True Spiritual Victory

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,

20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. Eph. 6:10-20

In my country, Tanzania, there is a city called Arusha. Anyone, even from outside the country, who has ever heard of Tanzania knows Arusha, for it is the tourist hub of Tanzania. In other words, it is the most renowned city in Tanzania.

But there is something else for which Arusha is notorious for: it is awash with Pentecostal churches, ministries, radio stations, etc. There is every kind of these things in Arusha. And Arusha has every kind of ministry that you can find in the Bible, and more. Here there are chief apostles, ‘anointed thunder’; anything and everything that has to do with Penteostalism you will find here.

Furthermore, it is as if every minute there is a major Christian event going on in this distinguished city.

But it is in the ministry of prayer that Arusha has broken the sound barrier. The city is the prayer mecca of Tanzania. Dozens of prayer mountains, both literal and figurative, dot the town. Every weekend, pilgrims are bused in from every corner of Tanzania to attend ‘power-packed’ prayer vigils in the various hallowed locations of this city. Arusha is the powerhouse of prayer in the country.

But, in spite of all this religious activity and prayers, a lot of rumours surround the lives of most of the leaders of these ministries, churches, etc, leaving a lot to be desired. And rumour also has it that Arusha is not the holiest city in Tanzania. As far as raw crime goes, to begin with, it is an open secret that Arusha is the top haven for robbers, conmen, etc. A while back, the army had to be called in to dislodge a gang of robbers who had barricaded themselves inside a top-security house. In fact, during that particular operation the army had to use artillery to bring down the house!

And there is more. The rumour mill also has it that for every kind of twilight girl who considers themselves light-skinned enough and who can manage a smattering of English, their first stop is Arusha. The green city teems with these girls.

The general picture, therefore, is that, despite the city being the top upholder of Christian prayer and religious activity, it appears also to be abode of spiritual principalities and powers of darkness.

And herein we find the biggest problem facing the church today, and the chief reason for the church walking in defeat. The problem with most believers is that, when they read that our warfare is

“against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places”

they immediately think in the natural. Instead of seeing things in the Spirit through God’s Word, they visualize things in their mind. And when you think in the natural, in the spirit you are defeated even before you begin your perceived ‘warfare’.

These believers begin to war against the devil through prayer, fasting, rebuking, etc. Now, these things are necessary, but notice in our key scripture above that they are not the first thing on the to-do list. According to this scripture, the first thing is living a holy life. Prayer is part of our spiritual weaponry all right, but it is not the sole weapon and, indeed, it is not the first. Our primary spiritual weapon is the holy life that we live. That is what Paul is telling us in Ephesians.

When we have not the revelation of the cross, we do things upside down. We begin with number two instead of number one; or, we begin with the tail instead of the head. And there is no victory in such an approach.

In fact, the Christian way to living a victorious lifestyle is the life we live, not the principles and laws that we follow. That is why, in living the victorious Christian life, there are no 5 (or 10 or 20) steps to this or that. There are no number of principles to follow. That is why the Apostle Paul can tell the Ephesians,

“18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; 19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel…”

Imagine that! As part of their victorious war against the devil, Paul asks the Ephesians to pray for him and his ministry! This is not the understanding the church has today. All it knows about warring against the devil is casting, rebuking, so-called deliverance, and such-like. Prayer therefore becomes a ritual from which the believer’s life and lifestyle is suspended.

But prayer ought to be part and parcel of our entire Christian life.

Finally, Proverbs 14:34 tells us:

“Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.”

We cannot replace “righteousness” with “prayer” in this scripture, can we? You can pray all you want, but if you are not striving to live a holy life, all your praying amounts to nothing.

[The approach to Singida Town from Arusha]

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God’s Power In Earthen Vessels

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 2 Cor. 4:7

I never appreciated how powerful this statement was until I understood how prone we as humans are to two things in particular:

  1. We are prone to sinning; and
  2. Taking credit for each and everything that we accomplish.

Actually, I never thought much about this scripture until I began noticing how truly weak I was. I could be up in the heavens one minute (holiness-wise); and the next I would fall so far and so hard I would need to be resuscitated, so to speak. And yet, still, whenever I scored a victory in the good fight of faith I found myself thinking, “Oh, how good I am!” or “How well I have done that!”

In fact, thinking that we are something is one of the greatest weaknesses we have. But the Bible states here exactly who or what we are: mere earthen vessels. What insight the Apostle Paul had into the wisdom of God!

Earthen vessels. Earthen vessels are things that are made of clay; and things that are made of clay are fragile and easily breakable. Now, if that doesn’t talk tons about our character! We are liable to sin at the drop of a heart, have you ever noticed that? We are so weak! And the Apostle Paul tells us this realization comes to us to the end that we might give “the excellency of the power” to God. When God gives you the grace to see things in the Spirit as Paul saw them here, you will be giving all the glory and honor and power to God with all your heart. You will be praising Him every minute of your life.

In a sense, “earthen vessels” points to the cross. It talks of our willingness to be broken and moulded, in order that we might be fit to carry God’s treasure in us. But this moulding is a work which can happen only when we have allowed our lives to be crucified. A soft and malleable spirit is what allows God to accomplish this work in us.

And let me tell you that, once you accept the fact that you are nothing but a mere “earthen vessel” to be broken, you have locked onto God’s perspective of things. From there onwards, any victory, any good thing that comes to you will be credited back to God, and this gives God the glory.

But notice also that this scripture mentions “the excellency of the power… of God”.

Anywhere you see the word “power” mentioned in the Bible in relation to us, beware. It references the cross, for the Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:18 that the preaching of the cross is the power of God to those who are called.

Actually, “the excellency of the power… of God” is the subject of the Bible. If there is atomic power then there is the power of God. And the power of God does things that no other power can. It changes us. It transforms us from being nothing to becoming God’s powerhouses. We declare and showcase the power of God in our lives. Sin – powerful sin – and all the works of Satan are broken and they lie powerless at our feet. One day, even death itself will be defeated in our lives. That is the power of God at work in us. And this transformation is the “treasure” that Paul is talking of. The “treasure” is our sinless life.

There is only one way to experience this power and hence have this treasure in you: nail your flesh to the cross. Give up who you are; give up your rights as you consider Christ’s example. You will never experience the power of God if you are holding onto your life.

But if you let go your life and allow God to deal with you as one deals with an earthen vessel, you will experience the power of God in your life and you will carry God’s hidden treasure in you.

“The Way Of Holiness”

8 And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.

9 No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there:

10 And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. Is. 35:8-10

The way of holiness”. What a way! Nothing unclean shall pass over it; it shall be for the holy only. The Bible goes on to give a description of the holy.

“No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon…”

The lion here does not refer to the Lion of Judah, who is Jesus Himself. Both the lion and the ravenous  beast the Bible speaks of here talk of the carnal lusts in us. These shall not be found on that road. The carnal nature shall not be there.

The Bible says that “the redeemed shall walk there”. Redeemed from what? It is men and women who have been redeemed from the corrupt nature of the flesh.

Everything here unmistakably speaks of the need to crucify our flesh. Everything with the gospel revolves around the cross – the cross working in us. If that detail is lacking in our understanding of the gospel, then we simply are not living the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are living “another gospel” (2 Cor. 11:4).

Lion. Ravenous beast. How so apt a description of the lusts that destroy both us and those who surround us! Here, on this highway, they shall not be there! Praise the Lord!!

As with all of the gospel of Jesus Christ, this scripture is therefore a call to crucify our flesh. It is a call from God to separate ourselves from this world through dying to self. The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul put out this call so well:

“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” (Gal. 5:24)

[““No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon…”]

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Our Hearts – God’s Husbandry

For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. 1 Cor. 3:9

It has been some time since I last posted on this blog. During the time that I was away, however, God was teaching me something valuable, which is what I want to share with you today. God has been teaching me that we are His “husbandry”, that we His building.

The word “husbandry” simply means garden or farm. We work our gardens, or our farms. In the same manner, God also works His garden, which is us.

And in the same manner that we painstakingly build our houses, God also builds His.

But exactly which part of us is God building? And which part, exactly, is He working as His garden? It is our hearts. God’s garden, God’s building, is the human heart, and especially the heart that is surrendered to Him. When we surrender our hearts to God, we become His husbandry and He begins to work in us.

The heart is God’s turf.

Now, if we want our gardens to be clean and orderly, how much more does our Lord want His garden to be clean and orderly? If we can consider and take care of our earthly abodes to such an extent, how much more the heavenly one? God therefore wants us to look after the cleanliness and orderliness of our hearts above all things.

That being the case, and considering that God has enemies – Satan and his fallen angels – there are so many things that will come to try and dirty or “rubbish” our hearts.

In the above scripture, Paul says that he and the team of ministers that was with him were “labourers together with God”. In other words, Paul was saying that he and God were working God’s people’s hearts. They were tilling them, manuring them, and caring for them in every sensee of the word. It also means that they were pruning them (which is not a very enjoyable experience for the plants!)

That is what a preacher ought to be doing. Every preacher ought to care about the condition of the hearts of his flock. Any other agenda is mere earthly, motivational speaking, which has absolutely nothing to do with God’s spiritual agenda for men. Why do you think the Apostle Paul would write:

“And I, brethren, when I came to you… I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:1-2)

The Apostle Paul could have preached so many things to these people. He could have preached the world to them. But he preached them nothing apart from how to take up their cross and follow Christ. That is how God takes care of His garden, which is our hearts.

Jesus never changes. We must strive to guard our hearts at all times in order to be found safe and sound in Him. We must at every opportunity refuse to allow into our hearts things that will dirty them. The things in question are, basically, the works of the flesh.

“19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like…” (Gal. 5:19-21)

These are the things that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we must never allow into our hearts. The Holy Spirit has been given to us for this very purpose.

We must not hearken to new age gospels that teach us that we must care for our bodies as much as we care for our spirits. There are people who teach that because the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, then it must be cared for to the same extent that our spirits are cared for.

But you would have a hard time convincing the poor, beggarly and sore-infested Lazarus that we read of in the Bible of such an outlook on life. The Bible actually states that Lazarus went to heaven while the rich man who fed himself sumptuously went to hell. Much food for thought there.

God is not bothered if you are dirty or poor or underfed. If God can allow us to live abundant earthly lives, praise the Lord! But God is infinitely more concerned about the condition of our hearts. It is our hearts, not our bodies, that will live with Him forever in heaven.

CTMI East Africa Youth Camp 2016

This year’s youth camp was held in Tanzania, in the town of Musoma, which is situated on the shores of Lake Victoria. The campsite was located in a resort situated at the extreme end of the Musoma peninsula.

The camp ran for five days, from the evening of 13th to the morning of Sunday, 18th December. More than 700 young people attended the camp. They came from all over East Africa; but we also had delegates from Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mauritius and the UK.

The key speaker for the conference was Pastor Lenny Boy from Mauritius. His central message was two-fold:

  • a love for the cross, and;
  • becoming bearers of the spiritual inheritance.

Reading from the Book of Numbers chapter 21 verses 4 to 9, Pastor Lenny emphasized the danger of turning our backs on the cross especially in this rebellious generation.

“4 And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. 5 And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. 6 And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. 7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. 8 And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. 9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.”

East or west, north or south, our only hope of redemption is in the cross. The children of Israel had began to cultivate a love of (or, a return to) the world. They murmured against the way that God was taking them through. They did not like the long and difficult road one little bit, so they complained. Above all, and most displeasing to God, they “loatheth this light bread.”

But that “light bread” was Christ Himself! It had been given to them by God Himself, direct from heaven. But in their souls, they loathed this bread. In essence, they loathed Christ. They did not love the ways of the Lord. They wanted the bread and water of this world. God was deeply displeased with them, for they wanted their ways – the ways of this world – rather than the ways of the Lord.

In His anger, God brought fiery serpents in their midst, and many, many people died. When the people cried out to God, He gave them an antidote for the snakes’ poison; He instructed Moses to make a brass snake, and to set it up on a pole in the desert. Whoever got bitten and looked at the snake would live.

Brother Lenny told us that, in this adulterous generation, we are not to loathe the Christ who has been revealed to us, who is the crucified Christ. Our souls should not loathe the ways of the Lord. We should not tire of the cross. When we tire of the cross, sin quickly bites us.

But God is still merciful, and He has put a brass snake in the desert. When sin bites us, we can still turn to the cross and there find salvation and redemption when we repent and turn again to the Lord.

If we want to live in this rebellious and adulterous generation, we have nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. East or west, our only hope of redemption is in the crucified Christ. If we fail to accept the ways of the Lord we shall die.

During the second part of this conference, Pastor Lenny also spoke of the need for the youth to desire to inherit the positions that the elders are leaving behind; not in the flesh, but in the Spirit. Lenny spoke about “passing the baton”, referring to the 4×4 relay race. He spoke about the readiness and anticipation that the one who is receiving the baton has to have.

The youth, he said, need to have that same readiness in the Spirit. It is a preaparedness of the spirit. When the youth are thus prepared in their spirits, the elders can walk away into the twilight of their lives in the firm assurance that the gospel will continue to abound and prosper.

The real enemy against this preparedness is a love for the world. Pastor Lenny spoke about how today’s youth are keen on the ways of this world. They are extremely tech-savvy. They boast in how easily they can master every new technological app!

But God does not want us to be carried away by these things. He wants us to know His ways, which are the ways of the cross. To have a readiness in our hearts to suffer with Christ, and to be a light unto the world. That is the only way the youth can be prepared to take the baton from their elders.

The meetings were extremely charged with the power of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, on the last day, Sunday, there was a special session of prayer for the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Hundreds of young people came forward and got baptized in the Holy Spirit.

On that same Sunday, immediately after the morning service, there was a water baptism for those who had not yet been baptized. After all, we were right by the lake and there was much water!

Many young people came forward to be baptized, and there was much rejoicing.

And with that note, the camp came to a powerful ending. There was joy all around. But of even more importance, there were new resolutions made, new hope imparted and a true revival in the Spirit in the hearts of the young people.

God bless Pastor Lenny, God bless Pastor Stephen, God bless all the elders, God bless the youth!

[Below: The camp meeting in pictures]

Many traveled to the camp by bus:

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Lenny preaching the gospel:

God was at work in many young people’s hearts:

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A section of the large tent meeting:

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In the afternoons, it was time for games and recreation. Here, the young people prepare to go out to play…

… with the elders close in tow:

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In the playing fields, there was a wide variety of games:

In the meantime, the elders took time off to relax:

The scenic landscape of the Musoma peninsula…

… and a lovely sunset:

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The beautiful cottages of the Matvilla Beach Resort, where the camp was held:

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On Saturday evening, Brother Lenny made a special prayer for the sisters from Malawi:

And Pastor Stephen ministered briefly:

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The brethren who attended from Mauritius and the UK:

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The IT crew:

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The youth receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit!:

Scores of youth were also baptized in the waters of Lake Victoria:

And Bishop Elly Mpule was there to witness the occassion:

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Joe and I in a photo-op with Lenny:

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And, finally, the team from Singida…

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… who brought along some very original photo-shooting styles:

True Service To God

1 Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?

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.

3 He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations.

4 I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not. Is. 66:1-4

In a desperate bid to become like God, man goes to all kinds of lengths to avoid touching the ground. That is why we avoid the dust by riding in our cars. That is why, also, it is fashionable to fly in an airplane. Planes fly us far above the earth. (And, here’s a tip: in case you want to own your very own private jet to keep you constantly air-borne, you will need to come up with around 65 million dollars, U.S., according to the latest buzz I heard.)

Even when asleep we lie above the ground, on beds. It is only after we have died that we grudgingly allow ourselves to be laid down in the dust.

But all these efforts are futile, for the heart of the man who has not been born again by the Spirit of God is hopelessly rooted in the earth. Such an one is a child of Satan, the ruler of the darkness of this world, and his lusts are what he fulfills.

But God is holy, righteous and pure. He lives above the darkness of this world. If the earth is God’s footstool, it is evident that what occupies God is not what goes on beneath His feet but rather, what goes on above it. What engages God is not what occurs on the earth, but what takes place in heaven!

That does not mean that God does not care about us and the world around us. Rather, it means that God is Spirit and what concerns Him is the spiritual, not the worldly or material. He keeps the world by His power all right, but that does not mean He is pleased with the world.

There is only one thing that pleases God: a life lived in the Spirit. And what, pray, is a life lived in the Spirit?

People do all kinds of things for God in an attempt to impress Him, but God is the Creator of everything. There is nothing that we can surprise God with. You can build a complex temple of pure gold for God, but that cannot impress Him. All the gold in the world is His, and all the building designs in the world are His also.

When it comes to our religious posturing, we can prostrate ourselves all the way to the Arctic, but God would not be impressed with that either. We can also sing the most beautiful songs, and dance with all our strength like David did, but Jesus said that God can cause stones to sing out, too (Lk. 19:40). And we can deliver the most stirring sermons, but God does not expressly need us to do that; the Bible tells us that God once used a donkey to deliver one of the most moving sermons in the history of mankind … a sermon that saved someone’s life (read Numbers chapter 22).

There is absolutely nothing that we can do that is not born of God’s heart that can please God. On the contrary, the more we insist on doing for God things born outside of His heart, the more we vex God.

“He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol…”

God is not concerned with our religious affectations. But God is very concerned with a man or woman who trembles at His Word, for God’s Word is the only tool that can make us to do that which delights God. Trembling here does not mean we are to stand somewhere shaking. On the contrary, when we tremble at God’s Word, it means our spirits are quick to obey Him by leaving off sinning.

Who is the person who trembles at God’s Word, and who obeys God? Who is it that can leave off sinning? It is the person who denies themselves, carries their cross and follows Christ. This is the person who truly pleases God.

There are gospels today that have no idea of what God requires from us. Indeed, there are false gospels that have been engineered to remove the fear of God from men’s hearts. This is what the Apostle Paul means when he says in 2 Corinthians 11:3:

“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

Paul goes on to say in verse 4:

For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.”

These false gospels set men’s sights on the material things of this world. They also trivialize God’s anointing and His power by treating these qualities like disposable commodities.

A brother once attended a big conference in a neighboring country that was being led by a powerful preacher. When he came back, he excitedly told us, “Y’know what? I fell under the anointing!”

There is nothing in such things to bring the fear of God into men’s hearts.

At any rate, we should be careful. The Bible says that both the devil and his servants are able to transform themselves into ministers of light (2 Cor. 11:13-15). That is why we should be careful with all these emotional manifestations that have invaded the church.

But – praise the Lord! – there is one place where you can absolutely not go wrong with God: living the crucified life. Living the crucified life produces the character of God in us, which is the fruit of the Spirit; and the fruit of the Spirit is the one thing that God seeks for in us (Mat. 21:18-19). God’s Word in Galatians 5:22-23 tells us:

 “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 meekness, temperance”.

This is the kind of lifestyle that God is looking for in us, and it can only be found in a crucified life. The Bible sums it up by saying:

“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” (Gal. 5:24)

[Below: A praise session. Here, God looks upon the heart]

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Spiritual vs Carnal Believers – Part 2

… Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him.

51 And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear.

52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.

53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?

54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? Mat. 26:50-54

In this our second part, let us continue to reflect on Jesus’ words to Peter:

“Put up again thy sword into his place…”

Jesus was telling Peter that the sword was not needed in the Kingdom of God. The sword here stands for the evil things that reside in our hearts – hatred, envy, violence, vengeance, etc. These are the weapons that we use to fight with in the flesh; and here Jesus was telling Peter: “Put them away!”

Vengeance is a big problem with man. Many of us, when wronged, feel that ‘righteous’ anger and the need to retaliate. But God wants us to become spiritual and not retaliate. In becoming spiritually mature, we fulfill the divine command:

“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Rom.12:19) .

There are even believers who love watching things like wrestling on TV, and boxing and even football all out of the need to satiate their lust for vengeance. But these are attitudes that need to be flushed from our system – flushed out through a work of the cross.

One of the things that the gospel of the gospel accomplished in our church many years ago was to remove these things from our hearts. When the gospel came, we were watching all these evil things on TV and you could see the result of this from our sick and antagonistic hearts. Then, one day, it was all over. People just stopped watching these things. The desire was gone!

That was a work of the Holy Spirit. No one told us to stop watching. But the Lord Himself intervened, and when He did the hunger for competition was removed from people’s hearts and it was replaced by love for one another. Today, many years later, people are loving and serving one another with ever greater fervor.

The spirit of competition is a spirit of the world. We want to win and we want someone else to lose! It is a problem of the heart.

As for wrestling and other violent ‘games’, I firmly believe that these are no-go zones for the believer. Why would you want to feed your spirit with all that violence?

We need to heed Jesus’ words: “Put up again thy sword into his place…”

We are to be people of peace. The Bible tells us to be “harmless as doves” (Mat. 10:16). We cannot be harmless if we are carrying weapons of warfare in our hearts.

Let us consider the last part of this sentence:

“…for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.”

That’s a warning and it’s a tough one. What this scripture is actually saying is that if you decide to defend yourself in the flesh, you shall lose or die. Notice the word “perish”, right there. Yes, you will perish spiritually – and there is nothing as tragic as a spiritual death.

The Bible here categorically denies us the right to take up the weapons of our flesh. In practical terms, it means that when situations rise up against us, we should not react. The fact is, God will have allowed these situations into our lives because there are things that He wants to remove from our hearts – things of the flesh. We cannot wish these things away. We have to put them to death through submitting ourselves to the cross. When we fail to give them up and when we keep putting up defences against the work of the Holy Spirit in us, we are “taking the sword”, and the result is that we will die spiritually.

It was the Lord Jesus Himself who said so:

“…for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.”

These are words that we need to consider seriously.

In many places the Bible lists the things of the flesh:

“19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 20 These are the things which defile a man” (Mat. 15:19-20)

Roman 1:29-31 provides another list:

29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful”.

These are things that we must put to death. That is why the church needs to have an understanding of the cross. Taking up our cross and following Christ is the only way to become a spiritual believer.

[A burial. In the same manner our carnal nature needs to be dead and buried]

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