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The Garden and the Gospel

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FAITH—THE GROUND FOR SERVICE

“…your reasonable service.” Rom 12:1

 

One of God’s grand purposes in the whole scheme of creation, the fall of mankind, redemption, and the Church, is to answer the questions that Satan, or any other creature might ask or think concerning God’s supreme authority and wisdom. God, as the Creator of all things, has the perfect right to rule and reign as He pleases, with the power and right to put down any and all challenges to His Lordship. However, because He is a God of infinite love, wisdom, and goodness toward His creatures, and knowing that such questions would arise, He allowed all such challenges toward Him to be answered on this planet called Earth, using His highest created being called man. To settle such issues, He allowed Satan to be at liberty after his fall, to tempt man, and then to reign over man. He allowed man to have the power of choice, to believe or disbelieve, to obey or disobey God. (However, man in his fallen state, has lost his free will—man is now unable to choose anything but evil.) God gave man access to all the knowledge in the Garden of Eden, even the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil”—although He warned man not to eat of this tree. He created man with a chink in his nature through which man could be tempted with sin—“the creature was made subject to vanity.” He allowed man to fall to Satan’s deception, and to continue to exist in his fallen state dominated by sin and Satan.

Isa 14:12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

Job 1:7 And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

Rom 8:20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,

Gen 2:8 And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
9
And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Gen 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
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.

Gen 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5 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.
6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise,
she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Eph 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience;
3 Among whom also we all had our conversation 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.

Also, by an act of God’s infinite mercy and love, God designed a plan of redemption whereby sinful man could be reunited to Him through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This plan would be all of grace—fallen man would have no part in his own salvation. God the Father, in eternity past, sovereignly chose those that would be the partakers of His mercy. God the Son purposed that He would enter the human race and become the sacrifice for the sins of His people. God the Holy Spirit purposed that He would call out those chosen ones through the preaching of the Gospel; He would give them the gift of faith to believe in Christ; and the Spirit would sanctify them and indwell them, making them new creatures in Christ. Those who are brought into this new relationship with Him become the exalted Sons of God, the Church, the Body of Christ. It is through this body of believers, called the Church—those who now have been set free from the total dominion of sin and Satan—that God is answering these eternal questions.

Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
7
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

Rom 11:5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

Rom 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30
Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

1 Pet 1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Rom 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

Rom 6:17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
18
Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

Eph 3:10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:

Eph 3:21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

One of the great controversies to be settled in the minds of God’s people is—why should we serve God? In looking at the Old Testament book of Job, indeed, this question is raised by none other than Satan himself. In Satan’s challenge to God over Job’s integrity, he raised the following issue “Doth Job fear God for nought?” Or, we might rephrase it by asking, ‘Does Job live a life of integrity and service to God for no reason?’ Satan went on to say “Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.” Satan’s charge was that those who serve God do so for selfish reasons, and not out of any real love or devotion to God. Indeed, there are many people who live so-called godly lives for no other reasons than that they either live in the dread of God or they are trying to get something from God. Because of our sin nature, even the most benevolent acts of most people are done out of self-seeking motivations. Most religious people are either trying to escape hell or have God to adorn them with His favor and blessings. Do we think that God is satisfied with such service, knowing the pretense that is in our hearts?

Job 1:9 Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?
10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land
.

1 Cor 13:3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Matt 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

The only way to settle such charges brought by Satan, or any other creature, is on the grounds of faith. Since God has redeemed a people for His name, only on the basis of His free grace to them, there is nothing that they can do that will in anywise add to their salvation. They cannot hold-on, hold-out, obey God, or perform any religious rites or duties that will secure for them heaven and eternal life, by any means other than their faith in Christ. Neither can they earn God’s blessings by the things which they do—because God has already given to them everything He has in Christ. The only thing they can do is to respond to God’s grace by their own love and devotion to Him.

John 8:36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Rom  3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

Rom 8:32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

Therefore, in looking at the Church—those whom God has redeemed through no work of their own—one may surmise that it is of no consequence how we live or what we do. If all that matters to God is our faith in Christ, and all He accepts for our coming to Him is Christ and Christ alone—then we may choose to live only for ourselves, and not bring any glory to God. While this statement may be partially true—in the sense that we can do nothing to earn God’s salvation, favor, or blessings—the spirit or attitude in which it is given is totally unscriptural. Foremost, to begin with, those who are brought to faith in Christ are also given a new nature—they are born from above by the Spirit of God. This new nature is the very nature of God Himself; we are created in Christ Jesus with a new attitude about sin and a new love for righteousness and good works. Beforetime we hated God and contemned to do His will. We were by our natural birth, “the children of wrath even as others”; but now we have become the children of God, and His Spirit that lives within us has given us a desire, and also the ability, to love and to please God. Sin no longer has dominion over us, and we have a new yearning to do that which is right. So while it is possible to make such a superficial statement—as even the Bible says some would say—for a true child of God, it could never be the prevailing attitude of our heart.

Eph 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
3 Among whom also we all had our conversation 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.

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.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 Marvel not that I said unto thee,
Ye must be born again.

Rom 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.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

Eph 3:17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

Luke 6:44 For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.
45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

1 Cor 6:12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

Rom 3:8 And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.

Rom 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
2 God forbid.
How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

Now, this is not to say that Christians will always choose to do the right thing. All our life we will struggle with our fleshly desires and how “to perform that which is good.” We live in a body that is still carnal—“sold under sin”—which has not yet been redeemed and made free.  Also, we have a soul that is in the process of being transformed, but still retains some of the characteristics of the old man. Christians are true schizophrenics, being a new creature in Christ, and also having to deal with the old Adamic nature within our bodies. What the real issue is—what is the true desire of our heart? It is not whether we are always making the right choices and always doing the right thing. If you are indifferent to the will of God, or you are content in living after the flesh, or living in sin causes you no angst, then to begin with, you are probably not a born-again child of God.

Rom 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
22 For I delight in the law of God after 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 shall deliver me from the body of this 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.

Rom 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

1 John 3:6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.
7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil:
whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

1 Cor 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
11 And such were some of you: but 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.

Also, as children of God, we begin to discover that there are blessings to be had in doing the right thing, or as we have already said—righteousness is its own reward. While we may not be rewarded for doing the right thing, we are rewarded in doing the right thing. To the natural mind of man, there was nothing in the life of Jesus that could be considered a blessing. He was not wealthy, popular, or held in any kind of religious esteem. He was not handsome, nor was His bodily presence anything but ordinary. Most people, when they saw Him, thought that He was “stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” Even his disciples questioned where He found His inner strength, and yet He said “I have meat to eat that ye know not of.” His food, His joy, His blessings were in the doing of God’s will for His life. The Psalm writer revealed to us the inner attitude of  Christ, “I delight to do thy will, O my God”; even so we, who are “in Christ,” will begin to experience this same attitude.

Isa 53:2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows:
yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

John 9:16 Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.

John 4:31 In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat.
32 But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.
33 Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat?
34 Jesus saith unto them,
My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

Psa 40:8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.

Rom 7:22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:

John 17:13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.

Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Furthermore, as children of God, we soon learn the natural consequences of doing that which is sinful. God does not always have to chasten us, or stand over us with a club to punish us for our sins; but our own backslidings shall reprove us. There are natural laws that God has placed within His universe to punish or reward His creatures; and He does not have to arbitrarily decide what to do about each and every offense of sinful man. As we sow, so shall we reap; and as someone has said, “We always reap later than we sow; we always reap the same thing that we sow; and we always reap more than we sow.” As Moses proclaimed to the tribes abiding on the other side of Jordan, “be sure your sin will find you out.” God is not going to free His children from the consequences of sin, but rather uses those painful lessons to bring us more into Christ, or to call us back when we wander from Him.

Gal 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Jer 2:19 Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.

Prov 14:14 The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself.

Prov 1:29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD:
30 They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.
31
Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.

Num 32:23 But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.

There are also certain prerequisites for those who would be the servants of the Living God.  God does not use dirty vessels, nor does He pour His precious Oil into unclean vessels. Every child of God has the indwelling Holy Spirit, and “if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his”; but to do service for the Master we must “be filled with the Spirit.” God’s work requires God’s power. Even Jesus, whose Spirit was the Holy Spirit, was made “full of the Holy Ghost” after His baptism and before entering into His public ministry. It was in the power of the Holy Spirit that He overcame Satan in the wilderness. The Apostles were “filled with the Holy Ghost” again and again to give them boldness in the face of their enemies and to give them power for witnessing and preaching. The proclamation of God’s truth must have God’s power to be effectual. Those that would have this power, and do service for their King must be “sanctified, and meet for the master's use.” The Apostle Paul said about himself, “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”

Rom 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

Eph 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

Luke 3:21 Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,
22 And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.

Luke 4:1 And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,
2 Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.

Luke 4:14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.

Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Acts 4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,

Acts 4:29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,
30 By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.
31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.

1 Cor 4:19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.
20 For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.

1 Cor 9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

As with all of God’s blessings and gifts, Satan has brought about a counterfeit filling of the Holy Spirit, and the reintroduction of the sign gifts that were given to the early church. Many sincere and dedicated believers have been detoured from the real purpose of the filling of God’s Spirit into the practice of all kinds of perversion and so called evidences of the Holy Spirit. The Word of God is plain—these sign gifts ended when the Bible was completed, because they were no longer needed to authenticate the Apostles’ message. However, in the absence of those gifts, there are true spiritual signs that we have been filled by the Spirit of God. First of all, our spiritual awareness concerning the Bible and the things of God will be greatly enhanced. We will have the “spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him,” the eyes of our “understanding being enlightened.” We will comprehend what is “the hope of his calling,” and what is “the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” Also, we will know the “exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power”; that power is for the purpose of witnessing, preaching, and living victoriously over sin and Satan. Most importantly, we will be overflowing with the “love of Christ” toward God, toward our fellow believers, and toward the lost. His love will be the driving force of our lives, as it will motivate us to do the will and work of God.

Exo 7:10 And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the LORD had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent.
11 Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers
: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments.

Matt 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

Rev 13:11 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
12 And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
13 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast;
saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.

Mark 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

2 Cor 12:12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.

1 Cor 13:8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Eph 1:15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,
16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:
18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,

Eph 3:14  For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
15  of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
16  that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
17  that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
18  may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
19  and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
20  Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
21  unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

As we have said before, serving God is a privilege offered to every child of His; but He is not desperate to use those who, because of their indifference or lack of commitment, are living unclean lives. This now leads us to the last point to be clarified in being filled with the Spirit. Many falsely teach and preach that we must clean up our own lives before God will fill us. That is like saying we must start living a good life before God will save us—both are the same error. We do not become good to be saved, but God saves us as sinners and makes us good. We cannot earn God’s filling by being a good Christian, but it is God’s filling that makes us a victorious and faithful servant. The real issue is that of the heart—do we want to live by faith, do we want to have victory over sin, do we want to serve God? Then come to God, and keep on coming until He fills you with Himself. We must remember that God is “for us.” He wants to fill us and use us; and He is working in us “both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” However, we must make a choice to “let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof,” but to “yield yourselves unto God.” God requires that His servants be clean vessels, especially in the area of moral purity. Whatever our present condition however, or whatever sins we may have committed already, by God’s Spirit we can overcome them, and be made a vessel that God can use—if we will but desire to become one, and seek His power to be one.

Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

2 Tim 2:19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.
21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.
22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Psa 24:3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.
5 He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6 This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah.

Luke 11:9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children:
how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

Phil 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

Rom 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

1 The 4:3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:
4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;

Isa 1:16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
19
If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:

Lastly, and most importantly, we do not want to live carelessly in this life, serving our own lusts instead of God’s plan and purpose, because those who have come to know and love the Lord Jesus want to obey and serve Him. Howbeit, we cannot love God if we do not know Him. Unbelievers have no concept of real love; and it is impossible to love Jesus without first having Him revealed to us both in His sacrificial work and then in His Person. However, it is not our weak, human, false kind of love that stirs us, but it is “the love of Christ” that motivates us. God has sent the Spirit of Christ into our hearts, bringing “the love of God” and Christ’s love for God into our lives—“We love him, because he first loved us.” When we come to glimpse what He has done for us, and begin to fathom His love for us, we cannot help but to reciprocate that love by obeying His commandments and abstaining from those things that would dishonor Him and His work. “The love of Christ” in us, “constraineth us” from committing sin; “the love of Christ” for God and others, “constraineth us” from committing sin; and our love for Christ, “constraineth us” from sin. “Love worketh no ill” toward God or toward others; love causes us to want to serve God; but we must also guard and cultivate that love. We must not let the love of the world or the things of the flesh crowd out our love for God. Also, just as young lovers court their future spouses—spending time with them and getting to know them intimately—until they truly fall in love with them, so we must cultivate our love for God. The better we know God, the more we will love Him; but that also requires time, time spent talking with Him in prayer, time having Him talk to us through His Word, and time spent with other children of God—as we listen to the teaching and preaching of His Word, sing, pray, and worship God together.

John 5:42 But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.

2 Cor 5:14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:

1 John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us.

Rom 5:5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

Rom 13:10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Jude 1:21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

1 John 2:15 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.

1 John 5:21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

Rev 2:4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

Eph 3:16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
19
And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Psa 1:1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2
But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

Jer 15:16 Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.

Eph 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Acts 2:46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

The most astonishing thing for us as believers to comprehend is why and how could God love us. Even after many years of being a Christian, because of constant failures and sin, we cannot understand why He does. God’s love for us is something that can only be accepted by faith. God loves us, because in eternity He made a choice to love those who He would bring to faith in Christ. He loves us, and proved His love by sending His Son to die for us. God loves us because we have been brought to believe on His Son, the Lord Jesus. Finally, and most assuredly, God loves His children because His Word says He does. God’s love for us demands of our soul that we love Him in return; and our love is shown by living for Him in obedience to His precepts.

Rom 8:29 For whom he did foreknow[1], he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

1 John 4: 9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Rom 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Eph 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

John 16:27 For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.

Rev 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

1 John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

Jesus came to redeem a people for Himself. They were to be “a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” He did not come to give them freedom to sin, without having to worry about or suffer its consequences. He did not come just to save their souls from Hell, and then have them live in sin until they went to Heaven. He came to set them free from the power of sin so that they might live unto God. He came to destroy the works of the devil, and we too should want to join Him in carrying on His work. When we come to the end of our earthly life, we will not be comforted by how much of this world’s goods we have acquired, or how much pleasure we have enjoyed, but by whether the will of God was accomplished in our lives. When standing in heaven before Christ, will we have gifts and crowns to lay at Jesus’ feet, or will we be “ashamed before him”? The answer to that question must be decided now, in this life. Will we choose to love and serve God? Will we submit ourselves to God, and allow His power and love to work through us?

Tit 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

Matt 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Matt 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

John 8:34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
36
If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

1 John 3:8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

1 John 2:28 And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.
29 If ye know that he is righteous,
ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.

James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

 

[1] Foreknow means to have been loved by God in eternity. To know someone, in the Biblical sense, means to have an intimate relationship with them, as in “Adam knew his wife,” and Mary, the mother of Jesus, did not “know not a man.” God knew us, and chose to set His love upon us, before we were ever born.

 

 

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