2Cr 13:5 - Examine yourselves [as to] whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?-- unless indeed you are disqualified.
What if you were alone in a remote village with a lush green forest around you, perhaps by a stream with the sound of water rushing down smooth rocks and no access to TVs, Radios or the Internet and you read this book called “The Holy Bible”? You had no opportunity to get influenced by any preaching or opinions or ideologies of people. All you would have is your own understanding of the Holy Bible. What conclusion would you come up with? Think about that for a moment.
Shut yourself out from all the preaching, teaching and evangelism you get from the television, crusades, conferences, and seminars. If you started blank with this book The Bible, reading it cover to cover for yourself multiple times and then compared what you understood with what you see in Christianity today, would it thrill you or disturb you? Do you see similarity in the faith of the early Christians and today's Christians? Yes of course there is a difference in culture, technology and knowledge, but at the core of it with regards to our inner self, are we more Christ like today or were the disciples in the bible more Christ like than us?
When so many around us live a so called “Christian” life that can be observed and when there is so much abundance of preaching and teaching on TV, Radio and the internet and when there are so many books written by "famous" preachers easily available for downloads on your kindle or in book shops, why read the Bible? Just copy what others are doing, especially the popular preachers because they seem to have got it all together isn’t it? Why not just listen to some podcast in the car for a few minutes each day and a short prayer every night? Why read the bible? That’s what most professing Christians unfortunately do. People attend conferences in large numbers and prefer "listening" and "watching" rather than reading the word of God and meditating on it for themselves.
Friends, don't get me wrong. There are indeed excellent teachers and preachers out there genuinely called of God for the equipping of the saints. Please do attend church regularly, listen to good teaching and preaching and learn. But do not idolize the preachers. They are also men and women saved by grace through faith just like you and me. They are just as dependent on His grace as you are. They need to feed on the word of God just as you do. Where do you think they got their revelation and sermons from? It is from the same source as you get your revelations from. The Bible!! When the Lord returns, there's not going to be any Bishops, Reverends, Senior Pastors, Associate Pastors or Preachers. We are all going to be on level ground, as sons and daughters of our God the Father, as one awesome family.
In a church, when a group of so called “believers” get together, the one thing that should really stand out is “love for one another’. Jesus said "This is how the world will know that you are my disciples. When you have love for one another." - John 13:35.
With that in mind and when you read through the New Testament; When you really dwell upon the “word of God”, what is it that you understand? What is it you expect to see? Remember, you are in a remote village sitting by a stream reading the Bible for yourself and have no exposure to any preaching or TV or the internet and nobody influencing your thoughts.
I have read the bible and this is what I see. I see a committed people…who got so excited to know that their sins were forgiven and they were now reconciled to God again as originally was in the garden of Eden. They were so excited to experience a brand new life that is totally free from the power of sin and they wanted to get this good news (gospel) out into all the world. I see that we are rescued from sin and death and eternal damnation. There is now no condemnation for us, and that we have the same nature of Christ in us because we have the same Holy Spirit dwelling in us. We are citizens of heaven, we are a NEW creation born of God Himself, we have this amazing grace to put to death the sin in us right now, we have been given authority over the devil, and we are enjoying a sense of liberty. This world's system of success, position, possessions and pleasures don't matter so much anymore. I see that such committed people actually got together and loved each other, and joyfully sang songs of praise to our Lord. They encouraged one another teaching people to have faith in Christ, they healed the sick and cast out demons just as Jesus did, shared all things with each other so that nobody lacked anything and nobody had an excess of anything and called such a gathering “a church”. I see that there was a noticeable difference between people who professed to be Christians and people of the world. They eagerly sent out disciples to go and share the love of Christ to others and planted similar churches where people loved one another. They were not focused so much on the size of a congregation or popularity and reach, but on making disciples for Christ. (The book of Acts)
Believing in Christ is not an "intellectual" understanding of Jesus being the son of God who came and died on the cross for our sins and who rose again. On the contrary, it is fully understanding the purpose of His death and resurrection and completely & wholly relying on the finished work of Jesus for our peace, for our eternal life, for our day to day provision, for our divine health and for our abundant life in the here and now. It is about walking in the newness of life.
Romans 6:4 - We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
In the bible we read, the disciples used to go from house to house, have meals together, break bread and remind themselves of Jesus’ work on the cross and identify themselves with each other as those who belonged to God. A sense of commonality without divisions. This is what a church looked like in the “bible” isn’t it? The persecutors of the early disciples of Christ accused them of having turned the world upside down because they lived a very different life to that of the world. And it was obviously noticeable.
Yet in today's world, (generally speaking) there is so little difference between the world and the church. This is because it is LIGHT that dispels darkness. Darkness will never dispel darkness. Jesus said that we believers are the light of the world and salt of the earth. When we as Christians step into darkness, the works of darkness must flee and it will because we are the light of the world. But if professing Christians live in darkness themselves to blend in with the world, then expecting darkness to flee is a bit naive, don’t you think?
But friends, I do not fret because “that church” that we see in the bible is very much alive today…there are a few of God's children in every church around the world who are truly “the church” and these people are the light of the world and the salt of the earth. Its these people that the world is attracted to. It is also these people that get persecuted. So examine yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Examine yourself. Compare your beliefs, your actions and your current life to what it should look like as mentioned in the word of God. I encourage you to read the bible for yourselves and meditate on His word everyday, regularly. I guarantee you, you will change and be transformed with a renewed faith, full of love and revelation. Your life will never be the same again.
The apostle Paul got to know the Lord Jesus personally and intimately so well, that though he endured all kinds of hardships such as imprisonment, stoning, lashings, hunger, shipwrecks and more, he still poured out his life until his very last breath trying to share the love of Christ with the lost. He wasn't too concerned about the number of his followers or how many he could attract to an event. All Paul wanted was for the world to know Jesus Christ just the same way as he did.
2 Tim 1:12-13 - That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I knowwhom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day. What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.
My dear brothers and sisters, the best way to get to know and walk with the Lord Jesus on a daily basis is to spend quality time in reading His word and meditating on it everyday for yourself. Spend time in prayer alone with Him as you read His word. That's when He speaks to you. Jesus said "My sheep know my voice". You will hear Him speak to you. His Holy Spirit will teach you things you do not know and you will begin to see the world and your very own life in a different way. Do attend conferences and seminars when and if you can, and if you know they are led by genuine Godly individuals, but do not give up your personal quiet time with the Lord. Your personal walk with the Lord is far more important than your participation in church organised programs and events.
Proverbs 4:20-22 says - My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ears to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are LIFE to those who find them, and HEALTH to ALL THEIR FLESH.
His word is true life and true health, but only to those who FIND them. May the Lord Jesus bless you. May His Holy Spirit enable you and grant you the grace to set aside quality quiet time alone with Him and His word everyday. Join our community here on Facebook and be encouraged.
Someone once told me that there are three personalities to every individual.
1> What you display yourself to be.
2> What others think you are.
3> What you really are.
And most often, number (3) is in private. In other words, what you really do when no one is watching.
What’s the biggest lie in your life right now? Something that is not real about you. Something that nobody knows. But you are managing to put up a very “Christian” front. Are you living a lie? Friends, it is natural for us to try and put up a “perfect” front because we do not want to expose our sins to others, but God’s word says, “Everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard”. Romans 3:23. The amusing thing is that we think even God will not know.
Psalm 139:1 – 4 - He knows everything there is to know about us. There is nothing, absolutely nothing hidden from Him.
Revelation 3:1 – Jesus said to the church of Sardis…you appear to be alive, but I know you…You are dead.
Jer 23:24 - Can anyone hide himself in secret places, So I shall not see him?" says the LORD; "Do I not fill heaven and earth?" says the LORD.
We can so easily portray an image of ourselves, which we actually are not. This world that we live in, and its systems have conditioned us from childhood to master the art of deception. Every Sunday people go to church, raise hands and worship, make an offering, all in the presence of God and go back home without dealing with the real issue of sin in their lives. That is in fact neglecting a major issue. Sin was what separated man from God and sin was the reason why Jesus had to come. Jesus came to destroy the power of sin in our lives so that we can be free from sin and live being “real” without the need for three different personalities.
Church is meant to help you be real. Don't let the hype and glamour of flashing lights, sound, music, posh buildings, elaborate conferences with outstanding performances and eloquent speakers, and coffee shops define your Christianity. Get real. Deal with sin and overcome it. Then you will truly experience the abundant life that Jesus promised.
It can be likened to a person having a box of cow dung or manure in his living room and he goes about cleaning the windows, doors, and tables. He repaints the outside of house and works hard in the garden and builds a beautiful outdoor space to entertain guests. Everyone admires his house and appreciates his success. He feels good about himself and settles down to watch TV. He completely ignores the big box of stinking manure in his living room, because it is too filthy to touch. That would be absurd, wouldn't it? What would you say to such a person? That's right....Get real.
Matt 23:26 – You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.
We communicate to people according to what we want them to think we are, rather than who we really are. That’s exactly what was happening in the church of Sardis… People look at the size of the church, the music, the programs and activities, the conferences and conclude “This church is so loving, so much on fire for God” ….But God sees through it all and knows the reality. Isn’t it? God says, you’ve done great getting the people to think that about you, but here’s the truth...!! "You appear to be alive, but I know you, you are dead"!! (Rev 3:1) In other words, Get real.
I would like to encourage you to examine yourself. Are you real? Does your lifestyle easily blend into the New Testament?
If we were to ask our friends, what do you think of Tom….and write that down. And then if we were to ask God, what He thought of Tom…would that match? Or would the people say much more flattering things about Tom…than God would? If we are more concerned about what people would say rather than what God would, then we are more concerned about our reputation than our character. And we want people to think that we are a certain type of person rather than be honest before the Lord.
Many a times when I worship, I find myself singing, saying the right things, having a smile on my face when people talk to me, I pray for them using the words that I know are the right words to say…be at prayer meetings, and still feel dry and empty on the inside. When that happens, I find myself putting in extra effort to somehow overcome my emptiness and make myself be in the presence of God. I was told to speak in tongues and start praising God and so on. In other words, fake it till you make it, pretending as if God doesn't know how I feel.
I’ve since learnt that when I know Jesus and the gospel of unending grace in Him, then I enjoy a level of intimacy with Him which allows me to be real. I can then tell Him the way I feel and yet know that He still loves me just the same. That assurance not only keeps me real before the Lord but EMPOWERS me to overcome my weaknesses. It is so liberating to know that I can get real before God anytime, no matter how I feel or what I've done. He knows all things anyway. He knows my deeds even before I did them, He knows my thoughts and desires. He didn’t find out about my sinful deeds when I actually did them and He didn’t get surprised either. There's nothing He does not know about me. So, if I get real before Him and speak my heart out, I'm only being truthful. His love is unending. His mercy endures forever. His grace is sufficient...indeed.
When you are not “real” and transparent before God, then you don’t find church, worship and prayer fulfilling. It is because you are not yet free to be yourself before God. When we truly know what Jesus did for us, and when we know that we are now the righteousness of Christ not because of how good we are and how much self-control we have, but because of Jesus' finished work on the cross, and when we know that apart from Him we are really nothing and can do nothing, then we can get real before Him. We confess before Him however we feel, whatever we are…nothing hidden from Him. He knows it all anyway.
When you are real before God, then you can also be real before a brother or sister whom you can trust. God will lead you to such a person. And there’s much freedom in that confession and also is a mighty witness to the glory of Christ.
This is what confess your sins to one another so that you can be healed, really means. (James 5:16). The alternative is to continue to pretend being who we are and be like the church in Sardis.
When we get real both before God and ourselves, then and only then can we love others just the way they are. And that’s not just the ones who are obvious with their sinful behavior but also those who appear to be good. Because we really don’t know what we don't see. We can then consider everyone else better than ourselves.
Phil 2:3 – Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.
That’s what Jesus meant when He said Love your neighbors just as I have loved you. Knowing ALL there is to know about us, He still loves us. Nothing witnesses more powerfully than being real, because when you are real, all glory goes to Christ for the amazing transformation He has done in you. There is nothing to boast about.
The apostle Paul was highly educated and prided in his accomplishments. He was impressed and quietly boastful of what his peers thought of him. But after He met Christ and his heart was exposed before God, he regarded all his accomplishments as absolute rubbish.
Phil 3:8 - Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.
People have said a lot of good things about me based on what I “displayed”, but I know that I stand before One who knows ALL there is to know about me. And that doesn't condemn me but helps me be real.
This is what Paul meant when he said “I don’t care who judges me, even when my conscience is clear, that doesn’t make me anything…it’s the Lord who judges me. 1 Cor 4: 3-5
Are you one of those Christians who aspires to be a great leader, or one of those who looks up to someone who is very successful and wants to mimic that person’s success in ministry….or are you one who simply loves Jesus for what He has done for you and want to continuously work on yourself to become more and more like Him? Because that’s really all that matters.
A good test is this. Suppose you had a beautiful place to live in with fantastic views, a luxurious 5-million-dollar home, no financial difficulties, no debts, a genuine comfy life and everybody loved you and thought highly of you, but you had no God, no Jesus, no salvation…would you be content?
It’s easy to be accepted by people and go with the flow. But the rubber hits the road when we really want to be what Christ was like, become honest to ourselves and overcome sin in our lives. That’s Christianity.
The only way people will know that you are genuinely a disciple of Christ is when you love them genuinely, without expecting anything in return. Accepting them just the way they are. And that is only possible when you are honest to yourself and to God and are real without putting on any fake façade. Being real does not mean you have to go tell everyone all the sinful acts you’ve done. Of course not. But when you are real before the Lord, you also realize that there’s nothing to boast of in you and therefore you love everyone else like as though they are better than yourself. Being real gives us a sense of how sinful we actually are and how much we have been forgiven. Such a realization will bring out genuine and pure love for others, and such love when manifested in you, will communicate the gospel with much power.
Luke 7:47 – I tell you, her sins – and they are many, have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.
Your prayers will be genuine and full of faith, (not in your ability to believe without doubting), but fully and totally in the love of God and His power.
Be real friends. Stop faking your walk with God. Tell Him exactly how you feel and what you do when no one is watching. He knows it all anyway. Hate the sin in you and don't feel condemned. He already paid the price for your sins. When you are honest and real, you receive the powerful forgiveness of God, and that Grace of God empowers you to overcome sin. When you are real before Him, you will love Him more because He does not reject you. You will love others just as He loves you. You will see others as better than you.
Mat 28:19-20 - “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. He gave us; (His disciples, assuming you are one), this Great Commission clearly demonstrating an outstanding example of how to go about doing it. Else there would be no need to say “all things I have commanded you”. This implies that Jesus clearly demonstrated, taught His disciples a “life style” and wanted the disciples to make disciples and teach them the same “life style”.
This is how it would look. First generation disciples make new disciples for Christ and teach them to follow in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in turn make new disciples and teach them to make disciples and live Christ like, who make new disciples and teach them to make disciples and live Christ like…Get the picture. The whole earth should thus be invaded with disciples of Christ who live just as He did; reaching out to the poor, the destitute and lost, sharing the good news of forgiveness and freedom from sin and winning souls for Christ and making disciples out of them, teaching them to do likewise.
This task when done right, Jesus said, will bring about persecution and suffering. It will take courage, boldness and unwavering faith. When persecution comes, the true disciple doesn't pray for "protection" like most believers do today, but they pray for "boldness" like in the book of Acts. Why ask for protection against something we know is unavoidable? It will take disciples who are dead to self and are one with the Lord. It will take a disciple who spends intimate time with the Lord. It will take a disciple who is not at all attracted to what the world considers success. Large congregations, popularity, many invitations to conferences, celebrity status on media networks, well sought after by like minded leaders, a busy travel schedule might all be evidence of success and spirituality in the world's eyes. Such people are considered very influential or even dare I say a so called “man of God”. That's how the world sees success. But the disciple of Christ may not necessarily be well known or be preaching to large congregations. All a disciple can see is a dying lost world, suffering in poverty and pain and his/her heart breaks because the disciple knows Jesus' love for them. A disciple has experienced the forgiveness of Jesus to such an extent that the disciple can’t help but forgive others. A disciple is willing to endure persecution, suffering, threats, and even death just so some might get to experience the love of Christ. Because the true disciple knows he/she is nothing without Christ. The true disciple has understood the meaning of Luke 14: 26, 27 & 33.
Luke 14:26-27 - “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else - your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters - yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. NLT
Luke 14:33 - So you cannot be my disciple without giving up everything you own. NLT
1 Cor 11:1 - Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.
Here in the above verse, we see Paul categorically stating he imitated Christ. Do you have the confidence to say thus? Paul said it because he was assured he was dead to himself and alive to Christ. “Its no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me”. Gal 2:20
Now, that’s evidence of a disciple of Christ. And the great commission is go and make “disciples”.
To truly fulfil the Great Commission, the following needs to be done.
Reach & Win – Mark 1:38, Mark 16:15 (Preach the gospel…The gospel of Christ (the good news of salvation through the finished work on the cross) is the power of God unto salvation. (Rom 1:16)
Equip & Build – Matthew 28:19, Eph 4:12 (Make disciples, teaching them….)
Send & Plant – Acts 14:21-23 (to do all that I have commanded you)
How come most professing Christians don’t even appear to be bothered or hurt when considering the millions that are dying without Christ every day, every hour, every minute. How is it possible for people to walk out of a church service and immediately switch on secular FM upbeat music in their cars and drive away? How is it possible for someone to experience the forgiveness and liberating power of our Lord and then be so caught up with Bless me Lord, Prosper me Lord, Heal me Lord, Keep me happy Lord, whilst thousands around them suffer in poverty, pain and rejection? At best they see a poor drunk or homeless on the street and comment "Oh! how sad"...or "You know, its their choice...they choose to live like that"...and even those thoughts only last for a minute. Is this how Christ loved us?
The bible states that we were DEAD in our trespasses and Christ has made us alive. We were not even in a position to acknowledge Him. While we were still sinners, He died for us.
Could it be that the church is to blame? Could it be that the church has lost its purpose of the Great Commission and is caught up with filling up seats and increasing in size, running well organized programs, conferences and seminars designed to maintain people's interest in the church? The affluent churches spend large amounts of money in attractive buildings, lights and sound equipment's, hosting large conferences, flying like minded preachers from all over the world in expensive flights, accommodating them in 5 star hotels and presenting them with love offerings collected from the attendees promising that God blesses those that give generously. These church leaders somehow seem to believe that such programs are changing the world around them. It’s not. Not even a dent. Majority of those that attend are attracted to the large gatherings, music and the show. It does nothing to set them free from sin. Of course there are very few exceptions but the exceptions are despite the flawed attempt and not because of it. And then there are other smaller churches “aspiring” to be like the affluent one’s and trying real hard to imitate them. They also fail miserably in fulfilling the Great Commission.
Most church leaders equate church size to church growth. So they do all they can using clever human strategies and even hire expensive “church consultants” to help them grow their churches. God equates number of true disciples to church growth. Most churches glory in number of people raising their hands and going forward to pray the so called “sinner’s prayer”. Very few genuinely love the lost enough to tell them the truth and ensure they become disciples of Christ.
Sadly most professing Christians are yet to become a true disciple of Christ…(as per Luke 14:26,27 & 33) because if they truly understood the power of sin and their unworthiness before God, the value and the preciousness of what Jesus has done for them, then they would realize He is truly that pearl for which the farmer sold all he had, to buy that pearl..They will by their new nature, be compelled to share the gospel with the lost. They will by their new nature hurt for the lost and carry the precious Holy Spirit with them.
A “believer” attending church cannot reproduce and therefore doesn't bring about church growth. Only a “disciple” can reproduce and bring about church growth. A disciple can be equipped and trained.
Evangelism through disciple making
Do you see how the early church disciples, though very few in number but full of the Holy Spirit and armed with the gospel of grace through Jesus Christ turned the world upside down? Most part of the early church world knew or had heard about "The Way". But today’s churches with so much more technology, media coverage, books by popular preachers written only to earn millions, cleverly planned strategies for church growth and talented preaching appealing to people’s senses are far from even being considered a threat. Amidst all of this however, are the true disciples of Christ purely motivated by love, who are not in the limelight, not interested in what the world calls success and are “nobody’s” in the circle of the influential. They are seeing multitudes of lost coming to know the love of Christ every day. Their ministries accompany many miracles, signs and wonders just as Jesus said it would. They make disciples and send them out to plant other churches on a weekly basis. Their impact is far greater than a vast majority of the affluent churches with all their conferences, music and large congregations. And at a fraction of the costs.
These are those disciples who willingly endure persecution, beatings, insults, threats, and even death just to preach the gospel. That’s how the church grows and grows strong with mature disciples of Christ, every member doing its part which causes the body to grow. How is it that these “nobody’s” without much money or media coverage are able to do so much more than so called mega churches?
There is absolutely nothing wrong with mega churches, but being a mega church simply means it has so much more opportunity to do what really matters to God. Send out disciples to go and make disciples…..from your own flock which God gave you to care for. Equip and train disciples and send them out to plant new churches. Teach them to evangelize, disciple and plant more churches. If you cant find one single disciple whom you can send out from your large flock and plant a church, that tells you something doesn’t it?
Luke 12:48 - " For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.
One organization that I truly admire is Bible League International. They partner with “disciples” across the world and serve under resourced churches with training for evangelism, discipleship and church planting. Bible League also provides all the materials needed for the fulfilment of the Great Commission.
Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. - John 4:34
Are you trying to fulfil your “ambition” or committed to fulfil His Great Commission?
You take your stand beside Jesus Christ and His cause and you watch the devil come after you buffeting you from all sides. That’s the persecution and trials Jesus warned His disciples about.
I urge the church to wake up, get back to your first love. Lift Jesus up boldly and preach the truth and He will draw all men unto Himself. Teach Christ, Teach what the Lord has done for us, teach Jesus. You can spend your life time as a preacher teaching Jesus and still will not be able to adequately explain Him and His love for mankind. Compel the lost to see the “preciousness” of Jesus. Teach the lost to release their hold on pride, on self esteem, self effort and faith in the flesh. Teach them humility and to rely on Christ and Christ alone and on the finished work of Christ on the cross. Teach them to fight and overcome sin by the power of the Spirit. Teach them to live holy lives. Address the issue of sin with boldness. Do not worry about offending them or causing them to walk away from church. Love them enough to tell them the truth and do it in gentleness and love. Keep doing this and you’ll make disciples for Christ who will be more than eager to go out into the world with the true gospel.
Col 2:8-10 - Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.
Mat 4:4 But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'
Mat 4:7 Jesus said to him, "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the LORD your God.
Mat 4:10 Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.'
I am sure you have heard hundreds of sermons preached about how our Lord Jesus used the “written” Word to ward off temptations from the devil. We have been encouraged to do the same when we are faced with tough temptations. We are chided, exhorted and taught that we need to know the Word if we are to speak the written Word to the devil, just as our Lord Jesus did.
I still remember a preacher’s message, “How can you say “It is written….when you don’t know what is written!”. I thought it was a great message then. Many a times when I was faced with temptation, I tried to use whatever little I knew was “written”. But often times, in the face of temptation, my mind went blank with regards to scriptures. The written Word was not the strongest thought at that moment, but the struggle between knowing it to be wrong and yet being tempted by the pleasure of sin was real.
I put in a lot of effort in memorising what was written. And I tried hard. Over time I learnt that the strategy doesn’t work. Speaking out the “written Word” doesn’t work. If that were true, then Apostle Paul wouldn’t have had to write Romans 7, in which he explicitly explains how he struggled with temptation. Please stop now for a minute and read Romans 7:8 right through to verse 25. Are you suggesting, Paul did not know what was written? I think not!! He knew the scriptures very well. He was a well educated Pharisee under the leadership of Gamaliel and was full of Pharisaical zeal..
The reality is often times, in the middle of temptations, we sense a power way too strong opposing our will to obey God’s commands.
Galatians 5:17 - 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. NLT
The battle with temptations mentally exhaust us and eventually we give in. Almost instantly accusations follow from the enemy, which we seldom can counteract. Because we are all guilty of course. We find ourselves weak at that moment although you remember what is “written”. Sure, after a little while (maybe a few days for some), we do get back up on our feet, because by then the temptation is gone and we are able to think clearly again. By now we realize, Jesus our Lord has cleansed us from all sin and that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). We begin our fresh walk with the Lord again, until our next temptation. Then the whole cycle continues….True?
So then, what about Matthew 4? We see our Lord Jesus resisting the devil and his temptations using the written Word of God. Are we not to follow His example?
No, we are not! Did I just shock you? Friends, Let me “Re-introduce” our Lord Jesus and the true gospel to you.
Jesus was both fully God and fully man. All mankind has fallen short of the glory of God. There was only one man on earth who was totally, completely, fully sinless and absolutely righteous. That was Jesus, the Son of the Most High God. No one else. He came to earth to pay the ultimate price for the sins of mankind and rescue us all from eternal damnation. To do this, He had to be born of the law (which no man could keep). Hence he was born of Mary, in the natural way, just like man. To be a sinless sacrifice for mankind, He HAD TO keep the written law of God and live His life fulfilling the law. Remember, Jesus said “ I am the fulfilment of the law.” He also said in Mat 5:17 - "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
So, even in the face of temptation, Jesus fulfilled the law, by speaking out “It is written, It is written, It is written….because He knew what was written in the law AND He was the only one who could keep it. No man was/is ever able to abide by the law. Jesus was the only one and remains the only one capable of fulfilling the law.
For example, the law of the land states the speed limit on city roads is 50mph. We know the law. We are tempted to speed, but we are able to refrain and abide by the law. We are capable of refraining from breaking the law. But with the law of God, we are NOT capable of refraining from breaking the law. Only Jesus had that capacity. That’s precisely why He had to come. And He came for one reason, which was to rescue us from the power of sin in our lives. John the Baptist confirmed His purpose by introducing Him to the world saying “Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Jesus did not come to “demonstrate” to us, how to keep the law, but to deliver us from it. As the bible says, we were already dead in our trespasses. Jesus came to breathe new life into us. He didn’t come to make bad people good through behavioural change, but to make dead people alive through transformation.
That is the gospel friends. That’s why it is called Good News. Why? Because we are not condemned anymore for having broken the law. We are forgiven. We are redeemed from the curse of the law. (Galatians 3:13). Our righteousness therefore comes by faith alone. Faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross. Our victory over temptation comes by faith alone. Faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross.
When we are faced with temptation now, we ought not to try and remember what is written, but we ought to remind ourselves that we are now the righteousness of God through Christ’s finished work on the cross. We ought to remind ourselves, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1). We ought to remind ourselves that we are saved not by our good works and will power to stay free from temptation, but by trusting in the finished work of Christ on the cross. We ought to remind ourselves that sin no longer has dominion over us because we are not under law but under grace. We ought to remind ourselves that Christ our Lord has destroyed the power of sin by his death and resurrection. The more we remind ourselves of this, the stronger we get in faith and the weaker sin and temptation gets. And suddenly one day, you realise how petty and inconsequential that very temptation was.
Jesus our Lord knew He was righteous and sinless. That’s why in the story of the woman caught in adultery, He boldly said “He who is without sin, cast the first stone.” He was the only one without sin, in that story. He could have stoned that woman to death as per law, but He didn’t cast the stone. He forgave the woman caught in adultery and told her to sin no more. That’s because He also knew He was taking that woman’s sin upon Himself shortly. Because Jesus knew He was righteous and sinless, He had the confidence and boldness to cast evil spirits out, cast sicknesses out and command healing. They had no hold on Him. That’s why He said in John 14, whoever believes in Him, will do the works He did and even greater things that what He did.
Jhn 14:12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
How is that possible you ask? If we truly believe the gospel message, then we ought to live by faith that we are now sinless just as our Lord was/is. We ought to live by faith, KNOWING that because of Christ’s finished work on the cross, demons and sicknesses have no hold over us. We are sinless and righteous just as Jesus is because of the finished work on the cross. When we really believe that, then we will have the boldness and authority to command demons out and heal the sick. That is the gospel message friends.
Temptations are not overcome by knowing and quoting what is written, but by faith in the finished work of our Lord Jesus . Amen!!
Is it possible to never stumble? Have you ever wondered how it would be like if you could walk the ideal Christian walk and never stumble? Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could be passionate followers of Jesus, be involved in Godly work, preach the gospel, make disciples, never be discouraged or depressed, never feeling low, never falling in sin and feeling miserable?
Life experience tells me that's a pipe dream. But do we go by life experiences or by God's word? I've struggled a lot with temptations, felt discouraged and depressed, even felt useless and inadequate. I've fallen into sin and swore to never stumble again but found I did not have the power in me to keep my own promise. Whenever I tried to resist temptations and obey God, I found there was another power at work in my flesh. I was weak and stumbled again. I've felt that I am incapable of doing anything for the Lord.
I've felt that all I can do is be grateful for my salvation and for whatever I possess and wait till I die and get to see Him. Several rejections in life was and is a major contributor to this. I am sure many of you may relate to this experience.
But then I came across a verse in 2 Peter 1:10 which says "for if you do these things, you will never stumble". What? "Never Stumble"!! Really??? Is that your reaction? Mine was too. :)
To understand 2 Peter 1:10 contextually, we need to read from verse 2 on wards.
2 Peter 1:2,3 : Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
Here Peter reminds us that His divine power has given us everything we need to lead a godly life. That means there is nothing more to receive to lead a godly life. We already possess everything we need to lead a godly life. Yet it feels like we stumble every so often, isn't it? That's a lie from the devil my friends. He is the father of lies. Scripture says we already have everything we need to lead a godly life and to never stumble. That means we have the power in us now through the knowledge of Him to resist every temptation and to resist every discouragement. But it is only through our knowledge of Him. Question is how well do you KNOW Him?
2 Peter 1:4 : Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
God's promises have always encouraged us in times of distress, isn't it? But there's much more to His promises than just re-igniting hope and faith friends. Here Peter says, through His promises we can participate in the divine nature, ie. the nature of Christ Himself. That's profound. We, sinful as we are now have the ability to participate in the nature of Christ Himself because we have escaped corruption in the world caused by evil desires. See, somehow these scriptures never come to mind at those particular moments when we are discouraged or depressed or tempted or feeling guilty after having sinned, isn't it? That's the lie of the devil friends. God’s written word is the truth and the truth is that we have been given precious promises through which we can participate in His divine nature.
2 Peter 1:5-8 : For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
For this reason....what reason? Because we have been given all things we could ever need to lead a godly life and we have His wonderful promises by which we CAN participate in His divine nature, therefore...make every effort. If we possess these qualities, they will keep us from being ineffective and unproductive. Our sense of low self esteem, discouragement and depression comes from a feeling of ineffectiveness and unproductiveness. We feel we are not worthy of anything because we are not accomplishing anything. We feel like a hamster in a wheel, trying really hard and not getting anywhere. That then leads to being discouraged and depressed which in turn then leads to ungodly temptations.
Here Peter reminds us, if we discern the lies of the devil and turn to the promises of God, and if we possess these qualities, we will not be ineffective or unproductive. Isn't that wonderful? But not all of us possess these qualities even though we claim to love the Lord Jesus. We claim to be true born again believers and yet lack these qualities. How is that possible? Well...the answer is in the very next verse.
2 Peter 1:9 : But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
We have gotten so busy trying to serve the Lord and become shortsighted. We have forgotten that we have been cleansed from our past sins. So then, we continue to feel guilty for our sins. This weighs us down and prevents us from being all that God has called us to be. This once again is due to believing the lies of the devil. The truth is that we are indeed forgiven of our sins friends. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1). Peter reminds us that we lack godly qualities or the divine nature of Christ, when we forget we have been forgiven of our past sins. Therefore do not forget that you have been forgiven of your sins. Instead, remind yourselves friends, as often as possible, remind yourselves that you are royalty now. You belong to the King of kings. You have been given ALL you need to lead a godly life. You have the ability in you to possess the divine nature. Then you will never be ineffective or unproductive. You will NEVER STUMBLE.
2 Peter 1:10 :Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble.
A life without purpose can be meaningless. It can wear you down, bring discouragement and depression. A purpose breathes life and hope into you. It brings joy and meaning to everything you do. Even your job that you don’t like much will suddenly have new meaning. You will suddenly be endowed with wisdom on discerning between resourceful relationships and time wasters. You will be self-motivated and begin using all resources you can get your hands on for one purpose. YOUR PURPOSE!!
What does your life look like? It’s time to sit back and ask yourself…..what is your purpose? Why do you do all that you do? Why do you wake up each day, get ready and go to work? Does your life have more meaning and purpose after you get back from work? What is it you live for?
King Solomon, was the richest in the world and the wisest man in the world during his time. He lacked nothing. Yet in the book of Proverbs he comes to a very profound conclusion. Life here on earth is meaningless, unless lived for God.
God did not mean for us to live meaningless lives. He created us for a reason and a purpose.
Jer 29:11- For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
The devil is a liar. Jesus said, he is the father of lies. The devil comes to steal, kill and destroy. Steal your purpose, Kill your motivation & destroy your hope. But Jesus said “I have come that you might have life and life more abundantly”.
There are many examples in the bible where people who lived aimlessly suddenly receiving a purpose from God, went on to live a meaningful and purposeful life. Abraham received a purpose, Joshua was given a purpose, Samuel was called and given a purpose, Gideon an ordinary man received a purpose from God, Jeremiah was given a purpose, David was given a purpose. In the new testament, we see this theme continuing. Mary was visited by an angel and given a purpose. John the Baptist was given a clear purpose for entry into the earth.
Luke 1:76-77 : And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins,
The latter part of the above verse is a clear purpose given to John the Baptist.
Our Lord Jesus had a purpose. He said “I have come to seek and to save that which was lost”.
All 11 disciples were given a purpose in life when our Lord gave them the Great Commission. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations teaching them to do all that I have commanded you to do…..”
Apostle Paul was given a clear purpose at the Damascus road encounter with God.
The purpose that God planted in their hearts drove them to extreme endurance levels. They were ordinary fishermen, tax collectors and other ordinary individuals who now suddenly somehow were self-motivated to endure any level of hardship to ensure they lived for that one purpose. They received the Holy Spirit to empower them and they had the grace of God upon their lives. Now suddenly, paying bills, day to day family life, job, salary, etc were all secondary. The “purpose” became the driving factor of life. Their lives had meaning, a cause, a reason and a purpose. That’s what finding your purpose does to you. It gives you new meaning to life. It motivates you and drives you.
Friends, I encourage you to seek the Lord in prayer and fasting and find a purpose outside of yourself. Learn to be selfless. You know by now that you are not going to be taking anything from this world with you. All riches, luxuries, fame, success, pride…..nothing will be of any use to you. The only thing you will leave behind is a legacy. You can choose to leave behind changed lives, transformed communities and lots of love.
There have been many multi-millionaires who have lived, died and gone. What do you remember of them? On the contrary, think of Mother Theresa. Nothing much need to be said, isn’t it. But beware, it’s not about recognition by men on earth. The Lord sees all things and knows each of our hearts. There are countless others just like Mother Theresa who have lived for a purpose outside of themselves and gone on ahead of us. Though not as popular as Mother Theresa was, they have not gone unnoticed. Their rewards are great in heaven.
Therefore I urge you, find your purpose in prayer. Life is definitely much more than going to a job, earning an income, paying bills and buying food. When Jesus said “I’ve come to give you life and life more abundantly”, it was not more money, more wealth, more meaningless life that He was talking about, but a life with a purpose. A God given purpose that will keep you motivated and cause you to enjoy all that you do because your eye is on a much bigger vision.
It surely is more blessed to give than to receive.
Most people at this point think, who am I? How could I do what Mother Theresa did? I can’t do this or that….Friends, you don’t have to do what someone else did. You only have to do what you can. But set your eyes on a bigger goal that is outside of yourselves.
I personally support some people financially who I know are living for a purpose outside of themselves. My purpose is to see people saved through the preaching of the gospel, lives change, people growing in the knowledge of Christ and are lifted up from the depths of a poverty mindset. I love to see children getting an education and communities transformed with love. Now, I can’t do all that by myself, but I CAN financially support those that are doing it. Because I have made this my purpose, my job isn’t a dread anymore. I even try to supplement my income through other means just so I can live for my purpose. The purpose God has placed in my heart motivates me to disregard all inconsequential matters in life and stay focused. As I go about doing this, the grace of God keeps me joyful and content. I have no time for ego battles at work places, jealousy, politics, etc. I have a bigger purpose and a bigger cause. Yes, I’m human too. It does hurt at times, but life is but a vapour. Here today, gone tomorrow. I’d much rather make good use of it.
Matthew 6:33 - Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.
Everything you need for life and godliness will be added to you when you choose to pursue the purpose God has given you. When you ignore His purpose for you and seek after what the world can give you, then the very pleasures you are after will keep evading you. But when you make it your goal in life to pursue His purpose for you, then all things you need WILL be added unto you.
Pray friends, seek the Lord!! Find out how you would make a difference in someone else’s life if you had only 1 month to live. Then live life that way….for the rest of your life. There is an unexplainable joy and freedom in giving up chasing after worldly dreams and pursuing God's purpose for you. Life becomes wonderful. This is the abundant life Jesus said He came to give us. Just reading about it in the bible will not make any difference in your life. But doing it and taking practical steps to pursue your purpose in God will bring about dramatic change to your life and you will stand amazed at how many other lives get transformed and changed because you made that decision.
Jhn 7:17 "If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or [whether] I speak on My own [authority].
In today’s world of media and the internet, TV preachers and a church in most suburbs….listening to a sermon is easy. Preachers are everywhere. They take advantage of every possible means to further the cause they believe in. Radio, TV, Streaming Video, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter….you name it. They are there. Gone are the days when all you would get to hear was a sermon on Sunday at church and thereafter you were left to yourself with the Bible for the rest of the week. That wasn’t even too long ago. And it was good wasn’t it?
Ever wondered how much of what you hear is actually of God? Ever find yourself confused about the contradicting doctrines you get to hear these days? People are so saturated with sermons and messages from preachers all over the world, that they hardly have time to be alone with God and read their own bible. Most professing Christians today hardly ever read the bible other than the few verses referred to by the preachers during their sermons.
No wonder we don’t see much of a difference between Christians and the world. Neither does the world see much of a difference. How sad!! Don’t you think? How many of us really will to do His will?
Yet in the early days of Christianity, we see that only a handful of people, 12 in fact were accused of turning the world upside down.
Act 17:6 But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, "These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.
How did such a small group of people be able to turn the world upside down when we with all the technological advancements today are still not even making a dent in our lost world, especially in the western more advanced nations? I don’t generalize this because I am aware there are a few persecuted nations where Christianity is indeed growing very rapidly. However, the same can’t be said for a vast majority of the more advanced Western World. Countries like India, China, Vietnam, Eastern Europe and some other African nations are seeing exponential growth in believers. At the same time, we see an exponential downfall of faith in most developed and affluent nations.
I urge you brothers and sisters, pick up a magnifying glass, open your eyes and really look, investigate what really is causing growth in some countries. I submit to you, it’s the simplicity of the gospel and the simplicity that is in Christ Jesus. They have recognized the root of the problem, which is sin. They have repented and accepted the forgiveness of our Lord with open arms and they do not expect a better life and riches. Many of them have sat down and counted the cost for following Christ. They share their faith in simplicity of heart, one with another. They love each other. They meet together daily or as often as they can to study the Word of God….from the Bible. They will to do His will and not their own and therefore are not easily deceived.
Act 2:46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,
2Cr 1:12 For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.
2Cr 11:3 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
How much of that do you think is happening today? Very little, don’t you think? There is very little preaching on following in the footsteps of Jesus and willing to do His will.
1Pe 2:21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:
We are inundated with sermons on how to prosper, how to have great self-esteem, God loves us and has a wonderful plan for us, how to get guaranteed answers to prayers, 10 key promises of God, 5 keys to a successful marriage and so on. Really?? Is that why the Son of the Most High God went through an agonizing, torturous and painful death on the cross? Was His precious sinless blood shed at Calvary for this alone?
Brothers and Sisters, the answer is a resounding NO!! The reality is that we are sinners by nature, born into sin. Our righteous deeds are like filthy rags before God. The only way we could be reconciled to God was through the shedding of innocent blood. Our Lord Jesus’ death and His shedding of blood reconciled us with our Father in Heaven and we now belong to our Father, as was originally intended. We are now being transformed into the likeness of our Lord Jesus Christ. That is the ultimate PURPOSE and CALLING of our faith in Him. To be transformed into His likeness.
The only way we can grow into that transformation is by spending time with Him alone and understanding His written Word, no matter what situation we might be facing in life. Our belief and trust in Him shouldn’t have anything to do with the challenges we face in life. Through good times and the bad times, we ideally ought to maintain a feeling a gratitude for our salvation, no matter what. People we call Heroes of Faith all demonstrated this.
Friends, please do not be a fair weather Christian. Don’t come to Jesus, the King of kings just because some preacher promised you a better life, a better marriage and a great career or financial prosperity. But come to Him because you realize He is sovereign, He is real and not a fictional character, He indeed is the creator and there indeed is a heaven and a hell. Come to Him because you know you are a sinner and are extremely grateful to Him for your salvation. Come to Him because you willingly WANT to do His will.
So again, in this world of TV preachers, Radio preachers, DVDs, CDs, Internet, Mega Church programs and a busy “Christian Activity” filled life, how do you know if what you hear is of God or not? Our Lord Jesus gives us the answer in the gospel of John.
Jhn 7:17 "If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or [whether] I speak on My own [authority].
When you willingly want to obey and do His will, our Lord says, you shall know concerning the doctrine you hear, whether it is from God or whether from man’s own authority.
The peace, the love, the wisdom and the joy you receive in your quiet time with the Lord and reading His word is simply incomparable to anything else. Especially when you are going through a hard time. Don’t just be a believer, but be a disciple.
I was radically transformed by the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ back in 1997 in a most unusual way and unusual place. Read my testimony here. Over the years of my walk with God, I have come to realize a few basic truths that have altered my life.