Lucia's Blog: 2020-06-07
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Thursday, June 11, 2020

WAYS SATAN MAY SEEK TO DESTROY US


"Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil... Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.  Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,  and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints." 
 Ephesians 6:11-18



The early Reformers in Europe, as well as the pioneers of the American churches, prayed fervently for God's help against the invisible hosts of evil. They believed unabashedly in the devil and lived their lives as a battle against his evil influences. Just because they are invisible does not make them imaginary nor does it make us superstitious to acknowledge their existence. Let's have a serious Bible discussion of Satan and his activities.

Satan seems to know us well.  He is an expert, knowing our strengths and weaknesses.  He is the serpent, the adversary, the evil one, the persecutor, the prince of darkness, the ruler of this world, and the great dragon.  And when you are a follower of Christ, he hates you with a passion.  He is like a roaring lion prowling about seeking to destroy us.  He finds delight in our weaknesses.  This is his target.  Many times he targets those who are leaders by attacking their strengths, the areas they have built upon as well as the principle qualities they promote best.  
"Therefore let him who thinks he stands take HEED lest he fall."  I Corinthians 10:12

Satan is astute and has many devices.  He usually goes for the citadel rather than the tiny cracks in the wall.  We need to learn to be more astute than he is, being on the alert and standing firm to resist him so that he will flee from us.  We cannot afford to be naive for a moment!  We must consider his evil ways and be equipped with the armor of God to fight back.


I.  SATAN'S EVIL WAYS THAT DESTROY US:

Satan fiercely seeks us out, his weak prey, like a roaring lion to utterly destroy us.  Satan, our adversary, wants to destroy those who are doing a good work for Christ's sake, those who are faithful and are being used in service to God for His glory.  He hates them and wages war against those who are striving to live their lives for Christ, walking in righteousness.  Indeed, his primary purpose is to destroy, discourage, and bring shame upon us.  He will use all of his evil weapons against God's faithful children. 

That is why we must become aware, being on guard, standing firm in Christ with all prayer to resist him.  However, I am confident that he can do nothing to us other than what God allows him.  He still has the power to prowl and attack us fiercely.  His goal is to take us away from God's Word and love. He can do that only if we give him an open door.  He will do everything in his power to discourage and sway us away from God and His ways.  He is eager to persecute all those who desire to live godly (2 Tim. 3:12).  His main goal is to attack our faith and our joy. Therefore, let us take heed and be on the alert!!

We have an enemy who is real, and we need to be watchful!  We cannot afford to be careless or lazy. Satan is the author of most of our troubles, cares, and persecutions.  Even so, we must not allow him to intimidate us.  I am determined not to let him win!!  

We must become fully aware that although Satan can put sinful suggestions into our hearts, they are merely suggestions, and we must not yield or give in.  We all have to face these illicit suggestions, but we must be wise about what to do with them.  We must choose wisely and meditate on the Word of God and prayer, on what to do with those suggestions rather than make plans to do evil.  We must try to get those evil thoughts or suggestions out of our mind and not act upon them at all!

Let's consider some of his evil ways:
  • He loves to slander our God making us doubt His goodness and destroying our faith, Genesis 3:4-5
  •  He tempts us to pretend to be more spiritual than we are, Acts 5:3; Joh 8:44
  • He corrupts our minds and loves to steer us away from the simplicity and purity of the Gospel of Christ, 2 Corinthians 11:3
  • He hinders the success of the Gospel by putting obstacles in the way and making the Truth hard to understand.  He snatches the Truth away,  I Thes. 2:18; Matt. 13:19.  
  • He fights us to defeat whatever progress the Word of God makes in us, Eph. 6:12
  • He may tempt us into committing adultery by encouraging one of the spouses to neglect the intimacy of the marriage bed, I Cor. 7:5This is an area where he makes leaders in the church stumble.  This shipwrecks the Bride of Christ and Her spiritual well being. 
  • He loves to afflict us with thorns in the flesh, 2 Cor. 12:7
  • He may smite us with physical illness, Lk. 13:16; Job 2:7.  
  • He loves to blind the eyes of those whom we love that don't know the Gospel by instilling doubt, keeping them from seeing the glory of our Lord Jesus2 Cor. 4:4
  • He hinders many from coming to God in obedience through faith by enslaving them to sin, Gal. 4:8
  • He tries to disable the effectiveness of the Word of God in us through confusion, discouragement, and despair, 2 Cor. 4:8-9
  • He sows tares through false doctrines and false teachers to create disunity in the church, Mt. 13:38-39; 2 Cor. 11:13-15
  • He leads many into embracing false doctrine and compromising what is sound, I Tim. 4:1-3.  
  • He persecutes those who want to live godly, Rev. 2:10
  • He tempts us to do evil, Matt. 4:1; I Thess. 3:5.  
  • He uses pride to destroy us, I Peter 5:6-8.  
  • He slanders us before God, Rev. 12:10.  
  • He may ask God's permission to sift us, Lk. 22:31
  • He may use the power of suggestion to keep us from doing the will of God, Matt. 16:21-23.

So with all these warnings about Satan's ways, how do we stop him from causing so much damage and misery?  How do we attack him?  How can one stand firm and resist him so that he will flee? Well, the answer to these questions is found in the Word of God.  The Word of God urges Christians not to be naive about his schemes, 2 Cor. 2:11To defeat Satan, we must submit to God, James 4:7.  We must be sober and remain alert, giving him no opportunity, Eph. 4:27Jas. 4:7I Peter 5:8; and finally we must hate him and all sin, Psalm 97:10; Jude 23; 2 Peter 2:10.


II.   HOW CAN WE AS CHRISTIANS DEFEND OURSELVES AGAINST THIS POWERFUL ENEMY?

Consider the following suggestions from the Word of God that would help us to overcome our adversary the devil:


  • We must put on our battle armor:  We cannot afford to be naive about Satan's wicked devices.  Indeed, our conflict with him is a spiritual one.  Therefore, we must consider his evil ways and be equipped with the whole armor of God to fight back.  Ephesians 6:10-18 provides us with a list of these protections and arms for battle:  
    • truth.
    • Righteousness.
    • Peace.
    • Faith.
    • salvation
    • God's infallible Word and
    • Prayer.  

If we put on this spiritual armor, we will be able to resist our adversary, the devil, and he will flee from us (James 4:7).  How do you suppose our Lord and Savior overcame Satan's temptations in Matthew 4 With the Word of God.  Jesus quoted Scripture on every occasion that Satan tempted Him.  Now, if we are ignorant of the Word of God, we will not be able to overcome Satan's wiles and temptations.  Most likely, we will give in to his temptations since we don't know what God demands of us.  When we do not know the Word of God, we won't completely know and understand the difference between right and wrong.  Thus, we will be an easy target for Satan.  On the other hand, if we are fully saturated with the knowledge of the Word of God, taking courage to keep pressing on, Satan will have no chance to defeat us. You may rest assured!

  • We must remember that although God will allow Satan to tempt us, He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can endure (I Cor. 10:13).  
"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."  

Remember this comforting promise always!  This verse also restates that man is responsible for his actions or choices.  God will never put us (Christians) in a position of temptation which we cannot handle.
  • We must remember that we have an advocate, Jesus Christ, our Lord, even though we have Satan as the "accuser of the brethren" (Rev. 12:10).  Jesus, our advocate, is standing with us, is pleading our case, is protecting us from all evil, and is refusing to forsake us (I John 2:1).  How comforting are these words to my soul!!!  Our Savior understands well what it is like to be tempted by Satan since He Himself was tempted by the enemy.  Therefore, He is interceding for us (Hebrews 7:25).  He is on our side and wants to remain faithful to us if we are faithful to Him, walking in the Light "as He Himself is in the Light."  (I John 1:7)
  • We must never forget that victory is within our grasp, and we must not let go.  Satan knows that he is going to lose at the end.  Therefore, let us make sure that we keep pressing on, and never give up when the way gets tough, and wrong seems so strong.  Let us heed the Lord's words of advice, 
"Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."  (Matt. 26:41)

So if we faithfully arm ourselves with these four Bible truths, we will surely overcome our adversary, the devil.


CONCLUSION:
"Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom."  

All Christians are involved in combat with a powerful and deceptive enemy, and we must be alert.   The apostle Peter warns us about this big enemy in I Peter 5:8.  Therefore, we must stand firm and not let him intimidate us.  We must realize who our enemy is and learn his tactics of warfare.  He is dangerous!  We must acknowledge his power and devices.  He is a crafty snake!

Satan is the roaring lion encircling the flock to see if he can make the sheep stray away from the protection of the shepherd and the flock.  He is always prowling about, looking for an open door to attack and discourage us.  His main goal is to devour or destroy us completely.  Therefore, we must be watchful or vigilant and not be ignorant of his devices.

Today, many characterize Satan as a toothless lion that can only roar but cannot harm.  This is dangerous!  Because Satan does not intend just to scare us.  He means to destroy us and take us to the "lake of fire" with him.  Let us pay attention to the Bible warnings about him!  

Satan and his ministers of evil (those angels who rebelled against God) want to attack our faith and our desire to obey the Lord.  Our struggle is not fleshly but rather spiritual, against spiritual forces of wickedness in high places (Eph. 6:10).  Hence, we must put on our spiritual armor and stand firm to defeat him.  How do we resist him?   By submitting to God, drawing near to him, and purifying our hearts with His Word (James 4:7-8).  

We must always consider that Satan is patient and not easily discouraged, no matter how many times we turn him down.  He does not give up!  Remember what Luke 4:13 says, "And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time."  Satan attacked Jesus with various temptations during His time in the wilderness.  And although he was not successful, he certainly did not give up on Jesus.  He is back when another opportunity presents itself.  

Remember that Satan and his demons believe in God, heaven, and hell.  Notice what James wrote:  "You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder" (James 2:19).  They tremble because they know the eternal suffering that awaits them.  Satan is always working (day and night).  He knows his time is limited and that he has much to accomplish with his wicked plans.  We read of this in Job 1:7.
"The LORD said to Satan, 'From where have you come?' Satan answered the LORD and said, 'From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.'"

Therefore, we must be on the alert and put on the whole armor of God to withstand in the evil day and stand firm against Satan's attacks to our faith.  The armor of God includes "defensive weapons," which are the Truth, Righteousness, the Gospel of Christ, our Faith, and our Salvation.  The armor of God also includes "offensive weapons," which are the Sword of the Gospel and Prayer, Eph.. 6:11-18. These are the only measures of war that we can take to stand firmly against him and win.  

"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but AGAINST principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of WICKEDNESS in the heavenly places."  Ephesians 6:12

May we stand on a firm foundation of faith, the knowledge of God, and His Word that we may be saved from Satan's wicked devices.  May our Lord help us to put on His whole armor that we may be able to withstand in the evil day and stand firm in our faith.  May we submit to God and resist the devil so that he will flee from us.  May we never surrender to Satan but rather dedicate our lives to God's service with zeal. May we be always vigilant with all prayer that we may not enter into temptation.  May we never forget that victory is within our grasp, and we must not let go.  


Luci

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

FREEDOM VERSUS RESPONSIBILITY

"For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another." 
Galatians 5:13-15



Jesus came to a world imprisoned by the guilt and practice of sin and offered freedom. He still offers us freedom, but with the proviso that we not return to the service of the Enemy.  Freedom is a wonderful blessing for anyone. It is a blessing to experience our unique freedoms for two centuries:  the freedoms of speech, of the press, privacy, and the freedom to worship without government interference. The Lord’s freedom is much more significant, priceless, and eternal for those who are in Christ.  The price of our freedom is the blood of the Lamb.  Our souls are so precious and valuable to our God that He sacrificed His innocent Son.  I cannot fathom the depth of God's love for the souls of men!! 
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life"  (John 3:16). 

You see, when God saw our hopeless condition, He sent His Son to make us alive together with Him since we were dead in our sins. Our Father in heaven showed us His lovingkindness when He sent His beloved Son to die on a cross for our sins.  It was through His Son's death that He was able to grant pardon and freedom to us.  Our Lord Jesus Christ set us free from the bondage of sin, the yoke of slavery.  Jesus, our Lord, paid an extremely high price.  He laid down His life for you and me (Colossians 2:13-14).  


I.   OUR FREEDOM IN CHRIST:  (Galatians 5:13-15)

Our Lord Jesus is the sum, the essence, the end, and the support for both the Law of the Old Testament as well as the Law of Christ under the New Testament.  Paul wrote in Romans 10:4,
"For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes."  

He contrasts the Law of Moses with the new Message of Christ.  It is through Christ that the Spirit of God brought freedom from:
  • The darkness and slavery of sin.
  • The freedom from prejudices and superstitions (as in the case of the Jews).
  • Freedom from the fear of death. 
  • Freedom through the Gospel of Christ through His Grace toward us.  It is through the Gospel that He makes us glorious, transforming us and changing us into His glorious image.  We can be like Christ!

II.   OUR FREEDOM AND RESPONSIBILITY:   

In Galatians 5:13-15 we read,
"For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another."  

Galatians 5:1, 13-15 speak of our freedom in Christ and the responsibility that comes with it. When Paul wrote the letter to the Galatians, there was no freedom for those who were under the Roman Empire, such as we have today.  In the first century, the most significant form of freedom was freedom from slavery.  Both men and women who were slaves had no rights or civil liberties.  A slave was to submit to his master(owner) who told him what he must do in every circumstance.

In Galatians 5:1, Paul was not talking about a political freedom but rather the freedom from the yoke of the Law of Moses.  He emphasized freedom from religious bondage.  Paul spoke of one being physically a slave while being spiritually free in Christ.
"21 Were you a bondservant when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) 22 For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men. 24 So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God"  (1 Corinthians 7:21-24).

You see, in the days of Judaism (in the first century), the Jewish brethren were enslaving the Gentile brethren by demanding that they be circumcised, offer the right sacrifices, keep the correct holy days, and follow Jewish traditions.  They enslaved their followers, insisting that they follow the traditions and doctrines of men so that they could have an acceptable relationship with God.  Apparently, they ignored that Jesus condemned all such religious oppression.  God gave Jesus to free everyone who obeys Him.  He gave Jesus to free men from the old ways of sin so that he could serve Him.  He gave us freedom and responsibility.

So, how does one obtain freedom in Christ?

In John 8:31-36 Jesus said,
"So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, 'If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.' 33 They answered him, 'We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?'  34 Jesus answered them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.'"

Here Jesus is speaking to those Jews "who had believed Him."  To be a disciple of Jesus, one must abide in His Word with complete obedience.  Being a true disciple is not just a vocation or doctrine one believes but an action. It is a life lived in total surrender to His Lordship (Luke 6:46; Matt. 7:21-23).  A true disciple of Christ will refuse to be in bondage to the traditions and doctrines of men (Colossians 2:20-23).  He refuses to be in bondage to anyone except Christ (1 Cor. 7:22-23; 2 Peter 2:19).  He obeys only His Master (Matt. 6:24).

John 8:32 states, 
"And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'"

To know the Truth is to hear, believe, and obey it.  The Truth is useless if one does not put it into practice.  A mental affirmation of the Truth is not enough to set one free (James 2:24).  If one fails to apply the Truth to his daily living, he runs the risk of being lost.  The Truth has the power to give us freedom: freedom from the bondage of sin and guilt, the cares and worries of this life, and finally, freedom from the fear of death.

We have been given other exhortations to stand firm in:
  • Our faith (1 Cor. 16:13); 
  • Our spirit  (Phil 1:27);
  • The Lord (Phil. 4:1; 1 Thess. 3:8); 
  • Stand firm and hold to the traditions that were taught by the apostles (2 Thess. 2:15; 3:6).

The Galatians were being manipulated by Jewish Christians who insisted on imposing the Old Law system on them.  Paul declared that it was impossible for a Christian who was not a Jew to do the things that the Jews did in the past under the Law of Moses.  Sadly, the Galatian brethren were being pressured by a crafty Jewish force (Galatians 5:6-12; 12-16; Phil. 3:1-3).

Today, the Lord's church is still being threatened in many forms as it was in the days of the early church:  
  • Dispensationalism 
  • Premillennialism 
  • Sectarianism 
  • Liberalism
  • Humanism 
  • Modernism 
  • Socialism
  • Evolution 
  • Human philosophy
  • Psychology
  • Feminism and 
  • Many other destructive ideologies.  

Satan’s goal is to destroy our faith, especially the faith of our vulnerable young people (1 Timothy 6:20-21).  Another major problem the church faces is loyalty to men whose primary goal is to push false doctrines and man-made religions, foreign to the Word of God.  They willfully ignore 1 Peter 4:11 that says,
"Whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything. God may be glorified through Jesus Christ." 

Division among us is another problem many churches have to face because everyone seems to be fighting.  They are so busy fighting among themselves that they are neglecting to teach the lost (Galatians 5:15).  This really grieves my heart!!!

The world's freedom is deceitful.  Why?  Because they deceived themselves into thinking that they are free when, in fact, they are not.  They are entangled in the desires of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life, worldliness, and everything that's against the Word of God (1 John 2:16).  They are enslaved to their sinful living, their riches, worldly success, and weaknesses.  They think that this is freedom.  They say, "if you just plan enough and set enough goals, then you will find freedom."  I am not going to deny that these accomplishments can bring one a sort of freedom, but it is only earthly freedom, not God's freedomGod's freedom is to love and serve, to trust Him, and, most importantly, to do His will.  This fleshly slavery renders them helpless without any way of escape unless they surrender to the knowledge of God's Truth.

Sadly, the affairs of this lifeworldliness, and ungodliness are most likely the greatest dangers the Lord's church is facing today.  
"And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature."  (Luke 8:14)

It is all the worldly affairs of this life that keep us from loving God's Word and from serving Him faithfully.  Our faith then becomes like the religion of a spectator.  We desire only to come on Sunday mornings (if we make it at all!).  We sit and watch what is going on as a "spectator."  We refuse to get involved in our Lord's business since our minds and hearts are engaged in something else.  We are too busy to visit the sick, so we burden our preacher with the job for us.  

Indeed, we have missed the point of being a true disciple and servant of the Lord.  We are also too busy in our worldly affairs to study and to teach God's Word, so we give that responsibility only to our preacher. We don't seem to find time for praying anymore, thus neglecting the furthering of our soul and the kingdom as well. We ought to be ashamed to behave in this way, ignoring our God-given responsibility to Him and our neighbor.  It is all about me, me and no one else! 
"Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him"  (2 Timothy 2:3-4).  

Our freedom in Christ must not be abused to satisfy our flesh without restraint (Galatians 5:13). Our freedom in Christ does not give us license to indulge our fleshly desires, "perverting the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ"  (Jude 4). We must not under any circumstance, turn our freedom in Christ into licentiousness that we may continue in sin so that grace may abound (Romans 6:1, 15).  Yes, we are free from the old Law (the Law of Moses), free from sin, free from fear.  Yet, we must not use this freedom as a covering for our sins or lawlessness but rather to serve God in righteousness and holiness as faithful servants and heirs of God (Gal. 4:7, 31; 5:1; Psalm 110:3).
"And having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness"  (Romans 6:18)
  •  Serving One Another Through Love:  
So how does one demonstrate freedom in Christ?  By accepting another class of service.  We stop being servants of sin to become servants of righteousness (Romans 6:12-18).  We then become servants of Christ when we serve one another in love (Matt. 25:34-46).  When we refuse to be servants of Christ and one another, in reality, we are abusing our freedom in Christ.

We are indeed free, but at the same time, we have responsibilities toward one another as part of that same freedom.  We have obligations.  The Law of Christ, the perfect Law of liberty (James 1:25; 2:12) compels us to serve God with love.  It is impossible to love God if we don't love one another (1 John 4:20).  The greatest in the kingdom of God is the one who is a servant, the one who serves the most as a slave (Matthew 20:26-28).  By way of example, consider:
  • Dorcas (Acts 9:36, 39), 
  • Phoebe (Romans 16:1-2), 
  • The house of Stephanas (1 Cor. 16:15-16), and 
  • Gaius (3 John 5-8).  

To give one's life to the Lord means to give one's life in service to others.  Notice that in Galatians 5, Paul employs the expression "one another" five times (verses 13, 15, 26).  If we don't learn what it means to live in peace with our brethren in Christ and serve one another in love, we are violating the second commandment:  

"For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:14; Matt. 22:39).  

It implies that we have not learned this second commandment.  It also shows that we are not free.

Most people on this earth are dependent on each other.  It is an inescapable reality.  That is, "you help me, and I will help you back."  The world's philosophy is mostly self-interest or selfishness.  That is why Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me"  (Matt. 16:24).  That is to say, disciples are not to be moved by self-interest but rather by a genuine spirit of service. There is no other way to be great in the Lord's eyes (Matt. 20:25-28).

A faithful follower of Christ serves in the hope of saving souls, strengthening, and encouraging (edifying) the souls of all Christians so that they may continue in the faith. They serve because they want to save their souls and the souls of their hearers (1 Tim. 4:16).

So as a Christian, how can I best serve in the kingdom of God?

We have several Scriptures that explain how we ought to serve one another:
  1. Admonishing one another, Romans 15:4.
  2. Restoring one another, Galatians 6:1
  3. Encouraging, edifying, admonishing, comforting, supporting, and being with one another, 1 Thes. 5:11, 14.
  4. Stimulating one another, Hebrews 10:24
  5. Practicing hospitality, Romans 12:13; 1 Peter 4:9.
  6. Meeting their physical needs, James 2:14-26; 1 John 3:17-18.

In serving one another and doing all of the above, we are serving our Lord Jesus, our Master (Matthew 25:34-46).  My question:  What did the house of Stephanas do?  Consider what Paul has to say in 1 Cor. 16:15-16:
"Now I urge you, brothers—you know that the household  of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints— 16 be subject to such as these, and to every fellow worker and laborer."

Notice that they did not ask, "What shall we do?  Likewise, they did not wait for someone to tell them what to do or give them work to do.   They simply devoted themselves to serving the saints without being pushed or forced to do the job. They did not complain saying, "No one gives us any work to do in the church."
"I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, 2 that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well."  (Romans 16:1-2)  

Phoebe and Dorcas were sisters who served in many ways in the Lord's church (Acts 9:36, 39).  In Romans 16, we have several examples of saints who served and helped in many different ways in the church. When we attend to the needs of our brethren, we are serving Christ (Matt. 25:35-40).  There will always be sick, poor, needy brethren.  Several Scriptures speak of the need to practice hospitality toward one another (Rom. 12:13; 1 Peter 4:9, etc.).  The face of the earth is full of lost souls.  Sadly, the majority of them have never heard the saving Gospel of Christ.  As members of the body of Christ, we each have responsibilities that we must meet if we want God's approval:  
  • Visit, teach the lost, 
  • Invite them to our homes for Bible classes, 
  • Distribute tracts, etc.
  • Make good use of the phone, the internet, etc. to teach the Gospel.  

There are endless ways to serve and be of good use in the kingdom of our Lord.  But there must be a willingness of heart to do it.
  • Love:  
Love is active and is known for its actions.  God loved, God gave.  Christ loved, Christ gave.  Love most be visible and evident.  One who indeed is seeking to find true freedom in Christ and freedom from the slavery of the flesh is not selfish, serving his own interests.  Rather with self-denial and a willing heart, he seeks the physical and spiritual welfare of others.
  1. He not only serves willingly but chooses to do it, showing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).  
  2. He is "filled with the Spirit" (Eph. 5:18).  Everyone can see it!  Because he is moved by love. 
  3. He does everything with a joyful heart.  
  4. He shows it in his conduct, way of speaking, and service to others.  
  5. He is always a "peacemaker."  He lives peaceably with all (Romans 12:18).  
  6. He does not try to appease or crush the sinner.  
  7. He does not compromise with sin and error but rather teaches and practices with long-suffering the glorious Gospel of peace.  
  8. He practices tolerance (patience) because he trusts (has faith and confidence) that the Word of God (the seed) will produce good fruit in due season.  
  9. Not only does he endure his brethren with patience, but also he helps them bear their burden in love.  
  10. He perseveres in doing good despite their ingratitude or rudeness.  
  11. Moreover, he is kind and gentle in spirit like the good Samaritan, Dorcas, and Barnabas.  
  12. He is always faithful, loyal, trustworthy, and responsible.  
  13. His gentleness of spirit is known to all men (Phi. 4:5).  
  14. He practices self-control in everything and with everyone.  

Therefore, if none of the above fruits are visible in us, cannot be seen in us, then they do not exist in us.  We are simply not bearing any good fruit.  Love is not about hidden qualities but rather about evident and provable ones.

Indeed, love is the source of freedom.  Let me explain how:  
  1. If you hate me, I choose not to hate you back; that is freedom.  
  2. If you slander me, I choose not to slander you back; that is freedom.  
  3. If you are bitter against me, I choose not to be bitter toward you; that is freedom.  
  4. No matter what evil you do against me, I choose to do good toward you; that is freedom. 
Think of Jesus as our highest example:  
    • They spit on Him, yet He did not spit back.  
    • They slapped Him, yet He did not slap back. 
    • They cursed and mocked Him, yet He did not curse and mock any of them.
    • They abused their power against Him, yet He did not abuse His power against them. 
    • They killed Him, but instead, He forgave them.  
    • They were slaves to corruption and evil, yet He was free of sin.  
    • Jesus was the freest person who ever lived on this earth.  Nothing could enslave Him. 
    • No evil ever motivated Him.  
    • Not even death had dominion over Him.  
"For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Galatians 5:14)

In Matthew 22:34-40, a certain lawyer of the Sadducees asked Jesus about the greatest commandment in the Law.  Notice what Jesus said to him:
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."
In Romans 13:8-10, Paul told the brethren in Rome:
"Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."'

The word "love" in the Bible does not mean just a feeling or emotion but rather an action (a state of being active).  It is seen in our service to others and our goodwill (our kindness, generosity, tolerance, friendliness, empathy, sympathy, understanding, wholeheartedness, warmth, earnestness, etc.).  Love desires the welfare and protection of the one that we love.  Love demands that we love even our enemies and persecutors.  Love demands that we pray for them, their souls that they may come to repentance (Matthew 5:44-45).

What the Bible teaches about love is much different than what the world teaches.  The world's love demands that we love self.  It is all about us and little else.  Our world teaches that love is one's appreciation for himself, and the attention others pay us.  Love is Valentine's Day and Cupid, love songs and romance. Moreover, the world's concept of love is based primarily on feelings rather than on the loyalty and commitment we have made to those we love and to God.

So true love is not just a feeling or emotion.  In fact, love goes against our feelings.  Love is treating others the way we want them to treat us.  It follows the Golden Rule of Matthew 7:12.  It involves self-denial rather than self-fulfillment.  It is considering others' interests before our own,

In John 15:13, we are given an excellent example of love, the love of our Lord and Savior, who died for us.  What more excellent example of love can there be than this?!

The world's concept of love is selfish rather than sacrificial.  It is self-absorbed emotionalism. Designed to meet one's needs rather than respond to the needs of others.  It is conditional love rather than unconditional.  It is mutually exploitative.


CONCLUSION:

It is such a great blessing to have freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the right to privacy. But all these can be taken away with the blink of an eye.  And though they can be all removed from us, we Christians will remain free.  Free from what?  Free from the slavery of sin.  Free to righteousness in Christ.  Free from the condemnation of sin that we might have eternal life.  Jesus has already paid the price for our freedom with His own blood, the blood of the sinless and innocent Jesus.

You see, "whoever commits sin is a slave of sin"  (John 8:34).  One who sins is a slave to sin (Rom. 6:16-23).  When we are enslaved to sin, we are in danger of dying in our sins without hope (John 8:24).  Jesus, the Son of God, makes us free through His Truth (John 8:32).  In Him, we have eternal freedom (John 8:36).  Sadly, many don't want freedom from sin.  They like to be slaves to their desires, pleasures, indulgences.  Some have the wrong idea about freedom, and they show it by acting and thinking irresponsibly.  Their freedom is unrestrained.  They are deceived, thinking that freedom is whatever it takes to make them happy.  Others use their freedom to gain and exercise control, that is, doing everything their way, surrendering to their traditions, presumptions, preconceived notions, and prejudices.

Only in knowing Jesus can we truly be free and find peace and contentment.  We can rest in Him and be free to walk with Him, abide in Him, and have a diligent heart that freely listens to and obeys Him.  He walks on ahead, showing us the WAY.  He is guiding us in the path of righteousness through His everlasting Word. We follow Him, setting our hearts free from the bondage and slavery of sin. Christ's true freedom is to love and serve.  It demands that we die to self, crucifying our ego, which so many times gets in the way.  As we love and serve, we draw nearer to Jesus, His character, and His heart.  We conform our lives to only Him.  Only then do we find true freedom for our enslaved souls. It will bring joy in our walk with Him.
    "So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed."  (John 8:36)


Our Lord and Savior.  He sacrificed His life so that we might taste the freedom that can only come from God.  A freedom that will come to its full glory in heaven. Therefore, let us purpose to seek after Him and His kingdom of righteousness.  Let us pray for God to help our hearts be free from the chains of sin so that we may walk in freedom.
"Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God."  (1 Peter 2:16)


May the Lord open our eyes to see His real and lasting freedom.  May He also free our heart, mind, and soul from bondage, that we may breathe the fresh air of Truth that He offers.  May He open our minds to a life of righteousness and holiness that brings honor to Him.  May we always desire to live in His freedom, breaking all the chains in our lives so that we may be enslaved to Him only.
 "But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life."  (Romans 6:22)

Luci


Sunday, June 7, 2020

OVERCOMING EVIL WITH GOOD

"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.  Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.' 20 To the contrary, 'if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.'"
Romans 12:14, 17-21



Today in June of 2020, everyone seems to be talking about their grievances. Many are nursing grudges of injustice both recent and past. As each one thinks about the slights, insults, and apparent prejudice of others against himself or against those they love, they become angrier and angrier. Wars and bloodshed often spill out of such injured feelings that turn dark descending into the depths of hatred and deep resentment that refuses to heal. Jesus has a better way. He came to the earth, born in a stable, but announced as the Prince of peace. Jesus teaches us to overcome evil with good. Let us drink deeply of the healing waters of Jesus’ counsel.

One of the most deadly sins in the world is hate, whether it is in our nation, the community, the home, or yes even the church.  So the question at stake is:  How should we overcome our enemies? How should we overcome hatred?  Indeed, handling our enemies is no easy piece of cake!  How should we treat those who mistreat and abuse us?  How should Christians relate to the evil world around them?  Our Lord Jesus teaches us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). Do you find it difficult to love and be around your enemies, even your persecutors?  Jesus commands us to love them!  What should we do when we as Christians encounter opposition and hate?  Jesus commands us to endure ridicule when we’re attacked by our faith.  Is it easy or even possible to overcome our enemies through our Lord’s wisdom and comfort? 

Sadly, we live in a world where evil and evil-doers seem to rule, and as long as we remain on earth, we must continue to live in it, whether we want it or not.  It is part of living in this world of darkness without God.  Living in a world where evil and hatred seem so strong, one finds it hard to find peace.  God is the giver of peace.  He is the God of peace that will soon crush Satan and his kingdom of darkness (Rom. 16:20). God has brought peace through His beloved Son.  Thus He commands us to have peace with all men (Rom. 14:19; Heb. 12:14).  

We, children of Light, are commanded to live peaceably, promote peace, and be at peace with others.  Thus we must make an effort to strive for peace and do what we must do to be at peace with believers and unbelieversThe Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is a Gospel of peace.    Consider some Scriptures that teach us how we should deal with evil and hatred, and treat those who mistreat us and abuse us.


I.   OVERCOMING OUR ENEMIES:

Romans 12:14, 17-21 provides us with some fundamental principles about how children of Light, Christians, must handle evil and the evildoers around us.  The Word of God instructs us to be careful with our words and our actions to adorn the Gospel Message.  We must be Christ-like even amid evil and persecution.  We must not take vengeance on our enemies, but rather we must choose to love them, forgive them, and go the extra mile to be a blessing to them.  In doing this, we may rest assured we will overcome evil with good. 

  • Repay No Evil For Evil:  (Romans 12:17)
God has commanded us not to take revenge on those who hurt us or mistreat us. To the contrary, He wants us to bless and not curse themIndeed, that is difficult to do when we are hurt and badly treated!   But two wrongs don’t make a right.  To fight back, even to death, is the way of the animal kingdomTo hit, kick or bite back is the way of small children.  To “fight fire with fire” is the way of the unbelievers, those who are worldly-minded.  The world’s thinking is, “I am just giving him a dose of his own medicine.”  The world reviles in return when they are reviled.  But Jesus teaches a different standard. He gives us other measures to take.  When He was reviled, he did not revile in return (1 Peter 2:23). Yes, it is easy and tempting to yell back when others yell at us; speak hateful words right back at those who hate us and return evil for evil.  But God does not want His children to stoop to that level of repaying evil for evil.  

  • As Much As Possible, Live Peaceably With Evildoers:  (Romans 12:18)
God is the Giver of peace.  Peace can be found in Him alone.  Peace does not come through diplomacy or compromise.  Because of our sins, we were separated from God. We lived in hostility toward Him.  But God brought peace when Jesus conquered death, He tore down the dividing wall of hostility, the law of the commandments, and brought us reconciliation to Himself.  Peace was brought to this world through Jesus and His victory over sin and death.  Because of this, we can find peace with God (Eph. 2:13-17).  

God commands us to have peace with others (Romans 14:18, Heb. 12:14).  God calls us to live peaceably, promote peace, and be at peace with everyone.  God wants us to strive for peace and do what we can do to bring about peace.  He wants peace not only among believers but also with the unbelievers, the lost.  We must not suppress the Gospel of peace!  We must live godly to have peace with all men.  Also, we must seek and maintain peace with others to get along with one another.  We must do all that is in our power to live in peace with everyone, even evildoers
“I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war!”  (Psalm 120:7)

Living in a world of hatred, everybody seems to lack peace.  They find it easier to blame others for the strife and conflicts that arise.  It is foolish to demand that others do things our way, for it causes a great amount of strife.  We cause strife and discord when we insist that others are wrong and we are right, demanding that they do everything our way.  Jesus said,  
“Blessed are the peacemakers because they will be called sons of God”  (Matt. 5:9).  

We must think before we utter any inflammatory words that might cause anger instead of peace.  We must promote harmony and peace in our relationships to have unity with one another.  Do you know that when we contribute to strife and discord, it is not the other person's fault but ours as well?  So we must take responsibility to restore peace and be peacemakers.  It means that we must take the first steps to reconciliationWe must refuse to wait for an apology and forgive, for we must act first.  

Remember the words of Jesus,
"If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother"  (Matt. 18:15).  

Jesus commands us to not think of ourselves as the victims and the ones offended but instead, He wants us to go to those who have wronged us or who are against us.  As Jesus’ faithful disciples, we must swallow our pride and practice humility.  We cannot restore peace when we are waiting for others to apologize We must overlook the faults of others and seek harmony in all our relationships.  We must learn to say “I’m sorry” when we are tempted to make excuses for our behavior.  We must make right the wrongs we have committed against others.  Indeed, we all have our bad, upset, and frustrating days, but that does not free us from keeping harmony as best we can, confessing that we're wrong when we are.  

Each one of us must be a teacher of peace, for we must follow Jesus’ footsteps.  We must be teaching this world of darkness to seek peace in their lives and stop fighting God.  Peace is not weakness or cowardice.  It imitates the Son of God whose life was the embodiment of strength and courage.  

  • Do Not Avenge Yourselves:  (Romans 12:19)
When we take revenge into our own hands, we are usurping the role of God, for we are not in His place.  He knows the motives and intentions of the human heart, not us.  He alone is the one we must trust to act with perfect justice and mercy.  To take the responsibility of vengeance on ourselves is to claim or take the place of GodIt is wrong!  We, Christians, must acknowledge the most fundamental principle that God is God, and we are not!  Presumption can keep us out of heaven!  

  1. How easy it is to take vengeance on those who falsely charge us, mistreat us, speak evil of us, and try to destroy us! 
  2. How easy it is to repay them with the same evil with which they’re afflicting us!  It is so easy to repay evil for evil to those who do injustice against us. 
  3. How easy it is to burn with anger and act foolishly!  
  4. How desirous we can be for retribution!  But God wants His children to call on His ‘anger, not on our own!  And though it is true that the wrong done against us is the cause for anger, we must know that our Lord is also angry at what is happening. 

Thus, we must plead to God for action out of God’s anger and not from our own.  It will indeed demand a lot of self-control!  God’s children must not take vengeance for themselves. As those who walk in the Light of God, we must not under any circumstances take matters into our own hands when we have been wronged, sinned against while being innocent.   
  1. In Romans 12:14 we are instructed to “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.”  
  2. Romans 12:17 says, “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.” 
  3. Romans 12:19 says, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”  Vengeance belongs to the Lord.
  4. Romans 12:21 says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”   

Thus we must not retaliate but instead leave room for God’s judgment and trust in His righteous measurement of judgment, leaving everything in His hands.  God will judge evildoers!  We must realize that judgment must come upon all.  But before we call on God for His judgment upon our enemies, we must first look at ourselves and make sure that we are able to endure God’s judgment upon ourselves.  How easy it is to demand that God take vengeance on others, but how difficult it is for us to accept judgment ourselves!  No, we must be ready to be judged!  We must compare our actions to theirs for God to vindicate us.  Do we dare ask God to judge when we fail to have integrity in our own lives?  Should we be ready for God’s judgment?  So, we must take a good look at ourselves and make changes before we demand God’s judgment on others.   Think about it!

  • We Must Treat Our Enemies With Human Decency:  (Romans 12:20).
Although at times our emotions take over and bring out the worst in us and we get so frustrated, agitated, and angry, we must rule and bring under control such negative emotions.  Why?  It will be a stumbling block thrown our way to make us sin and bring reproach on ourselves and of course on our Lord and Savior.  Jesus commands us to love our enemies (Matt. 5:44).  So often, we are inclined to say, “Okay, I’ll try, but just from a distance.”  But the Lord commands us to provide food and drink to our enemies that need it (Rom. 12:20).  Do you know what’s that called?  Simply, “human decency.”  Jesus declared that even sinners do good to those who do good to them.  But we Christians must rise to a higher plain!  (Luke 6:31-35).  

  • Do Not Be Overcome By Evil, But Overcome Evil With Good:  (Romans 12:21).
Here in this verse, we find the second part of our principle.  We must not do evil to others even when they have done evil to us and have wronged us.  In doing so, we become just like them and have allowed them to rule and control us.  Why?  Simply because we have allowed their sinful behavior to overcome us and make us respond to them in an ungodly manner.  So, we have been “overcome by evil.”  But our Lord has set a much higher standard for His children.  He says that instead of being “overcome by evil,” we must “overcome evil with good.”  It means that we must not allow the wrongdoings of others to make us stumble and cause us to do evil to them in return.  No!  We must fight and rise above our flesh by doing good to them.  Indeed, it is not easy!  Why?  Because we are in a spiritual warfare and we must fight against the wiles of Satan, holding firm to higher ground to not give in or give up on the battlefield of our souls.  Our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces of evil (Eph. 6:12).  

Thus we must take the offensive. The defensive fail to have victory over anger, fear, and self-centeredness.  They allow the world to defeat them, for they are carnal minded.  Sadly, many are merely succumbers instead of being overcomers.  Wouldn’t it be better to overlook another’s fault, Prov. 19:11?  So why not choose to be better rather than bitter, sour, and unforgiving?  Why not choose to overflow with love, kindness, longsuffering, righteousness, hope, joy, and faith?  Those who overflow with the fruits of the Spirit are able to replace that which is negative with righteousness, godliness, faith, love, and peace.  It is so distressing to see so much evil and hatred in all its diverse forms!  And though there will always be evil in this world of darkness, we still must overcome evil with good.  Remember He Who is in us is greater than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4).  


CONCLUSION:

Our Lord wants us to walk on a higher plain than the world.  Romans 12:17-21 is very clear about how we must conduct ourselves in the face of evil or mistreatmentGod expects no less of His children.  It doesn’t matter how others (non-believers) respond to evil:  what God says to do is right.  The Lord expects us to not repay evil for evil.  Instead, He wants us to live peaceably with others and do that which is good for the wellbeing of the other (1 Thes. 5:15).  

God commands us to be at peace with others (Rom. 14:19; Heb. 12:14).  He commands us to be peacemakers.  That means we must take the initiative toward reconciliation with others, those who offend us (Matt. 18:15).

Jesus says that if we only love those who love us and do good things for us, it will do us no good.  Jesus wants us to be the Light of this world and be different than them.  He commands us not just to love those who love us but also love our enemies.  He wants us to do good even to those who hate us, don’t like us, and don’t appreciate us.  Jesus commands that we do good to all men and bless those who curse us.  He even wants us to pray for those who mistreat and abuse us.  Those who treat us with crueltyIndeed, it is not easy but we must do it if we want to go to heaven and be with Him. He wants us to apply the golden rule to everyone.  
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12).

Since our heavenly Father has been loving, kind, and merciful to us, He expects us to do the same thing for others.  He wants us to do to others as we would have them do to us. God’s kindness and mercy must lead us to be kind and merciful to others. Many have heard of the golden rule, of doing to others as we would have them do to us. Yet it is rarely put into practice.   Think for a moment what our world would be if everyone around us did for others what they would want others to do for them. Can you picture in your mind what this world would look like? It would be amazing!  Don’t you think?  How radically different this world of ours would be if everyone were to follow just this command given by our Lord Jesus! So why don’t we do it? Why doesn’t everyone practice it?  You may rest assured it would change all of us.  But the problem is we are just too selfish and self-centered!  We don’t care and we refuse to think of others, but only of ourselves. Why?  Simply because we are self-consumed. We do not want to think about others but only of ourselves and how others affect us. Amazing!  

You see, when we think only about ourselves, we hurt others. Our culture is unable to see this.  Oh, how wonderful it would be to do for others as we would want them do for us!  There would be an end to the hurt that others inflict on us and of course on everyone else. And though most everyone knows to do to others as we would have them do to us, yet no one practices this fundamental principle. Why not? Because it is not rooted in our way of reasoning. Why should I do for others as I would want them to do for me? The common alternative is for us to selfishly manipulate others to get out of them what we want. How often do we try this tactic! We do something expecting kindness in return. But when that kindness is not reciprocated, we immediately get angry and try to hurt the other person. It is just sad!  This is the reason why marriages experience trouble.  They use the same selfish manipulation instead of being selfless, giving what is needed to the other person.  

God’s kindness and steadfast love must motivate us to love others. It is foolish to do for others so they will do for us. That is not what Jesus taught!  Jesus’ command must compel us to deal with others by beginning with ourselves. It means that we must not determine how to treat others by looking at them, asking if they deserve it. Rather, we start with ourselves and ask what would we want and need and do for the other person. Jesus wants us to treat others graciously.  

“For this is the Law and the Prophets.”  


This is the very heart of the Law and the Prophets. This command is the heart of the kingdom and the very heart of God. It is precisely what the Law of Moses and the prophets were trying to teach and preach to the people (God said, “Love your neighbor as yourself” in Leviticus 19:18).  It has always been God’s message. Now the cross amplifies this message in our hearts.  Through Jesus’ cross, God draws us to Him. We can approach His mighty throne to ask of Him, expecting to receive because He is a loving, heavenly Father.  It is beautiful beyond words!  He is the powerful God who gives good gifts to His children. So, now let us do the same!  Let us give good gifts (blessings)  to others. Let us change this world of darkness by being the light.  Let us do for others what we would want them to do for us.  Let this sink deeply into your hearts!

God’s love compels us to overcome our enemies and love them. We are called to display God’s love to others.  In all circumstances, we are commanded by our Lord to treat others the same way that we want them to treat us.  Whether they are our friends or our enemies.  I am aware that it is much easier to love those who love us and do good to us.  But it takes a lot of courage and strength along with humility to love those who hate us and be good to them.  Nevertheless, God’s children are ruled by a higher standard and we must shine our light amid those who desire to do evil, mistreat us and afflict us. 

Those who do not love God do not know God, for God is love (1 John 8).  Hating those who mistreat and abuse us will rob us of our joy and happiness.  It will make us miserable, for hate and misery dwell in the same hearts.  You see, heaven is not for haters.  It is for those who walk in love and follow in the footsteps of Jesus.  Thus, let us pursue the way of love, not hatred.   God’s faithful children must overflow with the fruits of the Spirit:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.  

The Lord commands us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. We must empty ourselves of the desires of the flesh that resist doing the will of God. Pride is often the root of problems among us. It causes conflict with no way out. There is no room for the proud heart in the kingdom of heaven! The kingdom of Christ is only for the poor in spirit who will humbly bow before Him and say, “I am only an unprofitable or unworthy servant, for I have done that which is my duty (Luke 17:7). Your will be done in me.” The contentious desires of our hearts cause nothing but conflicts, hatred, malice, arguing, bitterness, divisions, and strife. They are evil and foolish (James 4:1-3). Our duty before God is to live peaceably with all men. He does not want us to repay evil for evil, but do that which is honorable in His sight and in the sight of all men (Rom. 12:17-18). I don't see any other way to heaven! 

We must treat all people, even our enemies, with righteousness, respect, and dignity.  We must not let our carnal emotions defeat the Spirit of Christ living in us. It will bring reproach on us and His kingdom of righteousness. So we must choose to love our enemies, for this pleases our Father in heaven! (Matt. 5:44).

Therefore, our faith must rise above our flesh (Luke 6:31-35). We must fight against the wiles of the devil (Eph. 6:10-13) that we not be overcome by evil but rather overcome evil with good. As soldiers of Christ, we must put on the whole armor of God to fight the enemy and live a life of godliness and good works (Matt. 5:16). Moreover, we must teach and live that righteous path of life. The only way to overcome evil in this world is by living a righteous life. God demands that we do right, even in the face of so much evil and mistreatment.  

May God help us to put these principles of righteousness into practice in our lives, that we may live peaceably with all men and not cause anyone to stumble, for this pleases our Father in heaven.


Luci