1 JOHN 1:1-4
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life--
2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us--
3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.
4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.
John is using a somewhat different approach to his testimony of Jesus, saying that he had personally seen, touched, witnessed, and heard everything Jesus did during His time on Earth. Thus he is swearing that everything written about Jesus is true.
1 JOHN 1:5-10
5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.
6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
John first testifies that God is full of light and there is no darkness or shadow in Him. John equates sin with darkness, and says as long as we follow Jesus' commandments we will always walk in light, spiritually.
Some may speculate that if Jesus cleanses us from sin, we have no sin, right? On the surface that may seem true, but we need to remember that we live in a fleshly body, and the flesh is inherently sinful.
Please bear with me here, this can get to be a bit complex.
Sin can only attack the flesh - without flesh there is no lust, greed, envy, covetousness, hatred, drunkenness, etc. as Paul states;
7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.
This is why Jesus had to take on a human body; first of all to experience first-hand all that we do - weariness, pain, suffering, hunger, thirst, temptation, weakness, sorrow, everything we face daily so that He can relate to what it is like being human. He was God, yes, but He agreed to be bound by human frailties that He might truly understand human weaknesses.
He also had to take on flesh so that Satan could tempt Him just as He tempts us. Scripture only three temptations, but the Book of Luke which states that He was tempted for all 40 days that He was in the wilderness.
1 Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into[a] the wilderness,
2 being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.
The author of Hebrews confirms this;
14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Finally, Jesus had to have a perfect human body for the sins of the world to be contained in. This doesn't mean that He was perfect in appearance, it meant that His body was sinless in the eyes of His Father, a perfect vessel for the sins of the world to be poured into.
Sin spread to all mankind from Adam and the implication is that sin is passed from father to the children;
12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned...
That being the case, while Jesus had a human mother, He had a sinless, non-human Father, therefore Jesus was born outside of the normal "sin cycle" and He was born without inheriting the curse of Adam's sin and rebellion. In other words, sinless.
For those who are skeptical of "virgin births" there is a process called "parthenogenesis" in which female animals, insects, fish and others have offspring without male fertilization.
Therefore when Jesus hung on the cross, the sins of the world were poured into His flesh, an event of such magnitude that it literally darkened the sun for three hours. And when that body died, the sins died with it.
But the price of sin had still to be paid, so He suffered in the deepest level of Hell and could not get out until God's justice was satisfied,
PSALMS 88:4-7, 8
4 I am counted with those who go down to the pit; I am like a man who has no strength,
5 Adrift among the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom You remember no more,and who are cut off from Your hand.
6 You have laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the depths.
7 Your wrath lies heavy upon me,
8 I am shut up, and I cannot get out;
Note that in verse 8c that Jesus, even though being equal with God, was shut up in Hell and could not get out until the Father released Him.
King David further prophesied that Jesus would spend time in Hell when he said;
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope.
10 For You will not leave my soul in Hell, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
Ok, we've discussed that the flesh is inherently sinful, our sin nature being inherited from Adam. We have seen that Jesus was free of Adam's rebellion and sin as His body was not created by a human father. Therefore He was the perfect vessel for the sins of the world to be poured into at Calvary.
Sin can only attack the flesh but it is the spirit that must pay for the consequences of sin.
The flesh cannot be saved, God condemned the flesh to destruction as His justice demanded after Adam's rebellion, but made provision that our eternal spirits may be free from eternal destruction.
But this creates a war between the flesh and the spirit. As Paul stated;
21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.
22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.
23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
25 I thank God--through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.
So even though we are cleansed of sin by Jesus' sacrifice we are not yet perfect, for we are still in sinful fleshly bodies. Once we cast off this body, we are free from sin and God's salvation makes us perfect in His sight, and we are granted access into Heaven.
1 JOHN 2:1-2
1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
John may not have been aware that other letters had been written about Jesus (he had been exiled to the island of Patmos (just off the westernmost coast of present-day Turkey) just before his death, possibly to work the Roman tin mines there when he wrote Revelation).
In any case, he reminds his readers that Jesus is the Savior of all men, and that obedience to His commandments will lead us to salvation. And if we do sin, Jesus is basically our defense attorney before the Father.
1 JOHN 2: 3-6
3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.
4 He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.
6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
Jesus gave his new, spiritual commandments to follow while he was here on Earth. The God-given Covenant under the Law of Moses had been fulfilled at His death, and with Jesus' death a new Law and Covenant had been established, a covenant leading to salvation and eternal life which the Law of Moses could not do.
I've met number of people who claim they know God, and love him, yet do not read the Bible or know his commandments. Yet Jesus himself said;
21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him."
So the question arises, how can they say that they know Him and love Him when they don't know His commandments? Most of us are without excuse because we have access to Bibles.But if we don't use them what good are they? Remember, even the Nazis called themselves "Christians", but they certainly didn't follow his commandments!
1 JOHN 2:7- 11
7 Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning.
8 Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.
9 He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now.
10 He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.
11 But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
John is saying that the new commandments aren't really new but have their foundations in the Old Testament Law of Moses. The biggest differences come from the fact that the New Testament laws are the fulfillment and embodiment of the spiritual laws that the Old Testament laws pointed to. The commandments of the Law were based on works which essentially said "do this and you will live".
But the Law didn't require faith and had no provision for salvation, therefore it needed to be replaced by a better covenant with better commandments which could bestow eternal life to its followers, namely the New Testament.
1 JOHN 2:12-14
12 I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name's sake.
13 I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children, because you have known the Father.
14 I have written to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning.I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one.
It appears as if John is repeating himself, but actually this is a form of exhortation to all three classes of believers, fathers, young men, and children; and by appearing to repeat himself he is stressing the importance of what he is saying to each group.
1 JOHN 2:15-17
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the world.
17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
John reminds his audience that the things of the world are only temporary, they can be taken away at any time. We are to use the things of this world, but consider them as tools to be used, not things to be loved.
Money is a good example of this - money is a good tool useful for providing things that we need. The money isn't called "cold cash" for nothing - you can love it but it can't love you. And money can be taken away in a moment, and if it is, where does it leave you?
If you think about it all that we really need is food, clothing, water, shelter, and if we have these we have everything we need for our physical life. But if we acumulate treasures in heaven, they are eternal and will never fade, nor will any thief steal them.
As Paul said concerning the trap of greediness;
1 TIMOTHY 6:7-10
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
I attended a church one time where the pastor delivered an angry sermon saying that he had kept track of who donated to the church and how much, and there were many church members who either were not donating or not donating enough.
Needless to say the congregation was shocked, and he lost the respect of many because of this. Let it be well known that if you are looking for wealth, the ministry is not for you!!! And how much person gives is between them and God not the pastor!!
One thing that irks me no end is the passing of the "offering plate". Everybody sees how much you put in, and peer pressure forces people to donate who may not be able to afford to otherwise. One church I attended had the right idea, in that they had a box at the back of the sanctuary with a label that said "The Lord's Offering" with a slot in the top. That way people could donate without everybody judging them by how much was given, and they could donate anonymously.
But we need to remember that pastors need to make a living also, and they depend upon the congregation for support. Church buildings also need maintenance, and money is required for that as well.
In the Old Testament, there was a required "Temple Tax" for the maintenance of the Temple and to allow the Levites to hire skilled craftsman (stonemasons, carpenters, etc.) for the upkeep of the Temple. Any money left over was put into the treasury for the Levites' use for things like clothing and other necessities.
Paul spoke of congregations giving support to the church and to those ministering the Word;
26 For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem.
27 It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things.
Some of the Gentile churches in Greece understood this and made collections for the poor believers in Jerusalem, knowing that the Jews would not support them because they believed in Jesus. As such the congregations donated what they could to help assist them with monetary needs. For they understood that the Scriptures say "the worker is worthy of his wages"and the fact that as the Word of salvation had been preached to them by those of Jerusalem, it was only right that they be paid for their labors by those who would receive the Word.
Paul also reminded the Corinthian church of this when he said;
1 CORINTHIANS 9:11
11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?
2 CORINTHIANS 9:6-7
6 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.
This is why I don't like collection plates. It forces people to give out of peer-pressure or obligation, rather than willingly with a cheerful heart. A simple box at the back of the church serves the same purpose, and the giver needs not be ashamed if they can only give a little.
1 JOHN 2:18-23
18 Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.
19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.
20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.
21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth.
22 Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.
23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
John comes to the heart of his message, to watch out for Satan's servants posing as righteous believers, twisting the Gospels and doctrines of Christ. Some examples are;
"Liberation Theology" which was rampant in the 1970's Marxist regimes of South America in which Jesus was not considered divine, but was considered a "worker" who was killed because he preached against the "establishment" of His day;
A New Age Jesus, in which Jesus is a wise man possessed by "The Christ Consciousness" (whatever THAT is), but again is not considered divine.
Some religions teach that Jesus was a great prophet and teacher, but not the Son of God, making those who deny His divinity antichrists. (Islam teaches that Allah has no son, therefore Allah IS NOT the same God that the Christians worship, as some mainstream leaders (including Pope Francis) believe.
That is why it is so important to know the truth, as it's hard to fight against or even know false doctrines when we hear them!
24 Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.
25 And this is the promise that He has promised us--eternal life.
26 These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you.
27 But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.
28 And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.
29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.
It is of vital importance to know and follow God's commandments, that the Holy Spirit will remain with us and show us the truth of what is required of us to serve Him. If our spiritual foundation is built on the bedrock of Jesus' commandments we will never be shaken or swayed from the truth!!
Paul warns of false teachers when he warned the church at Corinth;
2 CORINTHIANS 11:13-15
13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.
14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.
15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.
Mormons teach that their Book of Mormon contains the "Latter Day Revelations of Jesus Christ", given by an angel named Moroni. If they indeed were "latter day revelations" they should agree with the Bible which they certainly do not!!
Apparently Mormon teachers and followers are ignorant of Paul's strong warning to the Galatian church;
8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.
9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
Yet the Church of Mormon has millions of followers worldwide and advertises itself as a "Christian" church.
Islam comes under the same condemnation, as an angel purportedly gave Muhammad the teachings of the Qu'ran, and it DEFINITELY DOES NOT agree with the Bible, yet Islam is second only to Christianity in size and the number of adherents.
1 JOHN 3:1-3
1 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.
2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
The finite human mind cannot comprehend what it is truly like to be a child of an infinite, eternal God. We believe and wait in hope of His promises and do our best to keep ourselves unsullied by the world until we receive the fulfillment of His promises which will be fulfilled in due time.
This hope and obedience keeps us pure in His eyes until He comes for us, at which time we will be transformed into perfect, immortal bodies and we will be like Jesus after His resurrection. We will not be subject to trivial matters like space and time, we will shine like the sun, and we will be rewarded with crowns of unimaginable splendor. We shall also rule the Earth as kings with Him for 1,000 years, after which we will spend eternity with Him on a new, sinless Earth.
The world hates us and mocks us calling us 'sheep', but they forget one thing. Even wolves fear the Shepherd.
1 JOHN 3:4-9
4 Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.
5 And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin.
6 Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.
7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.
8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.
9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.
The Law of Moses was created to definitively show what was right and wrong, good and evil in God's eyes. Up to that time, the only laws God had set down were the laws given to Noah after the Flood. Until the Law came about, as Scripture says everyone did what was right in their own eyes. As Moses warned Israel after receiving the Law;
8 "You shall not at all do as we are doing here today--every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes--
While sin was in the world before the Law, it was not defined as sin, therefore people could not be accused of sinful behavior as their actions could not be measured against a defined, written Law. As Paul stated,
13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law).
Does that mean that people in ancient times before the Law of Moses got away with sinning because there were no defined laws for sin?
In the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve lost their innocence and became sinful by eating of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. But in doing so, they had the instinctive knowledge of good and evil implanted within them.
In Romans 2, Paul addresses the Judgment of the Gentiles who died without knowledge of God or the Law of Moses. He says;
12 For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law
13 (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified;
14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves,
15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them)
16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.
In verse 14, Paul says those who instinctively follow the law of the knowledge of good and evil, cannot be judged by the Law given to Moses, as they have never seen or heard it. As such, they are judged by their consciences, their minds accusing them or excusing them.
We all instinctively recognize wrong behavior from childhood - ever tell a 2 year old they can't have a cookie? Leave the room and watch what they do. Usually they look around to see if anyone is watching, then head straight for the cookie jar. They know it's wrong, but our inherited sin nature passed down from Adam entices them to steal a cookie and then try to deny it (lying) when caught.
There have been many primitive cultures discovered who have basic laws remarkably similar to the Law, concerning murder, stealing, proper treatment of others, adultery, etc. People subject to these laws will be judged by their efforts to follow their laws and consciences.
We have an ingrained knowledge of good and evil, right and wrong and we will be accountable before God for that knowledge at our Judgment.
1 JOHN 3:10-12
10 In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.
11 For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another,
12 not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother's righteous.
Jesus said that the world would know us as His disciples by our love for one another;
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
1 JOHN 3:13-15
13 Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you.
14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.
15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
Remember Jesus' admonition of;
21 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.'
22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire.
23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,
24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Is it possible to hate someone and not be a murderer? Not in God's eyes. Remember that the New Testament is filled with spiritual laws which in many cases are far harsher than the Old Testament laws.
For example, the Law said, "Do not commit adultery." Easy enough to do physically. But Jesus went further and said that if we even lust after a woman, we've committed adultery with her in our heart.
The same with murder and hatred. In the Old Testament you could hate someone and not be accused as a murderer, but Jesus took it further and equated hatred with murder, telling the Jews that their offerings to God would not be accepted if they had hatred toward someone in their hearts.
(Note: 'Raca' means 'empty head' in Aramaic)
1 JOHN 3:16-19
16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
17 But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?
18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.
19 And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him.
We are to love one another, especially the brethren, to the point that we are willing to lay down our lives for each other if required. And if we see people in the church who are needy and we do nothing to help yet claim that we have God's love within us, will God be pleased with that?
James speaks of this when he said;
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food,
16 and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?
17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
1 JOHN 3:20-24
20 For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.
21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.
22 And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.
23 And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.
24 Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.
It important to remember that God grants our requests if they are within His will, and if we diligently follow His commandments. Too many of us forget the last part of the equation and wonder why God seemingly doesn't answer our prayers.
1 JOHN 4:1-6
1Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God,
3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.
4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
5 They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them.
6 We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
We are constantly warned in Scripture about servants of Satan infiltrating the Churches, yet it is frightening how many congregations ignore these warnings. Strange and downright weird doctrines are being taught and the Churches are becoming ineffective. Ministers are soft-soaping the Gospel for fear of offending their congregations and losing revenue. When is the last time you heard a good hard message about Hell and judgment? Instead they preach a "love" Gospel while ignoring the fact that God is also a God of wrath and judgment, a God who punishes sin.
I attended a church that had two active witches in it yet no one else seemed aware of it. I could feel them (or the spirit(s) within them). I warned the pastor, but he basically didn't believe me. A month later he called me into his office and admitted that I was right. He wouldn't say what happened but they had threatened both him and the congregation. One of the two was the church secretary!
In another congregation the minister had been to Africa and had brought voodoo fetishes from Africa and put them on display in the church! That gave Satan legal access to remain in that church and affect and afflict the congregation.
I had been out at sea with the Navy at the time and knew nothing about this. My wife had said she'd felt that something was wrong and stopped attending. When I got home, I attended the Sunday service and as soon as I walked into the church I could feel the wrongness within the Church and the presence of demonic entities. I was shocked, and not knowing about the fetishes having been in the Church, I questioned my feelings.
To make a long story short, it turned out the minister was demon-possessed and he tore the congregation apart before they could get him out and replace him. And yet until I spoke to the elders about him and found out about the fetishes, no one felt anything wrong!
The gifts of the Spirit have been given to us to support the Church and to protect against such events as I reported above. The gift of discernment of spirits is vital, as people with this gift can sense and feel demonic activity in a person or building. The problem today is that there is so much fraud with people claiming gifts they do not have, or generally believe that the gifts died out with the Apostles (they didn't), that today a number of churches forbid any demonstrations of the gifts at all, while others allow unrestrained (and untested or unverified) gifts, sowing confusion and error in the Church.
Even Christian colleges teaching ministry courses are susceptible. I attended a Christian college and while a sophomore I had a heated argument with a professor who held a Doctor of Divinity degree who shouted, "Unless I hear a mighty rushing wind and see tongues of fire, I will not believe that the gifts of the Spirit exist today!" Apparently he didn't like the fact that a mere sophomore was challenging him about the issue. And this man was teaching future ministers his beliefs!!!
For those who wish to know how to use and test the gifts of the Spirit according to Scripture, please see the study in this web site. And remember, a person who truly has the gifts won't mind being tested.
Years ago I had a strange dream. I was standing in a beautiful meadow with lush green grass. The sun was shining brightly and there were big, fat sheep grazing contentedly around me. About 20 feet away a huge tiger crouched, looking around at the sheep and snarling. He had blood and wool between his paws, and had blood around his mouth from having devoured one of the sheep. I could tell he was still hungry and was about to select his next victim. What bothered me was the fact that the sheep seemed totally unconcerned that the tiger was there.
Then the tiger saw me. He snarled and raced over to me, gathering himself to attack. I said, "In the name of Jesus Christ get down!" He instantly crouched at my feet, fangs bared, and his eyes literally glowed yellow he wanted so badly to kill me.
I awoke then, and thought "What a weird dream!" But the dream kept nagging at my conscience throughout the day and I finally asked God if he was trying to tell me something. His response was chilling.
He said the sheep are the churches and the tiger was Satan. The churches have become so complacent and content with feeding themselves that they are unaware that Satan is attacking and devouring them one by one, nor did they care. The devouring is not physical, but spiritual and they are becoming dead churches.
That was years ago and things haven't become better, but are rapidly getting worse.
1 JOHN 4:7-11
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.
10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
John describes one of the major attributes of God, namely His boundless love which He has shown through being willing to save us through Jesus, His only Son. And if God loves us that much, we should love others enough to bring Jesus to them, remembering that someone did that to you as well!!
1 JOHN 4:12-16
12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.
13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.
14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.
15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
John is right, no one has physically seen God, meaning the Father, at any time. There have been times in the Old Testament where people have seen the pre-incarnate Jesus (before He took on flesh), as He had not yet been elevated to be equal with God the Father. Granted, Daniel and John saw representations of the Father in their visions but they were only representations, not the real thing.
John also reminds us that God out of His love and grace has sent us His Spirit to live and dwell within us, as this the closest He can be to us until Jesus returns.
He also reminds us that Satan will not confess that Jesus is the Son of God. Therefore this can be
used as a test for spirits, people and prophets. If they freely confess Jesus as the Son of God, they
are true. Remember, John himself said:
1 JOHN 4:1-3
1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God,
3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.
1 JOHN 4:17-21
17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
19 We love Him because He first loved us.
20 If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?
21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.
If we truly love God, we will have no fear at our Judgment, for our sins will have been forgiven and we have hope in that. The quality of our service to God will be judged and we will either receive rewards and praise or rebukes from Jesus. Paul describes it like fire - works that survive will be rewarded, rebukes will come for works that do not pass the test.
1 CORINTHIANS 3:11-15
11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,
13 each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is.
14 If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.
15 If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
But even so, we have hope because we will still be allowed entry into God's kingdom if we have lived for Jesus and have Him in our hearts when we stand before Him, being clothed in His righteousness.
1 JOHN 5:1- 5
1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him.
2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments.
3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.
4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith.
5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
We need to remember that we are God's children, born of God through the eternal Spirit, with Jesus as our "older brother". God the Father gave His kingdom to His Son Jesus who in turn has agreed to share it with us.
God is the very definition of love, adopting us into His family despite our faults and weaknesses, and we are to have this same love within ourselves toward God and toward each other. And if we truly love God, we should willingly keep His commandments. And as John says, His commandments aren't burdensome, but because of the rebellion caused by our inherited sin nature passed on by Adam, we consider them to be restrictive, unfair and burdensome. And if we look at them objectively, they are indeed fair and right.
We Christians don't understand the impact we have in the spiritual realm. The world and everyone in it was given to Satan when Adam sinned, and even Jesus didn't refute him when Satan tempted Him;
5 Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.
6 And the devil said to Him, "All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.
7 Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours."
But with Jesus' resurrection He took mastery of the Earth back from Satan although Satan refuses to accept that fact. As such we are in a world-wide war between God and Satan over the precious souls of men and as with any war you must choose sides. Only in this war, there is no "Switzerland", no neutral ground. If you don't choose Jesus you have already given your allegiance to Satan and will follow into his punishment if you die in your sins.
But just as Jesus overcame the world and Satan at His resurrection, even so through Him we have also overcome both Satan and the world. But it is our faith in Jesus that gives us that power.
1 JOHN 5:6-8 (NKJV)
6 This is He who came by water and blood--Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth.
7 For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.
8 And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.
These Scriptures are a point of contention for many scholars. The New King
James Version is as quoted above. Other versions read as the New
International Version quoted below (note the differences between verses 7
1JOHN 5:6-8 (NIV)
6 This is the one who came by water and blood--Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.
7 For there are three that testify:
8 the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.
Bible printers claim that the parts in the King James Version and the New King James Version are not found in some Biblical manuscripts and therefore were left out of their versions or relegated to footnotes. The 1611 King James Version was translated directly into English from authenticated and trusted Greek and Hebrew manuscripts by 47 scholars commissioned by King James I of England and was completed by 1611.
The KJV is old enough that it cannot be copyrighted or changed. All other popular versions are copyrighted, meaning that they are owned by the publishing house that printed them and they can be modified as the publisher wishes.
There are other verses or parts of verses in the KJV that are left out of other versions, but I won't go into these here. But because of that fact the KJV and the NKJV are the only translations that I trust to be accurate.
The Law of Moses required that every fact be confirmed by two or three witnesses, and John says that the Father, Jesus Himself and the Spirit agree that He is the Messiah, and that the Spirit, water and blood agree on Earth to the same fact.
And I am very suspicious of any Bible that removes verses which establish the very foundation of the Trinity!
Remember John's warning concerning making changes to God's Word;
18 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book;
19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son.
10 He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son.
11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
John equates eternal life with Jesus, saying that we cannot inherit eternal life without Him, as He alone can give eternal life to others by the command of the Father. Woe to those who don't believe in Him as they are calling God the Father a liar in their unbelief! And eternal life in glory is the reward for our faith and obedience to Him, which in my opinion makes it all worth while!
1 JOHN 5:14-15
14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
Many times we wonder why we don't receive answers to our prayers and become upset if we don't receive what we pray for. Too many people seem to believe that God is a celestial "sugar daddy" who gives us whatever we want. I have seen innumerable Facebook entries where someone will post something and say, "If you type 'Amen' and share it with others, you will receive money, or a new job opportunity, etc." And I see hundreds of replies of 'Amen' below it as people expect it to happen to them.
There is also a poisonous doctrine being promoted by prime-time preachers and in the churches, loosely labeled as "The Prosperity Gospel" or cynically the "Name it and claim it" Gospel, where you tell God what you want, and He'll give it to you. A variation of this, and favored of prime-time TV and radio preachers is where you donate money to the preacher, sometimes called 'seed money', and God will reward you with much more in return.
Both doctrines are un-Scriptural and wrong, and the only one who prospers is the preacher promoting them. And when it doesn't come to pass, the promoter slickly responds with, "You just don't have enough faith!" Riiiiiight............
James hits the nail squarely on the head when he said;
2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.
3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
Putting John's and James' admonitions together, we don't receive what we ask for either because we ask for the wrong reasons, or it is not within the will of God to give it to us.
1 JOHN 5:16-17
16 If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that.
17 All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death.
Unfortunately John doesn't clarify exactly what sin(s) lead to death and which do not. There were sins listed in the Old Testament in which God demanded the death penalty, such as murder;
6 "Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God
He made man."
Disrespect to parents;
9 'For everyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother. His blood shall be upon him.
And blaspheming the name of the Lord;
16 And whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall certainly stone him, the stranger as well as him who is born in the land. When he blasphemes the name of the Lord, he shall be put to death.
Can you imagine the reduction in the world population if this law were still carried out?
1 JOHN 5:18-21
18 We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.
19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.
20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.
21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
John reminds us that Satan still controls events in this world through his human servants, even though the world no longer is under his authority. As such, through Jesus we are lights in a very dark world and we hope that others are drawn to that light and will be saved as well.
John also reminds us that Jesus is sinless, and if we believe in Him, we have eternal life even though we are in the world, that we might have hope.
Anything that comes between us and Jesus becomes an idol, and money is among the worst. Keeping things in perspective will keep us from any form of idolatry.
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