To many today is just Halloween. However, in 1517 Martin Luther changed life and religious understanding forever in the church. Luther objected to the sale of indulgences which offered pardon for sins. He came to this conclusion after spending hours studying and praying the Word of God. He came to realize that pardon for sins came at the price of the death of Christ on the cross and thus he was made righteous not by works but by faith alone. The turning point came in his life when he read Romans 1:17 “the righteous shall live by faith.” After this Luther saw that a change was needed in the teaching of the church. He wrote and posted his 95 theses on the Wittenburg Castle door hoping to get a debate going on regarding the many injustices he saw in the church and the wrong teaching about salvation. Because of the Gutenberg Press, Luther’s posting went, as we say today, “viral.” Today we call this day Reformation Day in honor of Martin Luther and his boldness.
We stop and ponder what would have happened if Luther had not been bold? Would we still be paying money to get our sins pardoned? But, thanks be to God for his indescribable gift of a free salvation paid by our Savior Jesus Christ.
This chapter has two definite sections: vs 1-6 warnings about those who are false and vs 7-21 living out the faith in love. We must remember that John was called the “son of thunder” by Jesus for a reason. He was headstrong, impulsive and quick to make judgments. He learned from the Savior how to be discerning and now wants his “friends” and “children” to also be wise and discerning. The author of Hebrews tells us that only those who are mature in the Word are able to distinguish or discern truth from error. John is saying to his beloved followers and to us there are several ways you can discern who is a true follower/teacher/prophet and one who is false.
Often when we are faced with discernment it seems like we are walking in a maze. Distinguish truth by words, not works. What is said when you ask “Who is Jesus.” Is he is “the” Christ come in the flesh; lived, died and rose again according to the scriptures (1Cor 15); the one who atoned for sin? Listen with a discerning ear.
The second say is to distinguish by their life. Follow the Holy Spirit’s leading and observe their life. “The love of God displayed in His people is the strongest apologetic that God has in the world.” [Bruce].
The Holy Spirit will not lead you astray; love is the end of this maze.
Photo: azcoloring.com/printable-coloring + author’s phrasing
Today I have been feeling the effects of the old woman’s scrub board only this time it is the Holy Spirit who has been pushing and tugging at my heart and he has revealed where I have spots and wrinkles. In finishing up the book of 2Corinthians, Paul reminds that believer that as they had been examining him they might want to do their own self-examination.
Self-examination purges the heart and the motives of the heart from what is displeasing to the Lord. But thankfully God does not expect us to do this alone but to allow the heavenly scrubber, the Illuminating Holy Spirit who dwells within us, to put us on his scrub board. Here he will push and tug on our hearts. Some parts are in need of less cleansing and others need more work. Why does he work so hard at this task? The Holy Spirit knows this truth: “the heart is more deceitful than all else.” His one objective is to prepare us to enter the holy throne room of God sin free.
Today you may feel like me. You are feeling the effects of the Holy Spirit scrubbing you on his scrub board. It may hurt at first but once he is finished you will come forth without spot or wrinkle. I can attest to the pain, but it has been worth it.
Will you allow the Holy Spirit to use his scrub board to do some introspection of your inner self in behavior and motivation?
Yesterday I had one of those sacred moments. It was not in a time alone in my closet, but I had prepared my heart so when the time came for me to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit I was ready. It was an awesome experience, one I will treasure as a lesson in heart preparation for the unexpected. Have you had one of those “aha moments” when you realize that it is not your inner voice speaking but the true Holy Spirit? In some ways, it sends chills up our spine and it should for this is the God of the universe through the Holy Spirit speaking!
These become our sacred moments; moments in which God has chosen to converse with the one he loves. Sacred moments happen when we are so in tune with the Holy Spirit that we are overwhelmed with His love, His tenderness, His breath, His whispers. It is in these times that the Holy Spirit quietly speaks to our heart so we hear him whisper to us: “This is the correct way, walk in it…” [Isaiah 30:21]
As Paul was writing to the Corinthians he shared that he experienced a time so sacred that he wrote I “heard things too sacred to be put into words, things that a person is not permitted to speak.” [2Corinthians 12] That is why Paul understood when the Holy Spirit said: “my grace is sufficient for you.” Have you experienced a time like this?
We can have those sacred moments when the Holy Spirit speaks to us in our walk with Him. He speaks to us regarding sin and the need to seek forgiveness; about righteousness affirming our standing before God. Other times He speaks and directs our steps lest we stumble. However He speaks we know that “he will prove the world wrong concerning sin and righteousness and judgment –concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness.”
Take time to step apart from the hurry of your day; listen for the sweet voice of the Holy Spirit.
What is the most critical problem that Christ followers must face head on? It is spiritual adultery which is being disloyal or unfaithful to our Beloved Savior. Paul remarked to the Corinthians in chapter 11 that his biggest fear was, like Eve, they would be “led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” This was not just a Corinthian problem as we see in Galatians: “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are following a different gospel.” In fact “there are some who are disturbing you and wanting to distort the gospel of Christ.” Spiritual adultery happens when we lose our first love or are unable to “discern both good and evil.” We must guard against “false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.”
Beloved, we must recognize this is a real and present danger and the imposter(s) will be looking for weaknesses in our armor. We have been given the Fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness. Guard against “quench[ing] the Spirit” and “griev[ing] the Holy Spirit of God.” Prepare ahead of time. Be in the Word daily. Memorize and pray scripture. Be like the Bereans who were “examining the scriptures carefully every day to see if these things were so.” Beloved, “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
Lately, I have been challenged by some of my reading to pray through the scriptures each day as I prepare my heart. It has been more than fulfilling and alarming. As the Holy Spirit speaks he strips away my facade and I find areas that need to be cleansed and corrected.
Today I was touched by Paul’s 10th chapter of 2Corinthians. Most commentators speak of his appealing to the Corinthians to listen carefully to him as he pours out his heart. But, as I was praying the Holy Spirit impressed upon me this thought: if my quiver is not full of those arrows which are anointed by the Holy Spirit it really does not matter what I do or say or pray. None of it is effective as I walk and talk in this world. It is essential to live a consistent lifestyle. Listen to Paul: “What we say by letters when we are absent, we also are in actions when we are present.” A consistent lifestyle begins at the foot of the cross. As I was closing my time in prayer, I came away refreshed and reinvigorated to pull out my quiver and re-fill it with the arrows of memorized verses that will help me shoot the enemy when he comes attacking. Also, once again I was reminded that I will be less of a target my mind is consistently bathed in the Word of God.
Also as I was pondering all of this I came away with this thought: Jesus Christ was able to quench the fiery darts of the enemy with the Word of God in his most difficult trial because his quiver had been filled by the angelic host as he prayed in the Garden. Thus, he could “take every thought captive” and thus take down “every arrogant obstacle that is raised up against the knowledge of God.” Our enemy is wily, he is deceptive and he is roaming about seeking whom he can devour. He comes boldly into my presence but if my quiver is full I can draw out just the right arrow to thwart his advance. I may not be able to take him down, but I can inflict my own “deadly d’s” to destroy his advance. He cannot fight against the Word of God.
Are my arrows anointed by the power of the Holy Spirit?