Jesus Commands Those He Has Saved To Stop Sinning!

(All Bible quotations, except otherwise stated, are from the New International Version).

We’re told in the Scriptures that Jesus Christ came to save his people from their sins. In fact, his name Yehshua means saviour or salvation in the Hebrew. His coming is to deliver his people from both the guilt, penalty and power of sin. He came to set men free from the bondage of sin, as well as to give those who believe in him the power to become children of God. Thus, we see Jesus forgiving people their sins and warning them never to go back again to a lifestyle of sinning. This means that those who are saved by Jesus are supposed to stop living deliberately sinful lives!

John 5:1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

John 5:2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches.

John 5:3 In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water.

John 5:4 For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.

John 5:5 Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years.

John 5:6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”

John 5:7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”

John 5:8 Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”

John 5:9 And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.
And that day was the Sabbath.

John 5:10 The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.”

John 5:11 He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your bed and walk.’”

John 5:12 Then they asked him, “Who is the Man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?”

John 5:13 But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place.

John 5:14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” (NKJV).

John 8:1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

John 8:2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them.

John 8:3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst

John 8:4 they said to him, Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery.

John 8:5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?

John 8:6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.

John 8:7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.

John 8:8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.

John 8:9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.

John 8:10 Jesus stood up and said to her, Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?

John 8:11 She said, No one, Lord. And Jesus said, Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.]]

It’s instructive to note that in both cases above, Jesus warned the people he saved and pardoned to stop sinning. To the man who had been paralysed for 38 years, Jesus admonished him to stop sinning, otherwise something worse than what he had experienced would happen to him. To the woman caught in adultery, he forgave her, refused to condemn her to death by stoning, but admonished her to stop that sinful lifestyle. God is holy, and he expects his children to be holy even as he is. Jesus delivers and saves people from sin, but he also empowers them so that they would become holy and flee from sin. He requires us to use the grace and the resources he’s made available to us to purge and separate ourselves from ungodliness in this present world. He will only make use of those of his children who purge themselves and abstain from iniquity, while discarding those who continually and habitually live a life of sin. Don’t be deceived! God cannot be mocked. Whatever a person sows, that’s what he will reap. If you sow to the flesh, you will reap destruction. If you sow to the Spirit, you will reap everlasting life.

1 Peter 1:13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.

1 Peter 1:14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.

1 Peter 1:15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;

1 Peter 1:16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

1 Peter 1:17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear.

1 Peter 1:18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors,

1 Peter 1:19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

2 Timothy 2:19 Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”

2 Timothy 2:20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use.

2 Timothy 2:21 Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

2 Timothy 2:22 Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

Galatians 6:8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

Romans 8:5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

Romans 8:6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.

Romans 8:7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.

Romans 8:8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

Romans 8:9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.

Romans 8:10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.

Romans 8:11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

Romans 8:12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation —but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it.

Romans 8:13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

Romans 8:14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

Hebrews 10:26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left,

Hebrews 10:27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

Hebrews 10:28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.

Hebrews 10:29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?

Hebrews 10:30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.”

Hebrews 10:31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

In conclusion, Jesus not only forgives and saves people from sins, he demands also that they stop sinning after their deliverance. Contrary to some liberal theologians who teach that a righteous walk is not a necessary requirement of the saved Christian, Jesus makes it abundantly clear that those he has saved from the condemnation of sin should stop sinning. He expects them to live a holy and a sanctified life henceforth, because he himself is holy. The believer is expected to purge himself from the desires and lusts of the flesh in order to have a fruitful walk with God. That’s the only way we can be vessels of honour fitted for good works.

When Prophetic Predictions Don’t Come To Pass, There Should Be Consequences: A Review Of Prophecies Concerning The US Presidential Election And The Need For Responsibility And Accountability In The Prophetic Ministry.

(All Bible quotations, except otherwise stated, are from the English Standard Version).

Lamentations 3:37 Who can speak and it will happen
if the Lord has not commanded it? (LEB).

The 2020 US Presidential election may have come and gone, but a bad taste still lingers in the mouth of some Christians who had relied on prophecies of prominent men of God to predict the re-election of Donald Trump as US President for another four years. Trump lost the election by a wide margin (both in the electoral college and popular votes), contrary to numerous prophecies of victory that went forth in Evangelical circles, and Joe Biden is now the 46th President of the US, having been sworn in on the 20th of January 2021.

This article does not seek to rehash the legality or desirability of the outcome of the just concluded US Presidential election.The focus here is on the prophecies concerning the election that failed to materialise, and the need to hold prophets accountable for failed prophecies. This is to ensure responsibility and accountability in ministry, as well as restrain the vain and frivolous use of God’s name in political permutations and psychological manipulations of Christians. Auditing of prophets and prophecies is needed to protect believers from false prophets and false prophecies, as well as to shield the Church from ridicule.

In the Scriptures, God warned his people against the consultation of mediums and other satanic agents for fortune-telling or divination, promising to send to his people prophets who would guide them in the divine will. God equally showed his people how to differentiate between true and false prophets. To know whether or not a prophet is speaking for God, we’re enjoined in the Scriptures to keep our eyes on the prophet’s prophecies and watch closely for their fulfilment, aside from scrutinising the fruits of the prophet’s life. If God really spoke through that prophet, whatever they prophesied must come to pass, for God cannot lie nor can his words fail to materialise or accomplish their purpose. It’s just impossible! This litmus test for prophets is as prescribed by God himself in the book of Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy 18:13 You shall be blameless before the LORD your God,

Deuteronomy 18:14 for these nations, which you are about to dispossess, listen to fortune-tellers and to diviners. But as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you to do this.

Deuteronomy 18:15 The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—

Deuteronomy 18:16 just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.

Deuteronomy 18:17 And the LORD said to me, They are right in what they have spoken.

Deuteronomy 18:18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.

Deuteronomy 18:19 And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.

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

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

Deuteronomy 18:22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.

Numbers 23:19 God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

Hebrews 6:17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath,

Hebrews 6:18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.

Isaiah 55:10 For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,

Isaiah 55:11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Thus, if a prophecy fails to come to pass, not only are we to conclude that God didn’t speak through whoever gave the prophecy, we’re also not to fear or revere such a person as a prophet of God! That’s pretty harsh, isn’t it? But that’s what God himself said in his word! If someone claims to speak in the name of the Lord, and the thing he prophesied failed to materialise the way he said it would, there’s no acceptable rationalisation to justify it. There’s no other conclusion to draw from it than that God did not speak through the medium that claimed divine revelation. It’s either the person spoke from his own mind while presuming to speak for/from God, or he was inspired by a lying spirit that he mistook for the Holy Spirit. Either way, such a person has made God a liar (God forbid!), and needs to be sanctioned appropriately!

To let such misguided prophets off the hook, some have argued that a divinely inspired prophecy may fail to come to pass if the people to whom it was given failed to back it up with prayer, or Satan could abort a prophecy by resisting or undermining it. In the case of the numerous prophecies concerning the 2020 US Presidential election that failed in their prediction of Donald Trump’s re-election, such people have claimed the opposition stole the election, thus subverting the divine will and making divinely inspired prophecies to fail to materialise. That’s ridiculous in whatever way we choose to look at it. First, for this ludicrous explanation to be believed, it has to be accepted that the Holy Spirit didn’t see “the stealing” of the election coming, and so couldn’t factor that in the final predicted outcome! Or that the Holy Spirit couldn’t prevent “the rigging” of the election that would undermine the prophecy he had given! Either way, it would make the Holy Spirit to appear not to see far enough into the future, to have failed to see the steal, or to be powerless in preventing Satan and his agents from undermining or subverting the will of God.

That’s utter nonsense! If there was going to be an attempt to steal the election, the Holy Spirit would have known and the election prophets should have prophesied of it alongside other election prophecies, if they were inspired by the Holy Spirit. That the prophets who prophesied of Trump’s election victory didn’t see “the stealing of the votes” simply means that they were blinded to that fact (if it really occurred) and so couldn’t have been inspired by the omniscient and all-seeing Holy Spirit (of course, there is no legal evidence of a stolen election, as no such proof was presented in court in some 60 cases filed by the Trump team and associates). For these prophets not to prophesy before hand of the circumstances that would lead to Trump not being re-elected despite “winning” means they were not led by the Holy Spirit in their prediction. What a grievous offence it is to presume to speak for God when God has not spoken!

If a prophet was divinely inspired to give a prophecy and God later changed his mind to give a counter prophecy on the same issue (following some changes in circumstances which necessitated the first prophecy), the same prophet will be sent back to carry the revised prophecy to the target audience before it happens, to show that even the modification to the original prophecy came from God, way before it happens! We see the examples of that scenario with Prophet Elijah/ King Ahab, and Prophet Isaiah/ King Hezekiah.

1 Kings 21:17 Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,

1 Kings 21:18 Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who is in Samaria; behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to take possession.

1 Kings 21:19 And you shall say to him, Thus says the LORD, Have you killed and also taken possession? And you shall say to him, Thus says the LORD: In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick your own blood.

1 Kings 21:20 Ahab said to Elijah, Have you found me, O my enemy? He answered, I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the LORD.

1 Kings 21:21 Behold, I will bring disaster upon you. I will utterly burn you up, and will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel.

1 Kings 21:22 And I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the anger to which you have provoked me, and because you have made Israel to sin.

1 Kings 21:23 And of Jezebel the LORD also said, The dogs shall eat Jezebel within the walls of Jezreel.

1 Kings 21:24 Anyone belonging to Ahab who dies in the city the dogs shall eat, and anyone of his who dies in the open country the birds of the heavens shall eat.

1 Kings 21:25 ( There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the LORD like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited.

1 Kings 21:26 He acted very abominably in going after idols, as the Amorites had done, whom the LORD cast out before the people of Israel.)

1 Kings 21:27 And when Ahab heard those words, he tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his flesh and fasted and lay in sackcloth and went about dejectedly.

1 Kings 21:28 And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,

1 Kings 21:29 Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days; but in his son’s days I will bring the disaster upon his house.

2 Kings 20:1 In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, Thus says the LORD, Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.

2 Kings 20:2 Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, saying,

2 Kings 20:3 Now, O LORD, please remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight. And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

2 Kings 20:4 And before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the LORD came to him:

2 Kings 20:5 Turn back, and say to Hezekiah the leader of my people, Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the LORD,

2 Kings 20:6 and I will add fifteen years to your life. I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and I will defend this city for my own sake and for my servant David’s sake.

2 Kings 20:7 And Isaiah said, Bring a cake of figs. And let them take and lay it on the boil, that he may recover.

2 Kings 20:8 And Hezekiah said to Isaiah, What shall be the sign that the LORD will heal me, and that I shall go up to the house of the LORD on the third day?

2 Kings 20:9 And Isaiah said, This shall be the sign to you from the LORD, that the LORD will do the thing that he has promised: shall the shadow go forward ten steps, or go back ten steps?

2 Kings 20:10 And Hezekiah answered, It is an easy thing for the shadow to lengthen ten steps. Rather let the shadow go back ten steps.

2 Kings 20:11 And Isaiah the prophet called to the LORD, and he brought the shadow back ten steps, by which it had gone down on the steps of Ahaz.

It’s not unChristian to desire and root for one’s preferred candidate to win in an election. It’s okay to pray and even fast for such a person to come out victorious. However, to presume to prophesy a victory for such a candidate because one feels so strongly about his candidacy is to attempt to force God to support one’s candidate by dragging God’s name into the political fray. Attempting to convert a personal or group desire into divine desire is to seek to bend God’s will to conform to ours. That’s literally trying to cajole God into supporting our position, rather than seeking God’s will and aligning ourselves to it! If this isn’t taking the name of God in vain, I wonder what is! Prophecy is hearing from God’s mouth and speaking thereafter in his name, and not speaking presumptuously from our frenzied minds and attaching God’s name to it to give it divine backing! There are consequences to such presumptuous prophesying!

Ezekiel 3:10 Moreover, he said to me, Son of man, all my words that I shall speak to you receive in your heart, and hear with your ears.

Ezekiel 3:11 And go to the exiles, to your people, and speak to them and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD, whether they hear or refuse to hear.

Ezekiel 3:17 Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me.

Ezekiel 37:4 Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!

Ezekiel 37:7 So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone (NKJV).

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 who prophesy, and say to those who prophesy out of their own heart, ‘Hear the word of the Lord!’”

Ezekiel 13:3 Thus says the Lord God: “Woe to the foolish prophets, who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing!

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

Ezekiel 13:5 You have not gone up into the gaps to build a wall for the house of Israel to stand in battle on the day of the Lord.

Ezekiel 13:6 They have envisioned futility and false divination, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord!’ But the Lord has not sent them; yet they hope that the word may be confirmed.

Ezekiel 13:7 Have you not seen a futile vision, and have you not spoken false divination? You say, ‘The Lord says,’ but I have not spoken.”

Ezekiel 13:8 Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Because you have spoken nonsense and envisioned lies, therefore I am indeed against you,” says the Lord God.

Ezekiel 13:9 “My hand will be against the prophets who envision futility and who divine lies; they shall not be in the assembly of My people, nor be written in the record of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord God.

Ezekiel 13:10 “Because, indeed, because they have seduced My people, saying, ‘Peace!’ when there is no peace—and one builds a wall, and they plaster it with untempered mortar—

Ezekiel 13:11 say to those who plaster it with untempered mortar, that it will fall. There will be flooding rain, and you, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall tear it down.

Ezekiel 13:12 Surely, when the wall has fallen, will it not be said to you, ‘Where is the mortar with which you plastered it?’”

Ezekiel 13:13 Therefore thus says the Lord God: “I will cause a stormy wind to break forth in My fury; and there shall be a flooding rain in My anger, and great hailstones in fury to consume it.

Ezekiel 13:14 So I will break down the wall you have plastered with untempered mortar, and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation will be uncovered; it will fall, and you shall be consumed in the midst of it. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.

Ezekiel 13:15 “Thus will I accomplish My wrath on the wall and on those who have plastered it with untempered mortar; and I will say to you, ‘The wall is no more, nor those who plastered it,

Ezekiel 13:16 that is, the prophets of Israel who prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and who see visions of peace for her when there is no peace,’” says the Lord God.

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

Ezekiel 13:18 and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Woe to the women who sew magic charms on their sleeves and make veils for the heads of people of every height to hunt souls! Will you hunt the souls of My people, and keep yourselves alive?

Ezekiel 13:19 And will you profane Me among My people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, killing people who should not die, and keeping people alive who should not live, by your lying to My people who listen to lies?”

Ezekiel 13:20 ‘Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I am against your magic charms by which you hunt souls there like birds. I will tear them from your arms, and let the souls go, the souls you hunt like birds.

Ezekiel 13:21 I will also tear off your veils and deliver My people out of your hand, and they shall no longer be as prey in your hand. Then 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 you have strengthened the hands of the wicked, so that he does not turn from his wicked way to save his life.

Ezekiel 13:23 Therefore you shall no longer envision futility nor practice divination; for I will deliver My people out of your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”’” (NKJV).

Finally, there is the need to call out prophets whose prophecies failed to materialise and sanction them appropriately. They should own up that those prophecies didn’t come from God and stop hedging about and manufacturing more lies to cover the initial lie, which is adding iniquity to iniquity. That is arrogance and being more concerned about their personal name and reputation than the name of the Lord which they’ve brought into disrepute. Such prophets should come out openly and apologise for their errors and make it clear to the same group of people they prophesied to that they got it wrong. Maybe their human spirits moved them to pronounce “thus saith the Lord” when God did not speak, or a lying spirit filled their mouths to do so, like it did to Ahab’s prophets who lured him to his death at Ramoth-Gilead while promising him victory in battle. Instead of the resounding victory prophesied for him, King Ahab was killed at the battle of Ramoth-Gilead, and never had the opportunity to confront those false prophets about their false prophecy of victory in battle (thank God Trump is alive to demand answers from his own prophets).

1 Kings 22:19 And Micaiah said, Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left;

1 Kings 22:20 and the LORD said, Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead? And one said one thing, and another said another.

1 Kings 22:21 Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, saying, I will entice him.

1 Kings 22:22 And the LORD said to him, By what means? And he said, I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out 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; the LORD has declared disaster for you.

1 Kings 22:24 Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah came near and struck Micaiah on the cheek and said, How did the Spirit of the LORD go from me to speak to you?

1 Kings 22:25 And Micaiah said, Behold, you shall see on that day when you go into an inner chamber to hide yourself.

1 Kings 22:26 And the king of Israel said, Seize Micaiah, and take him back to Amon the governor of the city and to Joash the king’s son,

1 Kings 22:27 and say, Thus says the king, Put this fellow in prison and feed him meager rations of bread and water, until I come in peace.

1 Kings 22:28 And Micaiah said, If you return in peace, the LORD has not spoken by me. And he said, Hear, all you peoples!

Whether Trump’s prophets prophesied from their deluded human spirits or were inspired by lying spirits, they misrepresented God and dishonoured his name in the process, and should repent and publicly acknowledge the great injury they caused to Christ and his body. Next, such prophets should subject themselves to in-house scrutiny and have their subsequent prophecies thoroughly vetted by other more mature prophets and Christians before they are released into the public domain. Subjecting themselves to such accountability is the only way to acknowledge and repair the great damage they’ve done to the name of the Lord and to the Church, through their presumptuous prophecies.

1 Corinthians 14:29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said.

In conclusion, the false prophecies given out during the 2020 US Presidential election concerning the re-election of Donald Trump that failed to materialise did a lot of damage to the integrity of the prophetic ministry as well as the image of Christianity in general. To clear up the mess that resulted therefrom and to prevent such scandalous practice from happening again, we need to hold those prophets accountable and make them own up that their prophecies were false and that they didn’t hear from God on that issue, for no genuine prophecy inspired by the Holy Spirit would fail, for God cannot lie. Only by a humble acknowledgment of prophesying outside of the divine will can such prophets remove God’s name from their mess and take responsibility for their failed prophecies. Not to do so and to keep churning out lies to justify their failed prophecies is to add iniquity to iniquity, which is rebellion.

The Test Of True Spirituality Is In The Fruits Of The Spirit On Display In An Individual’s Life, Not In The Gifts Of The Spirit Manifested By A Person

(All Bible quotations, except otherwise stated, are from the New King James Version).

Oftentimes, people use the spiritual gifts a person has in judging the person’s standing with God. Thus, the more gifted and anointed a man or a woman is, the more spiritual they are thought to be, while lesser talented and lesser gifted persons are judged to be less spiritual in their walk with God. How does the Bible advise we test people’s spirituality or genuineness? Is the possession of gifts and talents sufficient grounds for determining who is spiritual and who is not? We shall examine the Scriptures to answer these questions.

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

Matthew 7:16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?

Matthew 7:17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.

Matthew 7:18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.

Matthew 7:19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Matthew 7:20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.

Matthew 7:22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’

Matthew 7:23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

In the passage above, the Lord Jesus gave us the litmus test for ascertaining true spirituality. According to the Lord, to know how spiritual or genuine a person is, look at the fruits of their lives! The fruits of a tree (not its leaves or trunk or branches) are used to identify the tree. In like manner, the truly spiritual are known by the fruits of the Spirit in their lives, and not by the gifts of the Spirit they possess. A prophet or a man of God may prophesy accurately and do mighty signs and wonders in Jesus’ name (all gifts of the Spirit) but, if the fruits of his life do not align with the fruits of the Spirit, then he is either false or carnal (unspiritual). It’s as simple as that! The gifts of the Spirit can be operated by both spiritual and carnal people. However, the fruits of the Spirit are only displayed by those who are spiritually-minded and have, through the Spirit, mortified the lusts of the flesh. A man may have the gifts of the Spirit and still be carnally-minded and live a life of lawlessness; however, to manifest the fruits of the Spirit, one must abide in Christ and walk in the Spirit. Someone who operates the gifts of the Spirit can end up being rejected of the Lord and sent to hell; however, one who lives by the Spirit and bears the fruits of righteousness will receive the blessings and approval of God.

John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.

John 15:2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

John 15:3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.

John 15:4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

John 15:6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.

John 15:7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.

John 15:8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

In his letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul compared gifts of the Spirit with the ultimate fruit of the Spirit, love, and came to the conclusion that a man may possess all the gifts of the Spirit and end up as nothing, while a man who has and manifests the love of God (the ultimate fruit of the Spirit) in his life will trump all and abide eternally. Prophecy, tongues, knowledge, acts of charity, faith, wisdom and other gifts of the Spirit, as good as they are, may profit the one who possesses them nothing, if they lack the fruits of the Spirit. People may do mighty signs and wonders in the name of the Lord, prophesy accurately in his name, heal the sick and raise the dead, and even speak in the tongues of angels, yet, if they lack the fruits of the Spirit, it will all amount to nothing!

1 Corinthians 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.

1 Corinthians 13:2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

1 Corinthians 13:3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

1 Corinthians 13:8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.

1 Corinthians 13:9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part.

1 Corinthians 13:10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

1 Corinthians 13:13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

The gifts of God are without repentance or recall. This means that once God has released his gift to a person, he doesn’t recall them back even if the gift is being misused. Gifts and talents given to people by God will be judged at the end of our life’s journey. Thus, gifts cannot be the only means to judge or validate a person or a ministry as being right with God. Because the bearer of a spiritual gift may live an ungodly life and still manifest the gift (recall the story of Samson who, even after sleeping with a prostitute, would still have the anointing come upon him for exploits), and because even messengers of Satan can be anointed to manifest almost all the gifts of the Spirit, Christians must be careful not to make the mistake of using gifts only to judge people as being of God or not. More importantly, we must take the pains to look for the evidence of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in the lives and ministries of servants of God before we conclude they are of God. Unless we follow this scriptural injunction in testing people and ministries, we will definitely be misled! Many false prophets and false teachers are out there in the world performing great signs and wonders that are capable of deceiving even the elects of God! The only way to unveil such messengers of Satan who are masquerading as servants of God is to look beyond their gifts and screen them for the fruits of the Holy Spirit! Though they may have an abundance of “signs and wonders” in their ministries, such false ministers will be destitute of the fruits of the Spirit! That’s the only way to unmask them and show that they are of their father the devil!

Romans 11:29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

Matthew 24:24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

2 Corinthians 11:12 But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast.

2 Corinthians 11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.

2 Corinthians 11:15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.

2 Thessalonians 2:7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.

2 Thessalonians 2:8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.

2 Thessalonians 2:9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders,

2 Thessalonians 2:10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

2 Thessalonians 2:11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie,

2 Thessalonians 2:12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Revelation 16:13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.

Revelation 16:14 For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

Galatians 5:23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

Galatians 5:24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Galatians 5:25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Galatians 5:26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Ephesians 5:8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light

Ephesians 5:9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth),

Ephesians 5:10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.

Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.

Ephesians 5:12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.

Ephesians 5:13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.

In conclusion, the gifts of the Spirit are wonderful endowments of the Holy Spirit to display the power of God in the lives and ministries of believers. However, the presence of the gifts of the Spirit does not automatically make a person spiritual or in right standing with God. Gifts can be misused and can be counterfeited by Satan. Therefore, we must look beyond gifts of the Spirit in judging someone’s spirituality. In seeking to know who is approved of God and who is not, we must look beyond gifts of the Spirit and look out for the fruits of the Spirit. It is by the fruits of the Spirit that we know genuine servants of God, not by their gifts. Gifts of the Spirit can be counterfeited, but no one can successfully fake the fruits of the Spirit who is not abiding in Christ!

God’s Concept Of Pure And Faultless Religion Isn’t Just Keeping Oneself From Spiritual Pollution; It Also involves Looking Out For The Poor And The Needy!

(All Bible Quotations, Except Otherwise Stated, Are From The New International Version).

James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

The Apostle James summarised one of the qualities of pure and undefiled religion in the verse of his epistle quoted above as involving acts of charity towards the poor and needy. Religion is not just a measure of our relationship with God whom we’ve not seen. It’s also a reflection of our relationship with our fellow men and women whom we see and interact with on a daily basis. We cannot claim to love God whom we’ve not seen, while ignoring and neglecting sons and daughters of God whom we see daily. To claim to love God while despising our fellow men is incongruent with the principle of true religion.

1 John 4:20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

1 John 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

1 John 3:17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?

1 John 3:18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

The greatest religious commandment is to love God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our mind. The second is to love our neighbours as ourselves. On these two commandments revolve the entire Bible. And our neighbours aren’t just the people next door to us that look like us. They’re not just those in our religious assemblies, neighbourhoods, social clubs or political parties, with whom we agree. The man with whom we disagree politically, doctrinally and socially is also our neighbour. The woman with a different skin colour, “funny name” and a gibberish language that doesn’t make sense to us is also our neighbour. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, the Lord Jesus made us realise that every human being (no matter their ethnic background, religious affiliation, social standing or political philosophy) is our neighbour. Anyone made in God’s image and likeness is our neighbour. It’s okay to support those close to us and to assist those in our immediate surroundings who are in need, for piety should begin at home (1Timothy 5:4-8). And if we all can lend a helping hand to just one person in need around us, we’d be surprised how many poor and needy people will be lifted out of distress and trouble. We’d be surprised at the total number of people that will rise above the tide of poverty and despair.

St. Matthew 22:34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.

St. Matthew 22:35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:

St. Matthew 22:36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

St. Matthew 22:37 Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’

St. Matthew 22:38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

St. Matthew 22:39 And the second is like it: ’Love your neighbor as yourself.’

St. Matthew 22:40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Romans 13:8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.

Romans 13:9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Romans 13:10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

St. Luke 10:25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

St. Luke 10:26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

St. Luke 10:27 He answered, “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ ; and, ’Love your neighbor as yourself.’ “

St. Luke 10:28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

St. Luke 10:29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

St. Luke 10:30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.

St. Luke 10:31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.

St. Luke 10:32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

St. Luke 10:33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.

St. Luke 10:34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.

St. Luke 10:35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ’Look after him,’ he said, ’and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

St. Luke 10:36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

St. Luke 10:37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

True religion is not tested by how much good we do to those who do good to us. It’s not measured by how much we help people in our clique, caucus or comfort zone. If we help only those who help us, we’ve not done anything more than the infidels around us, for they do the same. If we do good only to people we expect good in return, we haven’t done anything of eternal value. If we give expecting something in return, we haven’t sown eternal seeds worthy of eternal rewards. If we want to touch lives in ways that touch God, we should look out for people in real need who can’t ever repay us and make an impact in their lives. When we help such poor and downtrodden people who can’t ever repay us, we’re literally lending to God. When we give expecting nothing in return, we’re sowing eternal seeds that will yield eternal rewards. God is well pleased with such sacrifices!

St. Matthew 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ’Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’

St. Matthew 5:44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

St. Matthew 5:45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

St. Matthew 5:46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?

St. Matthew 5:47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?

St. Matthew 5:48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

St. Luke 14:12 Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid.

St. Luke 14:13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,

St. Luke 14:14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Hebrews 13:1 Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.

Hebrews 13:2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

Hebrews 13:16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Some may argue that to help the poor and needy is socialism and a disservice to the Protestant work ethics. Such people may consider all poor and needy people as lazy and indolent people with an entitlement mentality. It’s true that some capable and able-bodied people who find themselves at the low rung of life’s ladder have only themselves to blame, for failing to take hold of opportunities that came their way, and for failing to engage themselves in dignified labour (even if mean and lowly) so as to take care of themselves and others around them. The Bible warns such people who would not work (when they can) not to expect to eat (2Thessalonians 3:10). God doesn’t condone laziness and slothfulness, and he expects able-bodied people to work diligently and to eat from the sweat of their brow. However, there are some people who are physically and mentally challenged and disadvantaged in life who genuinely need help. There are some that life has dealt a cruel blow, who’ve been hit hard by the vicissitudes of life. There are those whose lives have been unravelled literally by unexpected and unplanned calamities, who are down and out in the cold. Unless they get a helping hand to pull them back on their feet again, they may never rise from the heavy blow that misfortune has dealt them. The hands of God to lift up such downtrodden and downcast souls are yours and mine. The God such people expect to bail them out are people like you and I that have enough to eat and to spare. To pray for such people to be clothed and to be filled, while making no attempt to clothe and feed them is to make a mockery of true religion. That’s making a mockery of faith.

James 2:14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?

James 2:15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.

James 2:16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?

James 2:17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

James 2:18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.

James 2:19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that —and shudder.

James 2:20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless ?

James 2:21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?

James 2:22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.

James 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.

James 2:24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

James 2:25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?

James 2:26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

From Genesis to Revelation, we see God passionately involved in the cause of the poor and needy. The Law and the Prophets are filled with divine concerns for the poor, the needy and the downtrodden. The social safety nets provided in the Scriptures for the poor among God’s people (and even for needy foreigners!) would make some people almost think God was a socialist! From mandating a day of rest for menial workers and labourers every week, to advocating fair and prompt wages, to mandating food stamps (storehouses in the house of God) for the poor and needy and strangers in the land, God made it abundantly clear how concerned he was about the lot of the poor. He takes it personal when they’re oppressed and exploited or not paid a prompt, fair wage for a decent job. He threatens vengeance against all those subduing and ignoring the poor. Yes, God encourages people to work hard and be industrious, yet he acknowledges there will be some poor and needy ones among us at all times, and we must be compassionate and empathetic to their cause. We must not disdain or reproach the poor, for that would be directly insulting their Maker.

Leviticus 19:9 “’When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest.

Leviticus 19:10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the LORD your God.

Deuteronomy 24:17 Do not deprive the foreigner or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge.

Deuteronomy 24:18 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you from there. That is why I command you to do this.

Deuteronomy 24:19 When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.

Deuteronomy 24:20 When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow.

Deuteronomy 24:21 When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow.

Deuteronomy 24:22 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt. That is why I command you to do this.

Deuteronomy 14:28 At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns,

Deuteronomy 14:29 so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.

Malachi 3:8 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ’How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings.

Malachi 3:9 You are under a curse —your whole nation —because you are robbing me.

Malachi 3:10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.

Malachi 3:11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the LORD Almighty.

Malachi 3:12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty.

Proverbs 19:17 Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.

Proverbs 14:31 Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

Proverbs 17:5 Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker; whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished.

Leviticus 19:13 “’Do not defraud or rob your neighbor. “’Do not hold back the wages of a hired worker overnight.

Malachi 3:5 “So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the LORD Almighty.

We will always have the poor among us, that much was prophesied by none other than the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. And, we should never waste the opportunity of blessing the poor whenever that comes our way. In fact, we shouldn’t wait for the opportunity to come to us- we should go out of our way to look for and bless the poor. The Gospel is particularly targeted at the poor, and we should never forget that. The Lord and his original Apostles made that clear to us, and Peter, James and John made sure Paul understood that as he headed off to minister to the Gentiles (which thing Paul himself had been inclined to do). May we not forget the poor as we practise our religion, as that would dent the quality of our religion before God.

St. Matthew 26:11 The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.

St. Luke 4:16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read,

St. Luke 4:17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

St. Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,

St. Luke 4:19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Galatians 2:1 Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also.

Galatians 2:2 I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain.

Galatians 2:3 Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek.

Galatians 2:4 This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves.

Galatians 2:5 We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.

Galatians 2:6 As for those who were held in high esteem —whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not show favoritism —they added nothing to my message.

Galatians 2:7 On the contrary, they recognized that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised.

Galatians 2:8 For God, who was at work in Peter as an apostle to the circumcised, was also at work in me as an apostle to the Gentiles.

Galatians 2:9 James, Cephas and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised.

Galatians 2:10 All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.

In conclusion, true piety is not limited to loving God alone; pure and undefiled religion also involves loving our neighbours as ourselves. And, love of neighbour must be demonstrated by caring for all, especially the poor and the needy. To neglect the poor and needy in our midst while claiming to love God is a mockery of faith. God loves and cares for all his children, but especially the poor and stragglers among us. There has always been a social safety net for the poor in God’s scheme, and we are the ones enjoined by Scriptures to ensure and enforce that. To look the other way at the plight of the needy when it’s within our means to help is to act like the hypocritical Priest and Levite towards the wounded traveller in the parable of the Good Samaritan. We cannot claim to love God while ignoring and despising the poor of his children. To reproach the poor is to reproach his maker. That is the Gospel truth.

God bless you for visiting and for reading!

Christian Sanctification Is Not Sinless Perfection- It’s Sinning Less And Less As We Become More And More Like Jesus

(All Bible quotations, except otherwise stated, are from the New Revised Standard Version)

The Christian life is a relational walk with God, while following the footsteps of the Lord and Master Jesus Christ. From the new birth experienced at conversion till death, the Christian, through the enablement of the indwelling Holy Spirit, strives to emulate Jesus Christ in words and deeds, as he grows into the stature of a perfect man. We have a standard to measure up to, with regards to our thoughts, words, deeds and relationship with God and one another- the Lord Jesus Christ, the only perfect and sinless man to have walked upon the face of planet earth. Unfortunately, some view this growing into Christlikeness (sanctification) as sinless perfection, and thus spend the entirety of their Christian experience struggling with guilt and condemnation in their failure to reach that illusory state of sinless perfection. The frustration/struggle with sin has left many discouraged and disillusioned, and has made some to fall out of the heavenly race. What’s the biblical view of sanctification, Christian maturity and Christian perfection? What constitutes victorious Christian living from the view point of Scriptures? We shall examine the Scriptures to answer these pertinent questions.

Christian sanctification has two components. When a person believes in the finished works of Christ on Calvary as the basis of his salvation and eternal life and accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, he becomes saved. The person is immediately justified and sanctified. He is justified by the fact that God declares him no longer guilty of his sins, thus attaining peace and right standing with God. He is sanctified immediately because he becomes adopted into God’s family and becomes a new creature, old things in his life having passed away, with all things concerning him becoming brand new. Justification and sanctification are by grace, through faith in Christ Jesus.They are both imputed gifts of grace that are not earned or merited! God simply transfers the righteousness and perfection of Christ to the new believer, because Christ had already carried the believer’s sins upon himself and died vicariously for the believer on Calvary, some 2000 years ago.

1 Corinthians 1:26 Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.

1 Corinthians 1:27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;

1 Corinthians 1:28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are,

1 Corinthians 1:29 so that no one might boast in the presence of God.

1 Corinthians 1:30 He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption,

1 Corinthians 1:31 in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

2 Corinthians 5:17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

2 Corinthians 5:18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation;

2 Corinthians 5:19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.

2 Corinthians 5:20 So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—

Ephesians 2:9 not the result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

Romans 4:1 What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh?

Romans 4:2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.

Romans 4:3 For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.”

Romans 4:4 Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due.

Romans 4:5 But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness.

Romans 4:6 So also David speaks of the blessedness of those to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works:

Romans 4:7 “Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven,
and whose sins are covered;

Romans 4:8 blessed is the one against whom the Lord will not reckon sin.”

The first part of sanctification (adoption into God’s family and separation unto God) is thus a work of grace and not merited by any acts of righteousness. Just by being in Christ, we’re clothed with his righteousness and invested with all his attributes. Whatever he is, so are we in this world, in God’s eyes. We become sons and daughters of God, and God’s heirs as well as joint heirs with Christ. This is the privilege any child enjoys by being born into a royal family. Immediately after birth, such a child becomes royalty himself, from the very minute he comes out from the womb. He didn’t do anything to merit it. Royalty was conferred on him by being born into the royal family. It’s his hereditary right! The same is conferred or imputed sanctification or righteousness. It comes through the blood of Jesus Christ and not by any works of righteousness which we have done.

Romans 8:14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

Romans 8:15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!”

Romans 8:16 it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

Romans 8:17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

1 John 3:1 3 See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

1 John 3:2 Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.

1 John 3:3 And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

1 John 4:15 God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God.

1 John 4:16 So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.
God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.

1 John 4:17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world.

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.

The second part of the sanctification process is the outworking of the inner grace of the Spirit in us, as we strive to match our high and holy calling with our conduct in the world. It’s akin to the grooming process of princes and princesses from infancy to maturity, to help them become what they were born to be. The Holy Spirit continually grooms the believer in the ethics and acceptable behaviour of Christianity, teaching, guiding, leading, rebuking and exhorting as the occasion demands, as he leads us in the footsteps of Christ, towards the stature of a perfect man, towards the fullness of the measure of Christ. We learn to sit, crawl, stand and walk in the Spirit, as he guides and leads us. We will stumble, fall, make false steps, but it’s all part of the learning process. Each time we fall, God helps us back on our feet, as we continue to learn to walk in righteousness.

One thing we should have at the back of our mind in our walk with God is that our acceptance with God and his approval of us do not depend on our performance. As long as we’re in Christ, we’re automatically accepted before God. Our acceptance is in Christ, not in ourselves. In walking with God we’re not trying to please him and earn his favour. We already have that unconditionally in Christ. All we’re doing is growing in grace. We don’t need to get agitated or frustrated by the growth process. We need to be calm and relaxed, and trust that God is able to help us become what he wants us to be. We should keep our eyes focused on Jesus and his love for us, and not on our mistakes, failures, disappointments, etc. Those things do not define us, however slow the progress we think we’re making. A toddler may be overwhelmed by the way an adult runs and jumps, but if only he knew how long it took the adult to get to that level, and all the fallings and stumblings that went with it! Our earthly parents never gave up on us till we got to where we are today. So, why do we think God will give up on us if we stumble and fall a couple of times? As long as we remain in Christ and don’t slide back and abandon the faith, God will continue to patiently groom us to spiritual maturity.

Ephesians 4:7 But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

Ephesians 4:8 Therefore it is said,
“When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive;
he gave gifts to his people.”

Ephesians 4:9 (When it says, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth?

Ephesians 4:10 He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.)

Ephesians 4:11 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers,

Ephesians 4:12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,

Ephesians 4:13 until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.

Ephesians 4:14 We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming.

Ephesians 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

Ephesians 4:16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.

1 Peter 2:2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation—

1 Peter 2:3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

1 Peter 2:4 Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and

1 Peter 2:5 like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,

Ephesians 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,

Ephesians 1:5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,

Ephesians 1:6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

Ephesians 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace (NKJV).

The outworking of sanctification (matching our calling with our walk, or our position with our standing) is a lifelong process that never really comes to an end till we’re glorified. As long as we’re in these fallen bodies of clay, sinless perfection is an impossibility. The goal of the Christian walk is therefore not sinless perfection (a mirage unrealisable by fallen men in a fallen world) but a continual transformation into the image and likeness of Christ. Each day, we’re to take a step closer to the image of Christ, as we follow his footsteps, one step at a time. Sometimes we’ll slip and fall, but it’s okay. We’re not to beat ourselves and remain down. We’re to simply admit and confess our failures, accept God’s forgiveness, pick ourselves up by our bootstraps and keep moving. We should never despair or give up! Each new day, we’re to put behind the things that are past, and reach out for the mark ahead of us. The big shoes and giant footsteps of our Lord are not to overwhelm and discourage us; rather, they’re to humble us and keep us meek and free of pride and totally dependent on God and his grace. The high target set by the Lord himself is to remove far from us the arrogant assumption of having arrived spiritually, for the moment we think we’ve arrived and consider ourselves able to stand on our own without the Lord’s help, our fall is imminent! The one who has risen the highest can fall to the lowest depth in a twinkle of an eye!

1 Peter 2:21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.

1 Peter 2:22 “He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

1 Peter 2:23 When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.

1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

1 Peter 2:25 For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

Philippians 3:8 More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

Philippians 3:9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith.

Philippians 3:10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death,

Philippians 3:11 if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Philippians 3:12 Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.

Philippians 3:13 Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,

Philippians 3:14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:15 Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you.

Philippians 3:16 Only let us hold fast to what we have attained.

Our walk with God (the visible manifestation of our sanctification) is not a turbulence-free experience. The flesh or “old man” is still alive in every believer, and will not be done away with or destroyed until when we’re clothed with our immortal bodies. That will be either after our death, or when we’re glorified at the coming of the Lord. For as long as we remain in these fallen bodies of clay, the Spirit and the flesh in us will be engaged in a daily battle of supremacy and control. The Spirit and the flesh struggle for control and dominance over our lives. Whoever of the two we yield to will control and direct our lives.

The whole process of Christian maturity is learning to yield to the Spirit and resist the flesh. Sometimes we will succumb to the flesh and let it drive our actions, grieving the Spirit. However, the Spirit doesn’t abandon us as long we don’t cut ourselves off from Christ. The Holy Spirit helps us work through our weaknesses and failures, and teaches us to yield to him and resist the devil and the flesh. As we mature in our spiritual walk, we learn to resist and subdue the flesh and yield to the Spirit. At no point do we get to the stage where it’s impossible for us to sin or fall into temptations of the flesh. That’s why we’re to be on our guard at all times. That’s why we’re enjoined to watch and pray ceaselessly. That’s why we’re encouraged to deny and deprive the flesh of the base things that feed and nourish it and make it thrive and flourish.

Knowing that falling is part of the growing up process, we don’t get frustrated and give up when (not if) we fall. We don’t get discouraged by our imperfections. We’re rather realistic and accept our imperfections and the fact that God loves us just as we are, warts and all, and he’ll help us become what he wants us to be, with time. Just like children are not deterred by their childhood failings, but still go ahead to enjoy life and have fun, we should go out and have fun spiritually despite our imperfections. We should be proud of our calling and our heritage and enjoy our sonship, even though we’re still imperfect. We may not be exactly like Christ today, but we’ll be exactly like him one day. For every mistake we make and for every fall we experience, there’s ready grace and forgiveness, so we don’t have to wallow in regrets and self pity. After each fall, we should pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and receive forgiveness and move on. Knowing that no one can can condemn you except the one who has justified and sanctified you (and continues to sanctify you daily), we relax and enjoy God even in our shortcomings. We have already overcome by being in Christ and are not striving to be victorious, for we’ve already obtained the victory in Christ! It’s a win-win situation for the believer in Christ! What a blessed state!

Galatians 5:16 Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh.

Galatians 5:17 For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want.

Galatians 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law.

Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness,

Galatians 5:20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions,

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

Galatians 5:22 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,

Galatians 5:23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.

Galatians 5:24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Galatians 5:25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.

Galatians 5:26 Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.

Colossians 3:5 Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry).

Colossians 3:6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient.

Colossians 3:7 These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life.

Colossians 3:8 But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth.

Colossians 3:9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices

Colossians 3:10 and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator.

Colossians 3:11 In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!

Colossians 3:12 As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.

James 4:1 Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you?

Proverbs 24:15 Do not lie in wait like an outlaw against the home of the righteous;
do no violence to the place where the righteous live;

Proverbs 24:16 for though they fall seven times, they will rise again;
but the wicked are overthrown by calamity.

1 John 2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;

1 John 2:2 and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 Corinthians 10:11 These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come.

1 Corinthians 10:12 So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall.

1 Corinthians 10:13 No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Romans 8:30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

Romans 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Romans 8:32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

Romans 8:33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.

Romans 8:34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Romans 8:36 As it is written:
“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

Romans 8:37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

Romans 8:38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,

Romans 8:39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (NKJV).

In conclusion, Christian perfection or progressive sanctification is not sinless perfection, but a gradual (even if sometimes inconsistent) lifelong move towards Christlikeness. It’s a daily and steady transformation into the image of Christ, although we’ll never get to replicate the fullness of that glorious image on this side of eternity. Christian perfection doesn’t mean that the Christian can or will ever stop sinning altogether (we can never be sinless but we can and should sin less and less as we progress). As long as we remain in these sin-tainted bodies of clay, and as long as the old man remains in us (and he will remain in every Christian till we leave this earth), we will never be immune to sin. Hence, we’re called upon daily to put on the whole armour of God and to resist the devil and the flesh daily, so that we will continue to walk in the Spirit in order not to fulfill the desires of the flesh. The growth process towards maturity can be slow and sometimes frustrating, but patience is a fruit of the Spirit that’s wrought in us as we persevere in following the footsteps of the Lord day by day. However much we rise and fall and stumble and wobble in our walk towards maturity, we’re assured of one thing- our acceptance and approval with God do not depend on our performance, for we’re already accepted in the beloved, warts and all! So, let’s learn to relax and enjoy our daily walk with the Lord, knowing that through it all, we’re more than conquerors through him that loves us! We’ll keep moving from glory to glory even after several fallings and stumblings, and the Lord will always be with us, as long as we don’t forsake him.

The Grace Of God Is Not A License To Sin!

(All Bible quotations, except otherwise stated, are from the New King James Version).

Some have interpreted God’s grace in Christ Jesus to mean a license to continue in sin. Such people view God’s grace as a permission to live unholy and ungodly lives, since unlimited grace is available to forgive all sins as long as one is in Christ. This school of thought believes the more sin abounds, the more grace abounds to cover it. Shall we continue in sin so that grace will abound? Is grace a license or a permission for saved Christians to indulge in a lifestyle of sin? What is the purpose of God’s grace that’s been made available to us in Christ Jesus? Let’s examine the Apostolic writings to find answers to these questions.

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,

Titus 2:12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,

Titus 2:13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

Titus 2:14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

The passage above teaches us some fundamental truths about God’s saving grace- it’s available to every person, and its purpose is to save men from sin and to teach them to live godly and righteous lives in this present world! Saving grace is to teach us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and not to give room to them. Grace is not a license for sin, but a deterrent against sin! God’s grace is to enable and empower us to deny access to sinful impulses, not to accommodate them. Grace is to impart to us a hatred for sin and a love for righteousness. When grace comes into our lives, we’re to submit ourselves as instruments of righteousness, and commit to living sober, godly and righteous lives, starting right here in this present sinful age! Nothing can be plainer than these truths!

Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?

Romans 6:2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?

Romans 6:3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?

Romans 6:4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Romans 6:5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,

Romans 6:6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.

Romans 6:7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.

Romans 6:8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,

Romans 6:9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.

Romans 6:10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.

Romans 6:11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.

Romans 6:13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

Romans 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

Romans 6:15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!

Romans 6:16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?

Romans 6:17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.

Romans 6:18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

Romans 6:19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.

Romans 6:20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.

Romans 6:21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.

Romans 6:22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

According to the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Christians in Rome, believers in Christ are to consider themselves dead to sin, and alive to righteousness. Paul told them that they were once slaves to sinful passions by which they were held captive. Then, they indulged in sinful passions without restraint. But now, having been delivered from their captivity to sin, they should become slaves to righteousness, and gladly indulge in righteous passions. Once when they were slaves to sin, they submitted their bodies as instruments of unrighteousness. Now that they have become slaves to righteousness, believers should submit themselves as instruments of righteousness unto godliness. The believer in Christ is expected to hate sin and love righteousness. He is expected to be ashamed of his former sinful lifestyle and now become a champion of righteousness and holiness. The believer in Christ is expected not to continue the habit of practising sin, now that he’s a new creature and old things have passed away. Yes, the believer is not perfect and he’ll fall into sin every now and then, but he’s not to live comfortably in his sins. Once the believer sins, he’s to feel godly sorrow (through the conviction of the Holy Spirit and his awakened conscience) and quickly repent and forsake his sins. He may fall into sin, but he’s not to remain fallen and joyfully wallow in the mire and grovel in sin. Only dogs return back to eat their vomitus with comfort, and only pigs gladly go back to wallowing in the mire after they’ve been washed clean!

1 John 3:4 Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.

1 John 3:5 And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin.

1 John 3:6 Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.

1 John 3:7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.

1 John 3:8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.

1 John 3:9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.

1 John 3:10 In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.

1 John 5:18 We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.

1 John 5:19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.

1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

1 John 5:21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

1 John 1:5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.

1 John 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

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

2 Peter 2:21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

2 Peter 2:22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

Finally, grace liberates us from the law and sets us free from the law of sin and death. Grace delivers us from the prison house of the law. However, we’re not to use the liberty we have in Christ as an occasion to sin. The liberty of grace is not a warrant to indulge in sinful lifestyles. It’s not an open check to wilfully sin with impunity, knowing that forgiveness is readily available. Grace gives us the liberty to live free from sin and the authority to become children of God. The grace of God in Christ makes us not slaves, but masters over sin. It empowers us to walk in the Spirit so that we would not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. Being no longer subject to the law through grace does not make us lawless! We may not be subject to the law of carnal ordinances anymore, but we’re still subject to the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus! And those who are Christ’s are expected to crucify the flesh and its sinful lusts and passions!

Galatians 5:13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Galatians 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Galatians 5:15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!

Galatians 5:16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

Galatians 5:17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.

Galatians 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,

Galatians 5:20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,

Galatians 5:21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

Galatians 5:23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

Galatians 5:24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

In conclusion, grace sets us free from the bondage of the law of carnal ordinances. However, it does not make us lawless, and it doesn’t give us a license to sin. The grace of God in Christ Jesus sets us free from the law of sin and death and enables us to mortify the flesh and its lusts. Grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and unrighteousness and to live sober, godly lives in this present evil age. Grace is therefore not a license to sin, but an empowerment to live above sin.

Thanks for visiting and for reading. God bless you!

God No Longer Dwells In Cathedrals, However Magnificent They May Be: Christians Are Now His Dwelling Place!

(All Bible quotations, except otherwise stated, are from the New King James Version)

John 4:21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.

John 4:23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.

John 4:24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

The Temple of God is where God’s presence is made manifest among men, where men can expect to meet with God in worship and supplication. In the Old Testament, we find God’s presence dwelling among his people in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple, all built to divine specifications. In the Tabernacle/Temple, men had the opportunity to offer sacrifices for sin, worship God and pray to him. Thus, the Tabernacle/Temple was a hallowed and revered place, because of God’s abiding presence.

Exodus 25:2 “Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.

Exodus 25:8 And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.

Exodus 25:9 According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.

Deuteronomy 12:10 But when you cross over the Jordan and dwell in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to inherit, and He gives you rest from all your enemies round about, so that you dwell in safety,

Deuteronomy 12:11 then there will be the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide. There you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, and all your choice offerings which you vow to the Lord.

Deuteronomy 12:12 And you shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you and your sons and your daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levite who is within your gates, since he has no portion nor inheritance with you.

Deuteronomy 12:13 Take heed to yourself that you do not offer your burnt offerings in every place that you see;

Deuteronomy 12:14 but in the place which the Lord chooses, in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I command you.

Because the Tabernacle/Temple was the only accepted meeting place with God (as the place where God’s presence dwelt), no resource was spared in its construction and beautification. Precious stones and all manner of costly pearls were lavishly used to decorate and garnish the Tabernacle/Temple, according to divine instructions. Solomon’s Temple, for instance, was considered the most magnificent and the most expensive in his time. It was built with expensive stones and woods imported from foreign lands, and was decked inside and outside with gold and other precious stones. King Solomon spared no cost and no effort in building the best house he could for God (1Kings Chapters 5, 6 and 7).

Even in those times when God chose to reveal his presence in a physical Tabernacle/Temple, Scripture made it abundantly clear that no man could build any befitting house for God, simply because even the heaven of heavens cannot contain God! How then can men build a dwelling place for God? Solomon too acknowledged this truth while building the most magnificent Temple for the worship of God. He confessed that no house any man built could be adequate for God, and pleaded rather for God to have respect towards prayers made in the house that was built to bear his name.

1 Kings 8:12 Then Solomon spoke:
“The Lord said He would dwell in the dark cloud.

1 Kings 8:13 I have surely built You an exalted house,
And a place for You to dwell in forever.”

1 Kings 8:14 Then the king turned around and blessed the whole assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Israel was standing.

1 Kings 8:15 And he said: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who spoke with His mouth to my father David, and with His hand has fulfilled it, saying,

1 Kings 8:16 ‘Since the day that I brought My people Israel out of Egypt, I have chosen no city from any tribe of Israel in which to build a house, that My name might be there; but I chose David to be over My people Israel.’

1 Kings 8:17 Now it was in the heart of my father David to build a temple for the name of the Lord God of Israel.

1 Kings 8:18 But the Lord said to my father David, ‘Whereas it was in your heart to build a temple for My name, you did well that it was in your heart.

1 Kings 8:19 Nevertheless you shall not build the temple, but your son who will come from your body, he shall build the temple for My name.’

1 Kings 8:20 So the Lord has fulfilled His word which He spoke; and I have filled the position of my father David, and sit on the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised; and I have built a temple for the name of the Lord God of Israel.

1 Kings 8:21 And there I have made a place for the ark, in which is the covenant of the Lord which He made with our fathers, when He brought them out of the land of Egypt.”

1 Kings 8:22 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands toward heaven;

1 Kings 8:23 and he said: “Lord God of Israel, there is no God in heaven above or on earth below like You, who keep Your covenant and mercy with Your servants who walk before You with all their hearts.

1 Kings 8:24 You have kept what You promised Your servant David my father; You have both spoken with Your mouth and fulfilled it with Your hand, as it is this day.

1 Kings 8:25 Therefore, Lord God of Israel, now keep what You promised Your servant David my father, saying, ‘You shall not fail to have a man sit before Me on the throne of Israel, only if your sons take heed to their way, that they walk before Me as you have walked before Me.’

1 Kings 8:26 And now I pray, O God of Israel, let Your word come true, which You have spoken to Your servant David my father.

1 Kings 8:27 “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!

1 Kings 8:28 Yet regard the prayer of Your servant and his supplication, O Lord my God, and listen to the cry and the prayer which Your servant is praying before You today:

1 Kings 8:29 that Your eyes may be open toward this temple night and day, toward the place of which You said, ‘My name shall be there,’ that You may hear the prayer which Your servant makes toward this place.

1 Kings 8:30 And may You hear the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. Hear in heaven Your dwelling place; and when You hear, forgive.

The Acts 7:44 “Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as He appointed, instructing Moses to make it according to the pattern that he had seen,

The Acts 7:45 which our fathers, having received it in turn, also brought with Joshua into the land possessed by the Gentiles, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers until the days of David,

The Acts 7:46 who found favor before God and asked to find a dwelling for the God of Jacob.

The Acts 7:47 But Solomon built Him a house.

The Acts 7:48 “However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says:

The Acts 7:49 ‘Heaven is My throne,
And earth is My footstool.
What house will you build for Me? says the Lord,
Or what is the place of My rest?

The Acts 7:50 Has My hand not made all these things?’

Gradually, God moved from having his presence dwell in physical temples to having humans as his dwelling place. He started by dwelling in his fullness in Christ, who was Emmanuel (God with us) on earth. Christ was the full embodiment of God and the perfect Temple of God. He was the perfect dwelling place of God. While the people kept adoring and magnifying the magnificent Temple Herod built for the Jews at the time of Christ, God had moved from Herod’s Temple to the perfect One! When the disciples drew the Lord’s attention to the magnificence of Herod’s Temple, the Lord could only see one thing in that Temple- its imminent destruction! While others looked and saw a magnificent structure that housed God, Christ saw a shifting shadow that had fulfilled its purpose and should now give way to the real Temple! The substance was here now, and the shadow had become irrelevant! How ironic that while the true Temple of God was ignored, insulted and blasphemed by the religious people, the shadow was venerated and deified! How typical of humans, to be more concerned about shadows while ignoring the substance!

Matthew 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 1:19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.

Matthew 1:20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 1:21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

Matthew 1:22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:

Matthew 1:23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

John 2:18 So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?”

John 2:19 Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

John 2:20 Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?”

John 2:21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body.

Colossians 2:6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,

Colossians 2:7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.

Colossians 2:8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

Colossians 2:9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;

Colossians 2:10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

Mark 13:1 Then as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!”

Mark 13:2 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

From Christ as the Temple of God, God moved further to dwell on the inside of believers in Christ who have been saved and sanctified by his redeeming blood. God has now made every believer in Christ his dwelling place through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Thus, God’s ultimate purpose to dwell among men has been fulfilled- not in houses made by men’s hands, but in the very hearts of men! Now, wherever two or three of God’s people are gathered in his name, he’s there in their midst! It doesn’t matter where the gathering takes place. It could be in a cave, a desert, in the forest, in the open or in an uncompleted building. As long as two or more Spirit-filled believers gather together in those places, God is there in their midst, because each of them is a carrier of the divine presence! Each is a temple of the living God!

1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

1 Corinthians 3:17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

1 Corinthians 6:15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not!

1 Corinthians 6:16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.”

1 Corinthians 6:17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.

1 Corinthians 6:18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.

1 Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

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

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

Despite the overwhelming evidence of the temple of God having moved from physical buildings to the hearts of men, a lot of churches today still lay emphasis on physical buildings as the temple of God. We see churches spending exhorbitant amounts of money to raise and decorate mighty cathedrals which they celebrate as God’s dwelling place! We see churches competing to outperform one another in building the biggest, the most expensive and the most lavishly decorated “temples” for God, all the while ignoring and paying little attention to the welfare and the wellbeing of the men and women (the true temple of God) who worship in these mighty edifices. The garnishing and decoration of these cathedrals are put above the needs of the congregants who must deny themselves even their basic needs in order to build a befitting “tabernacle” or “dwelling place” for God. And so, unwittingly, we’ve returned back to the Old Testament where the physical building has more significance and glory than the worshippers!

In failing to realise that the neglected men and women who worship in the buildings that are held in such esteem are the true temples of God, we neglect the temple of God while glorifying empty buildings! By not recognising every believer as the true temple of God, we dishonour God and his temple! We trample upon the true temples of God and ignore their needs, while we ignorantly spend time and waste resources to decorate buildings that God does not dwell in and has no delight in. If only we can realise that whatever building we gather in to worship is just for our comfort and has nothing to do with God’s glory! If only we can understand that God doesn’t give a damn about our places of worship! If only our eyes can be opened to the fact that God’s concern is with the state of our souls, his true temple, and not the magnificence of our buildings which we erroneously call his house! God doesn’t care a hoot about where we gather to worship, but he cares a lot about the state of our souls and how we care for one another, for we all (as believers in Christ) make up his true temple. How will God feel that we neglect his temples to waste resources and care on buildings that will ultimately decay, collapse or be destroyed? Isn’t it foolishness to place more value on ephemeral and temporal things to the detriment of eternal things? Think it about this!

2 Corinthians 6:16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.”

Ephesians 2:18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

Ephesians 2:19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,

Ephesians 2:20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,

Ephesians 2:21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,

Ephesians 2:22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

1 Peter 2:4 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious,

1 Peter 2:5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

In conclusion, the temple of God has moved from physical buildings constructed according to divine instructions, to the hearts of converted and sanctified believers in Christ Jesus. Thus, God’s emphasis has shifted from magnificent buildings men erect in his honour, to Spirit-filled men and women in whom he dwells by his Spirit. In response, people of God too should move from adoring and deifying cathedrals and buildings (which are actually sanctified by the presence of Spirit-filled men and women who bring God’s presence into these buildings). Emphasis should shift accordingly from building befitting cathedrals for God, to building up men and women into a holy habitation for God’s dwelling. Whatever building we gather in to worship now has nothing to do with God’s glory, for we are the glory of God as believers in Christ. The buildings are just for our comfort and nothing else. God dwells in us now and no longer in buildings made with human hands! Let us then stop venerating empty buildings and making them more important than the Spirit-filled temples that gather in those buildings!

Revelation 21:3 Then I heard a loud voice from the throne:
Look! God’s dwelling is with humanity,
and He will live with them.
They will be His people,
and God Himself will be with them
and be their God (HCSB).

God bless you, and thanks for visiting the blog!

Faith Is Not A Denial Of Reality, But Reliance On God’s Omnipotence To Upend Negative Reality.

Oftentimes, we see Christians living in denial as they struggle to display “faith” in God in the midst of adversity and calamity. These believers have been taught to deny reality and confess “positively” always, as a demonstration of faith in God. The mere acknowledgement of their situation is deemed a lack of faith. Thus, when such people are sick and you ask them how they’re feeling, they tell you they’re fine or they’re “strong”, even when they’re terribly down and need urgent help! When they’re broke, they tell you they’re “rich”, even while coming to borrow money from you! They deny and refuse to accept medical diagnoses as not being their “portion”, and most of them refuse the treatments offered thereafter, while clinging to their “faith”. Is faith a denial of reality? Does the acknowledgement of a difficult and challenging situation amount to a lack of faith? Can faith coexist with the acknowledgement of reality? We shall examine the Scriptures to answer these questions.

Scripture teaches us that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. It is believing God’s report and his promises of supernatural intervention and victory for those that trust in him. Biblical faith is having full confidence in God’s word and in his ability to make good his promises. When a believer is confronted with a problem that’s beyond his natural abilities to resolve, he has the promise of God to expect divine help in time of need. Taking God at his word in expecting supernatural help in the midst of trouble is called faith.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Hebrews 11:11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.

Hebrews 11:32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:

Hebrews 11:33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,

Hebrews 11:34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens (NKJV).

The starting point for faith is the acceptance of one’s inability to deal with the reality of the challenges one is confronted with. Faith begins where situations and circumstances overwhelm our natural abilities. For faith to be called into action, the challenge must be acknowledged as something that’s beyond one’s natural abilities to handle. Faith is therefore not a denial of the problem at hand, but its acknowledgement as being beyond our capability and thus needing supernatural intervention. A few biblical examples of faith at work will buttress this point.

King Hezekiah of Judah was a man who feared God and walked in his ways closely, following in the footsteps of his ancestor King David. One day, he was threatened by invasion from the powerful Assyrians who had subdued all the surrounding kingdoms and now had Judah in their sight. The King of Assyria sent a warning letter to Hezekiah to surrender peacefully and not allow himself and his kingdom to be invaded, for the consequences would be grave. Hezekiah immediately recognised the magnitude of the danger at hand. Truly, the Assyrians had a formidable army, and soldier-for-soldier, Israel could not stand the might of Assyria. Hezekiah did not deny the problem at hand, but honestly acknowledged it. He rightfully assessed the magnitude of the problem as being beyond the ability of his military to cope with. This realisation triggered and activated his faith and led him to cry unto God for help. In his frank and honest heart-to-heart discussion with God, Hezekiah revealed the magnitude of the problem at hand, acknowledged the might of the enemy, but also recognised heaven’s omnipotence as being far and above the enemy’s power, if God would undertake for him. By recognising the problem and God’s power to resolve it in his favour, Hezekiah showed how true faith works! Faith is linking God and our problems and getting out of the way for God to work on our behalf and grant us the promised victory!

2 Kings 19:14 And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord.

2 Kings 19:15 Then Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said: “O Lord God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.

2 Kings 19:16 Incline Your ear, O Lord, and hear; open Your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God.

2 Kings 19:17 Truly, Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands,

2 Kings 19:18 and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands—wood and stone. Therefore they destroyed them.

2 Kings 19:19 Now therefore, O Lord our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord God, You alone.”

2 Kings 19:20 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Because you have prayed to Me against Sennacherib king of Assyria, I have heard.’

2 Kings 19:21 This is the word which the Lord has spoken concerning him:
‘The virgin, the daughter of Zion,
Has despised you, laughed you to scorn;
The daughter of Jerusalem
Has shaken her head behind your back!

2 Kings 19:22 ‘Whom have you reproached and blasphemed?
Against whom have you raised your voice,
And lifted up your eyes on high?
Against the Holy One of Israel.

2 Kings 19:23 By your messengers you have reproached the Lord,
And said: “By the multitude of my chariots
I have come up to the height of the mountains,
To the limits of Lebanon;
I will cut down its tall cedars
And its choice cypress trees;
I will enter the extremity of its borders,
To its fruitful forest.

2 Kings 19:24 I have dug and drunk strange water,
And with the soles of my feet I have dried up
All the brooks of defense.”

2 Kings 19:25 ‘Did you not hear long ago
How I made it,
From ancient times that I formed it?
Now I have brought it to pass,
That you should be
For crushing fortified cities into heaps of ruins.

2 Kings 19:26 Therefore their inhabitants had little power;
They were dismayed and confounded;
They were as the grass of the field
And the green herb,
As the grass on the housetops
And grain blighted before it is grown.

2 Kings 19:27 ‘But I know your dwelling place,
Your going out and your coming in,
And your rage against Me.

2 Kings 19:28 Because your rage against Me and your tumult
Have come up to My ears,
Therefore I will put My hook in your nose
And My bridle in your lips,
And I will turn you back
By the way which you came.

2 Kings 19:32 “Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria:
‘He shall not come into this city,
Nor shoot an arrow there,
Nor come before it with shield,
Nor build a siege mound against it.

2 Kings 19:33 By the way that he came,
By the same shall he return;
And he shall not come into this city,’
Says the Lord.

2 Kings 19:34 ‘For I will defend this city, to save it
For My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.’”

2 Kings 19:35 And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the Lord went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses—all dead.

2 Kings 19:36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went away, returned home, and remained at Nineveh.

2 Kings 19:37 Now it came to pass, as he was worshiping in the temple of Nisroch his god, that his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer struck him down with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Ararat. Then Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place (NKJV).

Paul, the Apostle of faith, had a thorn in his flesh, a messenger of Satan sent to torment him. He didn’t deny the existence of this thorn in his flesh. He didn’t deny the pain and torment he felt. Rather, Paul acknowledged the presence of his distressing situation and cried out for divine help. In the process, God made Paul realise that his grace rests upon us only as we acknowledge our weaknesses, not as we deny our problems or their existence. The Apostle Paul thereafter resolved to always boast about his weaknesses, so that the power of God would rest upon him always!

2 Corinthians 12:2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know —God knows.

2 Corinthians 12:3 And I know that this man —whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows —

2 Corinthians 12:4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.

2 Corinthians 12:5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses.

2 Corinthians 12:6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say,

2 Corinthians 12:7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.

2 Corinthians 12:8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.

2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 12:10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong (NIV).

When one is sick or has suffered a misfortune, faith is not denying the existence of the sickness or the misfortune. That is denialism, not faith! True faith is acknowledging the problem and then going beyond that to cry for God’s promised intervention! Each time the prayer of a saint reaches God, he asks what we’d have him do on our behalf. Blind Bartimeus acknowledged his blindness and wanted his sight back. Hannah recognised her barrenness and asked God for a son. David, in the multitude of his psalms, recognised the powerful forces of the enemies arraigned against him (Saul, Absalom, etc), and cried to God for deliverance. God heard and delivered him out of all his troubles.

Psalms 34:4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.

Psalms 34:19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of them all. (NKJV).

There was a time Jesus healed a man who was blind. After touching the eyes of the blind man, the Lord asked him to describe how he could now see things. He responded by saying he could see people walking as trees! That was a sincere declaration because that was how he could see things! Jesus knew the man’s healing wasn’t perfect yet, and had to touch his eyes a second time, leading to a perfect restoration of his sight. By admitting to Jesus what he could actually see (his reality) rather than what he was expected to see, the imperfectly healed blind man had an opportunity for a second and perfect healing! Imagine if he had denied reality by telling Jesus he could see perfectly after the first touch! He probably would have gone on in his “faith” seeing men as trees! But, by acknowledging his reality and confessing how things were with him, this man got perfect healing!

St. Mark 8:22 They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him.

St. Mark 8:23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”

St. Mark 8:24 He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”

St. Mark 8:25 Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly (NIV).

Child of God, don’t let anyone make you look faithless for acknowledging your reality. If you have been prayed for over an illness and you don’t feel better, don’t try to please anyone by falsely saying you’re better. That’s not a declaration of faith but a denial of reality. God does not expect us to confess the opposite of what’s happening to us just to please him or anyone. Our demonstration of faith is in taking our problems to God in prayers, and in presenting ourselves before God’s anointed servants for deliverance, healing, etc. That we come before God or his anointed servants believing he’s able to make us whole is our display of faith. We have played our part. When God heals us, we’re supposed to mend and get well, and when we’re well, we’ll feel well!

When a demon-possessed person was brought to the Apostles of Christ and was neither delivered nor healed, Jesus didn’t blame the sick person for lacking faith. He didn’t expect the sick person to go away confessing he was healed when he wasn’t. That would be denying reality. Instead, the Lord blamed the Apostles for their lack of faith in not healing the boy! If the Apostles had the power and faith to heal the boy, the boy should have been healed, having had enough faith to present himself before servants of God for healing! Don’t die in silence confessing you’re well when you’re not! If you were healed you would become well and you would feel well! There’s no one in the Bible that was healed miraculously that didn’t become well immediately thereafter! God’s healing power is real! He doesn’t need us faking we’ve been healed when we’re not! It’s bearing false witness to God’s omnipotence to claim healing and wellness when your body is still riddled with disease and its evidence! True divine healing shows, and is evident for all to see! It doesn’t need to be assisted by false declaration of wellness in positive confessions when healing has not taken place!

Matthew 17:14 And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying,

Matthew 17:15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water.

Matthew 17:16 So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.”

Matthew 17:17 Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.”

Matthew 17:18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.

Matthew 17:19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”

Matthew 17:20 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.

Matthew 17:21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” (NKJV).

In summary, faith is trusting God to intervene in our circumstances for good. It is having confidence that God is able and willing to do unto us as he has promised. Our act of faith is to present ourselves and our problems before God, and beseech him unceasingly to intervene. When God does intervene (either directly or through his anointed servants), our situations will definitely change! However, we should not confess we’re well when we’re not yet well. We should not deny our reality before our change comes. It’s okay to tell God exactly how we feel. We confess our reality before God, not our expectations. Faith holds unto God until change comes. Like blind Bartimeus, our cry for help should be louder and louder until Jesus stops and asks what we would have him do. Don’t therefore let anyone tell you to confess you’re well when you’re not. When God heals you and you’re well, you will be well indeed and won’t need to make false declarations of wellness! Making false declarations of wellness when you’re not well is fake, not faith! Don’t bear false witness against God’s omnipotence by claiming what he hasn’t done yet. Keep believing and keep trusting until he does it. Only then can the weak truly say he’s strong! Faith is not delusional; it is evidencial and substantial!

James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (AKJV).

You Don’t Need To “Tap Into” Or Be Envious Of Another Man’s Grace: Every Believer Has Got His Own Grace!

(All Bible quotations, unless otherwise stated, are from the New International Version).

We frequently hear of believers struggling to “tap” from the grace of successful ministers or other believers. In many Christian circles, people are encouraged to sow “financial seeds” into the lives and ministries of men of God, in order to “key into” or “tap into” their grace. Is grace transferable? Can a man impart his own grace to another, outside of the divine will? And most importantly, do we really need to covet another man’s grace in order to be successful Christians? We shall attempt to answer these questions through a close examination of the Scriptures.

Romans 12:3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

Romans 12:4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,

Romans 12:5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

Romans 12:6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;

Romans 12:7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;

Romans 12:8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

The Apostle Paul made it abundantly clear, from the Scriptures above, that every member of the body of Christ is graced. Every believer has one spiritual gift or the other given to them by the grace of God, in order to bless the entire body of Christ and the whole of humanity. I wish we can all understand this important truth! Yes, everyone of us in the body of Christ, including the “least brethren”, has received grace from God to function in a unique way in the body of Christ! We all have unique talents, gifts and abilities that God has deposited inside all of us, for the purpose of edifying the body of Christ and blessing humanity! Grace is not an exclusive preserve of ministers of the gospel! The grace of God is upon every child of God! We may not have the same grace and the same gifts and talents, but we all have our own Christ-apportioned gifts! We’re not just called to sit and admire and applaud the grace of gifted ministers! All of us have unique graces with which to bless one another!! This knowledge should destroy envy, jealousy and pride among believers instantly! Why should I be envious and jealous of your grace when I have mine? Why should anyone be proud and haughty concerning the grace he carries when everyone else carries grace too? Hallelujah! Yes, God has given to every child of God some measure of faith and grace, and that should make everyone content, humble and grateful!

Ephesians 4:1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.

Ephesians 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Ephesians 4:3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Ephesians 4:4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called;

Ephesians 4:5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism;

Ephesians 4:6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Ephesians 4:7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.

Ephesians 4:8 This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.”

So, we all have grace and gifts of grace. We all have ministries. We are all ministers. Thus, the idea of thinking that only the ordained clergy are graced and gifted ministers is fundamentally wrong! The idea that other believers are just to sit back in the pew to receive from graced ministers during fellowship is not biblically right. When the church gathers together for fellowship, each member is to use his gift and grace to bless others. Blessing is not supposed to be a one-way traffic, from the pulpit to the pew! The pew is to bless the pulpit as much as the pulpit blesses the pew! The pastor too is to be edified by the members as much as the members are edified by the pastor! If pastors come to fellowship with the mindset that they’re to empty and release their grace upon their people and go back home depleted of virtues, then they’ve missed the mark! Pastors are to receive as much virtues from the people as they release upon the people. Every member of the congregation has the grace and the gift to bless and replenish the pastor while in service! The Church is supposed to be a closely-knit body where every member nourishes and sustains and builds up one another!

1 Corinthians 12:4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.

1 Corinthians 12:5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.

1 Corinthians 12:6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

1 Corinthians 12:7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.

1 Corinthians 12:8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit,

1 Corinthians 12:9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit,

1 Corinthians 12:10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.

1 Corinthians 12:11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

1 Corinthians 12:12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body —whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free —and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

1 Corinthians 12:14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

1 Corinthians 14:26 What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.

I want to make a categorical statement here which might offend some people, but it’s the gospel truth: no man can give or transfer his gift or grace to another! Because no man gifted himself or is the source of his own gifts and grace, no man can transfer spiritual gifts to another man! All spiritual gifts come from God, and God distributes those gifts to his people according to his will and desire. It’s not by our coveting of gifts that we possess them. It’s not by lusting after gifts that we receive the grace for them. We cannot project our gifts onto others, even though we can bless others with our gifts. It’s only God’s prerogative to give or transfer a gift. The bearer of the gift does not control the gift. So, to fawn and appeal to a man of God in order to “tap” from his gift is scriptural ignorance. To sow “financial seeds” into a man’s life in order to have his grace transferred to us is folly and satanic delusion! You can’t buy the gift of God with money!

James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

1 Corinthians 12:14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

1 Corinthians 12:15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.

1 Corinthians 12:16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.

1 Corinthians 12:17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?

1 Corinthians 12:18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.

Numbers 27:15 Moses said to the LORD,

Numbers 27:16 “May the LORD, the God who gives breath to all living things, appoint someone over this community

Numbers 27:17 to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the LORD’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.”

Numbers 27:18 So the LORD said to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit of leadership, and lay your hand on him.

Numbers 27:19 Have him stand before Eleazar the priest and the entire assembly and commission him in their presence.

Numbers 27:20 Give him some of your authority so the whole Israelite community will obey him.

Numbers 27:21 He is to stand before Eleazar the priest, who will obtain decisions for him by inquiring of the Urim before the LORD. At his command he and the entire community of the Israelites will go out, and at his command they will come in.”

Numbers 27:22 Moses did as the LORD commanded him. He took Joshua and had him stand before Eleazar the priest and the whole assembly.

Numbers 27:23 Then he laid his hands on him and commissioned him, as the LORD instructed through Moses.

The Acts 8:14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria.

The Acts 8:15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit,

The Acts 8:16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

The Acts 8:17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

The Acts 8:18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money

The Acts 8:19 and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”

The Acts 8:20 Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!

The Acts 8:21 You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God.

The Acts 8:22 Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart.

The Acts 8:23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”

Someone might argue and say, “what of Elisha? Didn’t he covet a double portion of Elijah’s spirit and anointing, and didn’t Elijah transfer same to him?”. At first glance that would appear to be correct, for Elisha asked and received a double portion of Elijah’s prophetic spirit. However, on deeper exposition of the Scriptures, we’ll discover that Elijah’s transfer of prophetic anointing to Elisha was simply in obedience to divine directives. God had already commanded Elijah, some moment before, to appoint Elisha as prophet in his stead, when his ministry was about to come to an end. It was a clear will of God for Elisha to become the voice and mouthpiece of God after Elijah. So, Elisha asking for the spirit and power that was upon Elijah to come upon himself was simply asking for the will of God to be done! Elijah wasn’t transferring the anointing or grace on his own impulse; he was simply obeying a divine injunction!

1 Kings 19:13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

1 Kings 19:14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

1 Kings 19:15 The LORD said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram.

1 Kings 19:16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet.

1 Kings 19:17 Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu.

1 Kings 19:18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel —all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”

1 Kings 19:19 So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him.

1 Kings 19:20 Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.” “Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”

1 Kings 19:21 So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.

In conclusion, the grace of God is upon every believer in Christ, manifesting as unique gifts of the Spirit for ministry. It’s therefore absurd for believers to be envying and coveting one another’s gifts and graces, seeing we all have been dealt some measure of grace and faith by our gracious heavenly Father. Also, we’ve seen from Scriptures that all graces and gifts come from God, and cannot be transferred without divine authority. We also learnt that we cannot purchase the gift or the grace of God with money. It’s therefore unbiblical to induce people to sow financial seeds into a ministry in order to “tap” grace. That’s simply making merchandise of the gift of God, and it’s fraudulent! Rather than being envious and jealous of other people’s gifts, we should give all diligence to discover and cultivate our own gifts and graces, so that we too can minister to and bless other members of the body of Christ as well as the rest of humanity.

On this last day of the year 2020, I want to thank God specially, for the success of this blog, as well as appreciate all the followers and visitors to the blog. Your viewership made the difference! It’s been a difficult year, but here we are, just hours away from 2021! May God keep and bless us all and make year 2021 more glorious for us than the outgoing year. Happy new year to all the followers and visitors to the blog! See you all in 2021!

Grace Alone Is Not Sufficient For Success: You Can Have Grace And Still Be A Failure!

(All Bible quotations, unless otherwise stated, are from the New International Version).

Oftentimes, we hear people describe those who’ve excelled in ministry (or in life generally) as highly graced and gifted people. The conclusion usually is that, a man or a woman succeeds in whatever endeavour they’re into because they’re highly favoured by God, with a special gift, talent or ability. Most people reckon that geniuses are born, with little or no human effort needed in their success. Grace is thus judged to be the sole determinant of success: a person succeeds and excels because he has grace. Conversely, one fails because one lacks grace. Is grace alone a sufficient criterion for success? Can one be graced and fail to succeed? In this article, we shall examine the role of grace in success generally, but especially in ministry.

1 Corinthians 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them —yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

Paul acknowledged here that he achieved whatever he did in ministry by the grace of God. He admitted that he became the great apostle that he was by divine favour. In other words, without the grace of God upon his life, evidenced by his apostolic calling and the abundance of the gifts of the Spirit, Paul wouldn’t have accomplished what he did for the Lord in being the chief of the apostles. God’s grace is represented by the totality of the power of God available for a man to access and use in the service of God. The level of the power and gifts of the Spirit available differs from person to person, and is determined by God. Thus, grace differs from one person to another. God distributes to every man some measure of grace according to the work we have to do, and according to our ability.

Ephesians 4:7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.

Ephesians 4:8 This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.”

Romans 12:3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

1 Corinthians 12:7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.

1 Corinthians 12:8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit,

1 Corinthians 12:9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit,

1 Corinthians 12:10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.

1 Corinthians 12:11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

Matthew 25:14 For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property.

Matthew 25:15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away (ESV).

Is it possible to have grace in abundance and not excel? Is it possible to be highly favoured by God and still fail to accomplish one’s mission or fulfil one’s destiny? The answer is a resounding yes! Grace and the gifts of grace are just divine potentials and capabilities. They’re like latent energy that must be harnessed and utilised to accomplish a task. Grace requires discipline and hardwork to excel. To cultivate the gifts of grace requires patience, discipline and diligence. Yes, Paul had great grace, but he made us realise that he disciplined himself intensely, denied himself a lot of privileges, fasted often, prayed without ceasing, and worked tirelessly not to make the grace of the God in his life be in vain. An athlete may be massively talented (graced) but he needs to discipline himself to train for long hours, to eat the right kinds of food, to avoid ingestion of things that could affect his fitness, and to deny himself so many pleasures, all in a bid to be the best and to win the ultimate prize. Grace is nothing without discipline and hard-work! Grace can be frustrated and made useless and ineffective!

1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

1 Corinthians 9:25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

1 Corinthians 9:26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.

1 Corinthians 9:27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

1 Corinthians 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them —yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

2 Corinthians 11:22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I.

2 Corinthians 11:23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.

2 Corinthians 11:24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.

2 Corinthians 11:25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea,

2 Corinthians 11:26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers.

2 Corinthians 11:27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.

2 Corinthians 11:28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.

Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain (AKJV).

Let’s now consider an example of a man in Scriptures who was highly graced but fell way short of God’s glory and had his destiny aborted. That man was Samson, Israel’s supernaturally gifted but wayward judge. Samson was a uniquely graced and gifted person, the like of which the world has never known. The gift of supernatural strength that came upon him with the anointing of the Holy Spirit turned him literally into a one-man army! Imagine if Samson had been the kind of Nazarite that Samuel or John the Baptist was- sanctified and wholly consecrated to God. Imagine if he had separated himself to serve God the way the other two Nazirites mentioned above did. He alone was capable of exterminating the entire Philistines! He would have been the greatest warrior that ever lived among men! But, we all know what indicipline, lack of temperance and an unbridled romance with sin did to Samson’s grace. He grieved the Spirit of God continuously with his irreverent lifestyle, and the Spirit ended up departing from him. Samson ended up disgraced, humiliated and terminated prematurely by the enemy he was raised up to destroy! The great grace upon him did not attain its full potential! Though highly graced, Samson ended up in disgrace because he lacked the discipline and diligence to make the grace of God in his life count. In the end, he frustrated the grace of God! He failed God and his destiny. He was destined to destroy the Philistines, but the lusts of the flesh and of the eyes conspired to make him an object of ridicule and a piteous prisoner in the camp of the enemy! He had no temperance and no discipline to cultivate his gift and consecrate himself to his life’s calling. He couldn’t bring his body and his lusts under control. In the end, his unbridled lusts brought him down, at the prime of his life and grace. Samson was a case of extraordinary grace with no consecration, no preparation and no discipline. Such grace will end in failure, disgrace and disappointment.

Judges 13:2 A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was childless, unable to give birth.

Judges 13:3 The angel of the LORD appeared to her and said, “You are barren and childless, but you are going to become pregnant and give birth to a son.

Judges 13:4 Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean.

Judges 13:5 You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”

Judges 14:5 Samson went down to Timnah together with his father and mother. As they approached the vineyards of Timnah, suddenly a young lion came roaring toward him.

Judges 14:6 The Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon him so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor his mother what he had done.

Judges 15:14 As he approached Lehi, the Philistines came toward him shouting. The Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon him. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands.

Judges 15:15 Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men.

Judges 15:16 Then Samson said, “With a donkey’s jawbone I have made donkeys of them. With a donkey’s jawbone I have killed a thousand men.”

Judges 15:17 When he finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone; and the place was called Ramath Lehi.

Judges 16:1 One day Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her.

Judges 16:2 The people of Gaza were told, “Samson is here!” So they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the city gate. They made no move during the night, saying, “At dawn we’ll kill him.”

Judges 16:3 But Samson lay there only until the middle of the night. Then he got up and took hold of the doors of the city gate, together with the two posts, and tore them loose, bar and all. He lifted them to his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron.

Judges 16:18 When Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to the rulers of the Philistines, “Come back once more; he has told me everything.” So the rulers of the Philistines returned with the silver in their hands.

Judges 16:19 After putting him to sleep on her lap, she called for someone to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him.

Judges 16:20 Then she called, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” He awoke from his sleep and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the LORD had left him.

Judges 16:21 Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding grain in the prison.

Judges 16:22 But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.

Judges 16:23 Now the rulers of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to celebrate, saying, “Our god has delivered Samson, our enemy, into our hands.”

Judges 16:24 When the people saw him, they praised their god, saying, “Our god has delivered our enemy into our hands, the one who laid waste our land and multiplied our slain.”

Judges 16:25 While they were in high spirits, they shouted, “Bring out Samson to entertain us.” So they called Samson out of the prison, and he performed for them. When they stood him among the pillars,

Judges 16:26 Samson said to the servant who held his hand, “Put me where I can feel the pillars that support the temple, so that I may lean against them.”

Judges 16:27 Now the temple was crowded with men and women; all the rulers of the Philistines were there, and on the roof were about three thousand men and women watching Samson perform.

Judges 16:28 Then Samson prayed to the LORD, “Sovereign LORD, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.”

Judges 16:29 Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other,

Judges 16:30 Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.

Judges 16:31 Then his brothers and his father’s whole family went down to get him. They brought him back and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. He had led Israel twenty years.

Success in ministry (and in life generally) is not just dependent on the grace and talents one has. Diligence in cultivating and developing one’s talents is equally as important, if not more important than mere possession of a gift or a talent. Unrefined and unprocessed gifts and talents will not take one far. The best an uncultivated talent or grace will achieve is a mediocre life. However, when a gift is diligently cultivated, it will bring the owner before kings and prominent people; it will advertise its owner and bring fame and fortune. And when diligence is coupled to seeking God and pleasing him at all times, grace and gifts will be multiplied and the result will be good success. Every grace is received from God, and every grace relies on God for success. Detached from God, the best grace will be but dim and lackluster.

Proverbs 22:29 See you a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men (AKJV).

Deuteronomy 28:1 If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth.

Deuteronomy 28:2 All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God:

Deuteronomy 28:3 You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.

Deuteronomy 28:13 The LORD will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.

Joshua 1:7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.

Joshua 1:8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

Psalms 1:1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,

Psalms 1:2 but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.

Psalms 1:3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither — whatever they do prospers.

In conclusion, the grace of God can be sufficient only when men make good use of it. For grace to be sufficient for us, we must take due diligence to cultivate and develop the gifts of grace given to us. We must have the discipline to separate and consecrate ourselves to God and dedicate ourselves to our lifetask. Grace and talent can be frittered away and wasted. Divorced from God and hard-work, the best of graces will just be a shadow of their potentials, and will fall way short of God’s expectations. Samson was the perfect example in Scripture of uncommon grace made common and vulgar by lack of consecration, discipline and diligence. Such grace will end in disgrace, and will be overtaken by less gifted, but more consecrated and diligent men. May God help us not to frustrate his grace in our lives. And may he give us the wisdom and diligence to cultivate and develop every talent in us, for the common good. Amen.