Beware of Dogs!
“Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith, today if ye will hear his voice. Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, they do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, they shall not enter into my rest.” – Hebrews 3:7-11 (KJV)
Entering the Rest of God takes more than going to church or being born again. It clarifies what Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3, that a man, though born again cannot enter into the Kingdom as that is an exclusive reserve for those born of water and the Spirit.
“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. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” – John 3:5-6 (KJV)
In our text, the Apostle Paul sounds a note of warning about how thin a line there is between entering and missing the rest of God. He started by reminding us how God swore (a serious thing when God swears!) that all that came out of Egypt will not enter His rest, save Caleb and Joshua. And this was because “they have not known my ways.” – Hebrews 3:10 (KJV), they hardened their hearts to the ways of God, which Isaiah tells us is higher than the ways of Man. (Isaiah 55)
Paul admonishes, and very strongly too, that we should not be like the wilderness church; that if we hear His voice, we should not harden our hearts. There is a thin line here, and this is because we love God and no one knowingly wants to harden his heart against God! Like Paul who loves to do the will of God according to the inner man, but found himself doing what he did not want to do. (Rom 7), something else other than us is at work to prevent us from entering God’s rest!
This thing may allow us “hear the word” but not the “Voice”, “the letter” and not “the Spirit.” We are not only to hear the word – the letter, but the Voice – the Spirit; for the letter kills but the Spirit gives life. In Acts 13:27, the Bible tells how the children of God read the Law, the Scripture every Sabbath day, yet could not hear the “voice” of the prophets, the actual message they passed across!
“For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him.” – Acts 13:27 (KJV)
That was exactly what happened to the wilderness church; that made them “err in their hearts” and not know the ways of the Lord. Unfortunately, it is happening to the Church of today!
Why did they miss it? The dogs!
“Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” – Philippians 3:2-3 (KJV)
… to be continued.
Incomparable is in the long and short, something that has no equal; something that no other thing should be put side by side for comparison in size, volume and especially, quality.
These things that are incomparable are always prime or principal, they are the most important things, and directly or indirectly, used to categorize people into classes. One such thing is wisdom.
“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” – Proverbs 4:7 (KJV)
Wisdom is the application of knowledge. We all go to school to acquire knowledge but how we use that knowledge determines whether we are wise or not. Every kind of training is aimed at impartation of knowledge; even domestic things as learning to cook, learning to sweep the floor, learning to wash, are all to impart knowledge. The man who goes to the gym for fitness goes to acquire knowledge, the man who goes to a driving school, has gone to get knowledge. Every school in life is about knowledge. But the difference between people who acquired the same knowledge is in how they used the knowledge acquired. This is responsible for success or failure in life.
There are two kinds of wisdom: Godly wisdom and devilish wisdom.
Godly wisdom is from above; from God.
“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” – James 3:17 (KJV)
This wisdom bears the fruits called “purity”, “peace”, “gentleness”, “mercy”, “fairness”, and all other fruits that are good.
Devilish wisdom is as you guessed, from satan.
“But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.” – James 3:14-15 (KJV)
This wisdom bears evil fruits: “envy”, “strife”, and every fruit associated with these; all bad.
Both kinds of wisdom are produced by knowledge. Wisdom feeds from knowledge. Engineers are what they are because of the knowledge they got at school. Doctors can administer treatment because of the knowledge they got. Lawyers can debate in court by virtue of the knowledge they acquired. A wrestler can throw people around because he acquired the knowledge. Wisdom is fed by knowledge! Where there is no knowledge, no wisdom can be found! It is the knowledge acquired that makes a profession different from others; in other words, a profession is peculiar and different from others because of the information or knowledge from which it emerged.
The two kinds of wisdom differ from each other because of the knowledge they acquired; what they received and stored in them determines what they produce, what they bring out!
“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 wisdom you display is produced by the knowledge you have. The character you display tells the wisdom you carry; evil wisdom.
“But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” – James 3:14-16 (KJV)
Or, Godly wisdom.
“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” – James 3:17-18 (KJV)
I remember reading a story about a man that came home and saw three different foams. He picked the first and squeezed; powder came out from it. He squeezed the second; water came from it. When he squeezed the third, oil came out of it. When squeezed, each gave out the different things it was filled with. When the pressures of life squeeze you, what wisdom you display is determined by the knowledge you are filled with.
Your quality as a person is determined by the knowledge stored or retained in you.
“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. 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 6:44-45 (KJV)
“A good man”: how people see you, whether wise or foolish, is based on your actions.
“Good treasure of his heart”: your heart is like a treasure chest, a place where valuables are kept, a store of goods. No one can see what things or knowledge you have stored in your heart but you.
“From here he brings out…”: you act out what is stored in your heart. It is this/these thing or things you bring out through your actions or character that people see and categorize you as wise or foolish. We are all driven by what we have stored in our hearts.
“And he said, that which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” – Mark 7:20-23 (KJV)
It is like a sober man who takes alcohol and retains it for short while; that short while, he acts abnormal, because of the alcohol he retained.
We are not concerned now with the store –the heart. When God created Man, his heart was pure, he acted in ways that never made him “ashamed.” Now we are concerned with the treasures and how they got there.
What are these treasures?
…to be continued.
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.