In Ezekiel 7:9, we see a title of the Lord that many people may not like to hear: ‘The Lord the Smiter,’ the One who punishes with judgement. In Ezekiel 8, the Lord showed Ezekiel the idolatry that was going on inside the temple which was why He had forsaken Judah. God gave Ezekiel an insight into the secret sins that were going on in the midst of God’s people. God will give a true prophet words, to expose the secret sins among His people that others do not know about.
In 1 Corinthians 14:24, 25, we read of a church-meeting where when people speak prophetically, a total stranger walks in and finds the secrets of his heart being revealed to him. And he falls on his face and acknowledges that God is in that meeting. This is how every church-meeting of ours should be. And all of us should covet to prophesy like that.
In the book of Daniel, we see the beginning of the movement of God’s people from Babylon to Jerusalem. This is a type of what we see today of God-fearing people moving out from compromising Christendom to God’s new covenant church, responding to God’s call that says, “Come out of Babylon, My people” (Rev.18:4).
That movement in ancient Babylon began with one uncompromising man – Daniel. He was concerned about God’s purposes and fasted and prayed for their fulfilment. The building of a pure church for God in any place usually begins with one man who has a burden of prayer before God that says, “Lord, I want a pure church in this place for You, and I am willing to pay any price for it”. You may have to carry that burden for a long time before you see its fulfilment. We have to carry this burden in our hearts, just like a mother carries a baby in her womb. That was how Daniel carried this burden.
The greatest battle that ever took place on this earth is not written about in any of the world’s history-books. It was on Calvary, when Jesus through His death defeated Satan, the prince of this world. One verse that you should never forget in your whole life is Hebrews 2:14,15. I am sure Satan would not like you to know this verse. No one likes to hear about his own defeat or failure, and Satan is no exception. Here is the verse: “Since then the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He (Jesus) Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death (His death on Calvary’s cross), He might destroy him who had the power of death that is the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”
Ephesians is perhaps the most spiritual letter that Paul wrote, and that indicates that the church in Ephesus at that time was in a very spiritual state. It was a very good church. There was nothing there for Paul to correct. Ephesians deals with living a heavenly life on earth. A church and a Christian can fulfil their function on earth only if they are heavenly-minded. The more heavenly-minded you are, the more you can fulfil God’s purpose for you on earth. The more earthly-minded you are, the more useless you will be to fulfil God’s purposes on earth, even if you say you are going to heaven when you die. Your home can fulfil its function for God only if it is a heavenly-minded home. The Lord’s will for us is “that your days on earth may be like the days of heaven upon earth” (Deuteronomy 11:21 – KJV). This was not possible under the old covenant. But Ephesians tells us how we can live like that under the new covenant.
Let us consider two men who walked with God – Enoch and Noah.
In Genesis 5, we read the expression ‘and he died’ eight times. But right in the middle of that chapter, we read of one who did not die at all!! That was Enoch. He walked with God and God took him to heaven alive. That is a picture of resurrection life in the midst of death. Enoch was a man who lived in resurrection power, overcame death and was taken up to heaven – a picture of a godly church living in the midst of spiritual death, overcoming by resurrection power and finally being raptured.
In Ephesians 4:13, Apostle Paul says that we are to grow up gradually “to a mature man, to the fullness of the stature of Christ”. Our aim must be to grow ourselves and to help others to grow to this fullness. We must not remain babies “tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14).
God allows us to be exposed to deception and false teaching so that we can grow in discernment. Our sense of discernment will not be developed otherwise. That’s why He allows so many deceivers and false prophets to move around in Christendom. Thus we will be able to discern the one whose spirit is not right from the one whose spirit is right. We don’t have to judge others. But we must discern. Then our spiritual senses will be exercised.
The purpose of trials is to prove the genuineness of your faith – like “gold tested in the fire” (1 Pet 1:7). When gold is dug from the depths of the earth it is not pure. The only way to purify it is by putting it into the fire. You can’t purify gold by scrubbing it with soap and water. That only removes the dirt. But to remove the metals that are mixed in the gold, it has to be put into the fire. Then all the alloys in it are melted away and the pure gold comes forth. The trials countries, where Christians were persecuted and their property was taken away, what was the result? They became better pilgrims. They became less attached to their property because now they had nothing. But where there is no persecution, even the best of believers can be very attached to their property and their possessions. We may imagine we are not attached to them, but we are deceiving ourselves. And so, God may allow persecution to come in our land one day – and then we will be purified.
1. The Fear of God: The fear of God is the beginning (alphabet) of wisdom (Prov. 9:10). This is the first lesson in the school of wisdom. If we do not learn the alphabet, we cannot proceed further. “To fear the Lord is to hate evil”, because God Himself hates evil (Prov. 8:13). When we have heard the call of God to be holy because He is holy, and are gripped by that call, we shall hate sin. Many believers find it quite easy to overcome some sins (anger, sexual sins, etc) when in the presence of other believers, for they are afraid of losing their reputation. But they sin in the same areas quite easily, when alone. Therefore it is not because they are not able to overcome these sins that they fall, but because they love their reputation more than they fear God. They value man’s opinion more than God’s. Such Christians need to mourn and repent for “worshipping the creature (man) more than the Creator” (Rom. 1:25), and need to cry out to God with all their hearts that God will teach them His fear. The promise is that if you cry out and lift up your voice and seek the fear of the Lord as you would hidden treasures, then God will teach you His fear (Prov. 2:3-5; Matt. 5:6). He will be found only by those who seek Him with all their hearts (Jer. 29:13). Only those who mourn over their failures will be comforted (strengthened and helped -(Matt. 5:4) by the Comforter. We need to develop the habit of living before the face of God alone. The reason why God has given each of us a private area – our thought life – is so that He can test us to see whether we fear Him or not. If we are concerned only about our external reputation before other men, then we shall be careless about sin in our thought life. Thus God makes a separation between those who are desirous of total victory and those who desire only an external victory over sin. If we mourn over sin in our thought life as over external sin, we shall enter into victory very quickly.
The secret of a godly life lies in Jesus Who lived on earth as a Man, and Who was tempted in every way as we are, but never sinned even once in thought, word, deed, attitude or motive or in any other way ( 1 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 4:15).
Temptation is not the same as sin. James. 1:14,15 makes that clear. Our mind has to agree with the temptation before we sin. It is clear from Matthew 4 that Jesus was tempted. But His mind never agreed with any temptation even once. Thus He never sinned. He kept His heart pure.
1. Exchange your strength with Divine strength: Isaiah 40:29-31 teaches that Almighty God Whom we worship and serve will give us strength when we are weak. When we lack might, He will give us power. He will give us health and strength to serve Him. Even young people may grow weary and tired and vigorous young men may get exhausted in trying to serve the Lord. But those who wait on the Lord, no matter what their age, will gain new strength. What a wonderful promise! And when young people are collapsing, these older men “who wait on the Lord will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and won’t get tired. They will walk and they will never become weary”. I want to encourage everyone to learn to wait upon the Lord in simple trust for all your needs. You will gain new strength, as this verse says. Or as another translation puts it: “Those who wait on the Lord will exchange their strength”. That means that we give our human strength to the Lord and He gives us His Divine strength in exchange! Hallelujah!! It is wonderful to exchange everything we have with the Lord. Jesus told the Father, “All that I have is Yours, Father. And all that You have is mine” (John.17:10, 11). In the Lord’s service you need the Lord’s strength to see you through. All those who serve the Lord really need to trust the Lord to give supernatural strength from above, His resurrection power – not only in our spirit but in our bodies too. Then we will bear fruit for Him even in old age (Psa. 92:14).