THE WORD OF THE LORD IS A SAFEGUARD
All ministers of the Gospel at some point in their ministry will find their integrity under fire, seemingly placing their work in the Lord in dispute. Sadly, most often this happens not from the mouths of those who are ‘in the world’ who do not yet know Christ, but from those who are ‘in the Lord’ and who do know Him. Yet, the writer of Hebrews tells us that ALL THINGS are naked and open to the eyes of the Lord to Whom we must give account.
“There is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13).
- THERE IS NO TRUTH THAT GOD NEEDS TO UNCOVER.
- THE LORD KNOWS ALL THINGS, ALREADY.
Just as Jesus did not speak in His own defence, for the purposes of Christ there are times when we are called to follow Christ’s example and do the same.
“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth” (Isaiah 53: 5-7).
The Book of Revelation in the Bible tells us that Satan has gone out to DECEIVE THE WORLD. In this same Scripture Satan is described as THE ACCUSER OF THE BRETHREN who comes to accuse men before God day and night, but that because of the POWER OF THE CROSS our accuser has been CAST DOWN.
“So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down” (Revelation 12:9 & 10).
In times of accusation the “WORD OF THE LORD” is our safeguard and the “CONFESSION OF OUR MOUTHS” before the throne of God is our defence. There is something very POWERFUL in the CONFESSION OF OUR MOUTHS concerning the FINISHED WORK OF THE CROSS on our behalf. Satan comes before the Lord daily to bring accusations against us before Him. But before the finished work of the Cross all lies of the enemy are silenced and all condemnation from the lips of men are nullified by the work of His grace.
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death” (Revelation 12:11).
PUT YOUR TRUST IN THE WORK OF THE CROSS
In the last part of this verse, “Loving not our lives to the death” means that we can put to death our fleshly desire to defend ourselves before men and allow the work of the cross to ‘speak’ on our behalf. That means despite all of our past and all of the wrongs that others think we have or have not done, we are to HOLD FAST our confession that THE WORK OF THE CROSS HAS BEEN MADE COMPLETE ON OUR BEHALF.
THE SIMPLICITY OF THE CROSS WILL NEVER CHANGE – ITS WORK WAS COMPLETED OVER 2,000 YEARS AGO AND IT REMAINS COMPLETE TODAY.
“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14–16).
It Is ONLY THROUGH THE CROSS that we may come to Christ, whether on another’s behalf, or for ourselves. But we SHOW OUR LOVE FOR OTHERS when we proclaim the finished work of the Cross ON ANOTHER’S BEHALF.
“Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us” (Romans 8: 33 & 34).
- THERE IS SOMETHING VERY POWERFUL IN OUR CONFESSION OF THE CROSS.
- WHETHER WE COME ON OUR OWN OR ON ANOTHER’S BEHALF - THERE IS NO OTHER WAY WE CAN COME TO CHRIST THAN THROUGH THE POWER OF THE CROSS!
- AT THE CROSS, ALL THINGS WERE MADE COMPLETE.
- WE SHOW OUR LOVE FOR OTHERS WHEN WE PROCLAIM CHRIST’S FINISHED WORK ON ANOTHER’S BEHALF.
RESTORE ONE ANOTHER IN LOVE
Let us look at Paul’s instruction when restoring one another in love.
“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the SPIRIT OF MEEKNESS; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Galatians 6: 1 & 2, KJV).
Strong’s Concordance describes being ‘overtaken’ as having been ‘forestalled’ (prevented or obstructed by taking an advanced action) or having been ‘taken by surprise’. A ‘fault’ is similarly described as a ‘trespass’, ‘sin’, ‘misdeed’ or ‘offence.’ Paul describes this ACT OF GRACE of restoring one another, as the BEARING OF ONE ANOTHER’S BURDENS, and that it is something we must do IN ORDER TO FULFIL THE LAW OF CHRIST. Elsewhere Paul tells us:
“Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8).
Because of inherited sin and the fallen nature of man, ALL of us at times are overtaken, forestalled or taken by surprise in a trespass or sin. Not ONE of us is exempt in this. That is why the Lord gave us the PRECIOUS BLOOD OF CHRIST. Therefore, we are not to partner with the spirit of Anti-Christ by speaking words of accusation and condemnation to others, but are to speak ONLY those words that God gives us to speak, addressing ONLY those things He has asked us to address. God does not need us to ‘go on a witch hunt’ seeking out all the faults of men.
WE PARTNER WITH CHRIST IN RESTORING ALL MEN FROM THE WORKS OF CONDEMNATION AND SIN.
We LOVE ONE ANOTHER then, when we RESTORE one another, not in haste, but in pointing one another to the POWER OF THE CROSS. For it is ONLY the work of the CROSS that can restore us and TAKE AWAY our sin. In the Book of Galatians, Paul warns against those who try to entice us out of this freedom in Christ. He warns us to be wary of those who through WORKS OF THE FLESH will try to bring us back under the law.
“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified?” (Galatians 3:1).
“For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Galatians 5: 13 & 14).
WE ARE NOT CALLED TO POINT FINGER AT OTHERS, BUT TO SERVE ONE ANOTHER IN LOVE.
When we point to the finished work of the Cross instead, we love others as ourselves, and will be known by all as Disciples of Christ.
“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
EXAMINE YOUR OWN WORK FIRST
When Paul speaks to us of restoring each other, he specifically instructs us to do so in a SPIRIT OF MEEKNESS. In Strong’s Concordance ‘meekness’ is described as ‘gentleness’ or ‘humility.’ Paul also warns us to CONSIDER OURSELVES, lest we also be tempted to sin. This ‘considering ourselves’ Strong’s describes as ‘marking’, ‘looking upon’ or ‘taking heed’ (paying careful attention) to ourselves. So, what is it that Paul believes we may be so easily tempted by, that we need to pay such careful attention? I believe it is specifically drawing our attention to the need for a SPIRIT of HUMILITY; Paul is warning of our temptation to the SPIRIT of PRIDE. In the very next verse, Paul says:
“For if a man think himself to be something (or a certain one), when he is nothing (nobody, nothing), he deceiveth himself” (Galatians 6:3, KJV).
Paul is beginning to set apart the burden we are to carry of restoring one another, from the burden of proving or examining ourselves, for he then goes on to say:
“But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden” (Galatians 6:4 & 5, KJV).
The word for “prove” here, in the Greek is translated: “to test (literally or figuratively); by implication, to approve: allow, discern, examine, like, (ap-)prove, try” (Strong’s Concordance). The Apostle John likewise warns us:
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world” (1 John 4:1-12).
In Galatians therefore, Paul is telling us that the examining, trying, discerning or proving of our own work first and the spirit we are operating in, is a RESPONSIBILITY or burden we must bear for ourselves.
- WE MUST LEARN TO DISCERN THE WORD OF THE LORD TO OUR OWN HEARTS FIRST, BEFORE WE CAN GIVE TO ANOTHER.
Similarly, Paul warns us that we must not stand in a place of judgment of another’s choices when they do not agree with ours. Not at all concerning those things that God’s Word clearly describes as sin, but what Paul describes as DOUBTFUL AND DISPUTABLE THINGS (see Romans 14:1-13). These are the decisions that at times we must make for ourselves regarding our conduct before the Lord. Paul tells us about these things:
“Let each be fully convinced in his own mind” (Romans 14:5).
Because it is the Lord Who knows both our intentions and the motives of our hearts; it is HE ALONE Who is the Judge of these things.
“Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:4).
DISCERNING THE VOICE OF THE LORD
How do we stay within the safeguards of Godly humility? How do we avoid making ungodly comparisons or wrong judgments about others? It was Jesus Who warned us, that before we can presume to help someone else, we must FIRST consider ourselves.
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:1-5).
Our physical eyes in Scripture are often used as a symbol of our ability to see, perceive or understand things in the spiritual realm. The Lord said to the Prophet Isaiah:
“Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive. ‘Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return and be healed” (Isaiah 6:9 & 10).
Therefore, when Jesus tells us to remove the plank from our own eye first, He is asking us to check our MOTIVES, or to test the SPIRIT we are operating in. The Anti-Christ spirit attacks God’s people to bring confusion and subvert the purposes of Christ. To even begin to understand our own situation OR that of another, we must first learn to HEAR and DISCERN the voice of the LORD - APART FROM THE VOICE OF ALL OTHERS! One of the most dangerous ‘voices’ we need to be on guard against, is that of our unregenerate inner man.
THE ANOINTING OF THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH
The Apostle John warns us that in the last days the Anti-Christ (or opponent of Christ the Messiah) will come (see 1 John 2:18-25). This COUNTERFEIT VOICE comes TO SEPARATE the sheep from the Shepherd (Jesus) and to withdraw us from the Spirit of LIFE. John tells us that to avoid its DECEPTION we must refute this COUNTERFEIT SPIRIT with the SPIRIT OF TRUTH. He explains it is the ANOINTING of the Holy Spirit WITHIN that TEACHES US THE TRUTH about ALL THINGS.
“These things I have written to you concerning those who try to DECEIVE you. But the ANOINTING WHICH YOU HAVE RECEIVED FROM HIM abides IN YOU, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing TEACHES YOU concerning ALL THINGS, and is TRUE, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him” (1 John 2:26 & 27).
Knowing that it is The Holy Spirit Who teaches us the truth about all things, in Galatians, Paul continues on to tell us:
“Let him that is taught in the word communicate UNTO HIM THAT TEACHETH IN ALL GOOD THINGS” (Galatians 6:6, KJV).
The Greek word for ‘communicate’ here is ‘koinōneō’. Its Biblical usage speaks of being a ‘partaker’ or being in ‘communion’ or ‘fellowship.’ It is the Lord’s desire, therefore, that we LEARN from HIM. And we can only learn from Him as we commune, fellowship or becoming a partaker with His Holy Spirit as He TEACHES US WITHIN. He will teach us, not just about our own hearts and motives, but about what to do in the situation of the one we are trying to help. For how can we address the life of another whom we do not understand? Again, Jesus tells us that it is The Holy Spirit, The Spirit of Truth Who will guide us into the truth of these things.
“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you” (John 16: 13-15).
THE CONSEQUENCES OF SOWING TO OUR FLESH
There are often serious consequences when we do not WAIT to hear from the Spirit of truth. When we act out of our own understanding (or our own fleshly response) we are sowing to our FLESH. When we sow to our flesh we will reap a FLESHLY RESULT and we create an atmosphere where THE LIFE OF GOD CANNOT FLOURISH.
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption” (Galatians 6:7 & 8, KJV).
The Word of God tells us that no one can know the things of a man, except a man’s own spirit within him.
“For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?” (1 Corinthians 2:11).
Therefore, how can we understand the heart of another unless God has clearly shown us? Or how can we know the mind of the Lord and the express purpose of His will for instructing another UNLESS IT IS THE LORD WHO GUIDES OUR HAND? God takes this work of restoration so seriously that it must be done the WAY He has planned. When we first wait to hear from God and then act as He has shown us, we sow to the SPIRIT. When we sow to the Spirit we will reap LIFE ETERNAL as a result.
“But he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6: 8-10).
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavour, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5: 3-16).
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