Drunkenness Versus Moderate Alcohol Consumption: The Biblical Balance (Part2)

In the first part of this study, we examined excessive alcohol consumption in the light of Scripture, and found drunkenness to be a grievous sin with grave consequences. In the concluding part of this expository study on alcohol consumption, we shall look at the issue of moderate alcohol consumption from the biblical point of view.

Even though drunkenness is a sin that is condemned throughout Scripture, moderate alcohol consumption is not forbidden in the Bible (except in very special circumstances, which will be discussed later). The moderate consumption of wine and other alcoholic beverages was considered a normal part of regular meals and feasts in biblical times. The cultivation of vineyards was widespread and considered a normal part of the agricultural life of God’s people. Wine-presses for the production of wine from grapes and pomegranates were equally widespread in biblical times. Increased production of wine was considered a blessing and a favour from God, as reduced production was considered a sign of divine displeasure. Besides, wine was considered a special gift from God to gladden the heart of man.

Genesis 27:25 Then he said, Bring it near to me, that I may eat of my son’s game and bless you. So he brought it near to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank.

Genesis 27:26 Then his father Isaac said to him, Come near and kiss me, my son.

Genesis 27:27 So he came near and kissed him. And Isaac smelled the smell of his garments and blessed him and said, See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field that the LORD has blessed!

Genesis 27:28 May God give you of the dew of heaven and of the fatness of the earth and plenty of grain and wine.

Genesis 27:37 Isaac answered and said to Esau, Behold, I have made him lord over you, and all his brothers I have given to him for servants, and with grain and wine I have sustained him. What then can I do for you, my son?

Deuteronomy 7:13 He will love you, bless you, and multiply you. He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your wine and your oil, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock, in the land that he swore to your fathers to give you.

Deuteronomy 11:13 And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul,

Deuteronomy 11:14 he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil.

Joel 2:23 Be glad, O children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given the early rain for your vindication; he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the latter rain, as before.

Joel 2:24 The threshing floors shall be full of grain; the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.

Joel 2:25 I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you.

Joel 2:26 You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame.

Psalms 104:14 You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth

Psalms 104:15 and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart.

Ecclesiastes 9:7 Go, eat your bread in joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.

Proverbs 3:9 Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce;

Proverbs 3:10 then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.

In the Old Testament, God expected his people to pay tithe from the wine they produced. If wine production and consumption were evil and sinful, would God expect tithes to be paid from such?

Deuteronomy 12:17 You may not eat within your towns the tithe of your grain or of your wine or of your oil, or the firstborn of your herd or of your flock, or any of your vow that you vow, or your freewill offerings or the contribution that you present,

Deuteronomy 12:18 but you shall eat them before the LORD your God in the place that the LORD your God will choose, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, and the Levite who is within your towns. And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God in all that you undertake.

Deuteronomy 14:22 You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year.

Deuteronomy 14:23 And before the LORD your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always.

Apart from the fact that God’s people were expected to pay tithe of their wines, God actually mandated his people who lived far from Jerusalem to convert their yearly tithe to money and use the money to buy wine and strong drink and whatever else they desired, to consume in his presence.

Deuteronomy 14:24 And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the LORD your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the LORD your God chooses, to set his name there,

Deuteronomy 14:25 then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the LORD your God chooses

Deuteronomy 14:26 and spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household.

Deuteronomy 14:27 And you shall not neglect the Levite who is within your towns, for he has no portion or inheritance with you.

Yes! God mandated his people to use their yearly tithe money to buy wine and strong drink for their personal consumption in his presence! If drinking alcohol is a sin, would God have given such commandment to his people? Does God support sin? How dare some of us think and act as though we are holier than God?!

Ecclesiastes 7:16 Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself?

When Melchizedek, priest of the Most High God (who was the pre-figuration of Christ) met Abram on his way back from battle, he blessed Abram and gave him bread and wine. This is a foreshadow of the communion meal of today. God’s priest would not have given the patriarch wine if the drinking of wine was sinful.

Genesis 14:17 After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).

Genesis 14:18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.)

Genesis 14:19 And he blessed him and said, Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth;

Genesis 14:20 and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand! And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

Moving to the New Testament, we have ample evidence of the non-sinful nature of moderate alcohol consumption. The very first miracle Jesus performed was the turning of water to wine at a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee!

John 2:1 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.

John 2:2 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples.

John 2:3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, They have no wine.

John 2:4 And Jesus said to her, Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.

John 2:5 His mother said to the servants, Do whatever he tells you.

John 2:6 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.

John 2:7 Jesus said to the servants, Fill the jars with water. And they filled them up to the brim.

John 2:8 And he said to them, Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast. So they took it.

John 2:9 When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom

John 2:10 and said to him, Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.

John 2:11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

Why would Jesus turn water into wine for people to drink if the drinking of wine was sinful? And he gave them the best wine ever, as attested to by the governor of the feast! Would Jesus sanction evil by turning water to wine for people to drink? Think about this!

And to cap it all, Jesus himself drank wine! And it wasn’t non-alcoholic wine, because the concept of non-alcoholic wine as we know today was unknown in biblical times. Every wine produced and drank in Bible days was alcoholic. That was why the Lord taught the necessity to store new wine in new wineskins and old wine in old wineskins. With new wine, the fermentation process that produced alcohol was still active, and gaseous products of the chemical reaction would result in swelling and distention, which would cause an old wineskin that was dry, taut and inflexible to burst. However, a new wineskin (from fresh hide) that was still flexible and expandable would stretch to accommodate the gaseous distention from fermentation, and would preserve both the wine and the wineskin. That was what the Lord Jesus taught people, inorder to preserve both their wines and wineskins! Would Jesus teach people how to preserve their wine if the consumption of wine was sinful?

Matthew 9:16 No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made.

Matthew 9:17 Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.

Even new wine as described in the Bible was alcoholic, and had the potential to make people drunk if taken without moderation. When the disciples were inspired by the Holy Spirit and started speaking in strange languages on the day of Pentecost, people thought they had taken new wine immoderately and had become drunk!

The Acts 2:12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, What does this mean?

The Acts 2:13 But others mocking said, They are filled with new wine.

The Acts 2:14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words.

The Acts 2:15 For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.

Jesus drank wine and some people (like some over-righteous ultra-conservative Christians of today) accused him of being a drunkard because of that! Of course, the Lord could never have drunk wine excessively or without self-control, being the epitome of righteousness and having lived a sinless life while on earth. However, it is instructive to know that the Lord drank wine while on earth, and it wasn’t non-alcoholic wine!

Matthew 11:16 But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,

Matthew 11:17 We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.

Matthew 11:18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He has a demon.

Matthew 11:19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners! Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.

Jesus even knew the difference between old and new wine and appreciated the worth of old wine. Only a connoisseur would know and appreciate the value of old wine over new wine!

Luke 5:39 And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, The old is good.

The Lord and his disciples drank wine as part of the Passover feast. It was from the bread and wine of this feast that the Lord’s supper was instituted. Furthermore, the Lord looked forward to drinking wine with his disciples again in the Kingdom Age! So, even in heaven, wine is not forbidden!

Mark 14:22 And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, Take; this is my body.

Mark 14:23 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it.

Mark 14:24 And he said to them, This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.

Mark 14:25 Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.

The wine of the Lord’s supper taken at the church in Corinth was alcoholic wine. It’s only alcoholic wine that can make people drunk if taken excessively. Some believers in Corinth took the communion wine immoderately and got drunk thereby. You don’t get drunk on non-alcoholic wine, however much you take it!

1 Corinthians 11:20 When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat.

1 Corinthians 11:21 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk.

1 Corinthians 11:22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.

If the moderate taking of alcohol was sinful, why would God allow alcoholic wine to be taken at the Lord’s supper? Some people say it’s only at the Lord’s table that alcoholic wine is permitted. There’s just no scripture for this, simply because all the wine consumed in the Bible were alcoholic. There was no such thing as non-alcoholic wine in biblical times!

1 Timothy 5:23 (No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.)

In the passage above, Paul advised Timothy to take a little wine for the sake of his stomach and frequent ailments. Now, we all know Paul wasn’t talking about non-alcoholic wine here. He was clearly referring to alcoholic wine. He was recommending a little wine for medicinal purposes, just as some pharmaceutical syrups today and most African herbal preparations contain some alcoholic mixture. Would the Apostle Paul recommend a little wine for Timothy if drinking alcohol was sinful? Would Paul have recommended a little adultery, or a little stealing or a little lying for any reason?? Of course not!

1 Timothy 3:8 Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain.

Titus 2:3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good,

In the passages above, we see the Apostle Paul admonishing deacons and elderly women not to be slaves or addicts to “much wine”. The emphasis here is on “much wine” and being addicted to it. They can take little wine or take wine in moderation, but should not be addicted to it. However, they were not forbidden to taste wine!

Finally, let me state here categorically that there was only one class of people in the Bible who were absolutely forbidden from drinking wine or tasting any thing that came from the vine tree, including its fruit or seed. This was those who took the special Nazirite vow in the Old Testament. Such people were expected to abstain entirely from wine, to avoid cutting their hair, and to refrain from coming near the dead, throughout the period of their special vow. Examples of Nazirites in Scripture included Samson, Samuel and John the Baptist.

Numbers 6:2 Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When either a man or a woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the LORD,

Numbers 6:3 he shall separate himself from wine and strong drink. He shall drink no vinegar made from wine or strong drink and shall not drink any juice of grapes or eat grapes, fresh or dried.

Numbers 6:4 All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, not even the seeds or the skins.

Numbers 6:5 All the days of his vow of separation, no razor shall touch his head. Until the time is completed for which he separates himself to the LORD, he shall be holy. He shall let the locks of hair of his head grow long.

Other than Nazirites during the period of their special vow, no other group of people in the Bible were mandated by divine law to completely abstain from alcohol. The Scripture never condemned the moderate drinking of alcohol. What was consistently condemned in both the Old and New Testaments was drunkenness, occasioned by excessive and immoderate consumption of alcohol.

In conclusion, apart from those who took special Nazirite vows, nowhere in the Bible is alcohol consumption completely forbidden. Wine was a legal and legitimate produce of God’s people from which tithe was dutifully paid and received by the priests. God even commanded his people to use their tithe money to purchase wine and strong drink and consume them in his presence. Jesus turned water to wine and even drank wine himself. Alcoholic wine was used in the Lord’s supper throughout the New Testament. We draw the conclusion then that Scripture is only against excessive alcohol consumption that leads to drunkenness. As long as God’s people drink wine moderately and give thanks to God for it, it’s perfectly alright with God.

Some people may choose not to drink alcohol at all, based on their conscience. That’s alright, and to God be the glory! However, they should not judge those who consume it moderately as sinners. Personal likes and dislikes should never be used to make laws to judge one another in the body of Christ. Whatever is not expressly condemned by Scripture is not a sin. The attitude of believers to one another in respect to moderate alcohol consumption should be as stated by Apostle Paul in his epistle to the Romans.

Romans 14:1 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.

Romans 14:2 One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables.

Romans 14:3 Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.

Romans 14:4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

Romans 14:5 One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.

Romans 14:6 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.

Romans 14:7 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself.

Romans 14:8 If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.

Romans 14:9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

Romans 14:10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God;

Romans 14:11 for it is written, As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

Romans 14:12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Romans 14:13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.

Romans 14:14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.

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Drunkenness Versus Moderate Alcohol Consumption: The Biblical Balance (Part1)

The argument rages among Christians as to the moral rightness of alcohol consumption. Conservative Christians view the drinking of alcoholic beverages in any form and in any quantity as a sin. More liberal Christians do not see anything wrong with the moderate consumption of alcohol, citing drunkenness instead as the sin that people should abstain from. What does the Bible say about the consumption of alcohol? We shall examine relevant portions of Scripture in an attempt to find the answer to this contentious issue. In the first part of this article, we will focus on what the Bible says about excessive consumption of alcohol that leads to drunkenness. The second part of the article will examine the issue of moderate consumption of alcohol in the light of Scripture.

Drunkenness may be defined as a temporary state of intoxication caused by excessive consumption of alcohol (Offline English Dictionary). The first recorded case of drunkenness in the Bible involved Noah, a righteous man who found favour with God to escape the catastrophic judgement that befell the ante-diluvian world. He planted a vineyard after the flood, drank from the wine thereof, and had a profound mind-altering experience.

Genesis 9:20 Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard.

Genesis 9:21 He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent.

Genesis 9:22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside.

How sad that the first recorded incident of drunkenness in the Bible involved a prophet of God! This shows no one is immune from the powerful influence of alcohol on the mind, when taken in large quantities. That a prophet of God could lose control of his mind and lay totally naked and exposed to the view of all, without a care in the world, shows what a cruel mocker alcohol can be! Alcohol has the potential to bring such shame and reproach to a man! That is exactly what Scripture says.

Proverbs 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.

Proverbs 23:31 Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly.

Proverbs 23:32 In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder.

Proverbs 23:33 Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things.

Proverbs 23:34 You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, like one who lies on the top of a mast.

Proverbs 23:35 They struck me, you will say, but I was not hurt; they beat me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake? I must have another drink.

This is what excessive consumption of alcohol is capable of doing: taking over a man’s mind and distorting his perception of reality. The picture of drunkenness depicted above shows someone who has lost control of himself and has ceased to act responsibly. Inebriation disinhibits people, making them act without restrain or caution. It makes people talk and act without self-control. Insobriety also makes people do dishonourable things they regret later when they become sober. Above all, chronic consumption of large quantities of alcohol is addictive, with the potential to make one become dependent on it and want more of it, in spite of its deleterious effects. Alcohol, when taken without moderation, has the potential to enslave, and what a wicked slave master it can be!

Genesis 19:30 Now Lot went up out of Zoar and lived in the hills with his two daughters, for he was afraid to live in Zoar. So he lived in a cave with his two daughters.

Genesis 19:31 And the firstborn said to the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the earth.

Genesis 19:32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father.

Genesis 19:33 So they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her father. He did not know when she lay down or when she arose.

Genesis 19:34 The next day, the firstborn said to the younger, Behold, I lay last night with my father. Let us make him drink wine tonight also. Then you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father.

Genesis 19:35 So they made their father drink wine that night also. And the younger arose and lay with him, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose.

Genesis 19:36 Thus both the daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father.

Genesis 19:37 The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab. He is the father of the Moabites to this day.

Genesis 19:38 The younger also bore a son and called his name Ben-ammi. He is the father of the Ammonites to this day.

Lot, a righteous man who, along with his two daughters, had just escaped the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, was made drunk with excessive alcohol consumption (masterminded by his daughters). In his insobriety, Noah’s daughters raped him, got pregnant thereby and sired children for their father! What an abomination! Under the influence of excess alcohol, people can do abominable acts, and can be taken advantage of, to be made to do despicable things they can only regret when they come back to their senses, after the effect of the alcohol has worn off.

Proverbs 31:4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink,

Proverbs 31:5 lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.

Proverbs 31:6 Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress;

Proverbs 31:7 let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.

Ecclesiastes 10:17 Happy are you, O land, when your king is the son of the nobility, and your princes feast at the proper time, for strength, and not for drunkenness!

Inebriation blurs the senses and alters perception of reality, leading to errors in judgement and regrettable actions. Wine and strong drink, taken immoderately, mask pain and awareness, and transport people into a world of fantasy. Acting as an anaesthetic, they numb people’s mind and make them forget their problems, instead of confronting them. Hiding from reality is no way to live! No wonder the Bible warns us to flee from drunkenness.

Ephesians 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.

Leaders of God’s people are enjoined to abstain from drunkenness, as this will affect their judgements, actions and reputation. A drunkard cannot lead God’s people. Aaron and his sons were warned not to drink alcohol before going into the tabernacle to minister before God, to avoid ministering in drunkenness!

Leviticus 10:8 And the LORD spoke to Aaron, saying,

Leviticus 10:9 Drink no wine or strong drink, you or your sons with you, when you go into the tent of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations.

In appointing elders (overseers) and deacons for the New Testament assemblies, those addicted to much wine are to be excluded from consideration. A drunkard cannot lead himself, and so cannot lead God’s people!

1 Timothy 3:1 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.

1 Timothy 3:2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,

1 Timothy 3:3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.

1 Timothy 3:8 Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain.

1 Timothy 3:9 They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.

Titus 1:5 This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you—

Titus 1:6 if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination.

Titus 1:7 For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain,

Titus 1:8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.

Markers of moral responsibility and spiritual maturity among believers include sober-mindedness, self-control and moderation in all things. Addiction to alcohol and dependence on it negate all these characteristics outlined above.

Titus 2:2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.

Titus 2:3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good.

We are admonished in Scripture to walk in an honest, orderly manner, and to avoid drunkenness, which will certainly derail our Christian race. Drunkenness overcharges and weighs down our hearts and numbs our spiritual sensibilities, thereby reducing our alertness. It is therefore capable of making us miss the coming of the Lord!

Romans 13:12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.

Romans 13:13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.

Luke 21:34 But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.

Luke 21:35 For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth.

Luke 21:36 But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.

The Scripture not only warns us against excessive consumption of alcohol and the attendant drunkenness, it also forbids us from associating with fellow Christians who are drunkards! Not only does avoiding them help preserve us from the temptation of being lured into their sinful act, it’s also a way of shaming them, to help them reconsider their sinful practice and repent.

1 Corinthians 5:11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.

Drunkards are sure to come to poverty, because not only do they spend the bulk of their income and time on wine and strong drinks, alcoholic intoxication renders them weak, sickly and unable to work. Chronic alcoholism destroys health, wastes income, steals time, lowers productivity and leads to poverty. That’s what the Scripture says.

Proverbs 23:19 Hear, my son, and be wise, and direct your heart in the way.

Proverbs 23:20 Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat,

Proverbs 23:21 for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.

The Scripture makes clear the fate of drunkards: unless they repent and become converted, they will end up in the lake of fire, for they cannot inherit the kingdom of God as drunkards!

1 Corinthians 6:9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,

1 Corinthians 6:10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,

Galatians 5:20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions,

Galatians 5:21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

In conclusion, we see that drunkenness, occasioned by immoderate consumption of alcohol, is expressly forbidden by Scripture and constitutes a grievous sin. The act alters the mind and one’s perception of reality, inhibits self-control and opens the door to other vices and sinful acts. Drunkenness also affects health and relationships with both God and man, as well as greatly impoverishing the addict to wine. Finally, unrepentant drunkards will be excluded from God’s kingdom and will instead have their portion in the eternal lake of fire which burns with fire and brimstone. Christians are therefore enjoined to flee from drunkenness because it kills physically and spiritually!

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Is Perming Of The Hair Or The Attachment Of Artificial Hair A Sin?

Quite a number of ultra-conservative Christians in Africa view the perming of the hair and the attachment of artificial hair like weave-ons, braids, wigs etc, as unnatural and sinful. What does the Bible say about perming of the hair and the attachment of artificial things to the hair for adornment and beautification? Let us turn to Scripture for illumination on these issues.

1 Timothy 2:9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,

1 Timothy 2:10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.

The Apostle Paul, in his pastoral letter to Timothy, addressed the issue of women’s adornment. In dealing with this issue, Paul focused on three areas: clothing, hairdo and use of jewelry. In all three areas, he advised modesty and self-control. The Apostle did not condemn the wearing of clothes, the making of the hair or the wearing of jewelries by women. Rather, he admonished women to be modest and temperate in their adornment, and to focus more on the beautification of the inner man. The same approach to dressing and adornment was adopted by Apostle Peter in his first general epistle.

1 Peter 3:3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing—

1 Peter 3:4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

1 Peter 3:5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their husbands,

1 Peter 3:6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

It is instructive to note that neither Apostle condemned the braiding of hair by women. The word translated as “braiding” refers to elaborate plaiting of the hair, sometimes in locks or tresses. Ancient women were known to have special headgears with artificial attachments added to the hair for beautification. Such hair patterns included “bonnets” or fancy head dresses, headbands (ornamental girdles), well set hair (curl of tresses), etc (Isaiah 3:20, 24). Some of these hair patterns involved the addition of extraneous materials to the natural hair in the weaving and setting process, as well as in the support of the dressed hair.

Scripture does not promote any particular pattern of hairstyles for women. This is not surprising, as the Bible is not expected to be bothered with such mundane matters of personal taste. Apart from the injunction forbidding women to cut their hair (which is the natural covering for their head), little attention is paid to women’s hair. That makes the handling of women’s hair something that shouldn’t bother us much, other than emphasis on the modesty and temperance required in their hairdo and other adornment.

As a broad rule, whatever is not expressly condemned by the Gospels and the Apostolic writings is not a sin for New Testament believers, as sin is a transgression of an extant law. If there is no specific existing law to violate, then there is no sin.

Romans 4:15 For the law brings wrath, but
where there is no law there is no transgression.

Romans 5:13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.

1 John 3:4 Whoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

So, if you cannot point out a specific relevant law that has been violated, you cannot prove a practice to be sinful. What can we say then about the perming of the hair as well as the fixing of weave-ons and attachments by African women?

African women in particular have tough hairs that are thick and difficult to manage. Some form of treatment (mechanical or chemical) is required to relax these tough hairs to make them easier to manage. Whatever will make the hair of a woman longer and easier to manage should be encouraged, as it actually works to achieve the Scriptural demand of long hair for women.

1 Corinthians 11:6 For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head.

1 Corinthians 11:14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him,

1 Corinthians 11:15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering.

A favourite argument of those who insist the fixing of any attachments to the hair is sinful is that weave-ons and attachments are from the marine kingdom and attaching them attracts evil spirits. However, they can’t prove that from Scripture, not even from the Old Testament. Since the source of this information is not the Bible, it is not worth considering further, as anything outside of the Bible is of no value in judging a Christian’s conduct or practice. However, I will just state here that it is dangerous and unbiblical to bring forth “personal revelations” and traditions into the Church that are not based on Scripture, for Scripture alone is the believer’s guide and basis of faith. To add to Scripture or subtract from it is a serious offence with severe consequences.

Revelation 22:18 For I testify to every man that hears the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add to these things, God shall add to him the plagues that are written in this book:

Revelation 22:19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

As a reassurance to those who use wigs, attachments or weave-ons, we know that they are not underwater products of the marine kingdom. These fashion accessories for women are manufactured in known human industries from non-human raw materials, the same way our clothes and other fashion accessories are produced.

Finally, even if there are concerns about the possible contamination or dedication of these items to evil spirits, they can be sanctified by prayer and the blood of Jesus! Christians have power over Satan and his agents, to bind and cast them out wherever we encounter them. We don’t live in fear of evil spirits, simply because he that is in us is greater than he that is in the world!

1 John 4:4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

Luke 10:19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.

Mark 16:17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues;

Mark 16:18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.

On matters of personal likes and dislikes that are not expressly forbidden by Scripture, our attitude to other Christians who believe and act differently from us should be that of non-judgmental acceptance and tolerance, as advised by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans.

Romans 14:1 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.

Romans 14:2 One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables.

Romans 14:3 Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.

Romans 14:4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

Romans 14:5 One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.

Romans 14:6 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.

Romans 14:7 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself.

Romans 14:8 If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.

Romans 14:9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

Romans 14:10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God;

Romans 14:11 for it is written, As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

Romans 14:12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Romans 14:13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.

In conclusion, there is no law or injunction in Scripture forbidding the perming of the hair or the attachment of weave-ons by women. Whatever is not expressly forbidden by any relevant scriptural injunction cannot be sinful, for sin is a transgression of a specific, extant law of God. Human traditions or personal likes and dislikes cannot be used to discredit an act or make laws for God’s people. Any such addition to Scripture is null and void and actually sinful! Whatever will allow a woman to grow her hair long should be encouraged, as it helps to promote obedience to the scriptural injunction that requires women to wear their hair long, as that is their glory and the lawful covering for their head.

Thank you so much for visiting this blog. We appreciate you and the precious time you spared to read through this lengthy post. If you were blessed by this message, kindly like, comment and share to others (with due acknowledgement of the source). You can also follow us to have subsequent posts sent directly to you through your email. God bless you abundantly in Jesus name! Amen!

It’s A Disgrace For A Man To Wear Long Hair, As It Is For A Woman To Cut Her Hair!

God, in the creation of men and women, gave both sexes unique anatomical, physiological and psychological features, to distinguish the two sexes at a glance. The unique features of each sex is to complement those of the other, inorder to achieve wholeness and oneness when the two come together in marriage.

Genesis 2:21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.

Genesis 2:22 And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.

Genesis 2:23 Then the man said, This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

Genesis 2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

By divine design, each sex is easily identified at a glance. The God of nature made it such that there should be no confusion or ambiguity in the identification and distinction of the sexes. God is not an author of confusion. Therefore, there is normally no confusion in gender identity from early childhood.

Nowhere is the distinction between the sexes more striking than in the natural characteristics of the hair. By nature, the female has long hair covering the head, significantly more lengthy than that of the male. In every tribe and in every race, this is the rule: the female hair is always longer than that of the male. The longer the hair, the more graceful and feminine a woman looks. The woman’s long hair is her glory, for it dignifies her and accentuates her femininity. It is therefore a shame and a disgrace for a woman to cut her hair! This is what Scripture says!

1 Corinthians 11:6 For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head.

1 Corinthians 11:15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering.

On the other hand, nature teaches us that it’s a shame and a disgrace for a man to wear long hair. It’s unnatural and effeminate for a man to grow his hair as long as that of a woman. It is a blurring of the natural distinction of the sexes. It is forbidden by both God and nature.

1 Corinthians 11:14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him?

Apart from the natural and cultural need to distinguish between the sexes at a glance, there is a spiritual purpose to the difference in the length of the hair between the sexes. A woman is to cover her head in worship (whether praying or prophesying), while a man is to keep his head uncovered. The reason is that, a man dishonours his head if he prays or prophesies with a covering on it, while a woman dishonours her head if she prays or prophesies without a covering on her head.

1 Corinthians 11:4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head,

1 Corinthians 11:5 but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as if her head were shaven.

We need to understand the head of the woman and that of the man, and the reasons why they need to honour their respective heads in prayer and worship. The head of the man is Christ, while the head of the woman is the man, her husband. This is what Scripture teaches.

1 Corinthians 11:3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

Ephesians 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.

Ephesians 5:24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

The Scripture is very explicit about the relationship of the sexes: the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the man. The woman is to submit to the man as the man is to submit to Christ. It is these various headships (Christ and man) that are to be honoured in prayer and prophesying.

1 Corinthians 11:7 For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man.

A man is the image and glory of God. He reflects God’s glory directly, and should not cover this glory, but should display it for all to see. Christ is the head of the man, and should not be covered. He should be openly displayed and honoured. That is why the man should not cover his head during prayer and while prophesying.

1 Corinthians 11:8 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man.

1 Corinthians 11:9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.

1 Corinthians 11:10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.

A woman is the image and glory of the man, who is her head. She should not display her head in the presence of the angels, during spiritual worship. By uncovering and displaying her head, her husband, she dishonours him. She should therefore have her head covered symbolically, to show her subjection to her husband.

Now, how is the woman to symbolically cover her head? And how is the man to uncover his head? Surely, God should factor this into the nature of both sexes such that each, in his/her natural state, will honour his/her respective head? Of course, God makes it such that by obeying nature, we obey his word. Let’s examine Scripture to see the natural covering for the woman. By extension, we will see how the man is naturally without a covering for his head.

1 Corinthians 11:13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered?

1 Corinthians 11:14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him,

1 Corinthians 11:15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering.

There it is, friends! The woman’s long hair is given to her by nature as a covering for her head! No wonder it’s a dishonour for a woman to cut her hair, for her long hair is her God-given covering for her head. Without her long hair, the woman’s head is shamefully uncovered! Without her long hair, the woman dishonours her head.

Conversely, a man who wears long hair not only violates the law of nature, he also dishonours his head (Christ) by having his head covered, for the long hair is the covering for the head for both men and women. Thus, without the need for an artificial covering, a woman who maintains her naturally long hair covers and honours her head. In the same vein, a man who maintains his naturally short hair uncovers and honours his head.

How beautifully nature works to honour God and his Word! God, working in tandem with the laws of nature that he created, puts no unnatural burden on people to obey his laws. Thus, women can prophesy and pray 24/7 (even in the shower) without the need for an artificial head covering, because their hair, as long as it’s maintained in its naturally long state, is the God-given covering for their head, not a hat or a scarf! Hallelujah!

Sisters, your long hair is not only your glory, it’s the natural covering for your head, and not your scarf, which is a man-made tradition. God forbids you to cut your hair, for that is not only cutting off your glory, it’s also uncovering and dishonouring your head. Use your long hair, like other parts of your body, to glorify God, for your body belongs to God and is for his glory!

1 Corinthians 6:20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

And that’s how a woman glorified Jesus with her long hair, using it to wipe his feet dry after washing them with her tears. She used her glory to wipe the Lord’s feet, and the Lord acknowledged her worship and blessed her!

Luke 7:37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment,

Luke 7:38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.

Luke 7:44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.

Luke 7:45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet.

Luke 7:46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.

Luke 7:47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.

Luke 7:48 And he said to her, Your sins are forgiven.

I wonder how the short-haired sisters who delight in bobbing their glory can muster enough hair, like the lady above, with which to wipe the Lord’s feet, if given the opportunity? Not only is it instructive that the lady wiped Jesus’ feet with her long hair, she had no hat or scarf on her head in the presence of Jesus! Her long hair, given to her naturally by God, was her glory and her God-given covering. She used it to glorify God and God received the worship and blessed her. You don’t need to cover your head with a scarf in the presence of Jesus, once you keep your hair long, for that is the covering for your head.

For those who argue fervently for the hat/scarf as the woman’s covering for the head, rather than the long hair, I want to pose a few questions. If the women in Apostolic times had their heads veiled with scarves at all times, how come the Apostles were able to notice their elaborate hairdos, which made them plead for moderation in the making of their hair? If the women were veiled with scarves in the assemblies, would there be any need to worry about their hairdos, seeing the scarves would cover whatever hairstyles they had on?

1 Timothy 2:9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,

1 Timothy 2:10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.

1 Peter 3:3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing—

1 Peter 3:4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

In conclusion, it is a shame and a disgrace for a man to grow his hair long, as this covers and dishonours his head, who is Christ. In the same vein, it is unnatural and unscriptural for a woman to wear her hair short, for she uncovers and dishonours her head (her husband). The long hair is the covering God has given the woman for her head. As long as she keeps her hair long, her head is covered and honoured. Conversely, the man ought to keep his hair short, as wearing it long is not only unnatural and a disgrace, it also dishonours Christ. May we use our members to glorify God, as well as present our bodies a living sacrifice to God.

Romans 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Thank you so much for visiting this blog. We appreciate you and the precious time you spared to read through this lengthy post. If you were blessed by this message, kindly like, comment and share to others (with due acknowledgement of the source). You can also follow us to have subsequent posts sent directly to you through your email. God bless you abundantly in Jesus name! Amen!

Who Is The Greatest In The Kingdom of God?

Mark 9:33 And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, What were you discussing on the way?

Mark 9:34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest.

Mark 9:35 And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.

The apostles of Christ at one time disputed fervently among themselves as to which of them would be the greatest in the Kingdom of God. Each of them desired and wanted to be the second-in-command to Jesus in the Kingdom Age. They all loved and desired the honour and adulation that would come from being venerated by others as they sit closest to King Jesus on his throne. The tussle for positions of power and glory among God’s people hasn’t diminished over the centuries. If anything, the desire of men of God to be revered and held in high esteem has only grown by leaps and bounds over the years.

Jesus’ response to his apostles’ hassle for power revealed God’s perspective on greatness. Jesus wasn’t averse to their desire to be great. He didn’t rebuke them for wanting to be great. However, he set out the conditions for greatness before them. To be great required great service, not scheming. The one aspiring to be the greatest of all should be the servant of all! The measure of one’s service to God and to his people will determine the level of one’s greatness in God’s kingdom. How radically different that must be from the apostles’ perception of greatness!

Once upon a time, Jesus was invited by a Pharisee to dinner. While reclining at table, he observed intently the way the invited guests scrambled for positions of honour at the high table. The Lord was inspired by what he observed to give one of his greatest sermons on honour.

Luke 14:7 Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them,

Luke 14:8 When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him,

Luke 14:9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, Give your place to this person, and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place.

Luke 14:10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, Friend, move up higher. Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you.

Luke 14:11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

The lesson the Lord Jesus taught here was not only for the men of his day, it was for all people of all times: we should abase ourselves if we want to be exalted. You don’t get honour by seeking for it. It is more praise-worthy to be promoted to honour from obscurity, to rise from grass to grace, than to be demoted and disgraced while fighting to occupy positions of honour. Truly, we learn a great lesson here: the way up is down! To be exalted, you must humble yourself.

Even in the Church, people go to great lengths to lobby for leadership positions. They can manipulate, scheme and bribe their way to positions of power and authority.The same thing happened at a point in Jesus’ ministry, when the apostles James and John used their mother to lobby Jesus in their bid to secure juicy positions of power for themselves in God’s kingdom.

Matthew 20:20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something.

Matthew 20:21 And he said to her, What do you want? She said to him, Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.

Matthew 20:22 Jesus answered, You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink? They said to him, We are able.

Matthew 20:23 He said to them, You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.

Matthew 20:24 And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers.

This was the height of sleight cunningness! It was a devious backhand move by the two brothers to outsmart the other apostles. James and John, like most of us today, believed in the manipulative power game. They were trying to use devilish worldly wisdom to outwit the other apostles and secure for themselves wonderful cabinet positions in God’s kingdom! How so much like some of us today in the Church, who will lie, and bribe and manipulate our way to positions of authority, without giving any qualms about what it takes or who we trample upon to get to our destination. That’s why we see ministers of the Gospel fighting openly for overseership of the church, or for juicy parishes. That’s why we see litigations among God’s servants in the courts of the world, as brothers set upon brothers in the quest to dominate and rule with inordinate ambition. The world has entered the Church and infused her with its ideology and philosophy, as believers freely and unashamedly copy from the world’s dirty politicking. But, how did Jesus respond to this brazen and blatant display of naked quest for power by the sons of Zebedee?

Matthew 20:25 But Jesus called them to him and said, You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.

Matthew 20:26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,

Matthew 20:27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave,

Matthew 20:28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Jesus used the opportunity to teach the disciples a great power lesson. He set a sharp contrast between the power structure/dynamics in the world and that in God’s kingdom. In the world, those who lead do so by exercising authority and lordship. A leader in the world is marked out by the number of servants he has, by the number of people that attend and wait on him. A leader in the world is a lord exercising authority over others. However, in God’s kingdom, things are different. A leader in the spiritual realm is judged by how many people he serves, not by how many people serving him. To aspire to be the greatest in God’s Kingdom means to aspire to be the greatest servant of men! Now, I’m sure the positions James and John were scheming for didn’t look quite as attractive again, after hearing the requirements for occupying those offices. Serving others and humbling ourselves before all is not really attractive. It’s mean and lowly and devoid of fanfare and acclaim, but, it’s the way to greatness in God’s kingdom. Jesus set the example of greatness for us by coming down from heaven to serve all, to the point of giving his life as a ransom for the redemption of lost humanity. That’s the epitome of leadership which all his disciples are enjoined to emulate.

John 13:4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist.

John 13:5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

John 13:13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am.

John 13:14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.

John 13:15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.

John 13:16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.

John 13:17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Feet-washing was the basest of tasks in a Jewish household during Jesus’ time, a task reserved for the lowliest slaves. They would meet guests at the door of the house, stoop to remove their footwear and take time to wash and dry their dirt-coated feet. That was a menial job meant for lowly servants. Yet, our Lord stooped to do that dirty, lowly task for his disciples. Their Lord and Master became their servant in washing their dirty feet! Here was the perfect example of the servant-leader, showing leadership through service. And he left us a command to do as he had done: to stoop as low as he had done to serve one another. That’s God’s prescription for greatness in his kingdom.

Leaders in God’s Church are not to be lords over the people that God has placed under them. Rather, they are to be worthy examples to the flock. As true shepherds, pastors are to feed the flock, not fleece them. The needs of the sheep should come first, not the pastors’. True shepherds should be ready to lay down their lives for their flocks.

1 Peter 5:1 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed:

1 Peter 5:2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly;

1 Peter 5:3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.

John 10:11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

John 10:12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.

John 10:13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

It is selfless service to the flocks that makes pastors great, not service by the flocks. A great pastor is not one who is served by all, who has many servants attending to him, who flies in a private jet or drives fleets of exotic cars accompanied by police escorts. A great pastor is not one who dresses the most dandily, not one who changes his wardrobe every week or who has a special seat that resembles a throne in the church. The greatness of a pastor is measured by his meekness, his humility and his lowliness in service. The greatest pastor is the greatest servant in the church, not a lord over the church. Unfortunately, many church leaders think of their greatness in ministry only in terms of the material prosperity acquired, the number of those under them that serve them and the privileges accruing to them. They have become worldly-minded in their concept of leadership and greatness .

Greatness in kingdom terms has to do with how much we can empty ourselves for others, not how much we fill ourselves with our egos and pride and the inordinate ambition to conquer and subdue others. Greatness is not measured by how much people sow into our lives, but by how much we sow into people’s lives. True greatness is in living for others and in serving others with humility. To be promoted to the highest heavens, we must first abase ourselves to the lowest earth. That was the example Jesus set for us on earth. He came from the highest heaven to lowly earth, leaving his glory behind in the process. While on earth, he let go of his Godhead, assumed the form of a servant and served faithfully unto death. That’s why he has the name above all names today!

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Philippians 2:4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Philippians 2:5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,

Philippians 2:6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,

Philippians 2:7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

Philippians 2:8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,

Philippians 2:10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

Philippians 2:11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Humility is the key to greatness in God’s kingdom. God will always elevate the humble, as surely as he will bring down the proud. To be lifted up by God, we must resist Satan’s temptation to promote and flaunt self in arrogance, and submit to God and others. Pride was at the heart of Lucifer’s catastrophic fall from a covering cherub in heaven to a Satan who will be destroyed in the lake of fire! And it was man’s prideful desire to be like God that led to his downfall.

Isaiah 14:12 How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low!

Isaiah 14:13 You said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north;

Isaiah 14:14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.

Isaiah 14:15 But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit.

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

Proverbs 16:19 It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud.

1 Peter 5:5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.

Let us then learn from Jesus, not from the world, as we seek greatness. Let’s learn to follow the Master on the path to true greatness. Let’s learn to deny ourselves, take up our crosses daily and follow him faithfully. Let us learn from his meek and lowly heart that we may find rest unto our souls.

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus told his disciples, If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Matthew 16:25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Matthew 16:26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

It is the meek and the lowly (not proud, arrogant and ambitious schemers) that will inherit the earth in the Kingdom Age:

Psalms 37:11 But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.

Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

In conclusion, true greatness comes from humble and selfless service to others, and not from arrogant scheming propelled by inordinate ambition. To be the greatest in God’s Kingdom, we must abase ourselves and be the servant of all. The truly great do not seek greatness for themselves. They just seek to serve God and God’s people as humbly and as selflessly as they can. And then greatness finds them!

Jeremiah 45:5 (a) And do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not.

Romans 12:16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be conceited.

Thank you so much for visiting this blog. We appreciate you and the precious time you spared to read through this lengthy post. If you were blessed by this message, kindly like, comment and share to others (with due acknowledgement of the source). You can also follow us to have subsequent posts sent directly to you through your email. God bless you abundantly in Jesus name! Amen!

Christian Women Wearing Trousers Isn’t A Problem: Indecent Dressing Is The Problem!

A lot of conservative Christian groups in Africa frown upon the wearing of trousers by women, and consider the act a direct violation of Scripture and therefore a sin. More liberal Christians however don’t see anything wrong with women wearing trousers. The wearing of trousers by Christian women has thus become a sharp wedge that has created a deep division among Christians. What exactly is the position of Scripture on this divisive issue? This article seeks to explore Scripture to answer this question.

The singular verse of Scripture quoted by those who consider the wearing of trousers by women a sin is found in the 22nd Chapter of the book of Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy 22:5 The woman shall not wear that which pertains to a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination to the LORD your God.

A cursory look at this verse reveals that the Mosaic Law was against women and men exchanging items of clothing. There were obviously garments meant for men and those meant for women among the Jews. The exchange of garments between the sexes was considered an abomination. This law was alright for Jews who lived under the Old Covenant. The question is, how does this portion of the Mosaic Law affect Gentiles in the New Testament?

From various portions of the Apostolic writings, we understand the Gentile believers are not under the Law of Moses. The Covenant God made on Mount Sinai was with Israel, not Gentiles, and it has been abolished and replaced by the New Covenant ratified on Mount Calvary by the blood of Jesus Christ. The abolishing of the Old Covenant made with Israel on Mount Sinai means that all the terms and conditions of that contract are of no effect on believers of the New Covenant. Kindly refer to my teaching on “The Relationship Of The Gentiles To The Law of Moses” published earlier on this blog, for a detailed explanation on this issue. The summary of this teaching is that, the Gentile believers in Christ are not subject to the Law of Moses. Their conduct and behaviour should therefore not be judged by any portion of the expired and abolished Mosaic Law, including the commandment of Deuteronomy 22:5.

It’s rather comical to observe that those who use Deuteronomy 22:5 to condemn the wearing of trousers by females (as a garment meant for males) conveniently ignore other commandments given in the same chapter of Deuteronomy. Let us look at other verses in this Chapter of Deuteronomy that has been used to divide Christians.

Deuteronomy 22:9 You shall not sow your vineyard with divers seeds: lest the fruit of your seed which you have sown, and the fruit of your vineyard, be defiled.

Deuteronomy 22:10 You shall not plow with an ox and an ass together.

Deuteronomy 22:11 You shall not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woolen and linen together.

In the same Chapter of Deuteronomy where women are forbidden to wear garments meant for men (and vice versa), the Mosaic Law forbids farmers from planting different types of crops in the same farm. The Chapter also forbids plowing with different types of animals yoked together. More glaringly, this portion of Scripture equally forbids people from wearing clothes made from different materials or fibres (eg mixtures of cotton, linen, nylon, wool, polyesters etc).

Now, why do those who insist on keeping the fifth verse of Deuteronomy Chapter 22 conveniently ignore verses nine, ten and eleven of the same Chapter? Why do they not condemn the planting of different crops in the same farm? Why do they allow the use of different farm animals ploughing a farm? And most importantly, why do they wear clothes made from a mixture of different materials? These were all abominations under the Mosaic Law. Why do those who single out one verse of Deuteronomy for observance consider these other practices no longer abominations, but retain the interchange of garments between the sexes still as an abomination? Where is the Scriptural authority to decide on which portion of the expired and abolished Mosaic Law to keep and which portion to discard?

The Apostolic writings are very clear about those who seek to obtain right standing with God by keeping any part the Mosaic Law. Such people are expected to go back and keep the entire Law of Moses, for unless you keep the entire Law, you are under a curse!

Galatians 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

Galatians 3:11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

Galatians 3:12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that does them shall live in them.

To keep a part of the Law, while ignoring other parts, automatically puts one under a curse and out of God’s grace! To go back to any part of the expired and abolished Mosaic Law (containing over 600 commandments and ordinances) for justification and right standing with God is a clear sign that one has fallen away from God’s favour!

Galatians 5:2 Behold, I Paul say to you, that if you be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.

Galatians 5:3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.

Galatians 5:4 Christ is become of no effect to you, whoever of you are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace.

The purpose of the Law was clear: it was a stopgap measure brought in to keep God’s people in check until the coming of Christ.The Law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. Christ having come, we’re no longer under a school master and we’re not subject to any of its ordinances anymore!

Galatians 3:24 Why the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

Galatians 3:25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

To attempt to go back to any portion of the Law while in Christ is to abandon liberty and return to bondage. How crazy that is! How can some people deliberately want to take themselves back to slavery, having been delivered by Christ from the bondage of the Law? But that’s exactly what those who seek to be made right with God by keeping any part of the Mosaic Law are doing! They are taking themselves back to slavery!

Galatians 4:21 Tell me, you that desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law?

Galatians 4:22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a female slave, the other by a free woman.

Galatians 4:23 But he who was of the female slave was born after the flesh; but he of the free woman was by promise.

Galatians 4:24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which engenders to bondage, which is Agar.

Galatians 4:25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answers to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.

Galatians 4:26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.

Galatians 4:28 Now we, brothers, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.

Galatians 4:29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.

Galatians 4:30 Nevertheless what said the scripture? Cast out the female slave and her son: for the son of the female slave shall not be heir with the son of the free woman.

Galatians 4:31 So then, brothers, we are not children of the female slave, but of the free.

Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty with which Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

The Law of Moses is a yoke of bondage. It can only bring death, not life. To attempt to keep any portion of it only brings curses, not blessings, for then we would be expected to go and keep it in its entirety! But we are dead to the Law, and it has no authority or jurisdiction over us! Let no man judge you by any portion of the Mosaic Law!

Romans 7:1 Know you not, brothers, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives?

Romans 7:2 For the woman which has an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he lives; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.

Romans 7:3 So then if, while her husband lives, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.

Romans 7:4 Why, my brothers, you also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that you should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit to God.

Romans 7:5 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit to death.

Romans 7:6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

So, if believers in Christ are dead to the Law of Moses and are not subject to it, where should we look for guidance in matters of faith and conduct? To the Gospels and to the Apostolic writings! The Gospels and Apostolic writings provide the laws governing the conduct and lifestyle of the New Testament believers. Let us then go to the Apostolic writings to see how Christian sisters (and indeed all believers) ought to dress.

1 Timothy 2:9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with modesty and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;

1 Timothy 2:10 But (which becomes women professing godliness) with good works.

1 Peter 3:1 Likewise, you wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;

1 Peter 3:2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.

1 Peter 3:3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;

1 Peter 3:4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

1 Peter 3:5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection to their own husbands:

The Apostolic writings make clear the goal in dressing: modesty, decency and sobriety! The purpose of clothing is to cover our nakedness and shame. We must therefore be modest, decent and sober in the way we use clothes to cover our bodies.

Genesis 3:7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

Genesis 3:8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

Genesis 3:9 And the LORD God called to Adam, and said to him, Where are you?

Genesis 3:10 And he said, I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

Genesis 3:21 To Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

When Adam and Eve found themselves naked after sinning, they made a feeble attempt to cover up their nakedness with fig leaves. That wasn’t good enough for God who had to make clothes of lambskin and cover them properly. Since the fall of man, God has always wanted his people properly and decently clothed. The only people we find in Scripture who roamed about naked were demon-possessed lunatics. And once the demons were cast out and they came back to their right minds, we find them taking great pains to be properly clothed.

Mark 5:15 And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.

So, it’s actually an act of insanity for one to be indecently exposed in public. It’s a great lack of shamefacedness and sobriety to dress scantily and indecently in public. Jesus always enjoins those who are naked to come to him for proper clothing, because he hates and detests nakedness, both physical and spiritual.

Revelation 3:17 Because you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.

Revelation 3:18 I counsel you to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; and white raiment, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness do not appear; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.

The sin in dressing is not therefore the wearing of trousers by women. The sin is in the indecency and immodesty of a woman’s dressing, whether she’s wearing skirts, gowns, wrappers or trousers. The type of dress a Christian woman wears is immaterial. What matters is the way the dress covers her private parts while she’s in public. If she’s properly covered, then there’s no problem. If she’s not properly and decently covered, even if she’s wearing a flowing gown, then she has violated the Christian code of dressing. She has sinned. A woman may wear a flowing gown that touches the ground, but it could be transparent or slit and thus exposing her private parts.That certainly isn’t modest, decent or sober dressing.

The problem with the dressings of most Christians today is that they try to copy the trend-setters of the time, as they seek conformity with the world. Most Christian ladies look up to Hollywood/Nollywood (and all the other “woods”) for fashion inspiration. Rather than look to the Holy Spirit and the Word of God for guidance in all matters (including dressing), we seek to copy the world. For, how else can we justify dressings in public that expose the breasts, armpits, abdomen, buttocks and tighs? How does one justify the wearing of clothes that reveal the underwears? Unless the goal is to seduce and entice, there is absolutely no justification for a professed Christian to do that! Certain attires are designed for harlots only!

Proverbs 7:8 Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house,

Proverbs 7:9 In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:

Proverbs 7:10 And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtle of heart.

Proverbs 7:11 (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house:

Proverbs 7:12 Now is she without, now in the streets, and lies in wait at every corner.)

Only prostitutes dress to entice, seduce and “kill”! For if you dress indecently and expose yourself for men to lust after you, you are an accomplice to sexual immorality in the sight of God, though you may be a virgin!

Matthew 5:27 You have heard that it was said by them of old time, You shall not commit adultery:

Matthew 5:28 But I say to you, That whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Christians are not to copy the world in its fashion. Rather, we are to copy and follow the Word of God and be a shining light to a corrupt and depraved world. We are to help the lost find their way back to God, and not allow the spiritually blind to influence and lead us into sin.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

In conclusion, no where does the New Testament forbid the wearing of trousers by women. The portion of Scripture quoted in Deuteronomy to condemn the wearing of trousers by Christian women is obsolete, expired and of no effect whatsoever upon the New Testament Gentile believers, since it is a part of the expired and abolished Law of Moses that does not have jurisdiction over Christians. The Gospels and Apostolic writings that provide the rule of faith for New Testament believers admonish decency, modesty and sobriety in dressing, whatever type of clothing one chooses to wear. Believers should dress to cover their nakedness, and should not expose their private parts in public. Neither are we to dress to entice and seduce, for that makes us accomplices to sexual immorality. We should seek, at all times, to glorify God in our bodies (with our dressings, among other things), which belong to God.

1 Corinthians 6:19 What? know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own?

1 Corinthians 6:20 For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Thank you so much for visiting this blog. We appreciate you and the precious time you spared to read through this lengthy post. If you were blessed by this message, kindly like, comment and share to others (with due acknowledgement of the source). You can also follow us to have subsequent posts sent directly to you through your email. God bless you abundantly in Jesus name! Amen!

Stop Your Noisy And Vain Repetitions In Prayer! God’s Not Deaf!

Prayer meetings in a lot of Christian assemblies have become more like madhouses, with people shouting, screaming, vibrating and convulsing during prayers, all to draw God’s attention. It’s as if God’s ability to hear and answer prayers now depends on how loud people can scream and shout, and how much frenzy they can display. Praying has become a circus show and a public nuisance. Is that what biblical praying is supposed to be? What does the Scripture teach us about prayer, especially the prayer that moves the hands of an omnipotent God? Let us examine relevant portions of Scripture to find out the biblical views on prayer.

Matthew 6:5 And when you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Truly I say to you, They have their reward.

Matthew 6:6 But you, when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father which is in secret; and your Father which sees in secret shall reward you openly.

Matthew 6:7 But when you pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

There are some important things the Lord teaches us about prayer in the passage above. Let us examine them closely. First, praying should not be a hypocritical show off. We shouldn’t do any thing in prayer to impress people. Prayer is not a religious ritual to impress or please men. It is supplication to God! Any act in prayer meant to affect others and show off our skills and abilities is vain and counterproductive, and will not receive any reward from God.

Second, prayer is a secret communion with God. It is communication with God alone, not with men. God knows and hears the secret whispers of our hearts. Since genuine prayer is the outpouring of the heart to God, it does not need to be raucous or noisy. In prayer, rather than call attention to self and the world, we are to shut out the world and connect to God. Prayer is a secret business with God, not a public display of oratory and knowledge of Scripture, or a garrulous contest to determine who can shout or scream the loudest at God!

Third, we are not to use vain repetitions in prayer, like the heathens do. Vain repetition means to mechanically regurgitate a particular phrase, request or thing over and over, believing God hears us better the more we scream at him or repeat ourselves! It’s as though we’re praying to a God who is hard of hearing, or one that sleeps off occasionally and needs to be awakened with loud, vociferous jolts! The posture and attitude of most Christians in prayer reminds one of the prophets of Baal in their contest with Elijah on Mount Carmel.

1 Kings 18:26 And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped on the altar which was made.

1 Kings 18:27 And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleeps, and must be awaked.

1 Kings 18:28 And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out on them.

1 Kings 18:29 And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.

Here, we see Elijah mocking the prophets of Baal to pray the same way a lot of Christians pray today: to scream and shout inorder to catch the attention of a sleeping god or one who’s switched off because he’s busy doing some other things. The picture of the prophets of Baal screaming, shouting, leaping and performing all forms of gymnastics can be mistaken for Pentecostal and Charismatic prayer meetings of today. There is absolutely no difference between our prayer warriors of today, who believe God can only be moved by raucous rowdiness in prayer, and those prophets of Baal jumping up and down and tearing themselves apart to draw the attention of a dead, deaf, dumb and blind god! What a rebuke to our brand of Christianity, that it should find such striking similarity with the worst of paganism!

Matthew 6:8 Be not you therefore like to them: for your Father knows what things you have need of, before you ask him.

Isn’t it wonderful and reassuring to know that true Christianity worships the living, omniscient God who knows our deepest secret thoughts and desires? God knows the things we have need of before we even pray about them. Prayer is not the bringing of our desires to the awareness of an ignorant God. If it were so, then all our vain jangling and delirious hyperactivity might be justified. But, Jehovah is not deaf, and he neither sleeps nor slumbers. God sees, hears and knows every secret thing.

Psalms 121:4 Behold, he that keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

Psalms 94:9 He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see?

Ecclesiastes 12:14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

If Jehovah is the living God who sees in the dark, hears our silent whispers and knows the secret thoughts of every heart (and he is!), why do some people expend so much physical energies in prayer and turn praying into a physical combat with demons and other imagined enemies? Does it mean God cannot hear and respond to a silent whisper?

1 Samuel 1:9 So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat on a seat by a post of the temple of the LORD.

1 Samuel 1:10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the LORD, and wept sore.

1 Samuel 1:11 And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your handmaid, and remember me, and not forget your handmaid, but will give to your handmaid a man child, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come on his head.

1 Samuel 1:12 And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli marked her mouth.

1 Samuel 1:13 Now Hannah, she spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken.

1 Samuel 1:14 And Eli said to her, How long will you be drunken? put away your wine from you.

1 Samuel 1:15 And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD.

1 Samuel 1:16 Count not your handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken till now.

1 Samuel 1:17 Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant you your petition that you have asked of him.

1 Samuel 1:18 And she said, Let your handmaid find grace in your sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.

The passage above is a remarkable record of the desperate prayer of Hannah, when she was crying to God for a child. It is instructive to note that she neither shouted nor screamed at God in her desperation. Heart broken and contrite, she couldn’t even open her mouth to voice any words. Only her lips moved wordlessly as she poured out her heart to the Lord, to the extent that the high priest watching her thought she was in some drunken stupor! However, not only was her voiceless and wordless prayer heard in heaven, she received a swift response as she conceived immediately thereafter, and gave birth to Samuel some nine months later. Hannah didn’t have to roll on the floor, trip chairs and benches, tear herself to pieces or shout herself hoarse before God could hear her. She spoke in her heart to God, and the God who sees every heart heard her silent whisper and responded swiftly from heaven!

Isaiah 59:1 Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:

Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

The Prophet Isaiah, in the portion of Scripture cited above, explains why God does not answer some prayers of his people. The problem is not that God is hard of hearing and needs supplicants to shout louder for him to grasp what is being said. It is not also that God has lost his power to save and deliver. The problem lies, not with God, but with the people! The problem is that most people come to God with impure hearts and unclean hands. Approaching God in that condition will not get God’s attention, however much we scream and shout! God cannot be bullied into capitulating to our demands if we don’t meet the conditions for admittance into his court.

Psalms 24:3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?

Psalms 24:4 He that has clean hands, and a pure heart; who has not lifted up his soul to vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

Psalms 24:5 He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

The psalmist clearly spells out the condition for approaching God here. Whoever comes to God must come with clean hands and a pure heart. God is holy and cannot behold iniquity. For us to be given a hearing in heaven’s court, we must approach God’s holy hill with purified hands and sanctified hearts. Thank God for the blood of Jesus Christ which can cleanse us from all unrighteousness. However, we must confess and forsake all known sins and apply that blood to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:7-10). Only then can we confidently approach God with the hope of receiving from him. This is exactly what the Apostle Paul admonished.

1 Timothy 2:8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

The petitioner must approach God’s holy hill with holy hands and without wrath or doubting.The hands must be clean and the heart pure and devoid of doubt, for unless prayer is said in faith, nothing should be expected from God! That’s exactly what the rest of Scripture teaches.

James 1:6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavers is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

James 1:7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

James 1:8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

James 4:8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded.

Mark 11:24 Therefore I say to you, What things soever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them.

In addition to praying in faith from sincere and purified hearts, we must ask according to God’s will, for God will only respond to prayers made in obedience to his will. If we ask for things that are in harmony with God’s will, he will grant our requests, all things being equal. However, if we ask amiss, in opposition to his will, we can be sure that however long and hard we scream concerning it, God will not answer us. We can shout like the prophets of Baal, and roll and convulse like possessed heathens, yet will he not hear, for he is only obligated to perform his word and do only those things that please him.

James 4:2 You lust, and have not: you kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: you fight and war, yet you have not, because you ask not.

James 4:3 You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it on your lusts.

1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he hears us:

1 John 5:15 And if we know that he hear us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

In conclusion, prayer is not the bombardment of an unwilling God to give ground to persistent and raucous suppliants! It is not the arm-twisting of an unyielding God through bluster and noisy babbling! Prayer does not depend on the volume of things said or the length of time spent in reciting them. The prayer that God respects and honours can be just a whisper or a mute cry, but it must come from sanctified and faithful hearts, pass through cleansed lips and be directed towards heaven by holy hands. Above all, such prayers must be grounded in the will of God. Heaven respects and honours such prayers as much as hell fears and detests them. Such is the prayer that avails much, though short and silent it may be. May we be properly guided to pray aright that we may prevail with God and man!

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Christians, Bless Those That Curse You! Bless And Don’t Curse!

Not a few Christian denominations teach their followers to pray “dangerous” prayers aimed at neutralising enemies, by unleashing curses and “Holy Ghost fire” upon those who oppose them. How valid are such prayers in the light of the Gospel? What did Christ and his Apostles teach about the treatment of enemies and people that hate us? How should we respond to curses, revilings and persecution in general? We shall revert to the Apostolic writings to understand what is expected of New Testament believers in the face of opposition.

Matthew 5:43 You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.

Matthew 5:44 But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you.

From our Lord’s sermon on the mount, we observe some seismic changes on relationships with enemies vis-a-vis the Mosaic Law. Under the Law of Moses, one was expected to love one’s neighbours and hate one’s enemies. Now, the Lord is radically altering the relationship with enemies: we are no longer to hate our enemies! In addition to loving those who love us, we are also to love those who hate us! Christianity’s radical departure from Judaism is in Christ’s demand to extend God’s love to all men, irrespective of their feelings towards us. As born again children of God, we are to reflect God’s love to all people, even as God shows love to all, including those who hate him. Christianity commands that we be like our Father in heaven!

Matthew 5:45 That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Matthew 5:46 For if you love them which love you, what reward have you? do not even the publicans the same?

Matthew 5:47 And if you salute your brothers only, what do you more than others? do not even the publicans so?

Matthew 5:48 Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

A Christian has been called unto blessings, and he/she is to bless at all times and never curse.

1 Peter 3:9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that you are thereunto called, that you should inherit a blessing.

Romans 12:14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.

Even when others curse us, we are not to curse back. The “back-to-sender” prayers we hear in a lot of churches, whereby Christians decree evil to people who wish them evil, are not Christ-like prayers. They may be alright for Judaism, where tit-for-tat and eye-for-eye apply. Judaism teaches immediate retaliation and avenging of oneself. However, Christianity teaches unreserved forgiveness, as well as allowing God to judge and avenge all wrongdoings.

Romans 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place to wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, said the Lord.

Romans 12:20 Therefore if your enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing you shall heap coals of fire on his head.

Romans 12:21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

The doctrine of retaliation or “fire-for-fire” is what the natural unregenerated soul practises by default. It is a natural human instinct to want to hurt those who have hurt us, and seek the down fall of those who don’t wish us well. However, for the regenerated believer in Christ whose heart has been conquered by the love of God, a new law governs his impulses and actions. The believer in Christ is controlled, not by the Law of Moses, but by Christ’s Law of love. True love does not only love those who love us, it inspires us not to think evil of others, and to even love those who hate us.

1 Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

1 Corinthians 13:5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

1 Corinthians 13:6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

Jesus Christ amply demonstrated God’s love to mankind by dying for people that hated him, inorder to redeem them back to God. He loved us even while we were his enemies!

Romans 5:8 But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

Colossians 1:21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now has he reconciled

Colossians 1:22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and blameless and unreproveable in his sight:

While he hung on Calvary’s tree, nailed to the cross and in excruciating pains, Jesus neither railed at those who nailed him unjustly to the cross, nor did he curse or threaten them. Rather, he prayed and asked God to forgive them!

Luke 23:33 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.

Luke 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

Jesus lived and died to set an example for us his followers on how we should live and comport ourselves in this present world. He came to show us an example of how we should manifest God’s love to men on earth. We, as his disciples, are to take up our own cross and follow him daily.

Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus to his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Matthew 16:25 For whoever will save his life shall lose it: and whoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

1 Peter 2:21 For even hereunto were you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps:

1 Peter 2:22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:

1 Peter 2:23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judges righteously:

Our Lord did no evil. He was unjustly accused and crucified. Yet on the cross, when they reviled him, he did not revile back. He didn’t return cursing for cursing. He blessed those who cursed him instead. He prayed for mercy for his murderers. Rather than lash out at them in hateful vengeance, he committed himself to God the righteous Judge, to whom vengeance belongs. That’s the example Christ set for us his disciples to follow!

Someone might say, ” well, that’s Jesus. He’s God, so he can forgive all wrongs. But I’m not God, so don’t expect me to act like Jesus”. I don’t want to prove here that Jesus acted purely as a man while on earth, not making use of his Godhead for once. However, let me show us a man like ourselves who behaved the same way Jesus did, when he was being unjustly stoned to death for preaching righteousness.

The Acts 7:54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him.

The Acts 7:55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

The Acts 7:56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

The Acts 7:57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him,

The Acts 7:58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.

The Acts 7:59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

The Acts 7:60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

While Stephen was being being stoned to death simply because he believed and preached Jesus as the Messiah, he cried to God to have mercy on his murderers! He didn’t pray for curses and judgement on the people who were dashing his skull to pieces. He didn’t pray for those wicked and evil men to die by fire. Rather, he prayed that God would forgive them and not hold their sin against them! This was a man 100% like us, with like passions as we have. What made the difference was that Stephen possessed the same Spirit that was in Christ. He was filled with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love. He could, by the power of the Holy Spirit, bless those who cursed him. He was enabled by the Holy Spirit to love his enemies! Only the grace of God can enable one to love the unlovely, and that grace is available to all in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit fills us with the love of God, to enable us live and behave like Jesus did on earth. That’s God’s goal for us: to be like Jesus!

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

Ephesians 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Ephesians 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:

Ephesians 4:14 That we from now on be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

Ephesians 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.

Let’s examine the reactions of the Apostles when they were threatened and beaten for preaching salvation through the name of Jesus Christ. They had a right to be angry and vengeful, to call for divine punishment on their persecutors. But, what did they do? Let’s look at Scripture to find their reactions.

The Acts 4:18 And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

The Acts 4:19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, judge you.

The Acts 4:20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

The Acts 4:21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done.

The Acts 4:22 For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was showed.

The Acts 4:23 And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.

The Acts 4:24 And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, you are God, which have made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:

The Acts 4:25 Who by the mouth of your servant David have said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?

The Acts 4:26 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.

The Acts 4:27 For of a truth against your holy child Jesus, whom you have anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,

The Acts 4:28 For to do whatever your hand and your counsel determined before to be done.

The Acts 4:29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant to your servants, that with all boldness they may speak your word,

The Acts 4:30 By stretching forth your hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of your holy child Jesus.

The Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

Rather than call down the fire of God to pursue and destroy those threatening them, they prayed for God to give them more boldness to preach his word, and for God to vindicate the word they preached with signs and wonders. They didn’t call for “Holy Ghost fire” to consume their enemies. They didn’t pray for their enemies to fall and die! Rather, they prayed for more grace to be able to witness the power of God to the people, that the people may be saved! That’s the Spirit of Christ in action! God does not want any man to perish, but for all to come to repentance. He gives men space to repent, and so should we. The sinner today who persecutes us may become a saint tommorow by the grace of God. Saul (who later became Apostle Paul) was among those who killed Stephen.

The Acts 22:17 And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance;

The Acts 22:18 And saw him saying to me, Make haste, and get you quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive your testimony concerning me.

The Acts 22:19 And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on you:

The Acts 22:20 And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting to his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.

If Stephen had prayed for the death of his persecutors, and if God had granted his prayers, imagine what Christianity would have lost by not having Apostle Paul, the chief of the Apostles! Those of us who are believers today were all sinners saved by grace. Before we experienced the grace of God, we too had persecuted and abused and spoken evil of those who were Christians before us. Imagine if they had prayed for our destruction! We need to show others mercy because others showed us mercy too! We persecuted them in ignorance, and so do those who now persecute us. Let’s pray for mercy for our persecutors, so they too will come to the saving knowledge of Christ.

1 Timothy 1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;

1 Timothy 1:13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.

What should be our attitude when we are persecuted for righteousness sake? What should be our response when we are attacked and reviled by unbelievers? Let’s see what our Lord said about this.

Luke 6:22 Blessed are you, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.

Luke 6:23 Rejoice you in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers to the prophets.

In the face of unjustified persecution and reproach by evil men, Christians are to rejoice and leap for joy, at the opportunity to suffer for the sake of their Lord. We’re not to lash out in anger and vindictiveness, seeking the judgement of God upon our enemies. Rather, we are to praise and bless the name of God for the opportunity to identify with Him and all righteous men who had gone before us, in the defence of the kingdom of God. This was exactly what the Apostles did when they were beaten for preaching Christ to the people.

The Acts 5:40 And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

The Acts 5:41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.

The Acts 5:42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.

The Acts 16:22 And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.

The Acts 16:23 And when they had laid many stripes on them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:

The Acts 16:24 Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.

The Acts 16:25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises to God: and the prisoners heard them.

Rather than stew and curse for being unjustly treated and humiliated, the apostles rejoiced at being treated like their Lord. They considered it an honor to suffer reproach for the sake of their Lord. That was what their Lord and Master had told them: whatever he had passed through and experienced, they would and should expect to experience the same.

John 15:20 Remember the word that I said to you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

John 15:21 But all these things will they do to you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.

There was a time during Jesus’ ministry when the apostles still had the mentality of some of us today. When faced with opposition and resistance to the preaching of the Gospel, they sought to invoke judgement on those who opposed them:

Luke 9:51 And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,

Luke 9:52 And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.

Luke 9:53 And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.

Luke 9:54 And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, will you that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?

Luke 9:55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, You know not what manner of spirit you are of.

Luke 9:56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.

The apostles James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven, like Elijah did, to destroy those Samaritans who did not receive Jesus. However, the Lord rebuked them sharply and made them understand they were under a different dispensation from Elijah: Elijah operated under the law, with its instant judgement and lack of mercy, while Christ came to bring God’s grace to men. Jesus did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them. And, his disciples today have the same mission: to save men’s lives by all means possible. We are not to revert to the Old Testament ministry of Elijah when confronted by opposition, rather, we are to implore the mercy of God upon our opposers! We are called to be saviours who are to bring the Gospel of peace to all men, not to destroy their lives!

A fovourite passage of Scripture often quoted by those who pray destructive prayers for their enemies is the portion of the law that commands witches to be put to death:

Exodus 22:18 You shall not suffer a witch to live.

This portion of Scripture is used to justify praying for the death of those who possess the spirit of witchcraft. However, let us remember that this was part of the expired Mosaic Law which is no longer applicable to the New Testament Church. The same way we are no longer required to stone to death those who commit adultery or blaspheme God, the New Covenant in Christ does not mandate us to kill anybody to enforce God’s Word, including witches! Rather, the Gospel of Christ empowers us to deliver people from the powers of darkness, including the spirit of witchcraft, and liberate them from the bondage of Satan, so that they can come to the knowledge of God. If witches oppose the preaching of the Word or attempt to attack us, we are to bind and render their powers useless (for those who refuse to be delivered). We have the power to trample on all the powers of Satan, without praying for people to die!

Mark 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

Mark 16:18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

Luke 10:17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject to us through your name.

Luke 10:18 And he said to them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.

Luke 10:19 Behold, I give to you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.

It is important to realise the enemy we are fighting is not the flesh and blood of man. The real enemy of God and of the Gospel is Satan and other evil spirits that work under him, which blind people to spiritual truth, and possess, manipulate and use them for diabolical means.

2 Corinthians 4:3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:

2 Corinthians 4:4 In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine to them.

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brothers, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Ephesians 6:13 Why take to you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

By understanding the real enemy, we see that neutralising Satan and his subordinate spirits is what we need to do to silence their human agents. We don’t have to pray for the human agents of satan to die for us to put down their opposition to the Gospel. We just need to take authority over the evil spirits controlling rebellious people and cast them out, by the power of God!

Finally, let us understand one important fact about curses: no one can curse the person whom God has blessed. The ultimate authority to effect blessings and curses is God. If God has not cursed you, no amount of curses laid on you by people will stand!

Proverbs 26:2 As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.

Lamentations 3:37 Who is he that said, and it comes to pass, when the Lord commands it not?

Numbers 23:7 And he took up his parable, and said, Balak the king of Moab has brought me from Aram, out of the mountains of the east, saying, Come, curse me Jacob, and come, defy Israel.

Numbers 23:8 How shall I curse, whom God has not cursed? or how shall I defy, whom the LORD has not defied?

Numbers 23:20 Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he has blessed; and I cannot reverse it.

Because no curse can stick on a child of God and prosper, Christians should not be bothered about the curses and revilings of men. We should be confident that God has blessed us and no power can reverse it. We are called unto blessings, therefore let us bless and never curse. It is an aberration to use the same mouth we bless God with to curse people made in God’s image:

James 3:8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

James 3:9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.

James 3:10 Out of the same mouth proceeds blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not so to be.

James 3:11 Does a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?

James 3:12 Can the fig tree, my brothers, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.

May God help us to tame our tongues so that only blessings can proceed from us always, towards all men and women, that we may be like our Father in heaven.

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Stop That Babbling! This Is Not The Biblical Speaking In Tongues!

The gift of speaking in an unknown language or tongue was the initial manifestation of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. It caused so much amazement among those who witnessed it, resulting in Peter’s inspired sermon that led to the conversion of thousands. It was a sign that opened the door of the Gospel to the Jews, and launched the Gospel age in a powerful way.

However, there are problems with the manifestation of this gift of the Spirit in the Church today. Rather than inspire awe and wonder among unbelievers, speaking in tongues among Pentecostals and Charismatics has only provoked ridicule and scorn among the uninitiated, leading to disdain for believers and turning people away from the Gospel. What is the problem with the unknown tongues spoken in our churches today? Why is speaking in tongues causing the opposite effects of what the original gift did at Pentecost? We shall closely examine Scripture for a proper understanding of the gift of speaking in unknown tongues. This will help prevent abuse and counterfeiting of this gift, as well as regulate its proper use in the Church.

Speaking in unknown tongues (languages) is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit to the Church. This gift is the supernatural ability to speak in foreign languages one did not learn and cannot ordinarily speak or comprehend. For those who have this gift of the Holy Spirit, when the Spirit comes upon them, He gives them the utterance (or the ability) to speak fluently in these languages that are foreign to them. These are languages that are known and spoken among men. If anyone from the country where those languages are naturally spoken happens to be around, he or she would hear and understand the languages being spoken. The person would wonder in amazement at hearing his native language being spoken by a foreigner who has neither travelled to his country, nor learnt his language. That was what happened on the day of Pentecost!

The Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

The Acts 2:2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

The Acts 2:3 And there appeared to them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat on each of them.

The Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The Acts 2:5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

The Acts 2:6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

The Acts 2:7 And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?

The Acts 2:8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?

The Acts 2:9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,

The Acts 2:10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,

The Acts 2:11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.

The Acts 2:12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What means this?

From the account above, we understand that the tongues spoken by the disciples on the day of Pentecost, following the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, were languages spoken in various parts of the world. The disciples, being Jews who were all from Galilee and had not travelled out of Israel, were heard speaking languages of many different countries, by people who were natives of those countries. The languages the disciples spoke, though unknown and unlearned by them, were known languages spoken in other parts of the world. The disciples weren’t just babbling some gibberish stuff! They weren’t just reciting some incomprehensible nonsense! They were speaking other people’s languages, and people from those regions heard and understood clearly what they spoke, even if they themselves speaking the languages didn’t understand what they were speaking. Can we see the contrast between the unknown tongues that were spoken by the disciples at Pentecost and the ones spoken in our Churches today? I’m sure it’s obvious!

Another remarkable thing about the speaking in unknown tongues among the disciples on the day of Pentecost was that the utterance to speak in unknown tongues was given to them by the Holy Spirit. They spoke in tongues, not by their own will or by the prompting of men, but by the prompting of the Holy Spirit! They spoke as the Holy Spirit gave them utterance!

The Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

What this means is that, speaking in tongues, like all other gifts of the Holy Spirit, is not under human control. The gift is controlled by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit decides when to give the utterance to speak in a foreign language, not man. Just as a prophet prophesies only as he is inspired, one speaks in a foreign tongue only as he is inspired by the Holy Spirit to do so! You don’t speak in tongues on and off at will. You don’t control the gift, nor do you determine when, where and how to speak in tongue. No man, not even your pastor, can tell you to start speaking in tongues! Only the Holy Spirit can inspire and give you the utterance to speak in an unknown tongue. You can speak in a known or learned language at will. You can utter some gibberish or make noise at will, but you cannot speak in genuine unknown tongues at will. This is because every gift of the Spirit is controlled by the Holy Spirit, and is not under the wilful control of man!

2 Peter 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

That’s it! Every gift of the Spirit is activated as the Holy Spirit moves us or inspires us, not as we move ourselves. It is as the Holy Spirit gives us utterance, not as we give ourselves utterance! We do not control the Holy Spirit or the gifts he has given us. He controls and directs how his gifts are used.

1 Corinthians 12:4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.

1 Corinthians 12:6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which works all in all.

Note some important points from the passage above: the Holy Spirit gives out all the different gifts, he administers all the gifts and he operates all the them! All the gifts of the Spirit come from Holy Spirit, and he administers and operates them all! The Holy Spirit decides when, how, and where to manifest any of his gifts, including the gift of speaking in an unknown tongue! Just like a prophet cannot prophesy at will until he is commanded by the Holy Spirit to do so, you cannot begin to speak in an unknown tongue at will until the Holy Spirit inspires you to do so, if you have the gift! It’s therefore unscriptural and crazy to hear pastors order their congregation to begin to speak or pray in tongues! Unless it’s a tongue you learned and were taught, you cannot begin to speak in an unknown and unlearned tongue on your own or at your pastor’s prompting! Only the Holy Spirit can give you the utterance to speak in an unknown and unlearned tongue!

The Acts 10:44 While Peter yet spoke these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

The Acts 10:45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

The Acts 10:46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,

The Acts 10:47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

The Acts 10:48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

From the account above of the conversion of the first Gentiles to the Christian faith, we see again the manifestation of the gift of speaking in unknown tongues upon receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Again, we see the unknown tongue spoken as the gift of the Holy Spirit being a language known and understood by other people whose language it is. To the one inspired by the Holy Spirit to speak in an unknown tongue, the language is unknown. However, the language spoken is known and understood by people whose native tongue it is. Here, we see the Gentiles (probably Romans) who did not know the Hebrew language, being inspired by the Holy Spirit to praise God in Hebrew, a language they neither knew nor had been taught before. The Jewish believers heard the Gentiles who didn’t know the Hebrew language speaking and praising God in Hebrew, and they recalled and remembered their own experience on the day of Pentecost. On that day, they spoke in Gentile languages they had never learned or known, under the influence and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. And, Jews who lived in those Gentile nations heard and understood them as they praised God in their native languages. Now, the reverse was taking place here in the house of Cornelius: Gentiles were speaking an unknown Hebrew tongue under the influence of the Holy Spirit, and Jews present heard and understood what they were saying! Imagine the wonder and amazement of those Jewish believers present! They knew this had to be God! That’s what speaking in unknown tongue is supposed to do: inspire holy amazement and awe, and draw people to God! It is not the stupid repetition of some unintelligent babblings not known or understood anywhere in the world! It is not ranting like a toddler and jabbering some confused jargons. When speaking in an unknown tongue under the influence of the Holy Spirit, people speak known and recognized foreign languages that are known and spoken by people in other parts of the world, though unknown and unlearned by the speaker.

The Acts 19:1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,

The Acts 19:2 He said to them, Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed? And they said to him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.

The Acts 19:3 And he said to them, To what then were you baptized? And they said, To John’s baptism.

The Acts 19:4 Then said Paul, John truly baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.

The Acts 19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

The Acts 19:6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spoke with tongues, and prophesied.

The Acts 19:7 And all the men were about twelve.

The next recorded instance of speaking in tongues was as shown above in the 19th chapter of the book of Acts. Here again, after the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the people spoke in tongues, and also prophesied. We see speaking in tongues consistently linked with the Holy Spirit who gives the utterance. When the Spirit anoints people, he activates his gifts as he wills. No where in Scripture do we see people jumping up on their own to speak in tongues, or being commanded by Pastors to do so. It is always when the Holy Spirit comes upon people that the utterance to speak in unknown tongues is given. To speak in an unknown tongue is not under the willful control of man!

Pentecostals and Charismatics are of the opinion that every believer who is baptised with the Holy Spirit must speak in an unknown tongue as the evidence of the baptism with the Holy Spirit. They thus judge Christians who don’t speak in unknown tongues as destitute of the Spirit. Now, what’s the position of Scripture on this matter? Does every believer have to speak in unknown tongues after they have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit? From the scriptures above, we learnt that we do not control the gifts of the Spirit. We have also seen that it is the Holy Spirit that gives the utterance to speak in an unknown tongue, not man. Who speaks in an unknown tongue is therefore up to the Holy Spirit and not dependent on any man. The Spirit gives his gifts as he chooses! If he inspires everyone to speak in unknown tongues, fine. However, let’s look at Scripture to see if every believer is endowed with the gift of speaking in unknown tongues.

1 Corinthians 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

1 Corinthians 12:28 And God has set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

1 Corinthians 12:29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?

1 Corinthians 12:30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?

It is obvious from the Scriptures above that not all believers are expected to have the gift of speaking in unknown tongues, just as not all believers are apostles, prophets, teachers, workers of miracles, etc. Not everyone is expected to speak in unknown tongues! The Holy Spirit decides who to give what gift. If he hasn’t given you the gift of speaking in an unknown tongue, don’t force yourself or allow others to force you to speak some nonsense in the name of unknown tongues. Don’t impersonate speaking in tongues or any of the gifts of the Spirit! God gives his gifts as he wills.

1 Corinthians 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit with.

1 Corinthians 12:8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

1 Corinthians 12:9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

1 Corinthians 12:10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

1 Corinthians 12:11 But all these works that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

God alone determines who gets what gift of the Spirit. To one he gives the gift of prophecy, to another he gives the gift of speaking in tongues, to another the gift of interpretation of tongues, etc. Not every member of the body of Christ has the gift of speaking in unknown tongues, just like not all believers are apostles, prophets, teachers, miracle workers, etc. The Holy Spirit divides his gifts among believers as he wills. So, don’t expect every believer that is Spirit-filled to speak in unknown tongues, because not all believers have the gift of speaking in tongues!

Some people claim that speaking in tongues is the prayer language of the Spirit, and that to pray in the Spirit, one must pray in tongues. This group of people also believe that prayers said in tongues are more effective than those prayed with our understanding, as speaking in tongues confuses the devil and makes him unaware of our prayer points so that he can’t block or interfere with them. Let us look at Scripture to understand what praying in the Spirit is, since not all believers have the gift of speaking in tongues.

Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

Romans 8:27 And he that searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because he makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

From the passage above, we see that the Holy Spirit prays within the believer with groans that cannot be uttered in words. The Holy Spirit does not pray in languages of men. He is God. He speaks to the Father on our behalf without communicating in words. Deep calls unto deep. The Father who searches the heart knows what the mind of the Holy Spirit is saying, without verbal communication. So, if the Holy Spirit does not need to speak in words in his intercession for us, what then is praying in the Holy Spirit? And why do we need to pray in the Holy Spirit?

To pray in the Holy Spirit, just like to walk or live in the Spirit, is to be united in prayer with the Spirit. It means to be led and guided by the Spirit in prayer. It means not to pray in the energies of the flesh, but to rely on the strength and power of the Holy Spirit in prayer. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit as we pray, he ignites the fire of prayer in us, strengthens us as we pray and leads us to pray according to the will of God. As we pray in the Spirit, he helps our infirmities, and groans within us wordlessly. But the Father understands his groans.

The purpose of praying in the Holy Spirit is not to confuse Satan with an unknown tongue, for Satan understands all the tongues of men and of angels. There is no prayer said in any language that Satan does not understand. Rather, praying in the Holy Spirit enables us to pray according to the will of God, for the Holy Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And, only prayers that are in accordance with the will of God will receive answers from God. That’s the advantage of praying in the Holy Spirit. Praying in the Holy Spirit simply enables us to pray in the power and strength of the Holy Spirit, rather than praying carnally, without the leadership and help of the Holy Spirit. We get built up and strengthened thereby.

Jude 1:20 But you, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,

Praying in the Holy Spirit also ensures that we pray prayers that are guaranteed to be answered since the Holy Spirit intercedes for us according to the will of God:

1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he hears us:

1 John 5:15 And if we know that he hear us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

Next, we come to the issue of coordinating the speaking of unknown tongues during Church meetings. How should unknown tongues be spoken in the Church when believers gather together? Let us turn to the Apostolic writings to find out how speaking in unknown tongues is to be done in the Church.

1 Corinthians 14:2 For he that speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not to men, but to God: for no man understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.

1 Corinthians 14:4 He that speaks in an unknown tongue edifies himself; but he that prophesies edifies the church.

1 Corinthians 14:5 I would that you all spoke with tongues but rather that you prophesied: for greater is he that prophesies than he that speaks with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.

From the passage above, we understand that speaking in a tongue that no one else understands is as good as speaking to God who alone understands all languages. One can pray and praise God in a foreign unknown language, when inspired by the Holy Spirit to do so, as it happened on the day of Pentecost and at Cornelius’ house (Acts 2:11; Acts 10:46). However, unless the foreign tongue is interpreted so that others can understand what the Holy Spirit is inspiring the speaker to say, the listeners will not benefit. Whatever the speaker of an unknown tongue speaks remains a mystery, unless interpreted. In such a case, only the speaker will be edified or strengthened. The rest of the church, not understanding what was said, will not benefit.

1 Corinthians 14:13 Why let him that speaks in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.

1 Corinthians 14:14 For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.

1 Corinthians 14:15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.

1 Corinthians 14:16 Else when you shall bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupies the room of the unlearned say Amen at your giving of thanks, seeing he understands not what you say?

1 Corinthians 14:17 For you truly give thanks well, but the other is not edified.

When you are inspired by the Holy Spirit to pray in an unknown language, your spirit is praying but your understanding is unfruitful. You are praying alright, but you do not understand what you’re praying about, because you’re speaking a language you don’t understand. Praying in an unknown tongue is equivalent to praying with your spirit. However, it is not the same as praying in the Holy Spirit, which is praying as led, energised and supported by the Holy Spirit, and does not have to be in an unknown tongue. Every believer filled with the Holy Spirit can pray in the Holy Spirit, even without the gift of speaking in an unknown tongue. Because praying in an unknown tongue bypasses the human understanding, the understanding does not benefit from such prayers. The Apostle Paul enjoins those who speak and pray in unknown tongues to also pray in their understanding, for the participation of the human mind in prayer helps to strengthen faith. If you don’t know what you’re praying about, how will you know when you’ve received the answer? And how will your faith grow? Receiving definite answers to specific prayers helps faith to grow.

Now, we come to the crux of the matter: how to coordinate the gift of speaking in unknown tongues in the Church. Let us look at what Scripture has to be say about this matter.

1 Corinthians 14:26 How is it then, brothers? when you come together, every one of you has a psalm, has a doctrine, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done to edifying.

1 Corinthians 14:27 If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.

1 Corinthians 14:28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.

Speaking in unknown tongues is to be done in an orderly fashion in the Church, for those who have this gift of the Spirit. Not more than three people should speak in unknown tongues during a Church meeting, and they should do that one after the other. Every message spoken in a foreign language should be interpreted for everyone to hear and be edified. If no one has the gift of interpretation of tongues, then the speakers in unknown tongues should keep silent. This is to prevent disorderliness in the Church meetings. Despite this Apostolic rule to prevent confusion and disorder during Church meetings, we find entire Pentecostal and Charismatic churches babbling in confused tongues all at once during meetings. It is as though they are out-competing themselves to rebuild the tower of Babel. The confusion and embarrassment such scenes create are enough to discourage intelligent unbelievers from attending such meetings, because the believers present a picture of mad people in various stages of mental derangement and hysteria.

1 Corinthians 14:23 If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that you are mad?

1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

In conclusion, speaking in unknown tongues is a gift of the Holy Spirit that imbues one with the supernatural ability to speak a foreign language without prior learning. It is the gift that launched the Church on the day of Pentecost and still has the potential to awe and amaze unbelievers, and open them up for the preaching of the Gospel. However, corruption and misuse of this gift has only inspired disdain and contempt for the Church from unbelievers. Only a return to the Apostolic understanding and use of this great gift of the Spirit will clear the great mess and confusion occasioned by its abuse and misuse today.

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Understanding Prophecy (Part2)

In the first part of this study, we took an in-depth look at Scripture to examine the calling of prophets, how God speaks to them and uses them, the operation of the prophetic gift, as well as the different categories of prophecies recorded in the Bible. To conclude this study, we will now look at ways of authenticating prophets and prophecies, and also examine the various spirits that inspire and influence false prophets.

How do we differentiate between true and false prophets? Or between true and false prophecies? Kindly refer to the teaching on “How To Identify False Prophets” published earlier on this blog for details on this issue. However, let me summarise the salient facts on this issue thus: a true unconditional prophecy must come to pass if it came from God! There is no other explanation for the failure of an unconditional prophecy than that it didn’t come from God. This makes the prophecy false and the prophet’s calling questionable. No one should tell you an unconditional prophecy failed to come to pass because people failed to pray for its fulfilment, or people prayed against it. That is a big lie! An unconditional prophecy does not require any human act for its fulfilment! Whether people believed it or not, whether people prayed about it or not, it must come to pass if it came from the Almighty God! If a supposedly unconditional prophecy failed to materialise, it simply means the prophet who gave the prophecy is false and should not be feared!

Deuteronomy 18:20 But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.

Deuteronomy 18:21 And if you say in your heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?

Deuteronomy 18:22 When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken, but the prophet has spoken it presumptuously: you shall not be afraid of him.

Also, a true prophet points people towards the only true God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, rather than away from him and towards themselves and other gods. This means that a true prophet must honour and align with the written Word of God, which is the judge of the spoken Word.

Deuteronomy 13:1 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and gives you a sign or a wonder,

Deuteronomy 13:2 And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spoke to you, saying, Let us go after other gods, which you have not known, and let us serve them;

Deuteronomy 13:3 You shall not listen to the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proves you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

Deuteronomy 13:4 You shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and you shall serve him, and join to him.

Deuteronomy 13:5 And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he has spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust you out of the way which the LORD your God commanded you to walk in. So shall you put the evil away from the middle of you.

A true prophet of the New Testament must not lead people into acts and practices that are contrary to the Apostolic teachings and writings, which are the foundations of the New Testament Church. Any deviations from the Apostolic teachings and writings and a leading of people away from the original Gospel of Jesus Christ makes a prophet false! A true prophet of the New Testament must acknowledge that the original Apostolic teachings are commandments of the Lord which must not be controverted!

1 Corinthians 14:36 What? came the word of God out from you? or came it to you only?

1 Corinthians 14:37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.

1 Corinthians 14:38 But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.

In summary, the mandatory fulfilment of an unconditional prophecy and the alignment of the teachings of a prophet with the written Word and Apostolic doctrines make a prophet true, and his prophecy divinely inspired. The reverse is the case for a false prophet and for false prophecies: an unconditional prophecy fails to come to pass for whatever reasons, and the prophet has no regard or respect for the written Word of God or the Apostolic doctrines.

What we have been saying all along is that, true prophecy is inspired by the Holy Spirit. What then inspires false prophecy? What motivates people to prophesy lies and falsehood in the name of the Lord? Let us examine Scripture to look at the spirits that inspire false prophets.

1 Kings 22:19 And he said, Hear you therefore the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left.

1 Kings 22:20 And the LORD said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner.

1 Kings 22:21 And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will persuade him.

1 Kings 22:22 And the LORD said to him, With which? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, You shall persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so.

1 Kings 22:23 Now therefore, behold, the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets, and the LORD has spoken evil concerning you.

False prophets are inspired by lying or seducing spirits to speak lies in the name of the Lord. By speaking lies, they mislead and seduce people into falsehood and ultimately destruction. That was how those false prophets, inspired by lying spirits, lured King Ahab with false hope to his untimely death! Beware of false prophets who are inspired by lying spirits!

Next, false prophets may prophesy from their mind or their human spirit. They get excited in their spirits and stand up to proclaim “Thus saith the Lord”, or “I prophesy”, when the Lord has not said so. Such human inspired prophecies are usually vague, nonspecific and not directed to anyone in particular, making it difficult to hold these false prophets accountable, when the prophecies fail to materialise. Of course, because God did not speak, such “Thus saith the Lord” or “I prophesy” will not come to pass, for only what God has commanded will come to pass!

Lamentations 3:37 Who is he that said, and it comes to pass, when the Lord commands it not?

Let’s see examples of false prophets who prophesy from their human spirit in Scripture. We will see that they are usually induced by greed and covetousness to give people pleasant prophecies to satisfy their itching ears and lusts. Financial and material gains dictate their prophecies. They are motivated by the rewards of unrighteousness!

Ezekiel 13:1 And the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

Ezekiel 13:2 Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel that prophesy, and say you to them that prophesy out of their own hearts, Hear you the word of the LORD;

Ezekiel 13:3 Thus said the Lord GOD; Woe to the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!

Ezekiel 13:4 O Israel, your prophets are like the foxes in the deserts.

Ezekiel 13:5 You have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the LORD.

Ezekiel 13:6 They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The LORD said: and the LORD has not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word.

Ezekiel 13:7 Have you not seen a vain vision, and have you not spoken a lying divination, whereas you say, The LORD said it; albeit I have not spoken?

Ezekiel 13:8 Therefore thus said the Lord GOD; Because you have spoken vanity, and seen lies, therefore, behold, I am against you, said the Lord GOD.

Ezekiel 13:9 And my hand shall be on the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies: they shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel; and you shall know that I am the Lord GOD.

Ezekiel 13:10 Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and, see, others daubed it with untempered mortar:

Ezekiel 13:11 Say to them which daub it with untempered mortar, that it shall fall: there shall be an overflowing shower; and you, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall rend it.

Ezekiel 13:12 See, when the wall is fallen, shall it not be said to you, Where is the daubing with which you have daubed it?

Ezekiel 13:13 Therefore thus said the Lord GOD; I will even rend it with a stormy wind in my fury; and there shall be an overflowing shower in my anger, and great hailstones in my fury to consume it.

Ezekiel 13:14 So will I break down the wall that you have daubed with untempered mortar, and bring it down to the ground, so that the foundation thereof shall be discovered, and it shall fall, and you shall be consumed in the middle thereof: and you shall know that I am the LORD.

Ezekiel 13:15 Thus will I accomplish my wrath on the wall, and on them that have daubed it with untempered mortar, and will say to you, The wall is no more, neither they that daubed it;

Ezekiel 13:16 To wit, the prophets of Israel which prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and which see visions of peace for her, and there is no peace, said the Lord GOD.

Ezekiel 13:17 Likewise, you son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people, which prophesy out of their own heart; and prophesy you against them,

Ezekiel 13:18 And say, Thus said the Lord GOD; Woe to the women that sew pillows to all armholes, and make kerchiefs on the head of every stature to hunt souls! Will you hunt the souls of my people, and will you save the souls alive that come to you?

Ezekiel 13:19 And will you pollute me among my people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, to slay the souls that should not die, and to save the souls alive that should not live, by your lying to my people that hear your lies?

Ezekiel 13:20 Why thus said the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against your pillows, with which you there hunt the souls to make them fly, and I will tear them from your arms, and will let the souls go, even the souls that you hunt to make them fly.

Ezekiel 13:21 Your kerchiefs also will I tear, and deliver my people out of your hand, and they shall be no more in your hand to be hunted; and you shall know that I am the LORD.

Ezekiel 13:22 Because with lies you have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life:

Ezekiel 13:23 Therefore you shall see no more vanity, nor divine divinations: for I will deliver my people out of your hand: and you shall know that I am the LORD.

Nowadays, behind almost all Pentecostal pulpits, it has become fashionable to hear preachers “prophesying” blessings and prosperity to everybody, and enjoining all to scream a loud “Amen!” to claim the “prophesied” blessings. The words “I prophesy” are used to precede declarations of blessings to the congregations, who will all jump to receive such prophetic declarations. Now, what these preachers are doing is not prophesying! They are wishing blessings upon the people. It would have been fine if they had either just prayed for these blessings upon the people or wished the people well. It is scriptural to wish above all things that your congregation prosper and be in health as their souls prosper (3 John 1:2). However, to presume to prophesy in the name of the Lord over the people just to please them, when the Lord has not specifically mandated you to do so, is not only deceitful and unscriptural, it is a great display of ignorance of how the Spirit of prophecy works. It amounts to speaking for God when God has not spoken! It is presumption of the highest order, claiming to bring forth a “Thus saith the Lord” when the Lord has not said anything. That’s being a false prophet!

Finally, let us look at an important safeguard for believers against false prophecy and false prophets: the need to judge all prophets and prophecies before believing and accepting them. Scripture warns us to try all spirits because many false prophets are in the world. Unless we try and test them diligently, we risk being deceived, duped and devoured. Don’t believe any prophetic message to be from God until you have judged both the message and the messenger to be of the Lord!

1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

1 John 4:2 Hereby know you the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:

1 John 4:3 And every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof you have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

1 Corinthians 14:29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.

1 Corinthians 14:30 If any thing be revealed to another that sits by, let the first hold his peace.

1 Corinthians 14:31 For you may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.

There are many false prophets out there in the world today. For this reason, we should not accept prophets without trying or testing them first. How do you test a prophet or any man of God for that matter? First, compare the words they preach or prophesy with the written Word. Does their teaching or prophecy agree with the general principles of the written Word or do they violate or go contrary to the written Word? Is what they are saying in agreement with the Apostolic teachings or against them? If such teachings or prophecies are contrary to the written Word and Apostolic teachings, then they are not of God and should be disregarded. They are false. Next, observe the fruits of their lives and ministries. Do their character, behaviour and lifestyles align with the fruits of the Spirit or do they align with the works of the flesh? By their fruits you should know whether they are Holy Spirit filled and inspired or just carnal men inspired by lying spirits and motivated by greed and covetousness.

Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

Matthew 7:16 You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

Matthew 7:17 Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit.

Matthew 7:18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

Matthew 7:19 Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Matthew 7:20 Why by their fruits you shall know them.

Matthew 7:21 Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works?

Matthew 7:23 And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.

In conclusion, the prophetic gift is still operational in the Church today, as promised in Scripture. It is however full of counterfeit and must be carefully assessed and evaluated before it is believed, so that we don’t get deceived or led astray. True prophecy emanates from the Holy Spirit, and and not from the human mind, and therefore does not fail, for God cannot fail or lie. The word of God released from God’s mouth will not return back to him void without accomplishing what it was intended to accomplish.

Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: has he said, and shall he not do it? or has he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

Isaiah 55:10 For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and returns not thither, but waters the earth, and makes it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:

Isaiah 55:11 So shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth: it shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

To stay safe from false prophets and the havoc they cause, be guided by the Holy Spirit and be grounded in the Written Word of God!

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