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KJV and NKJV Scripture

– But made himself of no reputation, and took upon himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.  And, in fashion as a man, he (Jesus) humbled himself and became obedient unto death – even the death of the Cross. – Philippians 2:7-8

– Serving our own interest to the neglect of Jesus is a very great sin.  It is common among Christians and ministers.  Many prefer their own credit, ease, and safety – before truth, holiness, and duty.  The things of their own pleasure and reputation before the things of Christ and giving honor to God. – Matthew Henry

After Jesus cleansed a certain leper, the leper was instructed to say nothing about it to any man – but only to show himself to a priest in a city where they both resided.  The leper did not listen.  Instead, he began to publish the event much, and blazed abroad about the miracle … to the point where Christ could not enter into this city openly (Mark 1:40-45).  There would just be too much attention centered on Jesus.

During the Feast of the Tabernacles, some of Christ’s brethren questioned his obvious desire to shun the public spotlight and remain unspotted as much as possible (James 1:27).  They said, “Go into Judea, so your disciples may also see the works you do.  For there is no man who does anything in secret, and he himself seeks to be known openly.  If you do these things, show yourself to the world (John 7:3-4).”

These words were all born out of unbelief (John 7:5). Jesus was not acting or talking like a king of earthly reputation would – much less an eternal king.  Christ did not show any cravings for notoriety, nor showed any desire for some sort of status in society.  Jesus simply went about his Father’s business quietly (Luke 2:49), humbly obeying Him all the way to the Cross. Dying there so we would learn to live the same way.

All reputations, good, bad, or in between are of this world.  They show God continued conformance to it, and not being transformed by truth (Romans 12:1-2). Positive reputations can bring a certain amount of prestige and praise, while negative ones can bring a lot of problems and pain.  People who have the latter can squander precious time attempting to repair and restore broken images by external methods or means.

Whatever reputations do or don’t do, they are all in direct opposition to God’s Word.  No matter how they are created or destroyed, they are not in alignment or agreement with His will.  Climbing up the corporate ladder to fame and making a name, or the Christian rungs to do the same, is not why God put us here on earth.  It is to stay humbly obedient to His way until death, so we might be saved (e.g. Hebrews 9:15).

Sadly, and with eternal consequences if not corrected, the modern church has been creating a idolatrous culture of celebrity Christian singers, writers, and speakers for decades.  Some of these people are of great repute and have attained cult-like followings. But, they are grievous wolves drawing disciples away for themselves.  Speaking perverse things for profit, and to preserve their reputation (Acts 20:29-30).

This all may seem new, but it’s not (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10).  Moses dealt with 250 princes in his assembly who rose up against him and Aaron.  Men of renown, with reputations, and all famous in the congregation (Numbers 16:2).  Paul spoke of those who seemed to be somebody, but it made no difference to him.  They didn’t add anything to his teachings as God respects no man’s person (Romans 2:11, Galatians 2:6).

God has several thoughts regarding all of this.  Read what the prophet Daniel writes about it: “And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing.  And, He does according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth.  None can stay His hand and say to Him, ‘What are You doing (Daniel 4:35)?'”  Still, there is someone who wants us to think differently when it comes to reputations.

The deceiver of this world (Revelation 12:9) and its prince (John 14:30), Satan, does a very good job in convincing even the most steadfast Christians they must maintain a certain image in life to present to others; a religious reputation to uphold.  This is a device the devil uses to trick believers into thinking they’re standing firm in faith.  But, it’s only upon their reputation, and not the foundation of Jesus – if at all.

This is how Christians fall from repentance and grace (Hebrews 6:4-6, Hebrews 12:15) – and can end up finding no space in heaven.  It is how they give place to Satan and fall into his same condemnation, as good reputations tend to puff people up in pride (Ephesians 4:27, 1 Timothy 3:6).  Having one pushes God to the sidelines, unless He seems to be helping them keep their high esteem and good standing before others.

Instead of having the same before Him.  What keeps us in our Father’s esteem, good standing, and favor, is repenting of things like desires to have a reputation – along with the haughty airs having one can bring. Yes, it is true we are created in His image, but this does not mean we are born with His attributes.  To obtain them, we’re commanded to produce spiritual fruits not usually esteemed among men (Luke 16:15).

The humble example of Christ is set before us in the Bible.  Learning Jesus is not a recommendation from God to contemplate (Ephesians 4:20-32).  It is not something to mull over, but a commandment to obey. Desires for the fleeting praise and prestige worldly admiration can bring, along with the advantage of reputations, are dangerous ways to defy God, and to face consequences for doing so (2 Thessalonians 1:8).

 

 

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KJV and NKJV Scripture

– For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know – not a cloak of covetousness.  God is witness. – 1 Thessalonians 2:5

– For I know not to give flattering titles.  In doing so, my Maker would soon take me away. – Job 32:22

Flattery is the handing out of insincere praise and compliments.  It is often excessive – and frequently spoken or written to further one’s own interests.  If present, it can appear as if one person is falling all over another with lots of effusive words like “Wow!” – or “That’s incredible!” – or “You’re simply amazing!”.

One-time usage of such can certainly help uplift and encourage another person who has been down for a while.  However, if this gushy and demonstrative talk becomes a regular practice – something a little more serious and ungodly is taking place.  We are trying to hide such sinful things as covetousness (lead verse).

God tells us we should certainly exhort each other daily, lest we be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13).  Flattery is a sin.  It is one person showing partiality or playing favorites with somebody else … even among family, friends, or members of a faith (1 Timothy 5:21, James 2:1-4).

It is a fake and feigned attempt to obtain or maintain worldly admiration or advantage.  Sometimes, it is speaking great swelling words, telling other people how swell they are in order to accomplish this (Jude 1:16).  However, he who speaks flattery to his friends – even the eyes of his children – shall fall (Job 17:5).

Flattery is very dangerous because it can be spoken within churches (Ezekiel 12:24) – and/or directed at God.  It is the sign of a having a double-heart or mind – and it’s a mark of spiritual instability (Psalm 12:2, James 1:8).  It points to a heart not purified (James 4:8).  Flattering mouths work ruin (Proverbs 26:28).

When the Israelites were led through the wilderness, they kept sinning and did not believe God for all His works.  After He slew some – the rest returned to seek their Rock early each day.  It did not last.  They went right back to flattering God with their mouths – lying to Him with their tongues (Psalm 78:32-36).

Paul carefully avoided giving appearances of playing favorites or falling all over people with flattery.  God placed trust in him to speak words becoming sound doctrine (1 Thessalonians 2:4, Titus 2:1).  So it would never seem as if Paul was flapping his gums in any semblance of flattery just to sound good or godly.

God is long-suffering towards all of us.  Not willing that any should perish, but to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).  Practicing flattery is not the truth.  It is not repenting as commanded (Acts 17:30).  Every Christian should know better not to speak with proud or flattering lips God promises to cut off (Psalm 12:3).

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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

–  I charge you before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that you observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality – 1 Timothy 5:21

True faith in Jesus is impartial (James 2:1).  Our Father does not play favorites and neither must we (Romans 2:11).  We are partial if we’re attempting to be people-pleasers for worldly reasons (Galatians 1:10) such as preserving the praise, admiration, or respect of others.  Or trying to gain or maintain some type of favor or advantage (Jude 1:16) – maybe in regards to career concerns or money matters.  

If we are showing preference to any person more than another – are we not then partial to ourselves and the judge of evil thoughts (James 2:2-4)?  Just like Jesus did, we are to esteem all others better than ourselves, not just those we think we may be able to get future favors out (Philippians 2:3-5).  God is well-pleased when we do good, but not if we hold people hostage with it later (Hebrews 13:16).

We’re to love our enemies, do good, lend – and hope for nothing again while here on earth.  It does not matter if others appear to be unappreciative or evil. For as God is kind to such people – we must be the same (Matthew 6:20, Hebrews 11:14-16Luke 6:35). Otherwise our intentions are worldly and misguided, arising out of selfish or prideful minds.  God always knows such thoughts (Hebrews 4:12-13).

Playing favorites in this life is a harbinger of hate. Joseph’s brothers could no longer speak peaceably with him after they saw how much more their father favored and preferred Joseph than them.  It created hatred inside their hearts (Genesis 37:3-4).  Showing partiality like this, is being a part-time Christian.  We are only playing the part when we think there might be something “in it” for us (Luke 17:7-10).

True Christians have been born again of the Spirit (John 3:5).  We are all one body in Jesus (Romans 12:5, Galatians 3:28).  If we should have respect to persons, we commit sin (James 2:9).  It means we’re not following the example of Christ’s steps (1 Peter 2:21).  We’re still playing favorites – flattering others with insincere praise to further our personal interests. God shall cut off all such lips (Psalm 12:2-3).

 

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(KJV and NKJV Scripture)

– Lest Satan get advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices. – 2 Corinthians 2:11

– Even on the spiritual path, we have things we tend to cover up, or be in denial about. – Sharon Salzberg

“Elephant in the room” is an English metaphorical idiom for an obvious truth that is either being ignored or going unaddressed.  It also applies to an obvious problem or risk no one wants to discuss.  It’s based on the idea an elephant in a room would be impossible to overlook.  Thus, people who pretend or proclaim the elephant is not there, have deliberately chosen to avoid dealing with the looming big issue.

When we can’t see such an elephant, our heart and mind vision is being blinded or blurred.  Probable causes are being in some state of denial (failure to admit the elephant’s presence despite definitive proof of its existence), deception (an illusion the elephant appears to be far less imposing or important), or disbelief (inability to accept or recognize the elephant for what it is).  These do not remove the elephant.

It certainly appears Christianity has had an elephant in the room for a long time now – who goes by the name of Satan.  Sitting right there in his sanctuary seat each Sunday, even standing in the pulpit, smiling with delight as many either seemingly pretend or proclaim he’s not there (Revelation 2:13, Ephesians 6:12).  Tap dancing around the topic when talked about, or changing the subject matter completely.

These and other means of avoidance are deliberate attempts in refusing to deal with a real and present danger to anyone’s eternal deliverance.  It’s ignoring the devil’s presence, despite definitive proof of his existence in Scripture.  Whether called Satan, the devil, Lucifer, Beelzebub, or the wicked one – the one who doesn’t want us to get to heaven appears 169 times in the KJV (149 in the New Testament).

The devil roars around us like a lion.  Feeding us a daily dish of likeable lies, and blinding our eyes from seeing the truth and light of the Word – with his bright and worldly lights.  Christians steadfast in the faith are not exempt from his falsehoods (John 8:44, 1 Peter 5:8-9, 2 Corinthians 4:4).  Satan has his legion of angels to help – righteous ministers of light we shouldn’t marvel at (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).

These powers and rulers of darkness we wrestle with daily (Ephesians 6:12), prowl around like predators seeking easy prey.  Trying to trick and trap us, and take us captive at will in their subtle snares of sin and temptation (2 Timothy 2:26).  This is their only purpose.  God has given Satan a short time (2 Peter 3:8) to deceive the whole world, accusing us night and day until Christ returns (Revelation 12:9-12).

Sitting like an elephant in the middle of our rooms, whispering in receptive ears “God won’t mind if you try to watch that immoral TV show.  Or, leaning over our shoulders as we sit at the computer saying, “Visit that questionable web site.  This one time won’t hurt.” Or, “Go out and have fun for a change.”  We will do any of these if we act like Satan isn’t there as a thorn in our side to cause problems (2 Corinthians 12:7).

Just as it was with Eve, the devil’s only purpose is to deceive us – unbelievers and believers alike.  Telling us his devices won’t devour or kill us.  They won’t make us deviate from the narrow path leading to the straight gate at heaven’s entrance (Matthew 7:14). However, some are already turned aside after Satan (1 TImothy 5:15).  Having fallen away from their own steadfastness – by falling for his ways (2 Peter 3:17).

Through denial, deception, or disbelief, they have decided they don’t have to deal with the devil until they die.  Even though Satan will be a giant elephant in every room they walk into until then – they won’t see him.  This is most likely because they’ve managed to save themselves (Jonah 2:9), having destroyed the elephant, and cast it into the pit before Christ has (1 Corinthians 15:26, Revelation 12:9-10).

(Note: First paragraph definition of “elephant in the room” courtesy of Wikipedia)

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(KJV and NKJV Scripture references at the end)

– For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses … neither will your heavenly Father forgive your trespasses. – Matthew 6:14-15

– God picked me up and helped me through, and shined a light on the one thing left to do – and that’s forgive you.  Seven times seventy – if that’s the cost, I’ll pay the price. – “7×70,” written and sung by Chris August, copyright 2010

Unforgiveness may be one of the best ways Satan accuses us – and gains advantage over us time and again throughout our lives.  It is one of the many devices the devil uses in his daily endeavors trying to devour our souls.  Even the most steadfast Christians are not exempt from such attempts.  We cannot allow ourselves to become ignorant of such tactics Satan employs to keep us away from the truth.

We don’t forgive other people for their sake – but for the sake of Jesus.  Just as God is long-suffering and forgiving of our sins against Him – we are to be just as long-suffering and forgiving towards other people for their sins against us.  One of the first things we cannot forget to do when we pray is to forgive others – so God can forgive anything we do against Him.  If we don’t, how can we call Jesus the Lord of our life?

How many times are we supposed to forgive others? After all, people can do so many hurtful or harmful things to us throughout our lives.  Can we ever stop doing it?  Can we ever say, “No, God – I’ve done enough forgiving?”  When Peter asked a similar question to Jesus, Peter thought God’s number of perfection would be sufficient.  However, Christ replied “Not seven times, but seven times seventy.”

That’s 490 times – or seven times a year for 70 years.  This is the average lifespan of man.  Doesn’t this cover forgiveness for an entire life?  As Desmond Tutu said, “Forgiveness frees us from a life of ungodly feelings and actions.  It is essential to spiritual and emotional wellness.”  Redemption in Christ’s blood means we forgive.  If we are not as ready to forgive others as God is us – we are not ready for heaven.

(Scripture references in order of use: Revelation 12:10, 2 Corinthians 2:11, 1 Peter 5:8-9, 2 Corinthians 2:10, 2 Peter 3:9, Mark 11:25, Luke 6:46Matthew 18:21-22, Psalm 90:10, Colossians 1:14)

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(Scripture from the NKJV and KJV)

– Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift. – 2 Corinthians 9:15

During the holiday season each year, some of us may come across a church marquee or card that reads this: “Jesus came to pay a debt he did not owe – because we owed a debt we could not pay.” Over 2,000 years ago God gave us the most unspeakable gift – at the most unspeakable cost – the life of His only Son (John 3:16). We were all bought with a painful price – the precious blood of Jesus (1 Corinthians 6:20, 1 Corinthians 7:23). Our sin debt was forgiven and paid in full at Calvary. The reason we serve God is because we can never repay Him for what He did – this is our biggest reward and blessing (Romans 4:4, Ephesians 2:8-9).

This is why God does not recommend forgiveness – He commands it (Matthew 6:14-15). We forgive all others unconditionally for the sake of Christ – lest Satan should get advantage of us – for we should never be ignorant of his devices (2 Corinthians 2:10-11). What God did for all mankind by hanging His beloved Son on the Cross – was far more than enough for what we all deserve (Ezra 9:13, Hebrews 2:2-3). We must all be very careful and prayerful that it really was enough – that we never want anything more than to receive the end result of our faith – and the grace brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Samuel 12:21, Job 21:15, Job 35:3, Malachi 3:14, Hebrews 11:13-16, 1 Peter 1:9,13).

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