The bible’s profound declaration is, “God is Love”. Everything God does emanates from Love. Though Adam and Eve’s sin caused us the human race to step out of living, moving and having our essence in God or Love, Love was active to save mankind 1 John 1:29.
It’s only as we receive or know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge that we return to living, moving and having our being in Love or God Ephesians 3:19, 1 John 4:16.
Although Love is latent, He produces actions. Love propelled the plan of redemption because He loved (Wanted Himself) in us. He is not seeking for us to fill-up His lack because He alone is self-sufficient. He is pure and loves mankind sincerely as His children by creation. He is inviting all mankind to return to Him through the sacrificial death and resurrection of His Lamb. Why? Because He loves us John 3:16.
All who accept His invitation (Christ Jesus) are blessed with “eternal life or Love” which has overthrown the “spirit of this age” and are no longer of the world though in the world John 17:14. As a result, while journeying through this world, Love is working in and with Christ’s disciples to possess their being, live and move in Love. The life of Love is curing and protecting those in Christ from the diseases of pride of life, lust of the eyes and lust of the flesh.
God’s love has been shed in the hearts of all His people (the body of Christ or the Church) because it’s only through Christ’s love that we come into the fullness of God — into heaven’s love, peace and wisdom different from that of the world Romans 5:5, John 14:27, James 3:17.
Having been born-again of the Spirit, the community of God’s people are called not to mimic actions of love but to live the life of love (Christ’s divine nature) through God’s great and precious promises 2 Peter 1:4. What are the “great and precious promises”? “I will live my life in my people AND walk amongst them 2 Corinthians 6:16, Matthew 18:20. Those in religion mimicking actions of love end up loving some people and hating others. But those led by the Spirit to living the life of love hates no one. This is the awesomeness of God’s grace at work in those who have relationship with Christ.
God’s life of love is lived through us only as we let Him guide us to understand Love. Whilst it’s possible for all humans to mimic actions of love, wisdom and have worldly peace, only those whom Love dwells in and with can live the life of peace, wisdom and love which is the fruit of the Spirit (Actions motivated by Love) Galatians 5:22. The Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes had the doctrine of Love, acted lovingly towards some people but never lived the life of love Matthew 23:1-2 3, 4 and 5. Even Hitler had people he acted lovingly towards. Anything short of God living through us can mean anything but the life of love.
The bible never refers to action(s) as love rather, it’s the Spirit behind the action(s) which accord to God’s word that is referred to as Love. Paul the Apostle clarified this delicate divide when he said, ‘giving away all of our possession and submitting to die in the place of another person can be done yet not in or by Love’ 1 Corinthians 13: 3, 1-2. This is why Paul distinctly referred to the work of the Thessalonian church as “labour of love” 1 Thessalonians 1:3. Not all labour or action is of or done by love.
Many of Jesus’s labours or actions don’t pass our human estimation of what love and politeness is because He lived the life of love led by the Spirit to please His Father first and foremost. Maybe you’re thinking, this is precarious. Yes, it is! However, Romans 8:14 and 1 Corinthians 2:15 explains it well. It’s the true life of love.
As said earlier, although Love is latent, the Spirit makes Love or God manifest in actions. For this reason, Peter exhorted the Church thus, ‘Above all, let Love grow earnestly or deeply in you —towards everyone because Love covers or forgives a multitude of sins’ 1 John 3:23. Notice Peter’s exhortation syncs with the second greatest command of God to His people both in the Old and New Testament Matthew 22:39. The command to love others or one another deeply is given only to those who have God or Christ since no one can love another in the sense God desires without Him or Christ. So, the fulfilment of this command is predicated on the first command to love (Have) God with all of our being (spirit, soul and body) Matthew 22:38, 1 John 4:19, 1 Thessalonians 5:23.
How can we truly love one another earnestly?
When we let Love or Christ fill our soul and motivate us, our love for one another deepens. Then, our “thinking” (covert) and “actions” (overt) towards everyone and especially “people of the household of faith” becomes as Christ (As He is so are we in this world) Galatians 6:10, Matthew 10:42.
It’s important to reiterate that action(s) is/are not what is referred to as love rather, it’s the Person that motivates our action(s). Hence, the life of love is a lifestyle of loving our brothers and forgiving 1 John 4:20-21,Matthew 7:12.
How does Love forgive or cover a multitude of sins?
James the Apostle explained it when he said, “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back,let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins”. If we’re motivated by Love to reach out to those who don’t have Christ or derailing brothers, love will save them from death by forgiving (covering) their sins. The action of reaching out is not the love. The reaching out can be of self and not love. This is why verse 1 of Galatians 6 said, “you who are spiritual” meaning, you are motivated by love — let meekness govern your reaching out as exhibited in Paul’s speech, “for love’s sake” Philemon 1:8-9.
Christ needs to grow deeply in us because none of us by ourselves can love and forgive sins in the sense God desires without Love being deeply rooted in us. It’s Love that covers or forgives (not overlooks) a multitude of sins. Only Love can forgive sins.
To forgive others so that we can be forgiven is not exactly God’s ideal of forgiveness. This type of forgiveness is self-motivated, cheap, ineffective, full of guile, null and void. Oh! Don’t worry I forgive, I forgive you! Really?! Where is the healing and reconciliation!? Forgiving is something only God can do through us and it has immediate healing and a reconciling effect both on the person forgiveness is flowing out from and the recipient of the forgiveness Matthew 6:15.
The Church (People of grace or power) are admonished, “confess your sins (faults) one to another… ” So that forgiveness, healing and reconciliation flow freely through us for one another to the praise of God James 5:16, 1 John 5:17.
The uniqueness of the church’s purpose and mission is pivoted on and driven by Love. So, we know, the start and end of our Christian life is Love. Every temptation we Christians face is a temptation to step out of love. Therefore, Jesus’ strongest admonition to His sheep is, “abide in me and I in you”. Outside of Love all of our good deeds can be anything but far from love.
God’s heart towards mankind is love (Christ). Those who reject the life of love sentence themselves to the wrath of the second death because, the day of judgement is a day of the revelation of perfected love 1 John 4:17, Romans 8:19. The Church’s purpose is to live the life of love with His many sided wisdom in pursuing her mission of pointing the world to Christ.
Living the life of Love is beautiful with implications summarized thus: Christ by the Holy Spirit will live through us to please His Father just as He did during His earthly ministry and not to please everyone and be loved by everyone. The whole essence of living the life of love is for God’s glory which enhances our well-being now and forever.
This meditation is taken from “The Hyssop that Springeth Out of the Wall” by George H Warnock
We can understand how a man gifted with wisdom would write about great and lofty things; but God would show us that men of wisdom are concerned also about little things. It reminds us of Paul’s admonition: “Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate,” (Romans 12:16).
Much reference is made in Scripture to both the Cedar and the Hyssop; but whereas the Cedar speaks of stature and honour and glory, the Hyssop always relates to sacrifice… and therefore to humility, weakness and contrition of heart. Other than this I knew nothing about the plant itself. But after having been impressed to minister on the “hyssop” relative to its weakness and sacrificial character, I felt to put it in writing; and I have since looked up a number of reference books concerning it.
I found it grows in dry places, out in the full sun. It is particularly suited to a rockery, and this may be inferred in the statement that it “springeth out of the wall”–perhaps a terraced rock wall. It is low-growing, up to about 2 feet. It is native to Egypt. It has strong wiry stems, with bunches of flowers and leaves. Produces small bluish-purple flowers, and has a sweet fragrance. It is a bitter herb, belonging to the mint family, and was once used for medicinal purposes. It seemed to grow plentifully in Egypt, for on the Passover night it was readily obtainable to every Israelitish family, who would use it for the sprinkling of the blood. It was used for various sacrificial purposes in the Levitical order, and therefore must have grown extensively in the wilderness also. It is always associated with “sacrifice”… so that even at Calvary, when the supreme Sacrifice was being offered, mention is again made of the lowly “hyssop.”
Solomon, a great and Wise man, was impressed to write about the weak, insignificant “hyssop.” Great men are always small enough to take note of little things.
They are concerned about the weak. Jesus stood still at the cry of a blind beggar. True greatness reveals itself in areas of meekness, mercy, compassion and forgiveness.
The world considers a meek man to be a weak man. But God considers the meek to be strong. They shall inherit the earth; because in their meekness and weakness, their confidence is not in themselves but in Another.
The weak must assume an attitude of defensiveness; but the strong are prepared to let the Truth defend itself. So when the weak assume positions of power and authority, as is often the case, they must use that power and authority to bolster their own inadequacy. The meek are strong, because they are prepared to commit their cause into the hands of God who judgeth righteously.
As I ministered about the hyssop I could not help but think of our own little fellowship. It seems so fragile. What is it that keeps us gathering together week after week? Just a handful of us… but we will travel 30, 50, 70 or a 100 miles a week just to gather with a handful of people in someone’s home. But when you come to know God’s ways a little, what does it matter whether there be 20 or 30 people, or 1,000? God can use 20 as well as 2,000… 1 as well as 10,000. It doesn’t really matter, as long as we are faithful; and as long as God is directing us in this way. But how strange this may sound to those who have not known God’s ways?
How long will we continue to gather in this manner? We certainly do not know; for we have no plans to fulfill of our own. And we are reminded that the precious “hyssop” having served its purpose was thrown away! Precious as it is in the eyes of the Lord, it was made for sacrifice.
And every sacrifice that delights the heart of God requires it. God has therefore put it within the reach of all. It grows there at our feet, lightly esteemed by most… but prepared of the Lord for sacrifice… a certain kind of sacrifice: the sacrifice of a broken spirit and a contrite heart. It is not something beyond our reach.
The elders of Israel had no problem finding it… apparently it was right outside their doors, and when the blood had to be sprinkled on the doorposts, the hyssop was readily obtained. When the last Passover Lamb was offered, hyssop was there too, and readily obtainable. When Jesus cried “I thirst,” a soldier bunched some hyssop together and lifted it to Jesus’ mouth with a sponge full of sour wine. He must use hyssop to fulfill the Scriptures, and God had provided it even on Mount Calvary! Then it was discarded… it had served its purpose.
But what waste? And to what purpose is this waste?
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:24, 25).
Following Christ is a lifestyle of constant warfare. Though it doesn’t sound sweet, it’s the truth. Sometimes, we’re at war with “men on foot” and at other times, with “horses” Jeremiah 12: 5, Ephesians 6:10-18. We can be victorious in both cases. But How?
In Isaiah 40, it was prophesied that those who “wait on the Lord” shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. The Spirit gives the Church the strength to win the battle of “running” and “walking” as she waits on the Lord or live in patience.
Having a robust understanding of the phrase, “wait on the Lord” to mean patience or long-suffering given as the fruit of the Spirit is crucial. It’s more than setting aside time to pray and fast. It’s not a seasonal character but a lifestyle produced in those whom Christ lives in.
Is putting a time frame to our “waiting on the Lord” to do this and do that for us a mechanism that builds our faith (relationship with God) or destroys it? For starters, it’s unwise to confine Almighty God to a time of our choosing. That is not faith. Faith rather trusts God to do for us the best at the best time.
The scriptures declares clearly that our timing and God’s is not the same and His is far better. The intent behind all of God’s timing in relation to His purpose and mission for our lives goes beyond giving us temporal goods to helping us reach the end of our faith — the salvation of our souls.
As disciples, none of us sees the end from the beginning. Therefore, in some ways, we’re all short-sighted. But, as we learn to live our lives in the patient fruit of the Spirit, we’re carried into the end of God’s intentions for us both spiritual and temporal.
While every temporal thing is as grass that wither away, we know, that God’s word and every fruit the Holy Spirit bears in us represents the nature of Christ which abides or remains forever. As Paul the Apostle puts it in 1 Corinthians 13, ‘Love is PATIENT and kind and endures all things.
As disciples of Christ, we need to know that we have His virtue of patience.
It is possible you’re reading this exhortation today because God wants you to stir your heart up to exercise “waiting on Him” as a lifestyle that builds and stabilizes your faith. Selah!
As disciples of Christ, we’re exhorted to be hard-working however, possessing our inheritance is by faith and Patience (Waiting on the Lord) Hebrews 6:12.
Currently, governments all over the world are passing legislation for or against homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Should the “Churches of God in Christ” be opposing the legislation that favours these practises? I don’t think so for the following reasons:
Firstly, opposing the legislation means a subtle denial of what the Bible teaches regarding the consequence of Adam and Eve’s fall; Satan’s nature was instilled in humankind. So, everyone born into this world has all the characteristics of Satan. Hence, the sins practised by humans are not learnt from one another by association rather, association pulls out the sins that already exists inside our sin nature Romans 5:12. The bible upholds the truth that all sins are innate in humans. The Church doesn’t need scientific studies to authenticate its truthfulness.
Given we humans are born with Satan inside of us (Adamic nature) and dwell in his Kingdom of darkness as well as this world (his environment), his various characteristics are exhibited by different individuals in various ways including homosexuality that’s fuelling same-sex marriage (Marring of marriage) John 8:44a. However, when practised between two consenting adults, it’s not more sinful than fornication or adultery. In the absence of mutual consent, it becomes criminal as in the case of rape. Secular governments’ civil and criminal laws should be geared towards a harmonious and peaceful society by preventing any person(s) from infringing on the rights of others
Secondly, it gives the impression of a lack of insight into God’s redemption plan for humankind. Because God knew Adam and Eve would fall and its effect on humans He created, He provided the Way (His slain Lamb, Christ Jesus) through whom all humans would come back to Him after the fall 1 Corinthians 15:22. This Way of God is to be willingly accepted and received because we’re not created as robots. Those who accept and receive Christ are saved, Satan gets dethroned in them as they’re brought out of his kingdom and put into the Kingdom of Light (The body of Christ) Colossians 1:13. Accepting Jesus can’t be legislated John 3:16.
Thirdly, it will work against the church’s mission in the world which is, rescuing humanity by preaching God’s Way (Jesus Christ) Acts 4:12. Jesus came to save the unsaved in the world not to condemn them John 3:17. And, His apostles stated that the church needs to associate with those “outside Christ” for the sake of love and the preaching of Christ and His Kingdom. Not embarrass, emphasize their sins and intimidate them in order to change their nature and lifestyles by legislation.
Given the dilemma of those who have not accepted and received God’s Way, it should heighten the churches’ zeal and commitment to the great commission not fight unwarranted wars against those living according to the dictates of the king of the kingdom to which they belong. The churches of God in Christ should preach Christ and His Kingdom to humanity and wait patiently as they come to repentance 1 Timothy 2:1-2, 3, 4-6. Fighting government legislation meant for civil liberty is deviating from her mission to love and help them see God’s Way (Light) by the gospel alone. To hate and campaign against people who’re living their lives out there as citizens of this world is belittling and devaluing the Faith.
Deviating from the Mission
The new mission of the church to change the world’s culture by any means possible is sensual not spiritual. It was sensual minded folks who crept into many of the churches long ago that succeeded in changing the focus of the mission by redefining almost everything in the bible. They failed to recognise that the lifestyles and culture of the world is being powered not from the outside, not even from the mind’s realm but deep from the heart’s nature. Only Christ’s blood can awaken the hearts of humans towards God not government legislations, church dogmas or well envisioned and executed religious programmes.
For the church to fulfil her God given mission by His ordained pattern, she must live her purpose! What’s her purpose?
The Church’s purpose in the world
Let’s be reminded that the body of Christ (The Church) is a citizen of heaven not of Satan’s environment (The world). The bible and not secular government legislates for the Church. And, her purpose in the world is to praise God by glorifying Christ in holy living and declaring God’s manifold wisdom 1Peter 2:9, Ephesians 3:10. Hence, Paul the apostle said, we’re to judge (teach, correct, rebuke, train in righteousness for participation in all godly conduct) those of the household of faith (The pillar and buttress of the truth) 2 Timothy 3:16-17, 1 Timothy 3:15.
The Church needs to be ready for her persecution that will usher in an amazing intervention of God and mass deliverance unto salvation of the unsaved as God’s word is uncompromisingly taught in the assemblies of the saints. Sinful living including homosexuality, same sex-marriage, fornication and adultery must not be tolerated in the churches of God in Christ Ephesians 5:3. Why? It’s the Churches’ responsibility to hold Christ’s disciples accountable as per the profession of the Faith. It was the primary concern of the apostles 2 Corinthians 11:28 NKJV. This should be the churches’ concern now.
It’s prescribed that believers who insist on misusing their bodies sinfully and dishonouring God 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 should be “put out of the fellowship of saints” with the hope the believer(s)’ direct rough experience with Satan may lead to repentance 1 Corinthians 5:9-10, 11, 12-13. Presently, many churches have colossal failure keeping the faith (Living God’s purpose). That’s where duty calls! As the world sees a true gospel life, love and discipline in the churches of God, everyone will think twice before joining the church.
While His light exposes the darkness inside humankind, more freakish legislation will come as stated prophetically in the Bible as the unavoidable consequence of rejecting God’s light that came into the world over 2000 years ago. Everything outside the light (Christ) will experience increasing conflict within itself. Light drives out darkness, and exposes it too! Its war, a war not to be fought with carnal weapons but with heavenly weapons purified by Christ’s Blood. Church, Selah!
But, churches’ that forget her purpose will also forget her mission as is the case with many today. They’re in need of rebuke and correction from the ministry gifts of Christ than the people of the world! When churches that claim to be in Christ join and aspire to join international groups for world peace, poverty eradication et al, one wonders how the mighty is fallen!? Oh, how a people gifted with sight, purpose and mission has been blinded and derailed! Whilst busy with fights and projects God has not assigned, wild weeds has overtaken them.
It’s when the church is ostracised, called weird people and persecuted, that her purpose and mission advance through the Holy Spirit.
Neither Jesus nor the Apostles protested and lobbied against legislations! Let’s imitate their examples!
As Philip, the evangelist preached the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ in Samaria, a magician named Simon believed the gospel and was baptised along with others who also believed. Then, Simon continued with Philip in the gospel work.
When the Apostles in Jerusalem heard of the new believers’ community (church) in Samaria, they sent Peter and John out to serve the church. They arrived and God used them to bless the brothers and sisters to receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of their hands. Though Simon was present, he didn’t receive this blessing — he was more interested in buying the power that he too might lay his hands on others to receive the Holy Spirit Acts 8:4-19. Was Simon a believer and part of the assembly? Yes!
But, Peter’s reply to his request was revelatory and instructive. Here is the apostle’s reply: Acts 8:20-23
May your silver perish with you! Why the threatening reply?
Because Simon, thought he could obtain the gift of God with money!
You have neither part nor lot in this matter! Why?
Because this disciple’s heart was not right before God.
Repent! Of what?
The wicked intent of his heart. How?
By praying to the Lord, if possible, for the wicked intent of his heart to be forgiven him.
For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity!
While the first three comments of Peter centred on Simon’s action of wanting to buy God’s gift, the fourth focused on his heart. Also, in a different scene, Peter prophetically commented on Ananias’s heart, “why has Satan filled your heart…?” and why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? Acts 5:3 & 4. Was Peter’s utterance to Simon and Ananias, right? Is revelatory prophecy not meant only for exhortation? Well, what do you know!
As we read the scriptures, the Holy Spirit can use it to expose our hearts to us as well as use us prophetically to expose one another’s heart with the intent for us to repent. But, if we fail to humble ourselves and repent, eventually, our hearts actions (imaginations) which are tangible to God plays out physically Psalm 14:1. This is the reason Christ’s life starts in our hearts. A “heart set on God” may sin and recover — but it’s not so with a “heart set on sin” Romans 4:8. Why? “… In whose spirit (heart) there is no deceit” Psalm 32:2b. Selah!
Careful study of the scriptures reveals something strange about believers who did not “set their hearts on God” (failed to guard their hearts) and Satan used it as his factory. They hardly ever recovered. They either died or never got mentioned again in the bible. Examples: Ananias and Sapphira, Sual, Judas, Simon, the strayed widows, Demas et al. Given this ugly possibility, scriptures exhort and admonish us to embrace the faith (Christ) wholeheartedly and keep good conscience 1 Timothy 1:19.
Simon’s response authenticated Peter’s insight about the condition of his heart. “And Simon answered, pray for me to the Lord that nothing of what you have said may come upon me Acts 8:24.” Again, he was more interested in avoiding “perishing” than the state of his heart for which Peter advised him to seek God. Simon’s heart was unlike David’s. David’s reply and reaction after Nathan confronted him mirrored the kind of “heart that is set on God” and commended 2 Samuel 12:1-4, 5-7, 9, and 13, Acts 13:22b.
As disciples, we need to set “our hearts on God” and not let poison in because, it can affect our relationship with God — separating us from having part in the business of the Holy Spirit while being active with “Churchianity”. Twisting Hebrews chapters 7, 9 & 10 in order to console ourselves, ‘All sins — past, present, and future — have been dealt with once and for all” will not heal a “heart set on sin” and take away its deep seated guilt.
It’s doubtful any human can live a guilt free life without Jesus Christ.
As Christians, only Christ’s sacrifice, a sincere and humble walk with Him deals death blow to guilt. It makes us fall at His feet as He exposes our hearts and actions of sin(s) to us by the Holy Spirit and we actually experience increasingly the double cure of His blood. Firstly, He cleanses us from the sin(s) we’ve fallen into and it becomes history. Albeit, people may still hold it against us but not God — the sign is, we enjoy His peace within and not guilt. Secondly, the sin(s) lose its or their grip over us and we neither cherish it in our hearts nor carry on practising it or them Joel 2:13 NLT, Micah 6:8.
But, if we continue cherishing the sin(s) we fell into in our hearts or — and, practice the sin(s), then, guilt will not go away. No theological analysis, psychologist or psychiatrist has the power to take away guilt’s power over a person.
Scriptures indicates that nursing iniquity (letting out the room of our hearts to Satan) is a different kettle of fish from falling into sin through overzealousness and carelessness. I am not saying circumstance justifies sin, just highlighting the truth that God, knows each of our hearts. ‘God looks on the heart’ 1 Samuel 16:7. This is why God’s understanding and judgement differs from ours and we’re not qualified to judge (condemn) anyone. We can state our understanding of God’s position but, is God’s to condemn or justify anyone.
Hence, Jesus’s words to His body (the Church) is always pointed to the inside of the cup (heart) because it’s where God looks on. While, it’s not optional to keep outside the cup clean, for God, as aptly narrated by Jesus, outside cleanliness of our cups must come from the inside cleanliness His blood has achieved and is achieving for us Matthew 5:20, 1 Peter 3:4. This is the kind of righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees Matthew 23:25, 5:8.
So, to think or teach that the evils we may harbour in our hearts is less evil compared to when it’s actualised for others to see is deceptive. Whilst physical murder has more consequences for a victim’s family and friends unlike a victim of hatred, God, who is Spirit, understands how hatred of anyone (even those who make us their enemies) equates to murder 1 John 3:15, Matthew 5:43-48, 1 Peter 1:22 . We have the option to agree or disagree with God but not the luxury of moderating His judgement, period!
We can best serve our communities and bring healing to those battling with guilt by encouraging them to walk heartily with Christ.
God takes the things we permit, contrive, cherish and hold in our hearts towards other people and our spouses very seriously 1 Chronicles 15:29, Malachi 2:15 NKJV, Proverbs 4:23. A teaching that diminishes this truth is deadly Proverbs 25:28 NKJV, Proverbs 16:32 NKJV.
Paul stated it clearly: Think aright — and act rightly Philippians 4:8-9. It’s opportunity that restrains whatever we have in our hearts (hatred or love) from translating to physical murder or act of kindness.
It’s a faithless generation that fails to guard her heart. Guard YOUR heart!