Walking with Jesus: Controlling the Tongue

Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me

Above is a familiar playground rebuttal we were often taught as children, to recite to those who had said hurtful things.  Yet as we become older and more experienced in the ways of life, some of us come to understand how words can actually be much more damaging, for while physical wounds generally heal, hurtful things left uncorrected can cause damage that lasts much longer than a wound to the flesh would.

The power of words is impressed upon us right from the start in the bible we see how God used His words to create everything (Genesis 1).

Jesus taught us that it is important to watch what what we say, as if we are good, we should be saying good things “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. (Matthew 12:33-35).

This is confirmed by James 1:26If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless“.

As the words we speak are an indicator of what lies in our hearts, we had best ensure that they reflect the Godly changes that should be taking place within us: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Jesus was clear about the consequences of not guarding what we say “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:34-37). This highlights the importance of working on improving what we say, if it is not glorifying to God.

James helps to clarify why speech is given such significance for followers of Christ and why it is not an optional part of the Christian walk: 

And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.

People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring (James 3:6-12).”

With words, we can create or destroy, bring love and healing or hurt and destruction. The bible guides us in how God would like us to communicate with each other and is clear about the consequences of not taking care to ensure we bring our tongue into submission of our spirits, rather than our flesh.

Godly Communication:

The bible instructs us that when we speak with others we should seek to:  edify (Ephesians 4:29), comfort (1 Thessalonians 5:10-12), confess (James 5:16), teach (2 Timothy 2:24), rebuke/reprove (2 Timothy 4:1-2) and to be honest (Ephesians 4:29), discrete (Proverbs 11:13) and controlled (Psalm 141:3).

These ways of communicating, shown above, edify God and help to establish the type of community amongst His children that He desires. But what are the negative uses of language the bible tells us to avoid?

Types of Speech condemned in the bible:

Lying/deceitProverbs 6:17; Mark 7:20-23; Romans 3:13; Colossians 3:8-9

Slander – Psalms 50:16-21; Psalms 140:11; Proverbs 10:17-18; Proverbs 11:13; 2 Corinthians 12:20; Colossians 3:8-9; 2 Timothy 3:2-5

Back bitingProverbs 25:23; Psalms 15: 1-3; Titus 3:1-2; 2 Corinthians 12:20

GossipProverbs 16:28; Proverbs 20:19; Proverbs 26:20; 2 Corinthians 12:20; 1 Timothy 5:13

Malicious/cutting/hurtfulProverbs 12:18; Jeremiah 9:2-5; Ephesians 4:31;  1 Peter 2:1

Proud/Boastful2 Timothy 3:2-5; Psalm 12:3-4; 2 Timothy 3:2-5

Wrathful2 Corinthians 12:20; Proverbs 15:18; Colossians 3:8-9

Cursing/filthy language – Psalms 109:17; Romans 3:13-14; Colossians 3:8-9; James 3:10

BlasphemeColossians 3:8-9; 2 Timothy 3:2-5

 

If we agree that God’s way is better than our own, then surely we want to follow the guidance He has given us, all else is vanity. It is a daily, even minute by minute, walk in which we are called to consider our speech before pouring it out upon others in such a way that you glorify the father of sin rather than our Heavenly Father. While it may not be an easy thing to do, it is worthwhile, so let each of us determine to be mindful of our words and seek to bring them more in line with the will of God each day.

 

Other Christian sites discussing controlling the tongue:

 

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Walking with Jesus: Walking in the Spirit

The process of laying aside the self and walking in the spirit is a requirement for those of us that follow Jesus Christ (Matthew 10:38, 16:24, Luke 9:23-24, Ephesians 4:22-24, Galatians 5:16-26). Within these scriptures works of the flesh are revealed that we may know to recognise and avoid them.

  I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 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. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 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. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:16-26)

However, when going about  daily interactions we are unlikely to consciously classify our behaviour in such a way that we would see these flaws before making the mistake of letting them spill out and affect others. So how can we recognise, before failing, when the flesh may be exerting its control and preventing us from reacting to situations in a more spiritual manner?

The process of learning to walk in the spirit, which is evidence of our maturity in Christ and glorifies God (Matthew 7:17-18, John 15:8), can be likened to choosing to take part in athletic events. Most people are aware that, when taking part in a physically demanding activity, after a while it can start to become painful (dubbed the pain barrier) but if you were to carry on, your metabolism adapts to start using a different type of fuel (switching from burning “easy” glucose to more complex carbohydrates) and you become able to carry on the activity with less strain and discomfort.

The opportunities to choose to walk in the spirit are made more tangible whenever there is a situation in which you feel like behaving in a certain way, although it may not be the way of acting/reacting that Jesus would have done or liked. Likewise, the flesh is evident when we become aware of something nice we could do but, for whatever reason, we choose not to. We have our instructions and guidance in the bible, which tells us to love and value others, so why is it that doing things that would be better for others than yourself can seem so difficult at times?

Usually our reasons for not choosing the more Christ like behaviour can be traced back to some sort of pride or perceived protection of the self. However, by being presented with opportunities that stretch our capacity to love and show love, we are given the chance to push through our own personal “pain barriers” which only give the appearance of protecting the self by telling you things like “you shouldn’t have to do that”.

Forsaking the more spiritual path for the sake of your ego/pride would limiting your own progress. For while the fleshy reaction may feel like it’s protecting you, by restricting your own growth by refusing to seize your opportunities to seek and demonstrate growth, you are doing yourself more harm than good and are keeping yourself shackled to your old man.

It is only when we push through our own barriers, and go on to do the things which we know to be more righteous, that we gain our second wind and begin walking in the spirit. Like physical exercise, repeated pushing of our own limits builds strength, endurance and stamina. So let us determine to be prize spiritual athletes who refuse to quit our training whenever it doesn’t feel nice for a while, so when our time here is through, we can confidently echo the words of Paul and say “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).

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The works of the flesh and fruits of the spirit are listed in Galatians 5:16-26:

Works of the flesh:

  • Adultery – Being unfaithful to a marriage partner
  • Fornication – promiscuity
  • Uncleanness – morally impure/foul lifestyles
  • Lewdness – obscene behaviour
  • Idolatry – excessive devotion/worship of person/things
  • Sorcery – the practice of evil powers/black magic
  • Hatred – strongly disliking, or ill will towards, others
  • Contentions – arguments
  • Jealousies – the envying of others
  • Outbursts of wrath – passionate, uncontrolled and extreme anger
  • Selfish ambitions – the strong desire to succeed for the self, rather than others
  • Dissensions – disagreements leading to quarrels
  • Heresies – beliefs contrary to those established
  • Envy – resentment and desire of the possessions or abilities of another
  • Provoking others – tendency to cause anger or resentment in others
  • Murders – the intentional and premeditated taking of other lives
  • Drunkenness – excessive alcohol intake
  • Revelries – unrestrained merrymaking.

Fruits of the Spirit:

  • Love – a strong devotion/sense of goodwill/attachment and deep and tender affection towards others
  • Joy – great pleasure, delight and happiness
  • Peace – calm, quiet tranquility and absence of troubles/worry
  • Longsuffering – the lasting and patient endurance of insults, difficulties or mistreatment
  • Kindness – the habit of being kind/generous to others
  • Goodness – the state of being good, exhibited through virtue/excellence/benevolence etc
  • Faithfulness – full of faith/loyal/reliable and maintains allegiance
  • Gentleness – Humility, serenity and patience. Not forceful.
  • Self-control – controlling ones impulses

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Walking with Jesus: Pride and self

As is often the way, the process of sharing God’s word brings about learning for the one that is sharing as well as those they are sharing with. For example, this article on pride. I have felt led to write on pride increasingly over the last few days until, finally, today I resigned myself to reluctantly deciding that I would get it over with. My reluctance to write may be influenced by my past experiences, where I helped to teach at bible groups at a university I attended. Given the audience and environment, I generally felt led to speak on subjects such as Gods love and grace, things that would encourage His children to draw closer to Him, rather than push them away. Hence, speaking on the corrective side of Christianity is not what I am most accustomed to. However, to refuse to do so when led, would in itself be an act of pride, whereby I would be considering my own feelings to be more important than sharing God’s word. Let that never be so!

So while I am a firm believer in  refraining from being judgemental, much preferring to encourage than rebuke; I am also a firm believer in following the guidance of the Holy Spirit and ask God’s forgiveness for my tardiness.

 Typically, pride most commonly arises for the self, but people can be proud of things to, such as status, cars, companies, achievements etc. In fact, for anything, which the person considers to be more important than God, other people or living as Christ would like them to. 

Simply put, pride is that which seeks to assert itself against God’s way, for the sake of having its own way. The part of us that decides we want to do and say whatever it is that we want, rather than that which may be the more Godly thing to do. 

Pride can manifest itself in a variety of ways, from the desire to put ourselves first, refusing to do things we consider beneath us, looking down on others we consider to be more lowly than ourselves (in any way) and desiring worldly status and praise etc. 

These are symptoms of thinking of yourself more highly than others, or at least wanting to be perceived as such, when we are told that we should consider others more highly than ourselves (Philippians 2:3-4). Therein lies the danger, pride puts you at risk of elevating your own self worth and opinion to a such a degree that it prevents you from showing the love and consideration commanded of us by Christ, the love that would identify us as His disciples (John 13:34-35; 14:21-24). In short, pride can lead us astray from the straight and narrow way which leads us back to God and our salvation (Matthew 7:12-14; 2 Peter 2:20-22; Proverbs 4:26-27, 12:28, 14:2,12, 15:10).

How does God see Pride:

God hates pride (Proverbs 8:13), in Proverbs 6:16-19, a “proud look” is listed as one of the seven things that God hates as they are an abomination to Him. God also names pride as one of the sins of Sodom, which He destroyed (Ezekiel 16:49; Genesis 19:1-29).

It makes God weep when our pride stops us from hearing Him as it shows that His flock, you, have been taken captive (Jeremiah 13:15-17).

God warns us to turn us from our sin and instructs us so that “He may turn man aside from his conduct, And keep man from pride”  thereby saving us from destruction (Job 33:14-18). In Zephaniah 3:11-12, He speaks of when He will remove the proud, exulting people and haughtiness, leaving a humble people in their place.

Consequences of Pride:

Pride is not of God (1 John 2:16), it deceives you (Obadiah 1:3), defiles you (Mark 7:20-23); hardens the spirit (Daniel 5:20); brings you low (Proverbs 29:23), adorns the wicked (Psalms 73:1-6) and is a sign of a fool (Proverbs 14:3) and a scoffer (Proverbs 21:24). It can also explain a lack of response from God (Job 35:12).

Remaining proud leads to: shame (Proverbs 11:2); strife (Proverbs 13:10); destruction (Proverbs 16:18); captivity (Jeremiah 13:17) and leads to God to bringing about the fall of the proud (Amos 6:8; Obadiah 1:3-4). It was in fact pride that lead to the downfall of the devil and we are warned against becoming puffed up with pride lest we fall into the same condemnation (1 Timothy 3:6).

How To Deal With Pride:

Jesus named pride as one of the evil things which comes from the heart of men and defiles them (Mark 7:20-23). This makes it clear that pride is something we should seek to eliminate from our lives and the bible provides guidance on how to do this.

Pride can lead to us trying to do things in our own strength and according to our own plans, rather than God’s. If done knowingly, this is prideful arrogance for those who call Him master. The bible gives us excellent advice telling us to  “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). We are warned against boasting about our own plans, such boasting being called evil, and are advised to say “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-17). This acknowledges who the Boss in your life is and invites God to redirect you if He would rather you did something else (Proverbs 16:9; 19:21).

Pride may cause you to want others to recognise how special you believe yourself to be, when in reality, we are meant to be here to show people how special God is. The apostle Paul warned everyone “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think“, which is surely a work of pride (Romans 12:3). Rather, we should seek to emulate the selflessness modelled by the life of Jesus and in the words of Paul who said “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). If we truly lay down our lives, pick up our cross daily and die to self as we were instructed to do  there would be no self left to want recognition for (Matthew 10:38; 16:24, Luke 9:23-24).

As Christians we are told that we are to lay aside the old self (or old man) and put on the new man (Ephesians 4:22-32) and that we should not walk in the flesh, but walk in the spirit (Galatians 5:16-26). The works (or deeds) of the flesh listed by Paul in verses 19-21 could all be said to have their roots in pride, for if we thought more of others and less of ourselves, we would not exhibit behaviours such as hatred and selfish ambitions. Conversely, the fruits of the spirit he lists (before concluding with a warning for us not to become conceited) include love, longsuffering, peace and other desirable characteristics which a person struggling with pride might find difficult to attain (Galatians 5:22-26).

Thus part of our daily christian walk should be to emulate those characteristics encouraged and modelled by our Lord. To lay down the self and pride which, while it may seem to be protecting us and our desires, is actually destroying us from within. Pride is like a virus that contaminates us and those in the world around us, the only cure for which is a true revelation of Gods love and deciding to walk in that love day by day.

While we will all struggle with elements of pride/self while we are here, it is how we view and treat pride when it arises that defines us. When we see that there is pride in us, let us deal with it in the way God would desire, repent and ask Him for forgiveness and guidance. If your pride has caused offence to others, then go to make ammends with them as we are advised (see earlier post on Dealing with Offences). We are told to take up our cross daily, likewise, we have to lay down our self daily too, this includes our pride. For surely, if there was no self, there would be no pride!

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Walking with Jesus: Valuing others

Jesus told us that when we lend things to people, we are not to ask for them back (Luke 6:30). Why is this? Perhaps because it shows that we love and value people more than material possessions! Yet how many people value things in the reverse order, putting possessions and self gain before others?

As Christians we are called to live a different life, a life in which we love God, first and foremost, and love others as ourselves (Matthew 22:35-40) but what does that mean?

  • Well, the love we are to have for God should be with all of our heart, mind, strength and soul (Mark 12:28-31). This complete type of love requires faith, and our faith is accounted to us as righteousness (Galatians 3:6-9; 13-14).
  • We are told to love others as ourselves, and to treat others as we would like to be treated (Matthew 7:12). This shows that we should love others and ourselves, as we are all God’s children, thanks to His  gracious mercy. How do we love others as we love ourselves? well, if we’re hungry, we feed ourselves, if we’re thirsty, we get a drink, if we need clothes, we get them etc. We are to do the same for others. Jesus said, whatever we do for the least of people, we do for Him (Matthew 25:31-46), to not give help where it is needed, would be akin to not helping Him.

The love walk we should be learning from Jesus, requires us to be different (Romans 12:2) so that others may see our light (Matthew 5:16). One example of loving others is from the example given at the start of this post. To be loving enough to let people know that they are more precious to you than material items

Jesus asked, what does it gain a man if he profits the whole world but looses his soul, Matthew 16:25-27. How could he lose his soul? It seems that it could be by failing to obey God’s commandments to love, after all, when Jesus was asked for the way to eternal life, it was loving God then your neighbours as yourself that He said were necessary to live (Luke 10:25-28). Bear in mind, that Jesus included your enemies when He told you to love them (Luke 6:27-36, Matthew 5: 43-48).

In this world with its many material snares, it’s easy to get caught up in the treadmill of worldly ambitions and consumerism. Unfortunately, man all too often finds himself placing too high a value on temporary material goals, while neglecting the eternal spiritual matters.

While our fleshy body may cry out “no, it’s mine!”, Jesus is calling us to love and serve others. Paul follows up on this when he instructs us to walk in the spirit (Galatians 5:16-25), this would enable our lives to be a living demonstration of God’s love here on earth.

Jesus commanded us to love from our hearts to such a degree that it becomes externally evident with concrete actions. Not asking for items you have lent out to be returned, is but one way of demonstrating that love.

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12 Steps to living a Christian life

I found this post  on 12 important steps for Christians to live out through their daily walk of life, which I have copied below for convenience. I would encourage all heed the words of Jesus and to seek to love God and others above all else (Matthew 22:36-40). When we manage to love those who may seem not to deserve it and show compassion and empathy for them, rather than ourselves, then we are truly walking as Christ wished it (Luke 6:27-35).

I would also say that with point 11, although we are to keep ourselves pure, that does not mean that we should neglect those that are not Christians. Jesus was criticised for spending time with people others classed as sinners (Luke 15), to which He told them 3 parables to demonstrate how God rejoices over each sinner that is returned to Him. How are we to show them God’s love if we reject them? I for one wish to follow Jesus’s examples, which includes loving those that others would criticise. After all, He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). As a Christian, you can be a positive example and take the light of God’s love into dark places.

The original website can be found here:

 
 

1. Believe the record that through faith in Christ, you have received eternal life.

1 John 5:10-13 “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” Remember that you are now a living testimony of the saving power of the Lord Jesus Christ. The life of Christ is in you, the believer. Are you sure you have accepted Jesus as your Saviour?

2. Love God and Others.

Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength according to Mark 12:30, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” Love your neighbor as yourself as commanded in Mark 12:31, “And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandments greater than these.” Make these the highest goals of your new life in Christ. There is nothing you can possibly do greater than these in your life. Ask the Lord to help you love more and more. 1 Thessalonians 3:12, “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:”

3. Read and study your Bible, memorizing portions that are helpful to you.

Give special attention to the promises of God. Meditate on these and they will be food for your soul. 1 Peter 2:2, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.” Remember that the Word of God, the 1611 King James Bible, is the light to your path. Psalms 119:105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” It is the weapon of our warfare against temptation, Ephesians 6:17, “And take … the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

4. Pray daily to God, your heavenly Father, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thank Him for all things. Ephesians 5:20, “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Praise God for His blessings. Ask God to give you victory over sin and weakness. 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.” Pray for the needs of others when praying for your own needs. Remember that your prayer life will keep you spiritually strong and growing. Don’t recite prayers. Pray and talk to God from your heart in your own words with respect.

5. Confess the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour as often as you can.

Water Baptism by immersion is the first step to take in confessing Christ, see Acts 8:36-38. Continue confessing Christ to others. Matthew 10:32, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.” Use every opportunity you have to tell others what the Lord Jesus Christ has done in your life. Try to lead them to accept Christ as their Saviour as you did.

6. Avoid temptations.

The Bible tells us that they will come. But we must be careful not to walk in their path. Psalms 1:1 “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” When temptations arise, remember that God has promised a way of escape for those who faithfully serve and obey Him. 1 Corinthians 10:13, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” Pray that the Lord will help you avoid temptation. Matthew 6:13, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” Jesus quoted Scripture when the devil was tempting Him. (See Matthew 4:1-11.) Learn Scriptures that pertain to your weaknesses and memorize them. Quote them often.

7. Witness to others about the Lord Jesus Christ.

Acts 1:8, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Many today do not know Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. Who will tell them? Romans 10:13-14, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” The believer’s greatest joy is the privilege of telling the good news of the Gospel to every creature. Witnessing for Christ is not only a blessed privilege but a divine command, Matthew 4:19, “And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” The Lord will use you to win souls to Him.

8. Serve the Lord with gladness.

Psalms 100:2, “Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.” God has a regular ministry for every believer. (Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-21.) Assemble regularly in a Bible-believing, separated church. Hebrews 10:25, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Invest your time, talents and money for eternity. Colossians 3:1-3, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”

9. Stand firmly on the Word of God.

(See Ephesians 6:10-18.) Beware of false teachers and false doctrines. 2 Peter 2:1-3 “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” Test everything by the Word of God, not by experience. Isaiah 8:20, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Remember that God has promised the victory to those who honor Him and His Holy Word. 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

10. Commune with the Holy Spirit.

2 Corinthians 13:14 “… the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.” Get to know the Holy Spirit as personal as you know the Father and the Son. He is a person. John 16:13, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” Talk to Him. Commune with Him. Ask Him to help you with all the things mentioned on this leaflet. Do not try these things in your own flesh, but with the help of the Spirit. Galatians 3:3, “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” 2 Corinthians 3:18, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

11. Be a separated Christian.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 says, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” Not only should we be separated from unbelievers, but our Lord prayed for us to be separated from the evil in this world. John 17:15-16 says, “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” Be an answer to Jesus’ prayer, stay away from evil. Try to win unbelievers to Christ but be separated from them and their lifestyle. 1 Timothy 5:22, “…keep thyself pure.”

12. Forgive each other.

All of us have been hurt by somebody in our life. Some to a small degree, some very greatly. We, too, have offended a Holy God and our sins led Christ to die for us … yet … the Lord forgave us. We are to follow His example. Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Take a moment and read the story about forgiveness in Matthew 18:23-35 in your Bible.

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Covenants

Most faiths/religions/belief systems profess that there is a pattern to life, a design or karmic force. Christianity is no different. Life is described as a race or battle in which we’re encouraged to “fight a good fight” (1 Timothy 1:18). At times when man has wanted help from God, he has entered into covenants with God. Definitions of covenant are given as 1: a usually formal, solemn, and binding agreement : 2 a: a written agreement or promise usually under seal between two or more parties especially for the performance of some action.

Examples of covenants between God and man include:-

1) Adamic Covenant – when Adam and Eve decided to eat of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil, forbidden to them by God, they broke the Edenic Covenant (Genesis 1:28-29; 2:15-17), resulting in the Adamic covenant which we are born into (Genesis 3:14-21). By chosing to disobey God and eating of the tree knowledge of good and evil they chose to know evil, consequently distancing themselves and their offspring from God.

We are exercising our free will each time we choose whether to do the right, or wrong thing. Whether to walk in the spirit of love and truth, serving God and others, or to walk in the flesh and serve ourselves. Unfortunately, the knowledge of good and evil resulted in man declining further and further into sin. This has resulted in the many manifestations of wrongdoing we see about us in the world today.

As God is Holy, sin distances us from Him and results in us becoming lost in sin, the wages of which is death (Romans 6:23). Hence the need for covenants, to enable us to once again return to God, such as the covenant of salvation and redemption enabled by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

2) The Abrahamic covenant – circumcision was the sign of the covenant for Abraham and his descendants, for which God declared that He would be their God (Genesis 17:4-14).

The covenant of circumcision with Abraham and his descendants (Acts 7:8; Genesis 17:2-21), provided Abraham and his descendant with an opportunity know that God was their God. However, the Mosaic Covenant added requirements/laws  to the original covenant of the 10 Commandments

3) The Mosaic Covenant – The ten commandments which Moses later added statutes and laws to, on the understanding that if men followed certain rules and rituals they would be regarded as God’s people (Exodus 34:27-28; Deuteronomy 4:13-14). Acceptance was said to be dependant upon these laws being abided by and it was not a perfect relationship, being referred to as the “curse of the law” by the apostle Paul (Galatians 3:10-14).

The laws added after the Mosaic covenant required frequent forms of appeasement and sacrifice to try to make man acceptable enough, in terms of Godliness, to be considered a servant of God. The Levite priesthood was established so they could sanctify themselves to be considered to be holy enough to be able to commune with God on behalf of the people.

While this covenant may have provided template of a future improved covenant and a route to God for mankind, it was restrictive and difficult to maintain. By bringing laws, the failings of men were revealed as they fell short of the requirements and those accepted were only able to have a limited relationship with God. Even then, much of the relationship required a third party, e.g. a priest, acting on their behalf. When Jesus spoke about some of the traditions that make up the Jewish religion, He criticised them for teaching the commandments of men as doctrines and clarified that it is what comes out of people which defiles them (ie from their hearts) rather than what they put into themselves (Matthew 15:1-20).

However, God had a better covenant in the pipeline and the Old Testament foretold of a new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34) which was later fulfilled through the sacrifice made by Jesus. The new covenant is one of liberty where Jesus sacrificed himself to make an everlasting covenant, able to cover our sins and provide a way for us back to God (John 3:16; Hebrews 8:6-13; 12:24). The bible tells us that love will cover a multitude of sins (Proverbs 10:12; 1 Peter 4:8) and what greater act of love is there than to sacrifice yourself for others that persecute do not even know of you yet! This covenant surpasses the others as it is available to all and enables us to become children of God, rather than servants.

4) The Covenant of Jesus Christ – God sent His Son, Jesus, so that He could show us the way and enable us to be saved (John 3:16). The gift of salvation Jesus came to teach, taught that if we repent and have faith, God will forgive us and we will be saved. Jesus showed us the walk that God desires of those of us who wish to be His children, namely, to walk in love and truth. His life became the ultimate example of this walk that we are called to emulate resulting in Him sacrificing His life for us and His blood becoming the blood of The New Covenant (Mark 14:24). Jesus loved us so much that He gave His life for us, as we are to give our lives for God and others in our daily walk.

Thanks to the sacrifice offered by Jesus, to atone for our sins, God sent the Holy Spirit to guide us and take His rightful place as Our Holy Father (Ephesians 1:4-7). It also means that believers no longer live according to sets of rules, but according to our leading by the Holy Spirit within us once we have accepted God’s gift,  as He said in Jeremiah 31:32-34

“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

“They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Although Jesus endorsed the value of the original “Ten Commandments” (Matthew 15:3-4), when He was asked which of the Old Testament commandments were the greatest, He responded that those which told you to love God and other people summed up all the law (Matthew 22:36-40). Jesus gave us valuable teachings and  guidance but the only thing he specified being one of His commandments was to love God and others (John 13:34-35).

This is vastly superior covenant as it enables each person’s walk with God to be on an individual basis, tailor made and the ultimate in liberty as Paul pointed out “All things are possible, but not all things are beneficial” (1 Corinthians 6:12). We are encouraged to have consideration for others (1 Corinthians 8:9) and so it is our love for them that prevents us from doing others wrong, rather than having to be forced not to do things because we are following rules (1 Corinthians 10:23-24). Free will at its best and with the Holy Spirit and God’s love for everyone, to guide you (John 16:13; 2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14).

NB: The blue writing in this passage will take you to the relevant scripture on biblegateway.com where you can also look up the scripture in other translations of the bible.

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Made In Gods image:The human trinity

 

The bible says that we are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). God’s trinity comprises of :-

 

God

Jesus

Holy Spirit

We are also made up of a trinity of soul, body and spirit. The figure below shows how these different aspects of a person can influence our choices actions and words.

The Spirit –  Our spirit is our most direct link to God, via His Holy Spirit. God’s people are called to worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24). Our spirits search all things within us and knows all about us, as does God’s spirit with Him (1 Corinthians 2:10-11). God speaks to us via the Holy Spirit, the still small voice which can prick our conscience, give us Godly wisdom (Isaiah 11:2), intercede for us (Romans 8:26-27) and teach us all things (John 14:26), although your flesh may not always like what you hear!
As our Heavenly Father, God can guide us in His ways via the Holy Spirit but spiritual growth requires that we learn to follow the leading of His Spirit, “For all who are led by the spirit of God are sons of God” (Romans 8:14). This will most likely involve the laying down of your worldly desires and self-interests (Galatians 5:17) but in the words of Jesus, “what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?” (Luke 9:25).
The Soul – The decision making part of you. The conscious mind which determines whether we will be led by the voice of our spirits and act in love, or whether we will follow the desires off the flesh – opting for self gratification over love for others. It is our soul which we are improving when we allow ourselves to become more led by God, as our spirit, through Christ, is perfect (being God’s – we just have to learn to listen to it more!) and the flesh will pass away. It is our choice whether we want to listen to and strengthen our flesh or our spirit – free will.
The Body is the flesh, with its appetites, lusts and desires. It is “all about “me”” with the body and instant self gratification where possible. The bible says that our flesh wars against our spirit, against that which we wish to do (Galatians 5:17). I know which one I’m rooting for!