Can you resist the temptation?
“We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them. We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.”
During today’s teaching, we will focus on to how God ordered our life in faith. As we can see in the starting verse, the ones who take care of themselves will be safe from evil’s harm. Amen to this verse as well as to the others! We are not to misread and misinterpret, but to accept this verse upon ourselves. First, let’s look at how the evil tempts the human.
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
James is portraying a vastly different picture from what our modern Christian teachings tell us, right? Because it is being taught everywhere, that if Jesus lives within us, He will accomplish what he sees right within our lives. However, many people referring to this view live an ungodly life. The message of the gospel is that we have to die to the world and to our own desires, so that God can live within us. Others also incorrectly say that God works the will within us, hence why we cannot be blamed, if we don’t want to fulfil God’s commandments enough. Here is the verse:
“for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”
It is God who works the will in the ones who He truly dwells within. Hence God has no idle sons, but only devoted and active followers!
Our everyday lives are filled with choices, such as when we do what, and most importantly who we do it for. Most people misunderstand the concept of ‘grace’, assuming that anyone Jesus accepted into His grace will have nothing to do, but to wait for the end of their life on Earth, and will just wake up in Heaven. But this is false; as grace does not mean that we can live however we want as we already have salvation! Grace means that the way is open for us, so that we can live a life kind in the eyes of God. We are given a chance! When Jesus died, “the curtain of the temple was torn in two” (Matthew 27,51), meaning that the way is open for us. The high priest could only go to the Most Holy Place once a year, but the way has opened for us. But how did it open? Are there no obstacles to go to the Father!? Of course there are, but sadly most people forget about them... or it. Because it is an obstacle for many people, but it is only the way for a few! Yes, I am talking about Jesus:
“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?”
So, Jesus stood where the curtain was, which is why he says about himself that He is the way, through which we can get to the Father. I said that he is an obstacle for many, because they are stumbled in God’s Word, as in stumbled in Jesus. Although it is through God’s Word, being the way leading to the Father, as Jesus made the believers in Him able to fulfil the Word. This is why the true gospel’s message for everyone is to repent from our “dead actions”, obeying to the Lord’s speech. The ones, who do not submit themselves under God’s Word, will have their share in the fiery lake of burning sulphur. This is why Paul says the following:
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”
Now it is easier to understand this specific will, worked by God, right? One of the biggest problems is that many people don’t take God seriously, are not truly searching for Him, and too focused on living their lives instead. We can only be kind in the eyes of God, if we give everything to him. It is not enough to go to church services once or twice a week, it is not enough to pray and read the Bible once a day. God is not satisfied with that, as he wants everything that we have, more accurately our entire life! If a person considers to be a follower of God, but does things which are known to be sinful by said person, that person’s worship is in vain and should live the rest of his/her life living for worldly things, not deceiving others, not deceiving himself/herself, and most importantly, not trying to deceive God.
“On that day I will punish all who avoid stepping on the threshold, who fill the temple of their gods with violence and deceit.”
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
“Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy.”
But the ones who take the following of God seriously, I have got some good news for you: which is that Jesus is the Redeemer! He frees us from sinning, and by him dwelling within us, we will live an obedient and clean life, which is to the Father’s liking. But this is too frustrating for many, as they don’t want to do anything to change, other than hoarding sins to God’s feet. No one can stand in front of God without obedience.
„But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.””
What did we read? What did Saul reject? The Word of the Lord! We can see the consequences as well: God rejected him for his sins. Today it is no different, as whoever rejects God’s Word, will be rejected by God. Despite this, the ones who reject God’s Word are the ones who still trust in God’s grace in vain. These people’s judgement is clearly stated by the Word.
“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?”
Because what is the insulting of the Spirit of grace? It is when someone lets free towards sinning, and then relies on God’s grace. Today, many people insult the Spirit of grace the same way, instead of living the life God has set for us. But let’s read from Jesus’ words, what He said about the ones who reject God’s Word:
“There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”
So whoever rejects Jesus’ words, His words will condemn them! Jesus’ words are no other, than the Father’s words. We read:
“For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”
So the Word must be fulfilled, in fact it is life for us. Therefore it is not a question that we must keep the commandments of God.
“I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me,”
And over you?
Author: Antal Farkas
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