confessing and asking forgiveness in the first place. But this is exactly what happens. People confess their sins so that they can clear their consciences – and be free to go out and sin again, usually the same sin.

Since man’s natural instincts lead him to sin, all men are sinners; and all sinners go to hell.”Times have changed. Religious leaders no longer preach that all our natural actions are sinful. We no longer think sex is dirty – or that taking pride in ourselves is shameful – or that wanting something someone else has is vicious.” Of course not, times have changed! “If you want proof of this, just look at how liberal churches have become. Why, they’re practicing all the things that you preach.”

“A staggering number of people have been taught that a select few Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell with no chance for anything better…This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus’ message of love, peace, forgiveness, and joy that our world desperately needs to hear.” –Rob Bell (Love Wins, Preface, VI)

“I am for fidelity. I am for love, whether it’s a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man. I think the ship has sailed and I think that the church needs to just … this is the world that we are living in and we need to affirm people wherever they are.” –Rob Bell (online source)

“We do not think this [Emerging Church Movement] is about changing your worship service. We do not think this is about…how you structure your church staff. This is actually about changing theology. This is about our belief that theology changes. The message of the gospel changes. It’s not just the method that changes.”  –Tony Jones (“A New Theology for a New World.” A workshop for the 2004 Emergent Convention in San Diego)

“I must add, though, that I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish contexts.” –Brian McLaren

“I now believe that GLBTQ [Gay, Lesbian, Bisexuals, Transgender, and Queers] can live lives in accord with biblical Christianity (as least as much as any of us can!), and that their monogamy can and should be sanctioned and blessed by church and state.” –Tony Jones

  

Satanists hear these, and similar statements, all the time; and they agree wholeheartedly. BUT , if the world has changed so much, why continue to grasp at the threads of a dying faith? If many religions are denying their own scriptures because they are out of date, and are preaching the philosophies of Satanism, why not call it by its rightful name – Satanism? Certainly it would be far less hypocritical.

In recent years there has been an attempt to humanize the spiritual concept of Christianity. This has manifested itself in the most obvious non-spiritual means.

It is much simpler to obtain an emotional reaction using words and phrases that cannot be understood than it is with statements which even the simplest mind will question when hearing them in an understandable language.
Charisma magazine wrote an article on speaking in tongues.
This step is the most obvious step, but it’s where most people go wrong – open your mouth. Start making syllables and word sounds. In short, start babbling like a baby. Start exercising your tongue and mind to produce random word parts.

Many people incorrectly believe that gifts from God are bestowed upon us all at once and in full and their inability to heal, prophesy, or speak in tongues is because God has not yet blessed them with the gift. As a result, they never step out in faith to try or they quit early, but this just is another example of the old saying “Jesus can’t take the wheel of a parked car”.

Robert Morris of Gateway Church puts it:

Babies don’t start speaking fluently, and here is the amazing thing…we think it’s cute. It doesn’t bother us when our children mispronounce words. In the same way, so many people are afraid they aren’t going to do it right, but even if you don’t do it right your Father likes it. He will like that you are trying.

In the beginning it will not be fluent. Most likely it will be very choppy, repetitive, and hard to resist your mind taking back control of your mouth. All of this is just fine as you are starting and you have to start somewhere.

There is a difference between worship and performance. We are not up here to perform, I believe in engaging the world but I do not believe in being like the world in order to gain people for Christ. I often hear and see Christians using the the words “I’m about to perform, pray God word is heard” or something to the like. It always bothered me to hear the word “Perform” when used as describing a ministry.

There is a HUGE difference between the two. Performing is for the pleasure and approval of the audience. Ministry is for the approval and glory of God! We Christian artists MUST be aware of this difference and make sure we are not performing when we are ministering.

Many churches with some of the largest congregations have the most hand-clapping, sensual music – also Satanically inspired. After all, the Devil has always had the best tunes. 

“Satanism is based on a very sound philosophy,” say the emancipated. “But why call it Satanism? Why not call it something like ‘Humanism’ or a name that would have the connotation of a witchcraft group, something a little more esoteric – something less blatant.” There is more than one reason for this. Humanism is not a religion.

Humanism sees man as basically good. Thinks that people should feel good about themselves regardless of their behavior. Tries to deal with guilt by positive self-talk. Another thought process that denies original sin is Arminianism, PELAGIANISM comes from Pelagius around 400AD and he categorically denied the doctrine of original sin, arguing that Adam’s sin affected Adam alone and that infants at birth are in the same state as Adam was before the Fall. As such, he insisted that the constituent nature of humanity is not convertible; it is indestructively good.

Semi-Pelagianism is a weaker form of Pelagianism (a heresy derived from Pelagius who lived in the 5th century A.D. and was a teacher in Rome). Semi-Pelagianism (advocated by Cassian at Marseilles, 5th Century) did not deny original sin and its effects upon the human soul and will; but, it taught that God and man cooperate to achieve man’s salvation. This cooperation is not by human effort as in keeping the law but rather in the ability of a person to make a free will choice. The semi-Pelagian teaches that man can make the first move toward God by seeking God out of his own free will, and that man can cooperate with God’s grace even to the keeping of his faith through human effort. This would mean that God responds to the initial effort of person, and that God’s grace is not absolutely necessary to maintain faith.

The problem is that this is no longer grace. Grace is the completely unmerited and freely given favor of God upon the sinner; but, if man is the one who first seeks God, then God is responding to the good effort of seeking him. This would mean that God is offering a proper response to the initial effort of man. This is not grace but what is due the person who chooses to believe in God apart from God’s initial effort.

•Semi-Pelagianism says the sinner has the ability to initiate belief in God.

•Semi-Pelagianism says God’s grace is a response to man’s initial effort.

•Semi-Pelagianism denies predestination.

Semi-Pelagianism was condemned at the Council of Orange in 529.

A select few Southern Baptist are trying to start an interdenominational schism/argument with a modified version of this by saying in A Statement of the Traditionalist Understanding of salvation Article Two: The Sinfulness of Man We affirm that, because of the fall of Adam, every person inherits a nature and environment inclined toward sin and that every person who is capable of moral action will sin. Each person’s sin alone brings the wrath of a holy God, broken fellowship with Him, ever-worsening selfishness and destructiveness, death, and condemnation to an eternity in hell.

We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will or rendered any person guilty before he has personally sinned. While no sinner is remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort, we deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.

Satanism is the only religion known to man that accepts man as he is, and promotes the rationale of turning a bad thing into a good thing rather than bending over backwards to eliminate the bad thing.

Jesus loves you jsut as you are but refuses to leave you that way. “Come as you are” is sometimes misunderstood and misapplied in today’s church. Those churches identified with the emerging/emergent church or hipster movements, among others, sometimes take the grace of God and turn it into licentiousness (Jude 1:4) by teaching that it makes no difference how you live, as long as you believe. If you come to Christ in an illicit relationship, some say Christ will accept you just as you are and sanctify that relationship. If you come to Christ as someone who enjoys the night life, you can continue in that path, and use it to “reach others for Christ.” This may be a popular message, but it directly contradicts Scripture which clearly says that these things from our past lives should be left behind and that our former friends will think us strange for doing so (1 Peter 4:3–4). Romans 13:13 commands us to walk honestly, or decently, no longer participating in the licentious lifestyle of the world. Galatians 5:13 says that we are called to liberty, but that we cannot use liberty “for an occasion to the flesh,” excusing our continued sins.

At the heart of the demise of gospel preaching is what may have begun as a subtle shift. In Jonathan Edward’s day, evangelical preachers preached for conversions. They believed the lost were truly lost and powerless to do anything about their wretched condition. The only hope was the grace of God through the gospel to convert sinners. The nineteenth century marked a major turning point in American evangelicalism. The turning point is epitomized by Finney’s “new measures.” Because Finney believed in human ability (as Edwards did not), Finney preached to “arouse dormant powers.” From Finney’s day on evangelism changed and has continued to change. We have gone from belief in conversions through gospel preaching to “decisions for Jesus.” This seemingly subtle shift is actually a major chasm that is as deep and wide as the chasm between heaven and hell.

If this shocks some people that may be what is needed. Well-motivated or not, there is a huge difference between the gospel as preached by Jesus and His apostles and the idea of “making a decision for Jesus.” Some are converted through the efforts of such evangelicals. If somewhere, somehow, buried under the many layers of activities and evangelical culture, those who get involved eventually do find out who Jesus is, what His claims are, and their need for the blood atonement, they may indeed be converted. But why should the conversion of sinners be pushed to the background so that a slick, user-friendly Christianity is all that is apparent to most observers?

There are problems even when some are actually converted through the popular “decision for Jesus” approach. If they eventually do find out the true nature of the gospel, those truly converted then realize that they have been sold a bill of goods. The gospel does not promise better living in this world through a simple decision. The gospel calls us to take up our cross and live in this world as ones already condemned to die.

Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23(ESV)24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.Let’s begin with what Jesus didn’t mean. Many people interpret “cross” as some burden they must carry in their lives: a strained relationship, a thankless job, a physical illness. With self-pitying pride, they say, “That’s my cross I have to carry.” Such an interpretation is not what Jesus meant when He said, “Take up your cross and follow Me.”

When Jesus carried His cross up Golgotha to be crucified, no one was thinking of the cross as symbolic of a burden to carry. To a person in the first-century, the cross meant one thing and one thing only: death by the most painful and humiliating means human beings could develop.

Two thousand years later, Christians view the cross as a cherished symbol of atonement, forgiveness, grace, and love. But in Jesus’ day, the cross represented nothing but torturous death. Because the Romans forced convicted criminals to carry their own crosses to the place of crucifixion, bearing a cross meant carrying their own execution device while facing ridicule along the way to death.

Therefore, “Take up your cross and follow Me” means being willing to die in order to follow Jesus. This is called “dying to self.” It’s a call to absolute surrender. After each time Jesus commanded cross bearing, He said, Luke 9:24-25(ESV)“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?”. Although the call is tough, the reward is matchless.Furthermore, the truly converted who are in the evangelical culture soon find themselves dying of spiritual starvation because the Word of God is not being preached. How much better to tell our hearers up front what the gospel is, and then when they come on that basis they can, like the early Christians in Acts, “rejoice to be counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.”

If that is what is passing for Christianity today, then the need for true gospel preachers is more than severe. Someone needs to tell these people—even if they are not inclined to hear; even if it’s over the heads of their own “pastors”—that the gospel is not about collaborating with God to make yourself successful. It is not about getting more stuff and being more prosperous. It is about God forgiving people for their sin through the death of his Son, bringing them to life from the spiritual dead, and conforming them to the image of Jesus Christ. Whether Joel Osteen preaches those truths in his church of thirty-thousand, I have no idea. But he certainly has not written about them.

Not everyone is an A.W. Tozer, Leonard Ravenhill, or a John the Baptist, but all pastors have a biblical mandate to preach the truth.

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (I Timothy 1:15), yet, many avoid words such as sin and repentance. The good news about Christ can only be appreciated with the bad news as the backdrop. When we fail to proclaim God’s Word faithfully, we run the risk of “encouraging sin” and “perverting the words of the living God” (cf. Jeremiah 23).

All of us must return to the prayer closet where brokenness, humility, and full surrender take place. Without prayer, “the church becomes a graveyard, not an embattled army. Praise and prayer are stifled; worship is dead. The preacher and the preaching encourage sin, not holiness … preaching which kills is prayerless preaching. Without prayer, the preacher creates death, and not life” (E.M. Bounds).

“Without the heartbeat of prayer, the body of Christ will resemble a corpse. The church is dying on her feet because she is not living on her knees” (Al Whittinghill).

Where are the Tyndales and Huss’ who were burned at the stake for simply declaring the truth? Where are the Luthers who, when asked to recant or face possible execution, said, “Here I stand; I can do no other”? Where are the John Calvins who shape the religious thoughts of our Western culture? Where are the John Knoxs who cried, “Give me Scotland [for the cause of Christ] or I die”? Where are the Whitefields who shook continents?

Where are the Spurgeons who spoke with such authority that his sermons are read more today than ever before? Where are the D.L. Moodys who brought America to her knees? Where are the Evan Roberts who, during the Welsh Revivals of 1904-5, preached so powerfully against sin that people cried out to truly know God? Where are the Puritans like Richard Baxter, who said with such humility, “I speak as a dying man to dying men”?

As the church falls deeper into self-reliance and further from reliance on God, our need for bold leadership has never been greater. Change in our nation will only occur when there is a strong conviction of sin, genuine faith, humility, and sincere repentance, beginning in the pulpits. May God grant us the wisdom and strength to proclaim these truths.

We must stop confusing God’s patience with His approval and preach with conviction from the pulpits again — as dying men to dying men.