I was in a discussion recently with two men of God. We talked over a range of issues, from National security to the dwindling faithfulness of believers. In the course of our discussion, mention was made of a man of God, who pastors a well-run church; efficient staff, – paid of course. Sometimes I wonder if some of these Christians would be so efficient, em… faithful if not for the “secularism” or payment of salary. Just a thought.
Back to the main matter.
One of the pastors in our discussion said, “he has an excellent spirit!” I shot him a glance. Why?
Because of the phrase, “spirit of excellence”, or “excellent spirit.”
How do we interpret this? What message, and consequently, what spirit are we passing on to those God sent to us both to mentor and to disciple?
I still stand on my belief that the state of the Church today is traceable to the Pastors and Teachers of the Word.
What irked me in the discussion was the use and application of that phrase as concerning the pastor in question, who was known to the three of us.
True, when you enter their church hall, you will marvel at the beauty and neatness; the efficiency and corporate dressing of the church workers.
However, he has a bad reputation on his street and neighbourhood! Known as a brawler and wife – beater, I do not think that phrase should be applied to him.
I am not in any way judging the Man of God, neither do I advocate for him to be judged. He is not the issue before us. Nevertheless, I believe as servants of God, we owe it to the Lord and to the brethren, to correct interpretations we know to be wrong, else we will hear the Lord say to us:
“But I have this against you, that you let the woman Jezebel say she is a prophet and give false teaching, making my servants go after the desires of the flesh and take food offered to false gods.” – Revelation 2:20 (BBE) Emphasis added.
“But I have this against you: You let that woman Jezebel do what she wants. She says that she is a prophet, but she is leading my people away with her teaching.” – Revelation 2:20a (ERV) Emphasis added.
Certain things should not be tolerated. Again, if we do not correct these things the degeneration will not be arrested, but rather encouraged. We are the ones to withstand and resist this pollution and twisting of scripture.
So, it is not the man that we have before us, but an issue, a phrase that can be found in the book of Daniel, chapter five and verse twelve.
“Forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and shewing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will shew the interpretation.” – Daniel 5:12 (KJV)
This was something said to show that something more than human, a thing beyond the natural, was in Daniel. And what was this thing?
“There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him.” – Daniel 5:11a (KJV) Emphasis added.
“But at the last Daniel came in before me, whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods: and before him I told the dream, saying,” – Daniel 4:8 (KJV) Emphasis added.
The key words here are “spirit of the gods …in”, which stands for something beyond the natural or Adamic man; something that is of God, something divine and not earthly. A similar statement, not exactly the phrase, but implied, can be found in Genesis 41:38 (KJV)
“And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?”
This “presence” was in Joseph and as with Daniel. It is not what we do but who we are!
This is not just organizational ability to which the phrase is applied to today; no! The fact that a person, a church, or a business is so efficiently organized does not mean this phrase applies to him or it.
Jesus would call such organizational institutions “whited sepulchre.”
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” – Matthew 23:27 (KJV)
They look good, and perhaps godly from outside, like the tree Jesus cursed for lacking fruit; having as it seems, all the trappings of Christianity: a high steeple, a long cross on top, a solid altar made of marble, a pulpit of glass and aluminum, state of the art sound system, formally-clad staff, a clean sweetly fragranced convenience with two wings – men and women, powerful air conditioning system. Wao; good and dandy! Who no like better thing!
But wait! What is the spirit behind it all?
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” – 1 John 4:1 (KJV)
What lies beneath all these beautiful “outer garments?” What would we see underneath the beautiful tombs? Rottenness? Dead men’s bones? Smelly-ungodly situations? The risen Christ? Whatever is found there is the real thing; the “substance!” Men do not go to graveyards to look at tombstones but to honour the ones the stones cover!
“Excellent Spirit” or “Spirit of excellence”, goes beyond the physical, it is the presence of God, seen in mortal man
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” – 2 Corinthians 4:7 (KJV)
What is this treasure? It is the nature of God that we are called to share with Him.
“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” – 2 Peter 1:4 (KJV) Emphasis added.
What is this nature?
“And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.” – Exodus 34:6 (KJV)
No wonder it is called the fruit of the Spirit!
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22-23 (KJV)
Therefore, the spirit of excellence or excellent spirit does not talk about or refer to organizational ability, but to the presence of God in a person; Minister or Laity manifested through the fruit of the spirit! This is how we know them.
“Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” – Matthew 7:20 (KJV)
“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” – John 6:63 (KJV)
Life is in knowing the Word of God. However, knowledge is not life itself. Life can only be accessed through the revelation of knowledge. If you like acquire all the knowledge, if there is no revelation of that knowledge, you do not have the life in the knowledge.
Getting the life in the Word of God takes study.
“Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” – Matthew 13:13-15 (KJV)
Jesus quotes Isaiah, showing the divide between natural life and spiritual life. Each life has its set of senses. The major features of life (spiritual and natural), are the senses. Here Jesus was not talking to dead people, but to people who are alive. However, they operate and live only by the natural senses.
“And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.” – 1 Kings 17:1 (KJV)
The two sets of senses are at play here. Elijah spoke from the consciousness of standing in the presence of God, he operated the spiritual senses. Ahab, on the other hand, operating the natural sense, could have looked around hoping to see God.
“But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 3:14 (KJV)
What the natural life has, the spiritual have also. However, many mind the natural life; they dwell on the natural life, either because of ignorance or unbelief. Jacob, while running from his brother came to a place where he saw a ladder reaching heaven; with angels ascending and descending, and said: “God is here and I knew it not.” The activities of his life then was centred on the natural senses.
“And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.” – Genesis 8:21 (KJV)
God declares that man’s thoughts and imagination (where the treasure of a man is….) dwell on the natural (evil). We are not to live or dwell in the natural. Our minds should be more on and revolve around the things of the Spirit, the things of God.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” – Matthew 6:33 (KJV)
God is not happy with the direction of man’s mind, hence Paul calls it death.
“For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” – Romans 8:6 (KJV)
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” – Colossians 3:1-2 (KJV)
…to be continued.
The child of God, having gone through His fire, becomes a new creature; his attitude and character changes even his thought and manner of speaking reflect Christ. Moses, an orator (Acts7:22) emerging from God’s refinery, became a stammerer. No one will remain the same after passing through the Refiners Fire. It’s in the fire that the heart is circumcised and the person comes out “another man.”
That is why Paul could say “I live, yet not I …”
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20 (KJV)
What I was before, I am not anymore; a change has taken place. I no longer hate, I love. I am not aggressive anymore, I’m gentle. Rather than the proud and haughty person I was, I am “meek and lowly of heart.”
The outer man, the flesh, “dross”, having been peeled off, the inner man, renewed after the spirit, is manifest. Like John the Baptist said, that “he may decrease and He increase.” This is the whole essence of “denying self”, which is indeed a very hard thing to do, but nevertheless a major requirement to having fellowship with God.
Paul was so proud of his new person; the person he had become that he counted his former person as nothing and his previous achievement as “dung”.
“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ. And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” – Philippians 3:7-9 (KJV)
He willingly lost “all things”, not some, but “ALL” things: his family, because of his new faith, disowned him and excluded him from the family wealth; his educational and Pharisaic attainments he also set aside for the excellency of knowing of Christ. His was a radical change.
Some of the things we should discard from ourselves if we are to have fellowship with the Father are in Galatians 5:19-21
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” – Galatians 5:19-21 (KJV)
A careful observation of the above scripture will reveal that these acts originate from the heart!
“And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.” – Matthew 15:16-20 (KJV)
Sin and uncleanness go beyond the act. They are products of the heart and start from thoughts and imaginations!
“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.” – Luke 6:45 (KJV)
The heart of man, being open to two sources of information, should be guarded with all diligence! And yes, we may not completely block out negative thoughts and imaginations, because the heart of man is wicked, yet we owe God the responsibility of pulling down every thought that does not conform to the word of God!
“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 10:5 (KJV)
Without the cleansing of the heart, one would not be admitted into the place of fellowship, and consequently cannot have fellowship with God!
….to be continued.