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Archive for the ‘CHANGE/REPENTANCE’ Category

BITTERNESS


KJV and NKJV Scripture

– Looking diligently, lest any fall of the grace of God. Lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled. – Hebrews 12:15

– Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking be put away from you – with all malice. – Ephesians 4:31

Bitterness towards life, or the Lord, arises out of false perceptions it brings that things aren’t quite working out how a person hoped they would at some prior point.  Notions of rewarding jobs, joyous marriages, riches, etc. – never materialized – and fault always lies with others (including God).  So, the bitter soul stews and simmers on, with unhealthy views of life.

However, instead of doing anything about it, often born out of a “why bother” mind, because nothing has really worked out before, the bitter person usually sits around a lot wallowing in self-pity.  Pointing critical, accusatory, and fault-finding fingers outward and skyward, but seldom back at themselves.  This type of blame game started back in the Garden of Eden.

All the while, bitterness slowly spreads like a spiritual toxin inside a soul.  However, it is hard to spot just by looking at a person, because a sweet smile on Sunday at church can hide a spirit soured by resentment the rest of the week.  Words spoken smoother than butter can mask bitterness in the heart (Psalm 55:21).  Still, God sees it all (1 Samuel 16:7, Hebrews 4:13).

Our Father cannot show anybody a more excellent and better way, if they should ever be in the galls of bitterness (1 Corinthians 12:31, Acts 8:23).  Why? Well, with God, it keeps people bound in the bonds of iniquity and sin (Acts 8:23).  Bitterness is any feeling He has dealt (or is dealing) unfairly or unjustly, and this isn’t possible (Ezekiel 33:20, Deuteronomy 32:4).

Everything past in our life is required by God, and it will be this way as long as we live (Ecclesiastes 3:15). However, how will He ever create a new path in the wilderness if we keep looking back over our shoulder in remembrance of the bad things from days gone by making us bitter now (Isaiah 43:18-19)?  Repeatedly rehashing them leaves little room for future hopes.

God will never cause us grief or afflict us willingly – there always a reason (Lamentations 3:32-33).  It’s just that we are not to know the times or seasons He has put in His own power (Acts 1:7).  Faith and belief says we trust in Him, and He knows what He’s doing – even if we don’t understand (Proverbs 3:5-6).  We either grow better from trials and troubles, or bitter.

Bitterness is also feelings of resentment with God – and there can be a wide variety of reasons why.  One could be some private displeasure about blessings He certainly seems to bestowing on others from above – when we think we are the ones showing Him much more love than they are – and that we should be the recipients.  It creates a sense of indignation inside us.

When these feelings of resentment get released out into the open, expressed in words or actions, it is how Christianity can start feeling like it is nothing more than a tense, stressful contest.  It becomes ungodly. There’s lack of contentment.  Believers start unwisely comparing and measuring aspects of their walk with God against those of others (2 Corinthians 10:12).

In turn, this creates an uneasy air of contention, and generates confusion God never authors (1 Corinthians 14:33).  It is a precursor to every evil work within the churches (James 3:14-16).  It births sinful pride and the evil rejoicing of boastings (James 4:16).  This is how believers become apostates by serving Satan more than God (Romans 1:25,30, 2 Timothy 3:1-2).

We are all prime candidates for bitterness, if we ever become weary of life, or in our walk with the Lord (Job 10:1).  Relationships, jobs, finances, Christianity, etc. – are not creating the better lives we hoped they would at their outset.  We can get to a point where we think “What’s the point?”  This is vanity – useless, a waste of time, and not producing desired results.

We have to be careful and prayerful our belief does not end up being in vain (1 Corinthians 15:2).  Bitter roots cannot possibly produce the spiritual fruits God commands us to continually bring forth – meet for repentance (Galatians 5:22-23, Matthew 3:8, Acts 17:30).  Instead, they bring forth toxic, spoiled, and worldly fruits like resentment, anger, and envy.

Whatever the reasons for bitterness, they are all displeasing to God.  Bitterness prevents Christians from following peace and holiness with all men below heaven, and keeps them out because of it (Hebrews 12:14-15).  It breeds contention, birthed only from foolish pride (Proverbs 13:10), with others and Him. Contention creates conflict and friction – not peace.

Bitter Christians don’t think right thoughts (Philippians 4:8-9).  It means they cannot have victorious walks with Jesus in such vexed states of mind.  The final 13 paragraphs from the Charming Health website (with some personal additions and Scripture support) give an extensive and excellent description of bitterness, as well as the inner and outer damage it causes:

Bitterness is emotional suicide.  It’s like drinking poison, and then hoping the other person gets ill. People embroiled in bitterness have an incredible memory for the tiniest little details, and they wallow in puddles of self-pity and resentment.  They record every offense in their heart and head – more than ready to show others how much they have been hurt.

Bitter people defend and carry grudges constantly. They feel they have been hurt too deeply and too often, and think this exempts them from their need to forgive (Matthew 6:14-15).  Their hearts can overflow with so much resentment, they no longer have any capacity to love.  Bitterness takes their soul captive, consuming positive emotions, and robs them of joy.

Bitterness is frozen anger in latent form.  When it is manifested, it becomes a vicious malignancy making one extremely vulnerable to very unwise choices and decisions, developing destructive thought patterns infiltrating body and soul.  It saps the mind’s vitality. If allowed to fester unaddressed, bitterness can pave a path to seeking out vengeance and acts of violence.

Failure to confess and correct bitterness causes it to spread like a cancer no longer in remission.  Unlike a physical kind confined to just one body, bitterness is a spiritual kind infecting and sickening others.  It’s often expressed as anger, jealousy, dissatisfaction, or hate. It keeps focus below, on getting back or even, but not getting and staying on the narrow path to heaven.

It is true many life events can be unpleasant, causing grief and pain.  However, responding in any prolonged bitterness fuels more bitterness far down the road.  A reservoir of resentment is drawn upon over and over. It can be passed down to children and hold people in its vice-like grips.  It can even generate fiery, deadly feuds between families, like the Hatfields and McCoys.

Some of these events can be quite sudden, such as the literal loss of a loved one, or a source of income. Some are subtler, happening more slowly over time such as the loss of reputation, social status within a group, or control.  Regardless, they all sow and grow bitter roots and fruits.  Resentment and bitterness are unacceptable to God as they’re self-defeating and sin.

Existing bitterness in a Christian means they are not abiding side by side with God, so He can burn up the unrighteous roots producing such resentment (John 15:1-6).  These roots cannot bring forth anything but rotten fruits defiling a soul.  Some of them are guilt, arrogance, frustration, surmising, melancholy, sloth, and envy, creating instability in mind and spirit.

Extended bitterness produces physical ailments like insomnia, ulcers, anxiety, fear, depression, and heart attacks.  Mental consequences are hyper-critical views and attitudes about life.  Nobody can do things right (including God) except the bitter person.  Those who associate with such souls may sympathize for a time, but can end up avoiding them, lest they get drawn in.

Still, we are responsible for what we say, think, and feel.  God’s plan is to make us better so we can enter into heaven – not bitter so we cannot.  What makes people so bitter are worldly attitudes they develop growing up, and then carry in life towards situations and others.  As Christians, we’re being transformed by His truth, so old ways aren’t conformed to again.

Continuing in bitterness is not rooted and grounded in God’s love within through the power of the Holy Ghost (Ephesians 3:16-17).  It is building faith upon a faulty foundation (Luke 6:47-49, 1 Corinthians 3:11).  It is not repenting (Luke 13:3,5).  Perishing awaits, unless one is purified by obeying the truth through the Spirit, unto unfeigned and fervent love of all (1 Peter 1:22).

God cannot possibly work His good will and pleasure in bitter hearts (Philippians 2:13).  Those battling with Him and others in futile resistance to His ways, and in refusal to His voice (Hebrews 12:25).  It’s enough to wrestle against the rulers of darkness in this world (Ephesians 6:12), without having to get into bitter, resentful wars with heaven and the brethren as well.

If we are being humbly obedient to God (Philippians 2:8) we are submitting to His power inside us.  We are not to resist it (Romans 13:2), as it’s the only power we will ever get to put off all forms of malice (second lead verse).  External means or methods, including guidance from other Christians, cannot cure bitterness.  All they do is give place to the devil.

Characterized by hostility (not hospitality) bitterness brings forth unforgiving, sputtering, and backsliding spirits full of negative attitudes almost always plotting and scheming, along with grouchy and complaining mouths.  Love can certainly dispel it all, but it spells disaster if left uncorrected.  Satan’s job is to devour, destroy, and kill souls – exactly what bitterness does.

 

 

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– Be angry, and do not sin.  Do not let the sun go down upon your wrath.  For anger rests in the bosom of fools God has no pleasure in. – Ephesians 4:26, Ecclesiastes 7:19, and Ecclesiastes 5:4

– A moment of anger can destroy a lifetime of work, whereas a moment of love can break barriers that took a lifetime to build. – Leon Brown

“Anger” has many negative connotations attached to it.  It can mean to irk, irritate, or infuriate.  It can be indignation provoked by perceived unfairness.  Even though it can conjure up images of ungodly behavior, anger does not always birth sin.  What matters to God is how we handle any anger before going to bed.

There are several forms of good anger, such as in instances of moral injustice or righteous indignation. Christ was justly upset when casting out those who bought and sold within God’s temple (Luke 19:45). Overthrowing the tables of the money changers, and upsetting the seats of the dove sellers (Mark 11:15).

However, our Father’s anger is always right, perfect, and true (Deuteronomy 32:4), even though He is slow to wrath (Psalm 103:8).  Long suffering towards all, not wanting us to perish (2 Peter 3:9).  Always ready to pardon (Nehemiah 9:17), if we turn from our sin and don’t offend Him anymore with it (Job 34:31).

On the other hand, Christian anger is generally a manifestation of flesh – and not Spirit.  Although it’s understandable (Galatians 5:17), it does not make it acceptable.  Human wrath is typically rooted in the world – not the Word.  Something or somebody is causing feelings of annoyance, hostility, or discontent.

Souls are like container vessels that can only hold so much in.  Once filled to the brim, something spills out in word or action.  The mouth will always speak out of the heart’s abundance (Luke 6:45).  The longer any anger resides inside, the more it gets pent-up like a spiritual pressure cooker ready to burst any second.

Anyone in such a volatile state within can go through what appear to be a string of normal days outwardly. Nothing much seems to be bugging them externally. However, they’ve foolishly left anger unaddressed nightly for a week.  It can detonate at the worst time, directed at one who is not the cause of their wrath.

It can result in instant fireworks.  The fuse ignited by anger days before – sparked by another person or situation – finally hits the bundle of dynamite sticks in the heart and everything blows up without warning. The one who explodes not only hurts the innocent party with words, but is left scrambling to save face.

This is wrath that doesn’t work the righteousness of God (James 1:20).  This is a type of anger keeping some wrapped up in unrighteous rage throughout their life.  Keeping them playing hurtful, harmful games of trying to get even with others – instead of leaving all vengeance to God (Hebrews 10:30-31).

Unless it is taken care off, all anger can start ticking like a time bomb in the heart.  It starts behaving like a spiritual toxin if it isn’t brought up and addressed on a regular basis (lead verse).  Toxins can easily create disease.  Physical ones harm the health of a human body; spiritual ones harm the health of a human soul.

Harboring unrighteous anger in the heart as the sun sets, is allowing it to be unaddressed with whomever or whatever it is focused upon – and with God.  It has to be brought up.  The longer wrath rests in a soul, the more foolishness it births.  Any Christian folly isn’t faith.  It gives place to Satan (Ephesians 4:27)

Our days on this earth are evil.  Therefore, we are to walk circumspectly – not foolishly (Ephesians 5:15-16).  Anger born of folly corrupts production of the spiritual fruits God commands us to bring forth meet for repentance – and which are to remain (Galatians 5:22-23, Acts 17:30, Matthew 3:8, John 15:16).

However, even righteous anger has to be watched very closely so we don’t get too high-minded and start jumping to conclusions.  We rarely have all the facts needed to justify wrath – right or wrong – while everything is naked before Him (Hebrews 4:12-13). Things aren’t always as they seem (Joshua 22:6-34).

There is an old saying of “cooler heads prevail” and it’s why we have to keep our anger in constant check so we don’t sin.  We are being purified as Christians through the blood of Jesus, but we will never be as perfect (1 Peter 1:19).  Having any kind of mind like this means God’s truth isn’t in us (1 John 1:8,10).

Does our Father give us ways to address and handle anger so we keep it at bay?  Yes – He does.  There are several throughout His Word, but perhaps one of the best remedies is to remember the words of David: “Stand in awe and do not sin.  Commune with your heart upon your bed – and be still (Psalm 4:4).”

In Psalm 77:6, we read “I call to remembrance my song in the night.  I commune with my own heart, and my spirit makes diligent search.”  If we do these and can’t find our anger source, then we ask God to make intercession.  To reveal deep and secret things only He can see (Daniel 2:22, Romans 8:26-27).

Although there are many other ways (e.g. Psalm 141:3, Proverbs 15:1, Philippians 4:8-9), remember we do not know what any day will bring (Proverbs 27:1) that could arouse angry behavior.  Our soul has to be kept in a constant state of peace and calm.  If it’s being filled with the world, wrong wrath emerges.

Anger is a very complex issue and its triggering factors are many.  It’s a topic far too broad to cover here and this piece is not intended to proclaim of knowing all the causes and answers concerning wrath. However, bottled up anger is a joy and peace stealer, and it can shipwreck relationships beyond repair.

As God tells us in the lead verse, we can be angry, but we cannot let the sun set on it.  We have to come to grips with it before going to sleep.  Wrath will rob us of rest required to walk soberly with Him the next day.  Instead, we will wake up stressed and tense due to anger left lingering in our soul during the night.

Unaddressed, unconfessed anger to others and God – and left uncorrected before retiring in the evening – is a catalyst for committing sin the next morning.  We’ll likely leave the house meditating on the wrath; not the Word.  Sin always lies waiting at our front door (Genesis 4:7), and withholds good (Jeremiah 5:25).

Remember a lot of unrighteous anger in life can put us in a lot of contention with other people – or God. This is nothing more than pride (Proverbs 13:10).  It frequently creates conflict and friction, and leads to disagreements within relationships – even with Jesus – because life just is not going exactly as wanted.

Who is ever going to get mad, angry, or upset when everything is going precisely the way they desire (Psalm 23:1, James 1:4)?  So, if wrath exists before the sun sets, it might mean swallowing some pride and taking a bite of humble pie.  Visiting or calling a person we’re angry at, to hear their side of the story.

This is showing grace, and how we grow in it (2 Peter 3:18) – so we don’t wallow in wrath day after day.  If we are Christians, then we’ve been born again of the Spirit (John 3:5).  We have been given the only power we’ll ever get to put off things like lying, anger, wrath and filthy talk from our mouth (Colossians 3:8-9).

In conclusion, remember our Father above is always ready to pardon us, gracious and merciful, and slow to anger (Nehemiah 9:17).  As Christians, we are to be the same way to everyone else, no matter if they fail to do the same in return.  Otherwise, we are not learning Jesus as commanded (Ephesians 4:20-32).

Repeated troubles and problems dealing with anger, and letting it go, shows this is not being done.  One may be hearing and studying a lot about truth, but never applying it to life from the inside out (2 Timothy 3:7).  More wrath is likely in store until it is finally dealt with as God commands; before each day ends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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KJV and NKJV Scripture

–  For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. – 2 Corinthians 4:16

– A change in external circumstances without inner renewal is the materialist’s illusion.  As though man were only a product of his social circumstance, and nothing else. – Jurgen Moltmann

Magazine subscriptions only last so long.  If we don’t fill out a renewal form and submit it to the publisher before one runs out, we will not receive any new editions.  The subscription will stop or be interrupted. This can be intentional or unintentional.  We don’t want the magazine anymore, or we forget to renew.

If we are born-again (John 3:5), then we started becoming new creatures in Jesus the second we received this gift of the Holy Ghost from God (2 Corinthians 5:17).  We began submitting to a steady spiritual process of inner change and renewal.  This is called repentance and remission of sins (Mark 1:4).

Our repentance is to be done zealously (Revelation 3:19).  If we refuse, we will perish (Zephaniah 3:2, Luke 13:3,5, Hebrews 12:25).  We are renewed through the washing of regeneration by God’s living water (John 7:38) inside us, transforming our minds and hearts by His truth (Romans 12:2, Titus 3:5).

It takes continual confession of our sins as Christians, as God is just to forgive (1 John 1:9).  However, it’s so He can cleanse and correct us, often through some not so joyful chastisement, so we learn not to offend Him anymore (Hebrews 12:11, Job 34:31).  If we’re not being renewed, we are backsliding into sin.

However, much like it is with a magazine subscription, God gives us free will ability to decide on whether to renew or not.  We choose each day whom we’ll serve and submit to (Joshua 24:15).  It is our Saviour or Satan.  If Jesus, we repent according to the Word.  If the devil, we repeat the world (1 Corinthians 10:21).

This is not establishing our own righteousness and submitting it to God for approval (Romans 10:3).  It is submitting to His righteousness, so we can show ourselves approved to Him.  Some ways to do this are studying the Word (2 Timothy 2:15), and following peace and joy in the Holy Ghost (Romans 14:17-18).

The word renewal has a few definitions.  One of them is the repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken.  It requires fixing.  God will accept anyone like this at the Cross of Christ.  It does not matter if we arrive there all weary and worn, tired and torn, abused and abandoned, or bruised and battered.

What does matter to God is how we are renewed before finishing our race of faith (1 Corinthians 9:24). We are all commanded to be presented before Christ unashamed (1 John 2:28), faultless (Jude 1:24), holy, unreproveable, and unblameable (Colossians 2:22). Found in peace and without spot (2 Peter 3:14).

We can’t do this by any external and worldly method or means, ways or works.  We can’t just “try” harder. This is why New Year’s resolutions tend to falter or fail so soon.  We can only do it through inner renewal. Humbly obeying God like Jesus did to death, and abiding by His ways (Philippians 2:8, John 15:1-6).

We would be foolish to blame a magazine publisher for not sending us new editions if we just did not want to renew our subscription – or if we forgot.  The same goes with God.  We will be forever fools if we blame Him for sending us to hell, simply because we didn’t want to submit to Him for renewal unto salvation.

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KJV and NKJV Scripture

– For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. – 2 Peter 2:20

– “Wherefore, come out from among them and be separate,” says the Lord. – 2 Corinthians 6:17

Most of us have probably experienced the frequent frustration of attempting to untangle Christmas lights. It can be an extremely tedious and time-consuming process.  Even though we finally strung them out and hung them on our tree last year, and all the wires and lights seemed to be straightened out then, they have since managed to sit in some storage place and twist themselves into a tangled pile again for this year.

The word tangle means to twist into a confused mess, physically or spiritually.  Entanglement can start at any point in this process.  It means to not only get caught up in the snarled mess it makes, but finding it very difficult and sometimes very painful to escape. However, it’s far easier to untangle Christmas tree lights each year – than to ever finally separate and escape from years and years of life’s entanglements.

Christ did not hang upon the Cross for us to live like this.  However, only God can make straight again the crooked course He first created for us to travel upon this earth (Ecclesiastes 7:13).  This means we must walk His narrow and untangled path of truth all the way to heaven; and few find it.  The broad road to destruction’s door is paved with plenty of Satan’s likeable lies to get tangled up in (Matthew 7:13-14).

There is never anything new to God (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10).  The world system today is no different from the Babylonian one existing all throughout the Bible.  It is a murky world of merchandise and purchase in where people love gifts and follow after rewards (Revelation 18:2,11, Isaiah 1:23).  A life where one always has to pay some sort of price to maintain a continued sense of satisfaction or gratification (Proverbs 27:20).

Either through spending money, sins of the flesh – or sometimes a mixture of both.  It is a steadily flowing stream of alluring pleasures (James 5:5), loveable lies, and subtly seductive temptations – all having a physical, emotional, or spiritual price tag attached. We know there are those who will go whoring after prostitutes or gigolos, but it is harder to admit when we go whoring after the way of Babylon (Hosea 9:1).

The world tells us the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.  We just have to keep finding out where the fence is first – then figure out what is so much better beyond it for us to leave our side.  Still, some will always need to see, hear, or have some new thing (Acts 17:21) – even in Christianity.  Some revolutionary or exciting product, self–help program, or investment program to buy or try (2 Peter 2:3)

This all creates a twisting and turning road of near constant confusion – as the world presents one angle, then a different one to keep people deeply entangled and entrenched in its ways.  The longer this path of merchandise and purchase is pursued and followed, the more frustrating and time-consuming it can be to untangle from.  As always, the prince of this world is the pitchman holding the pitchfork (John 14:30).

As John Ritenbaugh writes, “The result is an unhappy world held hostage by the Babylonian system having its roots in human nature.  Because of this, it feeds right into inner desires for frequent changes and a variety of adventures as the answers to fulfillment in life.  It promotes contentment in the possession of material things (Luke 12:15), having much fun and excitement, and a variety of religious experiences.”

Ritenbaugh continues: “Its major fruits are easily seen in both the world and church these days as confusion of purpose, competition, disharmony, and disunity abound all around (1 Corinthians 14:33, 2 Corinthians 10:12, Ephesians 4:3).  Far too many Christians are still clearly tangled up in the world’s web – separating themselves from each other, from the Spirit, and love of God by doing so (Jude 1:19).”

In conclusion, Ritenbaugh writes, “None of these factors gives a lasting sense of peace, fulfillment, or abundance according to God’s ways, because they’re not in harmony with His purposes.  They only produce short bursts of satisfaction.  Israel was often warned by God about such proclivity.  Still, they remained disastrously careless and curious – full of discontent, unsettled, and impatient ‘grass is greener’ yearnings.”

We are all in bondage to the world right from the womb (Galatians 4:3).  Caught up in its pollutions of idolatry (Acts 15:20), blinded by the devil’s lights (2 Corinthians 4:4), and tangled in his labyrinth of lies. Born as corrupt beings of flesh and blood who cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven by staying this way (1 Corinthians 15:50).  Unless we are spiritually reborn before we die, worldly chains cannot be broken.

We can’t be born again of the Spirit until God knows our hearts and minds have finally had it – fed up with always to trying live in alignment and agreement with the world’s ways.  Tired of longing for, living for, and loving its things we can’t take with us (1 Timothy 6:7, 1 John 2:15).  Otherwise, God knows we will only be sorry about sin for a season; and we will not be ready to repent unto salvation (2 Corinthians 7:8-10).

When we are born again of the Spirit, it is a baptism of fire from above (Matthew 3:11).  It is an intense and complete purging of our hearts and minds from heaven, as God burns up all the worldly clutter within, untangling all the lines of Satan’s lies.  It’s an instant and clean escape from the world – but it is far from being permanent.  We still have to live in this world, surrounded by a daily smorgasbord of temptations.

The prince of this world (John 14:30) is going to do all in his power to prevent us from getting to a place he can never return to again – heaven.  Once salvation’s seed is sown with the Spirit – Satan gets busy.  When the Pharaoh oppressed Israel, he wanted to suppress their thoughts towards God by getting them so busy in the steady production of bricks, they wouldn’t have any time to do anything for Him (Exodus 5:7-9).

Satan operates in much the same way.  Wanting us to get so caught up barging through busy days – trying to “do it all” – we barely have time to breathe; much less keep God in all of our thoughts.  This is the same type of prideful countenance as Satan’s (Psalm 10:4). This is how we can easily fall into condemnation with our Father (James 3:1), and how we can embark on a path to destruction (Ecclesiastes 7:16).

Although we become rooted and grounded in God’s love upon being born again, so spiritual fruits meet for repentance can be produced (Ephesians 3:16-17, Matthew 3:8, Galatians 5:22-23), worldly weeds can quickly creep back in.  Without zealously repenting of our sins daily, so God can continually regenerate our souls by the Holy Ghost, unrighteousness takes root once again (Revelation 3:19, Titus 3:5).

The daily cares of this world, deceitfulness of riches, and lusts of other things entering in – can choke the Word (Mark 4:19).  This is how ungodly worries and wants stress the spiritual soil of our hearts and minds (1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 23:1).  Making them unfruitful – and producing wrong roots for unrighteous works of the same kind (Titus 3:8,14).  Satan is always ready to be their constant gardener (James 3:16).

There is more.  The liberty we have in Jesus frees us from the fear of death we are in bondage to all our lives (Hebrews 2:15).  It is not heavenly authority to do whatever we want in the world or Word until we actually do die.  Misuse of our liberty like this is an abuse of God’s grace (Romans 6:1-2,15).  It also trods Christ under our feet by counting the blood of the new covenant as unholy (Hebrews 10:29).

It means we are not standing or holding fast in our faith or liberty with Jesus – thereby allowing ourselves to become entangled with a yoke of bondage to this world again (Philippians 4:1, 1 Thessalonians 3:8, Galatians 5:1).  How do we repent according to the Word, if we are still repeating the world (Revelation 3:3)?  The latter means we are using our liberty for ungodly things (Galatians 5:13, 1 Peter 2:16).

If we keep minding earthly matters, and making our bellies and bank accounts god (Philippians 3:19), and continue getting ourselves entangled in the affairs of this life (2 Timothy 2:4) – we’re still lost in the dark despite any light we think is inside us (Luke 11:35). We are still ignorant of Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11).  It will so be easy for him to snatch us in his snares, and take us captive at will (2 Timothy 2:26).

The devil can certainly keep us all snarled up in the world, and in our souls – and has his angels of light and righteousness to assist in hiding God’s light from us (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).  However, we also must be careful about being deceived by man’s vain words (Ephesians 5:6) – who through lusts of the flesh and much wantonness – allure those who have cleanly escaped – back into worldly bondage (2 Peter 3:18).

In summation, if we allow Satan to keep us tangled up in the world by staying ignorant of his devices (2 Corinthians 2:11), we are being disobedient to God. We are not repenting as commanded of ways keeping us all wrapped up in the confused mess this world creates each day (Acts 17:30).  It would be better if we had not known the way of righteousness – than known it – and turned away (2 Peter 2:21-22).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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KJV and NKJV Scripture

– “And why do you call me Lord, Lord – and don’t do the things which I say?” – Luke 6:46

– Blessed are they that hear the word of God – and keep it. – Luke 11:28

Every time we call ourselves a Christian, we are invoking the name of God.  Being Christian is not a label or lip service – it is humble and obedient life service until death (Philippians 2:8).  Therefore, it is not a title we should use flippantly or toss around loosely.  It is a steadfast state of heart and mind; rooted and grounded in God’s love with Jesus as our soul’s anchor (Ephesians 3:16-17, Hebrews 6:19).

So, we repent of our sins and become new creatures in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).  Daily renewing and transforming our inner man into conformance with the Word – so the world’s ways are washed away by the regeneration of the Holy Ghost inside of us (2 Corinthians 4:16, Romans 12:2, Titus 3:5).  It is so Christ-like character becomes continual – and not conditional – as we learn Jesus (Ephesians 4:20-32).

Therefore, if we’re not consistently practicing what we preach (1 Corinthians 9:14), if we are not traveling down the narrow trail of His truth we teach (Matthew 7:14), or if our walk doesn’t constantly match up with our talk, then our hearts are still far from God and heaven (Mark 7:6).  We are merely deciding if we want to “be Christian” or not – choosing to play the part according to emotions or worldly conditions.  

Such a mentality means our faith is flawed.  It is full of holes – hollow and not holy.  Being Christian when we want to, or only when we feel like it – is building our belief upon convenience – and not the rock of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11).  It is a shallow, shaky foundation set on shifting sands (Luke 6:47-49).  It’s a feigned show; maybe a charade to gain or maintain man’s admiration or advantage (Jude 1:16).

It is a “do as I say – not as I do” attitude to being a Christian.  We may believe we are walking as children of light – but we’re not if we are only shining it when we want to (Ephesians 5:8).  It means the light inside us – is still darkness (Luke 11:35).  We are still blind children of God trying to guide the lost unbelievers – whose minds are still being blinded by the god of this world (Romans 2:19-23, 2 Corinthians 4:4).

God’s love should be like a prism, instantly hitting our heart and shining out to the world in many different directions, without delay or diffusion.  This spiritual light was lit inside our heart when we were born again of the Holy Ghost (Romans 5:5).  Regardless of where we are, or who we are with – everything we do and say should instantly reflect the presence of having learned Jesus Christ in our life (Ephesians 4:20-32).

“Being Christian” involves a multitude of things.  It means we are to esteem others better than ourselves, showing God we are using the mind of Jesus we have been given (Philippians 2:3-5, 1 Corinthians 2:16).  It means we love our enemies, bless people who curse us, do good to those who hate us, and pray for those who may despitefully use or persecute us (Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27, Romans 12:14),

Otherwise, why in heaven’s name are we saying we are Christians – and what on earth are we calling ourselves such for?  All “being Christian” then means is we’ve been moved away to a gospel of our own creation – one perverting God’s Word for personal purposes or pursuits (Galatians 1:6-7).  It means our belief is in vain (1 Corinthians 15:2), we’re using God’s name likewise, and Jesus died the same way.

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KJV and NKJV Scripture

– The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways. – Proverbs 14:14

– Return, you backsliding children, and I (God) will heal your backslidings. – Jeremiah 3:22

Backsliding as a believer is never a positive thing – for it indicates still being filled with one’s own ways (lead verse).  It is slipping in personal faith – marking a heart, mind, and soul no longer earnestly heeding things first heard (Hebrews 2:1).  It feels like moving forward a few steps in faith some days, and tumbling backwards on others.  To and fro it goes – and it can become a perpetual path (Jeremiah 8:5).

Steady backsliding is caused by gravitating towards loving this world and its things again (1 John 2:15), or wavering back and forth between the world and Word (1 Corinthians 10:21).  It is not moving straight ahead towards salvation.  Traveling as such isn’t in accordance with God’s truth.  It signifies a moveable mind, a heart not set aright, and a spirit not steadfast with Him (Psalm 78:8, 1 Corinthians 15:58).

Such a course at any time demands a correction in direction.  A total turn-around towards God without shifting into reverse again somewhere down the road. It is an about-face setting affections on things above once again (Colossians 3:2).  Refusing to accept His assistance in healing any backsliding, or failure to heed instructions how to – is in err (second lead verse, Proverbs 10:17, Hebrews 12:25)

Backsliding indicates several undesirable attributes in a Christian.  It means one is relapsing into old and bad behavior (2 Corinthians 5:17).  It is losing resolve and giving into temptations – causing one to err once again against God’s ways (Psalm 95:10, James 1:14-16).  It’s an eternally dangerous departure from the narrow path to heaven, keeping one walking down the wide highway to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14).

The wicked one is always lying in wait for us when we slip.  Ready and willing to lead wavering, wandering, or backsliding believers away towards a shipwrecked faith (Ephesians 4:14, 2 Peter 3:17, 1 Timothy 1:19). Physical or spiritual, it is very difficult to salvage any vessel in such a state.  It’s hard to stand fast and live in the Lord if we’re ever spiritually drifting, slipping or falling away from God (1 Thessalonians 3:8).

God’s soul takes no pleasure in anyone drawing back from their faith (Hebrews 10:38, 11:6).  It signals falling for things of this world again, and fading away from the Word (1 John 2:15).  It is being unrepentant (Acts 17:30).  Walking with God in such a manner creates uncircumspect steps of stumbling and tripping along with the truth, paving a trail of much confusion (Ephesians 5:15, 1 Peter 2:6-8, 1 Corinthians 14:33).

Left continually unconfessed and unaddressed before God (1 John 1:9), backsliding makes us hold fast to our heart’s deceit from the womb (Jeremiah 8:5, Jeremiah 17:9) – refusing to search our ways and return to Him (Lamentations 3:40).  Sadly, some will still declare their salvation certain, despite walking so contrary to God; and constantly experiencing the pain of falling down a lot (Leviticus 26:23-24).

There really is a spiritual stairway with specific steps leading up heaven.  As the famous song mentions – there is still time to change the road we’re on – if it’s the wrong one.  If we should be sliding backwards more than moving ahead much, it can certainly feel like we are traveling along to the words of another old popular song by Paul Simon – “You know the nearer your destination, the more you’re slip, sliding away.”

However, if we follow these steps God’s way, He promises we will never fall, and an entrance shall be ministered unto us abundantly into heaven (2 Peter 1:3-11).  It is why we must give diligence to make our calling and election as Christians sure (2 Peter 1:10).  Jesus warns we will be called robbers and thieves if we climb up any other way than God’s (John 10:1, Galatians 1:6).  Backsliding isn’t the right way.

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KJV and NKJV Scripture)

– Be careful for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving – let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God – which passes all understanding – shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7

– We pray not to inform God or instruct Him, but to beseech Him closely.  To be made intimate with Him, by continuance in supplication; to be humbled; to be reminded of our sins. – John Chrysostom

Supplication seems to be a word not attached much anymore to how and why we pray – or who and what we pray for.  It is the action of asking God earnestly (serious in intention and purpose) out of our humble hearts.  It is not presenting Him a list of demands as if He has to keep proving and demonstrating His love for us – over and over again – by giving us what we want (Psalm 23:1).  Once was enough at the Cross.

God promises to supply all our need according to His riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).  Therefore, supplication isn’t trying to get more for ourselves.  It is learning to love others more and transgress less ourselves – how and why God commands us to (1 Peter 1:22, Acts 17:30).  So our intent and purpose in prayer becomes seeking His constant help in keeping our hearts pure and purged from sin.

So, when God shows us compassion in forgiving our sins according to His truth, we can then show the same compassion to others in forgiving their sins against us (1 Kings 8:46-50).  Our Father’s mercy towards us in this regard – not giving us what we deserve each time we sin (Hebrews 2:2-3) – is to be our motivation for showing mercy to all others.  If we cannot, He will judge us without mercy (James 2:13).

Therefore, we have to keep our hearts purified from sins like haughtiness and pride (Proverbs 16:18, 1 Peter 1:22) through abiding side by side daily with God.  So He can keep burning bitter spiritual roots away (Malachi 3:2, John 15:1-6, Hebrews 12:15) – allowing better fruits to be brought forth.  So they grow to maturity and remain as a steady and ready supply to others (John 15:16, Galatians 5:22-23).

So when we pray each day with supplication, we go into a closet (Matthew 6:6), so nobody else but God can see or hear us.  Then, we begin presenting our proper requests to Him with thanksgiving – without thinking about getting any personal thanks from Him here on earth (Luke 17:7-10).  Then, confessing our sins and humbly asking for His help in keeping our hearts clean through His heavenly correction.

Not instructing Him to give us material things we may think we want or need – as if we know long before He does what such things are (Psalm 23:1, Matthew 6:8).  This is just asking amiss, making requests for money or materialistic items to consume upon our own lusts (James 4:3).  This still shows worldliness – and keeps us enemies with God – who considers us adulterers and adultresses for such (James 4:4).

All so our prayers don’t start sounding fake or feigned to others, or start feeling mechanical and empty to ourselves.  As if praying to God is just something we’re “supposed” to do.  So prayer doesn’t wind up becoming a part-time practice – because it seems to be ineffective for the most part.  For we are to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) – because Satan preys the same way (1 Peter 5:8-9).

When we practice praying with supplication as we walk in abidance with God’s ways – without trying to guide Him into ours – we shall ask what we will, and it will be done unto us (John 15:7).  We learn to start praying for others to walk worthy of God – and His ways as well.  So they increase in their knowledge of Him, and are strengthened with all might according to His power (Colossians 1:9-11).

We begin seeking the wealth and welfare of all others through our prayers and supplications (Ecclesiastes 5:9, 1 Corinthians 10:24).  Or we ask only for godly wisdom and judgment to be given unto us, without ever asking for anything personal for ourselves (2 Chronicles 1:10-11).  So we stop leaning on our understanding of prayer (Proverbs 3:5-6), and start experiencing a peace surpassing all understanding.

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(KJV and NKJV Scripture)

– I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in the city at the feet of Gamaliel. Taught according to the strictest manner of our father’s law – and was zealous towards God, as you all are to this day. – Acts 22:3

– But the zeal with which you play … relies on where you draw the line. – Jason Mraz

Adolf Hitler certainly had belief in a higher being. There are several historical records and writings supporting his claim to be some sort of Christian. Whatever this meant to Hitler, his zeal towards God in such a manner led to his developing a zero tolerance for the Jewish people and their ways. Because of this, he persecuted an estimated six million of them unto death in concentration camps.

The apostle Paul had zeal towards God, too.  Except he was born a Jew as Saul in the city of Tarsus – and taught according to the perfect manner of Jewish law (lead verse).  Paul developed a zero tolerance towards the new Christians of his day – persecuting them this way unto their deaths (Acts 22:4).  Wasting God’s church – more exceedingly zealous of earthly traditions than eternal truths (Galatians 1:13-14).

Two men of the human race – killing scores of other members of the human race; all because of zeal. All because both felt they were doing the right thing for God (Proverbs 14:12).  One wrote a terrible chapter in human history.  The other wrote nearly half of the New Testament.  If both men had zeal towards God – what was the difference between good and bad zeal? The answer is God Himself.

The One who is always the difference between wrong or right zeal, and whether ours is directed towards earthly or eternal things (Luke 12:33-34, Colossians 3:2).  Hitler steadfastly stuck with his worldly zeal to pursue and promote a political plan of his own mind and creation.  To chart his own course against the Jews, using our Creator as a covering for evil (1 Peter 2:16).  The results were tragic.

Conversely, Saul was struck down by God on the road to Damascus.  The Lord chose Saul to be a Christian that day … and made him the apostle Paul (Acts 22:5-9,16).  So God could then correct and redirect his zeal from the inside out, and set it in the right direction towards the Word – and His will (Acts 22:14).  So Paul could help others turn the world upside down (Acts 17:6).  The results were truth.

This is not intended by any means to compare Hitler with Paul.  It is meant to make us attuned to the many dangers of becoming overzealous in anything we do throughout life … this includes Christianity. Being so can warp our judgement.  Too much wayward zeal can lead to us developing a near zero tolerance of certain people groups, religions, or general lifestyles (Matthew 23:13).

Having such a strict heart or mind like this leaves little space to extend any grace or mercy to others. Any religious rigidness does not permit much room to show or grow in either (James 2:13, 2 Peter 3:18). Having a zeal for the Lord does not mean we can deem and decide everything we do in His name as being right in our eyes – if they are still wrong in His (1 Kings 14:8, 1 Chronicles 13:4, Proverbs 20:6).

However, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said “We have guided missiles and misguided men.”  Misguided men and women of God, mixed in with any type of overzealous mindset, can quickly go astray from His way.  They can teach or preach much misinformation when presenting God’s Word. Any pastor leading a church in such a way – can end up offending many of its members along the way (2 Corinthians 6:3).

Zeal is not wrong by itself.  It means great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or objective. Some synonyms of zeal are fervor, passion, and devotion – all admirable attributes for any Christian.  However, outward zeal can conceal many misguided intentions in the heart.  God will not be fooled (1 Chronicles 28:9, Hebrews 4:12-13) … but it can take years for other people to find out they’ve been taken.

Sadly, to their graves at times.  Our human history gives us many tragic examples of what can happen when religious zeal runs rampant.  Under the cover of such zeal, Magellan’s thirst for personal glory finally led him fatally astray.  Then there were self-proclaimed godly men such as Jim Jones and David Koresh, who guided a total of 992 people to their deaths – all because of misguided zeal.

Elisabeth Elliot once penned these words: “It takes a while for revelry to turn to reverence, and much repetition of truth to eventually turn young zeal into habitual channels for good.”  Paul echoed this when he wrote, “It is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing (Galatians 4:18).  So, where does zeal cross the line from good to bad, and can it be prevented?

Out of control children and cars can cause a lot of damage.  Both have lost their steering mechanism. Kids are operating independently of a parent; cars are operating independently from a driver.  Out of control Christians or churches can behave the same way. Too much zeal of this nature can be a strong indicator someone besides God is at the wheel (Psalm 48:14, Isaiah 30:21, Micah 7:5).

Without such courses being corrected within us from above – the path to eternal damnation is still being paved before us.  This is where repentance enter the picture.  God’s goodness leads to it (Romans 2:4).  As many as He loves, He rebukes and chastens.  We all are to be zealous about repenting (Revelation 3:19). We are to be happy about correction  (Job 5:17) – but it might be painful at times.

No life change is easy.  It tends to upset “the way it has always been done” mindset.  If we still like any of our old worldly ways, repenting will not seem joyous. We will not likely see it as a sign of God’s love – but of His somehow messing with us again without rhyme or reason (Lamentations 3:32-33).  However, divine discipline will happen.  It will hurt – but it’s meant to get us to heaven (Hebrews 12:5-14).

This keeps our zeal on the right course.  It is a contained flame of faith focused on our rewards up above (Colossians 3:2).  The wrong zeal is an out-of-control wildfire usually focused on the fleeting and passing (but often fun) things down here below (Matthew 6:19-20).  Wavering zeal crosses the line back and forth between the two.  It can become a type of spiritual tightrope walk (1 Corinthians 10:21)

Without daily and focused zeal regarding repentance (2 Corinthians 4:16), we’re in great danger of falling away.  This is serious.  It is impossible to be renewed again to repentance (Hebrews 6:4-6).  A sure sign of misguided zeal is being more passionate about participating in Christian activities; repeating certain traditions and customs – than repenting according to truth (Mark 7:7, 2 Timothy 2:25).

Zealously crossing items off our Christian “to do” list is not repentance,  It all means nothing without the pure, fervent, and unfeigned love we are to learn if we are born-again believers (1 Corinthians 13:1, 1 Peter 1:22).  We will all be justified of our sins and saved – only by God’s grace and steadfast faith in Christ until the end (Ephesians 2:8-9, Galatians 3:24, Titus 3:7, Hebrews 3:14, 1 Peter 1:13).

The Pharisees tried justifying their words and works before men (Luke 16:15); despite having hearts that were still dirty – and in desperate need of cleansing from the inside out.  Jesus called them all hypocrites (Matthew 23:25-26).  Although they might have appeared outwardly zealous to others by honoring God with their lips and labor – their hearts were far from Him (Mark 7:6).

We can become the same if we are not fully committed to repentance.  This is all part of proper zeal.  If we should discover inner change is too difficult because of our Father’s sometimes painful and persistent correction, we can become zealous for Him in every area except repentance.  We can go about establishing our own righteousness without it, a misguided mistake made by Israel (Romans 10:1-3).

They certainly had a zeal of God – but not according to knowledge (Romans 10:2).  They sought salvation by works of righteousness – but not by faith and repentance (Acts 17:30, Romans 9:31, Ephesians 2:8, Titus 3:5).  They did not submit themselves to God’s righteousness.  This means Christ is the end of the law unto all who believes by faith unto the end (Romans 10:3-4, Hebrews 12:2, Hebrews 3:14).

Our hope and promise of eternal life through Christ was given because of God’s zeal towards us from the start (Isaiah 9:7, Titus 1:2).  Our Father’s truth set up an eternal throne in heaven to establish justice and judgement through Jesus forever (Isaiah 9:7, Luke 1:31-33).  Christ became the final offering for sin (Hebrews 10:14), so justification can only come through the Cross (John 14:6).

Self-justification wreaks havoc with repentance. Without us having a good conscience towards the latter, faith can shipwreck (1 Timothy 1:19).  If the focus of our zeal is zeroed in on external Christian activities – but not inner change – danger is on the doorstep.  We can be easily putting ourselves back on the broad way heading straight to eternal destruction and darkness (Matthew 7:13, Matthew 8:12).

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(KJV and NKJV Scripture)

– Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us – by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost. – Titus 3:5

– Let us draw near with a true heart in all assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. – Hebrews 10:22

When you were a kid, did you ever go outside and play in clean clothes your mother had just washed? How much time did it take – at times – for you to get them all covered with grime or grass stains again? When you came in, did your mom say something like, “Well, it sure didn’t take you long to get dirty, did it?” Perhaps this was followed by a heavy sigh, and “Guess I’ll just have to wash them all over again.”

A similar scene plays out daily for Christians.  Even though God’s Word resides in us by faith in Jesus (Ephesians 3:16-17), we still have to go outside into the world to live and work.  It often does not take long for our hearts to get filled and filthy with its grime.  If this dirt is not washed away on a regular basis by God, sin will begin to taint our talk once again (Luke 6:45, Ephesians 4:29, Colossians 3:8).

We know the benefits of regular bathing.  Clogged pores can create all kinds of skin problems if they remain uncleansed too long.  However, clogged hearts can create all kinds of sin problems if they remain unwashed too long.  We can wash outer skin daily with the soap and water of the world – but inner sin can only be cleansed daily – by the washing of our hearts with the water by the Word (Ephesians 5:26).

All hearts are desperately wicked from the womb – deceitful above all other things (Jeremiah 17:9).  This wickedness has to be washed away – so we may be saved (Jeremiah 4:14).  However, this has to be done from heaven.  God has to steadily scrub away our sins – washing them by the regeneration of the Holy Ghost.  If we resist our daily bath by failing to confess our sins (1 John 1:9), we remain dirty in them.

The longer dirt stays on clothes, the deeper it can set into the fabric.  It can often take repeated washings to remove any stains.  Likewise, the longer sin stays in our hearts, the deeper it can set into our souls.  It can take repeated washings from above.  Failing to repent on a daily basis is just repeating the sin cycle over and over.  Our old man cannot pass away if our hearts are not purified daily (2 Corinthians 5:17).

While this washing is going on, we are still walking around in the world and collecting more dirt from different sins.  More dirt requires more cleaning. However, this process will never make our heart completely clean and pure from sin (Proverbs 20:9). If we should ever believe we are completely clean from sin – we have made God a liar.  We deceive ourselves, and His truth is not in us (1 John 1:8-10).

If we’ve been born again of the Spirit (John 3:3-7) – we have a well of water springing up inside us to eternal life (John 4:14).  We are still broken vessels if we should forsake this fountain (Jeremiah 2:13). However, if we believe in Jesus, we shall have rivers of living water flowing from our bellies (John 7:38-39).  We just have to bathe in it – for it is forever clean and pure, no matter how dirty our sins are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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