The Foundation of the Gospel
Let us consider how one receives Christ’s gospel. 1 Thessalonians 1:5, “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.” The gospel is in: 1) Word; 2) Power; and 3) the Holy Ghost.
1) The Word – Jesus Christ is the Word of God (Jn 1:1-4). Jesus is also the truth of God (Jn 1:17, 14:6). The Word of God is the truth of God (Jn 1:14, 17:17, Ps 119:160, James 1:18). We must repent so as to acknowledge the truth (2 Tim 2:25, Is 55:7, Job 33:27, Jn 17:19). The Lord God must be worshipped in truth (Jn 4:23-24). The truth seeks after godliness (Ti 1:1, godliness is the devotion to God’s will). If you continue in the Word (ye are Christ’s disciples indeed) and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (Jn 8:31-32).
The truth sets you free from the lie of Satan, who misleads you in untruth (falsehood, deceit) to seek your own will (rather than God’s will – godliness) through the lusts and desires of the flesh (ye shall be as gods, Gen 3:5). Jesus said: “Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice (Jn 18:37).” Christ begat us with the Word of truth (James 1:18). 1 Timothy 2:4, “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” Our souls are purified by the obeying of the truth (1 Pt 1:22).
God’s commandments are truth (Ps 119:151). God’s commandments are righteousness (Ps 119:172). So, God’s truth is righteousness; and obeying the Lord’s commandments is walking in God’s truth and righteousness. Our faith is our righteousness which is obedience to God’s truth (Rm 1:17, 3:22, 4:5, 9, 11, 13, 9:30, 10:6, Gal 5:5, Php 3:9, Heb 11:7, 2 Pt 1:1). We are kept by the power of God (the Holy Spirit) through faith unto salvation (1 Pt 1:5, 9). God will judge by His truth and righteousness (obedience to His commandments, Deut 32:4, Ps 89:14, 145:17, 146:6, Is 16:5, 42:3, 59:15, 61:8, Jer 5:1, Dan 4:37, Rm 2:2). The LORD liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness (Jer 4:2).
We can conclude that the Word leads us to “repent” and acknowledge the truth of God. The truth compels us to be devoted to God and obey Him. The overwhelming truth of God’s Word is that obedience to the Lord brings life and disobedience to the Lord brings death (via separation from God, who is life). In other words: Titus 2:11-14, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
Righteousness is living in obedience to God’s laws/Word/will. Iniquity is the violation or disobedience to God’s laws/Word/will. God loves righteousness and hates iniquity (Heb 1:9). The gospel tells us that we must be devoted and obedient to God’s will in this present world – the here and now. We must walk in the truth (Col 2:6, 1 Jn 2:6, 3 Jn 1:3-4). We must do this freely and lovingly from our hearts. Mark 12:30, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” We are justified by such grace (Ti 3:7). The love of God: 1 Corinthians 13:6, “Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.” God’s grace compels us to live righteously which results in life (obedience = life). Romans 5:21, “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”
The devil or Satan is not of the truth. Jesus once told a group of men that “heareth not His voice (did not receive His Words):” John 8:44-45, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.” Those who do not receive Christ’s truth, walk in the devil’s lie.
What is the devil’s lie? God told man in the garden of Eden: Genesis 2:17, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” In other words, if you disobey God’s commandment/law/will you will die. The devil told man: Genesis 3:4-5, “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” God said that if you disobey Me: “thou shalt surely die. The devil said you could disobey God and: “Ye shall not surely die.” Satan changed the truth of God into a lie (Rm 1:25).
The devil counseled man to seek his own will (over God’s) as realized through the lusts and desires of the flesh. Satan told man that he could be his own authority and seek his own will and thus be as gods. For man to seek his will, God’s will must be disregarded. The devil leads in the lusts of the flesh and this is disobedience to the will of God, a great lie and darkness. We are told of the working of Satan (2 Thess 2:9): 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12, “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” The “deceivableness of unrighteousness” or “deceitfulness of sin (Heb 3:13)” is Satan’s deception (lie) that says you can sin against God (disobey Him) and “ye shall not surely die.” The delusion (great fallacy, myth, illusion) is that one actually believes this – maybe even in a religious way (i.e. once saved always saved, etc.). For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works (the lie) of the devil (1 Jn 3:8).
Therefore it can be said: Romans 1:18, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness. AND Romans 2:8-9, “But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile.” Recall that the truth seeks godliness and obeys righteousness. So, those who are not devoted to God (desiring to glorify and honor Him in all things) and disobey (violate) God’s commandments/laws/will shall obtain the condemnation of “thou shalt surely die (Gen 2:17).” These do the opposite of the truth. The opposite of the truth is a lie (1 Jn 2:21).
To summarize: the truth of God and the foundation of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that all of God’s creation must obey the Lord’s commands (Heb 2:2-3). Jesus said that you must do this in love with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. This is an all encompassing devotion to God and a free-will desire to do His will (Mt 7:21, 24, 12:50, Lk 6:47, 8:15, 11:28, Mk 3:35, Jn 4:34, 5:30, 6:38, 7:17, 9:31, 14:21). First you must repent of your disobedience to God’s will, then renounce/forsake your love of darkness (the devil’s lie, Jn 3:19) and then diligently seek first/foremost the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Mt 6:33, Heb 11:6). You must fully realize: 1 John 1:6, “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.” AND 1 John 2:4, “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”
The dwelling of the wicked is the place of them who do not know God (Job 18:21). To “not know God” is to not seek or walk in the Lord’s truth. How does one “know” God? 1 John 2:3, 5, “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.” Jesus said: John 14:24, “He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.” AND Matthew 7:24-25, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man (fears God and departs from evil), which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.”
2) The Power – John 1:12-13, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
Man chose to follow Satan in his lie and thus became corrupt in his very nature. Man’s desire is to seek self through the lusts and desires of the flesh. Such desire produces iniquity which outwardly manifests as specific sins. This is where/how Satan tempts man to continue to transgress God’s will (2 Pt 3:11). James 1:13-15, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” So, the lusts of the flesh produces sin which is transgression of God’s will. Disobedience to God’s will (transgressions) results in death. Therefore it can be said: Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
How do we have eternal life through Jesus Christ? John 3:3, “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” AND John 3:5, “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Verily means of a fact; a certainty; be assured. Man must be “born again” or re-created of God in order to have God’s nature or the desire to walk in God’s will (Ps 51:10, 2 Cor 5:17, Gal 6:15, Eph 4:24, Col 3:10). The power of God is the Holy Ghost!
Jesus told His disciples: Luke 24:49, “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” Later at Pentecost: Acts 2:33, “Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.” Therefore: the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us (Rm 5:5). The Holy Ghost is given to those who obey Christ (Acts 5:32). Jesus is the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him (Heb 5:9). The creation must be led of God and obedient to God.
3) The Holy Ghost – Romans 8:14, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” So, the power to become sons of God (Jn 1:12) is realized by following the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit dwells within the follower of Christ (1 Cor 3:16-17, 6:19, 2 Cor 6:16, 1 Jn 4:13). This means that God dwells within us! 1 John 4:13, “Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.” AND THUS Romans 8:16, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” Thus we taste of the heavenly gift and are made partakers of the Holy Ghost and taste of the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come (Heb 6:4-5). We are partakers of His holiness (Heb 12:10). Ephesians 4:24, “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
Jesus sent us a Comforter (Jn 14:16, 16:7). John 15:26, “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.” John 14:26, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Jesus is the truth and the Spirit is of the truth. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one: 1 John 5:7, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” The Spirit teaches and leads in the truth (1 Jn 2:27). So, God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth (2 Thess 2:13). Sanctification of the Spirit is unto obedience of the gospel (1 Pt 1:2).
The truth is that we must freely walk in surrender and obedience to the will of God, otherwise known as faith or the fear of God. Galatians 5:5, “For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.” Your faith (love, devotion, surrender, obedience, trust toward God) is your righteousness before God (Rm 1:17, 3:22, 4:5, 9, 11, 13, 9:30, 10:6, Gal 5:5, Php 3:9, Heb 11:7, 2 Pt 1:1). Therefore: ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God (1 Cor 6:11). AND Titus 3:5-7, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Recall that grace denies ungodliness and worldly lusts (Ti 2:12).
God renews you and puts His laws into your mind, and writes them in your heart (Heb 8:10, 10:16). Ezekiel 36:26-27, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” 2 Corinthians 3:3, “Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.” The Lord’s purposes are that you freely and lovingly choose to serve Him. God does not desire His creation to serve Him under compulsion or grudgingly and against/contrary to its will. The obedience that God desires must be founded in love. The love God desires cannot be legislated – it must emanate (originate, spring forth) from a sincere and willing heart. Jesus laid out a path for us to follow and this narrow way (path of life, Ps 16:11) can only be walked through free-will choice and sincere love in one’s heart for God (Ps 1:1-2, Mt 7:13-14). It is impossible to walk this path any other way (it’s a path of separation – winnowing). God’s way/truth/Word is perfect and tried (Ps 18:30). Christ left us an example to walk therein (1 Pt 2:21).
How do you love a God so completely who you have never seen? The answer is that you walk as He walked, experiencing the very same things, intimately relating to your Lord and King. You do this as led by His Spirit. Day by day you are conformed to His image (His very nature). 2 Corinthians 3:18, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord (also Rm 8:29).” Therefore: If you experience the same things and are of the same mind, you intimately relate in likemindedness and unity of purpose. You develop a genuine relationship of love. 1 John 2:29, “If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.” 1 John 3:7, “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.”
Christ gave us His Spirit for a purpose: John 16:7-8, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” The Holy Spirit reveals our wrongs (transgressions against God, iniquities) and leads in paths of righteousness (Ps 23:3). The Spirit teaches us Christ’s Words and leads us to apply these Words and thus conform to Jesus’ well pleasing image (the express image of God, Heb 1:3).
The Spirit convicts of those things that oppose God’s will and then leads you (through your faith, meaning your obedience) to surrender to and obey the Lord’s commandments (righteousness). In other words, He restoreth my soul (Ps 23:3). So, you purify your soul in obeying the truth through the Spirit – being “born again” of the Word (1 Pt 1:22-23). Man was created in the image of God and through Christ must be restored back to the image of God (Gen 1:26-27).
The Holy Spirit also brings us to righteous judgment. Scriptures say of the Lord: Proverbs 8:20, “I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment.” Judgment involves the ability to come to a wise decision. Man chose very foolishly (Prov 1:7) in following the devil in the garden of Eden (that which opposes God). Psalms 111:10, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.” True wisdom and righteous judgment leads us to freely love, surrender to, obey, trust and be devoted to God (faith).
True wisdom and righteous judgment also leads us to depart from all evil and anything that opposes or is contrary to God (Prov 16:17). Job 28:28, “And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” AND Proverbs 8:13, “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate (also Prov 3:7, 16:6, 34:14, 37:27).” God loves those who fear Him (Ps 33:18, 34:9-10). The LORD loveth the righteous (Ps 146:8). Psalms 147:11, “The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.”
What about those who do not seek after God and whom God is not in their thoughts (Ps 10:4)? Proverbs 28:5, “Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all things.” These are blinded to the clear truth – they just don’t get it (1 Cor 2:14, 2 Cor 4:4). Jesus said: Matthew 13:13, “Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.” Until you seek the Lord with a sincere heart your mind will remain clouded and confused and you will be unstable in all your ways (from God’s perspective, James 1:8). The Lord’s purposes are: Isaiah 42:7, “To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.” Satan is the prison keeper. Isaiah 42:16, “And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.”
God loves judgment! Psalms 37:28, “For the LORD loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.” AND Psalms 33:5, “He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.” Those who “fear God” also “know” God: Jeremiah 9:24, “But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD (also Ps 9:16, 19:9).” So it can be said: Proverbs 14:27, “The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death (also Prov 19:23).” The devil laid a snare in saying that you can sin and not die. This snare surely results in the death of any who are caught in it.
There is no “fear of God” with the wicked, and neither do they abhorreth evil (Ps 36:1, 4). The wicked love the darkness and do not seek God (Jn 3:19). These seek their “own way/will” and walk comfortably in the devil’s lie presuming that they can disobey God and that they will surely not die. They are self-centered and not God-centered. They are led about by the lusts and desires of the flesh – what they want/seek. These would gladly transform God into their image (or the way they desire God to be) – and this is how they relate to the Lord.
The Holy Spirit will not dwell within a wicked man (Job 18:21). Psalms 5:4, “For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee.” The wicked are those who “do not know God” and do not obey the truth. 2 Thessalonians 1:8, “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In order for the Holy Spirit to dwell within you, you must seek the Lord with all your heart and serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear (Heb 12:28, 2 Chr 12:14, Ps 22:26, 69:32, 119:2, Jer 29:13, Heb 11:6). Some might say/ask, “but won’t this will require a complete sacrifice of my entire life?” The answer is “YES” (Mt 10:37-39, 16:24-25, Mk 8:34-35, 10:21, Lk 9:23-24, 62, 14:26-27, 33, 17:33, Jn 12:25). The wicked will not seek after God due to the commitment involved (Ps 10:4, death to self, loss of your way/will). Count the costs (Lk 14:28).
To summarize: The Holy Spirit is given to us for an intended purpose (dwells within the believer). The Spirit leads us in the truth of the Word. The Spirit leads us to apply this truth to our lives and conform to the very image of Christ who is the image of God (2 Cor 4:4, Col 1:15). This is a restoration to what man was intended to be. Jesus absolutely did the will of the Father and completely obeyed Him (Ps 40:7-8, Mt 26:42, Jn 5:30, 6:38, 8:29, 15:10, Heb 10:7, 9). So, the truth that we are being led in is to obey the will of God and thus to depart from all evil (the devil’s lie, sin, iniquity, unrighteousness, the darkness, transgression, etc.). Just how conformed are we to be? Jesus said: Matthew 5:48, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” We are to be transformed and then demonstrate what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Rm 12:2). Be ye holy; for I am holy (1 Pt 1:16).
We are told in scripture that Christ’s church is populated with “just” men made perfect (Heb 12:23). A “just” man does that which is lawful and right, withdraws his hand from iniquity, executes true judgment and walks in God’s will (Ez 18:5, 8-9). A perfect and an upright man is one that feareth God, and escheweth evil (Job 1:28, 2:3). Proverbs 14:2, “He that walketh in his uprightness feareth the LORD: but he that is perverse in his ways despiseth him.” Therefore, the Lord’s purposes are for us to willingly obey God and depart from all evil/iniquity (Rm 12:9, 21, 1 Thess 5:22, 2 Thess 3:3, 2 Tim 2:19, 1 Pt 3:11). The Lord’s Spirit quickens (makes alive) and leads us in this regard (Jn 6:63, Rm 8:11). The Lord will establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins, and saveth the upright in heart (Ps 7:9-10, also Ps 11:5). Psalms 9:8, “And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness.” Psalms 11:7, “For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.” The Holy Spirit will strengthen you and make your way perfect (as you yield, follow and obey, Ps 18:31, 32:8, 37:23, Prov 3:6, 10:29, Is 40:31, Eph 3:16).
Therefore we may ask: Psalms 15:1-2, “LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.” Psalms 24:3-5 adds: “He that hath a pure heart.” Isaiah 66:2, “For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” Once again, this is saying that we must willingly and lovingly obey the Lord God (do His will) and depart from or forsake all evil/wickedness. In other words, we must freely and completely surrender our will to the authority of God. We must walk in God’s truth (be found in the image of God). All of this is accomplished (and only obtained/realized) in Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth, and the life (Jn 14:6, Acts 4:12). 1 Corinthians 8:3, “But if any man love God, the same is known of him.”
Walking in Evil
We now understand through God’s Word that a perfect and upright (righteous) man fears God and departs from evil (Ps 112:1, 128:1). Fear does not necessarily mean being scared of God, but rather that you reverence the Lord in everything you do with all due surrender, obedience, devotion, love, trust, etc. What does it mean to walk in evil (the opposite)? The devil led man to seek the will of the flesh over the commandment (will of) of God (Gen 3:1-5). Man was overcome by the flesh through the desire for “forbidden fruit.” The devil always leads in that which is forbidden. The flesh rose up and took authority to become a god and determine its own way. The devil tempts and deceives (allures, beguiles) through the lusts and desires of the flesh (2 Pt 3:11).
The actions of the flesh produces (manifests) distinct types of rotten fruit. The following are just a few examples (not an all inclusive list): Galatians 5:19-21, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” The audience this was spoken to was men who professed Christ.
Therefore: walking in evil is being led of the lusts and desires of your flesh which is the opposite of being led of the Holy Spirit. When Christ judges one’s life according to one’s works, some of the fruits from the preceding list may be your life’s works. In other words, the fruit that manifests in your actions is what your life on this earth has produced. To walk in the flesh is to not fear God: Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” A fool is one who walks contrary to the dictates of wisdom – usually wise in their own eyes (Prov 3:7, 14:12, 16:2, 25, 21:2, 21:8). Isaiah 5:21, “Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” The Lord cautions: “You trust in thy own wisdom and thine own knowledge and it hath perverted thee (Is 47:10).” It is abomination to fools to depart from evil (Prov 13:19). Shame shall be the promotion of fools (Prov 3:35). Proverbs 14:16, “A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident.”
What is the fool confident in? The fool is confident in the basis of the devil’s lie, that he can sin and not die (Gen 3:4). For they consider not that they do evil (Eccl 5:1). He is sure that things will ultimately work out in his favor. They justify their actions/behavior (often religiously) and are convinced that things are well. This is a false confidence. Conversely: Proverbs 14:26-27, “In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.” The devil said you could transgress God’s commandment and “ye shall not surely die.” God said: “Thou shalt surely die.” The devil does not have the ability to implement his boast – God does!
The author bought a pepper plant that was purported to be a yellow bell pepper. All common pepper plants basically look alike and the shape of their leaves bears witness to this appearance. However, each pepper plant produces a distinct type of fruit (jalapeno, bell, cayenne, anaheim, longhorn, pimento, habanero, chili, tabasco, cherry, etc.). The plants look alike until the fruit appears – this is how you will know. Jesus said of men: Matthew 7:20, “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” Many profess to love God, but their fruits (life’s actions) must confirm it (Jn 15:1-10, Gal 5:22-23, Eph 5:9). The author was expecting yellow bell peppers, but when the fruit appeared he got anaheim peppers. The author pulled the plant from it’s life giving nutrients and cast it away. God will do the same with men if He doesn’t receive the fruit He desires (Rm 1:29-32, 1 Cor 6:9-10, Gal 5:19-21). Depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Mt 7:23, 2 Thess 1:9). Take them away, and cast them into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Mt 22:13).
Following Jesus is altogether different from the way the majority of the world walks. Romans 13:14, “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” Those who abide in Christ are not led of the flesh! Galatians 5:24, “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” To “crucify” the lusts of the flesh is to put them to death. There must be a complete “change” in your life. 1 Peter 4:2, “That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.” Those who fear God live to the will of God.
The old way of life must be forsaken. Ephesians 2:3, “Among whom also we all had our conversation (lifestyle) in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” Those who are led of their flesh rather than of God’s Spirit are destined for the Lord’s wrath. So: Ephesians 4:22-24, “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Do you see the transformation that must take place? We must not fashion ourselves according to the former lusts of ignorance (1 Pt 1:14). 1 Peter 1:15-16, “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”
The author appeals to you (the reader): 1 Peter 2:11, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.” Notice that fleshly lusts are in conflict (war) against your eternal well-being! 3 John 1:11, “Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.” To walk in the flesh is to not “know” God.
Some may agree “conceptually” with what has been revealed, but the contention is always in the application. It has been rightfully surmised that the devil is in the details (a cliché or idiom). The author is going to put forth a few attention getting examples, but is in no way attempting to establish a list of do’s and don’ts. You must be led of the Holy Spirit (and God’s Word – the two agree) through a myriad of situations in this life’s journey. The Spirit leads perfectly in righteousness and following is your only hope in Christ Jesus (Ps 101:6). The flesh deceives and leads deceitfully in wicked ways while soothing you with the words, “ye shall not surely die.”
Is it possible to “know” God, love Him, and be filled with His Spirit and yet sit in front of the television set taking in all that the world has to offer? Does one who takes pleasure in unrighteousness (laughs with the world over entertaining acts of sin) really have a love for God or are they self deceived? Sentiments are fickle, but God’s Word is eternal, established and unchanging (Ps 100:5, 102:27, 119:89, 160, Heb 13:8). God’s Word plainly says: 2 Thessalonians 2:12, “That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” Do we presume God to be a liar and then make His Word void through our justifications and reasonings? He that believeth not God hath made him a liar (1 Jn 5:10). Can one expose/place oneself in front of the constant temptations proceeding forth from the television and yet walk in purity of thought and actions (2 Cor 10:5, Php 4:8)? Can they really depart from evil or the lusts and desires of the flesh? Do you take pleasure in the very sins that nailed Jesus to the cross? Lets be blunt – the television glorifies unrighteousness and sin!
The television is a tremendous source of evil! Jesus said of such: Mark 9:47-48, “And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” Do you think that Jesus was lying in saying this or just playing a cruel joke on you? David (beloved of God) said: “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes (Ps 101:3).” These very same things could be said of popular video games, professional sports and modern music. Do you guard your heart as to what enters into it?
Do you seek the things of this world? – whats popular? Some want to dress fashionably with the sought after name brand clothing. Some seek electronic gadgets (the nation is obsessed with such things now). Most are continually accumulating various possessions. Jesus said: Luke 12:15, “And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” Did you notice the “double” warning in Christ’s statement? Did you know that covetousness is idolatry (Col 3:5)? The Lord says that many people hear His words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness (Ez 33:31). Furthermore: they are as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not (Ez 33:32). Most people build their lives around constant entertainment and the accumulation of possessions. This is being led of the flesh through its lusts and desires.
Perhaps you are shocked by these very brief examples? Maybe your mind is busy conjuring up all sorts of justifications or “everybody’s doing it” scenarios? Maybe you are somewhat sincere and are now considering the enormous sacrifice required to be Christ’s disciple? Yes, you quite literally must die to these types of fleshly lusts. As Jesus said over and over (six times in the gospels): Matthew 16:24-25, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” In other words: John 12:25, “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.”
Perhaps you are trying to figure out how to circumvent/ignor/make void/twist these scriptures? Well consider these: Matthew 10:38, “And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.” AND Luke 14:27, “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” If you do not die to these things, you cannot be found in Christ (abiding). He that is not Christ’s does not have the Holy Spirit (God dwelling within them, Rm 8:9). If you do not die to the lusts of the flesh, you will not be able to follow where Christ leads. This is why it is not possible to walk the narrow way without a genuine heart for God.
Some may say, “but my church (religious organization/group) says…such and such” or “My church does not teach/believe these things.” This is all a part of working out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Php 2:12). AND 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates (also Ps 26:2)?” You must diligently seek God for His truth and then walk therein. Do not rest secure and comfortable on what man says. Consider that the religious were always an adversary to Christ. Give diligence to make your calling and election sure (2 Pt 1:10). Jesus said strive (with great effort) to enter at the strait gate into the kingdom of God and seek it foremost (Lk 13:24, Mt 6:33). Perhaps you are not as devoted to obtaining the kingdom of God as say sitting in front of the television or other such things? We give the most attention to the things we love! Where the heart is the actions will follow!
The author has clearly revealed the truth through scripture. Most churches (religious groups/institutions) claim to believe the Bible. However, when you dig just a little bit, you find that most churches do not practice what is in the Bible (they contradict quite a bit) that they claim to believe – they say but do not (Mt 23:3, Lk 6:46). Do you think you shall be judged of Christ according to your church’s doctrines or according to Christ’s Words (Jn 12:48)? Do you think that God is interested in your religious involvement (membership, attendance, flattering words, etc.) or your heart being completely given to Him in all that you do?
Consider: Matthew 15:8, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” Similarly: Isaiah 29:13, “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men.” Therefore: 1 John 3:18-19, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.” You know you are of the truth through your actions and not your words – keeping his commandments, and doing those things that are pleasing in his sight (1 Jn 3:22).
How do we know that we are being religiously mislead (false prophets/teachers)? Jeremiah 23:17, “They say still (to appease, to calm) unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace (all is well); and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you.” How do we know a true man of God? Jeremiah 23:22, “But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.”
A false prophet will lead the people to trust in a lie (Jer 28:15, 29:31)! A false prophet will teach the people rebellion against God (Jer 28:16, 29:32)! They will do this in a religious or seemingly godly way. They are of their father, the devil (Jn 8:44). The devil misused God’s Word in tempting Jesus in the wilderness (for it is written…Mt 4:3-11, Lk 4:1-13). The false prophets will misuse God’s Word in deceiving you. 2 Corinthians 11:14-15, “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” The Holy Spirit leads in the truth! The Spirit teaches obedience to the will of God! A true man of God will be directed of the Spirit.
We discussed earlier: 1 John 1:6, “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.” Walking in darkness is walking in the lusts of the flesh. If you are not able to part with such things as the examples put forth above then it only reveals that you love the darkness and will not approach unto the truth (Light, Jn 3:19-21). Please consider the following with regards to the examples above: 1 John 2:15-17, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” Can it be anymore clear than that? What makes things muddy is one’s refusal to yield to the truth, but rather justify alternatives. Many want to love the world (considering the alternative of dying to personal desire) so they must religiously maneuver around such verses. Those of the world do not “know” God (1 Jn 3:1).
The author will direct you to Christ’s profound statement: Luke 6:46, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” Don’t get mad at the messenger: Galatians 4:16, “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” Is it not better to confront these things now rather than later before the throne of God? The truth will make all things manifest (Eph 5:13, Heb 4:13).
In conclusion, please consider the following verse: Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” This verse has been used very flippantly by the religious community in a very esoteric way. Perhaps you can now discern its true meaning? 1 Corinthians 2:12, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.” Do you truly “know” these things?
It is not in a man to righteously determine the correct path (Pv 28:26). For who knoweth what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow (Eccl 6:12)? Proverbs 3:5-7, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.” Proverbs 16:3, “Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.”
The preceding verses are great wisdom! Proverbs 3:13, “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding (also Prov 23:23).” Proverbs 3:14-15, “For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her (also Prov 8:10-11).” Jesus said it like this: Matthew 13:44, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.”
So what shall we say? Proverbs 1:5, “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels (also Prov 9:9).” Proverbs 4:7, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” Those who are genuinely wise will embrace God’s eternal and forever established truth (Prov 9:10, 15:33). These will part with everything to obtain it. Matthew 13:45-46, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” Lose your life for Christ’s name sake and the gospel’s. Proverbs 15:16, “Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.”
We have determined conclusively through scripture that the Lord loves righteousness, truth and judgment. Psalms 96:13, “Before the LORD: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.” The Lord judges without respect of persons (1 Pt 1:17). God’s Word reveals very plainly (matter of factly): “thy word is truth (Jn 17:17).” Jesus is the Word of God and is the very embodiment (personification) of God’s truth (Jn 1:1-4, Rev 19:13). John 1:14, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” Beware: Proverbs 24:12, “If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?”
Jesus said: John 12:48, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. Christ is Faithful and True, and in righteousness He doth judge and make war (Rev 19:11) – true and righteous are thy judgments (Rev 16:17). This truth reveals that obedience to the will of God (from the heart) is life and life eternal. Your life will be judged against this eternal and overwhelming truth. Jesus’ very words stated: The Son of man shall reward every man according to his works (Mt 16:27, also Rev 2:23).Revelation 20:12-13, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.” Faith without works is dead (James 2:17, 26)! Faith is made perfect through works (application, demonstration, lifestyle, James 2:22). Faith results in good and acceptable fruit!!! When God comes for the harvest, what will your life have produced (Mk 4:29, Rev 14:15)?
Don’t be fooled; your life will tell the story. You either feared God and departed from evil or you did not. You were either abiding in Christ or you were not (Jn 15:1-10, 1 Jn 2:27-28, 3:6, 2 Jn 1:9). You were either led of Christ’s Spirit or you were led of the flesh (Rm 8:1, 4-14). You either walked in light or darkness (Jn 3:19-21, Acts 26:18, Rm 13:12, 2 Cor 4:6, Eph 5:8, 11, Col 1:13, 1 Thess 5:5, 1 Pt 2:9, 1 Jn 1:5-6); the truth or a lie (Rm 1:25, 1 Jn 2:21). You either overcame the world or were overcome by the world (1 Jn 5:4-5, Rm 12:2, 1 Jn 2:15-17, Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 26, 3:5, 12, 21, 21:7). You either overcame evil (with good) or were overcome by evil (Rm 12:21). You either conformed to the image of Christ or were conformed to the image of the world (Rm 8:29, 12:2, 1 Cor 15:49, 2 Cor 3:18, Col 3:10, 1 Pt 2:21). You either gained your life in this world (your way/will/desires) or lost it for Christ’s sake (died to, forsook, freely gave it up, Mt 10:39, 16:25, Mk 8:35, Lk 9:24, 17:33, Jn 12:25). It really comes down to having faith (love, trust, surrender, obedience, devotion) toward God or a disregard for God.
Sincerely consider with due seriousness: 1 John 2:17, “And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” Psalms 1:5-6, “Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” These are two conflicting ways or paths (light/darkness; faith/unbelief; truth/lie; narrow/broad; flesh/Spirit; righteous/wicked; just/unjust, meek/proud; wise/foolish; wheat/tares; sheep/goats; etc.). God’s way will prevail at the appointed time. Isaiah 55:6, “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.” The appointed day is ever nearer (Acts 17:31, Heb 9:27).
There is a new heaven and a new earth coming wherein dwelleth “righteousness (2 Pt 2:13).” For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea (Is 11:9). In other words, all creation will be restored to walk in love and obedience to the will of God. We must escape the corruption that is in this world through lust if we want to be a part of God’s eternity (2 Pt 1:4). Jesus Christ has provided the means (forgiveness of past sins and the Spirit of Grace to lead) and the way (His example). You must now obediently follow with a full heart in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God (2 Pt 3:11-12).
Those who disregard God will perish in the condemnation of God (Gen 2:17). Ecclesiastes 8:13, “But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God.” Reasonings, emotions and sentiments are deceitful. God’s Word is true, established and unchanging. Do you base your life upon your wisdom or God’s? 1 Corinthians 2:14, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Conversely: 1 Corinthians 3:19, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.” There is an opposition here. The Lord says: Isaiah 55:8, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.” Ours is not to wonder why, ours is just to do or die.
We must come to the fully applied realization of: “I have set the LORD always before me” (Ps 16:8) in everything that we do. You must seek the Lord for His Holy Spirit such that He will show you His ways, and teach you and lead you in His truth (Ps 16:11, 25:4-5, 85:13, 143:10). The Lord will do so for those who fear Him (Ps 25:12, 14). Psalms 86:11, “Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.”
Psalms 103:17-18, “But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children; To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.” Ecclesiastes 3:14, “I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.”
It is only appropriate that this paper end with the words of a very wise man (Solomon): Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” This has been the message of this writing, may you now walk in the wisdom and truth of the gospel – growing in grace and understanding in Christ Jesus (2 Pt 3:18). AMEN.
Summary (Knowing God)
- God loves those who fear Him (Ps 33:18, 34:9-10).
- Psalms 147:11, “The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.”
- The LORD loveth the righteous (Ps 146:8).
- God loves righteousness and hates iniquity (Heb 1:9).
- He loveth him that followeth after righteousness (Prov 15:9).
- Psalms 11:7, “For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.”
- Psalms 33:5, “He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.”
- For the LORD loveth judgment (Ps 37:28)
- Jeremiah 9:24, “But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD (also Ps 9:16, 19:9).”
- The LORD lifteth up the meek, guides them in judgment, teaches them his way and beautifies them with salvation. (Ps 25:9, 147:6, 149:4).
- God says, “I love them that love me (Prov 8:17).”
- 1 John 5:3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.”
- The Lord is a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he (Deut 32:4).
- All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth and all his works are done in truth (Ps 25:10, 33:4).
- He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth (Ps 96:13).
We can conclude that God loves judgment, righteousness, truth and those who are meek and fear Him. Faith encompasses all of these qualities and this is how God must be approached. So is it any wonder that the Lord looks to those who walketh uprightly, worketh righteousness, speaketh the truth, are pure in heart, of a contrite spirit, fear Him, obey Him, are holy, perfect & just, are poor, and tremble at His Word?
Did you notice that the proud, talented, self-sufficient, resourceful, accomplished, wise in their own eyes, and rich are left out? These traits exalt the flesh and lessen God! These are the types of individuals the world loves and admires/exalts.
The author has written five books and periodically writes other articles, tracts and books as the Lord puts them on his heart. These are offered free of charge and may be obtained by writing: 209 Cedar Pond Dr., Madison, Al. 35757