The Other Prodigal Son

How many of you have read or heard of the story of the Prodigal Son? It’s a famous parable in the bible about a son who strayed away from home, spent his wealth in wild living, but later returned back home after he came to the end of himself.

The reason why this parable came to my mind is because on some days–when I’m at church sitting behind my apostle on the stage during service (as the reader)–I would look out at the congregation, and I would see a lot of missing faces. People who may have backslidden, left the church prematurely without receiving their impartation, or those who have denounced the faith altogether. Then on some other days, I would see some of those same people return–broken, humbled, ready to get back in the process. The Lord began to deal with me on this observation, and I felt a strong impression on my heart that he not only wanted to minister to me about this issue, but that he wanted me to share it with the body of Christ as well.

Take a moment out to go over the story for yourself. The reference scripture is Luke 15:11-32.

Here are some key things that I noted as I read the story:

Vs. 11-12

  • An estate is the net worth of a person at any point in time alive or dead. It is the sum of a person’s assets – legal rights, interests and entitlements to property of any kind – less all liabilities at that time. The issue is of special legal significance on a question of bankruptcy and death of the person. (i.e. inheritance.)
  • Notice that it was the younger son who wanted his half of the inheritance. The fact that it was acknowledged that he was young could imply he was too immature to take the inheritance at that time.
  • The son demanded his father give him his inheritance. He wanted to establish a life of independence from his father.

Vs. 13-16

  • Squander means to waste something in a reckless or foolish manner.
  • When you don’t earn or work hard for something, it can be easy for you to depreciate or devalue it. But when you have genuinely paid the price for the anointing or for your add-ons, usually through suffering, obedience and perseverance, you will be more appreciative of it.
  • The story says that after the younger son wasted his wealth and all that he had, there was a severe famine in the land. He was in a place of desperation, willing to do anything to survive, even if it meant selling himself to the services of someone else or eating pig food.
  • Sin will have you doing some crazy things. It will cause you to become a slave, when you were meant to be a son. It will cause you to be in bondage, when you were meant to be free. It will cause you to be broke when you were meant to be rich.

Vs. 17-19

  • Sometimes, God will give you what you want, allow you to experience the fleeting pleasure of your sin, and then allow you to go through hell because of your sin, just to let you know that what you wanted is not what you needed, or that what you wanted, you were not ready for it yet.
  • Then, God will dry up your situation so you can come to the end of yourself and back to him. You’ll never come to God if you are in a place of self-sufficiency.
  • When you are ready to repent and come back to God, it will be evident because you will be in a place where you are willing to humble yourself of any and all pride and/or rebellion, and give up whatever title, identity or reputation you think you had, in order to just be back in the presence of God again. You will realize that without him, you are nothing and can do nothing. He is the air that you breathe. He is the source of life. He is your provider, protector, deliverer, keeper, redeemer, etc.
  • Never feel as if you can’t come back to God, or that your sin is so great that you cannot be forgiven. Understand grace: (Titus 2:11-13 says, “For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from EVERY KIND OF SIN, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.”) Jesus forgives us from every kind of sin, even the ones that you feel are unpardonable.

Vs. 20-21

  • And when you come back, God will not be there to judge you, condemn you, treat you with contempt, reject you, or say to your face, “I told you so.” Just like the prodigal son’s father, God will be there with compassion, joy, and affection, to receive you unto himself again. He’s happy that you came back home. Even the angels in heaven rejoice over a sinner who repents. (Luke 15:10)
  • The bible says that while the prodigal son was still afar way off, the father ran to him. It doesn’t take much to cause God to acknowledge you in your backslidden state. It doesn’t take much for him to receive you again. It doesn’t take a lot of religious works to get back in right standing with God. It doesn’t take any works, actually. As soon as you have a turn of heart, he sees that.

Vs. 22-24

  • God wants to clothe you in the best robes. In the bible, robes are given in symbolism being clothed in righteousness, or being in a position of purity, holiness, or honor. (ref. Isaiah 61:10,  Revelation 7:9, Esther 6:7-9) When you come back to God, you are restored. You never lose your sonship. You are a son as long as you have the blood of Christ. You just lost your position. But your position can be restored. When you come back to God, all things are made new again.
  • The ring that was placed on the prodigal son’s finger represented affection, authority and inheritance. (ref. Genesis 41:42–Pharaoh gave Joseph a signet ring.) (ref. Esther 8:2–The king gave Mordecai his signet ring.)
  • The sandals placed on the prodigal son’s feet also represented wealth. In bible times, only servants and slaves were barefoot. It was symbolic of destitution and poverty.
  • Remember, the younger son had already wasted all of his inheritance. The inheritance he was receiving now was the prime inheritance (of his older brother). God can restore everything that you thought you lost when you backslid, and give you even more. He can restore the years that were lost.

Vs. 25-32

  • The oldest son was in the field (working, serving).
  • He heard that there was rejoicing and celebration over his brother’s reconciliation.
  • His countenance changed. The sins in his heart were exposed:
    • The sin of hostility. (He became angry).
    • The sin of stubbornness and being inhospitable. (He refused to go in to see his brother).
    • The sin of entitlement and self-righteousness. (Bragging about his works and comparing his life to his brother.)

How many of us are serving in the field (ministering to the lost), devoted to being in the Father’s house (going to church faithfully), slaving for the Father (slaves of Christ), yet we look at others with contempt who have backslidden or left the church, and think more highly of ourselves because we aren’t the ones outside the church living wildly committing what we consider to be “Big Sins” (clubbing, fornicating, in gangs, etc). Yet deep in our hearts are hidden sins. (Hostility, stubbornness, hostility, self-righteousness,
etc. may seem small to us, but they are big issues to God. They are carnal and ungodly.)

If I had to give this bible study a title, I would call it “The Other Prodigal Son.” Because you don’t have to be outside the church to be in a backslidden state. You can be in the house of God, praising him you’re your mouths and honoring him with your lips, but your hearts are far off.
We may have undealt with sins just like the older son. Prodigal means reckless or wasteful. How many of us have been reckless or wasteful with our spiritual life, or devotional life? Wasting time with porn or masturbation. Wasting time by being slothful and lazy instead of being about our Father’s business. Wasting valuable time doing fruitless things, when you can be utilizing that time by being in your word or in prayer?

I found myself in that place. I was the other prodigal son. I almost never miss a church service. I slave for the things of God. On every Sunday, I’m at church for 8:30 a.m. intercessory prayer, 9:30 a.m. discipleship class, 11 a.m. service and 6 p.m. service. On Thursday nights, I’m there for bible study. I attend men’s meeting every 1st Friday. I attend street ministry every 1st and 2nd Saturday. And I’m at leadership meeting every 3rd Saturday. Any church that my pastor is asked to be a guest speaker at, I tag along in support of him. But as my apostle mentioned one bible study night, we can be devoted to church or be devoted to the pastor, but not devoted to God.
Though I was doing these things, I was being wasteful and reckless, spiritually. Not feeding my spirit man unless I was in church. I figured I do enough for God at church. I hear enough word at church. Enough of it to get me through the week. I was content with my cooperate devotion and wasn’t catering to my  personal devotion. And in doing so, I was being weakened and allowing room for my flesh to thrive. I found myself backsliding and indulging in behaviors that I once professed deliverance from. Someone once told me that “7 days without prayer makes one WEAK.” I was definitely being weakened. But as I began to see myself decay spiritually, and I saw the pigs pin I was in (wallowing in the filth of my own sin), I came to the end of myself. And I realized that I have to be like the younger son. I have to come back to my Father, realizing that I can not make it without him. Then I have to allow him to put me in right position again; Restore my authority; Walk in my sonship again; And not beat myself up because of my screw ups; But to remember that God is a forgiving God and is happy that I came back home.

I encourage you all. Whether you are still in the church in a backslidden state or if you are just coming back to church from a backslidden state–Let’s come back to our Heavenly Father.

Can you relate to being a prodigal son or the “other prodigal son”? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

Moral Law vs. Ceremonial Law

Something that has been made clear throughout the Scriptures is the distinction between the MORAL LAW and the CEREMONIAL LAW.

The MORAL LAW is the stuff found in the Ten Commandments– things like you shall have no other gods, don’t worship idols, don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t kill, don’t bear false witness, and don’t commit adultery, etc.

The CEREMONIAL LAW, on the other hand, is the stuff found primarily in The Book of Leviticus that the ISRAELITE people were required to observe–Things like don’t eat pork or shellfish, don’t shave the sides of your beard, don’t get tattoos, don’t wear clothing mixed with different fabrics, and don’t engage in homosexual acts.

The Bible also teaches that the moral law and the ceremonial law have two very different purposes.

So according to Romans 5 for example, the purpose of the MORAL LAW is to show us our sins so that we can see our need for Christ and his forgiveness. And because all of us are sinners who need to have our sins set before us, in order to see our need for Christ, then the moral law still applies to us today.

Nonetheless, according to Exodus 19 for example, things within the ceremonial law are quite different. So the purpose of the CEREMONIAL LAW was to mark the Israelites as the people from whom the Messiah was going to come. In other words, when the ceremonial law formed the way that the Israelites worshipped, dressed, ate, worked, and practiced justice, this was God’s way of reminding the Israelites that the savior of the world would come from them. And so, when that savior finally came in the person of Jesus, the purpose of ceremonial law was then fulfilled. So in the same way that you don’t need to hang up flyers for a concert once the concert is over, after Jesus died and rose again it was no longer necessary to follow the ceremonial law.

This is why in the book of Acts chapter 10, God tells Peter that all animals are now considered clean and that the Gentiles who didn’t follow the ceremonial law were now welcomed into the Christian faith. So, the reason why Christians can eat pork and shellfish, and wear clothing mixed with different fabrics, and go to the barber shop, etc., isn’t because we don’t take our faith seriously. It’s because we take our faith so seriously that we actually read the Bible, and the Bible very clearly tells us that we are now free to do these things.

Some people in the Church Age question, though, that if the ceremonial law is no longer in effect, and if we are now justified to participate in the things that the ceremonial law once forbade, then what about homosexual behavior? Shouldn’t homosexuality be legalized too?

To answer that question, let us imagine a venn diagram for a moment. On one side is the moral law. On the other side is the ceremonial law. You’ll notice in the middle, that a bunch of the stuff forbidden by the ceremonial law is also forbidden by the moral law, and because of that, when the ceremonial law was fulfilled, we were no longer required to punish this stuff according to the ceremonial law, but the stuff itself remains sinful because the moral law remains, and the practice of homosexuality is included in this stuff, which is made very clear when the Apostle Paul tells Christians in Acts 15 that while they are now excused from circumcision of the flesh and are free to eat pork and shellfish, if they so desire, they are nonetheless forbidden from taking part in sexual immorality, including but not limited to homosexual acts.

-Inspired by @thelutheransatire on YouTube

For the video on moral law vs ceremonial law:

Repentance: A Change Of Mind

God has been dealing with me over the past couple weeks on repentance. And he wants me to share with you all what he’s revealed to me. This is kind of lengthy. So, bare with me.
 
The English definition for the word “repent” means to feel or express sincere regret or remorse about one’s wrongdoing or sin.
 
But in Biblical Greek, the word “repent” as found in the New Testament is μετανοέω (transliterated as metanoeó), and it has a different meaning than the English definition. In Greek, the word “repent” means to change one’s mind; to change the inner man (particularly with reference to acceptance of the will of God).
 
Notice how the English definition correlates the word repent to feelings of “regret” and “remorse”, which are both nouns (things; states of being); these words don’t require any action. Contrastingly, the Greek definition correlates the word repent to “change”, which is a verb and does require action. That’s the biggest difference between the misinterpreted English definition of repent and the Biblical-Greek definition of repent. Being repentant, in regard to sin, is more than just feeling remorse for your sinful actions; it’s about changing your perception of sin (i.e. seeing it as something to be detested not enjoyed). True repentance doesn’t only lead you to a place of regret, it also leads to a change in mind that results in a change of behavior (ref. Luke 3:8-14; Acts 3:19, Acts 26:20).
 
In 2 Corinthians 7:8-11 (NLT), Apostle Paul says in his epistle to the Church of Corinth:
 
“8 I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. 9 Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. 10 For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. 11 Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish wrong. You showed that you have done everything necessary to make things right.”
 
Let’s be honest. When many of us commit sin and experience sorrow afterward, it’s not that we are sorrowful for the wrong that we have done, but rather, we are more sorrowful for the consequences or repercussions that we incur upon ourselves because of our sins (the feelings of guilt, shame, self-condemnation, hypocrisy, etc.). Some of us only experience sorrow because we got caught cheating, and not because we had an affair; because we found out we got pregnant or contracted an STD, not because we fornicated; because we were sentenced to prison time, not because we were involved in criminal activity; because we get expelled from school, not because we behaved with academic dishonesty, etc. Because we place more emphasis on the consequences over the actual misdeed, the type of sorrow we experience in these cases is worldly sorrow, not godly sorrow.
 
Even Judas experienced a kind of worldly sorrow. In the Gospel of Matthew 27:3-5, it was said of Judas:
 
“3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse [other versions say “he repented himself”]. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders. 4 “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man.” “What do we care?” they replied. “That’s your problem.” 5 Then Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple and went out and hanged himself.
 
Apostle Paul made it very clear that there is a difference between worldly sorrow and godly sorrow. Worldly sorrow only causes us to feel sorry enough to confess and acknowledge our sins to God or to man, in hopes of receiving forgiveness, and we may even turn away from our sins for a while; make a promise or resolve not to repeat the offense; attempt to make restitution for the wrong; or in some way try to reverse the harmful effects of the wrong where possible. But once we feel better about ourselves and our “guilt cloud” leaves us (usually after a few days), we often find ourselves right back in the same sins we supposedly repented of a few days earlier. The reason why we backslide is because we have not really changed our mindset concerning sin. We still retain our sinful mindset.
 
God is saying to the Church that the reason why many of us are not attaining victory over certain sins, habits or addictions in our lives is because we have not truly repented from these vices. (We lack knowledge of what it truly means to repent.) Many of us like to believe that we have repented, but all we have done is simply confessed [owned up to] our sins and attempted to make a 180-degree turn away from our sins [in our own strength]. But again, true repentance is not just stopping or changing our behavior. It’s changing our mindset first and foremost, and after we change our mindset, our behaviors will change as a result.
 
We see in the example with Judas that his sorrow led him to confess his sin to the priests and elders, and to even return the money that he betrayed Jesus for in an attempt to compensate for his wrong. That’s good! That’s what sorrow should lead us to do! However, Judas did not experience a change within his mind. If he would have experienced a change within his mind, he would have not hung himself to death. He would have had hope in knowing that Jesus would have forgiven him of his sins. Judas did feel remorse for his sin, but he did not have a godly repentance which would have led him to salvation; he had a worldly repentance that led him to death.
 
In other examples found in the Old Testament, the nation of Israel felt sorrow for their sins when they were slaves in Egypt. And when they had an opportunity, they fled away from Pharaoh and all of the strenuous labor they had to endure in Egypt. But they did not experience true repentance; they didn’t experience a conversion in their minds. That’s why they reverted back to sin, worshiping idols and committing other abominable acts while in the wilderness, and kept having thoughts to go back to Egypt, thinking that it would have been better for them to remain in slavery than to be in the presence of God. In the same way, Lot’s wife turned away from Sodom and Gomorrah—she changed her atmosphere and separated herself from the ungodly influences around her—but she did not repent. She did not experience a conversion in her mind. She looked back at the city, reminiscing of the place she just got delivered from, thus, she turned into a pillar of salt.
 
In summary, God is saying that if we want to truly have victory over the sin in our lives, we can’t just feel temporary regret for what we have done. We can’t just confess or acknowledge our sins to him, ask for forgiveness and think that’s all it takes. And we can’t rely on our own strength or try to come up with some vain strategy or game plan on how we can stop committing the sin. We must focus on changing our minds. We must renew our minds as Romans 12:2 says. We must think differently from how we think currently. We must remove and exchange our opinions, beliefs, ideas, and mindset about sin for God’s view on sin. We can change our behaviors all we want to, but if we don’t change our minds, we will revert right back to our sins when we are tempted, under pressure, or when something triggers that old desire in us. Only when we have a new mindset can we experience true repentance. Only when we change our mindset and conform our minds to the mind of Christ will we see victory in our lives.

Bewitched

rubytapthreetimes
God woke me up at 5 a.m. this morning. After I woke up, I sat on the side of my bed, and then God showed me a vision. In the vision, I saw the character Dorothy Gale from the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz”. She was wearing her infamous blue and white gingham dress and the ruby red slippers that Glinda, The Good Witch of the North, gave her. In the vision, Dorothy had just missed her ride back home [to Kansas] with the Wizard of Oz in his hot air balloon, so Glinda showed Dorothy another method on how she could get back home. As advised by Glinda, Dorothy began to click her heels together three times, while reciting “There’s no place like home” after each click. However, here’s the twist to the story: Because the heels on the bottom of her ruby red slippers were broken, the shoes were ineffective and therefore lost their power to take Dorothy home. Then, the vision disappeared and I heard the Holy Spirit say to me, “There is only ONE WAY back home.”
After hearing this, the Holy Spirit placed John 14:1-6 in my spirit, so I looked up the Scripture and it read:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me…”

Dorothy_meets_the_Wicked_WitchAfter I read the Scripture, God began to give me revelation about the movie, but from a spiritual perspective. God showed me that Glinda was a witch indeed. But she was not a “Good” Witch as she tried to portray herself to be. In fact, she was a bad witch, and even more cunning than the Wicked Witch of the West! At least the Wicked Witch of the West was blatant and outright evil, while Glinda the Good Witch of the North disguised her true nature. (But I am not surprised! Even Satan masquerades himself as an angel of light. -2 Corinthians 11:14) Hello, she was a witch! There is no such thing as a “good” witch. All witches are evil according to the Bible and will have their place in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 21:8) if they do not repent from their sins.

 

But the reason why God showed me that Glinda would be considered more wicked, or dangerous than The Wicked Witch of the West (from a spiritual perspective) is because Glinda was giving Dorothy false hope; another gospel. The moral that Glinda was trying to teach Dorothy is that we must rely upon ourselves, for we alone have the power to save ourselves. I noticed that in the movie. When Dorothy missed her ride in the hot air balloon, she thought that she would be stuck in the Land of Oz and that she would never get back home. But then Glinda told her that the power to get back home was inside of her the whole time. (Basically, she was saying that Dorothy had the ability to save herself). Dorothy asked Glinda how come she didn’t tell her that from the very beginning. And Glinda told her that she didn’t tell her because Dorothy had to figure it out for herself.

 

The movie teaches that we can save ourselves. But the gospel says that salvation is found in none other than the person of Jesus Christ. Glinda was preaching a gospel that declares there are more ways than one to get back home–back to heaven–other than having faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on Calvary. And Dorothy actually believed the lie.

93e292d2a1800c4207379d874fe046e4God told me that just like Dorothy, there are many of us [even in the Church] who have been deceived and led astray by the doctrine of wizards, witches, warlocks, sorcerers, enchanters, magicians, and demons. We have allowed false prophets and false teachers to whisper in our ears a gospel of salvation that is contrary to the gospel of salvation that Christ gave the apostles. A salvation that has turned our hearts toward a message that focuses on prosperity, being the best you, meditation, performing good works to make compensation for our bad deeds, making ritualistic blood sacrifices, or following false religions. These paths do not save us; they do not lead us back home.
Galatians 1:6-9, 11-12
I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ. Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed. Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 2:1
But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them–bringing swift destruction on themselves.
1 Timothy 4:1-2,6
Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron… If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed.
Galatians 3:1-3
You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?
Again, from a spiritual perspective, in the movie, The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy was led to believe that there was more than one way to get back home. But in the same way, who has bewitched us into thinking that there are more than one way to get into heaven, when Jesus explicitly explained to us in John 14:6 that the only way to get back home to the Father’s house is through Him? There is only one way back home.
John 10:1-10
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them. Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

A War from Eternity’s Past

There is a war going on that has been in play since eternity’s past–before the foundation of the world. The war has been taking place in the spiritual realm (Heaven), and it is between the Lord God and his holy angels (aka The Kingdom of Heaven) vs. the adversary, Satan and his fallen angels (aka The Kingdom of Darkness).

The reason for the war is because Satan (previously known as the “morning star,” Lucifer) wanted to challenge God’s authority. Out of pride, Satan wanted to exalt his throne above God’s throne, and he wanted to receive worship, glory and honor for himself. But as King, God had to defend his throne, so he cast Satan (and 1/3 of the angels who chose to rebel with him) out of the Kingdom of Heaven, and they were cast down to the physical realm (Earth). Satan permanently lost his position in heaven, and was given an appointed time when he would soon lose his access to heaven as well.

The final outcome of the war is that God wins and Satan loses. God will secure his rightful place on the throne as ruler over the universe, and Satan and his army of demons will be cast into the Lake of Fire where they will remain in torment for the rest of eternity. However, Satan, in all his fury, refuses to go down to the fiery pit alone. Misery enjoys company, so Satan’s strategy is to turn God’s creation against Him so that they will share with him and his fate.

Having been cast down to Earth, Satan subtly persuaded and deceived Mankind (the sons and daughters of God, whom God created in his own image and likeness, and dearly loves) into sinning against God by telling them that they could become illuminated with hidden knowledge and gain the ability to become their own gods. When Adam and Eve chose to partake of the forbidden fruit, they ultimately betrayed their loyalty to God and brought judgment upon themselves–causing Satan’s fate to fall upon them as well. Their betrayal caused them to forfeit their God-given position, dominion and authority on Earth and their right standing with God. And just as Satan was kicked out of heaven, Man was kicked out of the Garden of Eden. Enslaved to sin, and infested with pride and rebellion, Mankind has now become God’s enemy and Satan’s ally. Whether they like it or not, Mankind has been recruited in the middle of the war between God and Satan–and they are on the losing team, condemned to eternal punishment, unless God himself chooses to intercede on their behalf–And he did just that.

Wanting to save his creation from the control of the Evil One, God came down to Earth realm himself, in the form of a man, Jesus, and he fought the principalities, powers and rulers of darkness that were on the land. He fought to redeem Mankind from the curse they fell into when they were deceived by the devil.

1 John 3:7-10
7 Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; 8 the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.

The Son of God defeated the works of the enemy by walking in righteousness and in love. By laying down his life on the cross as a scapegoat, or sacrifice for Mankind, Jesus appeased the wrath of the Father and provided a way for mankind to escape from the condemnation and power of sin. Through the shedding of his blood, Jesus provided the forgiveness of sins. Whosoever receives the blood of Jesus and puts their faith in what Jesus did for them will become forgiven, justified, granted eternal life, and will be reconciled back into God’s kingdom. Those who receive the Son of God will receive His Spirit and will become born again– no longer to be called children of Satan, but will now gain the right to be called children of God. However, those who reject the Son of God will not see life, for they will still be classified as enemies of God. And they will suffer the punishment that Satan is destined for.

So, again, Mankind, we are in a war. And we may not want to be a part of it, but we are. We were born into it. But the good thing is that we get to chose whose side we will be on: God’s or Satan’s. Once you pick your side, your job is to recruit as many others to join as possible. You will either be recruiting people to walk in Love, Light, Humility, Truth and Righteousness or in Hate, Darkness, Pride, Lies and Rebellion. (Depending on which side you chose, you have favor. Remember: God wins, Satan loses.)

Work OUT Your Salvation, Not FOR Your Salvation

Many Christians struggle in regard to their responsibility as a believer after they get saved. Some Christians believe that once they get saved, they don’t have to do anything with their salvation, except “sit on it”. They believe that their salvation has been eternally secured, and consequently, they don’t have to put in any work at all. They can just live however they want to live, don’t have to live up to any standards of holiness, don’t have to set themselves apart from the world and don’t have to conquer the presence of sin in their lives. All they believe they are required to do is just wait idly by for Jesus to return and whisk them off to heaven, where they can spend the rest of their days living happily ever after.
 
On the contrary, there are other Christians who believe that once they get saved, they have to somehow “secure” their salvation by making sure they do a lot of religious works, lest they will “lose” their salvation or have it be stripped from them. These individuals overload themselves with ministerial and religious duties, therefore, they never truly get to enjoy their Christian experience nor their intimate, personal relationship with God. They are always under compulsion that they have to preach, evangelize, lead a lost soul to Christ, host countless church conferences, pray, fast, and read their Bible all day, every day, in order to win God’s approval. They try to live perfect Christian lives, perceiving that if they make any mistakes, God will mercilessly cast them away into hell. They beat themselves up when they sin, and live their whole lives constantly battling with guilt, self-condemnation, fear, doubt and unbelief.
 
The former half, due to their misunderstanding, have abused grace, while the latter half, due to their misunderstanding, have not truly received grace.
 
Philippians 2:12 says: “Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, continue to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
 
In this context, the term “work out” does not mean to “secure”, or to “work for” your salvation. It means to “exercise” your salvation.
Exercise is defined as: “activity requiring physical effort, carried out especially to sustain or improve health and fitness.”
 
We can not do anything to secure our own salvation, or work for our own salvation. And if it were possible that we could earn our own salvation, Jesus wouldn’t have needed to die. But due to our sinful and imperfect nature, we will always fall short of the glory of God. Our self-righteous deeds is of filthy rags unto God (Isaiah 64:6). Our salvation can only be secured by the grace [unmerited favor] of God through our faith [in the finished work of Christ on Calvary], not by our works [religious effort], lest any of us should boast in ourselves (Ephesians 2:8-9).
 
In summary, brethren, there is more to salvation than just believing in your heart and confessing with your mouth the Lord Jesus. Our Christian walk requires a little more effort on our behalf than just that. Now, although Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that we don’t have to do anything to work FOR, or to secure our salvation (that’s already taken care of), we do have a responsibility, according to Philippians 2:12 to work OUT, or to exercise our salvation. That means, it is our job to get stronger in our own Christian walk by intentionally practicing righteousness, practicing obedience to God’s word, practicing denying our fleshly desires, practicing walking in the fruit of the Spirit, etc. This is the only way we can live victorious lives in this world as believers.
 
It’s the same thing as working out in the gym. You don’t work out to get muscles, but to strengthen and build the muscles that you already have. Likewise, you don’t work out to receive salvation, but to mature and grow in your salvation.
 
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