What do you do and whom do you blame when adversity comes your way? The answer will impact how you look at people, the quality of your relationships, and whether you spend more time in the wilderness or the promised land
Tag Archives: Satan
The scripture tells us that many people are called BUT that few are chosen (see Matthew 22:14). What a shame! It is truly a tragedy that too few of us ever achieve the greatness to which God has called every single person that walks on this earth. Here is the truth! The same God who calls us and says ‘You can be great’ desires to choose us to be great; He longs to say to each one of us ‘You will be great’. Unfortunately, too many of us are either ignorant of the steps required for greatness or we are unwilling to follow in the footsteps of Jesus in doing the work that is required to be chosen.
Now, God in His love did not make us fully responsibility for being great but made it a shared responsibility – our part being the easy part. Even so, just as Jesus had a part to play in being chosen after being called by God, we also have a part to play in being chosen. So then, what part do we play and what part does God play? This will hopefully become clear as we peek at the 5 steps towards greatness.
The Call which is the first step towards greatness and is God’s responsibility. While in heaven, God called Jesus and said something akin to: ‘Son, it is your time. I have now called you to partake of flesh and blood (become human) for the sole purpose of reconciling and restoring mankind to us. This is what I am calling you to do. Ready to go?’. See, Jesus who is Spirit became a human with a living soul for the sole purpose of doing that specific will of God. Likewise, just like Jesus, we are all spirit beings who have been called and temporarily placed on this earth to do a work and to achieve a purpose.
“For we are his workmanship (masterpiece), created in Christ Jesus unto good works (purpose), which God has before (prior to being born) ordained that we should walk in them” – Ephesians 2:10
If you do not know your purpose, do not despair. Just keep your heart and ears open and God will reveal His specific purpose to you in due time. Prophet Jeremiah did not know his purpose until God said to Him: ‘Hey Jeremiah, I am now calling you to be my mouthpiece (prophet) to the people of Judah. I created you specifically for this purpose and I am now letting you know that this is the purpose for which I created you’.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; and before you came forth out of the womb I sanctified you, and I ordained you a prophet unto the nations” – Jeremiah 1:5
Note that what is important is God’s call on our lives and not our call on our lives. It is only God’s purpose for our lives that streamlines our life’s energy into a single laser beam focus that is able to cut through distractions and foolishness while bringing true and sustained fulfillment into our lives. . It is only by following the will or purpose of God for our lives that we walk worthy of Him, fully please Him, and are fruitful in everything we do – for His power follows His purpose (see Colossians 1:9:10).
Conversely, our lives fall into the learned behavior of idleness without His purpose (see 1 Timothy 5:13). Now, idleness does not simply mean that we are doing nothing. Busyness that comes from following our own purpose is empty in the end and so is still idleness! Why? It is because idleness is defined as doing anything that is unimportant, insignificant, or holds no real worth. An example of this is idle banter where we are busy talking but our banter adds zero value. Since anything without God (love) is valueless and we know that God is great, we see that is it impossible to attain true greatness with God’s purpose (love) being involved.
So how do we recognize idleness? The symptoms of idleness (or lack of God-giving purpose) includes being easily offended, gossip-mongering, being a busy-body, depression, never being satisfied, being a workaholic, dilly-dallying, lack of commitment etc. Just think of how these lead to broken relationships! So in reality, the root cause of many of the problems we encounter in this life is simply the lack of purpose or the shunning of God’s purpose. So we now see why Satan does not want us to walk in purpose (our responsibility). He knows if he can get us away from our purpose, he has a foothold in our lives and cause us problems. If you don’t believe me, just ask Prophet Jonah how Satan tried to kill him and tortured his life simply because he ran away from the purpose to which God called Him.
So today, instead of continuing in idleness, ask God to show you what He has called you to do! If you want to be great, you must know what He has called you to do at this point in your life
Food for Thought: It is impossible to be great without following the great One
Every human being has a decision to make with regards to where he/she is going to live spiritually. We have to decide whether we are going to live in the world, in the law, or in the Spirit. Those that choose to live in the world are those that have chosen not to know about God and so live a life controlled by the river of this world which flows right towards the water fall of emptiness/deep spiritual void while bruising the individual with every inanimate object contained within the river. These are the people that have not accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. For those of us that believe in Jesus Christ and have the Holy Spirit living in us, two options remain – whether to live in the law or live in the Spirit.
Wait you say! I thought that I am now living in the Spirit because I have accepted the Spirit. Not true! Paul tells us that if we have the Spirit, let us also walk (live) in the Spirit (see Galatians 5:25). So there is a difference. Yes, we are given the Spirit upon believing with our hearts and confessing with our mouths (see Romans 10:9-10) but the glorious inheritance of the goodies of the kingdom of heaven which includes a life of love, joy, peace, self-control and much more are reserved for those who live in the Spirit. See, we do not miss the mark (sin) when we are walking in the Spirit for there is no sin in God; hence we only miss the mark when we are walking out of the Spirit. Note: Only Jesus was able to walk in the Spirit perfectly for He had no sin.
The snag today for too many of us is that we spend most of our time walking out of the Spirit and instead in the law. We think we are alright as long as we do not walk in the world. No! The law only condemns and brings death. We find that the incessant walking in the law results in the church body being very little different from the world – same lack of victory, same divorce rates, same lack of self-control, same fear projection and mongering! No wonder the influence of the church in many places seems to be dwindling. Part of the issue is our law-mongering which produces no tangible fruit for the world to be attracted towards!
Law mongering causes us to apply the word of God to our situation (most of the time based on our feelings) rather than allow God to speak His word to our circumstance. What is the difference you ask? The temptation of Jesus in the wilderness illustrates the difference: Although Satan and Jesus were both quoting from the scripture (law), only the scripture (law) that was given to Jesus by the Holy Spirit (Word) brought life. Conversely, the word spoken by the devil was obviously not from the Word (Holy Spirit). Thus, we see that the Holy Spirit speaks the ‘word of the law’ that brings life, but the devil speaks the ‘word of the law’ that brings death.
Likewise, we should not apply the word of the law as we ‘think’ it applies, but should allow the Holy Spirit to apply the word of the law that will bring liberty (instead of bondage). For example, we should not decide whether we are going to discipline our children (Proverbs 22:15) or pardon their offense (Colossians 3:21) but allow the Spirit of God to tell us which one we should do. See, both actions are scriptural, but only the one the Holy Spirit directs us to do for the specific situation brings life. If we are not living in the Spirit, we choose the word of the law to apply based on emotions, history, circumstance, and upbringing and so put ourselves into bondage when we invariably get it wrong.
So what is the point of the law? The law is useful for a myriad of reasons including testing of the spirits speaking to us. It lets us prove that it is the Holy Spirit speaking to us, for the Holy Spirit will not contradict what is contained within the bible. This is why Jesus says that He did not come to abolish the law! The law makes the nature of God tangible to us and allows us to choose Him.
In summary, to have life, we must be doers of the word instead of being doers of the law. We must allow the law to speak to us through the Holy Spirit rather than speaking and acting out the law to our circumstance. We must allow the Spirit to guide us through life and so enjoy the benefits of walking in the Spirit.
Food for Thought: Walking in the law is walking in the flesh; walking in the law makes us Pharisees.
Oh I think this; Oh I feel that! Just because we think it does not make it the truth, and just because we feel it does not make it real. And just because a friend agrees with it does not confirm it. Since what we feel stems from how we think, it stands to reason that we can change how we feel by changing how we think. The scripture gives credence to this by letting us now that ‘as a man thinks in his heart, so is he’ (Proverbs 3:27). So what kind of men or women are we? Does what we think line up with the Word? If whatever we are thinking does not line up with truth (the Word), then it is a lie! This lie in turn creates fantasy (untrue) emotions that lead us to speak lie-based words and take lie-based actions. We start living a lie-based life that keeps us in bondage – for only the truth brings freedom.
Since words create worlds and words come from thoughts, it is best to create a world of life and truth by inclining our ears to God’s word instead of creating a world of lies and death by acting on our own thoughts and feelings, even if they are supported by the world – which they most likely will be.
Yes, we all have our own thoughts and feeling and we will always have opinions. Yet, we must scrutinize them against the perfect law of liberty (the Word) when they come. If they do not jive with the Word, we must surrender them to God in humility for they are fear-based lies from the father of lies (Satan) who is most likely plaguing on our past experiences, fears, and insecurities.
Should we find that our thoughts never jive with the Word, it’s a sure sign to us to surrender our hearts, spend more time with Him in Word and prayer, and give up our control for His control. When we do this, our thoughts will begin to reflect more of his thoughts.
Remember, His thoughts towards us are good; always to prosper us and to give us a future and a hope (see Jeremiah 29:11).
While our thoughts tend to be motivated by a mixture of good (love, hope) and evil (fear, pride, selfishness) and leads to foolishness at best, God’s thoughts are motivated by agape love and always lead to life.
Adversity is a bridge we will all have to cross in this life. King David reminds us of this when he says ‘many are the afflictions of the righteous’. Jesus confirms it by saying ‘in this world you will have trials and tribulations. The truth is that we do not have to look for adversity before adversity finds us. As long as we live in this world, we are a target of Satan – the god of this world (see 2 Corinthians 4:4); the god of adversity.
Yet, Jesus prays to God not to take us away from this world. So does that mean He delights in our adversity? No! He died on that cross so as to overcome the god of adversity, thereby overcoming all the adversity we could ever go through. What He wants us to learn is how to overcome the bridge of adversity in Him so we may help others who are in bondage to cross over into freedom. He wants us to be salt and light while triumphing over every conceivable snare of bondage.
So how do we do this? Rather than concentrate on the snares of the bondage and certain death that exists below our feet, we ought to focus our eyes on the freedom and life that awaits us on the other side of the bridge. You see, when we cast our eyes upon Jesus, the trials and tribulations of this world do not much matter, and the seemingly insurmountable issues lose their power and diminish in size in comparison to the glory of God. Our eagerness to claim our prize grows and we begin to sprint past our adversity into safety. When we cast our eyes upon Jesus, love overcomes fear, faith overcomes doubt, and life overcomes death.
So next time you come across that bridge, keep your head up, avoid looking down below at the scary bondage of your circumstance, and run towards the victory that awaits you on the other side. Do not say why me, for you already know why. It is you because the god of this world does not like you. Just remember this:
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all – Psalm 34:19
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world – John 16:33
“Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry” – Habakkuk 2:2-3
In ‘How vision is critical to success’, we examined the importance of vision in navigating us through the travails of life and propelling us towards the good life that God intends for us. When we receive a vision of the plans that God has for us – plans to prosper us and to give us a future – the natural response is to begin running towards it with gusto and vigor, knowing that we shall inherit the promises if we do not grow faint and weary. The snag is that Satan also knows this and so tries to get us to become faint-hearted over time as we run. He understands that we inherit the promises through faith and diligence; hence that is what he attacks. He will try to get us to doubt the vision that God has given us. If he cannot stop us from seeing the vision, he will try to convince us that we are not worthy of the vision; that the vision is impossible for us to attain. He will stop at nothing to prevent us from reaching the high calling of God on our life. He knows our race only continues for as long as we live, and so he does everything in his power to dissuade us and to stall our progress. Of the many weapons in his arsenal, the one he likes to use often is discouragement – the bullets of which include comparison and time.
If our goal is to chop down a tree, we may begin to compare ourselves to others whose task is also to cut trees down. If we see others felling their trees in record time and obtaining their prize, we may start to wonder whether something is wrong with us. How can others do it in a short time while we are taking so much longer we ask ourselves? Instead of focusing our on attention on what God would have us do, we try to carbon-copy what others are doing and so fail miserably – because we fail to understand that just as each person is unique, each tree (although still being a tree) is unique in its characteristics. At first, seeing the success of others may galvanize us to work harder on our task, but then we get discouraged when we seem to be making little progress.
The mind-set of copying exactly what others are doing leads us to be task-oriented versus being goal-oriented. It leads us to try to fit a circular key into a square lock! But when we keep our eyes on our vision; we are more likely to see the obstacles to success. Many times, we realize that although we started cutting the tree at the same time as our friend, his/her dagger was already sharp while our dagger was blunt to begin with. Perhaps our friends took the time to sharpen their dagger while we did not! The truth is this: In all things, we must sharpen the tool of our mind with the Word of God, for it is the double-edged Sword of the Word of God (see Hebrews 4:12) – whether read, watched, listened to, or spoken to us – that helps us achieve our vision, when we allow its iron to sharpen our iron.
Light-bulb moment: Just as we have to sharpen our dagger if we are to fell a tree, our first task upon seeing a vision is to correct what is wrong (the bluntness of our mind) so that we may achieve the joy that is set before us.
Once we have sharpened our dagger, the second bullet Satan unleashes against us is time. He will say to us: ‘You and your friend started at the same time with a sharpened dagger and yet you have been at it for ages. This God of yours has given you an impossible task. See, you are sweating like a pig over there and getting nowhere fast. This tree is too big! Why don’t you just stop and relax yourself. I have provided you with a shaded tree, so why don’t you just come and rest a bit!’
If Satan has ever said this to you, rebuke him immediately! He does not want you clearing the path to your Father’s house but wants you to stay in the hot and sticky wilderness of your circumstance. He is lying to you about the shaded tree, for the leaves fall off as soon as you lay underneath it and it dries up. Hold on to God’s word and persevere. God cannot lie; whatever He has spoken becomes truth.
Food for Thought: While God always encourages us to never give up on Him; Satan always discourages us so that we give up on God.
Faith does not allow our present circumstance to change our outlook (the vision of the sure future that God has spoken over us), but instead allows His outlook to change our attitude about our present circumstance. Unfortunately, when there is no vision of the sure thing that God has spoken to us through His Word, we tend to allow our present circumstance if bad to turn us over to bitterness. In doing so, we tend to perish in our thoughts – thinking that He has neglected us and questioning His love for us – and so fall away from the path of blessing that God wants to shower on us by taking matters into our own hands. If we do not understand that we will all face testing circumstances, we may end up in a mixed funk of melancholy and legalism; sure that bad things are only happening to us because God is mad at us. In the depths of despair, it is at times easy to forget that our situation is temporary if we do not give up on God, for He does not give up on us.
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world – John 16:33
Without a godly vision, even the good times bring anxiety in that we can be dissatisfied with the status quo and hunger after more wealth and pleasure. The earliest example of a person who had this problem was Adam. He had the good life but he became dissatisfied with it after drinking the poisonous speech of Satan who gave him a false vision of a better life – the promise of a step-up life of being like God. Adam fell because he had no vision or outlook of the fantastic life that God has already prepared for him. All he had was a vision of lack. Since faith can be defined as the sighting/vision/evidence of the sure thing that God has promised (see Hebrews 11:1), we see that Adam ultimately perished for his lack of faith – for he disobeyed out of the fear that he was not living the best possible life.
We are not to be like Adam, but are to be like Jesus who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross (see Hebrews 12:2). What was the joy set before Him? It was the joy of being reunited with the Father, the joy of reconciling us to Himself, the joy of sitting at the right hand of the Father and being the overseer of all the Kingdoms that had been given into His hands. It was the vision of the sure things that He was to inherit that made his trials and tribulations bearable!
Light-bulb moment: If we know we are to inherit a great collection of jewels upon completing a marathon, the hardship and pain we endure during the training and subsequent run to not much matter. Our focus will simply be on the joy that is to come.
God has a vision for each of our lives, and the vision is to prosper us and to give us a good future. The problem is that many of us do not see it. The truth is we do not have to walk this life without vision. We can set ourselves apart and go up to our quiet place away from the busyness of the world below – seeking the Lord in fasting and prayer. When we do this, the scripture tells us that we will get a vision of what God wants for us.
I will stand upon my watch, and set myself upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved – Habakkuk 2:1
Once we are given our vision, we are then told to write it down so that we do not forget and so that we may continually chase after it.
And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, so he may run that reads it – Habakkuk 2:2
See, vision is what makes us run! The vision of the sure thing God has promised; that which will surely come to pass for God cannot lie is what produces diligence and energizes us for our work; it is what produces patience and perseverance. Let’s put it this way: If we know we will gain our dream vacation simply by cutting down a tree, we will find a way to do it and do it quickly! The problem is not the lack of patience, diligence, and energy (these are the symptoms). The real problem is the lack of vision.
If you do not have a vision today, I urge you to set yourself apart and go up to your watchtower and then see what He will say to you. Say yes when you are corrected and acknowledge your wrong-doing. Clean the muck out of your house and start running after the target God has given you knowing that His power is following His purpose for you; knowing that all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose for them. Then watch and see again what happens to your attitude about your circumstance; watch and see what changes occur in your life.
Food for Thought: No man who has ever had godly (love based) vision has ever been defeated in life
Are some predestined by God to be eternally saved (from eternal punishment) while others are not, or do we all have the option of choosing our eternal home? In other words, do we believe in predestination or do we believe in determination (free-will)? Rather than talk about what we feel, let’s take a look at what God shows us through His scriptures.
In the beginning, God created a perfect abode for man to lay his head. Man had no knowledge of evil in this abode and so there was no shame, fear, or justice to speak of. Man had dominion over every living creature and his only job was to tend the garden. See, God so loved man that he created a world where man could live in perfect and perpetual fellowship with man. How do we know this? He created a world without sin (for sin came with knowledge of evil) and did not keep the tree of life (eternal) away from man. Truly, God predestined man to live the good life forever!
Now, since true love is never forced (for anything forced involves control and torment) but is freely chosen and given, God (who is love) gave man free-will to choose. Too bad man chose to end the good life. But when man did this, God was still merciful to stop him from eating of the fruit of life by removing him from the garden and guarding the way to the tree of life with a flaming sword (see Genesis 3:24). You see, if man had eaten of the fruit of life after his disobedience, he would have lived forever in eternal separation from God. God did not want that! So while putting him out the garden seemed harsh, it was actually done out of love. See, as soon as man disobeyed, God already had a master-plan to redeem man from being separated from Him but rather to be redeemed through the shed blood of Christ.
To reiterate, when man exercised his free-will of disobedience, both evil and justice entered the world. Being a just God, He had to mete out the punishment that man’s choice (sin) deserved. But thankfully, He found Abraham righteous enough to make a covenant with him that through his Seed (Jesus) all the nations will be blessed (with the covenant blessings available in the Holy Spirit).
“In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice” – Genesis 22:18
“Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ” – Galatians 3:16
See, because of Abraham’s faith, God predestined man (all nations) to be blessed through the redemptive work of Christ. Note that is does not say “this” nation or “that” nation, but it says all nations – meaning all peoples or all mankind. Thus, it is clear that God wants all mankind (all nations) to be saved. But man still has the same free-will to choose Christ, just as the first man (Adam) and subsequent men had the free-will to disobey God in the garden at the beginning. Paul puts it this way:
“For since the creation of the word His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” – Romans 1:20
How much God loves us – that He would have His own son slewed in order for us to be saved from eternal separation from Him when we choose to believe in His Son (see John 3:16). All that is required is belief! It is not based on performance or our own self-accessed righteousness (which is as filthy rags) but it is a free gift which is irrevocable!
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a free gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” – Ephesians 2:8-9
“For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” – Romans 11:29
But the above is not the end of God’s love, there is more. For those that choose to believe in His Son, He seals with His Spirit who upon our choosing can direct our path. When we choose to walk in the Spirit and allow Him to lead us, we are lavished with the fullness of the covenant blessings – riches, honor, life, peace, and so much more. We are able to live heaven on this earth just as God designed it from the beginning! We do not have to wait till we get to heaven (our destination once saved) to experiences goodness.That is not to say that bad things will not happen to us (for we still live in a fallen world), but that things are eventually working for our good (see Romans 8:28)
So, looking through the lens of the love of God from the beginning of the world, it now becomes clear what Paul is talking about in Romans 8:29-30:
“For whom He foreknew (all nations or all mankind), He also predestined (through our acceptance of Jesus) to be conformed to the image of His Son……Moreover whom He predestined (all nations), He called (to accept Jesus); whom He called, these He also justified (though the blood of Jesus).
Thus, predestination does not work completely independent of free-will but in conjunction with it. Based on what we know from scriptures, we can conclude the following:
- God predestined man to live in perpetual and perfect fellowship with Him when He created the world (God’s choice)
- Man chose to break that fellowship through sin (Man’s choice)
- God predestined (called) man to be saved from separation through Christ’s sacrifice (God’s choice)
- Man can neglect the call to salvation and justification (Man’s choice)
- God predestined man to enjoy the benefits of accepting His call to salvation through the Holy Spirit (God’s choice)
- Man can choose not to walk in the Spirit although they have already accepted Christ unto unnecessary suffering (Man’s choice)
Light-bulb moment: Predestination is not the problem – what God predestines is good. Rather, the problem is our choice – for some reason we like choosing death instead of life. Adam was predestined to live a sweet life, but his choice made him live a “not so sweet” life!
Food for Thought: When we choose love (God), we are predestined to live a blessed life
Paul makes it clear that it is not enough to have the spirit of God, but that we have to be led by the Spirit. He further implores us not only to live in the spirit but to walk in the Spirit (see Galatians 5:25) for it is those of us that walk in the Spirit that do not fulfill the desires of the flesh and are able to produce the fruit of the Spirit.
To be led, we have to hear from our leader (God). Now, it is impossible to be led without studying and meditating on the Word of God, for the bible tells us that hearing comes by the Word. Actually, the whole verse tells us that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word. Therefore, it is hearing that grants us faith (trust and belief) to obey (walk or be led) by the Spirit. Since it is simply not possible to be Holy Spirit led without having faith in God (Jesus Christ), we ought not to be mocked in the these two things:
- It is only those who have faith in Jesus Christ that can receive and be led by the Holy Spirit (God)
- It is our faith walk that makes us a child of God – it is what makes us a believer
The second bullet point elevates and challenges our thinking on what Paul means when he tells us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. He is telling us not to be married to someone who is not walking in faith. He puts it this way:
“And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever” – 2 Corinthians 6:15
When I first read this, I thought Paul was unnecessarily harsh or perhaps going off the deep-end a little. I thought to myself: Paul, you are comparing an unbeliever to Belial! Seriously! Then it dawned on me that the only way to identify a true believer is a person’s faith walk. I stumbled upon this realization as I began to unravel what Belial (evil spirit/devil/demon) is able to do. Since no one would call Belial a believer, there must be something that separates believers from him. That something is faith! To bolster this assertion, here are some interesting facts about Belial.
Belial believes that Jesus is Lord
“You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe – and tremble!” – James 2:19
The devil and demons have no problem believing that Jesus is Lord (see Matthew 8:29) for they know it fully well. After all, they were cast away or separated from God because of rebellion. Satan was disobedient (rebelled) because he did not love God. How do we know he did not love God? We know because the scriptures tell us that those who love God keep and obey His commandments (see John 14:21). Since genuine faith works through love (see Galatians 5:6), we know the Satan and the rest of his rebellious crew (demons) also did not have faith! If demons had faith, they would not tremble (fear) at the name of Jesus, for there is no fear in love (1 John 4:18). But they do not have faith or love, so they operate in fear.
Light-bulb moment: A believer is not just someone who believes that Jesus is Lord but walks in faith and produces faith-based work. Since genuine faith grows out of love, the walk (life) and work (actions) of a true believer is steeped in love.
Belial knows the scriptures
“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”” – Matthew 4:6
This is the devil quoting scripture to Jesus.What impudence! But it does show that the devil knows scripture and is able to quote it – probably better than we can and at will. Hence, the knowledge of scripture itself is not the mark of a believer. If it were, then we would be unable to distinguish a believer from the devil! Without the Holy Spirit to guide us and to lead us aright, we only apply the scripture erroneously and for our selfish gain –just like Satan tried with Jesus.
Light-bulb moment: A person who is filled with the knowledge of the Word of God is nothing but an historian if that knowledge does not produce faith (which is only possible through the Holy Spirit). The scripture to a person without faith is simply a history book. Hence the ability to quote and recall scripture does not prove a believer.
Belial can exhibit “spiritual” gifts
“Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour” – Acts 16:16 – 18
The slave girl had the gift to tell the future – a gift of prophesy so to speak! Yet it turns out that she was possessed with an evil spirit. It is also very interesting that although demon-possessed, she was helping to spread the gospel! It just goes to show that not everyone who is proclaiming the gospel is of God. This exemplifies why the bible warns us about false prophets and warns us in the last days not to be fooled by those that perform mighty works.
“Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” – Matthew 7:22 – 23
Belial obeys God – but in fear
“And He said to them, “Go.” And when they had come out, they went into the herd of swine…” – Matthew 8:32
The demons obey the voice of God when He speaks to them. Hallelujah! The difference between the obedience of a believer and that of demons is this: The obedience of evil spirits does not come out of love (and hence faith) but instead comes out of fear. See, faith and fear are the polar opposites of each other, but both require that we believe something that is yet to be. Both faith and fear can produce obedience – fear produce obedience based on consequences; faith produces obedience based on love.
Spot a Believer
So, if believing that Jesus is Lord, reading and knowing the scripture, preaching the Word, exhibiting spiritual gifts, and Pharisaical obedience to the law are not full proof ways to spot a believer, then how can we spot believers? How can we tell if someone is walking in faith?
The answer is simply this: By their fruits you shall know them (see Mathew 7:20). A person who walks in faith also walks in the Spirit for it is the Spirit of God that grows our faith as we spend time in His Word. Anyone who truly walks in the Spirit produces the spiritual fruit of love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
No one can fake these fruits. An impatient person cannot simply become patient at will. A selfish person will not be joyful because selfishness produces dissatisfaction or perennial unhappiness. A person who cannot control their tongue will not all of a sudden be able to master their tongue. These fruits cannot be faked because what we produce comes from who we are and what is in our hearts rather than what we do (obey, preach the Word…).
A person who is truly in Christ produces the fruit of the Spirit along with the works (read the bible, preach the Word…)
Light-bulb moment: A true believer walks in faith and therefore produces spiritual fruit. If we do not see spiritual fruits, then we see a counterfeit believer. Whatever else they do should not impress us much!
Food for thought: We cannot believe in God and not produce love for He is love.