Seven Precepts

Seven Percept Recourses

Forgiveness is not easy or painless in our natural person. In fact, in many cases
choosing to forgive with a sincere heart is impossible apart from the power of the
Spirit. Knowing we should forgive offenses, injustices, attitudes, and actions from
wounds, resentments, bitterness, and revenge, especially those that come from
family and friends can pose the biggest challenges.
We understand the command to pursue peace with ALL people, and the varied
ways to bring that into reality brings pain to the brain and weariness to the body.
Refusal or the inability to forgive is usually because the heart has not been
prepared. Philippians 4 has 7 PRECEPTS in preparing the heart to deal with
difficult relationships and circumstances. These exhortations need to be known,
understood, and in practice; to be able to immediately forgive when the challenge
arises.
PERCEPT #1 Verse one “Stand Fast in the Lord”
When Paul wrote this letter, he was a prisoner and meeting with different kinds
of opposition. Within the Christian circle he was opposed by jealous men who
were preaching Christ out of envy, strife, and contention seeking to stir up
tribulations for him.
Under these trying times, he was not terrified nor depressed. He had learned to
STAND FAST IN THE LORD. He had adversaries without and within and knew his
strength had to come directly from the Lord. He knew the Lord’s mind and the
importance to stand against the enemy as he saw the wiles of the devil in wanting
to break up and divide the people of God. This enabled him to forgive as his focus
was on God’s priorities, rather than his own restrictions and personal pain. So,
forgiveness was available for him to choose.
PERCEPT #2 Verse two “Be of the same Mind in the Lord”
Nothing is more distressing to the heart and enfeebling to our testimony, than the
difference of opinion and prejudice that exist among the Body of Christ. Earlier in
this letter, he had told the church at Philippi:
. Phil:2:3 “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in
lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself:” This is a main edict
and so easy to neglect:
. selfish ambition – Believing your point of view is necessary or more important to
get across. And you must convince the other person of that. Needing attention to
validate your own importance.
. Conceit – Pride in proclaiming and allowing strife to develop with the best of
intentions of helping the other person see it your way. Having authority and using
it as a control tool. Even the disciples had to battle this according to Luke 22:24.
. Vainglory is used in some texts. This has been stated to be empty wisdom of no
value. The person full of vainglory will be an envious person – jealous of anyone
that is more spiritual or more gifted than themselves. Jealousy expresses itself in
malice and ends in strife. (James 3:14-16 “But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the Truth. This wisdom does
not descend from above but is earthly sensual demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.”
When we remember that love covers a multitude of sins, we can choose to serve
in love according to the lowly mind of Christ and have the same mind. Our hearts
will be ready to confess, and forgiveness comes easy. (Proverbs 17:9 and 10:12)
PERCEPT #3 Verse 4 “Rejoice in the Lord always”
Our conscience will let us know when a bad attitude is hanging around. Rejoicing
is difficult to do. How do I rejoice when all is going wrong?
. CHOOSE to FOCUS on what is lasting and Christ who gives us fresh mercies every
morning.
. Recognize that the person giving you grief is made in God’s image and putting
them down is an afront to His Creation. The person’s worth is in who they are in
Christ and if NOT IN CHRIST, it is imperative that we provide a proper
representation of our Father. Do we want to “Keep” the family name? We don’t
rejoice in ourselves, service or walk, and sometimes seeing daylight in
circumstances can be tough, but the Hope of the promise can cause our WILL to
declare I will rejoice. It is so much easier to forgive when you are rejoicing.
PERCEPT #4 Verse 5 “Let your gentleness be known of all men. The Lord is near.”
Now if we want this percept to be seen in us, we must be willing to apply, the first
three. Too often our self-assertiveness, strong opinions and maybe harsh or
extreme words prevent being gentle. Words are the main source of abuse but
“LOOKS CAN ALSO KILL” Have you ever just rolled your eyes, shrugged you
shoulders or given that popular expression “WELL WHAT EVER”?
.2 Timothy 2:24 “A servant of the Lord must not strive but be gentle to all men.” It
is more important to express the character of Christ than our own opinions, and
even if you are RIGHT to defend yourself. Gentleness with love is irresistible. The
last part of this verse reminds us…..The Lord is near.
The disciples were guilty of hardness of heart when they rebuked the mother who
brought their little ones to Jesus, and they showed their resentment against
villagers that refused to receive the Lord and the disciples wanted fire to come
down from heaven.
PERCEPT #5 Verse 6 “Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and
supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God”.
This verse addresses the circumstances of life. There is a lot of sorrow and
sickness, many trials, and burdens to carry. They can come in waves and have
many different varieties. When we try to cast them off, they just come back to
haunt us and with plenty of WORRY. We may not be able to get rid of the trial,
but we can release the BURDEN of the trial so that it no longer weighs the spirit
down with anxiety. PRAYER IS A PRIORITY and without it true forgiveness is
impossible. When battling, prayer allows us to correct all that is wrong in our
hearts by agreeing with God that our hearts need a correction check. When
corrected, the conscience is cleared, burdens are lifted and the heaviness we feel
in our emotions are lightened. Emotions can linger while adjusting, and not
listening to them as being final, and standing steadfast as we talked about earlier,
is required.
PERCEPT #6 Verse 8 “THINK ON THESE THINGS”
Truth, according to God, not necessarily according to facts, but what is noble, just,
pure lovely, good report. Thinking this way will redirect the brain to change chemicals, electrical impulses improving health, and most important the heart, in
moving toward TRUE forgiveness.
Our flesh is always ready to listen to slander, bad reports, and things that are
vicious and blameworthy. We are not left hopeless; we do have a choice from the
will.
PERCEPT #7 Verse 9 “Those things, which you have both learned, and received,
and heard and seen in me, DO, and the God of peace shall be with you.”
We are told to pursue peace as it is within you, and now we have the pathway to
peace that already lives within you; but we so many times ignore this gift because
flesh (our old nature must yield and “die”). This death is possible because Jesus
has already paid the price on the Cross for Peace and True Forgiveness is ours. It is
our privilege to pass it on..
To recap:
Stand fast in the Lord
Have the same Mind in the Lord
Rejoice in the Lord
Who are known of all men for their gentleness
Who are anxious for nothing
Who have their minds set on things above
Who practice and DO the things they have learned
With our hearts and minds prepared, we are ready to walk through the process of
True FORGIVENESS.

Expectations Chart

Click here for downloadable copy Expectations Chart

 

EXPECTATIONS, ANGER AND BITTERNESS CHART

Throughout life, we all develop EXPECTATIONS. They are usually produced
by comparing ourselves with others or from commitments people make or
imply. Some expectations result from valid needs in our lives; like being loved,
accepted and feeling secure. When those expectations are not met in the ways
we want them to be met by others or by God, the emotional reaction is often
anger.
ANGER is one of the strongest of our emotions. The Bible says to, “be angry,
anc/yet cyo not s/.a” (Ephesians 4:26). Anger is not the problem. It becomes a
problem only when we do not deal with it properly.
PREVENTING ANGER – by yielding our expectations and rights to God: To
yield, means we choose to let God meet our needs in the ways He sees as
best instead of the way we want to see things done. We CHOOSE to trust Him
and look to Him as the source of our contentment, joy and security, instead of
looking to circumstances or to other people
ACKNOWLEDGING OUR ANGER – to ourselves and God: Sometimes our
anger masks other painful emotions such as fear and hurt. Our anger does not
seem as painful to experience as the hurt does. It is vital that we express our
anger to God and allow Him to show us the cause of our anger. If we choose to
deny or suppress our anger it will just show up in our behavior, and eventually
affect our emotional and/or physical health.
UNRESOLVED ANGER leads to BITTERNESS: When we do not address or
suppress our anger, rather than deal with it, our anger can turn into bitterness.
The biblical definition of bitterness is “resentfulness” or “harshness” (Ephesians
4:31 and Hebrews 12:15).
Bitterness is the result of a perceived right that has been violated.
Bitterness will hurt and damage us emotionally, physically and spiritually.
Bitterness not only affects us but it will contaminate all of our relationships.
UNRESOLVED bitterness grows deeper and deeper resulting into resentment,
vengeance, ingratitude and eventually depression.
97 ©His Truth Transforms International.

Characteristics of a Weak Conscience

Click here for Downloadable Copy. Characteristics of a Weak Conscience.pdf

WTW Resource – Characteristic of a Weak Conscience
It would do us well to recognize what Paul means by a “weak” conscience. The
word in the Greek means to be impotent, without strength, weak. It can denote
physical as well as spiritual weakness. An example is found in 1 Corinthians 11:17-
34 regarding wrongly taking the Lord’s Supper.
A weak conscience is one in which a State of weakness exists. It is fragile and
extremely vulnerable to its past associations, which are inconsistent with the
Christian walk. The conscience has not matured in knowledge to be able to take
action apart from doubt. To be weak in conscience is to be weak in faith.
We can see the following characteristics of a weak conscience:
1. Insecure
2. Doubting
3. Hesitant
4. Legalistic
5. Fearful
6. Opinionated
7. Anxious
8. Confused
9. Spiritually impotent
10. Unsure
11. Feeble
12. Vulnerable
13. Indecisive
14. Inadequate
Another word associated with a weak conscience is the word “defiled.” This word
in the original means to besmear as with mud or filth. The conscience becomes
defiled when a person goes beyond their conscience capabilities. The point of no
return in conscience capabilities is to take action out of DOUBT rather than
conviction. Presumption.
In extreme cases the conscience can be enticed into following doctrines of
demons because of ignorance to the Word and listening to false teachers. The
conscience can become hardened and callused to the true things of God.A weak conscience left to itself, without correction and awareness of how it
operates in conjunction with the Holy Spirit, can spiral down into any other forms
of negative functioning.
It is imperative to be aware of the wrong kind of conscience and how it affects the
spiritual and emotional well being of the Christian. Being aware of certain
characteristics allows us to evaluate the problem which is quite often a
conscience problem.
Characteristics of a defiled conscience:
a. Doubts
b. Guilt
c. Self-condemnation
d. Self-punishment
e. Emotional turmoil
f. Self-imposed penance
g. Legalism
Characteristics of a seared conscience:
a. Insensitive
b. Unstable
c. Callused
d. Wrong doctrinally
e. Always following the winds of doctrine
f. Deceived
g. Lack of Discernment
h. Demonized
Characteristics of an evil conscience:
a. Makes light of sin
b. Rationalizes behavior
c. Argumentative, especially to Truth
d. Calls good evil and evil good
e. Tends to categorize sins (big vs. small sins)Characteristics of a wounded conscience:
a. Similar characteristics of a defiled conscience
b. Doubts
c. Questionings
d. Insecurities
e. Anxiety
f. Lacking Assurance
g. Feeling Inadequate
It is important who you listen to. People fall into false teaching when they ignore
or reject their conscience. When this happens, they can teach false doctrines and
then try to destroy the faith of others. They can go so far as to blaspheme God.
The tragedy is that such men as these are convinced they are right – convinced
because they have changed their final authority.
Do not forget that conscience is responsive, fatally so, to one’s final authority. If it
is right the conscience will be right, if it is wrong the conscience will be wrong.
God uses the Holy Spirit to guide us through our conscience unto the Lord Jesus
Christ, Who is our All in All. Many know they need to be controlled and guided by
the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, but do not realize it is the voice of
their conscience that is the means used.

Benefits of a Good Conscience

Benefits of A Good Conscience follow the link to download or print

The conscience offers many benefits pertaining to life and holiness as we
understand what the CONSCIENCE does. Here is a list of the qualities that are built in us through honoring the working of our conscience.

1. KNOW GOD: The conscience allows us to KNOW God who has been defined in
the Person of Jesus Christ. There is no other way to know God personally and
intimately.

2. LOVE: Through the conscience, God makes known to us His great and never-changing love for us personally.

3. PLAN: Through the conscience, we discover God’s plan for our lives. This plan
ensures a holy walk lending to happiness, not a happiness that never leads to
holiness.

4. Through the conscience, He has made it possible for a line of communication to
be directly to God.

5. The conscience instills in us an absolute standard of Truth.

6. He gives us a MORAL absolute.

7. He invests His authority in us and through us.

8. He gives us a new identity.

9. The conscience serves us as a court of last resort. It allows us to bear witness to
our choices and know our innocence or guilt.

10. We are illuminated to the Truths of His Word so we can understand the realities
of life.

The conscience, when listened to, is in a relationship with God teaching us who a
person is, is determined by who God is. We are a product of what we believe
about God as revealed in the Bible, not as we perceive Him from our own
thinking.

In Christ – I Am…

In Christ I am…

  1. Justified (declared not guilty)  – Romans 3:24 & Romans 5:1
  2. Free from condemnation – Romans 8:1-2
  3. Adopted as God’s child – Ephesians 1:5
  4. Marked as belonging to God – Ephesians 1:13
  5. God’s temple -1 Corinthians 3:16
  6. A member of Christ’s body – Ephesians 5:29-30
  7. Redeemed and forgiven – Colossians 1:14
  8. A citizen of heaven – Philippians 3:20
  9. A new creation – 2 Corinthians 5:17
  10. One body in Christ – Romans 12:5
  11. Free from the law of sin and death – Romans 8: 2
  12. Inseparable from the love of God – Romans 8:39
  13. A child of God – Galatians 3:26
  14. Blessed with all spiritual blessings – Ephesians 1:3
  15. His workmanship – Ephesians 2:10
  16. A partaker of His promise – Ephesians 3:6
  17. The recipient of everlasting life – John 5:24
  18. Raised up to sit with Christ in glory – Ephesians 2:6
  19. A saint – Ephesians 1:1
  20. Complete in Christ – Colossians 2:10
  21. Born of God – 1 John 5:18
  22. The salt and light of the world – Matthew 5:13-14
  23. A branch of the true vine – John 15:1,5
  24. A personal witness of Christ – Acts 1:8
  25. A minister of reconciliation – 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
  26. God’s co-worker – 2 Corinthians 6:1
  27. As Christ is – 1 John 4:17
  28. The righteousness of God – 2 Corinthians 5:21
  29. Made perfect forever – Hebrews 10:14

Culture ISMS

Cultural ISM follow this link to download or print this resource

Our society has and is continuing to make drastic bold changes in wanting us to adapt to “moving forward” and leaving the past behind, making all things new. Sounds uplifting but there is as much danger in those “smooth” words as there was in the words spoken in the Garden of Eden.

That may sound like a harsh declaration, but we need a wake-up call as there is a bigger picture been painted right before our very eyes and the strokes being applied will capture a scene that destroys.

We have established false religions since the Tower of Babel was being constructed when God dispersed the people as they gathered to all speak the same language.  He confused their attempt.

In New Testament times, false thinking was having a heyday, and Paul and the disciples set about by:

  • WARNING
  • TEACHING
  • PROCLAIMING
  • EXAMINING
  • WITNESSING
  • EXPLAINING
  • PERSUADING PEOPLE

.  Acts 2:40, 5:42, 9:29, 17:11, 28:23

In more current times we are told we must accept certain “ISMS”:

ISMS are a distinctive doctrine, cause, or theory. They are an oppressive and especially discriminatory attitude or belief we all must come to grips with our isms.

Here are a couple of examples of what the “different thinking” wants us to accept:

  • The flood did not happen or was not universal
  • Jesus was a good teacher but not God in flesh
  • Jesus is not the only way to heaven
  • Historical claims of the resurrection are just legends passed down through time.

These types of false beliefs have set us up for man-made conclusions and how we need to update our beliefs.

Here are just a few “isms” that we battle the consequences of their philosophies:

HEDONISM:  The pursuit of pleasure sensual self-indulgence

Hedonism philosophy: The ethical theory that pleasure (in the sense of satisfaction of desires) is the highest good and proper aim of human life.

IF it feels good, it must be right.

Our senses are what we use to determine what we want.

Happiness is a feeling goal, a “have to have” based on your circumstances.

The counter is joy which is a “state”, an attitude that sustains you no matter what your circumstances are.

HUMANISM: any system or mode of thought or action in which human interests, values, and dignity predominate.

We should always make a distinction between Humanism and humanitarianism. The latter is a more or less sympathetic interest in humanity, while the former carries with it a definite faith in MAN as the director of his own destiny, founded upon the latest scientific conception of the universe and man’s place in it.  Man is not totally lost but has goodness within himself and can make himself better and solve man’s predicaments.

MAN CAN MAKE MAN GOOD WITHOUT GOD.

There are four goals of Humanism:

  1. The establishment of a New World Religion
  2. A New Economic System
  3. A New World Order, world government
  4. A New Race of People for the New Order

If humanism can become the god of final authority, then we have no definite design, purpose, or morality. Anything goes that man wants.  Everyone does what is right in their own eyes.

PLURALISM: All views of living are equally valid, a political philosophy holding that people of different beliefs, backgrounds, and lifestyles can coexist in the same society and participate equally in the political process. Pluralism assumes that its practice will lead decision-makers to negotiate solutions that contribute to the “common good” of the entire society

  • Religious implications in pluralism: the holding of two or more church offices by a single person. The state or condition of a common civilization in which various ethnic, racial, or religious groups are free to participate in and develop their common cultures.

We see in the last 100 years where there is an aggressive indoctrination to accepting men in authority to blend their ideas together to form a new whole. We find points of common ground and unite under those points we deem best, regardless of scripture precepts.

We try to find common ground regarding us all accepting each other in “love” but denying GOD IS LOVE.  Instead of using His agape love as the standard, we lower the bar of what love is and use man’s standard so we can agree upon what coincides with helping to establish a human rule.

RATIONALISM: A Belief or theory that opinions and actions should be based on reason and knowledge rather than on religious belief or emotional response.

If reason and experience are the basis for Truth, then there is no ABSOLUTE Truth.  Relativity affects the ability to discern Truth from error, right from wrong. Jesus said, “I am the way the Truth and the life. No man comes to the Father except through Me.”

EVOLUTION/Darwinism: Theory is the notion that all life is related and has descended from a common ancestor, the birds, and the bananas, the fishes and flowers are all related.

This thinking basically is that the development of life and species evolved from nothing into something. If God does not exist, then what other meaning is there for the human-animal other than survival of the fittest?

MATERIALISM: A tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values; the doctrine that consciousness and will are wholly due to material agency.

Greed, possessiveness, covetousness are other words that express the attitude of being materialistic. Life consists of the things you have that fulfill the desires of your pleasure and worth.

EMPIRICISM: Knowledge originating in experience, relying on observation and testing in natural science utilizing the senses of taste, smell, feel with sight and sound being the most prominent of the five.

It has become a medium to use the senses, especially sight and sound. It’s used in education, to market and sell products, i.e. commercials. In our society, this is a massive amount of information to assimilate.

The result is thinking with sensations; feelings over reasoning, instinct over rationality. This has caused many to think that truth is relative because emotions change.

There are simply too many to break down here but here is a list of nouns that have the “ism” ending resulting in beliefs that if not in agreement with Scripture will lead to falsehoods.

ABSOLUTISM; Also known as Divine Right Theory: The King rules with unlimited power and subject to no constitutional safeguards or checks. When God is the Ruler all is well.  When man is ruler, destruction awaits.

EGOISM:  The theory that self-interest is the basis of morality. Pride reigns supreme and blinds all who make man the source of worship and praise.

FATALISM:  A doctrine that all events are predetermined in advance. This reduces our freedom to choose in making decisions for good or bad. This destroys God as Sovereign in being the ultimate ruler in everything.

LIBERALISM: A political orientation favoring social progress by reformation. This is a process of improving something or someone by removing or correcting faults, problems through the change of old patterns of thinking.

Again, man sets the priority of what needs to be fixed, not the Truth of Scripture. It is man’s agenda, man evaluates the issues, and then man’s opinions are the gauge for how to restore. This extends into the religious and political areas of living.

SOCIALISM:  A political theory advocating state ownership of industry. If this is dominant in society it sweeps away capitalism. The danger in this view is that no one can have less or more than another.

The government can take what you have earned and obtained, redistribute without your consent, and give it to others so everyone has the same. A common expression is that there is an idea of taking without contributing, better known as Entitlement. The danger is government sets an exclusive standard for those in government as they have the power to give and take. This is the path for a dictatorship to control a nation through oppression. There can be different branches of government making these choices.

TOTALITARIANISM: The belief in unrestricted power in government. The government makes all the decisions for the society, robbing the people of any ability to choose or participate in matters that govern everyday living. No multi branches of government; there is only one branch.

There are many spin-offs from these main ISMS.  

We need to be educated about these out-of-control vain philosophies. Taken to extremes will destroy a nation, cripple societies, and ruin lives. All these belief systems are against the Christian Biblical worldview from Scripture and ignorance in understanding these false values will result in destruction.

HISTORY has revealed this to be factual. However, as history has proven, we do not learn and repeat the same lies. Without Jesus Christ, people love darkness and selfishness.

A Democracy will last about 200 years because the acceptance of these ISMS will invade a nation and the greed of man’s heart of those in authority will use the ISM to vote themselves (money) from the public treasury.

From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury. The end is a final collapse over loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship rule in government, destroying a nation’s freedom.

 

 

The Wiles of the Enemy

The Wiles of the Enemy follow this link to download or print this resource

We are not to be ignorant of Satan’s devices 2 Cor.2:11

When Jesus was led out into the Wilderness this was a time of testing and teaching for us to see how the wiles of Satan show up to deceive and detract us from the Truth. Being an “Angel of Light” his way of temptation is along the lines of the miraculous. Why should Christ be limited to the natural means of obtaining bread when he had the power to obtain it through the super-natural? If in his hunger he would have listened to the logic he would have withdrawn himself from dependence upon His Father but instead, he replied: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Matt. 4:4. There are Christians that are seeking something deeper in their walk and the super-natural has great appeal for excitement with an overworked nervous system and are deceived
into thinking it is the power of the Spirit and sensing the presence of the Lord. Signs and wonders in the last days appeal to many.

2nd Temptation: Satan takes Christ up into the Holy City and sets Him on a pinnacle of the temple. Matt 4:5. Satan tests with wanting Christ to show his great faith and prove your miraculous power as Messiah. The plot is to destroy him in going against the laws of nature and gravity to prove that God can keep you from harm. Jesus simply uses the Word and answers “Thou shall not put the Lord thy God to the proof: (Deut. 6:16) Here again, Satan is wanting an experience to prove something of the miraculous. Do something foolish and don’t be subjected to the laws of nature.

The temptation is to break the laws of nature by ignoring them. God gave us these laws as a means of protection. We have many risk-takers in the body of Christ that want thrills and can be careless about the body that was purchased on the Cross as a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. I Cor 3:16,17. An important point to consider is that it is wrong in God’s sight to persecute ONESELF as it others or to neglect care of ONESELF as to neglect the care of others. This is showing disrespect to his creation.

3rd Temptation: He offered Jesus all that he could see and will give all their power and greatness if you will worship me. Was this attempt at playing God as Satan has a subtle way of impersonating God in some of the offers to us. What a sneaky attempt to get Jesus to avoid going to the Cross which was the only way Jesus could be the victor and obtain his purpose for coming into the world.

In his deception to impersonate God, he will establish his own religion and set his idea of a standard of morality. He has his own values and to show the supernatural rather than to have faith in Christ atoning sacrifice for salvation is via the Cross and not the miraculous; catching many well-meaning people off balance.

Another of his wiles is to suppress the personality that has been given to us. Don’t allow the pressures from other people’s opinions rob you of your uniqueness. Your personality was NOT destroyed at the Cross with the old sin nature. There is an “I” that is mentioned in Galatians 2:20 that refers to the self-centeredness in a personality which the Cross removes. Some believe they must become totally passive to letting go of their will in making choices. The thinking is “whatever God wants”. Well, we find that God wants people of conviction, strong in spirit, knowing good from evil, and standing against whatever grieves the Lord. Passivity can also be attached to letting your mind go into neutral, which is very dangerous. An empty mind is an open door for the enemy to slide in, take up residency, and slowly destroy an active mind needed to bring every thought captive and operate within the mind of Christ, which is never passive. GOD NEVER DEMANDS THE LETTING GO OF THE WILL, BUT THE SURRENDER OF SIN IN THE FORM OF SELF-WILL. The letting go of the will weakens the person and makes it more difficult for God to get his co-operation. If the mind is brought into passivity, the Holy Spirit is hindered in giving help to the Christian warrior, and evil spirits are able to gain upon their soul.

The mind must be under the control of the person as well as the will and if not controlled by our person, it will be available to evil spirits. God does not control it. We get deceived into believing that God must control the mind. However, his Word says, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” makes many think they give their mind over to Jesus; rather than that we learn of his thinking to guide us in our thinking and decision making. There is a big difference.

In Colossians 2:15 we see our position in Christ over all the powers of darkness. We see that they are: DISARMED BY CHRIST, EXPOSED BY CHRIST, MADE CAPTIVE BY CHRIST. THIS IS THE BASIS FOR ALL DEALINGS WITH EVIL SUPER-NATURAL POWER. Unless we claim Calvary’s victory over these supernatural powers, as we abide in Christ they will still be able to attack us and harm us unless we maintain our positions as “DEAD WITH CHRIST and raised in union with Him” these evil spirits will still deceive us. 1 John 3:8 assures us that the Son of God was made known so that he might destroy the works of the devil.” In these difficult days, the powers and principalities of Ephesians 6 are becoming bolder and bolder as they have taken up residency within so many people who have turned away from God to serve self. They have been in rebellion since in their youth and we find the church losing ground as Satan is openly challenging the Church of God to a conflict for which he knows the Body of Christ is able but not ready to fight.

The ignorance of God’s people is due to their lack of training and willingness to engage in warfare against these super-natural powers. This means we cannot be cowards turning and running from the conflicts that arise. To be an overcomer we have to be able to operate under the authority of Christ. He must be accepted as Lord and we surrender fully so that we can stand in His authority against those that rise up against us. The Church has a lack of general understanding regarding “the old man” or “Flesh” and this flesh must be kept in the place of death and be freed from the bondage of the evil nature, which is the material that Satan uses to attack the child of God. SIN is not just an oops, I messed up, but it must be viewed in relationship to Calvary. Everything else is false. Wrong conceptions become a source of weakness as it weakens our spiritual stamina by paralyzing a real grip upon divine things and opens the way for Satan to attack.

We have been given the victory, authority, instructions to wage war to overcome and give God the glory due Him. Are we ready to implement this privilege or are we spiritual cowards wanting the easy path for self? A simple saying, Eternity is a long, long, long, long, long, long, long, time to be wrong!!

(Find other resources in teaching handouts under the Bible Study Resources heading)

Character

Character follow this link to download or print this resource

Bible verses for building Biblical Character qualities
Alertness: Mark 14:38, Acts 20:31, 1 Cor. 16:13, 1 Thess. 5:6 to those around for right response versus unawareness
Attentiveness: Heb. 2:1 undivided attention to words, emotions and actions versus unconcern
Availability: Phil. 2:20-21 put others needs before my own schedule versus self-centeredness
Boldness: Acts 4:29 confident that what I say or do is right in the sight of God versus fearfulness
Cautiousness: Prov. 19:2 knowing how important right timing is in accomplishing right actions versus rashness
Contentment: 1 Tim. 6:8 realizing God has provided everything that I need for happiness versus covetousness
Compassion: 1 John 3:17 investing in care and concern for others versus indifference
Creativity: Rom. 12:2 approaching a need or help with ideals and new perspective versus under-achieving
Decisiveness: James1:5 the ability to finalize difficult decisions based on the ways and will of God versus double-mindedness, inflexibility, dominance
Deference: Rom. 14:21 limit my right and freedom in order not to offend those has called me to serve versus rudeness
Dependability: Ps. 15:4 fulfilling what I consented to do even if it means an unexpected
sacrifice versus inconsistency
Diligence: Col. 3:23 completing each assignment and task versus slothfulness, selfishness
Discernment: 1 Samuel 12:16:7 the God-given ability to understand why things happen versus judgment, snoopiness.
Discretion: Prov. 22:3 the ability to avoid words, actions, and attitudes which could result in
undesirable consequences versus simple-mindedness, secretiveness
Determination: 2 Tim. 4:7-8 proposing to accomplish God’s plans and goals in His timing
regardless of the opposition versus faint-hearted
Endurance: Gal. 6:9 inward strength to withstand stress in accomplishing God’s best versus
giving-up
Enthusiasm: 1 Thess. 5:16 & 19 expressing with my spirit the joy in my soul versus apathy
Faith; Heb. 11:1 visualizing what God intends to do in a situation and acting in harmony with it
versus presumption
Flexibility: Col. 3:2 not setting my affections or plans which could be changed by God or others versus self-centeredness
Forgiveness: Eph. 4:32 clearing the record of those who have offended or wronged me and
allow God to love them through me versus rejection, permissiveness, weakness
Generosity: 2 Cor. 9:6 realizing that all I have belongs to God and using it for His purposes
versus stinginess
Gentleness: 1 Thess. 2:7 showing personal care and concern in meeting the need of others
versus harshness
Gratefulness: 1 Cor. 4:7 making known to God and others in what ways they have benefited my life versus ungratefulness, flattery
Honesty: upright conduct, a moral rectitude to conform to justice, fairness, truth, and correct
moral principles versus truthfulness
Honor: Honor thy father and mother Eph. 6:2; to esteem, an expression of respect, high
estimation of words, actions, and testimony, dignity, reverence, reputation versus disrespect,
apathy
Hospitality: cheerfully sharing food, shelter, and spiritual refreshment with those God brings
into my life versus loneliness, ingratiating, cliquish
Humility: James 4:6 recognizing that God and others are actually responsible for the
achievement in my life, a major quality of a leader, not arrogant, is teachable and able to admit wrong versus pride, ego can be one of the most self-destructive character qualities.
Initiative: Rom. 12:21 recognizing and doing what needs to be done before I am asked versus unresponsiveness.
Integrity: Prov. 11:3, 19:1, 20:7 integrity shall guide the walk of the just and upright versus
perverse.
Joyfulness: Ps. 16:11 the spontaneous enthusiasm of my spirit when my soul is in fellowship
with God versus self-pity
Justice: Micah 6:8 personal responsibility to God’s unchanging views versus fairness
Loyalty: John 15:13 using difficult times to demonstrate my commitment to God and those
whom He has given me to serve versus unfaithfulness, disloyalty; independent spirit, uses
people, Phil. 2:20-21,
Love: 1 Cor. 13:3 giving to others basic needs without having as my motive personal reward
versus selfishness and indifference. The ultimate goal is genuine love 1 Tim. 1:5
Meekness: Ps. 6:2-5 yielding my personal rights and expectations to God versus anger
Obedience: the freedom to be creative under the protection of divinely appointed authority versus willfulness
Orderliness: 12 Cor. 14: 40 preparing myself and my surroundings so that I will achieve the greatest efficiency versus disorganization
Patience: Rom. 5:3-4 accepting a difficult situation from God without giving Him a deadline to
remove it versus restlessness, permissive
Persuasiveness: 2 Tim. 2:24 guiding vital truths around another’s mental roadblocks versus
contentiousness
Punctually: Ecc. 3:1 showing high esteem for others and their time versus tardiness,
impatience, intolerance
Resourcefulness: Luke 16:10 wise use of that which others would normally overlook or discard versus wastefulness, manipulating, scheming
Responsibility: Rom. 14:12 knowing and doing what both God and others are expecting from me versus unreliability
Reverence: Prov. 23:17-18 awareness of how God is working through the people and events in my life to produce the chartered of Christ in me versus disrespect
Security: John 6:27 structuring my life around that which is eternal and cannot be destroyed or taken away versus anxiety
Self-control: Gal. 5:24-25 instant obedience to initial promptings of God’s Spirit versus self-indulgence
Sincerity: 2 Peter 1:22 eagerness to do what is right with transparent motives versus hypocrisy
Sensitivity: Rom. 12:15 exercising my senses so that I can perceive the true spirit and emotions of those around me versus callousness, easy offended overly emotional
Thoroughness: Prov. 18:15 knowing what factors will diminish the effectiveness of my work or words if neglected versus incompleteness
Thriftiness: Luke 16:11 not letting myself or others spend that which is not necessary versus.
extravagance
Tolerance: Phil. 2:2 acceptance of others as unique expressions of specific character qualities in varying degrees of maturity versus prejudice
Truthfulness: Eph. 4:25 Earning future trust by accurately reporting the facts versus deception
Virtue: 2 Peter 1:5 the moral excellence and purity of spirit and soul that radiates from life as I obey God’s Word versus impurity
Wisdom: Prov. 9:10 understanding revelation from God. Seeing and responding to life
situations from God’s frame of reference vs. natural inclinations

(Find other resources in teaching handouts under the Bible Study Resources heading)

Traits of the Self-life

TRAITS OF THE SELF LIFE follow this link to download or print this resource

The Following are some of the features and manifestations of the self-life The
Holy Spirit alone can interpret and apply this to your individual case. As you read,
examine yourself in the very presence of God Are you ever conscious of:
SECRET SPIRIT OF PRIDE – an exalted feeling, in view of your success or position;
because of your good training or appearance; because of your natural gifts and
abilities. An important, independent spirit?
LOVE OF HUMAN PRAISE – a secret fondness to be noticed; love of supremacy,
drawing attention to self in conversation; a swelling out of self when you have
had a free time in speaking or praying?
The stirrings of anger or impatience, which, worst of all, you call nervousness or
holy indignation; a touch, sensitive spirit, a disposition to resent and retaliate
when disapproved of or contradicted; a desire to throw sharp, heated flings at
another?
SELF-WILL – a stubborn, unteachable spirit, an arguing, talkative spirit, harsh,
sarcastic expressions, an unyielding, headstrong dispositions, a driving
commanding spirit, a disposition to criticize and pick flaws when set aside and
unnoticed, a peevish, fretful spirit, a disposition that loves to be coaxed and
humored?.
CARNAL FEAR- a person-fearing spirit, a shrinking from reproach and duty,
reasoning around YOUR cross, a shrinking from doing your whole duty by those of
wealth or position, a fearfulness that some will offend and drive some prominent
person away, a compromising spirit?
JEALOUS DISPOSITION – a secret spirit of envy shut up in your hear, an unpleasant
sensation in view of the great prosperity and success of another, an attitude to
speak of the faults and failings, rather than the gifts and virtues of those more
talented and appreciated than yourself?
DISHONEST – deceitful disposition, the evading and covering of the truth, the
covering up of your real faults, leaving a better impression of yourself than is
strictly true, false humility, exaggeration, straining the truth?
UNBELIEF – a spirit of discouragement in times of pressure and opposition, lack of
quietness and confidence in God, lack of faith and trust in God, an attitude to
worry and complain in the middle of pain, poverty or at the dispensations of
Divine Providence, an overanxious feeling whether everything will come out all
right?
FORMALITY AND DEADNESS – lack of concern for lost souls, dryness and
indifference, lack of power with God?
SELFISHNESS – love of ease, love of money?
These are some of the traits which generally indicate a carnal heart. By prayer,
hold your heart open to the searchlight of God, until you see the groundwork in
your life. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts,
and see if there be any wicked way in me (Psalm 139: 23,24)
If truly wanting to be controlled by the Spirit He will enable you by confession and
faith to bring your “self-life” to death. Do not patch over, but go to the bottom. It
alone will pay.
‘CREATE IN ME A CLEAN HEART, O GOD; AND RENEW A RIGHT SPIRIT WITHIN ME”
Psalm 51:10

(Find other resources in teaching handouts under the Bible Study Resources heading)

The Blessedness of the Unoffended

The Blessedness of The Unoffended follow this link to download or print this resource
This pamphlet was taken from the May-June 1969, “A Witness and A Testimony.”
Reprinted: 2010
This pamphlet is available free upon request by writing to:
Emmanuel Church
12000 E 14th St
Tulsa, OK 74128-5016 USA

Some years ago a much-used servant of God (J.S.H.) gave a series of messages
which have been a great help to may Christians. From that series, we have
selected the following, believing that it will help many at this time.

The Blessedness of The Unoffended
“Blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me” (Matt. 11:6).
“These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended”
(John 16:1).

One of the greatest perils of the Christian life lurks in the common pathway of
discipleship. It is the peril of being offended in Christ. The fellowship to which
the Gospel summons us inevitably brings a constant new and humiliating
discovery of self; an unvarying disturbance of established order in our lives, as His
will corrects and opposes our own; and a ceaseless effort to attain to the ideal;
that is, to make our lives as followers increasingly correspond with His as
Forerunner.
And the danger is that we are apt to break down under the test and training of
it all, to go back and walk no more with Him, to become, in fact, offended in Him.
It is always possible, despite every sincere profession of the soul, that what God
meant for blessing should become blight to us by our misconceptions. It is always
perilously possible that the light of today may become deep and impenetrable
darkness tomorrow, by our failure to obey and keep step with Him, by our lagging
behind or turning aside from the compelling guidances of Christ’s companionship.
Men have, in this way, unconsciously and imperceptibly put themselves far out of
the range of Christ’s ordinary influences; and have become, like the derelicts of
the ocean, occasions of danger and disaster to countless other lives.
But Christ, with that absolute frankness which is a large part of His
attractiveness to men, cannot be held to blame for such pitiful defections, for He
never disguises the otherwise unthought-of possibility. In His Evangel He
combines welcome with warning as none other has ever done. His Word, while it
opens the very heart of God to our consciousness, opens also our own hearts to
us. By Him we come to know the Father, and by Him also we come to know
ourselves. He reveals the entire faithfulness of God to us, but He reveals also the
instability of our own wills, and the untrustworthiness of our own emotions. He
treats us not as ideal but as real men; and forewarns us of the destruction that
wasteth at noonday, as well as of the pestilence that walketh in darkness. Hence
it is that to the most earnest and self-convinced of us all He says: “Blessed is he
whosoever shall not be offended in Me.” The implicate is obvious and ominous.
But the reality and richness of His grace is the sufficient and silencing answer to
every one of our fears. The blessedness of the unoffended, despite all the danger
without and the weakness within, is the possible acquisition of each one. And it is
blessedness indeed.
Now it is necessary to remember the meaning of the word “offend.” In its
original form it is the very word we frequently use-scandalize, and has the force of
causing to stumble. So we may translate and expand this saying of Christ as
being: “Blessed is he who does not find in Me any cause of stumbling; who can
keep his feet in My ways; who is not tripped up by any obstacles in the path into
which I have directed him.” He uses the word quite frequently in this sense; as,
for instance, when He speaks of a man’s hand or eye being the stumbling to him,
when He denounces those who cause little ones to be offended, and when He
declares that in the day of His glory all things that offend shall be rooted out of
His Kingdom.
But He never uses it so surprisingly as when He declares the possibility of men
finding occasion of stumbling in Him. We are prepared to find it in the world, in
the opposition of the devil, in the proven insincerity of others-but in Him! This is
surely the most startling of all His warnings. For in Him we have already found life
and salvation, guidance and peace, inspiration and satisfaction. And now to
contemplate finding in Him also any cause of offence fairly staggers us. Had this
word been applicable to men of the world, it would have occasioned little, if any,
surprise. For instance, we are not greatly taken aback when those who knew Him
so familiarly should treat Him so contemptuously and say: “Is not this the
carpenter’s son?” Nor are we entirely unprepared to find that the Pharisees were
offended in Him when He spoke to them of the evil thoughts, adulteries, murders,
and the like, which proceed from the hearts of men; for His words convicted them
of sin. We are not much surprised that He should be a rock of offence to those
who are avowedly disobedient to His demands. But that His own friends, those
who really know Him, and have been admitted into the intimacies of fellowship
with Him, should find cause of offence in Him is passing strange. And its very
mystery warns us to take heed to ourselves.
The setting of the first of these gives us the key to their significance. John the
Baptist was languishing in prison on the shores of the Dead Sea as the outcome of
a life of the utmost faithfulness. He had been tremendously loyal to Christ,
splendidly in earnest concerning his mission, wonderfully courageous in giving
forth the message committed to him, and yet it had all ended in a dungeon.
What a test for such a man!
It seemed as though his faith, his self-restriction, his willingness to decrease
that Christ might increase, had all been unrecognized and unvalued. His
experience so entirely contradicted God’s assurance, that it is easy to understand
the perplexity of mind which led him to send his disciples to Christ with the
pathetic query: “Art thou He that should come?” For here is One who has
avowedly come to deliver captives, and yet He does not deliver the man who,
more than all others, seemed to have claims upon Him. He has proclaimed His
own mission in terms of sympathy and love for the heartbroken, and yet here is a
crushed and heartbroken man of whom He apparently takes no notice.
Is it to be wondered at that at last doubt overcomes faith, so that he sends the
messengers to Christ in the hope that He will declare Himself plainly, and
interpret such utterly inexplicable and contradictory experience to the one who
had at immense cost to himself maintained a devoted loyalty to the Son of God?
Christ’s only answer to these messengers is an exhibition of His sovereign power
over the forces of destruction and death, and an injunction that they should tell
John what they had seen, and give to him this message which calls for a new
triumphant trust on his part: “Blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in
Me.” For it means that in the pathway of blessing the providence of testing will
always be experienced. Its implication is that there is true peace only for that
man who will trust Christ when he has no external aids to faith, who believes Him
when he sees only the seeming denial of his confidence, and who holds to his
loyalty without stumbling when His treatment tests his endurance to the
uttermost.
The second of these words of Christ helps us to understand how his message to
John applies to ourselves: “These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should
not be offended.” Spoken as they were on the eve of His departure, when the
fierce tests of discipleship were about to be experienced by His followers, they
imply that they will need to stay their souls on the things He has told them
concerning His purpose and power, if they are to avoid the peril of stumbling and
going back from Him. For they are bound to come into experiences of test and
strain as they carry out their consecration vows; and “in those days,” says Christ,
“be true to your own best experience of Me. Rest on that which no man can take
from you-the personal knowledge you have of My grace. Hold to those things I
have spoken and shown to you. Be loyal to Me. Trust Me entirely, despite every
unexplained mystery and seemingly unnecessary tribulation. And you shall not be
stumbled but strengthened by these very things which are all of My ordering.”
Now it is not disloyal to Christ to say this: that He not only masters men but
mystifies them also. While He blesses them He bewilders them too, so
incomparably higher are His ways and thoughts than ours. He persuades us to
love and loyalty; but He puzzles us too, often to the point of distraction. He
certainly answers the questions of our hearts; but at the same time He arouses
even more than He answers. And in the life of every true follower of Him, there
will always be, as there was in His own, some great unanswered “Why?” None of
us will ever be exempt from the need of acquiring by faith and patience the
blessedness of the unoffended.
For think of an ordinary and typical instance of offence. It is not commonly a
matter of open backsliding, of heartless renunciation of the truth, or of bitter
denial of past experience. Rather does it begin with the disappointment of some
hope, the failure of an expectation, the weariness of an unanswered prayer, or
the ache of a heart which seems to evoke no sympathetic answer from God. All
this generates an unspoken and almost unspeakable distrust; and as we brood
over it, a sense of injustice grows; a feeling that we have not been treated quite
fairly by Christ, which becomes positive resentment. Until, after a while, His yoke
becomes irksome; we challenge His right to control our lives so; and it all ends in a
secret repudiation of His mastership, and often in an outward renunciation also of
all spiritual interests and aims. This is a typical cause of offence in Christ. And
how many there are all around us of whose lives it is a true description! From
small beginnings of distrust the largest disasters grow. If two parallel lines are
produced into infinity, there will never be any variation of the distance between
them. But let them diverge at any point by only a hair’s breadth. Then the
farther they are produced, the wider the divergence becomes, until at length
there is a universe of distance between them. So with our fellowship with Christ;
the smallest distrust or disobedience is charged with the potentiality of the
infinite; and if undiscovered and unchecked, will eventually put an eternity of
distance between the soul and the Saviour. If, therefore, we can estimate some
of the unchanging certainties of discipleship; explore some, at least, of the
perilous causes of offence in Christ; and at the same time also establish a new
relationship of implicit trust with our Lord, we shall be saved from this
threatening peril. And this is surely the aim of His forewarning Word.
There is first of all the severity of His requirements. When we first come to
Christ the pathway seems to be strewn with roses, and the air seems filled with
sweet and soothing perfumes. For while Christ is absolutely frank with us, and
veils nothing of the hardships and conflicts we must endure, our own powers of
apprehension are so limited that we see but one thing at a time, and that one
thing is that Christ meets all the need of which we are then immediately
conscious. Hence we march to a glad strain with which our hearts are in tune.
But before long we discover that the conditions of companionship are severe. For
instance, we find that a real separation from the world in spirit and purpose is
entirely necessary to the maintaining of fellowship. We find that we cannot
march to two tunes at once-and the world’s strains are seductive indeed. We
learn that we cannot keep step at the same time with Him and with popular
opinion, with Him and the world, nor always with Him and the outward professing
Church.
And when this discovery is made, it often means that men are offended in Him.
For His demand involves a costly disturbance in the regulation of home and
business and social life, according to His order. It means possibly for some the
relinquishing of a kind of popularity which exists only because of shameful silence
regarding Him. It involves others in the severance of ties which have become a
large part of their life, and the sacrifice of material prosperities which partake of
the nature of unrighteousness. It means for all the end of self-indulgence, a
crucifixion in order to a coronation, a dethronement in order to an
enthronement.
And when all this comes to be clearly apprehended, then it is that men are
offended in Christ. When He says: “Cut off thy right hand; pluck out thy right
eye; forsake all that you have; take up the cross and follow Me,” then comes the
test which determines everything. Then too often men go back to walk no more
with Him. Not because they do not understand Him, but because they have come
to know Him too well! When He comes to be recognized, not only as the Christ of
the sympathetic heart, but also as the Christ of the steadfastly set face; then great
is the blessedness of the unoffended.
Then there is the mystery of His contradictions. It often seems as though
Christ were unsympathetic with our best desires, with those desires which have
originated in our fellowship with Himself. You want, for instance, to do some
great service and to fill some great sphere; but Christ’s answer to your longing is
to set you down to face the difficulties of a small work in a place where there is
little, if any, recognition of your toil You ask for spiritual service, and all that has
been granted is a monotonous round of secular duty. And you are in danger of
being offended in Him, just because there seems so little justification for His
treatment of your high aim.
Or, you have asked the gift of rest, and claimed His great promises on this
head; but the answer has come in the necessity for stern and continuous conflict.
The fires of temptation blaze around you, not less, but far more fiercely than
ever; and you are both puzzled and provoked at such a fulfillment of the Word
upon which you have hoped. Or, you have desired to have a life less burdened
and strained, but His only response has been to impose other and heavier
burdens upon you. And you are well-nigh offended in Him. The mystery of it all
baffles every serious purpose, and the temptation to distrust is at times almost
too much.
Now it will help us if we remember the simple fact, that He knows and does
just what is best both for the development and repression of our lives. In reality,
He is only unsympathetic with our egotisms. He only seeks to destroy within us
anything savouring of self-love, self-pride, and self-sufficiency, and to reproduce
in us something of the beauty of His own character. In His contradictions rightly
apprehended we may always see the expression of His perfect wisdom with
regard to our own highest interests, and the interests also of the Kingdom in
which He has given us a share. Then “blessed is he whosoever shall not be
offended”; who accepts the direction of Christ as His love, and trusts Him, “when
to simply trust Him seems the hardest thing of all.”
Beyond these causes is yet another in the slowness of His methods. We come
to Him and put our lives under His control, expectant of immediate realization of
a deliverance which shall lift us beyond all concern regarding temptation and
opposing forces. But how disappointingly slow is this realization; and how hardly
won are our victories even when we are re-enforced by His Spirit.
Quite early we find that life is not a song, but rather a strife; that the grace of
Christ is not a mere ecstasy but rather an energy which works painfully for
righteousness in us; and that it takes all the watchfulness of which we are capable
to occupy the ground already conquered, as well as to conquer fresh territory.
And the slowness of Christ in this matter of our own spiritual conflicts is often the
cause of offence to us. For it disappoints our hopes, and contradicts our
misconceptions as to anything like a passive and easy victory over our strong
enmities. But in reality, this method, slow though it may seem to us, is the only
one He could possibly pursue, having in view the greatness of His purpose and the
contrariety of our nature. And every experience of victory, however small and in
significant, is prophetic of an ultimately complete triumph.
If you go into the Observatory at Greenwich you will see there a delicate
instrument, by means of which the astronomers measure the distances of the
stars, as well as their magnitude. Upon a sensitive mirror is reflected the light of
the star points; and a measurement of the angles at which any two of the rays
meet furnishes sufficient data for all the astounding calculations of millions of
miles. And so it is in our lives. By estimating what Christ has already done we are
assured of His unvarying purpose. Every bit of experience of His power to
sanctify, to cleanse, to redeem, to deliver, is prophetic of the whole- “that He
Who hath begun the good work will perfect it.” And if we cling to this fact, we
shall find it an inspiration to the steady continuance of faith, and shall not be
offended because He works so slowly-and surely.
The same is true also in regard to the progress of the Kingdom whose interests
we are called to serve. How often we find in the slowness with which spiritual
results are achieved a cause of offence in Christ. We begin by expecting that
when we lift up Christ we shall immediately see crowds flocking to Him. We
imagine that we have but to work faithfully in the service of God and man, and
results are certain to be apparent. But how different is the realization! How
hardly souls are wooed and won! How true it is that tares grow up with the
wheat! How certain that he who goes forth bearing precious seeds must needs
weep as he goes!
And the difficulty of believing that God is on the field when He is most invisible
is too much for many who commence to work for Him with high hopes and valiant
beliefs which seem all unjustified. Like the disciple, they think that “the Kingdom
of God should immediately appear”; and in the discipline of their enthusiasm, and
the conversion of their consecration into continuance, they are apt to be
“offended.” Now it would not be difficult to bring instance upon instance to
prove that, in spiritual work, when results are least visible they are often most
real. The worker who will go on without the stimulus of outward success, who
will continue His witness even when he is met by cold indifference, who will carry
out Christ’s work in the unfailing inspiration of knowing that it is His work, is the
one who gets the blessedness of the unoffended. And part of it is in the certain
harvest of all his sowing, and the sure reward of all his service.
But perhaps over and above these suggested causes of offence in Christ is the
unreasonableness of His silences. I have every sympathy with John the Baptist in
his perplexity: “If this is really the Christ, why does He not act as Christ? Why does
He do nothing to deliver His captive herald, or to bring peace to his troubled
heart?” One visit from Christ would have changed his prison to a palace. One
hand-clasp from Him would have transmuted his gloom into glory. But He did not
give it. Just so was it also at Bethany, when He left Martha and Mary to their
sorrow for two long and weary days. I sympathize with them in their utter
inability to understand His delay in the light of His love; and in the implied protest
of the word with which they at length greeted Him: “If Thou hadst been here, my
brother had not died.” His silence seemed so entirely unreasonable. And still
does it seem unreasonable when He apparently pays no heed to our prayers, and
we cry as to a silent heaven. Who does not know this bitter experience and the
subtle temptation lurking there? You have prayed for the conversion of loved
ones, but they are apparently today as unyielding and impenitent as ever. You
have prayed for temporal things which seemed entirely necessary, and no answer
has come. You have sought relief from some pressing burden, but no lightening
of the load has been given; and today it is heavier than ever. And the thought
that Christ’s silence is unreasonable is never very far away. Loyalty to Him
strained sorely, almost to breaking-point. It is almost excusable to be “offended”
in Him. But as with John in prison, and the sisters at Bethany, and hosts of other
in all ages, He is not unmindful, however His silence may seem to pint to it. He is
training them, and us, to undaunted faith, to live in the realm of the unseen and
eternal; to walk in His own steps. Sometimes what we call unanswered prayer
proves beyond question a greater blessing than the desired answer could possibly
have been. When Christ responds to our requests in the negative, we may be
certain that the positive would have been for our undoing. He withholds
secondary mercies to teach us the importance and value of the primary. His
denials are our enrichments, not our impoverishments. For His purposes are
vastly bigger than our prayers; and while His speech may be as silver, His silence is
as gold. “Blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in Me.”
“These things have I spoken unto you; that, despite the severity of My
requirements, the mystery of My contradictions, the slowness of My methods,
the unreasonableness of My silences, ye should not be offended.” What things
were these? What will secure His people against the peril of defection? What are
the permanent securities of our faith? In a word, the sureness of His way before
us- “I came from the Father,” “I go unto the Father,” “I am the way.” Then the
certainty of His love towards us- “The Father Himself loveth you.” And the
constancy of His union with us- “Ye in Me and I in you.” These are the germ-truths of all His forewarnings. And their expansion is in the lives of His people.
Blessed is he who, resting upon these facts of God, makes them the factors of his
own life; and goes on unoffending and unoffended, always radiant with “the
peace that passeth all understanding, and increasingly becoming part of the
world’s illumination as he reflects his Lord.
But let us beware of putting any undue value upon our mere perception of this
truth. Let us beware of over-estimating the strength of our own resolves and
resources. Let us beware of saying anything like: “Though all men should be
offended because of Thee, yet will I never be offended.” Rather, in a sensitive,
humble dependence on Christ, which always expressed itself in iron devotion and
loyalty to His Word, let us seek to live as men of manifested faith. For this is the
condition which governs all the blessedness of the unoffended.
Books and Pamphlets are free upon request by writing to:
Emmanuel Church
12000 East 14th Street
Tulsa, OK 74128-5016 USA
T. Austin-Sparks tapes are available free upon request by writing:
Sparks Tape Ministry
PO Box 2434
Sugar Land TX 77487-2423 USA
Fax: 281-242-4630
The Online Library
Of
T. Austin-Sparks
Is available at
www/austin-sparks.net

(Find other resources in teaching handouts under the Bible Study Resources heading)