Christ urged us to beware of those coming falsely in His name and Paul repeatedly fought the infiltration of false doctrine in the church. He warned about it over and over in multiple letters he wrote.
In his book of Colossians, he instructed all believers that we should walk in Christ and grow in His teachings to prevent us from falling prey to wrong doctrine, human philosophy, and manmade, worldly traditions.
These are perilous times—I strongly encourage you to research and study the scriptures regarding this.
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”
“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26 RSV
As we are made in His image with a body, soul, and spirit, God is 3 persons in 1—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
God the Father is the thoughts, the ideas.
Jesus the Son is the Word.
The Holy Spirit is the one who acts.
We talk often of God the Father and Jesus the Son, but let us not forget the third person of the Trinity—The Holy Spirit. He is just as important. He is our teacher. He helps us to understand the scripture and it is through His power that we can have Godly peace and overcome our flesh, life’s trials, & attacks of the enemy.
“You gave your good Spirit to instruct them and did not withhold your manna from their mouth and gave them water for their thirst.” Nehemiah 9:20 ESV
“And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” Acts 9:5-6 KJV
When Jesus stopped Paul as he was on the road to Damascus, He told him it was hard for him to kick against the pricks. “Pricks” in the Greek is “kentron” also meaning “goad”’as in an iron prod used on cattle.
Paul’s Damascus Road experience was not the first time that God had communicated with him. Paul, as evidenced in his acrimonious persecution of Christians, as well as Jesus’ words here, had been resisting the prodding of the Holy Spirit and it had been a difficult struggle for him, until he became willing to do what the Lord wanted him to do.
Paul came to have a love for Jesus that was as passionate and committed as was his love for religion and as his persecution of the church. He spent his life sacrificing earthly comforts and treasures and enduring unspeakable pain and persecution by not only strangers, but former friends and brethren. And he did it all with joy in obedience to Jesus and to see others saved through the cross of Christ.
What a lesson for us!! May we not fight the urging of the Holy Spirit to turn our hearts, minds, and lives over to Him in obedience in the way that Paul did. It will not always be the easy path, when like Paul, we suffer at the hands of strangers and even those we call friends. But Jesus promised that in the midst of trials & troubles from the enemy, and persecution from friends & family, He would never leave us and He would have a remnant of other believers with which we can comfort each other in love. He also promised something even greater—the hope of a perfect eternity with Him in His kingdom.
Let’s live for tomorrow in obedience to Him today!
There are many things being done using the name of Jesus and much being presented as the gospel that is not the gospel.
So, what is the gospel of Jesus Christ?
It isn’t social justice. It isn’t self-help psychology or personal improvement. It isn’t being a good person. It isn’t earning anything.
It’s recognizing that there is no good in human nature. It is recognizing that we need a savior—someone to reconcile us to our Creator, Almighty God. It is repentance. It is, through faith, believing that Jesus Christ, as fully God and fully man, is that savior. It is believing that He took our punishment, was crucified, and after 3 days was resurrected. It is having confidence that He will come again and knowing that those born again of His Spirit will live eternally with Him.
It is knowing that anything good that comes out of me is Him.
It is denying yourself, your wants, your plans, your purpose—your life and exchanging it all for Him.
It is the best decision you will ever make and it will bring you peace of mind that cannot be explained in mere words.
“And it came to pass in our going on to prayer, a certain maid, having a spirit of Python, did meet us, who brought much employment to her masters by soothsaying, she having followed Paul and us, was crying, saying, `These men are servants of the Most High God, who declare to us a way of salvation; and this she was doing for many days, but Paul having been grieved, and having turned, said to the spirit, `I command thee, in the name of Jesus Christ, to come forth from her;’ and it came forth the same hour.” Acts 16:16-18 YLT
Luke tells of a demon possessed, fortune-telling slave girl that followed them through Philippi proclaiming their ministry. Paul was disturbed by her presence and through Christ’s name and power, he commands the demon to leave and it does, of course, taking its fortune-telling ability with it.
This spirit of divination was not doing Paul and his companion’s ministry a favor. Philippi was Roman colony and the Philippians worshipped many pagan gods. Adding one more god to the mix isn’t a problem to Satan, but preaching the One True God, THE Way of salvation is and that is exactly what Paul and his team were doing.
As are all of the other problems we see in society and the church today, this, too, is not new. Our enemy will distract us with every way possible. Every way, but THE Way.
Jesus Christ of Nazareth is THE Way, the ONLY way. (John 14:6) There is no other. Not good works, not gimmicks, not formulas, only Jesus–Not any Jesus. Only Jesus Christ of Nazareth, God in the flesh, born of the virgin Mary, died on a Roman cross, risen, and ascended into heaven. That Jesus. The one who never contradicts Himself. The one who never fails. The one who is always with those who choose Him. The one who cleansed the temple with a whip. (Matthew 21:12-13) The one from whom multitudes of people walked away from when He spoke the hard truth. (John 6:66) The one who loved so much without compromise that He not only died, but He suffered tremendous anguish for you, for me, for us all.
Today, like the days of old, there are many presenting to us another Jesus, another way. It grieved Paul and it should grieve us, too. There are gimmicks. There is compromise and the truth is becoming clouded behind religious lingo used in churches and “Biblical” books, behind the other ways that we are being told we can find salvation. But if those ways contradict Jesus of Nazareth, then they are not the way.
We have a better hope than the emptiness of emotional highs we experience in the dark smoke-filled room of a trendy church, the feeling of loneliness in a crowd at religious social gathering, the feeling of despair we feel drowning in our sin that is accepted by the postmodern church telling us so absolutely that there are no absolutes.
But how can we know that hope, if we don’t know—THE HOPE, THE WAY–Jesus Christ, Himself.
It takes a great amount of courage and a great amount of humility to place our broken selves at the feet of THE WAY. Our Triune God will free us, love us and save us, if we want Him. Never will He force our hand. Unlike His adversary who will find every way in to tempt us, lie to us, and deceive us, God, the Father, sent His Son to make the way, and He has sent His Holy Spirit to nudge us, to speak to us, to teach us, to show that there is comfort in The Only Way.
If you have not accepted Him, that is your first step, the necessary step…to acknowledge that He is the Only Way, the truth, the life. Accept Him today. Study the Bible with a pure heart and ask Him to teach you all things through His Word and He will.
If you have accepted Him, but are holding back, still trying to do it your way, still fighting to hold on to those things that are bringing death into your life, stop. Stop today. Don’t wait. Have the courage to fall vulnerable at His feet and die to yourself. Let go of all other ways. Let go of what people say, let go of religious trends, let go of what you want. Let go of your arguments, your justifications. Let go of being satisfied with the struggle of sin and today and everyday, choose Him first, above all else. In THE Way, there is no regret, no fear, just love.
It is free, but it will cost you everything.
“…I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 ESV
“And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.” Matthew 21:44 KJV
There is a great misconception about the Christian life. The overarching belief is that when we accept Christ, He changes our life. But that is not what He taught when He walked this earth and that is not what He confirmed to Paul and the other apostles. A good study of the New Testament clearly shows us that when we accept Him, our life is not changed through Christ, but it is EXCHANGED for His life.
Jesus taught that we must be born again (John 3:3). He never says that He will come in and work with our flesh, tame it, or compromise. He is very direct in His teaching that the flesh is tainted and unusable (John 6:63), but that when we become born again, His Spirit now lives within us and it is through Him that we have power to overcome the flesh. It is through His Spirit that we can know Him. It is through His Spirit that we can love others. It is through His Spirit that we can turn the other cheek when we are mistreated. It is through His Spirit that we can let go of our worries as we walk through the battlefield of life and trust God.
The only way to have true peace and true victory is through stepping out of the way every single day and choosing to let Christ live in our place. Paul called it crucifying the flesh (Galatians 5:24). If we are His, then it is not about what we want, our goals, our vision, doing things FOR Him. If we are His, then it is about Him doing it THROUGH us.
There is no compromise with Christ. We cannot be lukewarm (Revelation 3:16). It is Him or us. We must choose and we must let go of all of this life and take on His life.
You see, we must die to live. There is no other way and to try to live otherwise will stunt our spiritual growth (Hebrews 5:12), keep us defeated and make us vulnerable to being swayed by spiritual fads and “doctrines of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1) that leave us in spiritual danger.
All that will satisfy us, all that will fill us, all that will solve our problems, and all that will make us see that what we are experiencing on this earth is nothing in comparison to what we have before us in eternity is Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
If you are struggling, if you are in pain, if you are sick, if you are depressed, if you are worried, if you are anxious, if you are drowning in the cares of life as I was, YOU are still trying to live. Come to the end of yourself, fall on the stone that is Jesus Christ, and give all you are to HIM. YOU HAVE TO DIE TO YOURSELF TO REALLY LIVE. I had heard it a thousand times. I knew it and I finally did it. Now my only regret is that I waited so long, but God takes even that pain makes it sweet through His love, grace, and mercy.
Paul knew the way and he told us…”I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 KJV
“Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity, every thought to the obedience of Christ;” 2 Corinthians 10:5 KJV
We wonder why our life is what it is. We ask ourselves how could it have become this? We commiserate with others because Satan is beating us down again and again.
Many people jump on every bandwagon that comes their way and think the next new Christian book has the answer, the next new Christian fad is THE formula for success. Many find themselves “tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14) in hopes of turning their lives around.
Being a victim and following every idea in the world except God’s is not the answer and it is not what God has for His children.
So, how did we get here? Our life goes in the direction of our thoughts. It as been so since the beginning.
God gifted this world to Adam–to mankind–and he handed it over to Satan with a single solitary action. That action started long before he took the bite of that fruit. We aren’t told his thoughts, but every action begins with a thought and we do hear Eve’s thoughts…so, let’s look at her and see where this all began. When the serpent began his temptation, Eve started thinking. Hmm, it was good to look at…it could make us wise…then thought became action and before they realized it, she and her husband had given up possession and dominion of this earth to the enemy and begun the cycle of death. It all started with a thought. (Genesis 3:6)
“We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” 1 John 5:19
So, we see that Satan is now the prince of this world (Ephesians 2:2, John 14:30) and this world programs us to think the way it thinks. It’s thoughts are fleshly, self-centered and prideful. Carnal-minded thoughts lead to death—spiritually, physically, mentally, and are in direct conflict with God. “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” (Romans 8:7 KJV)
But, we can control our thoughts. We can bring them under the submission of Jesus Christ. We can choose what we think on, what we dwell on, and what we put into our minds.
This is why holiness is important. It cannot earn us salvation, but it can protect our minds against the programming of death that this world so desperately wants us to experience. Every single day, there are hundreds, thousands, millions of opportunity to feed into the thoughts of this world. From what we watch, what we read, what we hear…From others and from ourselves. What goes in, WILL come out. “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23 KJV
Our battle is with the thoughts that dominate our mind and our life. If we want a different life, we need to think different thoughts. If we want different thoughts, we need to feed our mind different food.
What should we think on? “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8 KJV
What is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, worthy of praise? God, His Son, His Holy Spirit. The Bible that He has given us. Everything that is in line with His Word. That is what we should think on.
If you think on sinful, ungodly things, you are being led by the flesh and, in so many forms, death is inevitable.
If you think on Godly, Christ-like things, you are being led by the Spirit and you will have life more abundantly.
Don’t allow the flesh to control your thoughts. Bring them into captivity and make them obey Christ.
“And be not be conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2 KJV