SINS OF SAINTS 4: DISOBEDIENCE

Text: Ephe. 4:17-24
Another sin that God’s people easily fall into is disobedience. This appears to be the greatest sin anybody can commit. It is the sin which our first parents committed and allowed curse and death to enter into the world (Rom. 5:12). We want to go through this study carefully because, we believe, God’s Word is the only instrument to perfect the saints (Jn. 15:3; 17:17; Eph. 5:26).

We must recognize that Adam and Eve were saints of the first creation. When Mother Eve stretched her hand to take of the forbidden Fruit of Knowledge, she, at the same time, decided not to submit to the will of God. Her eating the fruit did not come out of subjection but out of her own will. She not only violated God’s order but disobeyed Adam as well. To disobey God’s representative authority means to disobey God. Disobedience is a sign of rebellion. So, when we are dealing with disobedience we are dealing with rebellion at the same time. Eve made her decision upon seeing that the fruit was good and pleasant to the eyes.

In listening to his wife, Adam sinned against God’s direct will. He too was disobedient to God’s authority. This was also rebellion. A decision that is prompted by our self interest will always end up as rebellion. Adam was judged because in listening to his wife he went contrary to God’s directive.

Gen 3:17 KJV: “And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life…”

On the other hand, our Lord Jesus made obedience to God His number one priority.
Heb 10:5-9 GNB: For this reason, when Christ was about to come into the world, he said to God: “You do not want sacrifices and offerings, but you have prepared a body for me. 6You are not pleased with animals burned whole on the altar or with sacrifices to take away sins. 7Then I said, ‘Here I am, to do your will, O God, just as it is written of me in the book of the Law.’ ” 8First he said, “You neither want nor are you pleased with sacrifices and offerings or with animals burned on the altar and the sacrifices to take away sins.” He said this even though all these sacrifices are offered according to the Law. 9Then he said, “Here I am, O God, to do your will.” So God does away with all the old sacrifices and puts the sacrifice of Christ in their place.

Jn. 5:19 GNB: So Jesus answered them, “I tell you the truth: the Son can do nothing on his own; he does only what he sees his Father doing. What the Father does, the Son also does.

Jn. 5:30 KJV: I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

Jn. 4:34 GNB: “My food,” Jesus said to them, “is to obey the will of the one who sent me and to finish the work he gave me to do.

Jn. 8:28-29 GNB: So he said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, you will know that ‘I Am Who I Am’; then you will know that I do nothing on my own authority, but I say only what the Father has instructed me to say. 29And he who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, because I always do what pleases him.”

As believers in Christ, our decision should not be based on the knowledge of good and evil but on a sense of obedience to God. We must not allow the effect of the Fruit of Knowledge to persist in our system more so after our redemption. We must not decide on what is good or bad without reference to the Word and Will of God.

Many sincere believers do not realise that any form of disobedience is also a form of rebellion. Before Adam and Eve ate the Fruit of Knowledge, their good or bad was determined solely by God. After eating the fruit, man had in himself the sense of right and wrong. This poses a serious problem to man in trying to obey God and in trying to discern His will. Most of man’s decisions on good or bad do not come from God but from self interest. Redemption seeks to restore us to the place where we will now find our right and wrong (good and bad) in God.

Man’s conflict with Satan is the direct result of his attributing authority to God. You have no contention with the flesh, with the world and with Satan apart from your attempt to obey God. Like Jesus, we face Gethsemane experience each time we seek the way of obedience.

The greatest demand of God on man is not for him to bear the cross, to serve, make offerings or deny himself; but the greatest demand is for man to obey. There is no holiness without obedience! No work for God is acceptable if it is done under the rebellious principle of Satan. It is only by working under obedience to authority that we can work in accordance with the will of God. This principle is clearly explained in Numbers 30:1-16. A woman under the authority of her father or husband does not have a total licence to do or not to do something for God if the father or the husband does not approve of it. If any woman thinks she has zeal and insists on doing otherwise, she is using satanic principle of rebellion to ‘serve’ God; and God will not accept her service. A woman who thinks she has liberty but refuses to be under order is in rebellion.

In Matt. 7:21-23 we find our Lord reprimanding those who prophesy and cast out demons and do mighty things in His name. Why are they disapproved? They are disapproved because they make self their starting point; they do things in the name of the Lord but at the same time they fail to do His will. The Lord labelled them evildoers instead of His labourers. We are not to find work to do; rather we are to be sent to work by God. When we understand this we shall truly experience the reality of the kingdom of the heavens.

A believer may be tempted, out of zeal, to be rebellious against governmental apparatus especially if it makes obnoxious decree. Let us see God’s design and then look at how the apostles of Christ responded to such situation.

Rom 13:1-7 GNB: Everyone must obey state authorities, because no authority exists without God’s permission, and the existing authorities have been put there by God. Whoever opposes the existing authority opposes what God has ordered; and anyone who does so will bring judgment on himself. For rulers are not to be feared by those who do good, but by those who do evil. Would you like to be unafraid of those in authority? Then do what is good, and they will praise you, because they are God’s servants working for your own good. But if you do evil, then be afraid of them, because their power to punish is real. They are God’s servants and carry out God’s punishment on those who do evil. For this reason you must obey the authorities—not just because of God’s punishment, but also as a matter of conscience. That is also why you pay taxes, because the authorities are working for God when they fulfill their duties. Pay, then, what you owe them; pay them your personal and property taxes, and show respect and honour for them all.

Here, rulers are said to be ministers of God. This revelation came when Nero the tyrant was emperor of the Roman Empire. Three times in the book of Jeremiah, God called Nebuchadnezzar His servant (25:9; 27:6; 43:10).

Titus 3:1-2: Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men.

Act 4:18-20 KJV: And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

Note that the answer they gave did not carry with it any sense of rebellion. They could have said: “What do you mean? We shall continue to preach and teach; and you can do your worst.” In trying to do the work of God, a child of God who understands authority must never allow rebellion to be part of his approach.

Jude 1:8-10 BBE: In the same way these dreamers make the flesh unclean, having no respect for authorities, and say evil of rulers. Now when Michael, one of the chief angels, was fighting against the Evil One for the body of Moses, fearing to make use of violent words against him, he only said, May the Lord be your judge. But these men say evil about such things as they have no knowledge of; and the things of which they have natural knowledge, like beasts without reason, are the cause of their destruction.

Note the way Angel Michael approached Satan when contending with him on the body of Moses; he did not use violent words against him because he understood authority.

Anyone who says, “If he can, I can too” is in a state of rebellion. This is the situation with King Saul in 1Samuel 13:1-14. One would have thought that the pressure that led him to do what he did was a good excuse; but violating God’s authority is a grievous offence. Let us look at verses 13-14: “And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever. But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.” That disobedience of King Saul was not just a simple matter, it was one borne out of rebellion–“If he can, I can too”.

In the case of Nadab and Abihu, the two priests under Aaron in Leviticus 10:1-3, they both were condemned to death because they violated authority. God is not only careful to see that there is fire; He is also keen to notice the nature of the fire. Rebellion changes the nature of a fire. That which was not ordered by God or by Aaron was strange fire. What God looks for is not the matter of sacrifice but the question of maintaining authority.

Let us consider Genesis 9:20-27:
And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness. And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.

Failure of delegated authority tests obedience. God put the whole family under Noah’s authority. One day, Noah became drunk in his vineyard and uncovered himself. Ham saw his father’s nakedness and told his two brothers outside. Noah should not have been drunk. But even then, Ham failed to see the dignity of authority. When Ham saw his father’s improper conduct he did not have the slightest sense of shame and sorrow, nor did he try to cover his father’s fault. This reveals that he had a rebellious spirit. He went out instead and told his two brothers, pointing out to them his father’s ugliness and so adding to himself the sin of reviling. Observe, though, how Shem and Japheth managed the situation. They entered the tent backwards–thus avoiding seeing their father’s nakedness–and covered their father with the upper garment which they had laid on their shoulders.

The failure of Noah became a test to Shem, Ham and Japheth. It revealed who was obedient and who was rebellious. Noah’s fall revealed Ham’s rebellion. When Noah cursed Ham in his son, Canaan, he sentenced him to servitude under authority for generations to come. Serving God inside rebellion is a dangerous venture!

Another example to look at is the reviling of Aaron and Miriam in Numbers 12:1-9. Maybe they have a point. Miriam could reprimand his younger brother Moses on the basis of family relationship; but when she dabbled into the work of God, she was instantly judged. Aaron and Miriam said, “Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? Hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it.” (12:2)

Disobedience may be more of attitude than real action as our Lord expresses in Mark 7:6-13. In whatever form, it is an act of rebellion.

SINS OF SAINTS 3

We are still looking at some sins that believers easily fall into without knowing or without realising their gravity. The third one is envy. The Apostle Paul spoke a lot to warn believers of this seemingly mild sin among God’s saints.

Envy is the resentful or unhappy feeling of wanting somebody else’s success, good fortune, qualities, or possessions. It is feeling bitter and unhappy because of another’s advantages, possessions, or good fortune. There is nothing wrong in desiring what is good and worthy in another person, but when there is a feeling of annoyance or bitterness because someone has an edge over you somehow, then envy is evident. In other words, envying means feeling uneasiness or jittery at the superior condition and happiness of another. It could also be the feeling of humiliation experienced at the supposed prosperity and happiness of another. It is an expression of ill will at others, on account of some supposed superiority. Strife always accompanies envy.

Let us see some Bible references:

Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. Rom. 13:13 KJV

For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? 1Cor. 3:3 KJV

If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. Gal 5:25-26 KJV

Envy can manifest in the following ways:

1. Condemning or playing down on someone else’ success or possession. The manifestation of excellence is enough to trigger off envy. Neh. 4:1-3; 2:19; Matt. 12:22-24; 27:18.

2. Finding fault with the success of a leader is, more often than not, borne out of envy. Num. 16:1-3, 8-14. No matter what a leader does, one who is ruled by envy will always find fault. (B’aa là’nà t’ó mọ tónítóní, igbó dídí ni l’óju atẹni.)

3. Using our position to keep someone who is coming up down. When we try to eclipse a promising person so that attention will not shift to him, we show envy. Gen. 37:18-20 (Acts 7:9); 1Sam. 18:6-9; Acts 17:5-8.

4. Leaving the real issue to attack the person. Num. 12:1-10 compare Gal. 2:11-14 where Paul corrected an error without attacking the person. (A njuwọn ko see wi l’ejọ, ija ilara ko tan bọrọbọrọ.)

CONCLUSION: Envy starts as a feeling in the heart. Every expression of comment about someone must be seen to be without envy. In Gal. 5:19-21, one of the sins that will disqualify anybody from entering the kingdom of God is envying.

The Authorized Version pluralises it to imply envying in all its shades and manifestations. Love does not envy (1Cor. 13:4). Thus, every manifestation of envy is an expression of hatred. God’s people are called upon to keep watch over their hearts lest evil devices creep in.

SINS OF SAINTS 2

Sins of saints are sins that believers do not regard as grievous enough to attract divine displeasure. People do not avoid them as they would avoid idolatry, adultery or murder. But we must recognize that little foxes spoil the vine. We want to look at the sin of tempting God because that sin led to the affliction of fiery serpent in the wilderness. Let us read from 1Cor. 10:9:

“Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.”

What does it mean to tempt Christ?

By tempting Christ is meant disbelieving the providence and goodness of God; and presuming to prescribe to him how he should send them the necessary supplies, and of what kind they should be, etc.

The word, ‘tempt’, when applied to man, means to present motives or inducements to sin; when used with reference to God, it means to try his patience, to provoke his anger, or to act in such a way as to see how much he will bear, and how long he will endure the wickedness and perverseness of people. The Israelites tempted him, or tried his patience and forbearance, by rebellion, complaining, impatience, and dissatisfaction with his dealings.

There is a clue to another implication in Christ’s temptation by the devil. The issue of casting himself down from the pinnacle of the temple because of God’s promise of deliverance amounts to tempting God.
This means, if we also decide to take poison because our Lord said it would not hurt us or pick up serpent because the Lord said it would not harm us or refuse to work because the Lord promised to supply our needs; all of these are really tempting God.

Tempting God may also include ignoring biblical injunctions because we presume that God will not take offence if we disobey them. Let us consider how the Bible presents this idea of tempting God:

Ex. 17:7 KJV: And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?

Note the question in their hearts before they complained: “Is the LORD among us, or not?” In our own case we may not doubt God but we may ask whether the leadership is the right one.

Psa. 78:17-19: And they sinned yet more against him by provoking the most High in the wilderness. And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust. Yea, they spoke against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?

Note again the question in their hearts before they complained: “Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?”

Psa. 78:40-42 KJV: How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert! Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. They remembered not his hand, nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy.

Ex. 17:2 KJV: Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the LORD?

Num. 14:22 KJV: Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice….

Deut. 6:16 KJV: Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.

Psa. 78:56-57: Yet they tempted and provoked the most high God, and kept not his testimonies: But turned back, and dealt unfaithfully like their fathers: they were turned aside like a deceitful bow.

It is an act of tempting God when we disobey Him. It is like we say in our hearts, ‘What will He do if we follow our own way?’

Psa. 95:8-10 KJV: Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, ‘It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways.’

Psa. 106:13-15: They soon forgot his works; they waited not for his counsel: But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.

1Cor. 10:9 KJV: Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.
Tempting God involves:

1. Asking for something to satisfy our lust.
2. Dabbling into suggestive things presuming on the power and grace of Christ to keep us. We may, for instance, decide to indulge ourselves in pornography and presume we cannot be contaminated.
3. Relying on what we have received from Him, unnecessarily exposing ourselves to snares and temptations, and so to danger. If we trust in our gifts and attainments, our knowledge and Christian liberty, and then go into an idol’s temple, sit down to eat there, and expose ourselves to great and imminent danger.
4. Provoking the Lord to displeasure by imposing what He had not imposed upon the disciples as in Acts 15:10.

5. Act 15:10 KJV: Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?

This is another meaning of ‘tempt’ presented here in Acts 15:10. Some in the congregation of the early church were tempting God by standing in the way of His declared purpose by putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciple. He that was circumcised became thereby bound to keep the whole law (See Gal 5:1-6). It was not then the mere yoke of burdensome ceremonies, but of an obligation which the more earnest and spiritual men became; the more impossible they felt it to fulfill. (See Rom 3:5; Gal 2:4).

Since God has shown His determination to accept the Gentiles without such rites, why do you provoke Him by attempting to impose on His own people Old Testament rites without His authority and against His manifest will?

The argument is that God had already accepted them
**To attempt to impose these rites would be to tempt God and provoke him to anger.
**To introduce observances which He had shown that it was His purpose to abolish is tempting God. (See Heb. 7:18)
**To put a yoke – That which would be burdensome and oppressive, or which would infringe on their just freedom as the children of God.

It is called in Gal. 5:1, a yoke of bondage. A yoke is an emblem of slavery or bondage (1Tim. 6:1); or of affliction (Lam. 3:27); or of punishment (Lam. 1:14); or of oppressive and burdensome ceremonies or of the restraints of Christianity (Matt. 11:29-30).

In Acts 15:10, those rites are called a yoke, because:
(a). They were burdensome and oppressive; and,
(b). They would be an infringement of Christian freedom. One design of the gospel was to set people free from such rites and ceremonies (Col.2:14).
(c). They have been found burdensome at all times. They were expensive, and painful, and oppressive; and as they had been found to be so, it was not proper to impose them on the Gentile converts, but should rather rejoice at any evidence that the people of God might be delivered from them.
(d). They were attended with great inconvenience and many transgressions, as the consequence.

By giving the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles, God evidently shows He does not design them to be circumcised, in order to become debtors to the Law of Moses, to fulfill all its precepts. The question is: Why will you provoke Him to displeasure by doing what he evidently designs shall not be done?

CONCLUSION: Tempting God may look very mild, but just like the Church in the wilderness experienced judgement of invasion of their camp by serpents, so will anybody who attempts to tempt God will suffer. But the remedy will come when we look at the crucified Christ in repentance.

SINS OF SAINTS 1

We want to look at some sins that believers easily fall into without realising their gravity.

Sins of saints are those sins that believers do not regard as grievous enough to attract divine displeasure. People do not avoid them as they would want to avoid idolatry, adultery, theft or murder. But, we must remember that little foxes spoil the vines. The first to be considered is murmuring.

1Cor. 10:10: Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.
Jude 1:16: These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their lusts (and their mouth speak great swelling words), showing respect of persons for the sake of advantage. (ASV)

Php. 2:13-15: For it is God which works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmuring and disputing: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.

Murmuring means quiet and subdued expression of discontent. Murmuring can occur to register discontent or unhappiness about a situation. It can graduate to an outburst of angry complaints in open confrontation. It could be:
1. an expression of lost of faith in the leadership
2. a sign of disillusionment
3. a show of envy and hatred

More often than not, those who murmur do not have better ideas about the situation on ground, and are not ready to take responsibilities; but they express their frustration through murmuring. A grumbler normally angrily complains against divine intervention; they always believe they have better ideas.

We shall attempt to study some of the episodes when the children of Israel murmured against Moses; what brought about their murmurings and how Moses responded to them.
Grumblers’ complaints are not normally based on well articulated facts but on sentimental attachments to what their respected heroes say.

Complain means statement of unhappiness: a statement expressing discontent or unhappiness about a situation; the act of expressing discontentment or unhappiness about a situation.

Ex. 5:20-23
Comment: What the children of Israel brought as complaint, Moses made as a prayer topic. This shows the difference between one who knows God and one who does not. (See Titus 1:16)

Ex. 6:9
COMMENT: Some people who appear to provide alternative leadership to the people of Israel are always behind murmuring against Moses. They appear to have a better leadership style than Moses had. They appear to have the love of the people at heart and therefore want to find fault with Moses.

Ex. 14:10-16
COMMENT: This occasion pictures a general murmuring and what they said during their show of discontent reveals that they preferred the bondage of Egypt to the freedom that God conceived because of fear of death. If we carefully analyse their words, one is tempted to query their fear if indeed they preferred Egypt and the people of Egypt were around to take them back.

Ex. 15:22-25
COMMENT: The reason for murmuring here is bitter water. Complainers do not wish to endure any form of hardship.

Ex. 16:1-3
COMMENT: The reason for murmuring here is lack of food; since the supply they took from Egypt had finished. Grumblers always think that the people are not making progress and therefore the journey should be aborted; whereas God’s way could appear long and uninteresting, yet it is His way.

Ex. 17:1-4
COMMENT: The reason for murmuring here is lack of water.

Num. 11:1-4
COMMENT: The reason for murmuring here is that they wanted meat instead of manna only.

Num. 14:1-4
COMMENT: The reason for murmuring here is related to the evil report of the majority of the spies. Note that the murmurers here preferred the bondage of Egypt; they never believed they were making progress towards the Promised Land.

Num. 16:1-4
COMMENT: The reason for murmuring here is about leadership. Korah and his company probably felt they could take over the leadership at that point. They felt Moses imposed himself on the people unnecessarily or that any of the people could lead as well as Moses.

Num. 16:12-14
COMMENT: The real motive behind the murmuring of Korah and his company is clearly seen to be nothing but rebellion borne out of envy.

Num. 16:41-42
COMMENT: The reason for murmuring here is in protest of the judgment of God on the rebellious ones. Those who murmur will always find reasons to murmur.

Num. 20:1-6
COMMENT: The reason for murmuring here again is lack of water. Look at verse 5 and note that the grumblers preferred their former state to a journey towards freedom. At every opportunity, murmurers will show that they were not making progress.

Num. 21:4-6
COMMENT: The people were discouraged because of the way. The way to God’s ultimate glory may not be exciting to human soul; but if God is the one who charts the way, it is better to follow it. Complainers will always look for exciting things on the way God chats, and if he cannot find them, he raises contentions. The response of God at this point is to send an angel of destruction among them. Murmuring does not bring about God’s blessings.

Php. 2:14-15: Do all things without murmurings and disputing: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.

I wonder whether it is really practicable to do all things without murmurings and disputing. But, if a believer intends to be a blameless and harmless son of God, there is no short-cut other than to do all things without murmurings and disputing.

God knows we are in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. Even in the face of their crookedness and perversity, we must conduct ourselves without murmuring.

Perverse means inexplicably irrational. Something contrary to what is regarded as normal or reasonable, often for reasons that seem unaccountable or self-defeating. It also means stubbornly unreasonable i.e. deliberately and doggedly behaving in a way that seems contrary to good sense or your own best interests. Now, imagine God asking His people to do all things without complaining in the midst of irrational and unreasonable people; those who deliberately and doggedly do things that are wrong. I think it is not going to be easy!

In country town or city some people can be found
Who spend their time in grumbling at whatever they see
They grumble when it’s raining, they grumble when sun shines
They grumble when there is plenty, they grumble when there’s dearth
Oh they grumble on Monday,
Tuesday, Wednesday,
Grumble on Thursday too, grumble. on Friday, Saturday, Sunday
Grumble the whole week through

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 jewelry 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, jewellry 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.

Let us learn from the mistakes of Eve and King Saul. Eve felt God could not have meant total abstinence from the forbidden fruit. King Saul speared some when he was commanded to destroy all. Instructions in 1Timothy 2:9 and 1Peter 3:3 are self explanatory.

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 its 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.

Feasting on the word