Would you follow the lead of a source that had a reputation of being "more deceitful than all else" and "desperately sick?
Before you answer, consider that is how Scripture (Jeremiah 17: 9 NASB) defines the human heart!
The ancient Hebrews (and via principle) the advancing disciples of the Church Age were warned about doing what they "felt was right" at the time.
"You shall not do all what we are doing here today, every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes (Deut. 12: 8 NASB)."
One can "feel" that everything is (or will be) right in his/her relationship with the Lord when in fact be headed for Hell (Matt. 15: 14/John 3: 5, 7. 18/Rev. 20: 15).
One can "feel" that there is a reward awaiting him/her in Heaven, when in fact what reward he/she could have received will be forfeited (1Cor. 3: 15).
On the flip side of the same coin, one can "feel" that he/she has not really been saved (Gal. 3), when in fact he has (John 3: 18). One can feel that he/she has lost his/her salvation, which he/she can't (Eph. 4: 30/Romans 11: 29/etc.). One can feel that he/she will not be receiving much of a reward when in fact one could be among those whose reward could be "great - Mathew 5: 12 NASB."
One can 'feel' guilty over things that he/she is not responsible, and one can "feel" self justified and/or rationalize away just about anything that the Word of God labels as "sin."
"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter (Isa. 5: 20 NASB)."
So how is it that our feelings can deceive us into seeing right as wrong, as wrong as right?
There are MANY spiritual, psychological, physical, and environmental contributing factors that impact how we "feel" at any given time.
The devil will make use of every one of these contributing factors to try to achieve his own agenda. The devil appeals to the fallen nature is us that is inherently hostile (Romans 7) towards God and the things of God. This fallen nature was passed down to what would become our humanity at the moment of conception (Psalms 51: 5). This fallen nature stays with us until we leave it and our humanity behind at the moment of physical death. This fallen nature ha much to do with how we feel when we are out of fellowship with God.
This fallen nature manifests itself in each one of us, but in different ways. Accordingly, even though we do not all have the same areas of weakness, we all have them. Human nature tends to categorize and rate the seriousness of different areas of sin, but not so with God. Contrary to what human viewpoint has to say, if (when) we break ONE of God's rules, we stand as guilty as the one who has broken them all (James 2: 10).
This clearly places all of us in the same stinking, sinking, boat of sin, with an equal need of salvation.
An area of weakness is an area of our lives in which we are either ignorant of what God has to say, reject what God has to say, or refuse to apply what God has to say. Once we choose either ignorance, rejection, or not to apply what God has to say, it creates a vacuum in our soul structure that the devil is more than glad to help us fill.
Just as we are all in equal need of salvation, we are in equal need of the enabling (John 15: 5) power of God to understand (Romans 8: 7) the things of God and to execute the true post salvation spiritual life.
The devil's agenda is to do all that he can to inhibit the proclamation of the Gospel Message to unbelievers, and to inhibit the development of the true post salvation spiritual life in the lives of those who have been born again. It is by no coincidence and should therefore come to us as no surprise that the devil's agenda is the exact opposite of the mission that the Lord Jesus Christ gave to the Church that He designed (Matt. 28: 19, 20).
The devil's method of operation is to deceive in order to change the focus and the direction of spiritual lives. This deception can involve what appears to be good things (e.g., religion/human works) as well as sin.
Discipleship, that being the study and application of the Word of God, begins with oneself with the long term objective of evangelizing and/or spiritually edifying others. Our individual interest (or lack of interest) in participating in the Great Commission speaks volumes about where a born again believer is in his/her walk with the Lord.
All born again believers are eternally saved, but not all born again believers "walk" with the Lord on a moment to moment, day to day, basis. Discipleship is a 24-7 venture.
Knowing of the destructive impact that sin generates, the devil will promote feelings that opens the door to sins of mental attitudes and overt behaviors. The woman (later named Eve) was deceived AFTER she was persuaded to feel that God was holding out on her and Adam, and that by eating of the forbidden fruit she could improve what she and Adam had going for themselves in the Garden (Gen. 3: 5). After setting the stage, however, it still took a conscious decision on the part of the woman (Eve) to believe the devil's lie (Gen. 3: 1, 4) and then to choose to disobey God. Adam was not deceived (1Tim. 2: 14), but chose to favor his relationship with the woman over his relationship with God. The end result was the Fall of Man.
In both cases, Adam and the woman did what they "felt" like at the time.
Who among us can say that we have not done what we felt like and lived to regret it? We all sin fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3: 23 NASB). The real question is rather or not we have learned our lesson. Do we repent (change our viewpoint), or do we repeat the same sin over and over again?
The devil is a master in the realm of spiritual combat (Eph. 6: 12). He's been at it BEFORE and AFTER Man was created, and will continue to do until his final defeat in a FUTURE dispensation to come (Rev. 20: 7-10). Contrary to what many have been deceived to believe, the devil and most of the Eph. 6: 12 forces of evil are NOT presently in Hell waiting for all the "bad" people to join him/them. The lake of fire is awaiting them all (Rev. 20: 10), but during the dispensation of the Church Age (in which we are living) the devil (and his Eph. 6: 12 forces of evil) are among us and interacting with the members of the human race in this phase of the Angelic Conflict.
Being ignorant of the location, strength, plans, and method of operation of the enemy places us in a position of extreme vulnerability.
The devil, and those (Eph. 6: 12) who do his bidding, knows when, where, and how to push the right buttons for maximum effect. Our emotions and feelings are among the primary means through which the devil will attempt to influence our thoughts and behaviors. Every sin begins with a thought, and every thought is connected to an emotion. Every emotion is connected to a feeling.
Human beings are neither robots or zombies. Some of us do not overtly show our emotions as much as others, but on the inside we are all emotional beings. When our feelings are hurt, we are in immediate danger of "reacting emotionally" rather than "responding" in accordance with the doctrine that we (should) have stored away in our edified soul structure (Matt. 7: 24-27). Reacting emotionally IS the "natural" course of action, but the advancing disciple is not called to do what is "natural" with human power, but what is "supernatural" by choosing to apply the appropriate doctrine with the enabling power (John 15: 5) that God supplies.
We will all have an emotional surge when we are hurt or offended. It is the advancing disciple who can quickly recover BEFORE responding in a way that dishonors God. Every act of disobedience dishonors God, and denies Him the glory that a doctrinal response would have brought Him.
Unlike Adam and Eve, the bottom line for deciding what an advancing disciple will do or refrain from doing is determined by what the Word of God has to say about ANY given issue. Training ourselves to hand the little things in life on a daily basis is what prepares us to handle the bigger issues.
The "trained" disciple is the believer who has learned what the Bible has to say about any given situation AND who, through practice, has learned to apply it.
Part of my 30 year law enforcement career was spent in the area of providing in-service training to police personnel. When a person is subjected to unexpected adversity, he/she will most likely do what he/she has been trained to do. The same principle applies in the realm of spiritual combat. Lack of training (learning the Word of God) and preparation (applying the Word of God) is a recipe for disaster Matt. 7: 27).
* * *
Becoming spiritually mature does NOT mean that we won't experience the same hurt feelings when rejected, disrespected, unappreciated, used, slandered, betrayed, ignored, etc, as everyone else. When an opportunity presents itself, being spiritually mature does not mean that we won't be t-e-m-p-t-e-d to retaliate by word or deed. We do not cease to become human beings as a result of being born again (Romans 7: 14-24).
Being spiritually mature, however, does mean that we will CHOOSE to respond in a way that glorifies God, causing us s stick out in the crowd, here in the devil's world. Rather it is a subconscious response based on our training and preparation OR a conscious decision, our response to adversity IS a choice that we make.
For an advancing disciple, revenge is not an acceptable option. For the advancing disciple, the glorification of God and maintaining fellowship with Him takes precedence.
Human being, by nature, are self-centered. Advancing disciple are Christ-centered.
Mastering control of one's tongue IS beyond human ability (James 3: 8), but not beyond the enabling (John 15: 5) power of God.
Keep in mind that *whatever comes out of the mouth reveals what was dominating the soul at the time.
It can be a soul-wrenching experience to discover what a 2Cor. 13: 5 examination will disclose when we take into account what comes out of the mouth of the one we face in the mirror.
The *whatever can apply to both relatively negative (anger, bitterness, disappointment, jealous, revenge, etc.) and/or relatively positive (love, kindness, sympathy, genuine concern, etc.) feelings and emotions.
As the Lord Jesus Christ taught, "
One of the reasons that individuals can not retain control of their mouths is because of unresolved issues. Bitterness, lack of forgiveness, competitiveness, jealousy,etc., in the soul is like cancer in a natural organ. If not detected and addressed, it will cause much destruction.
Such persons walk around like a pressure cooker about to blow its lid off until something triggers a response and out comes all the negativity that had been previously withheld. It is , in such cases, that what comes out of the mouth (revealing what was in the soul) that defiles the individual (Matt. 15: 11).
"Not what enters into the mouth defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man (Matt. 15: 11 NASB)."
If the same issues are not addressed, it is only a matter of time before the next explosion!
Maintaining control over our tongue does NOT come natural to any one of us. Keeping a leash on one's tongue requires a choice to apply the appropriate doctrines (that should be) circulating in our edified soul structure with the enabling power (John 15: 5) of God.
"But no one (apart from God - John15: 5) can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison (James 3: 8 NASB)."
* * *
The first time we choose to engage in any given category of sin is always the hardest one to commit. After that, it becomes easier and easier to the point that it no longer bothers us and may even encourage others to engage in it. It is then that such sin can become a lifestyle, preferring to seek the "seasonal pleasure (Hebrews 11: 25)" that the sin brings to our temporarily-satisfied fallen nature, rather than deny oneself such pleasure, pick up the cross, and follow the Lord (Matt. 16: 24).
For most of is, the first time that we go against the grain and take a stand that publicly glorifies God was or will be a real challenge. For the first time, we cared (or will care) more about what people think about God than what people are going to think about ourselves. As we spiritually mature, speaking up for God and/or the things of God will become something we do without giving it a second though. We will discover the reality of (2 Timothy 1: 7).
"For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline (2 Tim. 1: 7 NASB)."
Choosing to learn, apply, and eventually share with others what the Word of God has to say about EVERY aspect of life will no longer be a burden or an embarrassment (Matt. 10: 33), but the driving force behind ALL that we think, do, and say throughout the course of our post (after) salvation spiritual life.
Spiritual maturity will change how we feel about many issues as we continue to be "conformed to the likeness of Christ (Romans 8: 29).
Know that this will be an uphill battle. The devil has a plan to see to it that discipleship ( the study, application, and sharing of the Word of God) will NOT become a lasting reality for any born again believer.
ANY feeling that would cause us to think, speak, or otherwise behave contrarily to what the Bible has to say is to rejected. In some cases, this will be a very challenging experience as the cost of discipleship becomes more and more of an experiential reality.
* * *
Secular therapists will often begin to address an issue by asking how one "feels" about the issue at hand, whereas advancing disciples will begin to address an issue by asking what God has to say about the matter at hand.
How WE feel and what GOD has to say about the same issue are often not one in the same.
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways My ways, " deckares the Lord. (Isa 55: 8 NASB).
* * *
"The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it (Jer. 17: 9 NASB) ?"
"He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, But he who *walks wisely will be delivered (Prov. 28: 26 NASB)."
The one who *walks wisely is the one builds, refines, maintains, and applies an edified soul structure. The doctrines that are (or should be) in our individual soul structure are not necessarily going to be in line with how we feel, nor is it our feelings that give them credibility. Things are what they are because God says so.
As examples, ALL born again believers ARE saved (John 3: 18). Confessed post salvation sins ARE forgiven (1John 1: 9), no matter what internal or external sources of influence would otherwise cause have you "feel."
The one who "builds" an edified soul structure is the one who obeys 2Pet. 3: 18 by c-o-n-t-i-n-u-a-l-l-y- growing in the knowledge of the Lord. None of us will ever know all that there is to be learned about God this side of Heaven.
We are all a work in progress, especially in the area of application.
The one who refines and maintains his edified soul structure is the one who continues to conduct 2 Cor. 13: 5 SELF examinations with for the purpose of making the required adjustments concerning the accuracy and application of the doctrines he/she already has. When many believers read the Bible, they are not really looking for new or more accurate information, but are only seeking confirmation of what they have already decided to be the case. Such an approach is not conducive to spiritual growth.
To learn anything, one must be teachable.
The one who applies his/her edified soul structure is the one who is not only a hearer of the Word, but a doer (James 1: 22).
* * *
"Trust in the Lord with all your your heart, And do not learn on your own understanding (Proverbs 3: 5 NASB)."
On the surface, Proverbs 3: 5 can appear to be contradict what we have seen so far. We have already seen that Scripture teach the human h-e-a-r-t- is deceitful and desperately sick (Jer. 17: 9) and that those who trust their hearts are fools (Prov. 28: 26).
While we are to USE our hearts (emotions/feelings) to experience our relationship, our trust (faith/ confidence) is in the Lord.
One (many do) believe "with all their heart" in false gods (Psalms 96) and/or false (religious) means to connect to the one true God. Psalms 96 refutes the concept promoted by human viewpoint that we all worship the same God, but by different names and methods. False gods and false forms of worship are taught by demons or demonic influence through persons that have deceived (1Timothy 4: 1). Infiltrating the Christian Community and promoting false doctrines and practices through wolves in sheep's clothing has been a part of satanic strategy from the very beginning of the Church Age (Gal. 3.).
At the end of the day, we have either glorified the God of the Bible, by having learned and applied the appropriate doctrines to the choices and decisions we made, or we have sinned via acts of omission (failing to do what is required) or commission (doing what is prohibited). Spiritual ignorance is a choice we make. Accordingly, ignorance is no excuse.
There is no neutral ground in the spiritual realm. One has either been born again or one is spiritually dead. A born again believer is either executing the type of post salvation spiritual life of discipleship, or he is practicing a "religious" alternative, usually based on how he feels.
Before we can understand what is the Biblical s-o-l-u-t-i-o-n for sin, we must first have the divine perspective of what sin is. Sin consists of every thought and action that we choose to entertain and or otherwise engage. Being tempted to sin is NOT a sin. The Lord Jesus Christ was tempted in His humanity with every form of sin that we are (Heb. 4:15), but without choosing to sin.
Every day we are presented with evil, that being information, behavior, or activity that is prohibited or otherwise contrary to the, "...mind (thinking) of Christ (1Cor. 2: 16 NASB/italics mine." We cross the line and enter into sin when we entertain the thoughts and/or overtly engage in the evil behavior.
When sin fulfills (or offers/promises to fulfill) what we WANT, our feelings can greatly contribute to our self-justification of how we think or behave.
Evil, by definition includes ALL teachings and behaviors are inconsistent with the Word of God. This includes the evil that can come from a pulpit.
As one advances in discipleship, one will be amazed at just how much evil and opportunities to sin that are brought to our minds via the Ephesian 6:12 forces of evil and by organizations and people that they have deceived. If it can impact our feelings, it can be used by the devil.
Note that in the format of prayer that the Lord Jesus taught, it includes the desire NOT to led into temptation, but to be delivered from evil (Matt. 6: 13).
Within the parameters that God permits the devil and the Eph. 6: 12 forces of evil to function, we ARE tempted every day, but NEVER beyond the point (1Cor. 10:13) that we can not resist or be afforded the means (Matt. 7: 24-27) of escape. The means of escape is the appropriate doctrines that we (should) ALREADY have circulating in our edified soul structure.
One of the consequences of d-i-s-o-b-e-d-i-e-n-c-e to 2Pet. 3: 18/Heb. 10: 25 on a regular basis is not having the "means of escape" on hand to facilitate one's escape when temptation presents itself.
One of the consequences of disobedience to James 1: 22/ on a moment to moment basis concerning the little matters of life, we don;t stand much of a chance of successfully handling the major storms either.
The devil, his forces of evil, other people, our own fallen nature, and our feelings will often desire that we do one thing while God desires that we do the opposite. Knowing that the will of God is in any given situation is what building an edified soul structure (Matt. 7: 24-27) is all about. But being a hearer of the Word and not a doer of the Word (James 1 : 22) will accomplish nothing other than to provide cannon fodder to the enemy as he parades our failures in the eyes of the human and spiritual beings who observe us.
There is no such thing as there being a time when "no one" is looking or that "no one" knows what sin(s) we commit. There is no such thing as a "little" sin, when the glory of God hangs in the balance.
Secular trainers of military and public safety (fire/police/rescue) personnel know that under extreme stress one is most likely to respond in the way that he/she has been trained. Split-second scenarios do not allow the one involved to sit down and to think about the actions (or inactions) that he/she is going to take. This same principle in the realm of daily spiritual combat. It is one thing when we have time to pause and think about the likely blessings or consequences that our actions or inactions will generate, but what about when we are hit with adversity or temptation from the blind side?
If we have not prepared ourselves before the storms of life strike, we are predisposed to crash (Matt. 7: 24-27). Applying the doctrines in relatively smaller ways on a daily basis, is what trains and prepares us to respond appropriately when the relatively larger scenarios present themselves. If we can't forgive and forget the little things people do, how are we going to ever forgive the greater pain that others can bring to us. If we are not honest when dealing with nickels and dimes, how are we going to resist the temptation to lie, cheat, and steal when there is a lot more to be "gained" ?
Keep in mind, that rather or not it is a "big" issue or a relatively minor one as human viewpoint would "rate" it, the glory of God hangs in the balance of each and every choice that we make when a moral issue is in view.
Rather or not it is a situation that allows us to think about our response or one that we make in a split second when hit on the blind side, OUR response is a CHOICE that we make. The "trigger" may be a very minor thing that "sets us off", but it was the "straw that breaks the camel's back" when it is the means to release pent up hostility that we have (s-i-n-f-u-l-l-y- Eph. 4: 26) harbored and allowed to fester over a period of time.
Sometimes just the mention of a name or the sound of a voice can reveal to us some unresolved issue.
Sometimes the one we unload on had the least to do with the build up of the pressure that is suddenly released.
"Be angry (that's normal), and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger (Eph. 4: 26 NASB italics mine)."
The following verses contain commands, not suggestions. When we choose to disobey God's commands, we sin.
"...grow (increase) in the grace and knowledge of the Lord ...(1Peter 3: 18 NASB italics mine.
" Never take your own revenge (Command #1), beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God (Command #2), for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord. Taking what belongs to another, in this case God, and using it for our own purposes makes one a thief. Stealing from a collection plate would be considered a deplorable sin, but is one any better if he/she takes what belongs to God from His proverbial hand?
But if your enemy is hungry, feed him (Command #3), and if he is thirsty, give him drink (Command #4); for in doing so you will heap burning coals upon his head (Romans 12: 19, 20 NASB italics mine)."
There are two commonly accepted interpretations/applications of the phrase, " you will heap burning coals upon his head". One is that the person who hurt us (by word or deed) will feel ashamed and suffer emotional pain to the head when one responds with kindness for adversity. The other, goes back to the ancient world. Keeping the home fire (for cooking, light, and heat) was an important function. If the home fire went out, a good neighbor would bring hot coals (in a container carried on one's head) over to the neighbor in need to restart his home fire to provide this essential need(s) for his family. In context, it is going the extra mile when it is one enemy that benefits.
We choose to sin in response to the pressure placed on our soul to satisfy the desires of our own fallen-sin nature, other people, organizations, true and perceived authorities, and/or the desires of the devil (1Pet. 5: 8) who is out to devour us.
The enabling John 15: 5 power to resist the devil is ours IF and WHEN we are in fellowship (1Cor. 13:14) with God and choose to apply it.
When out of fellowship with God, we will inevitably favor the leading of our self-centered fallen nature that is hostile (Romans 8: 7) toward God and the things of God.
Attempting to accomplish spiritual objectives via human talent, power, or ability will prove to be acts of futility. Just what part of the "can do nothing" phrase of John 15:5 is it that some people can't understand?
A born again believer remains forever saved ,but steps out of fellowship with God the moment he/she engages is sin by what he/she thinks, says, does, or fails to do. The born again believer gets back into fellowship with God when he confesses (1John 1: 9) his/her sin to God (1Tim. 2: 5).
If/ when the sin has becomes one's lifestyle or character trait, the confessed sin must also be forsaken (John 8: 11). Otherwise he/she steps right back out of fellowship again. Such a believer remains saved, but will spend much of his/her post salvation spiritual life in a revolving doorway going in and out of fellowship with God, but never moving forward in the plan of God. The periods of time spent out of fellowship with God can be as brief as the few seconds it takes to confess (to God) the sin, or it can be as long as the rest of one's post salvation spiritual life here on Earth. Failing to identify and/or execute the true post salvation spiirtual life results in divine discipline (heb. 12: 6) and forfeiture of heavenly rewards (1Cor. 3: 12-15), but NEVER the loss of salvation.
For the advancing disciple, just being out of fellowship with God is enough to motivate him/her to confess/forsake all known sin.
How we may or may not feel has got NOTHING to do with being forgiven by God. God's forgiveness throughout the course of the Church Age dispensation is based on the fact that the sin was a-l-r-e-a-d-y atoned ( paid for) on the cross!
Being forgiven by other people may never take place, to their own hurt (Matt. 6: 14, 15).
At times, the hardest person to forgive can be oneself!
The SIN of refusing to forgive others is one of the leading causes for prolonged periods of time spent (wasted) out of fellowship with God.
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Our defense system is facilitated by the Bible doctrine that we (should) already have on hand (Matt. 7: 24-27) BEFORE the need arises. Failure to have stored up the correct doctrine is a CHOICE that we make each and every day if we choose not to spend quality time in Word of Gd. God cannot command us to grow in the knowledge of the Lord (2Pet. 3: 18) and then not provide the means for anyone who truly wants to do so. Accordingly, not having "the" right answers in any given situtation, or not applying what we DO know to the matters at hand, ARE choices that WE make. Choosing to follow our feelings instead of following what the Bible has to say is a recipe for disaster.
In the midst of an attack is not the time to seek out the Biblical solutions to the challenges of life. The damage or even the collapse of one's soul structure (Matt. 7: 27) is allowed by God so that the one involved can see where the defects in one's present foundation (Gospel) or structure (post salvation doctrine) had been. God will respond to our "911" spiritual distress calls, but If we fail to learn from the experience, we are bound to repeat them over and over again. With each deliverance, comes the warning that the next round of divine discipline will be more intense if we do not repent (change our minds) and forsake (John 8: 11) the mental attitude sin or the overt behavioral sin involved.
With the exception of the sin of disbelief (John 3: 18), every sin (James 2: 10 /1John 2: 2) that has ever been committed, is being committed, or will be committed throughout the course of human history, has a-l-r-e-a-d-y been atoned (past tense) for, providing for the means of on-going forgiveness (1John 1: 9).
Such forgiveness is immediate and complete, but "feeling" the confidence and security of this truth offers will only be emotionally experienced (felt) by those develop spiirtual maturity by c-o-n-t-i-n-u-i-n-g in the Word (John 8:31, 32. Continuing in the Word inovles BOTH the study and the application of the Word of God. Having the right answer, but not aplying it is like pickng up the required prescription at the pharmacy, but never ingesting it.
* * *
The devil will use (or misuse) every means available, to make unbelievers "feel" that they do not have to be born again, and to make believers "feel" that post (after) salvation discipleship is not important. "Feeling" that way about the Gospel Message will land one in the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15). "Feeling" that way about discipleship denies God the glory He would have otherwise received and causes the believer to forfeit part or all of the heavenly rewards and privileges that he/she could have otherwise received in addition to the eternal life that all believers will experience in Heaven (1Cor. 3: 12-15).
"So Jesus was saying to the Jews who had (already) believed (past tense) in Him, "IF you continue in My Word, THEN you are truly disciples of Mine; and the truth will make you free (John 8: 31, 32 NASB italics mine)."
Note that these words were spoken to believers who were already saved (John 3: 18) for having believed in Him. Accordingly, the issue was no longer their salvation; but their discipleship.
Discipleship has got NOTHING to do with obtaining or retaining salvation, but has everything to do with identifying and executing the TRUE post salvation spiritual life.
Here in the devil's world, discipleship will result in receiving a mixed bag of blessings and adversity that are bound to impact the way we will "feel" about God and the things of God from time to time. When things are going "our" way in the life of a weak believer, he/she feels "blessed," but when the storms of life comes his/her way, we ask where God is and why He is allowing such things to happen. The strong believer is not going to like the storms of life any better than anyone else, but will respond to them with the attitude of Job.
"...Shall we inded accept good from God and not accept asversity (Job 2: 10 NASB)?"
One of the many blessings of TRUE discipleship is being able to "feel", and thereby experience, the reality of the eternal security of one's salvation. The "freedom" that true disciples will feel and experience is the liberation from all forms of bondage through which the devil and promoters of Man-made religion endorse.
Sin was atoned (paid) for by the Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Here in the Church Age, salvation became avilable to b-e-l-i-e-v-e-r-s (John 3: 18) via the atoning Work (already finished (John 19:30) on the cross). A believer in this case, refers to a soul who CHOOSES to place his full confidence and trust in the Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus Chirst, as communicated in the presentation of the Gospel Message.
No amount of good behavior, good deeds, or RELIGOUS activity can add to or equate with the atoning Work that was already accomplished on the cross. The regnerating (Titus 3: 5) and sealing (baptizing = marking for identification) Work of God the Holy (Eph. 4: 30) is the automatic divine response that takes place the split second that a soul b-e-l-i-e-v-e-s (places his full confidence and trust) in a presentation of the Gospel Message.
This can take place at any time and by any means that God chooses, and has got NOTHING to do with Man made "religious" ritual(s) or ceremony.
* * *
In the secular world, the administration of justic calls for the secular laws of Man to make distinctions in the varying degrees of seriousness for each violation of the laws of Man. Many violation of Man's laws are adequately addressed by imposing fines and/or Community Service, whereas others warrant incarceration or capital punishment.
But in the eyes of God, sin is sin. God can have no more fellowship (Habakkuk 1:13/1Cor. 13: 14) with a soul that has not confessed what human viewpoint would write off as "minor" sin, than He can fellowship with a murderer. I reiterate, SIN is SIN!
We may not "feel" this way about some of the things God's Word labels as sin, but that does not change it, or the impact that ANY sin has on each one of us.
"For whoever keeps the whole Law and yet stumbles in one point, has become guilty of (breaking it) all (James 2: 10 NASB italics mine)."
"If we say that we have (committed) no (post} salvation) sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth (concerning this issue)is not within us (a part of our soul structure) (1John 1: 8 NASB italics mine)."
We will not "feel" comfortable about envisioning ourselves rubbing elbows with the some of the more ingamous characters in human hisotry, but as far as salvation is concerned, we are ALL in the same stinking, sinking boat!
"And He himself is the propitiation (full payment) of our sins , and not for ours (the initial recipients of this letter) only, but also of those of the whole world (1John 2: 2 italics mine.
To add any other requirement or product of religion to "pay" for sin in order to receive and/or to retain salvation is an insult to the One (The Lord Jesus Christ) whose Work on the cross paid the sin debt of the world in full.
There may or may not be both divine (Heb. 12: 6) or secular (Romans 13) consequences for the sins or crimes we commit, but the loss or inability to be saved are NOT among them. Feelings of guilt before God for a sin(s) that He has forgiven (1John 1: 9) is promoted by those who are ignorant (or reject) what God has to say on the matter.
"He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not BELIEVE has been judged already, becasuse he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (John 3: 18 NASB."
Here, believing in the name means to acknowledge who (the Son of God) the Lord Jesus Christ was/is, and the significance of the atoning Work that He "finished (John 19: 30)" ON the cross.
One may "feel" otherwise, but such feelings do not come from God.
As in the case of virtually everything else in the spiritual realm, Satan (primarily through the promotion of religion) offers alternative "solutions" to adress sin. Such "solutions" appeal to the " hostile (Romans 8:7)" fallen nature in Man. Such "human" solutions are held in high esteem (Luke 16: 15) by Man as they appear to provide Man with the HUMAN means of making and/or keeping himself right with God. However, God views such things as detestable (Luke 16: 15) that amount to no more filthy (Isa. 64:6) rags.
"And He said to them, "You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows (the contents of) your hearts (soul structures); for that (Man-made religion) which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God (Luke 16: 15 NASB/italics mine)."
"..all our (self) righteous deeds are like a filthy garment...(Isa. 64: 6 NASB/italics mine)."
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There are internal and external (Matt. 7: 24-27) "storms" that an advancing disciple will (2Tim. 3: 12) encounter if he/she chooses to go against the grain of personal assumptions, familial, social, and/or cultural traditions and practices that have been (and will be) established and promoted by the devil. Accordingly, God has given us the Luke 14: 26 admonition.
"If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate (love less) his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own (independent) life, he cannot be My disciple (Luke 14: 26 NASB italics mine)."
This verse (and others) clealy make a distinction between being born again (as ALL Christians are) and being a disciple (one who studies and applies the Word of God.
Satan and the Ephesians 6:12 forces of evil will use such familial pressure to impede or eliminate any 1 Cor. 5: 13 examinations that might otherwise expose such things for what they really are. MANY born again believers would just as soon NOT learn what God actually as to say, rather than face the challenges that true discipleship will require.
Studying the Word of God is only half the battle. One must be a "doer (James 1: 22) " of the Word as well.
"Therefore every one who hears these words (Gospel and post-salvation doctrine) and acts on them, may be applied to a wise man who builds his house (soul structure) on the rock (solid foundation). And the rains fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew
slammed against that house; and yet, it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these (same) words of Mine and (but) does not act of them, will be like a foolish man that builds his house (soul structure) on the sand (human viewpoint/religion). The (same) rain came, and the floods came, and the winds slammed against that house; and it fell--and great was its fall (Matthew 7: 24-27 NASB/italics mine)."
Are all of our self-deduced conclusions totally wrong? Is all the guidance that external sources bring to our souls totally false? Of course not. In fact, every Satanic deception itselfcontains enough truth to make the accompanying false the information accepted.
Like any form of counterfeiting, it MUST appear to be genuine and usable if the deception is going to work.
For many born again believers, just getting into Heaven IS "good enough;" especially if it can still be accomplished while entertaining some of pleasures that the devil's world has to offer, as well. But for the advancing disciple, "good enough" is NOT "good enough when good enough diminishes the glory that he/she can otherwise bring to God..
"ALL things are lawful, but not all things are profitable (for us or others). All things are lawful, but not all things edify (ourselves or others)." 1Cor. 10: 23 NASB/italics mine.
The more spiritually edified one becomes, there will be a change in how one "feels" about many things. There will be a diminished interest in the things of this world, and an increasing interest in the things that pertain to the world to come. The "world" will have a decreased interest in the advancing disciple and what the advancing disciple has to offer. The advancing disciple will develop a decreased interest in what the "world" has to offer, but an increase in the spiritual well-being of others (1Cor. 12: 7).
The "world", here, refers to those who hold to human viewpoint that is by nature hostile towards God and the things of God. Friendship with the world (worldly thinking people) generates enmity with God. Unfaithfulness to God is what Scripture defines as spiritual adultery.
"You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility towards God? Whoever wishes to be a friend with the word makes himself an enemy of God (James 4: 4)."
On the one hand, advancing disciples are commanded, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men (Romans 12: 18 NASB)." On the other hand, taking a stand for God and/or the things of God IS going to generate conflict (Matt. 10: 34). The "as much as possible" line in drawn when peace with others calls for one to compromise his/her own walk with the Lord.
Are you one that others perceive to be a friend of God, or a friend of the world? You can NOT be both.
The solid rock FOUNDATION (1Cor. 3: 11, 12) of the soul structure (Matt. 7: 24-27) is laid with an understanding of the TRUE, unadulterated, religion-free, Gospel Message. The building material of the structure that rests on the solid foundation is accurate, post salvation Bible Doctrine. Defective material of the soul structure is ANY false doctrines or practices that have been used to build the structure. It is when the (wind, rain, floods) storms of life slam with great force that the integrity of the foundation and structure is put to the test.
If the TRUE Gospel was used, the foundation and the salvation it provides remains after the storm. If the foundation was of sand (false Gospel) the foundation cracks and washes away along with the structure that was built on it. If the solid rock foundation remains, any part of the soul structure that was built with defective material is blown off the building, leaving what is left (accurate doctrine) standing. If one was truly saved by having the type of faith (total trust and confidence) that the TRUE Gospel Message speaks of, the foundation (salvation) remains intact no matter how many storms it encounters throughout the course of one's post salvation spiritual life. This is true regardless how one may "feel."
There will, however, be the need for "repairs" when the defects (false doctrines and practices) are revealed when the storms of life strike.
It is for this reason that GOD allows these storms is to strike. Storms reveal to the builder and to the resident the integrity of the structure that he/she has in place at any given time.
Having "heard the Word" but never having ACTED on it accomplishes NOTHING! How we "feel" about the integrity of our soul structure, and what it is actually may be, is NOT always one in the same. This is why we are told (2Cor. 13:5) to examine ourselves (our soul structure) from time to time and make the necessary adjustments BEFORE the storms of life slam up against it!
Sometimes the storms of life are no more than a few clouds on an otherwise sunny day; a little insult here and there, whereas others are more like tornadoes. It is by dealing with the cloudy days that we train ourselves to deal with the tornadoes.
The TRUE post salvation spiritual life is one of an ongoing and ever-increasing battle with the Eph. 6: 12 forces of evil. One's contribution to and participation inthe plan of God is in a sad state of affairs if the devil and his Eph. 6: 12 forces of evil don't think it is worth the cost of a bullet to take a shot at you from time to time. Worse than that, could it be that he has you right where he wants you to be, promoting his religious agenda? The devil is "wise" enough not to fix what is already working for him.
Negatively influencing how we "feel" about God and/or the things of God is clearly a part of the devil's strategy. "Good enough" is NEVER good enough for the advancing disciple, but fits quite well into the devil's counter plan.
The ONLY energizing element that the practice of "religion" offers is a temporary emotional lift that one receives while participating in some "religious" activity by the overt part he/she plays. Many "religious" events carry great familial and/or social significance and therefore can be the source of great Luke 14: 26 challenges.
The temporary emotional characteristic of many such events is evidence by that fact that is NO enduring impact on how one thinks or conducts him/herself when he/she steps out into the devil's world each day.
Satan will gladly have you spend one hour or so once a week in the midst of "religious" activity, especially if it has no signigicant impact on how one thinks or behaves during the remaining 167 hrs. of the same week.
Emotions ARE a part of the soul, but must not be mistaken for spirituality. Atheists have emotions. Adherents to the many "gods" and accompanying religions of the world (Psalms 96) have emotions.
One can experience an emotional response to a spoken word, a song, a novel, a movie, an image, song. One can chemically induce, enhance, intensify, diminish, destroy, and/or otherwise alter one's physical, psychological, or emotional experience. Biologically, our brains impact our mental environment all the time.
Just a little lost sleep can impact how one feels. Stress can impact how one feels. Health issues can impact how one feels.
The list goes on and on!
All of these emotional responses can be experienced by souls that have been born again (John 3: 5, & 7) and by those who are spiritually dead, having never received a Titus 5: 3 regenderated spirit. Herein is the danger of misinterpretatng emotionalism for spirituality.
One must be cautious about the mind altering foods, drinks, and chemicals (prescribed and otherwise obtained) that we take into our physical bodies.
One must learn to discern what is emotional from what is spiritual. Until one is born again (John 3: 57), he/she is spiritually dead, inherently hostile, and incapable of understanding the things of God.
Every one of us, physically alive today, came into this world spiritually dead.
Those among us who have been born again are spiritually alive, having received a regenerated spirit (Titus 3: 5) at the moment of salvatin. Those among us who have been born again have already received eternal life (John 3: 16, 18) and are Heaven bound.
Those among us who have NOT been born again, are just as spiritualy dead as they were when they came into this world, no matter how "religious" they have become, or how they may otherwise "feel" about their spirituality or eternal destiny.
A spiritually dead individual can, at best, develop an intellectual comprehension of theology, but human ability is dominated by the fallen nature in Man. While being HOSTILE towards God, human nature is vulnerable and generally receptive to the devil's "religious" alternatives.
We do NOT naturally want to the disturbed or challenged. Furthermore we are creatures of habit. The longer one feels comfortable with his status quo,, the less likely we are to change, or even have a desire to change.
The change (from being spiritually dead to becoming spiritually alive) that takes place at the moment of salvation is permanent. One can NEVER be any more or any less SAVED that he/she became at the moment he/she CHOSE to BELIEVE (place his/her full trust and confidence) in a presentation of the Gospel Message.
One can choose to be more or less "religous," by engaging in or refusing to enage in religious activity, at any time he/she chooses. In most cases, one's "standing" in the "religious" community is based on his/her attendence, financial support, and participation in the rewuired activities promoted by the given religion.
On the other hand, one's "standing" (salvation) with God is based on a one time decision to place his/her 100% trust and confidence in the Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ, as explained to him/her in a presentation of the true Gospel Message. It is the pre-salvation ministry of God the Holy Spirit (Psalms 95: 7, 8/Heb. 3: 15) that makes the Gospel Message "understandable" to a spiritually dead soul (1Cor. 2: 14/Romans 8: 7),affording him/her the opportunity to "believe" it, and be saved. These opportunities are in line with the timing of God, and not according to the timing of the human soul. Unlike choosing to be "religious", that can take place at any time, one can only become spiritual (born again) in response to the presalvation call of God the Holy Spirit, regardless by what means the Gospel Message in being made available.
"...Today if you hear His voice, DO not harden you hearts... (Psalms 95: 7, 8 NASB)." This OldTestament passsage in quoted again in the New Testament Book of Hebrews (Chapter 3).
"But a natural (spiritually dead. or born again believer functioning uncer human viewpoint) man does not accept the things of the Spirit; for they are fooloshness to him, and he cannot understand them (thing thigngs of God) for they (the things of God) are spiritually appraised (with enabling power (John 15: 5) of God)." 1Cor. 2: 14 NASB (italics mine).
Advancing disciples can relate to the futility of trying to evangelize (share the Gospel Message) with an unbeliever, or trying to edify (share post salvation doctrine) with a fellow born again believer apart from the enabling power and presense of God.
(John 15: 5/1 Cor. 3: 7). Evangelists, pastors, and individual believers can (and should) communicate the Gospel Message to unbelievers, and communicate post salvation doctrine to born again believers, but it is God who makes the Gospel Message understandable to the unbeliever, and it is God who makes the post salation doctrine understandable.
"...for apart from Me, you can do n-o-t-h-i-n-g (John 15: 5 NASB)."
"So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but (becasue it is) God who causes the growth (1Cor. 3: 7 NASB italics mine)."
Presenting (or being presented with) the Gospel Message and/or post salation doctrine is serious business. The recipeint is from point point forward withojut excuse and is therefore accountable for its acceptance, rejection, and application.
Once saved, the soul' standing (salvation) with God is permanent, but his/her post salvation life and walk with God has only just begun.
The true post salvation spiritual life, is one of continuous change as we inch forward being gradually conformed to the "mind 1Cor. 2: 16 NASB)" and the "likeness - Romans 8: 29 NASB" of Christ, OR one in wich we drift backwards, giving into the internal and external pressures associated with the DAILY spiritual combat (Eph. 6) of the Church Age.
The salvation of a born again believer is NEVER in jeopardy, but how we "feel" about the security and integrity of that core element of the life of faith greatly impacts one's "walk" with God.
Satan knows the significance of the soul experiencing forgiveness in ANY relationship; be it a relationship with another human being, group of human beings, or with God! Without forgiveness, there can be no intimacy.
Accordingly, the devil will do all that he can to see to it that we do NOT "feel" forgiven by God, and/or that we must do MORE in addition to making a 1John 1: 9 confession to receive the promised forgiveness of God.
Religion supplies us with the personnel and everything else to facilitate this inherently perceived need of Man to do something to address his sin. It began when Adam and the woman clothed themselves with fig leaves. Human effort to address sin didn't work then and doesn't work now. The forgiveness of post (after) salvation sin is made possible by the same means (trust and confidence in the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ) when one was saved.
Confession (1John 1: 9) and forsaking (John 8: 11) of post salvation sin has got nothing to do with retaining salvation, but has got everything to do with executing the true post salvation spiritual life.
Satan is well aware of the human resistance to the concept of forgiving others and its natural desire to seek or arrange pay back for the one's that offend us. The devil is equally aware of disabling damage that the SIN of refusing to forgive others can generate in the post salvation spiritual life of a born again believer.
When the issue of "living in sin" is mentioned, most folks focus on the sin of fornication. Fornication, that referring to engaging in sex outside of what the Bible defines as marriage.
"Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; fornicators and adulterers God will judge (Heb. 13: 4 NASB). (See the Doctrine of Christian Marriage and the presentation, What's The Big Deal About Just Living Together? for more detailed information
However, living in sexual sin is not any more or any less a sin than living in ANY form of sin/ (ames 2: 10).
There were more than 600 ways in which a person living under The Law of the Old Testament could "sin," and there are more than 300 ways in which one can sin in light of New Testament Scripture that pertain to the Church Age in which we are presently living.
When ANYTHING that the Bible labrls as sin becomes a dominating part of one's character and/or lifestyle, that person is "living in sin".
"For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point (ANY given sin), has (in the eyes of God)become guilty (as the one who is) guilty of (having broken them) all (James 2: 10 NASB/italics mine)."
We are all sinners, and the more spiritually edified among us will concede that we have "lived in sin" at one time or another in light of ALL that the Bible labels as sin.
From the moment that ANY known sin is committed until the time that it is confessed (1John 1:9), the born again believer retains his/her salvation, but has been removed from the battlefield of the TRUE post salvation spiritual life . Such a believer is without the enabling John 15: 5 power or even the desire to execute it.
Instead of confessing and forsaking the sin, fallen Man prefers to self-justify his/her actions, or tries to compensate by engaging in the alternatives of "religious" activity, good human behavior, or humanitarian projects. Such things may help us "feel" better about ourselves, and may even impress others, but God is not pleased.
The periods of time (here on Earth) that a born again believer spends out of fellowship with God is a choice that WE make. These periods can be as brief as the few seconds it takes to confess the known sin, and can be as long as the rest of one's post salvation spiritual life if the sin is never confessed. Time spent out of fellowship with God is time totally wasted, no matter how much or how often we try to fill this void with humanitarian deeds or acts of religion.
Living the life of a disciple is a challenge when we are in fellowship (2Cor. 13: 14) with God, let alone the futility (John 15: 5) of trying to do do when living in sin!
Those who have the spiritual maturity to comprehend this Biblical principle can see the extent of damage that ANY post salvation sin will have on the quality of one's post salvation spiritual life.
All one has to do is note the lack of spiritual motivation and lack of production of divine good in a believer's post salvation spiritual life to see if one is walking in fellowship with God.
It is for this reason that the devil will do all he can to persuade the offended one that there is no need or justification for him/her to forgive the one(s) that have offended them. The devil could care less about the situations we find ourselves in, other than how he might make use of them to obtain his objectives. The destruction (1Pet. 5: 8) of the productivity (1Cor. 3: 12-15) of one's post salvation spiritual life is right up there at the top of the devil's "things to do today" list!
No matter how deeply a born again believer's feelings are hurt by the sin(s) of others, one only adds to the damage by entertaining the sin of refusing to forgive the ones who hurt us. It is our OWN post salvation spiritual life that suffers when we entertain the sin of refusing to forgive others. Among other things, such sin results in the forfeiture of all the potential rewards we could have received if WE chose to obey God, forgive others, and in doing so, remain in fellowship with Him.
Keep in mind that if one has been born again, it is our OWN post salvation spiritual life that is ticking and wasting away when WE choose to entertain the SIN of refusing to forgive others.
Placing an issue on the "back burner" of our soul structure, only to bring it forward to throw it is the face of the offender or to report it to others who do not need to know of it, is a clear indication that the sin of refusing to truly forgive is in view.
Granted, the hurt that one encounters can make it humanly impossible to forgive others, but the TRUE post salvation spiritual life is not about what WE want or what WE can do. It's about what HE will do through us (John 15: 5).
In accordance with the plan of God, God gets the glory HERE on EARTH and we are rewarded (1Cor. 3: 12-16) fo itr in HEAVEN. The more difficult the battle, the greater the glory that God receives.
Sometimes it takes a period of obedienc by making use of enforced humility. We "force" ourselves to obey God even when everything inside of us wants to do the opposite. When enforced humilty (sbmission to the will of God) is practised long enough it can then become genuine humility as we become more and more sensitive to the glory that is brought to God. When the glory of God becomes more important to us that how we "feel." we have taken a giant leap forward along the road to spiritual maturity.
Living in ANY form us sin, neutralizes our effectiveness in the spiritual combat of the Church Age. The ONE and only way that the born again believer can re-enter the battlefield of the TRUE post salvation spiritual life and produce divine good to the glory of God is through the 1John 1: 9 process.
"If we confess our sin, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1John 1: 9 NASB)."
This process is available 24-7 . When this process is engaged, the believer (who NEVER lost his/her salvation) is now back in fellowship with God and has been plugged back in to the John 15:5 power source necessary to produce divine good.
However, if the sin (such as the sin of refusing to forgive) is not also forsaken (John 8: 11), the return to the battlefield will be short-lived. Refusing to forsake (John 8: 11) a confessed sin is also a SIN of willful disobedience. This SIN is the primary reason why so many Church Age believers spend much of their post salvation spiritual life going round and round, in and out of fellowship (2Cor. 13: 14) with God, in the "revolving doorway" at the entrance to the post salvation spiritual life and never go any further in their walk with God.
"...Go. From now on sin no more (John 8: 11 NASB).'
The Lord was NOT commanding that the woman never sin again. That would be asking her (and us) to do something that the Word of God itself teaches is humanly impossible. The command to sin no more, referred to (in her case) the sin of adultery. The purpose of not sinning anymore is to avoid other forms of divine discipline (Heb. 12: 6) that will increase in intensity and frequency when known sins are repeated and/or becomes a lifestyle.
Furthermore, when a born again believer is out of fellowship with God, he/she is not goinjg tobe motivated to execute the true post salvation spiritual life.
In the spiritual realm, we ARE and/or become what we CHOOSE to be!
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The forgiveness received at the moment of salvation addressed all past, present, and future sin(s) of the believer as far as salvation is concerned. If future (post salvation sins) were not already addressed (as far as salvation is concerned) at the moment of salvation then the atoning Work of the Lord Jesus Christ would have to be repeated over and over again. This issue is clearly addressed in Hebrews 10: 12.
"but, He, having offered one sacrifice for sins of all time, sat down at the right hand of God (Heb. 10: 12 NASB)."
"For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified (Heb. 10: 14 NASB)."
To be sanctified means to be identified and set apart for the things of God.
Briefly, there is p-o-s-i-t-i-o-n-a-l sanctification that takes place at the moment of salvation (Eph.1: 11-13/Eph. 4: 30). Then there is also e-x-p-e-r-i-e-n-t-i-a-l sanctification (returning to fellowship)that takes place throughout the course of one's post salvation spiritual life following 1John 1: 9 confessions. (See Doctrine of Sanctification.)
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Throughout the course of the Church Age, promoters of Man-made religion have come up with several alternatives taking form and being promoted via false doctrines and accompanying practices. EVERY false doctrine and FALSE practice WITHIN the Christian Community has been, is now, and will be the result of (#1) adding to what the Word of God has to say, (#2) ignoring what the Word of God to say, (#3) or misinterpreting/misapplying what the Word of God has to say.
Controversies are inevitable, but can be and must be resolved by what the Word of God has to say, and not neccessarily on the basis of how we "feel."
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The (Luke 2: 14) type of peace that one receives at the moment of salvation is permanent, and is a reality regardless of how one "feels" at the time, or at any time in the future. The impending wrath of God to be ultimately experienced by all unbelievers in the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15) has been forever avoided. The means to secure ongoing forgiveness (1John 1:9) and to maintain fellowship (2Cor. 13: 14) during the course of the post salvation spiritual life is only a prayer away.
The Phil. 4: 7 NASB type of peace that, "... surpasses all comprehension", however can only be experienced by those who meet the Phil 4: 6 prerequisites.
"Be anxious about nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God (Phil. 4: 6 NASB." THEN "...the peace which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. The Phil. 4: 7 type of peace will NOT be experienced and felt if one does not meet and maintain the Phil. 4: 6 prerequisites.
For most believers, making prayer requests with thanksgiving is by far easier than not being anxious. Not being anxious is an aquired skill that is developed as one spiritually matures. It beings by "not sweating the little things" and reaches its pinacle when one can calmly take on anything that the devil can dish out.
For the advancing disciple who experiences the Phil. 4: 7 peace, he will find it to be among the most precious post salvation blessings that a faithful believer can receive this side of Heaven. Not being anxious in the midst of the internal and external conflicts that the true post salvation spiritual life will bring is neither "normal" or "natural," but is possible through obedience and with John 15: 5 power and participation of God.
There will times when the requirements of discipleship will run totally contrary to how we "feel." Doing the right thing means to do what the Word of God requires.
When it comes to spiritual issues, know that the majority (Matt. 7: 14) of each generation is WRONG!
Satan has consistently been able to deceive the overwhelming majority of each and every generation of human history.
This means that the majority of people and resources out there promoting what they believe to be "the" truth concerning God and or the things of God have been deceived. This means that the majority of the information that the majority promote and present to you for consideration has been compromised.
Many things contribute to how feel, but for the advancing disciple, the bottom line is what the Word of God as to say. When making a life-changing or life-impacting choice, the first and last consideration must be what the Word of God has to say. Many times, what appeared to be of little long-term significance at the time, will later prove to be a life-changing event.
How many times have we said, "If I only knew how that was going to turn out, I would have never done such and such.". The truth IS we would have known if we had taken the time to learn and/ or apply what the Bible had/has to say about the matter at hand.
After being exposed to mind-altering drugs or anathesia, patients are warned not to engage in making any important decisions for a period of time. Advancing disciples should be equally concerned about making spiritual decisions when being strongly influenced by ANYTHING that can impact our emotions and feelings.
Deciding BEFOREHAND where and when we are going to draw the line, and avoiding scenarios in which the circumstances can make it hard to say NO can go a long way in applying the doctrines in our soul to what we do.
Having feelings is a part of being human. The spiritual issue, concerning feelings, is determining if it is we who are in control of our emotions, or is it our emotions that are in control of us.
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Music can impact our emotions and feelings. I enjoy a variety of music, and fool around with a variety of musical instruments. The type of music one enjoys is a matter of personal preference, but I do have an issue about lyrics. This would include some of the lyrics found in so-called Christian music.
It would do our souls well to heed the warning of (Luke 8: 18), and take care of how and what we listen to, especially on a regular basis (sitcoms/talk shows) or in a repetitive environment (e.g.,music lyrics). If one thinks he/she can listen to human viewpoint being communicated and promoted in the devil's world on a regular or repeating basis, and not have it compromise one's soul structure, he/she is a fool.
It is no joke to note how most of us find the time to listen to what the devil's world has to say on a daily basis, but can't find the same time for God and /or the things of God. If you don't think the devil plays can influence one's feelings, then why is it that many who claim to be Christians "don't feel" all that motivated when it comes to the things of God?
Spending too much time in the devil's playground is what sets the stage for one NOT to have an interest in developing an edified soul structure that would otherwise enable the same soul to better understand God and the things of God.
Humanly speaking, we are most likely influenced the most by those persons in our personal periphery. It is for this reason that one's greatest spiritual enemies will be the members of his own household (Matt. 10: 36). Accordingly, we have been given the Luke 8: 18 and Luke 14: 26 admonitions.
"And man's (spiritual) enemies will be the mmebers of his own household (Matt. 10: 35)."
"Even my close friend, in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me (Psalms 41: 9 NASB)."
"Therefore take care how you listen....(Luke 8: 18 NASB)."
"If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate (love less) his own father and mother amd wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be My disciple (Luke 14: 26)."
No clergyman, parent, spouse, family member, or friend is going to knowingly mislead another soul concerning spiritual matters, yet none of the above can be used by God to bring another soul any further along the spiritual highway that where he/she has first arrived for himself. Bullets fired in ignorance can be just as injurious or lethal as the ones that are fired with malicious intent.
By what we say and do we either promote the things of God, or promote the alternatives that human and religious viewpoint promote with the devil's applause.
We ARE free to choose which side of the spiritual warfare we want to ally ourselves with, but we are NOT free from having to make that choice. There is no neutrality in the spiritual realm. By taking sides with one, we become the enemy of the other. The more or less we do or don't do to support one side, the more or less we do to promote the forward progress of the other. If we are not a part of the solution, then we are a part of the problem.
How we "feel" can play a major role in whose hands (God;s or the devil's) we will be the most useful.
In closing, keep in mind that the bottom line is NOT how we feel about any given issue, by what is it that the Word of God has to say.