HOW CAN WE BE VERY SURE WE ARE HOLDING ON TO THE TRUTH?

Before a blind man can see, a miracle is required. But if there is no miracle to make him see, then someone else must lead him; it could even be a dog.
Since most of the churches that lay claim to holding the truth have conflicting teachings, they cannot all be correct.

There are several ways by which people determine what they think is the truth. I will mention three that are commonly held by religious people; and then go ahead to explain the best way to arrive at a valid test for truth.

1. There is the method of tenacity.

Many people think that if they hold on tenaciously to a proposition, they are holding on to the truth. But it is a common knowledge that the truth value of any proposition does not depend on the opinion of anybody. For over a thousand years, people held very strongly that the earth was the centre of the universe and that the sun moved around it; but it was still a false idea.

It is a known fact that when one repeats a lie long enough, he starts believing that the lie is the truth. So tenacity is not a valid test for truth.

2. Authority backing one’s belief by social convention:

It is quite possible that an idea is backed up by a respected authority such as pontificate or priesthood. But if the idea is faulty, quoting authority to back it cannot cure it of its falsity.

A proposition is not true just because a priest, prophet, bishop or the president of United States of America says it.

3. The third method is that of pragmatism.

From Deuteronomy 13:1-3 we can conclude that it is possible to have a prophet or a dreamer whose prediction comes true, but who is, at the same time, a false teacher.

Pragmatism is not a sufficient proof for truth because it proves only what works. Fraud cannot be considered right simply because someone is enriched by it.

We are in the last days when we witness the revival of satanic activities; so, we are experiencing unprecedented increase in miraculous manifestations. If pragmatism were a valid test for truth, then all cultic groups that solve human problems will be representing the truth. We note in various African cultures that incantations and idolatry really produce wonderful solutions for those who patronize them. Cultic healing power is not at all an evidence of truth. The fact that something positive happens when we practice an OT ordinance is not a sure sign that it represents the current will of God.

THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE METHOD
The only acceptable method to test for truth is to consider
i). What explains most facts. Thus the explanation that has four valid points will be preferred to one with three.

ii). What explains facts in the best fashion will displace one which does not follow normal rules of logic and grammar even if the facts appear numerous.

iii). What explains most facts in a non-contradictory way. Any explanation that makes the Bible contradict itself is not acceptable.

iv). What explains most facts in a manner that fits with the overall system.

Any Church denomination that does not fit into the practices that are evident from the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles, but adds its peculiar dogmas and traditions, does not represent the Church of Jesus Christ.

Thus, a denomination that patterns its organization after the OT priesthood, or does not do proper baptism after repentance, or addresses angels in praying, or performs special rituals, or commands abstinence from certain food items, or introduces OT levies meant for the Levitical priesthood, or brings on board any other OT practice or usage that the apostles of Christ did not introduce, is not a Christian Church but a cult.

If you have no idea of what your destination looks like, every location will appear like the right destination. However, the Bible alone gives the correct road-map to the Kingdom of heaven.

APOSTLE JOHN SAYS: “Anyone who does not stay with the teaching of Christ, but goes beyond it, DOES NOT HAVE GOD. Whoever does stay with the teaching has both the Father and the Son. So then, if some come to you who do not bring this teaching, do not welcome them in your homes; do not even say, “Peace be with you.” For anyone who wishes them peace becomes their partner in the evil things they do. (2Jn. 9-11 GNB, Emphasis added)

APOSTLE PAUL SAYS: “I urge you, my friends: watch out for those who cause divisions and upset people’s faith and go against the teaching which you have received. Keep away from them! For those who do such things are not serving Christ our Lord, but their own appetites. By their fine words and flattering speech they deceive innocent people.” (Rom. 16:17-18 GNB)

JESUS SAID to His apostles: “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives Him who sent me” (Matt. 10:40).

It is here implied that anybody who does not follow the teachings of the apostles of Christ rejects Christ as well.
For us to be sure we are holding on to the truth, we must be able to validate our position with nothing less than two references that will not contradict any other passage of the Bible.

WHY IS SATAN CALLED THE DECEIVER?

INTRODUCTION
When Satan deceived Mrs. Adam, our first mother, what exactly constitutes deception in all that the Serpent said?

Let us look closely at all the utterances of the Serpent to Eve.

1. “Yes, Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?’” (Gen. 3:1b)

That question from the Serpent does not have a truth value because no question does. Nobody denies or affirms a question; he is to choose whether to answer or not to answer.

2. “You will not surely die” (3:4).

This statement has a truth value. We can say whether what is said is true or false.

3. “For God knows that in the day you eat of the fruit, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God knowing good and evil” (3:5).

This statement can also be denied or affirmed. It has a truth value; and its truth is affirmed by God Himself in Gen. 3:22:

“The man has now become like one of us…”

Just as the Serpent said, the Fruit of Knowledge made man to be like God in knowledge.

The only utterance of the Serpent that is not true is
” You shall not surely die.”

The first utterance is a probing question meant to know whether Eve knew the instruction of God or not and to draw her into a conversation.

The denial of God’s verdict on disobedience is the only statement that is not true. If that statement were true, the Serpent would not be called a deceiver as in Rev. 12:9 and 2Cor. 11:3.

Probably, the Serpent did not imagine that God would drive out the first human family from the garden where the Fruit of Life was. If Adam remained in the garden, he would eat from the Tree of Life and then live forever even after his disobedience (Gen. 3:22-24).

Adam’s disobedience did not automatically bring death; but it made him lose access to the Tree of Life. Loss of access to the source of life is the cause of man’s ultimate death.

Most of the satanic religious sects take side with the enemy against God’s pronouncement by saying that the dead are not SURELY dead.

Anybody whose doctrinal position opposes God’s oracle is a deceiver.

Deception can come in a very subtle manner. The deceiver may be sincere, but sincerity of purpose may not necessarily exonerate him.

One of the signs of the end-time is increase in deception. “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (2Tim. 3:13). Many agents of deception are now parading themselves as ministers of the Gospel; believers must be at alert if they will escape the doom to come.

It is dangerous to excuse anybody’s wrong doctrine by arguing that everybody has his own ‘heresy’.

A single heresy is enough to make someone a deceiver.

So, those who teach that man lives on in a conscious state when he dies, and that man is in the same class of being with God are heretics. They may be popular, charismatic and wealthy, yet they are heretics.

That no heretic will have a part in the Kingdom of God is clear from the pages of the Bible.

WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE REASONS WHY SO MANY PEOPLE ARE STILL IN ERROR BY STAYING WITH THE LAW OF MOSES?

There are, at least, fourteen reasons why, I think, people remain in error.

1. PRIMACY effect and RECENCY effect as psychological explanations to opinion formation.
The tendency to stick to our initial opinion and to ignore later contradictory information is called PRIMACY effect.
When our opinion is biased towards a doctrine that was first presented to us even when more facts to the contrary are available, we refuse to be persuaded because of PRIMACY effect in opinion formation. This explains why some religious sects still enjoy patronage even when there are overwhelming proofs that they are founded upon wrong teachings. Our Lord Jesus puts it this way: “No one wants a new wine after drinking old wine. ‘The old is better’, he says.” (Lk. 5:39 GNB) So many people do not even try to investigate the present status of the Law because of this primacy effect.

However, studies have shown that if there is sufficient time interval between the initial information and subsequent contradictory information, then the effect may be reversed. That is, the initial information may fade from memory so that we give greater weight to the more recent information. This is known as RECENCY effect. As the name suggests, RECENCY effect refers to the tendency to bias our judgments towards the more recent information. If true doctrines are not studied and preached over and over again, recent false doctrines might overthrow them.

Thus PRIMACY and RECENCY effects can influence the spread of false teachings. When a wrong doctrine is constantly preached and emphasized, just as tithing is, primacy and recency effects combine to make people stay with it.

2. The illusion that miraculous manifestation is a confirmation that God endorses a practice or a preacher.
The Bible clearly states that false Christ’s and false prophets will abound in the last days and show signs and wonders if only to deceive. (Mt. 24:24) It is not every place where signs and wonders occur that the truth is being spoken.
On the other hand, it is possible to speak the truth without showing any miracle. (Jn. 10:41) In 1Cor. 10:1-12, Paul shows us that it is possible to enjoy the miraculous and still be locked out of a glorious destiny. Moses also, whom God used to convey miracles to the people did not fulfill his destiny because of his disobedience at the water of Meriba in Kadesh. (Num. 20:7-13; Dt. 3:26)

It is possible to enjoy miracles or be a vehicle to convey miracles to others and yet fail to get to the kingdom of God. God will not admit anybody into His kingdom on account of miracles performed, but on account of doing His will. (Mt. 7:21-23)

Let us not think that because the preacher of the Law of Moses manifests miracles, he must be on the right path. It is not necessarily so.

3. MINDSET occasioned by human tradition and denominational bias.

Human tradition or sectarian bias may condition people’s minds to rejecting sound and biblical teachings. Jesus Christ indicted the Jews for rejecting God’s word because of their traditions; so, all that Jesus said were not taken because of their mindset. They could not even understand. (Mk. 7:6-9) Paul says, “Go to this people and say, ‘Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand; and seeing you will see and not perceive’; for the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing and their eyes they have closed…” (Acts 28:26-27)

Anybody with a mindset normally holds on to deception because he will not investigate to find out the truth from God’s word (Jer. 8:5). It is not easy for such to side with the word of God.

4. Deliberate rejection of truth.

If anyone deliberately rejects truth, it is possible for God to send “strong delusion” to him so that “he will believe a lie” (2Thes. 2:9-11).

In the book of Ezekiel 14:1-9, we could see that if anybody approaches God for direction with an ‘idol in his heart’, God normally allows such to be led astray. Verse 9 is somehow awful, “If a prophet is deceived into giving of false answer, it is because I, the LORD, have deceived him…” (GNB) God can lead a prophet to give a wrong answer to one who comes with an ‘idol in his heart’, and the latter will believe that God is the one leading him.

Many people who think they are being led to pay tithe or firstfruits or keep the Saturday Sabbath are probably being deceived. There is nothing the Holy Spirit will tell anybody now that will contradict the teachings of the New Testament. If it does contradict the Bible, it comes from God’s enemy. Somebody once affirmed that God told him to marry a second wife!

5. Unbelief can make Satan the enemy blind the minds of people. (2Cor. 4:4)

It is unbelief that makes a preacher think that he will not have his needs met if tithes are not collected. It is unbelief that will make somebody refuse to follow the truth for fear of the unknown. One who has faith in God follows His word without any fear. Faith and fear are mutually exclusive.

6. BEWITCHMENT is also a veritable instrument in the hands of false teachers to make somebody hold on to false teachings.

Gal. 3:1 says, “Oh foolish Galatians, who have bewitched you that you should not obey the truth.”

Bewitchment is the art of fascinating others by false representations or the art of exerting a malign or sinister influence by false representation.
Bewitchment can put someone out of his wits, that is, astound or be made beside self. A person who bewitches usually has an irresistible influence over others such that

(a) they would not obey the truth; (Gal. 3:1)

(b) the true way of God would be perverted, (Acts 13:10)

(c) they would be confused and therefore in need of other minds to guide them (Acts 8:9-11).

Bewitchment can occur through the use of sorcery or manipulation.
Preachers of tithe might use witchcraft on their audience. It could be through threatening the people with curses or blaming any negative occurrence on failure to pay tithe.

Others are captivated to side with falsehood on account of special garments like cassock, surplice, hood, mitre or collar worn by preachers.

Usually those who bewitch others do not prove their points from well balanced scriptural passages; they may repeat only one verse of the Bible with undue emphasis. False visions, oratory powers, ‘good’ organizational structure, high sounding titles and others like them can make people hold on to false teachings.

7. Wanting to please people:

Somebody can reject the truth if he is the type that likes to play to the gallery. It is not common to see people who desire to please human beings to side with the truth; because, in most cases, God’s truth is not popular with men. (Lk. 16:15) Paul said that if he wanted to please men, he would not be able to serve Christ. Of the twelve spies Moses sent to the land of Canaan, only two sided with God; the other ten, (majority) got the approval of the people.

Somebody can reject the truth that tithing is not a NT ordinance because he wants to be in the good books of his pastor, overseer or bishop. “Even then, many of the Jewish authorities believed in Jesus, but…did not talk about it openly…they loved the approval of men…” (Jn. 12:42, 43)

8. The Veil of Moses is another hindrance to people accepting the truth.

It is a pity that the veil, which Moses used to cover his face, has negative spiritual implications on so many people such that they cannot see the truth. Moses actually intended to help the people come nearer him; so, he veiled himself because the glory on his face scared the people away (Ex. 34:29-35). This is how the Holy Spirit interprets the episode:

“…We are not like Moses, who had to put a veil over his face so that the people of Israel would not see the brightness fade and disappear. Their minds, indeed, were closed; and to this very day their minds are covered with the same veil as they read the books of the Old covenant…Even today, whenever they read the Law of Moses, the veil still covers their minds.” (2Cor. 3:12-15)

This covering of the mind is what happened to some people in the Acts of the Apostle who believed the Lord Jesus, and still were zealous for the Law of Moses. (Acts 20:20-24; 15:1) This veil of Moses still works till today, preventing people from seeing that firstfruits, tithing and other OT practices are not ordinances to follow in the New Testament.

9. Lust after unrighteous gain:

One who is covetous or who lusts after unrighteous gain will normally reject the truth. If someone profits from wrong teachings, it will be very difficult for him to leave them to embrace the truth.

It is difficult for many preachers to agree with the fact that there is no tithing and firstfruits in the NT, because they really gain sure and easy money from people’s tithes and firstfruits. The Bible says concerning such that: “They have left the straight path and have lost their way; they have followed the path taken by Balaam son of Beor, who loved the money he would get for doing wrong…” (2 Pet. 2:15-18)

10. Pride can also prevent somebody from siding with the truth, especially if he is of a higher social standing than the one who shows the truth.

One who has gone to the seminary and who has a chain of degrees, if filled with pride will, most likely, not agree to the truth shown by an ordinary, unlearned ‘layman’. Even if he sees that it is the truth, he may, out of pride, reject it. Many people reject the truth simply because the person showing it is not a well recognized person or a popular preacher.

11. Familiarity sometimes makes somebody look down on a teacher of truth.

John 1:11 says, “He came to his own country, but his own people did not receive him”.

John 7:5 says, “Not even his brothers believed in him.”

People sometimes reject the truth unconsciously because they seem to think that the preacher of truth looks ordinary, without any myth surrounding him. They will gladly accept a lie being peddled by somebody who surrounds himself with myths.

A person may be close to you, but endeavour to check the veracity of his claims from scriptures and don’t reject him just because he is familiar.

12. The Thessalonians’ kind of faith: The Thessalonians were not like the Bereans. The latter would cross-check Paul’s teachings from the then available scriptures to see “if what Paul said was really true.” (Acts 17:10-11) Many people are like the Thessalonians who will not bother to establish the truth of whatever they hear from scriptures. In most cases, people like that accept teachings based on the status of the person who teaches. Many take in what the “old prophet” says more readily than what the “small prophet” says; but God, many times reveals to small prophet what is not revealed to “old prophet.” (1Kgs. 13:1-32) By the time God started speaking to little Samuel, he had abandoned old Eli.

Tithe preachers may be “old prophets” who had lost touch with God for one reason or the other.

13. Reading the Bible with a guided tour:

Most false teachings arise from quoting Bible passages out of context. Many denominations that err from the apostolic foundations pick references here and there to buttress their doctrines.

People who endeavour to read the Bible book by book and chapter by chapter will discover the truth better than those who use guided tour.

14. Using coercion to keep people under falsehood:

Many people enjoy being ruled with iron hands; hence protagonists of tithing feel that putting people under the law of tithes will help them to be blessed.

It is believed that human nature cannot do right under liberty, hence the need to coerce people. This assertion could be true, but God does not want people who desire to serve him to be coerced.

Paul the apostle observed that people found it easier to obey those who exerted a lot of burden on them than those who were liberal and caring. (2Cor. 11:4-21) Let us see verse 20 from the Good News Bible.

“You tolerate anyone who orders you about or takes advantage of you or traps you or looks down on you or slaps you in the face.”

The people at Corinth probably set aside Paul’s teachings and embraced those from more aggressive preachers. But Paul insisted that he would not change his method because of that; he would not rule them by force and he would not bother them for any monetary help. Paul never collected tithes from what we see in 2Cor. 11:7-9.

Many people stay quietly under false teachings because their teachers are terrible enough to keep them under.

CAN PEOPLE MISS THE KINGDOM OF GOD BECAUSE OF THE WAY THEY DRESS?

1. If the way someone dresses is offensive or causes others to stumble out of the true way, there is no hope of the kingdom of God for such a one.

Matt. 13:40-42: Just as the weeds are gathered up and burned in the fire, so the same thing will happen at the end of the age: the Son of Man will send out his angels to gather up out of his Kingdom ALL THOSE WHO CAUSE PEOPLE TO SIN and all others who do evil things, and they will throw them into the fiery furnace, where they will cry and gnash their teeth. (Emphasis added)

If a woman’s way of dressing causes a man to commit adultery in his heart (Matt. 5:28), that woman will not partake of the kingdom of God. All suggestive dresses that reveal a woman’s sensitive parts (backless, sleeveless, miniskirt, transparent dresses, very tight trousers), which tend to excite the opposite sentiment, will make any woman who wears them miss the kingdom of heaven for causing people to sin.

Matt. 18:7: The world is in for trouble because of the way it causes people to sin. There will always be something to cause people to sin, but anyone who does this will be in for trouble (CEV).

Rom. 14:13, 21: Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge ye this rather, that no man put a stumbling-block in his brother’s way, or an occasion of falling…It is good not to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor to do anything whereby thy brother stumbles.

2. If the way someone dresses goes contrary to the specifications in the word of God, that one can miss eternity with God for violating the will of God in His word.

1Pet. 3:3-4: You SHOULD NOT use outward aids to make yourselves beautiful, such as the way you fix your hair, or the jewellery you put on, or the dresses you wear. Instead, your beauty should consist of your true inner self, the ageless beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of the greatest value in God’s sight. (GNB Emphasis added)

God’s word places an outright ban on dressing for show! God wants His people to be satisfied with their natural beauty. Many Christian ladies pretend as if there is no caution, at all, on women dressing. It is as if the instruction is not for them, especially during celebrations; they use cosmetics, wear make-ups, jewelleries and expensive clothing. How else do we expect the Bible to say that God does not approve ostentatious way of dressing? Most of our women do not take this instruction seriously! If, in the end, we see that God takes the instruction seriously, shall we not regret? It is this same stubborn disposition of women to clear instructions that made the Serpent to approach Mother Eve and not Adam.

1Timothy 2:9: I also want the women to be modest and sensible about their clothes and to dress properly; NOT WITH fancy hair styles or with gold ornaments or pearls or expensive dresses (Emphasis added).

‘NOT WITH’ in the above passage simply means ‘without’ or ‘excluding’. Two eminent apostles of Christ wrote about dressing code for Christian women (modestly, sensibly and properly). Any dressing code a woman adopts, which excites the opposite sentiment (that which makes a woman looks sexy) is not proper.

When the navel, cleavage, thigh, buttocks and other sensitive parts of a woman are revealed to every passer-by, such dressing is not sensible.

Following the latest fashion in town and using expensive materials will not make anybody modest.

Human beings will always find a way around any instruction they do not feel like obeying.

Moreover, the enemy of our souls tricks us into believing that some instructions in the Bible are not very important.

We must be careful not to allow Satan to deceive us as he deceived Mother Eve.

We may find justifications for dressing the way we like; but if it is contrary to the instruction in the Bible, we are violating the will of God.

Adornment of Christian women SHOULD NOT include:
(i) Elaborate hairstyles,
(ii) Gold ornaments,
(iii) Pearls, and
(iv) Expensive dresses.

If 1Peter 3:3 is not very clear because of the last item, 1Timothy 2:9 shows that clothing being referred to is an expensive one.

3. If a Christian’s dressing shows that he/she loves the world, he/she could miss eternity with God.

Rom. 12:2: Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect.

Most (not all) of women attires are designed from the pit of hell; so anybody who always emulates the latest fashions in vogue may be disobeying God’s word. We should not think that dressing is a trivial matter. If anything involves an act of disobedience it could cost us our destiny as it did Moses. (Num. 20:12)

James 4:4: You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

The way one dresses may simply be a reflection of one’s attachment to the worldly social system. Anybody who feels ashamed of being different from his/her worldly peers and colleagues is automatically an enemy of God. Christian women, whose Christian husbands disapprove of their ostentatious mode of dressing but still persist in it, only seek to please the world.

1Jn. 2:15-17: Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions–is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Ignoring the instructions of Peter and Paul on dressing is simply showing that people are in love with the world. In other words, it is precisely like rejecting the standard of modesty that the apostles of Christ put in place. Just like the fruit of knowledge appealed to Eve; so elaborate hair styles, gold ornaments, pearls and expensive dresses are appealing to our women. Anyone who cannot give up his/her objects of fancy because of the kingdom of God is not qualified to be in that kingdom. Even when the object itself is not intrinsically bad, the disobedience involved is highly condemnable.

4. The Curse of the Fall for women in Gen 3:16 can only be mitigated if they fulfill the conditions stipulated in 1Tim. 2:15.

1Tim. 2:15: Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety. (KJV)

Women (Christians inclusive) have a lot of struggle persevering in holiness with modesty, which is why the hazards they undergo in bearing and rearing children are much. The sorrows of women are in multiples including the menopausal challenges. Holiness connotes being different in order to please God. Not many women want to be different from their peers. If a woman does not like being different, she should not expect that God will also give her any special treatment. The troubles common to all women will also be her portion. Sobriety includes being modest in dressing. It is in the nature of women to want to show-off. Dressing for show will never make a woman appear sober. If the word of God is not obeyed totally, God’s grace will not flow definitely. The things that make for the peace of most women are disregarded just as Jerusalem did in the days of Christ. “When he came closer and saw the city, he began to cry over it, saying, ‘If you had only known today what could have brought you peace! But now it is hidden from your eyes’.” (Lk. 19:41-42)

NOTE
The conditional word, ‘if’ is important in points number 1 to 3. The truth of each of the points is determined by the truth of the antecedent. The conclusion can never be false if the antecedent is true!

So, I have not in any sense sentenced anybody to eternal damnation!
Who am I to do that?
I have only based my conclusion on the foundation of the truth of the Word of God. If the Bible is true, then it is dangerous to take its instructions lightly. I pray we shall not miss God’s Kingdom because of mundane things in Jesus’ name. Amen!

HUMAN SPIRIT VERSUS HOLY SPIRIT

The Bible says a lot about the human spirit. This is the aspect of man that is God-conscious since it the breath of God in man. The flesh of man is part of him that is conscious of the world around him; whereas the soul of man is what makes him self-conscious; it portrays his personality.

A human spirit can be haughty (Pro. 16:18), or humble (Pro. 16:19; 29:23; Isaiah. 57:15).

A hardened spirit makes a man proud and unyielding to the counsel of God (Deut. 2:30); whereas a broken (contrite or poor) spirit is humble, teachable and trembles at God’s word (Psalm 34:18; 51:17; Isaiah. 57:15; 66:2; Matt. 5:3).

We must be careful not to confuse the working of the human spirit with the operation of the Holy Spirit. The human spirit may receive light and guidance from the Holy Spirit for those who allow Him; but it is not all the time that the voice of the human spirit represents the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Some people think that since the breath of God into man is from God, therefore every human being has the Holy Spirit. The Bible does not say or teach such and so we must be careful not to uphold unbiblical teachings. The breath of God in man is the ‘spirit of man’ and is not the Holy Spirit.

The Bible is replete of references to the human spirit.

For example, God stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, and the spirit of Tilgathpilneser king of Assyria to carry Israel away to captivity (1Chr. 5:26).

Also the LORD stirred up the spirit of the Philistines and of the Arabians against Jehoram (2Chr. 21:16).

Again the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation to build the house of God in Judah (2Chr. 36:22).

We can read in Jer. 51:11, “Make bright the arrows; gather the shields: the LORD hath raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes: for his device is against Babylon, to destroy it; because it is the vengeance of the LORD, the vengeance of his temple.”

In all the instances above, God stirred up the human spirit of the people concerned to do His bidding and not that He gave them the Holy Spirit. When God stirs up the spirit of a man, the man can do God’s bidding and may not even realize that the urge in his spirit is from God.

There is the tendency to take the stirring up of the human spirit as the working of the Holy Spirit; this could be a terrible mistake.

Those who allege that the human spirit died immediately Adam sinned will find it very difficult to get Bible support for such claim because God still continued to relate with man’s spirit throughout the Old Testament. If man’s spirit was cut off from God (i.e. died), how then had God been speaking and man responding?

Adam and Eve heard God speak and they responded. Cain, after killing his brother still heard God speak and he responded.

Let us remember that God created man’s soul as something unique. Just as the angels were created as spirits (Hebrews 1:7); so man was created predominantly as a LIVING SOUL. Man not only had a body, a body with the breath of life; he became a LIVING SOUL as well (Gen. 2:7; 1Cor. 15:45). Thus we find later in the Bible that God often referred to men as “souls” (Exodus 1:5; Acts 2:41; 1Pet. 3:20). Why? Because what the man is depends on how his soul is. His soul represents him and expresses his individuality. It is the organ of man’s freewill. If man’s soul wills to obey God, it will allow the spirit to rule over the man as ordered by God. The soul, if it chooses, also can suppress the human spirit and take some other delight as lord of the man. If the soul decides to follow the dictate of the body, the person will be carnally minded.

The spirit of a born-again man and his flesh constantly send suggestions to the soul who will either follow one or the other—the soul being the decision-making centre; it is the battle ground of the constant conflict that goes on between the flesh and the spirit.

The Holy Spirit, the word of God, prayer, fasting and fellowship combine to strengthen the human spirit to overcome the pressures from the flesh and the mind.

Man is such a complex being that the working of the soul may be mistaken for the working of the spirit of man. But, the word of God is capable of separating the soul from the spirit (Heb. 4:12) if we allow it to dwell in us richly; otherwise we may continue to look at the latent power of the soul as the working of the human spirit or even the working of the Holy Spirit.

Satan always wants to control man, whether he is a Christian or not.

If a believer in Christ allows himself to be directed by the prince of the air, he will naturally live in the passion of the flesh by carrying out the desires of the body and of the mind (Eph. 2:1-3). This person, because he is a believer, may still hold on to the false notion that the Holy Spirit is directing him.

Whenever a believer begins to change the conventional meaning of words of the Bible, the interpretation cannot be by the Holy Spirit but other spirits. For instance, ‘annul’ could be changed to mean ‘uphold’, ‘send’ to ‘breathe’, ‘up’ to ‘down’ and ‘with’ to ‘without’ when someone seeks the desires of the flesh or of the mind. The Holy Spirit in a believer must be in agreement with the words of the Bible; otherwise, another influence has come in.

We must reiterate again that the human spirit is not the same as the Holy Spirit. Let us consider the following Bible passages:

Zechariah 12:1 states, “The Lord…formed the spirit of man within him.”

Proverbs 18:14 says that “The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?”

Proverbs 20:27 says “The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly.”

Isaiah 66:2: “…But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my word.

Psalm 51:17: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”

Matt. 5:3: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Job 6:4: “For the arrows of the Almighty are in me; my spirit drinks their poison…”

Job 7:11: “Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit…”

Job 10:12: “…Your care has preserved my spirit.”

1Sam. 1:15: “…No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit…I have been pouring out my soul before the LORD.

Ezek. 3:14: “The Spirit lifted me…I went in bitterness in the heat of my spirit…”

Daniel 7:15: “I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body…”

Luke 1:47: “And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.”

1Cointhians 14:14: “For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.

1Cointhians 16:18: “For they have refreshed my spirit and yours…”

2Cointhians 2:13: “I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus…”

In all the references above, the human spirit is clearly shown to exist as part of the man and can express itself in different ways: it can search, be troubled, be restless, be refreshed, be fervent, be bitter, be grieved, or be broken. So, every reference to spirit in the Bible should not be taken to be a reference to the Holy Spirit of God.

We can observe from Scriptures that the human spirit possesses the function of conscience (I am not suggesting that the spirit is conscience), the function of intuition (or spiritual sense) and the function of communion (or worship).

THE FUNCTION OF CONSCIENCE IN MAN’S SPIRIT

Deut. 2:30: “…For the LORD your God hardened his spirit…”

Psalm 51:10: “…Renew a right spirit within me.”

2Corinthians 2:13: “I had no rest in my spirit…”

Romans 8:16: “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.”

One whose spirit is hardened is like him whose conscience is seared with a hot iron (1Tim. 4:2); he cannot feel the guilt of his error. Ignoring the pang of conscience over and over again can make it become insensitive to error or sin. John writes that some people were convicted by their own conscience (Jn. 8:9). Paul talks about a good conscience in Acts 23:1; a conscience void of offence in Acts 24:16; conscience bearing witness in Rom. 2:15 and 9:1; weak conscience in 1Cor. 8:7-12. He also speaks about the testimony of conscience in 2Cor. 1:12; pure conscience in 1Timothy 3:9 and 2Timothy 1:3; defiled conscience in Titus 1:15; and evil conscience in Hebrews 10:22. The conscience could be regarded as the voice of the human spirit; and it can be nurtured well to be very sensitive if one is given totally to the word of God and ready to repent as soon as his conscience is troubled.

THE FUNCTION OF INTUITION IN MAN’S SPIRIT

Matt. 26:41: “…The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Mark 2:8: “…Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves…”

Acts 18:5: “…Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.”

1Cointhians 2:11: “For who among men knows the things of a man, except the spirit of the man, which is in him…”

Intuition means instinctive knowledge, perception, prompting or a sensing that is not based on any premeditation. There are people who are not Christians, not to talk of having the Holy Spirit, but have very sharp intuitive power. We must not make the mistake of attributing the working of their human spirit as the working of the Holy Spirit; if we do, we might successfully attribute errors and heresies to revelations from the Holy Spirit.

THE FUNCTION OF COMMUNION IN MAN’S SPIRIT
Luke 1:47: “…and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour.”

John 4:23: “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth…”

Romans 1:9: “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit…”

1Corinthians 14:16: “Otherwise, if you say a blessing with your spirit…”

The aspect of man that is able to relate directly with God and with the spiritual realm is the human spirit. Blessed Mary, mother of our Lord, said that her spirit rejoiced in God. Our Lord said that true worshippers would worship the Father in spirit; and Paul talked about serving God with his spirit, praying with his spirit and singing with his spirit.

We have abundant evidences that the human spirit is different from the Holy Spirit. So, the operations of the human spirit should not be confused with that of the Holy Spirit.

Believers must also be very careful not to trust all spirits as many of them do not represent the Holy Spirit and do not promote the ultimate will of God.

INFLUENCE OF EVIL SPIRITS FROM GOD

Some believers, sometimes, behave as if they were more spiritual or inspired than the men of God who wrote the Bible; for this reason they think they should correct the impression created by them on what they attributed to God. For instance, where God says, “I kill and I make alive” (Deut. 32:39), or “Does disaster come to a city, unless the LORD has done it?” (Amos 3:6); they want to downplay the contextual meaning. I doubt whether it is necessary to try and explain it in another way. God can only be known by the revelation of His word; it is what He says He is that He is even if man has a different opinion of Him.

Evil spirits come in different manifestations and are known by different names. There is a familiar spirit as in 1Sam. 28:7; lying spirit as in 1Kings 22:22; there is a spirit of treachery as implied in Judges 9:23; there is a spirit of slumber or deep sleep as in Isa. 29:10 and Rom. 11:8; spirit of whoredom leading people astray as in Hosea 4:12 (ESV). Numbers 5:14 says there is a spirit of jealousy; and 1John 4:6 says there is a spirit of error also known as the spirit of the antichrist. There is a spirit of infirmity as in Luke 13:11; unclean spirit as in Matt. 12:43; a spirit of an unclean devil as in Lk. 4:33; and a spirit of divination as in Acts 16:16. Also there is a foul spirit also called dumb and deaf spirit as in Mark 9:25; the spirit of the world as in 1Cor. 2:12 and the spirit of bondage as in Rom. 8:15. All these spirits can only operate through human agents and they cause havoc on earth.
Now let us attempt to see some Bible references of evil spirits sent by God.

1. Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech: that the cruelty done to the threescore and ten sons of Jerubbaal might come, and their blood be laid upon Abimelech their brother, which slew them; and upon the men of Shechem, which aided him in the killing of his brethren. (Judges. 9:23-24)

Who sent an evil spirit according to this passage?

God did!

Why did God do that?

God did it so that the cruelty done to the seventy sons of Jerubbaal might come upon Abimelech their brother, who killed them; and upon the men of Shechem, who assisted him in the killing of his brethren. God sometimes employs this method to punish those who have done evil. In 2Thessalonians 2:10-11 we are told that God would send strong delusion on people who rejected the truth so that they could believe a lie and be judged accordingly.

2. But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him. And Saul’s servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubles you. Let our lord now command your servants, which are before you, to seek out a man, who is a cunning player on an harp: and it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon you, that he shall play with his hand, and you will be well. (1Sam. 16:14-16)

It may surprise us that after the Spirit of the LORD departed from King Saul, an evil spirit from God troubled him. This is the possible result of a rebellious act. An insubordinate heart leaves God with no other option than to allow evil spirit to operate. For those who feel they are more spiritual than the writers of the Bible; a passage like the above may offend their bias.

3. And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took a harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him. (1Sam. 16:23)

We are well aware that King Saul caused his own calamity by disobeying God, first at Gilgal (1Sam. 13:1-14) and then at Amalek (1Sam. 15:1-23). One would have thought that an anointed man of God would automatically be controlled by the Spirit of God, but the Bible plainly says that the preparations of the heart belong to man (Pro. 16:1, 9). In other words, man has a choice to follow the word of God or not. God does not normally overthrow man’s freedom of choice; He always allows man to have his way if man so insists. The Psalmist says, “With the merciful thou wilt show thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt show thyself upright; With the pure thou wilt show thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt show thyself froward. For thou wilt save the afflicted people; but wilt bring down high looks” (18:25-27 KJV).

A person’s inclination will determine how God will deal with him/her. Man’s freedom of choice can either make or mar him.

4. And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house: and David played with his hand, as at other times: and there was a javelin in Saul’s hand. (1Sam. 18:10)

5. 1Sam. 19:9-10: And the evil spirit from the LORD was upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his javelin in his hand: and David played with his hand. And Saul sought to smite David even to the wall with the javelin; but he slipped away out of Saul’s presence, and he smote the javelin into the wall: and David fled, and escaped that night.

Where did the evil spirit that came upon Saul come from?

It came from the LORD.

How did the evil spirit manifest in King Saul’s life?

It made him prophesy and then made him attempt to kill David.

Is it not a shocking revelation that Saul still prophesied when the evil spirit from God came upon him? Even though Saul prophesied, yet because he did what the Holy Spirit could not have done, we recognise that an evil spirit came upon him. We can therefore conclude that those who claim to have been filled with the Spirit of God and manifested the initial evidence, but act contrary to the mind of God, are actually influenced by evil spirit.

We may have heard people claiming the direction of the Holy Spirit to marry a second wife or take another person’s wife from him. I have personally heard people making such claim.
When people act contrary to the revealed Word of God, we should be able to identify the kind of spirit that is at work. It is not the Holy Spirit!

6. And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left. And the LORD said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner. And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will persuade him. And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so. Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil concerning thee. (1Kgs. 22:19-23)

The Lord released a lying spirit to operate through the mouth of some four hundred prophets. The number is staggeringly large for anybody to suspect falsehood; yet, Jehoshaphat felt uneasy with their message. He then persuaded King Ahab to contact a prophet that had been ignored.
We can learn from here that majority report is not necessarily the correct one. The prophet who has a testimony of not prophesying ‘good’ may be the only one carrying the authentic message from the Holy Spirit of God (1Kgs. 22:17-18).

There are many prophets in our days who are operating by lying spirit or by divination as in Acts 16:16 or sorcery as in Acts 8:9-11. Let us be careful not to assume that every spiritual manifestation is by the Holy Spirit of God.

IS THERE ANY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE HOLY SPIRIT OF PROMISE AND THE PROMISE OF THE FATHER?

Some people propose that the Promise of the Father is different from the Holy Spirit of Promise. That the Holy Spirit of Promise came on the day Jesus first appeared to ten of His disciples after His resurrection (John 20:19-23); but the Promise of the Father came on the day of Pentecost. They also affirm, with all degree of authority, that every believer is endued with the Holy Spirit of Promise as soon as he is converted.

We shall attempt to investigate this proposition from the Bible and see the veracity of the claim. This exercise, however, will rest on the agreement that the Bible alone is our final authority and not anybody’s personal experience.

1. The idea suggests that there are two Holy Spirits; one is nicknamed ‘Promise of the Father’, while the other ‘Holy Spirit of Promise’. That the latter is given as soon as someone is converted while the former when one is baptized in the Holy Spirit. But the Bible says that there is one Spirit: “For there is one body and ONE SPIRIT, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.” (Eph. 4:4-6 NLT Emphasis added)
The suggestion that there are two Holy Spirits has no foundation in the Bible.

2. The proposition denies the fact that what Prophet Joel spoke of in Joel 2:28-29 is the same as what Jesus spoke of in John 16:7. But on the day of Pentecost, Peter’s speech shows that the occurrence at Pentecost fulfilled Joel’s prophecy and Jesus’ promise. Peter said in Acts 2:16, “No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel” and then in verse 33, ”Now he is exalted to the place of highest honour in heaven, at God’s right hand. And the Father, as he had promised, gave him the Holy Spirit to pour out upon us, just as you see and hear today.”

Here we are, it was after Christ was glorified that He obtained the Holy Spirit which He poured on the disciples on the day of Pentecost. This is in line with His promise in John 16:7, “But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you.” Again, John 7:37-39 is said to be fulfilled on the day of Pentecost.

3. The proposition suggests that the word ‘breathe’ has the same meaning with the word ‘send’. The word, ‘send’ suggests that the giver and receivers are not in the same location. But our Lord said in John 16:7, “But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will SEND him to you” (Emphasis added). But if we check John 20:22, Jesus breathed on them. Since breathing is not the same as sending, our Lord’s promise in John 16:7 is not fulfilled in John 20:22.

4. The proposition assumes that when Christ breathed on the disciples in John 20:22 the promise He made in John 14:16-17, 15:26 and 16:7 had been fulfilled. As discussed in point number 3 above, that breath cannot be the same as sending the Holy Spirit; rather, as Derek Prince suggests, it is the breath on the new creation just like the breath of God on Adam in the old creation. We would note that after the incidence of John 20:22, Jesus still reaffirmed His promise on His Ascension day that, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, AS I TOLD YOU BEFORE.” (Emphasis added) Here we see the Promise of the Father as the same with what Christ promised especially in John 16:7.

5. The proposition assumes that our Lord has forgotten about the breath of John 20:22 when He told them on His Ascension day that: “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before” (Acts 1:4 NLT). From this statement, it is clear that the Lord Jesus Christ does not recognize any difference between the Promise of the Father and the Holy Spirit of Promise.

WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS OF ‘SEAL’ AND ‘GUARATEE’ IN EPHESIANS 1:13-14?

1. The Holy Spirit of Promise is for the confirmation of the believer: “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise” (Eph. 1:13). Let us attempt to analyze this verse with reference to some other related passages:

a). The seal the Holy Spirit confers on the believer assures him/her of God’s endorsement of his/her union with Him. The believer needs not assume, he/she is sure. “The Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom. 8:16). The witness of the Spirit cannot be surer than being baptized in the Holy Spirit.
b). The Holy Spirit of promise came on the day of Pentecost in form of Holy Spirit baptism. Since Pentecost, receiving the Spirit, by believers in Christ, has always been through Holy Spirit baptism. The Samarians in Acts 8:14-17 and the Ephesians in Acts 19:1-6 did not receive the Holy Spirit until they were prayed for to receive. The assumption that every believer already has the Holy Spirit of promise before Holy Spirit baptism is not consistent with the teachings of the New Testament.

c). The Jerusalem council agreed that Gentiles could validly be admitted into the body of Christ because of the Holy Spirit they received (Acts 10:44-48). But for that experience, the believers who were Jewish would not have embraced the fellowship of Gentile Christians (Acts 11:15-18).

d). The parable of the Ten Virgins suggests that without extra oil, nobody will be recognized as part of Christ’s guests. The groom denied knowing the five foolish virgins (Matt. 25:1-13).

2. The Holy Spirit of Promise guarantees the believers’ inheritance: “…Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:14). Check the following references for further clarification: 2Cor. 1:22; 5:5; 1Jn. 4:13; Rom. 8:14-16; Gen. 38:15-26; 1Pet. 1:3-4).

NOTE: The word translated ‘guarantee’ or ‘earnest’ (in other translations) is ‘arrabon’ in Hebrew and it means that which confirms the bargain, and which is regarded as a pledge that the entire benefit will be given. It is the first payment that assures the believer that all the promises of God in Christ shall eventually be delivered to him. The redemption of the purchased possession shall come when Christ comes back again in glory (1Pet. 1:3-5).

Let us look at 2Cor. 1:21-22 from different translations:

BBE: Now he who makes our faith strong together with you, in Christ, and has given us of his grace, is God; And it is he who has put his stamp on us, even the Spirit, as the sign in our hearts of the coming glory.

MSG: God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his Yes within us. By his Spirit he has stamped us with his eternal pledge–a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete.

GW: God establishes us, together with you, in a relationship with Christ. He has also anointed us. In addition, he has put his seal of ownership on us and has given us the Spirit as his guarantee.

We can now appreciate why the Jerusalem Council sent Peter and John to administer the Holy Spirit to the Samarian believers in Acts 8:14-17; and why Paul asked whether about twelve disciples at Ephesus had received the Holy Spirit or not in Acts 19:2. If Holy Spirit’s coming on believers were automatic, the Apostle Paul would not bother asking whether some people had received the Spirit or not.

CONCLUSION
The real motive of those who contend that the Promise of the Father is different from the Holy Spirit of Promise is actually to play down on the weight of importance of the Holy Spirit in the statement of Paul in Ephesians 1:13: “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise” (KJV).
The full import of the word, ‘seal’ is that without Holy Spirit, the believer is not yet confirmed. If this is the case, there is no guarantee that the believer’s destiny is secured. The parable of the Ten Virgins suggests that without extra oil (which symbolizes the Holy Spirit baptism), nobody will be recognized as part of Christ’s guests (Matt. 25:1-13). The groom said to the foolish five, who were also virgins waiting for the coming of the groom, “I never knew you”. This sentence is weighty and very terrible!

There is the fear in some quarters that if the Holy Spirit of Promise is the seal of our redemption and the guarantee of our inheritance, then those who are not baptized in the Holy Spirit and who are not bothered about the experience will be in serious trouble.

Well, let nobody be afraid since I am not the ultimate judge on this matter of Holy Spirit baptism. What is important is to tell people what exactly the Bible says and not what some prominent preachers did not believe. When the truth is told, many more will be rescued.

I also think it is safer if we all have the experience and then we are told in heaven that it is not a precondition to entering the Kingdom than for us to be treated like the five foolish virgins when we get there.

I pray that this message will create a thirst in as many as have not experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ name. Amen!

SOME MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT THE HOLY SPIRIT

1. That the Holy Spirit will force us to always do the will of God: This is a serious misconception which is not supported by the word of God. The Bible says that the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets (1Cor. 14:32). In other words, the person who speaks by the Spirit can control himself and obey the check from the leadership to maintain order and decorum in the church. Paul says in 1Thess. 5:19:

“Do not quench (suppress or subdue) the [Holy] Spirit” (AMP).

This implies that it is possible to silence the voice of the Holy Spirit as He tries to guide us into all truth. It is possible for us to take actions that suit our inclinations in spite of the Holy Spirit’s promptings. God still respects our freedom to either follow His leading or to reject it; the Holy Spirit does not make a robot of the believer.

If someone decides to commit sin, the Holy Spirit will not pull him back. Only a yielding human spirit can fulfill the thought of the Divine Spirit: “and every one whom his spirit made willing…” (Ex.35:21 ASV).

If the human spirit is tender, it can sense the throbbing of the Holy Spirit; but if it is hardened, it will not yield to the will of God.

2. That the Holy Spirit leads everyone who claims to be led by Him: This assertion is not true because the terrible contentions and divisions among Christians could not have been the working of the Holy Spirit even though each break-away faction claims the guidance of the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit incorporates believers into one body in Christ; therefore the division we see in the Church of God is not according to Holy Spirit’s direction; they are largely products of the flesh, of human spirit, of the soul (expressed as the desires of the mind), and sometimes of rebellion.

“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” (1Cor. 12:13; Eph.4:3-5).

The Holy Spirit works to bring unity in the body of Christ; so all the claims of leading-by-the-Spirit by break-away factions cannot be true.

3. Every believer has the Holy Spirit at the point of conversion. Anybody who holds to this belief has nothing less than three scriptural passages to try to prove wrong. The first one is John 7:37-39 where we see that those who believed had not received the Holy Spirit. Until we can prove that we have more information about the Holy Spirit than John, who wrote what we see in verse 39, we have no ground to say that all believers automatically have the Holy Spirit.

The second one is Acts 8:14-17 where the Bible expressly said that those who believed and were baptized in water did not receive the Holy Spirit until Peter and John prayed for them to receive. Let those who argue otherwise explain the meaning of verse 17:

“Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit”.

If they had the Holy Spirit already, why does this verse link their receiving with the laying of hands by the two apostles on the Samarians? Or are there two Holy Spirits: one received at conversion and the other one as Spirit baptism?

The third is Acts 19:1-6 where Paul asked whether some twelve disciples had received the Holy Spirit since they believed. This question would not be necessary if they had the Holy Spirit at the point of conversion. There is no single Bible passage that states, without an iota of ambiguity, that a believer automatically has the Holy Spirit when he became converted.

There is no point arguing over what is not expressly stated in the Bible, but based on mere assumption. A believer has a better chance clinging to the word of God than dwelling on teachings of mere mortals.

This misconception leads many sincere believers not to seek Holy Spirit baptism. “If they already have the Holy Spirit”, they reason, “why do they have to bother about another Holy Spirit?” Not all who were called “people of God” in the OT had the Holy Spirit; only those whom God decided to use were given. It is only in the NT that all believers have that promise.

4. That the Holy Spirit condemns believers when they commit sin: Many well-meaning Christians hold on to this belief. One of the duties of the Holy Spirit specifically mentioned in the Bible is to “reprove the world of sin” (Jn. 16:8). Believers in Christ are not of the world and therefore not in the category mentioned in Jn. 16:8. Our Lord said of believers,

“They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (Jn. 17:16 ESV).

The sin the Holy Spirit will reprove the world of, according to Jn. 16:8, is that of ‘not believing in Christ’ (Jn. 16:9). The duty of being condemned when a believer commits sin is assigned to the conscience which is in the heart of the believer (1Jn. 3:20-21). When the Gospel is preached with the power of the Holy Spirit, inner eyes of people are enlightened and so they see their need for the Saviour; that is the way the Holy Spirit reproves the world of sin and not that He enters inside them first. Although it is the Spirit of God that lightens the hearts of believers; yet it is the duty of those enlightened hearts, through their consciences, to condemn them if and when they sin.

Sometimes we muddle up what our hearts do with what the Holy Spirit does. There is nowhere the Bible says that the Spirit condemns the believer. Jesus said He did not come to condemn (Jn. 3:17); neither will the Holy Spirit, who is another Comforter in the place of Jesus, condemn.

Sometimes people say that the Holy Spirit has not convicted them whenever they act contrary to good conscience. This is just a religious subterfuge to pacify their consciences in order to remain in the lust of the flesh. More evil could be committed under a religious excuse than anybody may possibly imagine. It is therefore important to note that it is not spiritually healthy for anybody to ignore the discomfort of his conscience by hiding behind the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

5. Casting out demons, seeing visions and showing other miraculous actions are always through the power of the Holy Spirit. This erroneous idea leads ignorant and naïve people to be deluded into following peddlers of errors. Christ’s twelve and seventy disciples were given authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction (Matt. 10:1; Lk. 10:17); yet the Bible said that they had not received the Holy Spirit (Jn. 7:37-39).
This could mean that they only used the authority that Christ gave to them.
Seven sons of one Sceva were vagabond exorcists who tried to use the name of Jesus to cast out demons in Acts 19:13-16.

Our Lord Jesus pointed out that the sons of his accusers in Luke 11:15-20 also knew how to cast out demons.

Again, the two sons of Zebedee saw some people using the name of Jesus to cast out devils without being His followers (Mk. 9:38).

Moreover, Cornelius was so devoted in the worship of God that he saw angelic vision in the day time; yet he had not known Christ or received the Holy Spirit.

In Acts 16:16-18 we read of one lady who had the spirit of divination but still gave accurate prophecy (or word of knowledge) about Paul and his team.

There is also the example of Simon-the-sorcerer who held the whole of Samaria spell-bound by witchcraft such that he was thought to be the very power of God (Acts 8:9-11). These evidences are there to prove to us that not all miraculous manifestations are the result of infilling of the Holy Spirit; other spirits also produce miracles just to deceive people (Matt 24:24).

There are so many people, these days, who operate by divination, sorcery or witchcraft; and yet are thought to be working by the Holy Spirit. Most of the white-garment churches fall into this category. The spirit by which they operate cannot be the Holy Spirit because their lives and doctrines contradict the New Testament of our Lord Jesus Christ. You will never see the ritual washings and candle lightings they claim the Holy Spirit recommend from the Acts of the Apostles. The long spiritual journeys their prophets engage in are not traceable to the New Testament. “Anyone who does not stay with the teaching of Christ, but goes beyond it, does not have God. Whoever does stay with the teaching has both the Father and the Son” (2Jn. 1:9 GNB).

6. Every position of or decision by our leaders is dictated by the Holy Spirit and therefore infallible: This is far from being true! Apostle Peter’s act of dissimulation as recorded in Gal. 2:10-14 was not dictated by the Holy Spirit but by fear of criticism from those who still believed that Gentiles could not become Christians without first becoming proselyte Jews.

There are so many decisions that Christian leaders initiate in the history of the Church that are contradictory to the teachings of the Apostles of Christ.
Any decision that contradicts the teachings of the apostles of Christ is not inspired by the Holy Spirit.

7. That the Holy Spirit can lead to act differently from what the written word of God says: This is a serious misconception! So many people who act contrary to the Bible also claim they are being led by the Holy Spirit or that He has not yet convinced them to act otherwise. The Holy Spirit can never lead people to move against the revealed word of God. It is not possible!

No new revelation supersedes the written word of God, especially the final revelation through Christ. One woman wrote in her book that Jesus told her in a revelation that 1Cor. 14:34-37 and 1Tim. 2:11-14 are no longer to be followed since God has changed His position on the subject of discussion in those passages. That position is terribly ridiculous.

The common trend in some advanced countries is for church councils to decide what members should follow in the New Testament and what not to follow. When someone moves against the revealed will of God, it could be the case that his flesh has influenced him, or his mind, or his spirit, or some other spirits; but certainly not the Holy Spirit.

PURPOSE OF HOLY SPIRIT BAPTISM

1. Gateway to the supernatural: Nobody has any right to the power of God without Holy Spirit impartation.

In the Old Testament, the initial evidence of receiving the Spirit was prophesying. The seventy elders that were filled with the Spirit in Numbers 11:24-26 all prophesied. When the newly elected first king of Israel received the Spirit, he prophesied (1Sam. 10:5-6). In 1Sam. 19:20-24, all the people who came near the influence of Samuel were filled with the Spirit and prophesied.

In the New Testament however, the initial evidence as seen in the Acts of the Apostles is speaking in tongues.
Acts 1:8 ESV: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

1Cor. 12:4-7 KJV: Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

Heb. 6:4-5: For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come…

Five stages of spiritual experience are here listed:
i). Enlightened – becoming aware of the need for salvation.
ii). Tasted of the heavenly gift – accepting Jesus and getting saved.
iii). Made partakers of the Holy Ghost – this is the Holy Spirit baptism.
iv). Tasted the good word of God – abiding in the teachings of the apostles.
v). Tasted of the powers of the world to come – experiencing supernatural manifestations.

These stages grow from the first experience to the last. One who is enlightened is the only one who can taste of the heavenly gift. Without tasting the heavenly gift, he cannot partake of the Holy Spirit; the experience which will open up the believer to receive the good word of God and eventually taste of the powers of the world to come. This is the realm of the supernatural. Unless and until a believer is immersed in the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter into the realm of the supernatural.

2. For witnessing: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8 KJV)

NOTE: Power to witness with boldness comes after Holy Spirit baptism. Peter who denied the Lord before a mere maid stood before the Sanhedrin to defend the faith after he had received the Holy Spirit. One is tempted to think that when Christ sent them to preach and heal, He gave them the Holy Spirit and could not have withdrawn same (Matt. 10:1; Lk. 10:1-18). But the actual fact is that Christ gave them authority then and not the Holy Spirit. If He did give them the Holy Spirit, John 7:39 would not have been necessary.

3. For prayer: “Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered. And he that searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because he makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Rom. 8:26-27).

NOTE: Ability to pray according to the will of God is made possible by the Holy Spirit. Praying in tongues fits the description found in verse 26. (Look at the same verse from various versions of the Bible: WNT, GW, GNB, ESV, AMP and ISV).

4. As a teacher and remembrancer:
Jn. 14:26: But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

Jn. 16:13: Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.

1Cor. 2:13-16: Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

1Jn 2:27: But the anointing which ye have received of him abides in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teaches you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.

5. To exalt Christ: “He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you” (Jn. 16:14).

6. For healing: “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you” (Rom. 8:11; Isaiah 28:11-12).

7. For guidance: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Rom. 8:14) “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come” (Jn. 16:13).

8. For unity: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1Cor. 12:13; Eph.4:3-5).

Spirit baptism incorporates us into one body in Christ. All incidences of schisms could not have been the work of the Holy Spirit.

9. For the confirmation of the believer: “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise” (Eph. 1:13; Acts 11:15-18; Rom. 8:16).

NOTES:
a). The seal the Holy Spirit conferred on the believer assures him/her of God’s endorsement of his/her union with Him. The believer needs not assume, he/she is sure (Rom. 8:16).
b). The Holy Spirit of promise came on the day of Pentecost in form of Holy Spirit baptism. Since Pentecost, receiving the Spirit, by believers in Christ, has always been through Holy Spirit baptism. The Samarians in Acts 8:14-17 and the Ephesians in Acts 19:1-6 did not receive the Holy Spirit until they were prayed for to receive. c). The assumption that every believer already has the Holy Spirit of promise before Holy Spirit baptism is not consistent with the teachings of the New Testament.
d). The Jerusalem council agreed that Gentiles could validly be admitted into the body of Christ because of the Holy Spirit they received (Acts 10:44-48). But for that experience, the believers who were Jewish would not have embraced the fellowship of Gentile Christians (Acts 11:15-18).
e). The parable of the Ten Virgins suggests that without extra oil, nobody will be recognised as part of Christ’s guests (Matt. 25:1-13).

10). As the guarantee of the believers’ inheritance: “…Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” (Eph. 1:14; 2Cor. 1:22; 5:5; 1Jn. 4:13; Rom. 8:14-16; Gen. 38:15-26; 1Pet. 1:3-4)

NOTE: The word translated ‘guarantee’ or ‘earnest’ in other translations is arrabon in Hebrew and it means that which confirms the bargain, and which is regarded as a pledge that the entire benefit will be given. It is the first payment that assures the believer that all the promises of God in Christ shall eventually be delivered to him.

The redemption of the purchased possession shall come when Christ comes back again in glory (1Pet. 1:3-5). Let us look at 2Cor. 1:21-22 from different translations:

BBE: Now he who makes our faith strong together with you, in Christ, and has given us of his grace, is God; And it is he who has put his stamp on us, even the Spirit, as the sign in our hearts of the coming glory.

MSG: God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his Yes within us. By his Spirit he has stamped us with his eternal pledge–a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete.

GW: God establishes us, together with you, in a relationship with Christ. He has also anointed us. In addition, he has put his seal of ownership on us and has given us the Spirit as his guarantee.

Holy Spirit baptism is the right of everyone who has accepted Christ as his/her Saviour and Lord.

CAN SOMEBODY GO TO HELL FOR FAILING TO PAY TITHE?

INTRODUCTION
I have heard various opinions of people concerning the eternal punishment spoken about in the Bible.
Some people say that God does not concern Himself with anything that goes on on earth. In other words, people’s good or bad deeds do not affect Him or concern Him. Thus, judgment of God is a chimera; it does not exist at all.
Another category of people opine that God is so merciful that He cannot consign anybody to everlasting fire; that those who are not part of His kingdom will only suffer total annihilation.
Some others say anybody who accepts the Lordship of Christ will make it to His Kingdom no matter his manner of conduct in life; that the only thing he will miss is the reward for stewardship if his character is bad. They say that it is only grace that will land us in glory-land.
Some other people are of the opinion that only obviously evil conducts will make people miss the Kingdom of heaven. Thus anybody can decide to choose what to follow from the Bible so far it is not inimical to other people’s welfare.

But we can deduce from the Bible that these various opinions are faulty.
In the first instance, the Bible says unequivocally that God will judge the world: “Truly, then, God…has appointed a day in which He is going to judge the world in righteousness by a Man whom He appointed, having given proof to all by raising Him from the dead.” (Act 17:30-31 MKJV) Again the Bible says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive the things done through the body, according to that which he has done, whether good or bad.” (2Cor. 5:10 MKJV)

Secondly, God will judge by the standard of His word. If the five foolish virgins will be shut out of the kingdom because they did not receive the extra oil on time, then it is not only on account of evidently evil things that people will miss the kingdom. Rev. 21:8 speaks of the cowardly missing the kingdom; it means other issues apart from morals will be considered.

Thirdly, it is clear from Matt. 22:13 and 25:30 that believers can partake in the reward of the wicked if they derail from the path of truth and of probity.

Now coming to the issue of tithing, some prominent and popular preachers have proved that because those who fail to pay tithes are actively robbing God, they will not enter the kingdom of God. This assertion is quite logical because nobody expects to see a thief in the kingdom of God. A robber possibly adds violence to his stealing, so he cannot be considered a candidate of heaven. Robbery in the sense here means withholding something unjustly or injuriously from somebody or depriving someone unjustly of something that lawfully belongs to him.

The allusion to robbery is found only in Malachi 3:8-10 which is the last book of the Old Testament. Incidentally, throughout the Old Testament, no single promise of possessing God’s kingdom is given to anybody. The punishments for offenders under the Law of Moses were restricted to poverty, sickness, captivity and physical death. It is under the New Testament of our Lord Jesus Christ that the promise of entering the kingdom is given.

There seems to be more evidences to prove that those who pay tithes will not make it to the kingdom of heaven than that those who fail to pay will not get there. Since right judgments are normally based on evidences and relevant laws, it is more likely that payers of tithes will miss the kingdom of God and not non-payers, all other things being equal. Here are the evidences:

1). Paul the apostle says in Gal. 5:4, “You are cut off from Christ, you who want to be justified by the law you have fallen from grace.” Since anyone who pays tithe will want to receive credit from God for his action, then he has fallen away from grace and may not make it to the kingdom of heaven. What do you think is the implication of being cut off from Christ and falling away from grace? Can anyone be alienated from Christ and fall away from grace and still possess the kingdom of God? It is doubtful!

2). If it is possible for Moses to lose his destiny of reaching the Promised Land just because he used the instruction God gave him at Rephidim to act at Kadesh. Moses ignored the new revelation and used the former one, so he missed his destiny. In the same way, if anybody gives tithes in the NT and by that ignores the new revelation of God in 2Cor. 9:6, he may also forfeit his destiny. Tithing is an OT ordinance and it is not incorporated in the NT. The fact that Jesus mentioned it is no proof that he sanctioned it or that the NT commands it.

3). If people under the law are likened to Hagar and her son who were excluded from inheriting the blessings of Abraham, (Gal. 4:19-30) then payers of tithes could be excluded from the kingdom also.

4). If the law has been set aside because it was weak and useless according to Heb. 7:18, then those who hold on to tithe, which is part of the law, are likely to be excluded from the kingdom of God for continuing to do what God no longer upholds. Num. 14:39-45 shows that when God changes His mind on an instruction, it is dangerous to still hold on to it.

5). If Hebrews. 8:7-8 clearly states that God finds fault with the law, and somebody still holds on to a faulty document, then he is likely to miss the kingdom where only the will of God is respected. Can you imagine someone citing the 1922 constitution in Nigeria to prove a case?

6). If the law does not rest on faith according to Gal. 3:12, and whatever is not of faith is sin according to Rom. 14:23; then those who pay tithes according to the law are sinning. In that case, no tithe payer will get to heaven judging from the declarations of Rev. 21:27 and Matt. 13:41.

7). Anyone who still keeps himself under the Law of tithing denies himself the privilege of enjoying what Christ came to accomplish: “Now, however, we are free from the Law, because we died to that which once held us prisoners. No longer do we serve in the old way of a written law, but in the new way of the Spirit” (Rom 7:6 GNB). Again, in Gal. 5:18 Paul says, “But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the Law of Moses.” (NLT)

8). Jesus Christ’s death has abolished the law of commandments and ordinances that constituted the dividing wall of hostility between Jews and Gentiles according to Eph. 2:14-15. Also Col. 2:14 says, “He has overridden the Law, and cancelled every record of the debt that we had to pay; he has done away with it by nailing it to the cross.” Anybody who seeks approval from God by any aspect of the law seeks to make the death of Christ a nullity. (Gal. 2:21) Nobody in that category will make it to the kingdom of God.

9). Reading through Gal. 3:22-25, we can confidently affirm that NT believers have no obligation to the OT laws and customs. If anybody decides to put himself under such, he cannot have a part in the kingdom of Christ, which rests absolutely on faith. If somebody decides to stay where God has left, he is on his own!

10). Heb. 7:1-12’s discussion on the origin of tithe, its entrenchment into the law to cater for the priesthood concludes by saying that the priesthood having been abolished, the law of tithe meant to provide for the priesthood has to go also. Upholding what God has abolished is an insult to the Almighty and anybody who insults God cannot be admitted into his kingdom. “If I build up again those things which I tore down, then I prove myself a transgressor.” (Gal. 2:18).

11). Many people think like King Saul, who imagined that God was more interested in sacrifice than in obeying him, and so they are hell bent on paying tithes. But Heb. 10:5-9 reveals that God prefers obedience to sacrifice. God has abolished the old order so as to establish a new one. Only those who bow to the current will of God will get to His kingdom (Matt. 7:21-23).

12). 2Cor. 9:6 says, “Let everyone give as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or of necessity (as it is under the law); for God loves a cheerful giver.” Tithe payment is a giving as “of necessity” therefore it violates the NT which is the current mind of God for all believers. (Heb. 1:1-14)

13). One who violates the provision of the NT in order to uphold the OT may have the material blessings promised in the OT to tithe payers, but may be cut off from the kingdom which is the peculiar blessing promised only under the NT. (Gal. 5:4)

14). It is possible to enjoy God’s abundant provisions and yet be excluded from the kingdom of God just as majority of the people of Israel enjoyed God’s wonderful provisions and yet did not get to the Promised Land. (1Cor. 10:1-12)

CONCLUSION
Before anybody can successfully prove that non-payers of tithe will not get to the kingdom of heaven, he must be able to prove the fourteen points above wrong, then give just two NT references to support his claim. Without these, the claim that non-payers of tithes will go to hell fire is totally baseless and false. If anybody will go to hell fire over the issue of tithes, I believe it will rather be the payers of tithe and not non-payers.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt. 5:3) One who is poor in spirit is one who does not approach the written word of God with a mind-set or a personal opinion or a denominational bias. In other words, he is lacking in a preconceived notion and therefore finds it easy to submit absolutely to what the word of God says. The second part of verse two of Isaiah 66 says, “But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, who trembles at my word.” One who has a broken spirit has a poor spirit which is not hardened against God’s word. (Ps. 51:17; 34:18)

Anybody who seeks to uphold the payment of tithe from the NT document is not of a poor spirit because he must be doing that from a mindset. No part of the NT upholds the payment of tithe and therefore it is not a kingdom principle of giving.
In any court of law, right judgment is always based on current law, evidences and precedence; and not on obsolete law, personal testimony and sentiment. If anybody decides to continue tithing with all the evidences against its validity in the NT, he must be an unrighteous judge who is not qualified to enter the kingdom of God.

In a particular case in court, someone was convicted of robbery and murder. His lawyer now rose to say that the man should be pardoned on the grounds that he recently lost his wife and that he always spent his loot from robbery on charity work. If you were the judge, would you sentence him or acquit him?

You cannot uphold tithing just because you are being blessed whenever you paid; neither can you uphold fraud just because you get rich through it. Look at the evidences from the word of God. The apostles of Christ did not teach, practice or collect tithes.

Feasting on the word