Chapter 8, Continued from chapter 7
“Words taught by the Spirit” (1Cor.2:13)
An Email Ministry for the Glory of God
A series of Bible studies on
SALVATION IN CHRIST
THE ISSUE OF THE ETERNAL SECURITY OF THE BELIEVER
PART A’: THE NORMAL SPIRITUAL LIFE
THE GENUINE BELIEVER (#2)
We continue Chapter 7 with:
A. The main characteristics of True Christians…
Ιt is true that God knows in an absolute way those who belong to Him! He has, however, given us the possibility, up to a certain measure, to “… discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him” (Mal.3:18). Let us see some of the main qualities of those who belong to Jesus Christ:
- Those who believe in their heart the following two miracles: a) That Jesus Christ was “born of the virgin Mary” and b) That “God has raised Christ from the dead”! Those who believe the one and do not believe the other, they err fatally!
- Those who confess that Christ has come in the flesh and “… of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen” (Rom.9:5). Yes, Christ, who came concerning the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever and not the Archangel Michael, as the Jehovah Witnesses say, as if Michael the Archangel is over all, God blessed forever!
- All those who have sincerely repented of their sins, and have put their trust in Christ (Mark 1:15), as the LORD OF THEIR LIFE, who bear fruits worthy of repentance (Mat.3: 8; Luke 3:8) and have His Word as their exclusive guide for their speech, teaching and behavior (John 8:31). In other words, those who have given their heart (their will) to God and made Christ the LORD of their lives and observe His ways (Pr.23:26 and Rom.10:9).
- Those who love Him with all their heart, and with all their soul, and with all their mind, and with all their strength… (Mark 12:30), take up their cross and follow Him (Mat.16:24). Only those become truly His disciples (Luke 14:27). In such believers, God puts His laws into their hearts and writes them in their minds (Heb.10:16 and 8:10). Only to them gives He a new heart and a new spirit puts within them […](Ezek.36:26). HIS law is in their heart (Ps.37:31, Isa.51:7)!
- God has given and gives the Holy Spirit because they obey Him (Ac.5:32). What counts is not the gifts that the Spirit gives but the fruit (the Christian character) that they produce with the guidance and help of the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, there are many believers who look for the actions (manifestations) of the Spirit (healings, miracles, speaking in tongues etc.) in order to be sure of their salvation! What a terrible insinuation from Satan!
- Those who are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God (Rom.8:14). They do not seek their own profit, but that of the many that they may be saved (1Cor.10:33). They seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Mat.6:33).
- Those who are born of God (1John 5:18) have received a new nature thanks to the intervention of the Holy Spirit and not simply an improvement of their old nature. Those who have been born of God (1John 3:9) do not sin (do not habitually practice sin secretly or openly), for His seed remains in them and they cannot sin (cannot practice sin). And that because HIS law has been put in their inward parts (Jer.31:33); it is written on the tables of their heart (2Cor.3:3); they have a new nature! If they fall accidentally into sin, they make haste to get up, to repent sincerely, to confess sincerely (1John 1:9) and change their life permanently. They do not turn as a dog to his own vomit again or as the sow after having been washed to her wallowing in the mire (2Pet.2:22). They believe that when they confess sincerely their circumstantial sins, He is not only faithful and just to forgive their sins, but also to cleanse them from all unrighteousness (1John 1:9). “Blessed are they that keep his testimonies and that seek him with the whole heart. They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways” (Ps.119:2-3).
- Those who have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts (Gal.5:24), have been made free from sin and their passions and have become slaves to God, having their fruit to holiness and everlasting life (Rom.6:22). Though they live a normal physical life they willingly are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in their mortal flesh (2Cor.4:10-11). This is why God has given and continues to give them the Holy Spirit because they obey Him. The Spirit has become in them rivers of living water flowing out of them (Ac.5:32, John 7:38-39). The Anointing of the Spirit that they have received teaches them all things (1John 2:20, 27). They, however, are never satisfied of themselves, but always of the Lord and they tend towards perfection. I repeat: If a man is overtaken in a fault or sin, he asks for forgiveness, accepts without murmurs the consequences of his sin, of his fault as well as God’s chastisement for his fault or sin (Lev.26: 41; Luke 23:41).
- They do not simply want to avoid sinning, but rejoice in doing good. Their piety is sincere and disinterested. As they have given the consent of their heart to God’s will, the Spirit of God acts in them! Yes, His grace acts in them as it acted in the life of Paul and of the other apostles! They are people of heart and not of the lips. They trust God alone and do not allow in their life worries to take the first place, because they know that worries (anxieties, anguish) result of unbelief and of a camouflaged idolatry!
- They have a forgiving spirit (Mat.6:12) and they are faithful in what is least (Luke 16:10). They have destroyed the bridges back to the world and never forget that they are going to give an account to God and not to men. They do not keep secret desires in their hearts for the world!
- They do not handle the Word of God deceitfully and do not, through covetousness and with feigned words, make merchandise of their listeners (2Cor.4:2; 2Pet.2:3). They keep themselves so that the Wicked could not touch them (1John 5:18).
- They are poor in spirit, that is, they are humble! In addition, they mourn:
a) For their sins, their mistakes or their foolish acts;
b) For the sins of others who do not repent of their sins; and
c) For all believers, and particularly for church leaders (priests, pastors, elders, deacons) as well as for disorderly walking believers and churches!
- They hunger and thirst after righteousness (Mat.5:6). They have a pure heart and there is no guile in them (Ps.32:2). They are peacemakers and pray earnestly for peace within families, churches and the whole world (Mat.5:9). They accept to be reviled, misunderstood and falsely accused and even persecuted on behalf of the truth and of the Gospel (Mat.5:10-12)!
- Finally, they do not try to increase the number of their activities and of their personal exploits so that… God…. be glorified, but they trust more and more in God’s promises and in the work that Christ has done and is doing for them. They let God guide them into the works that HE has before ordained that they should walk in them (Eph.2:8-10). God does not take pleasure in our multiple activities but in the devotion of our heart. It is written: “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him…” (2Chr.16:9).
In other words, they have accepted wholeheartedly to become what the Lord wants them to become! Yes, they have accepted to live for Jesus, to be led by His Holy Spirit and have a victorious life.
But… let us ask ourselves, therefore, the question:
2. Who is led by the Holy Spirit?
a) Is it he who has given half of his heart to God (Prov.23:26)? He who falters between two opinions (1Kings 18:21- NKJV)?
b) Is it he who has not obeyed the greatest commandment of God to love Him with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his mind, and with all his strength and his neighbor as himself (Mark 12:30-31)?
c) Is it he who has not denied himself, who has not taken up his cross and who does not follow Him (Mat.10: 38; 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23; 14:27)? Can he ever be His disciple or be worthy of Him (Mat.10: 38; 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23; 14:27)?
d) Is it he who has not given Christ the absolute priority (Luke 14:26, 27, 33)?
The answer is obvious: There are some “believers” who are in the flesh and who are not led by the Spirit of God! They cannot please God, says the apostle Paul in Romans 8:8. Paul is referring to « brothers »… But, what kind of brothers does he refer to? Where is their heart? And what is their fruit? Ten were the lepers who had been saved from their leprosy, but one, only one took the ‘pain”… to turn back and express his gratitude to CHRIST…! Let us stop and think…
A dear brother in Christ asked me the following question: Correct, but don’t you think that you put the bar too high? And I answered: Correct, but it is our Lord who has put the bar high! I simply repeat what HE ordered!
Our faith cannot function well and obtain God’s blessings when our conscience is “infected” by the sins of “the flesh and of the mind” (Eph.2:3), by despair, etc. In other words, when our conscience condemns us of an unconfessed and non rejected sin! On the contrary, when faith goes together with a heart cleansed from an evil conscience, and which seeks first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, then all kinds of blessings are added of His own initiative! (Mat.6:33). Do we believe it?
Consequently, the duty of believers is, “… Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2Tim.2:19). Much attention must also be given to what Paul said to Timothy for certain people who having put away a good conscience have made shipwreck in faith (1Tim.1:19).
This implies that all those who name the Name of Christ must depart or turn away from iniquity, doctrinal iniquity, heresy and from all iniquity of attitude. It also means that all should depart from iniquitous men (who profess being Christians), whether of bad principles or practices or both. However, whether we get rid of iniquitous men or not, if we do not depart from iniquity personally, we will reap the consequences of our sin and we will be useless for the Church of God!
Those who knew God or better were known by God are called to depart from all iniquity, to keep cleansing themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, and keep perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2Cor.7:1; also Ps.34: 14; 3:2; Eph.5: 4; 5:11; 1Pe.1:15-16; Isa.52:11). Depart from all iniquity constitutes the fundamental proof of genuineness! If the name of Christ is called upon us, we must depart from all iniquity or else He will tell us on the GREAT DAY, “[…] depart from me, I never knew you, you workers of iniquity” (Mat.7:23).
Τhere is, in fact, a limit to God’s “longsuffering”. We should not infer that His longsuffering is without end! His longsuffering will end someday for each of us separately and we all will reap what we have sown! We will all stand before the throne of God to give an account of what we have done in our life. The fact that I do not want or desire that my neighbor perishes does not mean that he will not perish if he DOES NOT WANT to repent and believe in Jesus Christ’s saving sacrifice. We, as parents, have never wished to punish our children, but we were often under the moral necessity to punish them. We can, therefore, draw two conclusions:
God does not want the death of the sinner; He does not want any to perish. However, He does not want to impose his salvation. If a man does not repent, he will simply reap eternal damnation. It is written “Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel” (Eze.33: 11; 18:23; 18:32)? According to the Old Testament LAW “the man, which does those things shall live by them” (Lev.18: 5; Eze.20: 11; Rom.10: 5; Gal.3:12). Now, however, with the New Testament “Law”, he who repents and with believes will be saved! What condescension! What mercy and grace! The result is: one’s salvation and life become easy! God has made all the necessary arrangements so that with sincere repentance and unfeigned faith we can receive God’s mercy through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice! It is written, if anyone comes to Him truly penitent and desires to be saved, he will not be cast off. “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37). May all men understand, appreciate and make full use of God’s longsuffering before it is too late!
Thanks to God’s love and longsuffering none of us is in an irreversible situation. The well known verse John 3:16, which is the core of the Gospel and the verse 1Tim.2:4, which declares plainly that God wants all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, can they ever be cancelled? The “predestination” theory as it is proclaimed by certain people is not correct. It corresponds to a ‘simplistic’ human answer to the great mysteries of the Bible and absolves man from all personal responsibility!
If we want to examine closely our situation, then we can cleanse ourselves from every sin through repentance and faith in the blood of Jesus and we may become vessels for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work (2Tim.2:21)! This is the reason why the words of God exhort those whose spiritual condition is at stake and have forgotten that they were cleansed from their old sins, to repent… The apostle Peter exhorts Christians to be diligent to make their call and election sure… (2Pe.1:8-10). Why were they at stake? Because the Christian virtues were lacking in their life! They had become, as a consequence, blind and they had forgotten that they were purged from their old sins. Therefore, they were in danger! God, however, has declared: We are given exceeding great and precious promises: that by these we might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust (2Pet.1:4).
And now a word from my own experience: I believed that I was nearly perfect in patience. The love of the Lord made me go through such tests that I have lost the good impression that I had about myself! I was weighed in the scales and was found wanting. I thank Him wholeheartedly for the tests He made me go through and still makes me go through… He helped me become aware of myself and keep me being improved!
To be continued: …