Wow! 2020 was a year of learning how not to react to the things that were happening around the world. At times, I had to step back and see what God was trying to teach me. And other times it felt like I was going through a rough sea, and faced with the inability to swim and had to keep submitting to God’s way to navigate how I dealt with family, social media, church, work and everything! The first thing God taught in the first quarter of 2020, was the difference between pride and humility. But after learning that lesson, God began to redefine other areas of my life, until I felt I no longer could see things my way, but began to see how God saw the times we are living in. Here is a snapshot of what I learned.
Pride vs Humility
Pride is the love of one’s own “goodness” or merit; it is the negligence of the desire to please God and a lack of revering God because of the love of our wickedness that has blinded us.
On the other hand, humility is the awareness of one’s own wickedness and the gratitude of God’s mercy to change us into a brand new Creation for His will, and purpose and by His own works, for His glory and praise.
Hence, humans cannot experience true humility if we are blinded to the fact that no goodness dwell in us.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Goodness is borne in us from the One who is the definition of goodness…the Only True God. Jesus was trying to teach us this lesson:
And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.”
And the apostle Paul in his letter to Rome, tried to teach Christians this lesson:
For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”
Everything Jesus did was always pointing us to God. In one of the upcoming videos this year, we will discuss “How Jesus did everything; and said everything… to point us to God. He wants us to look to heaven, and not to man. He wants us to understand how to look to Him and not to the flesh; and we focus on Him by focusing on His teachings and the fact that He lives in us, by the Holy Spirit. It’s very interesting to see how He did this, and while doing this He Himself is God. This cannot be understood by the flesh, but by the Spirit of God. God is the One who deposits/supplants His Goodness/Righteousness in us through His Holy Spirit, so when we see this goodness or righteousness in ourselves…we know that it is from God, and not our own. It keeps us humble before God. We give glory to God 100% for what He has done and is doing.
Pride is living life by the flesh, instead of by the Spirit of God. A life seasoned with pride is a life of acceptance that our sinful nature will always dominate, so by default we do not live transformed lives. We follow the pattern and way of the world, instead of the Way of Christ, and diminish how much God’s Spirit can lead us. A prideful heart cannot submit to God completely, so we behave like people in the world, rather than behave like Jesus. Pride makes us talk down to people, quick to assume the worst, slander, gossip, and treat people like enemies. When we treat people like enemies we are saying we are different, we are better, and justify our need to slander or cast slur on them. We do this because we cannot see that the very things we say about people, in some way or form we do the same thing. Hence, we condemn ourselves without even being aware we are harming our own relationship with God.
Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.”
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.
For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
The Plank vs The Speck
When we are not in touch with our own sins, we magnify the sins we see in others. Pride makes us judge people to the point where we even put up barriers in our heart and think we need to defend or protect ourselves from the people who are actually doing what we are doing. For example, we say people are liars, and yet do not hate our own lies. We say people are mean, yet we are verbally abusive or speak angrily to others. We call a person a thief, yet like a thief we slander others and do not see that we rob, swallow and taint their reputation. We throw in our lot with others, and help in contributing to the tainting of the names of those whom we feel are doing evil – as if God sees your heart as good. We even go as far to open our mouths and curse people as evil, but we do not see that this act is a hateful act on our part; and in God’s eyes hatred is evil. Pride blind us to our own sins, so we do not see our sins to hate our sins enough to repent.
I think that’s what Jesus meant when He said in…
“You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Hence, without realizing our own hypocrisy, we harp on the same sins that we haven’t repented of, or heap abuse on others who are committing sins that we ourselves commit against God. We gloss over what we ought to be in God’s eyes, when it comes to dealing with our own sins. And instead treat our “relationship with God” as if it’s some kind of metaphor. We turn our relationship with God into a metaphor or symbol, and make God a liar; for God did say we are newly created or born-again, yet we cling to wickedness and do nothing to submit and give our heart, mind and soul to God. We say: “I’m a good person…see my heart is good, my mind is good and my soul will be in heaven, I am saved and I could keep living the way I choose – (because salvation is symbolic) and doesn’t mean God has granted me mercy and undeserved kindness to actually learn to walk like Jesus.” So we handle God’s Grace as a right to sin, and have little or no remorse over our own heart. While God says…His Grace leads us to repentance, a changed life Romans 2:4. Repentance and Salvation work hand in hand in our new life – the same gift of God’s Grace for Salvation is the same gift given for Repentance. But we focus on part of God’s Grace…we neglect the fact that God has given us the power of Repentance, when Jesus died.
Or do you despise the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?
In our pride, we make our sins so tiny, so when others do the same thing we do, we look at their sins as bigger. We pat ourselves on the back and say: “I have every right to condemn, gossip and slander this person because their sin is horrible, this person is worse than I could ever be…I would never do this or do that.” Is that what God thinks? Jesus taught that sin is sin, and tried His best to teach us that lust is just as bad as adultery; and anger is just as bad as murder:
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.
Hate and anger are the same as murder, because (hate and anger) are the seeds of murder, and shows the heart condition of the person. God judges the heart. Then…aren’t we all in the same boat? Is there a measuring rod for sin? Does Grace teaches us that sin is approved by God, or that God gave us power over sin to say NO to sin, because we died to the old self?
We do not have remorse over the sins in our heart because we think we are good, but God place us ALL in the same bracket because of the sinful nature. It doesn’t matter if we are right in saying what we say about people…God judges the heart that pour out the evil of slander, malice, division, hate, anger, etc. We dismiss how God sees our heart because we are not following God but our sinful nature.
As Christians God gives us access to forgiveness, when we call on his name, genuinely accept our wrong-doing and ask for forgiveness. However, some of us will keep justifying we are right.
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
When we pray to hate our own sin first, it is only then God gives us the ability to take the plank from our own eyes. Once the plank is removed, it’s an excruciating reality to see sins the way God does…then we are no longer blind, and will see that the person we slandered has only a speck-size of sin we had opened our mouth so proudly to curse. In fact, when God shows us how He sees our sins, we are in shock and fall on our knees and ask God: “oh how long-suffering you are, how loving, how merciful… to take me in as your child?”. Indeed, we’ll see our self as the worst of sinners, and that we have no right to react vehemently over the sins of others.
Thus, humility begins with the process of seeing our need for God because we see our own evil and wickedness. Like the sinner in Luke 18:13, we beat our chest and cry out to God for mercy and undeserved kindness, knowing that it is He who will give us abundant remission and transformation. We hate the sin in us so much that we develop a passion to eliminate it – a passion similar to gouging out our eyes, or chopping off our hand, like Jesus preached in…
If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
In this desire to earnestly seek and believe God’s way is right, He will bless us with the fruits of His salvation….the changed life of a saved person. By His Mercy and Grace, God will enable us to start hating sin; and instead of being indignant of other people’s sins, we will first hate our own sins. And this is the birth of true humility…it is submission to God knowing His Way is the only Way to live; and we need Him – so we surrender ourselves to Him. Then we’ll feel free, with real joy, real peace – and humbled…
In humility every act to approach people who sin against us and others should be done with love. If we desire to help, then in one hand we have “deep love”, and in the other the “help, tool or correction” that we prayed to give or contribute. As a result, we handle each situation out of love for the person who is sinning against us or others. Like Jesus we separate the sin from the person – we do not treat them as their sins deserves. Because God hates sin but loves the soul/the person, we approach the person in the same way…with love. We try to appeal to their heart, we try to initiate peace in the hope the person will see their error. Humility teaches us how to address hurt, and injustice the way Jesus did. Jesus approached correcting sins or helping people in sins in two ways: one way for those who obviously want to change, and one way for those who are obviously wrong, but think they are right. For the former he helps by building their faith and strength with encouragement, comfort and inspiration (the weak, timid and the discouraged); and to the latter he warns, urges or rebukes (the Pharisees, and those who are intentionally disruptive, idle or lazy, and doesn’t really want to change). However, all his actions were done in love, and with the goal to keep people from condemnation. When you read the Gospels you will see many examples of the two ways Jesus handled sin. Some people need our support and some need faith or a mixture of both; while others need strong correction.
This is why the Church in the first century practiced this approach to meet everybody where they were at (1 Thessalonians – see below). As a Church we choose the way of Christ.
And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that no one repays evil for evil. Always pursue what is good for one another and for all people.
As God takes us on the Way of Christ, this Road of Freedom, He starts by humbling us to His Will. He keeps peeling away the sins, while helping us to grow stronger in Him. He will show us our sin after sin; and help us to see each sin the way He sees them, while giving us the desire to hate them and the strength to repent of them. He does everything! We will hate the sins in our heart, that only God could bring to the surface. And He opens our eyes to see and understand that all along we had those sins, but they were hidden because we didn’t hate them enough, so the enemy had blinded us from seeing ourselves. Such is the Mercy of God – who is like Him?!. And when God open our eyes to see how we are in our sinful nature…God will also let us know how much He has loved us in our wickedness, and how long he has suffered, and waited for us many years while He was teaching us to come to Him. We go to God when we bow our heads in contrite submission, refusing to continue having traits of the sinful nature. We hunger to be yoked with Christ, like-minded, literally in spirit, covered, inside and outside by Him. We hunger to reveal Christ in us.
Blessed are those who hunger for righteousness for they will be filled.
God will enter your heart and mind (not symbolically or metaphorically, but literally). Imagine, God dwelling in you? If you know the nature and character of God, and begin to believe He is in you; then you know that you will begin to manifest His Righteousness. You will see your body, your mind and heart as a literal temple where God resides with His Spirit. You will see yourself transformed because you have accepted and believed God is in you literally, and has provided you access to His holiness, and by His power your heart, mind, life and attitude will manifest godliness and holiness.
Yet, in Christ no one can say “I am humble or I am meek“, for it is not the person, it is the Spirit of Christ inside… reigning over them, directing, and changing them. It is Christ’s humility. Like the Apostle Paul alluded to the meekness (meekness/humility) of Christ, as He spoke about himself, he was giving credence and recognition that his humility was from Christ.
“Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ— I who am humble when face to face with you“.
Humility is living in a state of allowing God’s Spirit to be in control of every area of your life. It is Christ’s humility taught by the Spirit of Christ in us. We no longer live under the Law of “Our will…our doing”, we now live by the Law of “God’s Will”. Therefore, we cannot boast or say “Now, I obey and do what is right”. But we can say… “Now, it is The Christ living in me who does what is right and He has given me His power of obedience”. Remember…we no longer exist in death…but Christ now lives in us, and gives us a new life. How can someone who is dead do anything or try to do anything? The deeds of our lives comes from the perseverance of believing only God can help us. It comes from the Faith we obtain from God.
We are like trees planted by the stream, that become green and filled with wonderful fruits from God. Can a tree ever give praise to itself or think it has grown that way by its own doing or strength? A tree waits for the rain, and nourishment given by God freely – then it sings with winds from God, and beams and grows in the sunlight of God. We are like that tree. We are like trees rooted in Christ, so we are aware that our life and sustenance is from Christ doing His work, as He lives in us. We understand through Scriptures that we are crucified, dead and born anew. Therefore, it is God who gives life to our body. And like the breath of life… He breathes in us a new life by His Spirit; so we are no longer flesh, but spirit. It is God doing His holy works in us. He allows us to become like Jesus, because we believe the teachings of Jesus – we believe how Jesus lived His life is the only Way to God. In submission to Jesus’ Way, we do not have to get up and do it as if it is our doing; we just need to accept that we are living this new life in Christ because Christ is now living in us.
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.
Therefore, true humility is “death to fleshly nature” and a departure from a life ruled by the flesh. It is a life consumed in a new way by the Spirit of God. You know you no longer live for yourself, and you know you are no longer who you use to be. The old life is gone, the new has come. All that you do is led by the Spirit of God, and your new life is channeled through God’s Spirit. Your thoughts, life and attitude are governed by a new Law, and this new Law holds you in place, hems you in, and directs you like the winds that moves ocean and controls how far the ocean’s waves could go.
“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
You know that you are no longer in charge, but something Invisible, Holy, Pure, True and Righteous, has found residence in you and leads you into a Righteous life filled with the Power of Love, Faith, Hope, Endurance, Joy and Peace…and you know that against this indwelling, no law, human, angel or suffering can prevail over you. Why? Because you know nothing can overcome or defeat God…the One who is in you, is greater than any force that exist in the spiritual realm, and in the earthly realm. Your life is new and filled with the praises, wonders and joy of God’s blessings.
Remember The New Life Has Caveats
A Life Accompanied By Skepticism, Slander and Persecution
Expect this….When you see your life transform before your very eyes, and you start to glorify and praise God for all He has done, those who do not understand this new life, will not understand that you’re praising God.
Think for a while: Who has experienced a miracle and kept it a secret? Should we keep God’s riches buried, as if it is nothing? No, we share it, we share it because we are consumed by something wonderful that has taken over our lives; and we cannot help but telling the world! But, do not forget that some may misinterpret your praising God as an act of arrogance. Interesting right? It’s interesting because, the very definition of arrogance is giving yourself glory…so now while you are giving glory to God and expressing His Glory and Praises, some will take it as boasting about yourself. And while your heart is expressing and explaining the adoration of God’s wonders, awe, works, and power in the new life – some will judge you. Some will judge you because they cannot relate to what you’re saying…so they think you are either exaggerating, delusional or plain arrogant. They don’t see that you are declaring the wonders of God; and what He has done for you, and can and will do for anyone – if they believe. So, do not pay any attention to their smirk and the mean remarks. Let them continue to accuse you, mock you, slander you and do not believe that God has transformed you or anyone. They do not understand that what the Bible teaches… that a “Born-Again Christian” is not a metaphor…it is a spiritual and literal miracle of God. They do not understand because what you are saying they cannot fathom this wonderful work of God.
Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the LORD is against those who do evil.” Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as LORD. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.
But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name!
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The Accuser Is Not Flesh and Blood
And more importantly you must bear in mind – who is the accuser? The Bible teaches, e.g. in Revelation 12:10 points at Satan as “the accuser” of those who belong to Christ. He is the one who speaks through your human accusers. Therefore, you must not allow your heart to hold anything against the human who speaks evil against you. You are to see who the enemy is; it is not humans. Our enemy is speaking through the person; but the person doesn’t know. When you’re walking with God, He will let you see the enemy in the person and also let you hear the voice of the enemy; you will see that when the person speaks it is not them.
Satan uses people to do his work; so even in the midst of hateful attacks we must show unconditional love. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but Satan’s spiritual forces. Our struggle is not against people, but Satan. Knowing that the accusation and twisting of what you say or do is a spiritual attack from Satan, you will know that you can arm yourself with God, and continue to walk by the Faith that comes from God, the faith that continues to ensure you are aligned with the fruits of God’s Holy Spirit. And, do not forget that Christ was insulted, criticized, humiliated, mocked, scorned, wrongfully accused, persecuted…even in death He was misjudged.
For even Christ didn’t live to please himself. As the Scriptures say, “The insults of those who insult you, O God, have fallen on me.”
Bear in mind that when people, falsely accused, criticized, misjudged or labeled Jesus, they were directly doing this to God. Likewise, when Christians who are living under the Grace and conduct of Jesus’s Spirit are attacked because of their relationship with God…these attacks are directly on Jesus. Therefore, Christ has left us an example, and we bear witness to these attacks through the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t matter if the attackers doesn’t understand that they are attacking Jesus – and maybe they won’t…but you must understand that it is Satan attacking Jesus. Take yourself out of the equation. We are reminded and taught how to treat accusation by the Spirit of Christ living in us, who helps us handle persecution the way Jesus did. All we need to do is submit to Christ’s Spirit, and arm ourselves with God’s Power.
When we arm ourselves with God, we are suited in full armor for battle. And the battle is God’s battle, not ours.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should entrust their souls to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
Another interesting thing to note how Satan works…and the Bible warns us about: at times you are talking from your personal experience to help someone, and Satan let them see it as an act of pride, instead of love. Jesus warns us, to be careful who we give “pearls” because some may treat us like enemies. Jesus doesn’t forbid us to share our faith, He is just saying we need to be careful. But, why be careful? because sharing our faith also means Satan will make sure he does whatever he can to counter God’s work. We are warned because this may feel like a personal attack when it does happen, but it’s Satan who is angry at what God is doing with your life. And, Satan will attack us through people who will scorn, argue, repel and oppose us… even to the point of twisting what we say or even tearing us to pieces!
“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”
As you are sharing God’s message, Satan is also working to destroy the message, or intimidate or silence us. His scheme is to oppose you in the hope that you will stumble, and not share God’s riches. He wants to silence you; and will go to lengths to inflame people against you. Consequently, as God changes you into the likeness of Christ, and you are filled with gratitude and sharing God’s glory and Gospel with others…you will find the enemy working harder through people, especially through people who are the closest to you – yes, your own relatives, friends, and anyone who swear they love you.
Give Love Instead of Reacting With Hate
Hold onto Love and let God’s Love guide you. Love is the weapon we have in Christ, and we use it to demolish and extinguish the hateful attacks and lies from Satan, so our hearts are not victimized by the enemy.
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.
You must not forget, when you know the Love of God and where He took you from, you cannot help but learn the lesson of love. Knowing what Love looks like, will refresh you; and you’ll always feel the indebtedness, gratitude and joyful service to love those who treat you as if you are their enemy. You must treat them with love, and continue to desire peace with them. And, remember, only with God you are able to maintain, project and continue to give this unconditional, unrequited love…no matter what.
As the Scriptures teaches:
Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.
Let no debt be outstanding, but the continual debt of loving others. So love no matter what, and to God be the Glory forever and ever. Amen.
That’s why in my prayers for 2020, I have been trying to clear my monetary debts, because the only debt that I should owe anyone or any institution in this world is the continual debt of Love.
See Sin From Christ’s Eyes and Not From Your Viewpoint
Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
Another lesson I learnt from God about how not to react sinfully: Every sin is ultimately a sin against God. Yes, the sins that comes out from our hearts and manifest in our behavior towards each other…like lashing out, being defensive, putting up dark walls and pulling away from people, malicious feelings, having negative suspicions instead of trying to talk to the person in love, thinking the person is out to get you so you need to gear up for a counter-attack, making demeaning or nasty comments, slandering, evil name-calling and labeling of each other, seething quiet reservations and hidden evil thoughts with “silent treatment”, blackballing, discord and the likes… against a person – these are ultimately sins against God.
Any sin is a violation of God’s standard, a violation of a higher Law – God’s Moral Law. However, as Christians, we know or should know better – we know we should have God’s law written on our hearts that leads to righteous behavior. But there’s a difference of knowing what the Bible teaches, versus how much we want to accept. In order to not allow ourselves to wallow in combative reactions, we need to have a reverent fear – a deep love – for God and God’s Word.
Sin is also a perversion of who/what God design us to be. And allowing ourselves to live lives enslaved to sin is calling God a liar… since God says His people are supposed to behave a certain way. We are therefore in direct violation of who we should be in Christ. A good example for us to learn from is David. Even under the Old Covenant, God led David to see that after he sinned against Bathsheba and her husband Uriah, his sins were directly against God. David repented, because He saw the lack of reverence for God clearly. Read the account in 2 Samuel 11. And it is said that Psalm 51 is an ode or song of this repentance.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Cut to the heart, and filled with great remorse, and sorrow, David said to God: “Against You, You only have I sinned” (Psalm 51:4) Although the sin was adultery and calculated murder of Bathsheba’s husband, David grieved the most over the fact He sinned against God.
Taking this lesson in account, we ought to see that when people sin against us, they are sinning against God, and God will take care of them in due time. We need not react, and take things in our own hands. We pray for them, and love them in our heart of hearts. Follow Jesus’ example…and this comes only by submitting to Jesus’ Spirit in us.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Examine Yourself: See If You Are Walking By Spirit or Walking By Flesh
Test if you walk by the standard of the world, or the standard of God. The life led by the Spirit of God is in contrast to life by the sinful nature. When we are led by the Spirit, we bear fruits for God, and from God, because we are united with Christ. The Spirit of God will always agree with the Word of God. So if we are walking and living by the Spirit of God, we will find ourselves living in submission to God and God’s Word. And our deeds are not by human effort, but by God performing His work in us.
At times we like to justify our unrighteous actions as righteous indignation. However, righteous indignation is different from ungodly anger. When we sin in anger, we speak from a heart corroded by hurt or corrupted with bitterness, hostility and the pressure of injustice – we take what the person did in a personal way instead of giving it to God; and we spew anger from the depths of our heart.
In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
No one can exhibit the fruits of God’s Spirit of their own will. It’s simply not possible. For example, test your own actions and you’ll see: the more we attempt to be more peaceful or loving in our own strength, the more we defeat the only hope that we have in the Spirit. The fruit of God’s Righteousness cannot be attained by tenacity or firmness of our own strength…this state of mind and heart comes only from submission to God’s Righteousness. In this state of submission, we have given over ourselves to God and God helps us to die to our old self. We die to the sinful inclination of the flesh. Imagine someone died, and buried – can they engage in negative emotions, quarrel and evil exchange of words, slander, and the likes? Isn’t the dead…dead? Indeed, in Christ we are deemed dead to the inclination of the world. We live in the world, but we do not wage war as the world does. We submit to God and live in peace of heart, and peace with all…if it is possible.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
And what does, if it is possible means? The Bible teaches that if it depends on you…because at times you may want to talk to people, but they refuse to talk through hurt peaceably. At times people will choose to shut you out, and stop treating you as a family or friend, and instead choose to treat you as an enemy. This, you obviously have no control over; but if it depends on you, that is, if the person allow you access to speak to them and mend the relationship, God is saying – do that. When we pursue peace by sitting down, and talking through hurt and pain we are choosing to live in holiness…we are choosing God’s way instead of our sinful way of dealing with each other.
Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
Bottom-line: Pray to Submit to God
When we submit to God we are taught by God to walk with Christ. Like fire kindled in flame, we are like burnt sacrifices in Christ. Jesus is the sacrificed Lamb of God who takes away our sins. But we – who have given over ourselves to Christ – in submission, we share in His sufferings, and share in His life and the victories He alone gives. We are in Him, and He is in us… so we also are like living sacrifices to God. Receiving God’s Mercy, we offer ourselves like a sacrifice…a sacrifice not in the form of works, but a living sacrifice found in God’s Mercy – an atoned, consecrated life offered up to God through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. It is Christ who makes us holy and pleasing to God. Jesus’ work was done at the Cross.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
However, we need to submit to Christ, that is, give ourselves to Him as a servant to a master, and allow Him to do everything for us. As servants (under the New Covenant) we no longer work to please God, because we “enter into God’s rest” when we submit to Jesus. We accept Jesus’ work as finished, and we accept that He will carry over this work in us when we believe who we are in Christ, and give ourselves to Jesus – completely…
Our sacrifice is a contrite heart devoted to God (Psalm 51:17). God’s Spirit will reside over a contrite, submissive, surrendered heart; and this is how we share in Christ’s Life as living sacrifices in Christ.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, God, You will not despise.
God’s Spirit in us changes our mind and heart in holy worship of God, so we understand God’s will, His good, pleasing and perfect will. The will of God is for every Follower of Jesus (every Christian) to be a living sacrifice to God, for this is how we submit to the Way of Christ and remain in Christ, and no longer conform to the world or the sinful flesh.
For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.
I in them and you in me–so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
After we submit to God, He opens our eyes to the sinful nature, and reveal clearer what He is saving us from. We get to know His Love on a more intimate level, and we get to understand that Grace teaches us God’s power of repentance, and how we should love others. We learn to love God deeper; and learn to show others genuine compassion, forgiveness and unconditional love from the heart.
Looking back over the years, I have a personal experience that I wanted to share with you…
Most of my years as a Christian, I was spiritually blind, because I wasn’t in touch with my own sins. And I wasn’t in touch with my sins, because I was not completely surrendered to God. It was hard to forgive people when I was hurt, especially when I’m hurt by those whom I love. I would be so livid with anger and unforgiveness, and didn’t know how to go to God when I was hurt; and I would vent to others and slander the people who hurt me. Then, there was a time that I didn’t pray to God for six years, because I was not only hurt by someone I loved, but I was more angry with God for allowing the person to hurt me so bad. I knew how I handled it was wrong, but I didn’t know how to change…I felt powerless. Anger swallowed me up; and I was a very bitter victim. It took me six years to heal from that one wound.
Years later, God showed me my sinful nature, and the penalty Jesus paid with His blood. After the reality shock, I was not only overwhelmed with gratitude, I also found a new heart filled with God’s Love. It was a miracle! God gave me a new heart, new eyes, and a new life. He enabled me to have the Love of Jesus in my heart, instead of the love that I once thought was love. Like the sinful woman in the Bible, I knew that I was forgiven much, so God’s Love taught me how to love much.
Therefore I tell you, because her many sins have been forgiven, she has loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”
The Lord was and is compassionate, merciful and forgiving to me, and allowed me to see His heart, know His heart and gave me His heart. When we know God’s Love, we will forgive and love one another the way Jesus’ Spirit teaches us.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.
Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful.
Thus says the LORD of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another.
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end.
Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
When you submit to God you taste Grace, and also taste your Sinful Nature – both at such a deep level for the very first time. It is the point where Sorrow meets Gratitude at such a level that it shatters the core of everything you ever knew. It is the understanding of both Sin and Grace in a deeper way that enables you to know why Jesus said: “Forgive them for they know not what they have done.” And you too will say: “Forgive me Father for I didn’t know. Oh Father, forgive us all for we do not know“. You echo the words of Jesus in spirit. You are moved with compassion for yourself and for others, because you know what God made you see in your sinful nature was a terrible evil; and you know no one can ever do anything to you that you cannot forgive. You also begin to see clearly that everybody has that sinful nature; and going forward you will need to show the same love God has shown you.
But, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love.
Because you know what it is to be blind and now get to see; you too will be patient and understanding as God was and is to you. And all this change of heart is from God. You know what it is to be taken from darkness to light, from death to life, so it doesn’t matter what people do to you…you are unable to stop loving them. You cannot hide, and protect your heart anymore. Grace will teach you how to love, how to forgive and how to repent. When you surrender to God, He will work on your heart, your mind and your life via the Holy Spirit.
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
God is compassionate to all, and is always ready to forgive. Who am I, that I should not be compassionate to others- who am I to hold the sins of others against them, when God did not do that to me? Who am I to cast slur on my neighbor or treat their sins as if mine is better? In our sinful nature we are all the same before God.
We deserve a terrible death to have such terrible evil in us…but God’s response is compassion, forgiveness and love. I imagine Him saying something like this: “How can I hand you over to destruction. I will not end your life in wrath…my Love, my Grace and my Mercy will make you live. I myself will save you, I will hold you and take care of you…I will love you, and make you clean. Come to me...”
God came and saved us, because there was no other way to break the wall that separated us from Him. And if it was only you alone on earth that needed to be saved, He would have done it anyway, because all souls are precious to God.
And He stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately the leprosy left him.
Jesus demonstrated how we should love people who are “un-loveable” by touching those who were lame and diseased, with his bare hands. He could have easily said:” “Be healed” without touching them. But, in teaching us that true love does not discriminate, reject, despise, pull away from people, divide, or scorn – He touched the sick and diseased. Instead of turning away from them, he go to them and touched them.
When God look at our sinful nature we are filled with sores, we are lame, we have incurable sickness and diseases…but He demonstrated His powerful Love to us…while we wore the flesh of scorn…while we were un-loveable… Jesus touched us, and loved us, and saved us…
“This is what the LORD says: “‘Your wound is incurable, your injury beyond healing. There is no one to plead your cause, no remedy for your sore, no healing for you…
Through Jesus we can be clean before God. Such Amazing Grace that saves: clothed us, and washed us clean…inside and outside…
Turning to Jesus wholeheartedly in submission, He touches us with such an intimate and powerful Love in ways that cannot be expressed… a love we thought we knew before, but we really didn’t – until we surrendered to Him. Until we give Him our heart, mind, soul…until we kneel at the foot of the Cross, and say…”Here I am Lord…Help me to really serve you; not my way, but the way I’m supposed to serve you“.
How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender. I will not execute my burning anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and not a man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath..
So glorious and awesome His Love, Mercy, Grace, Compassion…how awesome is our God! He suffers long, deprived Himself of justice, deprive Himself the right to destroy all of us. But He didn’t, because He is giving us the chance to come closer to Him – and get to truly know Him…
He alone has the right to be hostile, angry or condescending with all of us. He alone has the right to reject us and treat us like His enemies. He alone has the right to despise and scorn us – for only He is Holy and Pure, and we all transgressed. He has the power to destroy us for having so much sin, but He chose not to. He chose Love, because He is Love…
The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.