There is a debate that has gone on in the Christian Church for centuries. Should Christians worship on Saturday (“The Sabbath”) or Sunday? I’ve always gone to church for worship on Sunday. Others gather for worship on Saturday. I write 3 different blogs and quite often I am admonished, sometimes severely by believers, for not keeping the Sabbath (Saturday). I’ve been told that I’m disobeying God and His Commandments and I’m going to be punished for worshipping on Sunday. Another thing that I hear is “did God change His mind about keeping the Sabbath holy?” I’ve been told, and after some study believe, that the day that we worship God is not mandated. What is mandated is that we should love the Lord with our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Mark 12:28-30 (NKJV)28 Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, "Which is the first commandment of all?"29 Jesus answered him, "The first of all the commandments is: 'Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.30 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment.
The word "Sabbath" comes from the Hebrew word “Shabath”, which literally means "rest" or "cessation."
After He completed His six days of creation God rested on the seventh day and set it apart as holy. He then required man to rest on the seventh day.
Genesis 2:3 (NKJV) Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.
Exodus 20:8-11 (NKJV)8 "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work,10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
Those who worship on the Sabbath say that Jesus Christ never changed the Sabbath from the seventh day to the first day of the week. They are absolutely right. The commandments to observe the Sabbath was given specifically to the Jews and Jesus, an observant Jew who was under the Mosaic Law, kept the Sabbath.
Exodus 31:17 (NKJV)17 It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.' "
However they sometimes forget what Jesus said about the Sabbath including the fact that He is Lord of the Sabbath.
Mark 2:27-28 (NKJV)27 And He said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.28 Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath."
The Sabbath regulations were part of God’s covenant with Israel which the Bible and Christians call the Old Covenant. All of the rules, regulations, and commandments, while expected to be followed were meant to lead Israel to Jesus Christ which was the final sacrifice to end the Old Covenant.
Hebrews 10:1-4 (NKJV) For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.
Hebrews 7:18-19 (NKJV) For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.
Hebrews 8:7, 13 (NKJV) 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. 13 In that He says, “A new covenant ,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
The Law required keeping the Sabbath as part of the overall moral, legal, and sacrificial system by which the Jewish people satisfied God’s requirements for behavior, government, and forgiveness of sins. The Sabbath was part of the Law in that sense. If a person didn’t keep the Sabbath they were in sin and quite often punished.
Exodus 31:14-15 (NKJV) You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord . Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.
But with Jesus’ atonement, we no longer are required to keep the Law as a means for our justification.
Galatians 2:15-16 (NKJV) We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
The requirements of the Law were fulfilled in Christ. We now have rest from the Law.
Matthew 5:17-20 (NKJV) “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
Romans 7:4-6 (NKJV) Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.
Even if Christians worship on Saturday, the Sabbath, which is their choice.and there is no condemnation for it, they aren’t really “keeping the Sabbath.” To “keep the Sabbath” as it was required in the Old Testament would involve compliance with stringent regulations.
Exodus 16:23 (NKJV)23 Then he said to them, "This is what the LORD has said: 'Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning.' "
Exodus 35:3 (NKJV)3 You shall kindle no fire throughout your dwellings on the Sabbath day."
Leviticus 23:32 (NKJV)32 It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath."
Jeremiah 17:21 (NKJV)21 Thus says the LORD: "Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the Sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem;
The early Christians did worship on the Sabbath, and other days of the week. It would be natural for them to do so, because most of them were Jews and they continued to associate with their Jewish brothers.
When Paul traveled from synagogue to synagogue he often preached on the Sabbath. He had to in order to meet with God fearing people. If Gentiles wanted to know more about the God of the Jews and His Son Jesus they had to go where they met which was at the synagogue on the Sabbath. Scripture shows however that the first day of the week, not the seventh ( Sabbath), was the primary day of worship in the Apostolic church.
Acts 20:7-12 (NKJV) Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight. There were many lamps in the upper room where they were gathered together. And in a window sat a certain young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep. He was overcome by sleep; and as Paul continued speaking, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. But Paul went down, fell on him, and embracing him said, “Do not trouble yourselves, for his life is in him.” Now when he had come up, had broken bread and eaten, and talked a long while, even till daybreak, he departed. And they brought the young man in alive, and they were not a little comforted.
The missionaries gathered with the believers at Torah on the first day of the week to preach and celebrate the Lord’s Supper This is the earliest clear reference to the Christian practice of observing Sunday as a day of worship. - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary
I Corinthians 16:1-2 (NKJV) Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.
These two passages indicate that three important things happened on the first day of the week (Sunday), the Lord’s Supper (Communion), preaching, and giving.
Why Do Most Christians Worship On Sunday?
John 20:1 (NKJV) Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.
Revelation 1:10-11 (NKJV) I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”
Acts 2:1-4 (NKJV)When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
According to the Law, Pentecost came on the first day of the week.
Leviticus 23:15-16 (NKJV) ‘And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord .
This same first day of the week Peter delivered the first sermon of the church and the first converts were added, and the first believers baptised.
Acts 2:14, 41 (NKJV) 14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.
From the start, the church in Jerusalem met every day in the temple courts and gathered to break bread together in private homes.
Acts 2:46-47 (NKJV) So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
Sunday worship is not commanded in the Bible. The point in all is that we are not to limit our worship to any particular day of the week. Let's look at what the
Romans 14:5-6 (NKJV)5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord;[a] and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.
These verses suggest that there is personal freedom regarding the observance of holy day.
Colossians 2:16-17 (NKJV)16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.
Paul instructs the believers in Colosse not to judge or allow anyone to be their judge regarding Sabbath days.
Galatians 4:8-10 (NKJV) 8 But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. 9 But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years.
Here Paul is concerned because Christians are turning back like slaves to legalistic observances of "special" days.
As we see the Bible doesn’t require that we worship on Saturday or Sunday, for that matter. We have the freedom to worship on the day that we believe we should. No one should judge us in regard to the day we keep. We are free in Christ and not under law.
Romans 6:14 (NKJV) 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
John 1:17 (NKJV) For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
Believers have every right to worship on Saturday or Sunday and they should if they are convinced that is the right thing to do. However, if anyone says to worship on Saturday or Sunday over the other day as a sign of "true" Christianity or "true" redemption, then that is wrong.
Romans 14:10-13 (NKJV) But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: “ As I live, says the Lord , Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.
Your salvation is not tied to the day you choose to worship. Here is all that it takes for you to become saved and a child of God with all the benefits and blessings that come with it.
Romans 10:9-10 (NKJV) that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
John 3:14-16 (NKJV) And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Romans 10:13 (NKJV) For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This is what determines salvation not the way that you worship.
This is a departure from my typical post but I attended an event this past weekend and I want to share what I learned about a great way to show the love of God to a child that can impact them for the rest of their lives.
The event took place on Saturday October 1st. Since it’s now October and I know that many of you are already thinking about Christmas. I have a friend that has already sent out invitations to her annual Christmas Eve party. That same friend is already listening to Christmas Music on her Iphone and Ipad. Stores already have Christmas displays up and many are seasonal staff. You are probably trying to figure out what to get your children and grandchildren (if they haven’t already told you), and you are already stressing about what to get your spouse, our special friend, not to mention those gifts for the relatives, to people in the office, on and on and on.
There’s something about Christmas that causes people to want to give to those less fortunate than themselves. There are toy drives like “Toys for Tots”, churches have toy drives, non-secular organizations have toy drives, churches and other organizations have events where they give food, clothes, toys, and other things to those who need them. All of these things are good and something that I believe God is pleased. What many, if not most, of these activities miss however is the real reason that we celebrate Christmas. The real reason is that Jesus Christ the Son of God was born and through Him all mankind, has the opportunity to have a personal relationship with God and be with Him forever. That’s the real reason we celebrate Christmas.
Operation Christmas Child
The event that I attended was that of an organization that brings joy to children who would not otherwise experience the joy of receiving gifts on Christmas. I’m talking about children in third world countries, and in places in those countries that are almost impossible to get to. Children who along with their families have difficulty in scraping out in even meager existence. In some places neither the children or their parents have even heard of Jesus, some even still worship idols.
That organization is Operation Christmas Child a project of Samaritan’s Purse. Samaritan's Purse is an international relief organization headed by Franklin Graham it’s President. Operation Christmas Child gives gift to children in third world countries and they do it in a unique way. The provide a shoe box, yes the kind of box you get when you buy a pair of shoes, full of gifts for children 2-14. The shoe boxes include things like toys, school supplies, and, non-liquid hygiene items They are also given a booklet “The Greatest Gift”. After they get their shoe boxes the children are invited to participate in “The Greatest Journey”, a 12-lesson discipleship program. Participation is completely voluntary, in fact it’s not even mentioned until after the show boxes are distributed.
Many of these children have never received a gift of any kind. At the event I watched a video of a young man who is a former member of Parliament in Grenada, and now a pastor who received a shoebox when he was a young boy. The fact that somebody who didn’t know him loved him so much that they sent this shoebox made such an impact that he attributes it to his desire to help his country but becoming a member of Parliament. The relationship that He developed with Jesus as a result of His salvation through “The Greatest Journey” program has caused him to resign from Parliament and become a pastor. All this from a shoebox from Operation Christmas Child.
There was a young man at the event for somewhere in Central America, I don’t remember the country, who was a shoebox recipient. He like the young man in the video was “blown away” that someone loved him who didn’t know him. In the shoebox that he received 14 years ago there was a Toy Story Woody pull string toy. He still has that toy and showed it to us at the event. There are countless stories of children blessed by the love of those who fill shoeboxes with gifts. Since 1993 Operation Christmas Child has provided 124 million shoeboxes. From the beginning of the Greatest Journey program more than 7.4 million children worldwide have enrolled and 3.3 million have accepted Christ as their Savior. As they say at Operation Christmas Child “That’s the power of a simple gift”.
If you want to bring joy to a young boy or girl who may not get anything for Christmas, or this year for that matter, and at the same time give them the opportunity to know Jesus Christ, who is the “Greatest Gift” filling a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child is an excellent way. Churches throughout the United States participate in various ways, so I’m sure there’s one near you no matter where you are in the country.The national collection period for the shoeboxes is November 14-21, 2016. To locate drop off locations for your shoeboxes go the the Operation Christmas Child website HERE.
Your Shoebox Of Love
To participate all you have to do is get an empty shoebox and fill it with things for a boy or girl 2-14. Here are some suggestions:
For other suggestions visit the Operation Christmas Child website
It costs Operation Chirstmas Child $7 to ship each shoebox anywhere in the world so with your shoebox also give them a donation of $7 for shipping.
Here are some places to get some shoebox gifts, supermarkets, discount stores like the 99 cents store or dollar store, Target, Walmart, when you visit a hotel ask the manager for those small hygiene items. You’ll be surprised at what people might do if you tell someone that you’re collecting things to help make children who would not otherwise have a Merry Christmas, to have one.
This year’s goal is 11 million shoeboxes for children around the world. Just think of that 11 million children who would not otherwise get anything for Christmas and you’ll be helping to spread the gospel through “The Greatest Gift” booklet and “The Greatest Journey” program. You’ll be doing your part in accomplishing the last thing that Jesus said to His disciples just before ascending back to His Father in heaven.
Matthew 28:19-20 (NKJV)19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
“That’s the power of a simple gift”.
The Bible may be the most revered book in America, but it's also one of the most misquoted. Politicians, motivational speakers, coaches - all types of people - quote what they believe are passages from the Bible that are not there. For example at a news conference after he was fired as coach of the Chicago Bears Mike Ditka, in tears, said, “Scripture tells you that all things shall pass.” Surprise Mike that is not in the Bible.
The phrase “this too shall pass” is most likely a proverb from around 1200AD. The proverb means that all material conditions, whether good or bad, are transient. This proverb has the ability to make the happy person sad and the sad person happy because of the realization that both the 'best and worst of times' will soon pass.
The legend of the quote finds its roots in the court of a powerful eastern Persian ruler who called his wise men to him, and asked them for one quote that would be accurate at all times and in all situations. The wise men consulted with one another, and came up with the answer ..."this too, shall pass". - Peter Baskerville What is the origin of the phrase this too shall pass
The ruler was so impressed by the quote that he had it inscribed in a ring.
The quote was popular in the first half of the 19th century particularly with the English poet Edward Fitzgerald and was later used in a speech by Abraham Lincoln, in his address to the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society in 1859.
The closest thing to it in the Bible to “this too shall pass” may be ;
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NKJV)17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
This too shall pass is something we say to make ourselves feel better when we are going through difficult times. It could be sickness, financial difficulties, relationship problems, work related stress, any number of unpleasant things.
Troubles Are Opportunities
The Bible reminds us that tough times actually produce endurance, character, and a strong hope of salvation, because we know that God loves us.
Romans 5:1-5 (NKJV)1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope.5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
James 1:2-4 (NKJV)2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. .
However, when difficult times come it’s hard to keep focus even on God. At those times we need to remind ourselves that whatever is going on is only temporary.
Psalm 34:19 (NKJV)19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all.
Each Time…... Really?
What about the believer who dies of cancer without being healed; what about the believer who has financial difficulty after losing a job; what about David whose family was a catastrophe; what about Paul who was martyred; what about Peter who it is said was crucified upside down; what about you and me; what about Jesus?
Jesus was crucified so when was He delivered from all His troubles? He was not delivered until after His death. Jesus’ deliverance came when God raised Him and welcomed Him back to be with Him in heaven.
Our troubles may be sickness, loss of material things, friends, dishonor, and persecution. At times we don’t think that we will be able to bare them. But the Lord will give us the strength to handle them if we let Him.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV)13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
He gives us the strength to do it all through Christ.
Philippians 4:11-13 (NKJV)11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Yes the Lord does deliver the righteous from all their troubles but, like Jesus, that complete deliverance may not happen until we are with Him.
2 Corinthians 5:6-8 (NKJV)6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord.7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
Yes, Things Will Pass...Eventually
Things will eventually pass just maybe not how or when we want it, but they shall pass.
Revelation 21:1-4 (KJV)1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
In my own past when I was dealing with an issue and God had given me a solution that I didn’t like I just wouldn’t do anything. Instead I said “this too shall pass” rather than obey. I would just sit back and say “I’m still waiting on God He’ll take care of it” or, “God promised” and I would find some real scripture that fit the solution that I wanted and I would just sit back and wait doing nothing. Yes, things did eventually pass but often much later than they would have had I obeyed and some of the passing wasn’t pretty, Sometimes the passing was very ugly.
No, “this too shall pass” is not in the Bible but, everything, the good, the bad, and the ugly will all pass. God is the only constant. He and His love are the only things that will never pass. Only God is forever and we are called to place our trust in Him because He will never leave or forsake us.
Deuteronomy 31:6 (NKJV)6 Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you."
I’ll end with the lyrics of a song by Yolanda Adams
“This Too Shall Pass”
In the middle of the turbulence surrounding you
These trying times that are so hard to endure
In the middle of what seems to be your darkest hour
Hold fast your heart and be assured
This too shall pass
Like every night that's come before it
He'll never give you more than you can bear
This too shall pass
So in this thought be comforted
It's in His Hands
This too shall pass
The Father knows the tears you cry before they fall
He feels your pain, His heart and yours are one
The Father knows that sorrow's heavy chains are strong
But with His strength, you'll overcome
This too shall pass
Like every night that's come before it
He'll never give you more than you can bear
This too shall pass
So in this thought be comforted
It's in His Hands
This too shall pass
So set your eyes upon the mountain
And lift your hands up to the sky
And let His arms of love surround you
And take you to the other side
This too shall pass
Like every night that's come before it
He'll never give you more than you can bear
This too shall pass
So in this thought be comforted
It's in His Hands
This too shall pass
If you thought that cleanliness is next to godliness is in the bible you are not alone. Studies have shown that the majority of Americans believe that this phrase comes from the Bible. You probably heard it from your parents and grandparents, from your Sunday School teacher or even Pastor. I bet that most of you parents have used it yourselves trying to get your children to take a bath or clean their rooms. Well this may surprise some of you but, “cleanliness is next to godliness is not in the bible.
The phrase is probably from a Babylonian and Hebrew proverb. It’s first appearance in English was a modification of the proverb in an essay written by Sir Francis Bacon in 1605 to “Cleanness of body was ever deemed to proceed from a due reverence to God.” In a sermon by John Wesley titled “On Dress” printed in 1769 the phrase is rendered “Slovenliness is no part of religion...cleanliness is indeed next to godliness.”
So if the phrase “cleanliness is next to godliness” is not in the Bible why would a famous preacher like John Wesley use it in a sermon? I didn’t say he said the phrase came for the bible, he just used it in a sermon. The bible does talk a lot about the importance of being physically, ceremonially, and spiritually clean. To be unclean, according to the Old Testament books Leviticus and Numbers was to be defiled. The regulations and laws on cleanliness and purity were primarily designed to teach lessons about the holiness of God and the corruption of man. God's presence in the midst of his people, the Hebrews, could not be taken for granted and was to be carefully safeguarded and regulated.
Leviticus 26:11-12 (NLT)11 I will live among you, and I will not despise you.12 I will walk among you; I will be your God, and you will be my people.
Exodus 33:14 (NLT)14 The LORD replied, “I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest—everything will be fine for you.”
Because of sin human beings aren’t automatically qualified to come into God’s presence. Until Jesus came to the earth and paid the price for sin human beings had to prepare ourselves ceremonially and morally before they could approach God. Uncleanness, just like sin, can manifest itself both inside and outside so the Hebrews had to be diligent in order to avoid uncleanness. .
In addition to emphasizing the holiness of God the regulations on cleanliness would be a clear sign of separation of God’s chosen people from the surrounding nations.
Leviticus 20:26 (NLT) You must be holy because I, the LORD, am holy. I have set you apart from all other people to be my very own.
When God gave the instructions about clean and unclean animals, how to deal with leprosy, mold in clothing and in houses, relationships between parents, neighbors, foreigners, how to worship, all the regulations we read about in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, including the Ten Commandments, He was instructing them to be different from the other nations in their lifestyles.
Many of the rules, we recognize now, were also very practical, and given to keep the Hebrews from getting sick. For example;
Today we know that infectious diseases can sometimes spread from both animal and human corpses.
Leviticus 14:1-4 (NLT)1 And the LORD said to Moses,2 “The following instructions are for those seeking ceremonial purification from a skin disease. Those who have been healed must be brought to the priest,3 who will examine them at a place outside the camp. If the priest finds that someone has been healed of a serious skin disease,4 he will perform a purification ceremony, using two live birds that are ceremonially clean, a stick of cedar, some scarlet yarn, and a hyssop branch.
Clean On The Outside Isn’t Enough
The Hebrews, because of God’s emphasis on cleanliness became maybe the most health-conscious people in history. The problem was that they missed the point. They became more concerned with outward purity than the real reason that God gave the rules which were to point to His holiness and the fact that He was in their midsts. The regulations became empty rituals and substitutes for a real relationship with God. By the time of Jesus things were added with details so trivial that it bordered on the ridiculous.
Mark 7:1-7 (NLT)1 One day some Pharisees and teachers of religious law arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus.2 They noticed that some of his disciples failed to follow the Jewish ritual of hand washing before eating.3 (The Jews, especially the Pharisees, do not eat until they have poured water over their cupped hands, as required by their ancient traditions.4 Similarly, they don’t eat anything from the market until they immerse their hands in water. This is but one of many traditions they have clung to—such as their ceremonial washing of cups, pitchers, and kettles.)5 So the Pharisees and teachers of religious law asked him, “Why don’t your disciples follow our age-old tradition? They eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony.”6 Jesus replied, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.7 Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’
Jesus’ comment addressed God’s initial purpose in giving the Hebrews His regulations on purity and cleanliness which was a cleansing of His people’s lives which set them apart from other nations. He told the Pharisees that they were honoring the traditions of cleanliness above the worship of God. He told them that it was not what was on the outside that made a person clean or unclean but what was inside that person.
Mark 7:14-15 (NLT)14 Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “All of you listen,” he said, “and try to understand.15 It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart.”
The real problem of cleanliness was not dirty hands but a dirty heart. In scripture the heart is the center for both physical and emotional-intellectual-moral activities - Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology.
Mark 7:21-23 (NLT)21 For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder,22 adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness.23 All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.”
The Pharisees didn’t understand that every person has the stain of sin on and in them and that no amount of soap and water will remove that stain.
Jeremiah 2:22 (NLT) No amount of soap or lye can make you clean. I still see the stain of your guilt. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken!
Jesus told us that they need to clean up what’s on the inside. If the inside is clean the outside will be clean too.
Matthew 23:25-26 (NLT)25 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence!26 You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.
Get Clean Inside And Out
The only thing that will remove the stain of sin from the inside is, blood. That doesn’t sound possible does it? To remove a stain you must clean it with something else that stain? Yes!
The stain that makes us unclean is sin. In the Old Testament God gave the Hebrews regulations on sacrificing bulls, goats and lambs, and using the blood of those animals in atonement for their sins. When they did this they were ceremonially clean but only until the next time they sinned then they had to bring another sacrifice. That was the Old Covenant that God had with His people. Jesus established a New Covenant,with his blood. Under this New Covenant those who believe in Him and fall under the New Covenant, are cleansed for all time by His blood.
Hebrews 9:14-15 (NLT)14 Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.15 That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.
When we are washed and cleansed by the blood of Jesus we are made clean from the inside out. We have a brand new heart and we are completely new.
1 John 1:7 (NLT) But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.
2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (NLT)16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
No, “cleanliness is next to godliness” is not in the Bible. However the Bible does tell us that a clean heart is the result of having God in your life. That’s very important because the Bible tells us that if we are not clean we will not be able to remain in God’s presence. Remember when your parents told you that you couldn’t eat unless you washed your hands? It’s the same way in approaching God. You must be clean.
Psalm 24:3-4 (NLT)3 Who may climb the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place?4 Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies.
The Greek word translated “godliness” in the New Testament is eusebeian and it means “holiness,”. To be holy is to be set apart for God. (See Holy, Holy, Holy) , and if you aren’t you can’t see, or be in the presence of God.
Hebrews 12:14 (NLT) Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.
It’s impossible to become holy by obeying rituals and traditions. The difference between God and us is that He is inherently holy while we, on the other hand, only become holy when we have a relationship with Christ, through His shed blood.
None of us will reach sinless perfection in this world, that won’t happen until Jesus returns, but God has made provision for our sin and cleansing both before and after we were saved.
1 John 1:9 (NLT) But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
God’s ultimate desire for His people is that we be holy which is being conformed into the image of His Son.
Romans 8:28-29 (NLT)28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
God wants to cleanse you from the inside out. If you want that cleansing all you have to do is ask Him for it.
Psalm 51:10 (NLT) Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.
Then accept His cleansing through blood of His Son Jesus Christ.
Romans 10:9-10 (NLT)9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.
Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.
One of the things that happened after I retired nearly two years ago was that I no longer had the resources to do a lot of the things that I wanted to do. Things like travel, giving my children and grandchildren things, buying “toys” (I’m an early adopter and love technology), Mercedes, and giving more to my church and other ministries (yes that was really a goal of mine). I know that I made some poor choices over the years that seriously impacted my ability to do those things but that doesn’t stop me from time to time asking the question that’s the title of this post.
What does all this faith and belief that God keeps His promises amount to when I see others, who I know don’t love God and maybe even not believe He exists, prosper? Many of them go on extended vacations, continue to accumulate wealth, and appear to be very happy, with no thought of changing anything in their lives.
I know that I’m not the only Christian that has had those thoughts. Just two months ago I wrote the post “Why We Shouldn’t Envy Those Who Do Not Know God And Still Appear To Prosper” . In it I said…”the frustration mounts even to the point that he starts to wonder if all of our prayer, praise, service, was all for nothing.” The point of that post was to encourage those of us who become frustrated when we see the continuous prosperity of those who care nothing for God, while many of us struggle just to make ends meet.
Let me stop for just a minute to say that there are countless Christians, some of whom I know, that are prospering and will continue to prosper. Also, I’ve not found in scripture where God promised that all believers will prosper, have no sickness, no trials, and live carefree lives. In fact Jesus told His thoses closest to Him;
John 16:33 (NLT)33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
In that earlier post I urged those of us who are frustrated to read Psalm 73 where the Psalmist, after spending time in the sanctuary (God’s presence), saw and understood the destiny of the wicked .
Psalm 73:18-20 (NLT)18 Truly, you put them on a slippery path and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction.19 In an instant they are destroyed, completely swept away by terrors.20 When you arise, O Lord, you will laugh at their silly ideas as a person laughs at dreams in the morning.
When does all this happen?
The Psalm is great and is very encouraging but, I know many “wicked” who have died natural deaths, who have happy homes, great children, lots of friends, great lives so, when will they reach this destiny, which in reading the Psalm is awful, happen. When will we see the fulfillment of God’s promises to us the believers?
Before we get to that there are some things we need to remember.
What’s In Store For The Righteous (Believers)?
Now that we know the destiny of the wicked (those who refuse to accept Jesus as Lord) what about the believer (righteous). There will be eternal rewards in heaven for all believers. Those rewards will be different for each believer and depends on what they do after salvation.
2 Corinthians 5:10 (NLT)10 For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.
We don’t specifically know what those rewards will be but Jesus may have given us a glimpse in His parable about the talents in Matthew 25:14-30, where the Kingdom of God is described as a man going on a long trip and leaving money with three servants and then rewarding to of them for doubling the money for him and then punishing to one who did nothing at all. The point of the parable was that the two faithful servants were given more responsibilities and nothing for the third.
Matthew 25:20-23, 28-30 (NLT)20 The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’21 “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’22 “The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’23 “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’28 “Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver.29 To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.30 Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
I don’t believe that this parable suggests that salvation can be lost because the third servant was to be cast into outer darkness. Once God has given you the free gift of Salvation, once you have truly received Jesus as your Savior, the issue of your Salvation is no longer in question. Consequently this third servant could not represent a true believer but one who has the appearance of one. Like the tares Christ mentions in the parable of wheat and tares where the tares are allowed to grow with the wheat until the harvest when they will be separated and destroyed.
Matthew 13:24-32 (NLT)24 Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field.25 But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away.26 When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew.27 “The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’28 “‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed. “‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked.29 “‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do.30 Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’”31 Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field.32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”
Salvation is free and given by God’s grace to those who by faith believe in His Son and His work on the cross. However there are rewards for believers based on their works for the Kingdom while on earth and John encourages us not to lose them.
2 John 1:4-8 (NLT)4 How happy I was to meet some of your children and find them living according to the truth, just as the Father commanded.5 I am writing to remind you, dear friends, that we should love one another. This is not a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning.6 Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning.7 I say this because many deceivers have gone out into the world. They deny that Jesus Christ came in a real body. Such a person is a deceiver and an antichrist.8 Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked so hard to achieve. Be diligent so that you receive your full reward.
While there will be differences of rewards all believers will receive crowns. Dr. Charles Stanley in a devotion titled “Our Eternal Rewards” talks about these crowns;
The Crown of Victory. To finish life well, believers need Olympic endurance. Athletes in those ancient games received a perishable circlet of laurel leaves. But when we are effective in our God-given ministry and triumph over sin, we'll be given an imperishable crown
1 Corinthians 9:25-27 (NLT)25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing.27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.
The Crown of Exultation. The believers that we had a hand in bringing to Christ will be "our glory and joy" before the Lord
1 Thessalonians 2:18-20 (NLT)18 We wanted very much to come to you, and I, Paul, tried again and again, but Satan prevented us.19 After all, what gives us hope and joy, and what will be our proud reward and crown as we stand before our Lord Jesus when he returns? It is you!20 Yes, you are our pride and joy.
Just imagine how you will rejoice in heaven upon seeing and talking with the people who recognize your contribution to their spiritual development.
The Crown of Righteousness. The Christian life is not easy, but there is great reward for living righteously when facing temptation or hardship. Believers who pursue godliness are always thinking about the life to come and striving to meet God with a pure conscience
2 Timothy 4:5-8 (NLT)5 But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.6 As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near.7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.8 And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.
The Crown of Life. Heartache and pain are unavoidable in this life, but we can take heart because much spiritual growth happens in adversity. Hang in there to receive the crown of life that the Lord promised to those who love Him
James 1:12 (NLT)12 God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
The rewards of service and crowns are what’s in store for all believers and they are forever. On the other hand there is eternal weeping and gnashing of teeth for those who refused to believe, no matter how healthy, successful, or prosperous they were in this life. That’s why I continue to trust God and His promises while those who don’t still prosper. Our destinies are final and forever.
Today many people are in love with themselves above all else, including God. Taking care of “numero uno” is the main thing. Self is the basic standard for truth. Today, society tells us the most charismatic and authentic individuals are those who are “true to self.” Psychologists push self-help titles about inner-acceptance both in academic circles and on mainstream bookshelves.
With this as the standard we believe that we can follow our own consciences no matter what anybody, including God, says. When we are faced with a decision that includes somebody other than ourselves in order to not feel guilty, if that decision has negative consequences for them, we bring to mind a statement, many think is in the Bible, to justify our the decision. That statement is “to thine own self be true”. Surprise, it’s not in the bible.
“To thine own self be true” originated in “Hamlet” the tragedy written by Shakespeare. Polonius, the older counselor of Prince Hamlet's uncle, King Claudius, is giving advice to his son Laertes (who was about to leave Denmark and return to France) when he says: "This above all things: to thine own self be true" (Hamlet, 3.1.81). Instead of this being license to let his conscience be his guide it was actually an indictment of Polonius’ character and not a sign of personal integrity. Quite different from the way we use the saying today.
We apply the saying by living our lives to ourselves and we don’t let anybody influence us to do anything you don’t want to do. On the other hand the Bible says;
Philippians 2:3-6 (NLT)3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.6 Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.
Matthew 22:37-40 (NLT)37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment.39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
It’s impossible to be true to self above any and everybody and at the same time be true to God. If you are true to self above God then you can’t obey what Jesus said were these two greatest commandments. If we put ourselves first then we cancel out a “real” scripture. One we love to quote, especially when we give to the church and others.
Luke 6:38 (NLT)38 Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”
If we were really true to ourselves we would give to others first. That is being true to God and others first and you can see what Jesus said is the result of putting others first. Putting others first doesn’t mean that we put ourselves into position to be manipulated by other’s greed or wants. When we are true to God and not ourselves we will allow Him to lead us.
Proverbs 3:5 (NLT)5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
Personal integrity and authenticity are encouraged by the Bible but “being true” is linked to seeking after God’s glory – not our own.
How good is Polonius’ advice anyway? We can only trust our conscience to guide us as far as it is led by the Holy Spirit. Left to ourselves we are corrupt, bankrupt and completely unreliable.
Jeremiah 17:9 (NLT)9 “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?
Our example should be Jesus. He was all about love and putting others above Himself.
John 13:13-17, 34-35 (NLT)13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am.14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet.15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.16 I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message.17 Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
What is Truth Anyway?
Merriam-Webster defines truth as the quality or state of being true. The definition of true is to be in in accordance with fact or reality.
To know the truth you have to know the One who is Truth
John 14:6 (NLT)6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.
He said that He was the truth and the life which means “I am the way to God Almighty in that I am the truth and the life.
John 7:28 (NLT)28 While Jesus was teaching in the Temple, he called out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I come from. But I’m not here on my own. The one who sent me is true, and you don’t know him.
Jesus and the Father, who are One, are Truth, the purest form of authenticity. To know truth you must know Jesus Christ because He is the center of the glory of God.
Where Does the Truth Come From?
John 7:38-39 (NLT)38 Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”39 (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)
The Holy Spirit gives you the unique ability to discern truth from error, sort of like a built-in lie detector.
John 16:12-15 (NLT)12 “There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now.13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.14 He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me.15 All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, ‘The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me.’
How Do You Get Truth?
John 8:31-32 (NLT)31 Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings.32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
You get truth by believing in the One who is Truth, Jesus Christ.
Acts 4:12 (NLT)12 There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”
1 Timothy 2:5-6 (NLT)5 For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.6 He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.
John 6:47-51 (NLT)47 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life.48 Yes, I am the bread of life!49 Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died.50 Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die.51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.”
No, “to thine ownself be true” is not in the bible and it’s really not true at all. Truth is not something that changes from person to person or era to era, or culture to era. Truth is eternal and it matters. Truth is, as it said in John 7:28, the one who sent and revealed Himself in Jesus. When we abide in Him and listen to his Spirit then we know and have Truth. We are no longer concerned about self first and everybody and everything else, including God, second. That’s being free. That’s being real. That’s true authenticity. This is real Truth.
Can unclean spirits (demons), inhabit, a believer, someone who has accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior and has received salvation by God’s grace? Every time I hear that believers are called to and have the authority to cast out and/or rebuke demons from both unbelievers and believers I cringe.
We know from scripture that the Holy Spirit dwells in all those who have accepted Jesus.
1 Corinthians 3:16 (NLT) Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?
1 Corinthians 6:19 (NLT) Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself,
So my question is how can an unclean spirit inhabit the same place as the Holy Spirit?
I wrote about binding and rebuking unclean spirits in another post “Can We Bind and Rebuke Satan - What Does The Bible Say?”
One point that I want to make right out of the box is that when I refer to the casting out of demons I’m talking about casting them out of the unbeliever. The believer can’t be possessed or be the dwelling place of a demon. I say that because as Paul says the believer’s body is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.
Think about it. Can a demon or an evil spirit dwell in the same place as God? Now that that is clear I want to quickly address those who believe that any illness that they have is the result of demonic presence. Again I say it is impossible for there to be any possession of any kind in the body of a believer. There can be and there is attack from outside the body but we are told to resist and the devil (that includes his demon friends) will flee.
James 4:7 (NKJV) Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
Ephesians 6:13 (NKJV) Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
One other point. Every illness, financial crisis, breakup, loss of job, or other unpleasant happening are not the result of demonic activity. Poor eating habits or dangerous activities may be the cause of sickness or accidents. Foolish financial decisions can result in financial crises. Downsizing of a company or an economic recession can cause loss of a job....you get the picture.
No Scriptural Evidence of Believers Possessed By Unclean Spirits
Never in the New Testament epistles are believers warned about the possibility of being possessed by demons. There are no references to anyone rebuking, binding, or casting demons from a believer. From unbelievers yes, but not from believers. The scriptures never even call believers to cast out demons at all.
This is from a post I published last year, “Can All Believers Cast Out Demons?”,
Mark 16:17-18 (NKJV) 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."
This is the scripture that many Christians, especially those in the word of faith and prosperity gospel movements, use to say that all believers have the ability, whether they use it or not, to perform exorcisms or cast out demons. They also use it for claiming universal authority for other things as well but those are not a subject of this post.
I first want to address Mark 16:17-18, the scripture that is most often used to assert that all Christians have been given the authority to “cast out”. My guess is that there is a note in your bible that reads something like; “The earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20." This is another way of saying that these verses are not considered inspired scripture, and thus should not be used to build doctrines or to even preach on by themselves, since they are considered unreliable and were most likely added to the scriptures by some scribe. (For more information on this note see the complete post HERE)
Christ and the apostles were the only ones who cast out demons, and in every instance the possessed people were unbelievers. To be completely honest there is reference in scripture of individuals who were not Christians or followers of Jesus that cast out demons.
Matthew 12:27 (NLT) And if I am empowered by Satan, what about your own exorcists? They cast out demons, too, so they will condemn you for what you have said.
Acts 19:13-16 (NLT)13 A group of Jews was traveling from town to town casting out evil spirits. They tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus in their incantation, saying, “I command you in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, to come out!”14 Seven sons of Sceva, a leading priest, were doing this.15 But one time when they tried it, the evil spirit replied, “I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?”16 Then the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them, and attacked them with such violence that they fled from the house, naked and battered.
How Then Do You Explain The Actions Of many Believers If Not Unclean Spirits?
First some definitions;
Possession - the state of having, owning, or controlling something.
Demon possession involves a demon having direct/complete control over the thoughts and/or actions of a person
Matthew 17:14-18 (NLT)14 At the foot of the mountain, a large crowd was waiting for them. A man came and knelt before Jesus and said,15 “Lord, have mercy on my son. He has seizures and suffers terribly. He often falls into the fire or into the water.16 So I brought him to your disciples, but they couldn’t heal him.”17 Jesus replied, “You faithless and corrupt people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”18 Then Jesus rebuked the demon in the boy, and it left him. From that moment the boy was well.
To be possessed would mean that the unclean spirit has direct control of a person from the inside. This would mean there would be a degree of unusual actions resulting from some unnatural things going on in the mind or the body.
Oppression - prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control.
Demon oppression or influence involves an unclean spirit or demon attacking a person spiritually and/or encouraging them into sinful behavior, but from the outside. In a blog series on Spiritual Warfare II write the this war takes place in the mind not the body. Mind here being your intellect not your brain.
While scripture indicates that a believer can’t be possessed by an unclean spirit a believer can be oppressed by unclean spirits. It’s also possible that they may be suffering from severe psychological problems which are not the result of unclean spirits at all. We have to be careful not to confuse possession or oppression with mental or behavioral illness although there may appear the same. I am not a Psychologist or a Psychiatrist so I am talking about possession and oppression not mental illness. In all instances where we are trying to determine possession, oppression, or mental illness we need to ask God for discernment. If you aren’t sure always try to refer the person to a professional.
Some Signs of Possible Oppression
Practicing sin can open a person up to having little control over certain aspects in their lives.. We forget sometimes that the old nature is still there in after salvation. The process of sanctification begins at conversion and continues until we die or Jesus returns. The old nature shows itself through our bodies, that’s why we are urged to crucify the flesh.
Galatians 5:24 (NLT) Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.
Romans 8:13 (NLT) For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.
Yielding to the desires of the flesh can bring you into bondage but is not the same as possession it is oppression. Much of what we blame on demonic activity is really us trying to excuse sin Unclean spirits can tempt us and exaggerate our fleshly weaknesses but when we yield to the temptation it’s our fault. We have the Holy Spirit and with Him we can overcome the temptation.
1 Corinthians 10:12-13 (NLT)12 If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall.13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
I addressed this subject in yet another post “Take Responsibility, Stop Blaming The Devil and Use The Power And Authority That You Have In Christ” Satan has a limit in dealing with a believer, it that wasn’t the case we would be are no better off than someone who was an unbeliever.
The Solution To Oppression
Believers are commanded to be filled by the Holy Spirit. To be filled is to be controlled completely by the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 5:18 (NLT)18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit,
To be filled with the Holy Spirit you must allow yourself to be, dominated, and controlled by Him.
To be filled with the Spirit implies freedom for Him to occupy every part of your life, guiding and controlling you. Then His power can be exerted through you so that what you do is fruitful to God. Being filled the Spirit does not apply to outward acts alone; it also applies to the innermost thoughts and motives of your actions.
Psalm 19:14 (NLT)14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
That’s what it means when the scripture said,
Romans 8:6 (NLT) So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.
Here is a way I describe being filled with or by the Holy Spirit;
If you put electrodes in a glass of water and apply an electric current to them the electricity excites the water and splits the molecules and separates them into water’s elements of hydrogen and oxygen and if you do it right it can create the energy necessary to operate a vehicle. When your spirit is under the control of the Holy Spirit you can do things you thought you could never do.
Again I say that Christians cannot be possessed by a demon, but we can be influenced and oppressed by one.
1 Peter 5:8 (NLT)8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.
he Apostle Peter himself is an example of a believer who was influenced by a Satan.
Matthew 16:22-23 (NKJV)22 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!"23 But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men."
Peter was influenced not possessed and after submitting himself completely to Jesus he was used by Him to introduce salvation through Christ to the Gentiles.
John 21:17 (NKJV)17 He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him, "Feed My sheep.
When you come under attack from Satan, demons, or unclean spirits, and you will be, you aren’t told to bind or rebuke them but to resist them and if we resist them they will flee.
James 4:7 (NLT)7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
A couple of sayings that I have written about about so far in this series actually contradict the Bible. “God helps those who help themselves” can keep us from admitting that we do need God’s help. “God will never give you more than you can bear”, can cause guilt and confusion. The saying in this post “Too err is human, to forgive divine”, isn’t in the Bible either, but while not in the Bible, it is a true statement.
The origin of the saying is from“An Essay on Criticism”, by Alexander Pope. Here’s the verse that includes the phrase.
If Wit so much from Ign'rance undergo,
Ah let not Learning too commence its Foe!
Of old, those met Rewards who cou'd excel,
And such were Prais'd who but endeavour'd well:
Tho' Triumphs were to Gen'rals only due,
Crowns were reserv'd to grace the Soldiers too.
Now, they who reached Parnassus' lofty Crown,
Employ their Pains to spurn some others down;
And while Self-Love each jealous Writer rules,
Contending Wits becomes the Sport of Fools:
But still the Worst with most Regret commend,
For each Ill Author is as bad a Friend.
To what base Ends, and by what abject Ways,
Are Mortals urg'd thro' Sacred Lust of praise!
Ah ne'er so dire a Thirst of Glory boast,
Nor in the Critick let the Man be lost!
Good-Nature and Good-Sense must ever join;
To err is Humane; to Forgive, Divine. (Bold mine)
All People Err (Sin, make mistakes)
Romans 3:23 (NLT) For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
1 John 1:8,10 (NLT)8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.
It’s in our human nature to sin and make mistakes and it’s in God’s divine nature to forgive us.
1 John 1:9-10 (NLT)9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
When we forgive others, especially those who we don’t think deserve forgiveness, those who have deeply hurt us so badly that the result of their action(s) stay with us for the rest of our lives, we are acting in a God-like manner.
Romans 5:8, 10 (NLT)8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.
Here’s what I wrote in a post last year, “What Does The Bible Say? Does Forgiving Mean Forgetting?”
God wants us to forgive each other just like He has forgiven us through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Once we do what it says in
Romans 10:9-10 (HCSB) 9 If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.;
God treats us as though we never sinned at all and doesn’t hold our sins against us. So, in a sense, He “forgives and forgets.”
In the same way when we forgive we should act as though it never happened. We do still remember the offense, and we should learn from it, but to truly forgive, we should treat the person as though it never happened.
I realize that it’s impossible for us to do that on our own however we have the Holy Spirit in us that empowers us, to do what is impossible to do in our flesh.
It’s not natural for us to want to forgive, but we are not to continue to follow our natural desires and tendencies. That’s divine power.
Galatians 5:16-17 (NLT)16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.
A Methodist pastor, William Willimon once wrote “The human animal is not supposed to be good at forgiveness. Forgiveness is not some innate, natural human emotion. Vengeance, retribution, violence, these are natural human qualities. It is natural for the human animal to snarl and crouch into a defensive position when attacked, to howl when wronged, to bite back when bitten. Forgiveness is not natural.”
Here’s something else I found while doing the research for this post. At one time John Wesley met the governor of Georgia, General James Oglethorpe. In a conversation about one of the governor’s enemies, General Oglethorpe said, “I never forget, and I never forgive” John Wesley replied,”Then sir I hope you never sin.”
Think about that for a moment. The only person who can afford to never forgive is the one who never sins and needs forgiveness.
Forgiveness Is Not Easy
Without the power of the Holy Spirit forgiveness, in every case, is impossible. You hear people say all the time that “I just can’t forgive what they did to me.” They are right, you can’t, but with the Holy Spirit working through you can. I found these “Four Promises of Forgiveness” in “NO That’s NOT in the Bible”, by David O. Dykes.
Forgiveness Must Happen But Reconciliation May Not Happen
Romans 12:18 (NKJV) If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
We can only do what we can do. We can’t control what others do or how they choose to respond. God requires us to take the first step and that is to forgive. Forgiveness requires one person to offer forgiveness. Reconciliation requires two people. One to forgive, one to accept the forgiveness.
That’s really the way that it works between God and us. God wants to be reconciled with everybody so He offers His grace and forgiveness universally and unilaterally.
2 Peter 3:9 (NLT) The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.
That doesn’t mean that everybody will accept His forgiveness and grace because He has given us freewill so the choice to accept His forgiveness and grace is ours. Reconciliation with God doesn’t happen until we repent and accept His forgiveness and offer of salvation. He doesn’t even require that we do anything else other than to come just as we are and acceot His grace.
Isaiah 1:18 (NLT)18 “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.
Joel 2:32 (NLT)32 But everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved, for some on Mount Zion in Jerusalem will escape, just as the LORD has said. These will be among the survivors whom the LORD has called.
It’s the same way with us. When you forgive someone for something that they have done that has hurt you for no reason, you may feel that person doesn’t deserve forgiveness. However as God has done for you don’t wait until they come to you asking for forgiveness. With the help of the Holy Spirit you can choose to forgive them. If they accept the relationship will be reconciled. If they reject your forgiveness the two of you will not be reconciled but you have done all that God requires of you.
No the saying “To err is human, to forgive, divine” is not in the Bible. However we know that it is true that we must forgive, because God says if we don’t He won’t forgive us.
Matthew 6:14-15 (NLT)14 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
In their book Boundaries, Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, write that unforgiveness is the stupidest thing a person can do. They say “When you refuse to forgive someone, you still want something from that person, and even if it is revenge that you want, it keeps you tied to him [or her] forever,” You may think that you are hurting the person by not forgiving them, but the truth is that you are uptight, stressed-out,and sick at heart. If there’s someone you haven’t forgiven to it today.
As David Dykes said “To err is human and to forgive feels divine.”
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “spare the rod, spoil the child”. I suspect you heard it from your parents or grandparents just before they disciplined you either by spanking or some other means. They may have even said, “the Bible says spare the rod, spoil the child”. Many people believe that this saying does come from the Bible. Well it doesn’t. You may be surprised where it originated.
It comes from a 17th century poem, “Hudibras”, by Samuel Butler . In the poem, a love affair is likened to a child, and spanking is commended as a way to make the love grow stronger. Here’s the actual verse,
“What medicine else can cure the fits
Of lovers when they lose their wits?
Love is a boy by poets styled
Then spare the rod and spoil the child.”
The idea, in the poem, which is very long, was that the absence of periodic spankings in the relationship will spoil it. In fact Butler says, and this may surprise and shock you, that women desire a good spanking more than gifts
Most people today, who think that the saying comes from the Bible believe it comes from;
Proverbs 13:24 (NLT)24 Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them.
The Hebrew word translated “rod” in Proverbs is shebet. Shebet is the staff a shepherd used to tend his sheep. The shepherd didn’t beat the sheep, he struck their hindquarters to get them to go in the direction that he wanted them to go. If one ot the sheep was too far away the shepherd threw the staff in front of the sheep and the sheep would then run back to the flock. The sheep didn’t fear the shepherd they feared the rod.
Shebet is the what that David said protected and comforted him.
Psalm 23:4 (NLT)4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.
Shebet refers to the discipline, protection, authority, and power that God as the Good Shepherd gives to His children. As parents, grandparents and guardians, we are compelled to follow His example in order to raise children for the kingdom of God.
1 Corinthians 7:14 (NLT)14 For the Christian wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the Christian husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children would not be holy, but now they are holy.
Proverbs 23:24 (NLT)24 The father of godly children has cause for joy. What a pleasure to have children who are wise.
Proverbs 29:17 (NLT)17 Discipline your children, and they will give you peace of mind and will make your heart glad.
The disciplining of children is not a popular subject today so before I go any further, and you accuse me of condoning or promoting “child abuse”, let me say now that there is no excuse for abuse and parents, grandparents, relatives, or others who abuse children deserve to be punished. There are huge differences in child abuse and loving caring biblical discipline.
A child should never be bruised, injured, or cut by a physical correction. The Bible warns that parents should never abuse the power and authority they have over their children
Ephesians 6:4 (NLT)4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.
Discipline should always done in love, never in frustration or anger. The Lord uses discipline to reveal our sin to us. This is also how parents reveal the truth of our need for a Savior to their children. When there are no consequences for disobedience , a child won’t understand that there is punishment for sin. There is salvation and forgiveness through Jesus but that won’t mean anything unless a child sees their disobedience as sin.
Discipline and punishment will show that there are consequences for our actions. Children are by nature rebellious and believe that the world revolves around them but discipline shows them that everything they do is not acceptable.
Proverbs 22:15 (NLT)15 A youngster’s heart is filled with foolishness, but physical discipline will drive it far away.
Romans 5:12 (NLT)12 When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.
The most important thing that a parent can do for a child is lead them to salvation and discipline in part of the process because it show that there are negative consequences for sin.
Proverbs 23:13-14 (NLT)13 Don’t fail to discipline your children. They won’t die if you spank them.14 Physical discipline may well save them from death.
Proverbs 13:1 (NLT)1 A wise child accepts a parent’s discipline; a mocker refuses to listen to correction.
Proverbs 29:15 (NLT)15 To discipline a child produces wisdom, but a mother is disgraced by an
Apply Discipline The Way God Does
God is the ideal loving parent and He often shows His love through discipline. God only disciplines His own, which proves that Christians are His children.
Hebrews 12:5-6 (NLT)5 And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the LORD’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you.6 For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”
Communicate Before and After Discipline
Ezekiel 3:17-19 (NLT)17 “Son of man, I have appointed you as a watchman for Israel. Whenever you receive a message from me, warn people immediately.18 If I warn the wicked, saying, ‘You are under the penalty of death,’ but you fail to deliver the warning, they will die in their sins. And I will hold you responsible for their deaths.19 If you warn them and they refuse to repent and keep on sinning, they will die in their sins. But you will have saved yourself because you obeyed me.
Amos 3:3-7 (NLT)3 Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?4 Does a lion ever roar in a thicket without first finding a victim? Does a young lion growl in its den without first catching its prey?5 Does a bird ever get caught in a trap that has no bait? Does a trap spring shut when there’s nothing to catch?6 When the ram’s horn blows a warning, shouldn’t the people be alarmed? Does disaster come to a city unless the LORD has planned it?7 Indeed, the Sovereign LORD never does anything until he reveals his plans to his servants the prophets.
If we follow God’s process for discipline we will communicate how much we love our children by enforcing the rules. If you don’t care about the rules yourself then you won’t discipline.
Never Discipline in Anger
Abuse often happen when a parent loses his or her temper. Loving discipline is alway applied calmly. Do whatever you need to do to not disciple when you are mad or in front of others. If the discipline requires spanking, and yes there is a proper time and place for spanking, it should be done in private and when you have calmed down. Here is something I read while researching this blog post.
There was a woman who passed a man in a grocery store who was standing behind his shopping cart where his three-year-old son was screaming at the top of his voice. When the woman got closer, she hear the man saying, “Easy, Albert. Settle down, Albert. Take it easy, Albert” The woman was impressed with the father’s patience, she stopped and said,. “Sir I want to commend you on the gentle way in which you are speaking to Albert.” He looked at the child and said, “Oh, his name is Sam. My name is Albert.” That’s the way you need to be before disciplining your child.
If You Threaten Discipline Follow Through
If you threaten you child with punishment the worst thing that you can do is not deliver on you promise. Letting a child get away with something that they were told not to do is not doing them any favors. If you tell your child not to do a certain thing and tell them that disobeying will result in a spanking or in being grounded and they do that certain thing you must follow through with the punishment. If you don’t the child will then believe that there are no consequences for disobeying the rules.
Praise More Than Punish
Sometimes discipline is necessary but it’s much more important to praise. Yes, punishment discourages bad behavior, but praise encourages good behavior. The Bible tells us not to overdo the punishment in the absence of praise because it will have a detrimental effect on the child.
Colossians 3:21 (MSG)21 Parents, don’t come down too hard on your children or you’ll crush their spirits.
Are you one of those parents who when your child comes home with a report card with four A’s and one B who focuses on the B rather than praising them for the four A’s Give your children ten times more compliments than complaints, and a hundred times more hugs than spankings.
Biblical Discipline Is Love In Action
“Spare the rod, spoil the child” is the negative consequence of withholding punishment. The Bible gives us the benefits of applying discipline.
Proverbs 3:11-12 (NLT)11 My child, don’t reject the LORD’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you.12 For the LORD corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.
Revelation 3:19 (NLT)19 I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.
Hebrews 12:5-11 (NLT)5 And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the LORD’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you.6 For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”7 As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father?8 If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all.9 Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness.11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
No, “spare the rod, spoil the child” is not in the Bible, but what is in the Bible is how loving, biblical discipline can lead to salvation and keep your child out of trouble and out of hell. The values and belief that are developed in the first few years of a child’s life will determine, in a large part, their direction for the rest of their life. It’s easy not to discipline and not deal with the stress that comes with it, but your child will thank you applying the rod of correction when it was needed.
Saint Francis Xavier, a sixteenth century Roman Catholic missionary wrote “Give me the children until they are seven and anyone can have them after that.”
A few days ago I preached a sermon titled, “Trusting God Is Trusting In His Timing”. The Holy Spirit had been encouraging me to talk about waiting, and trusting God instead of becoming anxious because we haven’t seen the answer to prayer. It started with an exhortation, two weeks ago, to my church’s weekly Prayerline. Since the exhortation the Holy Spirit has continued to encouraging me to talk about the need to trust that God is acting on our behalf, while we wait. The things that I have been hearing in bible studies, in talking to other believers, and in my daily quiet times are confirmation that we must wait on God’s timing because His timing is perfect.
Here’s what I said in my sermon;
When we grow impatient, it is easy to rush ahead of God’s work. If it hasn’t happened yet it doesn’t mean something’s wrong, it doesn’t mean God’s mad at you, it doesn’t mean it’s never gonna work out. God has already established the time down to the split second, you don’t have to worry, stress out, or be anxious. God is directing your steps not randomly, not vaguely, but down to the smallest detail. This takes all the pressure off you.
If you are waiting for the answer to a prayer right now and you have been waiting a long time, remember that God’s timing is perfect. He may just be putting things in place, or moving something out of the way for you. Trust Him because he loves you.
It really doesn’t matter what you are waiting on God for; a job, a spouse, a house, a car, a child, healing, whatever. God’s timing is always perfect. So whatever you are praying and trusting God for wait patiently, even if it’s very hard to do.
Today, in my quiet time I read a devotion from Dr. Charles Stanley that was even more confirmation. In this devotion, which I will share in this blog post, Dr. Stanley says that we should have perseverance in prayer. He said most of us have come to God eagerly in prayer about something or someone but when we didn't see the answer right away we became discouraged. The reason for that, he says, is that we get weary of asking and listening when all we perceive is silence. ln my sermon I said that In order to patiently wait on God’s timing and not “freak out” with stress and anxiety we have to know that God acts on our behalf. We have to rely on Him and HIs timing to guide our lives, not our own schedule and timing. What we can see and know is limited but God’s knowledge is unlimited because He knows the end from the beginning.
Isaiah 46:10 (NLT) Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.
God may be putting people in certain places just so they can be the answer to your prayer. He may be building a new ministry for you to join where you will find your answer. He may be creating a new job for you in a new city. There are any number of things that God may be preparing or removing,which involve other people even other believers, before He reveals the answer to your prayer.
While we're waiting on God's timing we should be persistent in prayer. Dr. Stanley says “Barriers can develop if we persistently cry out to God but nothing changes.” Continue to pray. As I have said many times when we pray God may not answer right away or He may not answer in the way we would like but we can be sure of one thing, that He will always give us peace.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
The following is Dr. Stanley's complete devotional.
Perseverance in Prayer
Romans 12:11-13 (NLT)11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.
As a pastor, I speak with many people about their spiritual journey. From these interactions, I know that most individuals are not satisfied with their prayer life. They lack anticipation and faith, and time with God feels empty. Most likely, this is why many Christians pray so little and so passionlessly.
Yesterday, we began looking at obstacles to a healthy prayer life. Let’s explore one more hindrance that blocks vibrant communication between God and us: impatience.
Most of us have at some point brought our supplication to Jesus vigorously but did not see the desired results. Unfortunately, humans are, by nature, fainthearted. We get weary of asking and listening when all we perceive is silence. Remember, though, that God is not some “cosmic bellhop”; He does not act on our cue. In fact, if we could see the big picture as He can, we would gladly wait for His way and time.
Actually, I believe that we benefit by not receiving all that we request. Understanding this concept is a sign of spiritual maturity. When we are thoroughly satisfied with the Lord’s presence, our relationship with Him will flourish, even when we don’t get all we ask. When that is the case, we grasp what prayer is—not a long want list, but a relationship.
Barriers can develop if we persistently cry out to God but nothing changes. Continue to pray. Beyond this “wall,” you’ll sense God’s presence, where you will find peace, joy, and awesome glimpses of His glory. This will be completely satisfying, even if He never gives you exactly what you requested.
For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please visit www.intouch.org.
Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.