The Believer’s Consecration & Preservation

Sometimes, as we are in our lifelong sanctification process, particular habits of sin take time to diminish and disappear altogether. G-d hates sin because He is holy and because it is what keeps us apart from Him. But He is also patient and long-suffering with us, as long as we are submitted to Him and we cooperate obediently with the authority and power of the Holy Spirit as He continuously works to cleanse us from all unrighteousness—and from glory to glory.

There are, however, also sins, habits and strongholds which last longer than necessary; sometimes due to our unwillingness to give them up. There is a very serious admonition (born of love) in G-d’s holy Word that, in today’s world, might seem too harsh to actually put into practice. Turn to Matthew 18: 15-17, please. The passage reads, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

You may think this cruel and unloving, but these words come directly from the overflow of our Lord Jesus’ perfect heart. He is the very One who willingly died for our sins. His words are trustworthy. Ask yourself these questions: WHY did our Lord die? WHAT were the purpose and benefit of His grueling execution? It was to set us free from the power of sin, and to redeem and restore us so that, though we were scarlet, we could become white as snow in the eyes of Almighty G-d. His death afforded us the possibility to be eternally free of defilement, but we have to see our need and want salvation in order to take hold of this promise.

Further, we hear a lot these days of the often-misquoted and misunderstood text which tells us (but we wrongly interpret) that we are not to judge one another. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, tells the Corinthian church, “What business is it of mine to judge those OUTSIDE the church? Are we not to judge those INSIDE the church? Expel the wicked from among you.” This exhortation is in line with Christ’s instructions. 1 John 3: 6 explains the reason for the unwillingness to comply with the Lord’s command by pointing out, “No one who abides in Him [Jesus] keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen Him or known Him.” Verse 9 says, “No one born of G-d makes a practice [continual, intentional habit] of sinning, for G-d’s seed abides in Him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of G-d.” And this is frightening, “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries” (Hebrews 10: 26-27). Wow! Maybe that seems harsher yet. There are many who don’t “believe” in this Jesus. They believe in an idol they have manufactured in their hearts and minds. Our Lord is indeed the very essence of love (1 John 4: 8, Colossians 1: 15, 2:9), but to love is not to endorse, embrace, accept or tolerate anything and everything; actually, that is at the heart of wickedness because it is opposed to G-d.

Perhaps you have wondered about passages such as Acts 5: 1-11, Joshua 5: 6 or another that makes us question the goodness (moral purity) of our Creator. When you take into account and ponder the overarching picture of the perfection of creation, His desire for fellowship with man for all of eternity, man’s disobedience and the breach in relationship that has ensued, His plan of restoration and the unfathomable love, compassion and mercy of G-d to come into the world and shed His blood to wash us clean so that His original purposes would not be thwarted, you should begin to see that nothing unclean, blemished, defiled, spotted, soiled, corrupted, mixed, stained or rebellious can or should be allowed to exist with Him in perpetuity.

When I used to read Genesis chapter three, I didn’t quite understand what was actually being conveyed in verses 22-24, particularly the words in verse 22, “…Behold, the man has become like one of Us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the Tree of Life and eat, and LIVE FOREVER–.” What the Holy Spirit is articulating is the seriousness of what must not be allowed to transpire. Namely, now that man has sinned, he who was created to live eternally must now not be permitted to or else there would be NO END TO SIN and, therefore, no possibility of man to dwell with his G-d and no victory over sin. Please let that sink in.

Verses 23-24 declare, “Therefore the Lord G-d sent him out from the Garden of Eden… He drove out the man [and his wife], and at the east of the Garden of Eden He placed the cherubim [angel] and a flaming sword that he turned every way to guard the way to the Tree of Life.” You see, G-d is eternal with no beginning and no end. He is also 100% holy! So, in order for His people to be reconciled to Him and live forever with Him and in His presence, we must be holy—unblemished, unspotted, undefiled, unsoiled and unstained—as He is holy. He is consecrating those who will follow Him, calling them out of the world, cleansing and restoring them to be fit for His plans and purposes. Anything rebellious, disobedient, sinful and, therefore, wicked, will perish as they have chosen to do by refusing and rejecting the grace and free gift of eternal life. What seem like drastic measures to us are necessary to CONSECRATE AND PRESERVE the purity of His kingdom.

May the Lord G-d grant you wisdom and understanding. Amen.

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Putting to Rest the Subjectivity of Faith and Truth

You have probably heard people say that “faith is blind,” that it cannot be proven or that it is subjective; and that is the reason many people such as atheists, agnostics, scientists and others who don’t live according to faith find it hard to believe in and submit to. Truth is the Word of God, the Bible. These same people profess and believe that truth is relative, that it is measured according to the individual and that it holds no absolute, distinctive place in the world.

What does it mean for something to be subjective? It is when an idea or beliefs are based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes or opinions. What is wrong with this way of thinking and living is that feelings, tastes and opinions are unstable. They are constantly changing—both for the good and for the bad—and are affected by many sources which have no absolute basis; by absolute, I mean things which are independent, firm, trustworthy, unchanging, and are not relative or comparative. G-d’s truth and Word are absolute. They are tried and tested in each believer’s life. Christian testimonies bear witness to this fact. They are stable, immovable, fixed and an anchor for one’s life and soul. If we live our lives, make decisions and place faith (trust) in things which do change, our very lives and beliefs are unstable and unreliable and, in turn, can and do make our lives chaotic. Who wants to live this way? I don’t truly believe anyone does.

In contrast to something being subjective, is when an idea, belief or word is considered to be objective. This represents something which is not influenced by personal feelings or opinions, but is instead taken to be factual, measurable or observable. We are beings currently living in a physical world and we have been created with senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste) to help us relate to the things in creation. But that is not all we are. We were created for eternity, and that’s why we also have souls and spirits. You might say we are three-part creatures.

Atheists are people who claim to believe that God doesn’t exist. They, as all people, are intelligent beings. The Lord says in Romans 1:19-20, “For what can be known about G-d is plain to them, because G-d has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” And Psalm 53:1 states, “The fool says in his heart ‘There is no G-d.’” From their choice not to believe and the evidence of the Lord in the physical world all around us, we must infer the atheists’ reasons are subjective, rather than objective.

Agnostics profess to neither believe nor disbelieve in the existence or nature of G-d because, they claim, nothing can be known or is known about Him beyond the physical realm. The previously quoted passage from the book of Romans addresses this issue as well. So their stance is unstable because, for some personal or undisclosed reasons, they straddle the line between belief and disbelief. One cannot balance forever on a fence. One cannot stand on an imaginary line between the shore and the ocean. They, eventually, will fall off the fence, and must choose dry land or opt for immersing themselves in the water.

So what are the reasons behind the atheists’ denial, the agnostics’ indecision and all other unbelievers’ lack of faith? Is it from personal experience? Is it from rebellion? Is it out of ignorance of the truth? Or is it something else? My bet is, at the root and beyond the symptom, it is most assuredly due to something subjective, something which changes and is tied to or based on a feeling, emotion or opinion. I understand. But remember that such things are unstable and fluctuate. They are sometimes up and sometimes down. Have you ever been in the position of having to make a decision (especially an important one!)? Monday, the information or issue presents itself. Tuesday, you’re mad or sad about something and so you start to make a choice about Monday’s issue from that “down” mindset. Wednesday comes and you find yourself in a cheerful mood. When pondering Monday’s issue, you see things in a different light and your decision starts to alter because your perspective is different. It doesn’t necessarily follow that good moods lead to wise decisions or that bad moods lead to foolish ones. It’s better to have an even, balanced approach (where you can hear from the Lord, and gain wisdom) which is unaffected by the winds of emotion, opinion, idea, outside manipulation or something else.

Faith and Truth are not SUBjective. They are OBjective. And, as such, they should guide our lives. Unfortunately, many people wrongly believe that they cannot be proven, tested or measured and so claim, profess, live by and teach to others that they are fallible, subjective (vary from person to person, relative), unsubstantiated and cannot be authenticated. I am a Christian and I can tell you emphatically from a measurable, objective viewpoint that the truth of G-d and His Word, and faith that is grounded in both is very much verifiable from within (the changes that the Lord brings about in my heart and mind that I bear witness to) and from without (the testimonies of others who know me– believers and unbelievers alike—can substantiate changes in my attitudes, speech, habits, character, integrity and so forth). Psalm 34:8 exclaims what I would also counsel you to do, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!”

The following scriptures are objective in a very real sense in the physical world. Malachi 3:10-11 is trustworthy concerning our command to pay the tithe (10% of all our increase- money, time, talents, etc.) to the Father who owns and gives everything. It says, “Bring the full tithe into my storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put Me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, and see if I will not open the windows of Heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts.” I have done this for years and I have never had my needs unmet.

Psalm 37:25 testifies once again to the concrete, objective truth (not blind faith) in which believers correctly place their trust, “I have been young, and am now old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children beg for bread.”

2 Corinthians 5:17 is a wonderful, sure, measurable (within and without) promise. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” This talks about how, after having given your life to Jesus and placed your trust in Him alone for the salvation of your soul, the old person that you were who was dead in his sins, will inwardly die once and for all, and outwardly fade as your new life in Him will show forth. The prophet Ezekiel echoes this objective reality in chapter 36, verse 26 when G-d says, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit will I put within you. And I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh [a soft heart].”

There are many more I could cite. Perhaps the atheist, agnostic, scientist or university professor (not all of the last two, but most) may question the manner in which I test and prove my claim. After all, they may argue that my results have not been authenticated by means of something made by human hands such as litmus paper, a machine or invention of some sort. This is true. But I remember in high school an experiment called the “borax bead test.” The essence of this cool exercise was to use a very simplified “tool” (a handle attached to a wire with a loop at the end) and to hold at its end (the looped portion) some powdered borax. When dipped in various liquid chemicals such as Chromium, Copper, Manganese, etc., and subjected to a flame via a Bunsen burner, the chemical forms a bead and turns color. It is thereby identified through its association with its blue, red, green, yellow, brown or other hue.

I mention this because the analogy of 1) the unknown substance from 2) the casual observer, which is then subjected to 3) fire to produce 4) an objective result, is quite apt for our discussion. In the Word of G-d, the Bible, many times the illustration and truth of the Father using “the furnace of affliction” (Isaiah 48:10) and “it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done” (1 Corinthians 3:13) and again, “these trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold” (1 Peter 1:7). Notice the physical and measurable and objective terms used: affliction, revealed, show. That which is objective may be so even if the observer doesn’t know where to look or what he’s really looking for. If he doesn’t understand or has never seen it before, he will easily overlook what is obvious to others, but that doesn’t mean by any stretch of the imagination that it isn’t so, that it should be dismissed or even mocked.

Finally, 1 Samuel 16:7 assures us, “…for the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Faith is not blind and it IS objective. G-d bless you and grant you wisdom.