Trust and Obey

When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them,“Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” (John 21:9-10 NIV)

Everyone of us is personally created by God. Everyday, we eat food that is provided by Him. Today, we come before his throne to repent, because in the past, we did not acknowledge Him as Jehovah Jireh, our provider. We believed that all that we received is from our own strength and ability. We thought that through our own cleverness and wisdom that we provided for ourselves. We have sinned against the Lord and fallen short of his glory.

“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.

But you ask, How are we robbing you?

“In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe, says the Lord Almighty. Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land, says the Lord Almighty. (Malachi 3:8-12 NIV)

Carefully consider how much of our lives do we give to God? Are there parts of our lives that are colonies, under the bondage of sin? If God is our portion, our inheritance, our Husband, than how much do we invest in him? Since the first commandment says that you shall have no other god before me, and since all our provisions and blessings come from him, and acknowleging that God created everyone of us, then all our lives, wealth, time, career and family should be in total surrender to God’s will.

Under the law, we are cursed. Offering 10% of our income as tithes to God is in the Mosaic Law. If we are no longer living under the law, living under the better New Covenant, we are no longer obliged to mandatory give 10% of our income. Yet this does not mean this promise of God in the Book of Malachi is void. God is a faithful God and He still seeks genuine offerings of praise and thanksgiving in faith. We are not bound by the law but it is etched in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, so that we can know our God. And our faithful God says we may test Him in this offerings. Hence, in genuine faith and not as an exchange or transaction, we should give even more of our wealth and time to God, and be blessed with his protection and a wonderful harvest.

After Festus had conferred with his council, he declared: “You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go!” (Acts 25:12 NIV)

Too often, when in need of protection and provision, we forget that God in omnipresent and omnipotent. We do not appeal to God, but place our hope and trust in others, our wealth, our local authorities, our own law, and our own beliefs. We forget to trust in God and the result is that we will find that everything, except God, will fail us.

To God, this is akin to adultery and idolatry, because God is a God of covenant, if we obey him, he will provide his provision and protection over us. Yet we are placing our hope of provision and protection on something else which cannot provide or protect. Medicine may heal us, but they are one of the mere avenues or habits which God may or may not use to heal. Very often, a crisis of lack of protection or provision is a timely reminder by God that he is God. Today, if you hear his voice, whether audible or through events, turn to Him rather than to worthless idols.   

The How and the Why

See, the Lord is going to lay waste the earth and devastate it; he will ruin its face and scatter is inhabitants – it will be the same for priest as for people, for the master as for his servant, for seller as for buyer, for borrower as for lender, for debtor as for creditor. (Isaiah 24:1-2)

In the media, we often hear and read natural and man-made disasters all around the world. Some of us have even experience them. There are many natural disasters like typhoons, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, drought, volcano eruption etc. They bring about both loss of life and financial loss. There are many man-made disasters like wars, bombings, collapse of buildings, bridges, dams, hyperinflation, economic crisis, train derailment, sinking of ships, etc. At the personal level, we may suffer various degrees of sickness, loss of job, fraud, robbery, assault etc. What do we make of this disasters and how do we rationalize them?

Plenty of our focus is on the how to prevent these disasters from happening again. We may blame government policies and say if we had entered into a trade or defence pact, or if we reduced or increase the government budget, or if we had enacted this law, some of these disasters would have been avoided. On the why these disasters happen, many blame politicians, poor lifestyle, lack of responsibility and diligence, lack of planning, pollution etc.

The “modern life” is so influenced by politics, economics and the culture that little of it is attributed to being God’s blessings or judgement. In the past, the price of food was primarily concerned with weather and an agrarian society really feels blessed by God with ample sunshine and rainfall. Now other factors like subsidies, tariffs, price wars, trade pacts, embargoes and transportation cost all seem to “push God” so far away. With urbanization, many children in the city never think of the milking of the cow, the source of their food, when they drink their milk.

Only when in a personal crisis, only when one has seemingly exhausted all other solutions and avenues of helps, do many suddenly appeal to God and the seemingly injustice of the entire crisis. Our daily life have seemingly little to do with God. God has become almost irrelevant, reduced to a religion on a weekend and the insurance policy only if one did not buy one.

A proper “God framework”, acknowledging God in all ways, that he is all mighty, all knowing, justice, merciful, compassionate, patient, righteous, powerful, omnipresent, the great healer, is very important in one’s walk with God. Otherwise, all the other hows and whys to one’s daily life will seemingly crowd out God, placing them above God.

Know that all these are within God’s control and no disasters, deaths, injuries can happen without God’s authorization. Learn to ask God, why did he allow this sickness to afflict me? Why did he allow this person to drown? What is he trying to tell us? What areas of our life is he warning us to repent and reform?

Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favouritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. (Acts: 10:34)

Why do we often feel that God’s decision are unfair? We must not take the perspective from our point of view. Being a Christian, believing in Jesus Christ, does not preclude one from being involved in a disaster, being judged. Everyone, the faithful and the unfaithful, the wise and the fool, the saint and the sinner, will be judged by God, the Judge of the Earth. And unlike us, God is unchanging, he has to be consistent to all his perfect traits. God also judges from an all knowing and a everlasting perspective.

Seeking God’s will

Seeking Gods will

If anyone, then knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. (James 4:17)

In the last section, we wrote about Condition 2: getting clean and the importance of repenting of our sins. However, it is not sufficient to just be clean. We need to daily come to Condition 1: Holiness, that is coming before the throne of God. And we also need to seek God’s will and carry out his will.

Step 1: Getting clean

Step 2: Coming before the throne

Step 3: Revelation, seeking God’s will

Step 4: Carrying out God’s will

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. (Psalm 24:3-4)

To enter the house of the Lord, to ascend the mountain of the Lord, we need to praise the Lord, pouring out our thanksgiving and gratitude for all his blessings and provision. We can praise by reciting aloud the book of Psalms. We can praise by singing the bible, psalms and hymns. We can praise the Lord in tongues. You can praise the Lord anywhere and anytime. Praise in sincerity, from the bottom of your heart.

An example of a praise song:

Give thanks with a grateful heart,

Give thanks to the Holy one,

Give thanks, because he’s given, Jesus Christ, his son.

And now, let the weak say I am strong,

Let the poor say I am rich,

Because of what the Lord has done, for us.

Praise until filled with the Holy Spirit, then start worshiping the Lord. Worship is coming before the throne of the Lord. Worship focuses on the Lord, exalting his name, and putting aside all our thoughts of ourselves. Pray in the name of Jesus Christ, asking and receiving from the Lord the anointment of Worship. Though we will ourselves to worship, worship is in the spirit level, letting the Holy Spirit through his gifts, surrendering control of one’s tongue and body. Worship is original, because God does new things. He will release a new tune, as we sing in the spirit. God will also lead us in new dance movements and play musical instruments which one has never learned before!

An example of a worship song:

Our God is an awesome God,

He reigns on Heaven and Earth,

With wisdom, power and Love.

Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:18-20)

When the cloud of glory descends, then the church, the body of Christ will manifest various gifts of the Holy Spirit, the gift of visions, the gift of prophecy, the gift of tongues and the interpretation of tongues. By standing in the glory of God, from these gifts of utterance, this brings about revelation, edifying the Church, and seeking and learning God’s will.

Be very careful, then, how you live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lords will is. (Ephesians 5:15-17).

In the Mosaic Covenant and before receive the Holy Spirit, we tried to do good by trying to apply the laws to our lives by sheer self willpower. Now having receiving the Holy Spirit, God want to impart his righteous to us, by us understanding what the Lord’s will is in all that we do and faithfully carrying it out. That is why it is not enough for us to be clean, we must continue in him, always being in the condition of holy and carrying out his will.

And now dear children, continue in him, so that that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him. (James 2:28-29)

Sanctification and Holiness

As obedient children, do not conform the the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do, for it is written: “Be holy because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-15)

Having received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, having been justified by faith, the next part to address in the “newborn” Christian life is sanctification and holiness by faith. If being born again and being set apart from this world was like God bringing the people of Israel out of Egypt, then the process of sanctification and holiness is the journey through the wilderness, God bringing the “Egypt out of Israel”.

I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourself and be holy, because I am holy. (Leviticus 11:44)

And

I am the Lord, who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; there be holy because I am holy. (Leviticus 11:45)

We must be aware of our own condition:

Condition 1: Holy. (Before the throne of God)

Condition 2: Clean (Sanctified)

Condition 3: Unclean. Defiled by evil spirit(s)

Condition 4: Possessed. Oppressed by an evil spirit(s)

Even a Christian, even one that have received the Holy Spirit, can be in conditions 3 and 4, defiled and oppressed by evil spirit(s). When one sins and goes against the will of God, Satan brings a charge (lawsuit) against us. God is a just God, if we have sinned, he may withdraw his protection over us and allow Satan to defile and oppress us. We then come under spiritual attack.

“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” The Lord says to Satan, “Very well, then everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” (Job 1:9-12)

Here God removes his protection over his household and assets, and allows Satan to oppress Job because Job sacrificed to God on behalf of his children as part of a “exchange for protection” rather than from the heart. But note that God continues to protect Job himself. God wanted Job to bring his children before the throne of God, rather than perform a ritual sacrifice on behalf of them. This is no different to saying my children will be blessed because I go to church every Sunday.

When we are unclean and possessed, we must repent of our sins and seek God’s forgiveness. The Holy Spirit is our counsellor who tells us what words and actions to draw up our plead to the Father. Then Jesus Christ, our mediator brings the plead to the Father, and as the high priest and the Lamb of God pays the penalty of our sins  using his blood. The Father, the Judge of the Earth, then forgives our sins and sanctifies us. The charge from Satan is removed and the evil spirit have no legal right to operate any longer.

Then he showed me Joshua, the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?” Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who where standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.” Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.” Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.” Then I said, “Put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the Lord stood by. (Zechariah 3:1-5)

Satan is our accuser and seeks to oppress us and brings us to our destruction and fire. The Lord is our salvation, when we turn to him and repent of our sins, he takes aware our sins and cleanses us. As we walk with the Lord in the wilderness, he stirs up events to shows us our sins, so that there is death to our old self.

But the people were thirsty for water there and they grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?” (Exodus 17:3)

Although the people had experienced the division of the Red Sea, under the conditions of no water, they grumbled and quarreled against Moses. Getting Moses to strike the rock and the miracle of water coming out of it for the people to drink is the easy part for God. The tough part is for people to learn that God is their provider, he wants them to learn to turn to him and seek God.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without a fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not or labour in vain. (Philippians 2:14)

Unfortunately, the people of Israel continued to grumble and argue, they grumbled when the water was bitter. They grumbled when they did not get to eat meat. They grumbled when the spies brought back the report on the exploration of Canaan, the promised land. God hates grumbling because it shows that there is lack of faith in God. It is not enough to proclaim that God is our protector and our provider, we must also be able to externally demonstrate so in faith.

In the same way, faith by itself, if is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 3:17)

Faith comes from God and is essential to the Christian life. Faith is both one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and also one of the “favors” of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Pray to God, asking for more faith and strength as we carry our cross and continue to follow Jesus Christ.

And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil person, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. (2 Thessalonians 3:2-3)

As we walk with God in the wilderness, as events happen that bring us discontent and unhappiness, do not complain, do not grumble, do not argue with your family, friends, colleagues. Know that God knows the future, God is almighty, God is omnipresent. Instead, go before the throne of God, ask him why he has allowed these events to happen, are there areas in our old life that he wants us to reform and put right? Are there sins he wants us to repent?

If we refuse to repent, if we still resort to our old ways, if we run away, God may temporarily allow us to do so, but God does not give up on us. The next test of faith will be even harder. Do not prolong the walk in the wilderness, as the people of Israel walked for forty years. Have faith in God, seek God, walk in obedience to God.

The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep his commands of the Lord your God and walk in obedience to him. (Deuteronomy 28:9)

Ministering to receive the Holy Spirit

Step one: Repent of one’s sins

Step two: Believe and have faith in Jesus Christ

Step three: Receive the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is a gift from God, not something one deserves, nor is it because of the “high” anointing of a brother or sister. God gives when and where as he deems fit. Hence, before ministering, it is important to ask God if he is willing and if there are any unresolved issues before receiving the Holy Spirit. Frequently, it is because step one or step two has not been done, because God knows our every action and innermost thought. It is vital to listen to God, to seek words of wisdom and knowledge from him to address the situation.

As an illustration, If God says there is a generational curse that needs to be addressed first, ask God how did their ancestors sinned against God, then one may ask the brother or sister about their family background to have a confirmation of the root sin. Lead a prayer to plead the blood of Jesus Christ to forgive the iniquity and remove the charge brought by powers of darkness. Bind any familiar spirits operating in their family lines in the name of Jesus Christ.

Check that the place of ministry is spiritually clean. Check that the brother’s spirit is clean, he is not defiled or bound by any evil spirit. If we use sheer anointment, the laying of hands to “force” the receiving of the Holy Spirit, without first the ministry of releasing and healing, often there is a strong manifestation of the evil spirit. Then the ministry can become very “messy”. Check that you are before the throne of God. If we did not receive authority to do such ministry and there are areas of our lives that can be open to charge by the evil spirit, we can instead come under spiritual attack.

Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out. Seven sons of Sceva  Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you? Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding. (Acts 19:13-16)

The Holy Spirit will always trump over any evil spirit, so go on having faith in God.

Throughout the process, continuously and earnestly ask and listen to God for the next step, beware of assuming because their is no standard operating procedures. If we allows habits or rituals to work its way into ministry, rather than constantly listening and fulfilling God’s will, we will be bound by a religious spirit. God is very creative, even if one has ministered many times, he is constantly doing new things that astonish and bring glory and honour to him.

To receive the Holy Spirit, one declares in faith and desires Jesus Christ’s promise to receive the Holy Spirit. Then sometimes the Holy Spirit himself comes upon the person.

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. (Acts 10:44-45)

And

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. (Acts 2:1-4)

Receiving the Holy Spirit can also be facilitated by the laying of hands.

When Paul placed his hand on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. (Acts 19:6)

And

Then Peter and John placed their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. (Acts 8:17)

Another excellent way of facilitating is through leading brothers in praise, then worship and then standing in the atmosphere of God’s glory (a strong presence of God). This way the brothers keeps their focus on God, truly knowing that it is God who gives the Holy Spirit. Also all brothers in the place of the ministry will have greater participation and experience of the Holy Spirit. Be always mindful there is no protocol or fixed method, listen to God, let him lead the ministry, for God examines our hearts and gives when he deems fit. We can do nothing without him.

How does one know if one has received the promised Holy Spirit? First, always ask and listen to God. Second, frequently there is external manifestation which can be observed. In the Book of Acts, we see that one spoke in tongues and prophesied. There might also be praising God, visions, and singing and dancing in the spirit. Again, there is no fixed rule, because all these manifestations are to God’s glory and honour. So what one frequently looks for is something that the person has never done or experienced. These are the gift of the Holy Spirit.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given though the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines. (1 Corinthians 12:4-11)

Speaking in different kinds of tongues, prophecy and the interpretation of tongues are gifts of utterance. The first two are frequently mentioned in the Book of Acts as manifestations of receiving the Holy Spirit. Not everyone who has received the Holy Spirit speaks in tongues or prophecies. But doing so is an evidence. Almost always God is willing to the gift of tongues. Hence I always ask God what gifts of the Holy Spirit he is willing to give. It is very nice to receive such confirmation.

Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit (Corinthians 14:1)

To receive those gifts from the Holy Spirit, pray to God in sincerity and faith to receive. Again this can be ministered by the laying of hands, praise, worship and standing in glory.

Repentance and the Holy Spirit

To repent of one’s sins is not just asking God for forgiveness. Reading out the sinner’s prayer is not repentance. It requires knowing God’s will and carrying out the action according to his will, turning around from the direction one had previously taken.

What should we do then? the crowd asked. John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” Even the tax collectors came to be baptised. “Teacher,” they asked, “What should we do?” “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them. Then some soldiers asked him,”And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely – be content with your pay.” (Luke 3:11)

John the Baptist demonstrated that repentance required action. It meant if one was miserly, to give. If one was corrupt, to stop doing so. And if one was complaining, to be content. It is a sincere demonstration of changing one’s behaviour and actions to follow God’s will. This is a wonderful start of acknowledging God by seeking to know and carrying out his will.

Ask God today, if there is anything in your life that he does not like, then pray to him for the spirit of repentance to come upon, to give us the strength to reform and please him. As we diligently read the bible and meditate on his word everyday, the Holy Spirit guides us in forming the words to our prayer to confess our sins to our Father and pleading the blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, to wash away our sins, so that we may have clean hands and a pure heart.

“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and Fire.” (Matthew 3:11)

After acknowledging God, repenting of our sins, believing in Jesus Christ, being baptize with water in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit for our past sins, the next part is to receive the promised gift of the Holy Spirit. Thus far, the key ingredient here is faith. It takes faith to acknowledge God, faith to repent, faith to go on believing in Jesus Christ and faith that the water baptism will supernaturally take away our past sins. To receive the gift of the Holy Spirit takes faith too. It is promised by Jesus Christ, so just by declaring in his name, that one receives the Holy Spirit is sufficient. God is faithful.

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14)

Why do you need to Holy Spirit?Firstly, it is a seal, marking us a God’s possession. Second, it is a powerful confirmation that you have believed (please go on believing). Thirdly, the Holy Spirit will testify about Jesus Christ.

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” (John 14:13)

God does not want us to go back to following the law after believing in Jesus Christ. Knowing the law and trying to religiously follow them by depending on their own willpower did not create a Israel that was pleasing in God’s eyes. Neither does he want to depend on a country’s laws or a religious organization to control or supervise our behavior. God wants us to rely on his spirit.

So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty. (Zechariah 4:6)

And

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbour, or say to one another, “Know the Lord.” because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:33-34).

Isn’t this a wonderful and better covenant? Instead of ritualised sacrifices or rigid religous services, God will instead capture our hearts and minds, by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who will guide us into the truth. The Holy Spirit hears from the Father and Jesus Christ and reveals to us his will. We will then know the Lord, his will, his temper, his emotions, his thoughts.

The Holy Spirit is wonderful! He tells us what sins we have been charged with. He teaches us to praise and worship the Lord. He explains to us the Word of the Lord. He gives us gifts of the Holy Spirit. He guides us to bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22).

Let us strive to we truly know and experience the one true and living God, the Holy Trinity, as the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

Repent and be baptized

God is a perfect all knowing God. He knows our every action and thought.

You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. (Psalms 139:2)

God is the Judge of this earth and he judges with justice. He is a righteous God.

but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. (Isaiah 11:4)

And

Lord, the God of Israel, you are righteous! We are left this day as a remnant. Here we are before you in our guilt, though because of it not one of us can stand in your presence. (Ezra 9:15)

If we sin against him or against our fellow human being, we will be judged. We may not know all the commandments. But all of us have a conscience and a perceived concept of fairness. If we have been unfairly treated by someone, we certainly know, though if the situation is placed in reverse, we may not.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

Sin can be divided generally into three categories,

  1. Iniquity, sin committed by our ancestors
  2. Trespass, sin committed intentionally despite knowing the law or our conscience weighing against our hearts
  3. Sin, sins committed in ignorance

If our ancestor worshiped a false idol, then because God judges us not only as individuals but along blood lines, then a child can be born with iniquity and “inherit” a generational curse. This is fair because similarly God blesses those households who love him and place him in first place.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him God nor gave thanks to him but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator – who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their woman exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. (Romans 1:21-26)

Many countries legalize same-sex marriages. Some people may be born with homosexual inclinations and may feel that it is natural and seek society acceptance. In the Book of Romans, it is clearly written that God curses the household with unnatural sexual relations because of the iniquity of worshiping false idols.

If we are pulled over by a traffic policeman on the highway for exceeding the speed limit, we may plead ignorance by truly claiming that we did not know what the speed limit is. Yet even after taking that into account, the policeman will still write out a traffic summon. That is because we are subject to the law of the country we are in and we must abide by its law. The officer of the law within his given jurisdiction has the authority to enforce it. So it is with sinning unknowingly against God.

All of us are to be judged by God and everyone of us will fall short of his standards of righteousness. If God judged us like an examination, his pass mark would be 100%. Even 99% would be considered a failure. And an example of the script of the examination would be the laws of the Book of Leviticus. You have to keep every single law forever to pass. But, none of us would even pass the ten commandments given in the book of Exodus. And in the Sermon on the Mount given in the Book of Matthew, Jesus Christ tells us of standards of God, standards that none of us by ourselves can achieve. For example:

You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgement.” But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister, will be subject to judgement. (Matthew 5:21-22)

Based on the standards of God’s righteous, no one is righteous. We cannot compensate the bad that we do by doing good deeds. There is no scale where our good deeds and bad deeds are measured up and we will be saved if our good deeds outweigh the bad. In a court. If a doctor is found guilty of murder, would it be fair to judge that because he has also saved many lives before, he is no longer guilty? Or that one saved life blots out the judgement for one life that he has taken? As long as we have committed one sin, or if we do not know the commandments, one act against our conscience, then we are judged for it severely by God.

There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. (Psalm 5:9)

Thankfully, our God is also merciful. He knows us, loves us and wants to save us from death.

For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath. (Deuteronomy 4:31)

God has a conflict in that God is both righteousness and merciful. He has to a give a fair judgement, to punish the wicked and yet he seeks to forgive and save. In the Mosaic covenant, Israel practiced animal sacrifice, because God taught that the law require that nearly everything be cleansed with blood and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. That is rather than us facing death, animals, goats or calves, were sacrificed in place of our sin, as a sin offering. This was the solution for the sinful and unclean to be obtain forgiveness. Hence the high priest would enter into God’s presence with the blood of goats or calves offered for himself and the sins that the people had committed in ignorance.

But the blood of animals cannot atone for the sins of a human being. Atonement requires the blood of a human being. Furthermore, that blood has to be that of a human who has never sinned. The novel solution is God who is a spirit, to come in the flesh as Jesus Christ, that is to also entirely human, to become the high priest to offer a sacrifice for the people using his own clean blood.  That way, with Jesus Christ as the high priest, as the mediator between the people of God and God, we could come before the throne of God, with clean hands and a pure heart.

Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgement, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many, and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:27)

So what does one have to do?

Repent and be baptised everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call. (Acts 2:38)

We must acknowledge the true living God, repent of our sins and believe in Jesus Christ, receive the promised gift of the Holy Spirit and be baptised in the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

Clean hands and a pure heart

The second requirement is to be pure and clean. We bathe or shower frequently and put on clean clothes. I feel good after taking a bath and it is practical to do so. In the Old Testament, there was ritualistic cleansing before one when to the Temple. And if one was to meet a very important person, a president, many today would wash and dressup to look good and as a sign of respect. The Lord is the most important person, he requires us to be pure and clean before his throne. But this extends to not only our body but our soul and spirit too.

When one trust in an idol or swear by a false god, that to God breaks the first and second commandments of the Mosaic Covenant. It incurs also a generational curse to the third and fourth generation.

And God spoke all these words: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord, your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sins of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:1-4)

Since marriage is also a covenant, the act of trusting in an idol or swearing by a false god is seen by God as similar to an act of adultery in a marriage.

Rebuke your mother, rebuke her for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband. Let her remove the adulterous look from her face and the unfaithfulness from between her breast. (Hosea 2:2)

And the generational curse is also repeated in the Book of Hosea.

I will not show my love to her children, because they are the children of adultery (Hosea 2:4)

To not know God is a sin. To be godlessness incurs the wrath of God. And perhaps one may never have heard of Jesus Christ but none have an excuse not to know God.

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his external power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 2:18-20)

God through nature, through the world, through various events has revealed himself to all one way or the other. To worship an idol is not only to pray to Baal or Zeus as in ancient Israel or Greece but also to place anything else above God. One can also make an idol out of career, money, family, science, materialism and even oneself. So in one way or another, all have sin against him.

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. (Deuteronomy 7:9)

And

There is no difference between Jew and Gentile for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23).

The New Jerusalem

Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 21:27)

It here refers to the Holy City, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. All the servants will have their names written in the Lamb’s book of life and all of them will be made perfect and pure. Otherwise, sin will defile the New Jerusalem, which is made for eternity.

To come before the throne of God, to ascend the mountain of the Lord, to stand in his holy place, one must have clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. That is one must have faith in the true God, the living God. So one must believe that there is one true God that is living.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. (Deuteronomy 6:4).

He created the universe and the world, all creatures and me and you. And he created all things for himself.

For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:16)

God is in control of this world. Every past, present and future event, on a global scale, for example like World War 1 and 2, and a micro scale, like a job promotion, is directed by him and allowed by God. When the sun sets and the moon is round, is also directed by God. Even though science, theories, statistics, rational thought, a business plan may predict or forecast what is to happen, they merely show us “habits” of God. He can change these anytime.

The entire Old Testament is filled with many miracles and prophets revealing God to Israel. He divided the Red Sea during the days of Moses and God still can do so. It is God revealing himself to Israel, so that they know he is God. Our God is also in charge of our lives whether we like it or not. When we are born, when we die, what body is given to us, where we live and work is all directed and allowed by God.

In the Book of Jeremiah, God states he knows Jeremiah, formed his body, that Jeremiah belongs to God and called him to be a prophet.

The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:4-5)

It does not mean that God is fatalistic and everything is already predestined, but he designed us to serve him and fulfil a certain destiny, which we can willing accept or reject. If we are called by God, but reject him, do not serve him and carry out his will, God will not be held ransomed, he can and will find someone else to do so, his purpose will not be thwarted. But for that individual, the loss is tremendous.

In fact, if we turn away from him, as the pharaoh, king of Egypt did in the Book of Exodus, he will even help us harden our hearts so that it is even harder to turn back to him. But if we turn to the Lord and earnestly seek him, God will reveal himself.

As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” (Hebrews 3:15)

Today, if you have a distress, a problem, do not just resort to the “usual” solution, whether it is work related standard operating procedure or to call a friend to borrow money, first seek the Lord. Since our God is in control and has a purpose, any situation is either directed or allowed by him, so seek his will first, lest we strive against God.