QUESTIONS/ANSWERS FROM THE QUESTION FORUM
Group Number 25
I need your advice on how I can keep unwanted thoughts away from my mind.......so I can do God's work.
This is best done indirectly. By that, I mean you cannot
simply push these thoughts our of your mind. They are like a foreign army, invading your
mind. The Bible refers to these unwanted thoughts as "fiery darts," or flaming
arrows, telling us they come from the devil. it also tells us that FAITH is the shield God
has given us to quench them, or nullify their effectiveness. As we put the things of God
into our mind, the Holy Spirit goes to work within us, removing the power of these
unwanted thoughts. This is a battle, and there is nothing easy about it, as you already
The battle you are having is described in Romans 7:15-25--the invasion of unwanted thoughts. First, in faith recognize this is really not you. Second, refuse to allow them to have their way--resist their suggestions. God will make your desire effective. Third, comfort yourself by realizing you have real life from God--that is why Satan is stirring up these distracting thoughts. You have a deep desire he does not want you to have. That is why he is doing all he can to take it away from you.
Please just help me by advising me on what verses I should claim to get lustful thoughts out of my mind....How do I overcome them?
You will never be able to get lustful thoughts out of your
mind. You WILL be able to stop them from bearing fruit. Remember, these thoughts are
temptations. As such, they are under God's control. He will not allow you to be tempted
above your ability (1 Cor 10;13). It is something like a bird landing on your head. You
may not be able to stop it from landing there, but you can stop it from building a nest
The way you overcome such thoughts is by refusing to do what they suggest. it is what the Bible calls saying "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age (Tit 2:12). That very passage informs us that grace teaches us how to do this (Tit 2:11-12). The real victory is not found in NOT having the thoughts at all, but in not being turned away from the Lord by them. There will also come a time, by the grace of God, when the thoughts will not come so frequently.
Also, admit with Paul that unwanted thoughts are really not yours. They are like enemies that have invaded your mind. This is precisely what Paul meant when he said, "Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it" (Rom 7:20).
Being in Christ does not seem to make putting off
the flesh that much easier!
Think of it from a larger point of view--remembering that everything you have said is the truth. Being in Christ makes putting off the flesh "POSSIBLE!" of course, it is a fight, but certainly not a hopeless one. Let's look at it from another point of view.
Remember who you are opposing. The devil has successfully deceived 'the whole world" (Rev 12:9; 1 John 5:19). he was even able to "tempt" Jesus (Matt 4:1). Additionally, you are battling against "against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Eph 6:12). They have bee responsible for enslaving nations, keeping the world in moral and spiritual darkness until Jesus came.
All of these adversaries work through your flesh--that is all they have to work with. The very fact that you have overcome them--regardless of how much effort it took--reveals how STRONG you are, not how weak you are. it is all in how you look at it. You may think you are just crawling along, depleted of all of your strength. But look at it the right way. Think of yourself like the woman with an issue of blood, who pushed through a great crowd to touch the hem of Jesus' garment (Matt 9:20-22). That a weak, diseased woman could get through the crowd to touch Jesus' garment revealed strength--strength given to her by God.
Remember, Christ's strength is made perfect in your weakness (2 Cor 12:9). Knowing this, Paul confessed (and so must you) "when I am weak, then am I strong" (2 Cor 12:10). what a marvel it is
What you feel "squirming, wriggling, kicking, wrestling with the shackles" is not merely the new man under the restraint of the flesh, it is also the flesh under the restraint of the Spirit. that is the meaning of Galatians 5:17. "For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want." It will not be long, and we will be freed from the warfare. What a blessed consideration!
Your last paragraph, from the
attached devotional appears to indicate that one can loose one's salvation, if they
sin...please clarify this..thanks.
The phrase "lose ones salvation" is not found in Scripture. It is a term developed by men to explain a theological position. One can make shipwreck of the faith (1 Tim 1:19), become a castaway (1 Cor 9:27), deny the faith (1 Tim 5:8). It is possible for a someone who has escaped the pollutions of the world to fall into a state that is worse than it was before being in Christ (2 Pet 2:20). There are some people who were made partakers of the Holy Spirit to come to a condition where they cannot be renewed to repentance (Heb 6:4-6).
All of this is true because we hold salvation by faith. As long as we have faith, it is not possible to be lost. But do not take for granted that faith can be kept without effort. We are to fight the good fight of faith, and thus lay hold on eternal life (1 Tim 6:12). Too, remember, we do not have all of our salvation yet. scripture reminds us it is "ready to be revealed" in its fulness (1 Pet 1:5). What we have now is the "firstfuits of the Spirit" (Rom 8:23), and not the fulness. One thing that makes this evident is our present bodies. They have not yet been saved, but will be in the resurrection. in fact, our adoption is not complete until this happens. That is what is meant by the expression, "Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies" (Rom 8:23).
God has given us several examples to help avoid thinking once we are in His favor we are locked into it, so to speak. God put Adam and Eve in the Garden, but they were expelled. God took all of the children of Israel out of Egypt, but did not bring them all into the promised land. The Spirit makes a precise parallel between that situation and our salvation in 1 Corinthians 10:1-7).
To be clear, no person who IS believing is in danger of being cut off from God. Such are kept by the power of God--but that keeping is "through faith" (1 Pet 1:5). God is "able to keep us from falling, " praise the Lord (Jude 24)--but only if we maintain our faith. Further, a believer is consistently represented in Scripture as someone who IS believing, not someone who has made a profession of faith sometime in the past.
I've been feeling afraid of death and sort of spiritually insecure. Why do you think this happens to us. Does it happen to all Christians?
This is a way Satan tempts us. Scripture refers to his
temptations as "fiery darts," or "flaming arrows" (Eph 6:16). Part of
our salvation is deliverance from "the fear of death" (Heb 2:15). This does not
mean we will never have to grapple with such fears, but they will not overcome us. We can
triumph over them by believing in Jesus and receiving what He has done for us. God Himself
will, then, cause the fear to leave.
The same is true of feeling insecure. You, together with all believers, are being "kept by the power of God through faith" (1 Pet 1:5). God is "able to keep you from falling" (Jude 24). Feelings of insecurity come when we look at what we have done or are doing, and see it is not the best. Such feelings will be overthrown when we consider what Jesus has done in our behalf, and how pleased God is with it. A sense of safety will then be given to us by God.
You have been tempted by the devil, good brother. It has not made you worse, and has not placed you in danger. it has only confirmed the devil knows you are being protected by Jesus, and is doing his best to divert your attention from the Lord.
What about the Sabbath day? Is iut still binding on us. Am I sinning in attending church Saturday evening? I have to work on Sunday.
The Ten Commandments are a
reflection of the image of God. They are good, and holy, and just, as Romans 7 declares
(verses 12-14). But they are NOT the basis for determining whether a person is righteous
or not. That is determined by personal faith in Jesus Christ (Rom 4:13; Phil 3:9). And
remember, being righteous or holy before the Lord is everything. If we are not righteous,
there is no hope of being forever with the Lord. The Gospel announces that God's own
righteousness is available to man through faith and in Christ Jesus (Rom 1:16-17;
As for the Sabbath day, Israel, who received the commandment, never really entered into God's rest, or sabbatheven though they kept the Sabbath day. That is precisely the point of Hebrews 4:1-11. God did not merely intend for men to set aside a day to rest from their labors. His intention was for them to "enter" into His rest. By that the Spirit means God's desire is for men to enter into His joy and satisfaction in what He has achieved. His accomplishments reach their apex in the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. That is where God Himself finds the greatest satisfaction (Isa 53:11-12). It is, in the truest sense of the word, where He "rests."
There is a greater rest that was typified by the Law's Sabbath day, but never fulfilled by it. That is the rest of faith, and is discussed at length in the fourth chapter of Hebrews. A parallel is made between the fourth commandment Sabbath and the rest of faith. The Sabbath day was bound upon Israel because their hearts were hard. They would have forgotten God altogether if He did not demand they remember Him on that day, dedicating it exclusively to Him. In Christ, however, our nature is changed, so that we actually know and delight in knowing the Lord. Now every day becomes a Sabbath so far as sanctifying the Lord in our memory.
This does not mean keeping the Sabbath is wrong. We are not better for keeping it, either. You have not sinned in attending church Saturday evening. That, of course, is not to be equated with keeping the Sabbath day holy.
It is never right to demand that everyone keep the Sabbath dayeven though no individual is condemned for choosing to do so. Colossians 2:16 forbids us to judge one another on this matter. The recollection of God as the Creator of the universe is wonderful--but it is certainly not the highest or most glorifying view of our God. Intimate fellowship with Him by faith is more wonderful. That is why Scripture affirms, "We which believe do enter into rest" (Heb 4:3). The word used in that text is "sabbaton," or sabbath. It is a higher and more extensive rest which overshadows, but does not obliterate, the former Sabbath. The Sabbath day commandment has not been obviated by a different commandment, but by a greater rest. It is something like the light of the sin removing the light of the moon. That rest is nothing less than satisfaction with the atoning death of Christ. When we enter into that rest, we cease depending on our own accomplishments, resting, as it were, from them.
When comparing the New and Old covenants, our approach must be correct. The New Covenant is a different kind of covenant, not at all like the Old Covenant. God said it this way, "I will make a new covenant. . . It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt" (Heb 8:8-9, NIV). The latter part of that chapter confirms this is the covenant Jesus is presently mediating. It is not a covenant of DOING, like the Old Covenant was. In fact, the Spirit makes this parallel in commenting on the nature of the New Covenant. "Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: The man who does these things will live by them. But the righteousness that is by faith says: Do not say in your heart, Who will ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down) or Who will descend into the deep? (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved" (Rom 10:5-10).
This is a foundational teaching. The Old Covenant put the entire responsibility in the hands of man. Believing or faith are not mentioned a single time in all of the Lawincluding all of the commandments, all of the directions, and all of the Levitical law. It was a system of doing. In the New Covenant, God does the foundational work, then calls upon us to believe it. He then accepts us upon the basis of our faith, and works with us to fulfill His will (Phil 2:12-13). The entire New Covenant is summarized in a few words. Jeremiah foretold it in Jeremiah 31:31-34. The Spirit later gave it again in Hebrews 8:8-13. It is again summarized in Hebrews 10:16-17. In all of these references what the Lord does is the total emphasis. There are no Ifs, and there are no commands. If you will read those texts, you will find the following affirmations. (1) God will put His laws into the mind. (2) He will write his laws on the heart. (3) He will be God to the people. (4) The people will be His people. (5) Every one in the covenant will know Him, or be familiar and in love with Him. (6) He will not remember their sins any more. All of those things are promisespromises to be believed. They can only be possessed in Christ. Further, our faith will compel us to do anything and everything He commands us. Others scriptures that affirm the nature of the New Covenant, and how radically it differs from the Old Covenant are as follows. Jeremiah 32:39-40; Ezekiel 11:19-20; 36:26-27; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Ephesians 2:10.
The "First day of the week" is frequently mentioned in Scripture, and always with a note of approval. This is specifically said to be the time when Jesus rose from the dead. "Now when He rose early on the first day of the week . . ." (Mark 16:9). This is also the day on which Jesus, following His resurrection, first appeared to His disciples. "Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, 'Peace be with you'" (John 20:19). It is also the day on which He appeared the second time to His disciples. John refers to it as eight days following the first appearance, which would put it on the first day of the week. "And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, 'Peace to you!'" (John 20:26).
In addition, the day of Pentecost occurred on the first day of the week. This feast took place 50 days after the high Sabbath of the paschal week (Lev 23:15-16). The Sabbath from which the count was made occurred the day after Jesus was crucified, and was the reason why His body was taken down from the cross (John 19:31; Mark 15:42). It was also the Sabbath honored by the women who came to anoint Jesus' body (Mark 16:1; Luke 23:54-56). Fifty days from that Sabbath day was the first day of the week--the Day of Pentecost, on which the Spirit was poured forth.
We are categorically told that the early disciples came together to break bread "on the first day of the week" (Acts 20:7). When instructing the Corinthians on setting aside special monies for the poor saints in Jerusalem, Paul specified that it be done on "the first day of the week" (1 Cor 16:2). As the church progressed, from Ignatius (A.D. 30-107) onwards, we "have a complete chain of evidence that The Lord's Day became the regular Christian name for the first day of the week."
Suffice it to say, there is solid ground for perceiving as "the Lord's Day" the first day of the week. This was the day on which natural light was created (Gen 1:3-5). It was the day on which Christ Jesus arose from the dead (Mark 16:9). His two recorded appearances to His disciples occurred on this day (John 20:19,26). The day of Pentecost took place on this day (Lev 23:15-16), and the early church is said to have gathered together on the "first day of the week" (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 16:2). This is not simply another day! The events that took place on the first day of the week are conducive to godly recollections that sanctify the soul.
Why do we pray in Jesus' name, instead of the Father, Son and Holy spirit?
This is according to Jesus' own instruction. "And I will do whatever you ask IN MY NAME that the Son may bring glory to the Father." (John 14:13). " . . . whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father IN MY NAME, he may give it you" (John 15:16). "In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask IN MY NAME. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete" (John 16:23-24).
The design of salvation is to reconcile us to God (Eph 2:16; Col 1:20-22; Rom 5:10; 2 Cor 5:18-21). Jesus said he was the way to the Father (John 14:6). When we pray, Jesus taught us to say "Our Father who art in heaven" (Matt 6:9). Because of being in Christ, we are His sons, and are to approach Him as such (1 John 3:1-3).
The Lord Jesus is the appointed and exclusive means through which we come to God. The Holy Spirit is given to us to assist us in our entire spiritual life. Prayer is one of the areas in which He helps us. The Word refers to praying "IN the Holy spirit," NOT to the Holy Spirit (Jude 20).
The overall teaching of the Apostles is this. Man has fallen short of the glory of God. God sent Jesus into the world to resolve the dilemma by putting sin away. The Lord Jesus is now bringing us to God (1 Pet 3:18). The Holy Spirit dwells within us to make us able to walk with the Lord, and for the Lord to dwell within us (Eph 3:16-17).
Nothing but praying to the Father through the Son fits into this revealed purpose. It is really just that simple.
Is it really possible to have "more faith." Doesn't God give us a fixed measdure of faith?
The "measure of faith" mentioned in Romans 12:3 is
not quantitative. It relates to the position one occupies in the body. The faith in
reference has been granted to fulfill an appointed role in God's eternal purpose. Thus,
those who prophecy are admonished to do so according "to the proportion of his
faith" (Rom 12:6).
Faith is not granted to us in fixed proportions, or measures. That is why Paul observed the faith of the Thessalonians was "growing more and more" (1 Thess 1:3). Faith, as you know, is the "assurance of things hoped for, and the "conviction of things not seen." Just as assurance and conviction can increase, so can ones faith. This is, of course, from the experiential view. It involves having a more firm grip on eternal verities, and beholding them more clearly.
You are absolutely correct in your assessment of faith working in an environment of humility--or within a sense of the poverty of our persons apart from Christ Jesus. Such a condition contributes to one being "strong in faith," as our father Abraham was (Rom 4:20). His faith dominated him, towering over natural wisdom and the inclination to trust in human devices, or doubt the reality of Divine commitments.
I too have often thought of the expression you mentioned: "We've got to have more faith." The disciples said much the same thing when they implored Jesus, "Lord, increase our faith." He did not tell them they had asked the wrong thing, but added a fresh dimension for their perspective. "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you" (Matt 17:5-6). Using what we have is really the secret to experiencing a growth in faith.
Faith is given to be used. That use involves the abandonment of our fleshly preferences, and the adoption of the Divine agenda -- humility.
What about the matter of prayer
by laying on of hands.
The laying on of hands is listed as one of the foundational teachings of Scripture (Heb 6:2). Jesus put His hands on little children when he prayed for them (Matt 19:13). Paul also laid his hands on the father of a chief ruler when he prayed and healed him (Acts 28:8). Ananias did the same thing when he prayed for Saul of Tarsus to receive his sight (Acts 9:17-18). The laying on of hands was also employed when sending people out to do the work of the Lord (Acts 6:6; 13:3; 1 Tim 4:14)
There is certainly nothing wrong with this procedure, as long as it is motivated by faith, and not trusting in a mere routine. James spoke of a procedure for people who were sick. It is not honored in many of our churches, but it is given by God. "Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven" (James 5:14-15).
I see no reason to refuse either of these procedures (laying on of hands, or anointing with oil). They should not, however, be approached as a lifeless law, or as something like magic.
I think that Satan before he fell
was the worship leader in heaven . . . I had always been led to believe that music was an
area in the world that Satan had a stronghold over. Do you know if this is an implied
teaching or is this stated somewhere directly in the scriptures. In Ezekiel 28 it mentions
The Scriptures do indicate that Satan was somehow identified with musical expressions. This phrase in Ezekiel 28:13 is part of the basis for this assumption: "the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created." Other versions state the text differently. The NIV and NASB say "the workmanship of settings and sockets," and the RSV and NRSV say "settings and engravings." This does seem rather strange to me, since the word from which "tabrets" is translated is "toph," which means "tabret or timbrel." For whatever it is worthy, the consensus of language scholars is that "tabrets" or "timbrels" is precisely correct--and that the allusion is to a festive, yet formal, occasion of bestowing honor.
The word "workmanship" is can also be translated "service," "work," or "occupation." That is where the idea of being a leader in the praise of God is taken.
As you already know from the text, all of this is rather vague. Enough is said to confirm Satan fell from a lofty position and ministry. Yet, we do no know precisely what it was. The teaching concerning Satan's musical role is, therefore, an implied teaching, although it is not without significance.
In his allusion to Satan, Isaiah also spoke of his association with music. "All your pomp has been brought down to the grave, along with the noise of your harps . . . " (Isa 14:11). It is clear, therefore, that our adversary has in some significant way been connected with music, even though all of the details are not supplied.
This does not mean that sound conclusions cannot be reached on the subject of Satan and music. Your persuasion that Satan exercises unusual influence in the area of music is correct. You may remember that the idolatry instituted by King Nebuchadnezzar involved extensive instrumental music (Dan 3:5-15).
It is also interesting to note that Israel's reprehensible decline from God was also marked by corrupt music. The prophets frequently referred to this association, affirming the Lord's disgust with it all (Isa 5:12; Amos 5:23; 6:3-5).
To me, the term "Christian Rock" is like an oxymoron. One word is identified with heaven, and the other with earth. one has associations the Spirit, and the other with the flesh. We must always remember that a tree is known by the fruit it produces. Jesus reminded us a good tree CANNOT produce evil fruit, and an evil tree CANNOT produce good fruit.
Those who promote what they call "Christian Rock" rarely tell us of anything but their preference for that kind of music. As long as they can display good and godly fruit, God will receive it, and so will I.
I certainly do not condemn innovative and energetic music for the Lord--in fact I rather enjoy it. However, it must be under the control of the Holy Spirit. It can be under the control of Satan.
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