Tag Archives: Christian Living

Mastery Of The Details Of Life

Foreword: This topic was written by the Grace Notes founder, Warren Doud.  The mature Christian learns regardless of what their life is like, they are to glorify God.  

I met Ethel at church in Kansas City, in 1952; we were 18. She was then already a master of the details of life.

Ethel had accepted Christ at 16, and had immediately begun studying the Bible, learning and absorbing the teachings of Bible doctrine, virtually memorizing epistles and other large portions of Scripture. We got married in 1955; from then until now, Ethel’s life has been one of the continuous application of Bible doctrine to the details of life.

It’s easy to “master” the details of life when one is prosperous. It is when hard times come, and details of life are lost, that a Christian’s true mettle is seen. During those 60 years since I met Ethel, I have observed her spiritual responses in times of both privation and relative prosperity.

During hard times, Ethel has always trusted the Lord to provide. When she was hurt or offended, she did not fume and seethe, backbite, malign, or cast blame. Instead, she would grow quiet in order to pray, recall Bible promises, claim the promises (faith-rest), quickly recover a relaxed mental attitude, forgive the offenders (most often me), and be restored quickly to her usual condition of joy and cheerfulness. She never yelled at me or the children, she never asked for anything for herself, was always focused on the needs of others.

Ethel’s testimony has always been one of occupation with Christ, faith-rest, a relaxed mental attitude, and the resulting joy of the Lord.

The Details of Life

For the purposes of our Bible studies, we use the term “details of life” to refer to everything that is a part of human life on earth.

Anything that affects our life, or on which our life is contingent, is a detail of life. An exhaustive list would be hard to create, but details of life include such things as:

  • Your human body, which includes your health, physical fitness, age.
  • Your mental capability, e.g. intelligence, education, mental stability.
  • Necessities of life: food, clothing, shelter, transportation.
  • Human love, marriage and sex, and family life.
  • Social life, including your relationships with friends, fellow workers, church family.
  • Finances, income, savings, and your financial future.
  • Employment: satisfaction with job, sense of accomplishment, etc
  • Environment: the country and community you live in, the weather, the comfort of your surroundings.

I know you could add many things to these, but this list is representative.

Human Happiness

Now the details of life can sometimes provide a measure of satisfaction and happiness, but only in the sense of human happiness.

When one has enough money, for example, there is a sense of relaxation and satisfaction. There is relief, as least for a while, of the fear of poverty, of not being able to pay bills, of being able to purchase things you want. We will call this good feeling “human happiness.”

Good health also provides “human happiness”; if you feel well, if you aren’t in pain, if you can exercise and work without physical problems, you may have a feeling of well-being and satisfaction with your life.

Likewise, when you have a good marriage and social life, with compatible friends, easy relationships with people, etc., you are happy with those situations.

If your employment also is providing you with satisfaction, and you feel you are contributing to society, that makes you feel good, too.

Human happiness depends upon one or more details of life to sustain it. Therefore, human happiness is temporary and dependent. It lasts only as long as it is supported by the details that provide the happiness.

Human happiness begins to be diminished, or disappears completely, when the details that support that happiness are no longer there.

The Loss of Human Happiness (Suffering)

One way of describing suffering is to say that it comes from the removal of some form of human happiness. Suffering is the loss of some of the details of life.

Suffering can occur several ways, both for Christians and unbelievers, including the following:

  • Suffering by loss of health – physical pain, illness, accident, loss of function, etc.
  • Suffering by privation – the lack of something necessary such as money, food, shelter, clothing, transportation.
  • Suffering from the weather – freezing weather or hot, storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, as well as earthquakes, volcanoes.
  • Suffering from mental anguish – worry, sorrow, anguish, fears, phobias, bitterness, jealousy, not the least of which is “suffering by anticipation”.
  • Suffering from justice, the long arm of the law, deserved or undeserved.
  • Suffering caused by other people. As long as there are two people in the same location…well, you know what I mean.

Joy (Divine Happiness)

God’s happiness (joy) is independent of anything in this world. The Bible says that it is possible, “to be content in whatsoever state I am”, that is, to have a deep inner happiness and contentment that does not depend on other people, material possessions, or circumstances.

  • Joy is not dependent on the details of life!
  • You can see, then, that if a person possesses God’s joy (+H), the loss of human happiness is much more tolerable.
  • When you are a master of the details of life, your happiness does not depend on people, circumstances, or things.
  • You have the peace of God that passes understanding.
  • You have learned to be content under any circumstances.
  • You can wait for the Lord’s timing in providing the details you want; you can enjoy them when you have them.
  • You can remain happy when the Lord sees fit not to provide some detail.

Mastery of the details of life means that you look to the Lord for every detail, that you accept with calm fortitude either the gain or loss of details of life.

We are all involved with details of life. Either we master them, or they master us! If you are a slave to one or more details of life, your thoughts are devoted to them, and they drive you. They dominate your thoughts, your conversation, your decisions. Slavery to the details of life leads to disillusion, disappointment, and depression.

Inner happiness is not possible for the believer who so occupied with himself and his needs or desires that he ignores God’s plan. Inner happiness is a state of rejoicing based on knowing that God is everything He claims to be and that He can do what He has promised. Inner happiness is the joy of living where every provision for physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being is being made by God in the life of a Christian who is walking in daily fellowship with Him.

There are many Bible teachings which contribute to a Christian’s being able to have mastery of the details of life.

The following is a list of many of the Bible doctrine topics that contribute to a person’s having mastery of the details of life. Your mastery of the details of life depends on your learning and applying these principles of Bible doctrine.

Doctrinal studies are available at the Grace Notes Topical Library site. Go there to download them.

http://www.gracenotes.info/GN_TopicsLibrary.shtml.

Chastisement

Depression

Edification

The Faithfulness of God

Faith Rest

Happiness

The Holy Spirit’s Sustaining Ministry

Hope

The Importance of Bible Doctrine

Jealousy

Mental Attitude

The Much More Care of God

Negative Volition

Occupation with Christ

Peace

Problem Solving Devices of Scripture

Promotion

Redeeming the Time

Reversionism (Backsliding)

Salvation Doctrines

Separation

Suffering

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Occupation With Christ: the primary focus of the Christian life is the Lord Jesus Christ, and we know Him from the Word of God.

Foreword:  We experience adversity in our lives.  Some experience “troubles” personally in the form of health, finances, love, etc.  Other times its a family member or friend that experiences the problems and we are a participant.  These things always come when its the last thing we need!  Personally, I have both parents with cancer as I write this blog.  My mother has recurring mouth cancer that she must treat again next month.  My father is finding out what stage cancer he started in the colon.  In addition, I found out has been hiding his memory loss problem quite well for months.  Now my new focus figuring out how to visit my home town on a regular basis with funds I don’t have and inconsistent with my current income.  You get the picture. This all happened while I am trying to raise funds for my position at Grace Notes.  What should my response be?  Lash out at Christ and threaten to quit serving God? Turn away completely from God since this “Christian stuff” clearly doesn’t work?  This article talks about what and who we can rely on as long as we focus on the Creator of the Universe.  He is the one actually in control of everything.  I think you will find, as I did a year ago, that this needs to be read and the scriptures studied repeatedly.  Enjoy!

Introduction

The Lord has made available many provisions for living according to His plan and growing in Christ. These provisions are known variously as “divine operating assets”, “techniques for Christian living”, “problem solving devices”, and so forth.

These provisions are part of the great store of blessings which God has already made available to us in Christ.

Eph. 1:3, “And has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.

These provisions include:

  • Confession of Sin
  • The Filling of the Holy Spirit
  • Faith-Rest – the ability to trust God and to enjoy His peace
  • Orientation to Grace
  • Personal Love for God
  • Impersonal Love for Mankind
  • Joy – the happiness of God which does not depend on people, circumstances, or things
  • A personal destiny shared with all in God’s royal family
  • OCCUPATION WITH JESUS CHRIST

This article deals with the subject of Occupation with the Lord Jesus Christ, under the following headings:

  • What is Occupation with Christ
  • Why a Christian Needs to be Occupied with Christ
  • The Bible Commands Regarding Occupation with Christ
  • Mechanics – How to be Occupied with Christ
  • The Results of Occupation with Christ

What is Occupation with Christ

Occupation with Christ is a mental attitude by which a Christian believer views all things in life with the Lord Jesus Christ in mind.

Occupation with Christ is love for the Son, the 2nd Person of the Trinity, therefore it is the expression of love for God. The Bible commands us to love God, with all our heart, soul and mind. Being occupied with Christ is a great part of our love for God. Therefore, this concept is one of the most important spiritual functions in the Christian life.

Love for God, and Occupation with Christ, results from learning, digesting, and applying Bible truth. The Bible describes the lifestyle of wisdom and the path to spiritual maturity through the filling of the Holy Spirit and growth in Christ.

The Lord Jesus Christ is invisible to us because He is in heaven, seated at the right hand of God. He will not become visible to us until we see Him when He returns. So, loving Christ requires a system of communications which is based on thought. The system is the Word of God, God’s thoughts and God’s words, guarded in the Scripture. There is no other accurate record of the mind of Christ, divine viewpoint, apart from what is contained in the Bible.

Therefore, we can only come to love Jesus Christ, to be occupied with Christ, through learning the Word of God and making His thoughts our thoughts.

1 Cor. 2:16, For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.

This love for Jesus Christ can only come about through applied Bible truth.

Eph. 3:19, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

1 Pet. 1:8, and though you have not seen Him, you love Him [occupation with Christ], and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,

Joy and occupation with Christ always go together, you can’t have one without the other. The glory with which you are filled is Bible truth, and this emphasizes the fact that you have come to know Christ through perception and application of the Word of God.

Difference Between Indwelling of Christ and Occupation with Christ

The Indwelling of Christ is not an experience. Every Christian, whether a novice or advanced believer, is indwelt by Christ, has been since the point of salvation, and always will be. You find this teaching in John 14:20; Rom. 8:10; 2 Cor. 13:5; Gal. 2:20; Col. 1:27; and 1 John 2:24.

Christ indwells believers for a number of reasons: (1) as a sign that a Christian is a member of God’s royal family, (2) as a guarantee of the blessings which we have for time and eternity, (3) as a guarantee of eternal life and a life after death in the presence of God, (4) as a motivation for us to stay in the plan of God, especially when we experience suffering.

Occupation with Christ, though, is one of the processes leading to Christian maturity, and not all believers experience this. Occupation with Christ is the focus of all worship. When you worship God “in spirit and in truth” you are occupied with Christ.

Occupation with Christ is the main motivation in a Christian’s life. And it is the prime solution to all the problems of life. Only positive believers who choose to follow the plan of God are occupied with Christ.

The following are expressions of the process of being occupied with Christ. Notice in each case how the Christian is involved in a thought and decision process leading to occupation with Christ.

  • Christ being formed in you…” (Gal. 4:19)
  • Christ at home in your hearts…” (Eph. 3:17)
  • Christ shall even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death” (Phil. 1:20).

Occupation with Christ makes an issue out of knowledge of the Word of God, setting right priorities, being involved and active in the plan of God, and glorifying God during a Christian’s lifetime.

Characteristics of Occupation with Christ

  1. Jesus Christ is God; so, occupation with Christ is the greatest expression of love toward God, the objective of all Christians: Deut. 6:5,Love the Lord your God with all your heart…
  2. Occupation with Christ becomes the means for making great decisions with an impact on history: Heb. 11:27, “Moses gave up the crown of Egypt. He became strong under pressure, for he saw the invisible One.
  3. Occupation with Christ begins as the believer moves toward spiritual maturity, Col. 3:15-l7.
  4. Occupation with Christ glories Him, Eph. 3:17-21
  5. Occupation with Christ means that human beings are not raised on pedestals, Phil. 3:7,8.
  6. The means of continuing to be occupied with Christ is the daily learning and application of Bible teaching while under the control of the Holy Spirit, Jer. 9:23,24.
  7. Occupation with Christ is a pastor’s prime motivation to teach the Bible so that believers grow in Christ, Heb. 6:10.
  8. Occupation with Christ is related to victory in spiritual warfare with Satan and his angels. With your mind in the right place, you are confident of victory, Col. 3:1,2.

The Need for Occupation with Christ

Psalm 118:9 tells us, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord that to trust in princes.” If you take refuge in the Lord, you stop expecting things from people. Your fellowship with God solves the problems that you have with people, and makes your relationships with people far better.

A person is seldom treated the way he wants to be treated, or loved the way he wants to be loved. Outside of God’s plan, this can cause frustration and instability.

This frustration becomes a major motivation in life and leads people on a frantic search for fellowship with people, instead of fellowship with God. Until a person becomes stabilized in his thinking, by occupying himself with Christ, he will be very unstable. People select their companions, their spouses, even their churches, based on the desire to be loved and treated properly.

Most of the time, people don’t find what they are looking for, so they become bitter, and indulge themselves in jealousy, envy, vindictiveness, hatred, and revenge, and are very disappointed in all categories of life.

Occupation with Christ brings about a change in priorities in a Christian’s life. Proper focus on Christ takes care of the problems of friendships, romance, marriage, business, or social life, and the problems that are caused by constant friction with people in all situations. Love for God and for Christ takes the place of frustration and bitterness with people.

Impersonal love, which is the professional attitude of a mature believer toward all people, provides a capacity for wonderful relationships with people in Christian fellowship, friendship, and marriage.

The Problems of Focusing on Self, People, Things

Jer. 17:5,6 Thus says the Lord, “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind And makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the Lord. For he will be like a bush in the desert, and will not see when prosperity comes, but will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, a land of salt without inhabitant.

Three great problems develop through failure to be occupied with Christ. The first problem is to have a focus on self. This is arrogance, or an overestimation of one’s self. When you are indignant, or offended, or angered by the way you are treated, your eyes are on yourself. You are frustrated and bitter, and you become vengeful. You make bad decisions from a position of weakness.

The second problem of wrong focus is to have one’s eyes on people. We tend to put our trust in people in many different relationships. We think people are causing our problems, and we look to other people to solve our problems. We try to find people who are compatible, but are always be disappointed in them.

There is nothing wrong with having relationships with people. In fact, they are unavoidable. But we will always be disappointed by people until we have a personal love for God, occupation with Christ, and an impersonal love for all people. This spiritual outlook is the source of pure joy and the enjoyment of a personal sense of eternal accomplishment.

You can’t change other people, even your spouse. When you try, it only intensifies the problem. What you are doing is making an issue out of yourself instead of Christ’s teaching. The only person you can change is yourself; and you cannot do that by executing some sort of psychological program for your life. Personal change comes only through growth in Christ and using the assets that God has provided for solving the problems of life.

The third problem caused by failure to be occupied with Christ is a focus on things. Sometimes when you’re not being treated properly, you decide to sublimate in some way by buying something, going somewhere, seeking out recreation. If you can’t get away, or you can’t afford your dream package, you spend your life filled with fantasy or wanderlust.

Occupation with Christ provides a new focus on life, away from self, people, and things. When you have spiritual self-esteem, it doesn’t matter how you are treated, whether you are loved or not loved, or whether you get what you want. It is your fellowship with Christ that counts!

God is perfect and can only treat you within the scope of His perfection. Within God’s plan, you will be treated in a manner that is most beneficial to you, with the proper combination of pleasure and suffering, joy and sorrow, social life and solitude, a combination of blessing and testing to bring you to maturity.

So, how you are treated by people, or by life itself, is no longer an issue. You are living a life of love for Christ as your motivational solution. You have impersonal love for people as part of your functional integrity. The Lord gives you victory over hurt, anger, hatred, frustration, or antagonism toward people, even in the midst of some of the greatest expressions of frustration.

You have yourself been changed through the Word of God. You can pass all forms of testing without being destroyed. You are well positioned to conduct a powerful personal ministry for Christ, being free from the self-generated problems to which most people are subject.

The Bible Commands Us to be Occupied with Christ

Occupation with Christ is commanded by God; it is not an option. If you are going to live the Christian life according to God’s plan, you must come to the place where you are occupied with Christ.

Deut. 6:5 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

This verse shows that it is God’s will that we be absorbed with Him in our whole being: heart, soul, and might. This means the Word of God must be our top priority. To love God – to love the Lord Jesus Christ – we must know Him. We learn about Christ, the Living Word, through the Bible, the written Word. The written Word and the Living Word eventually become our main focus in life. A Christian cannot enter spiritual adulthood (maturity) without this dual priority in life.

Christians who are not occupied with Christ will always be novices, spiritual immature, and dabblers in the faith.

Heb. 12:2, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus Christ is the author and perfecter of our faith (our doctrine). Furthermore, the Bible is the “mind of Christ”, the actual thinking of Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 2:16)

The word “joy” in Heb. 12:2 refers to the happiness of the Lord Jesus as he endured the suffering of the Cross, when He was being judged for our sins. We don’t usually think of happiness associated with Christ’s suffering, but this was the pure joy, in Christ’s case, of his being 100% occupied with the Father and with His plan.

1 Pet. 3:15, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;

This verse is a command to be occupied with Christ. The “heart” is the place in the soul where wisdom and applied Bible knowledge reside. We “sanctify” Christ in our hearts by having maximum understanding and application of Bible truth. By consistent learning of the Word, under conditions of spiritual fellowship (control of the Holy Spirit), a believer sanctifies Christ as Lord in the heart.

Mechanics – How To Be Occupied with Christ

You have probably already seen that occupation with Christ is accomplished through having regular interaction with the Word of God. The #1 priority is concentration on Bible truth, and organizing one’s life around that #1 priority. When you do that, you are concentrating on Christ, you are occupied with Christ.

To concentrate on the Word, you must receive consistent accurate teaching from a pastor-teacher. In Eph. 4:11-16, we see that the method God the Father has chosen to bring us to maturity as individuals, and to have a mature, productive church, is Bible teaching from men who are prepared to minister (preach) the Word of God.

You must listen and learn many things from the Bible. Some of them will seem to have no immediate application, but all Bible knowledge is important in God’s plan for your life. If you stay with it, the pieces will begin to fit together and it will all make sense.

If your top priority is Bible truth, your life will begin to change almost without your knowing it. You will learn doctrine every day, and you will begin to use the problem solving techniques that the Bible offers. Your mental attitude will be determined by the divine thinking that is coming into your soul.

When the Word of God is the main focus of your life, you come to the point of personal love for God the Father. You will have spiritual self-esteem. Once you begin to have love for God, and to be occupied with Christ, you will no longer feel threatened by things in life that once disturbed you. You have a relaxed mental attitude and spiritual joy, which is happiness supplied by God that you have regardless of circumstances, things, or the people in your life. This process is demonstrated in 1 Peter 1:6-8.

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof (genuineness) of your faith (doctrine), being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

and though you have not seen Him (Jesus Christ), you love Him (occupation with Christ), and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,

In other words, you begin to function by using the Word of God during times of testing, at the same time as you are occupied with Christ. You are actually sharing the happiness of God as you go through life.

The Results of Occupation with Christ

Occupation with Christ is the principal solution to all problems that occur in life. God the Father has provided us with everything necessary for us to have a capacity for joy and a prosperity that is independent of people or circumstances. These provisions are known as “all blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). Note that the place of blessing is in Christ. All blessings, and all problem solutions begin with Occupation with Christ.

Occupation with Christ glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ. (Eph. 3:19-21)

Occupation with Christ is required in order to have complete fellowship with God the Father. I John 1:6. Walking “in darkness” is the opposite of occupation with Christ.

In 2 Cor. 13:14, the “practice of truth” is fellowship with God the Father; and fellowship with God always leads to love for God.

I Cor. 1:9 indicates that fellowship with Christ is concurrent with, and necessary for, fellowship with God. Since you were “called into fellowship with His Son,” this should be your main priority in life. But this means that you have to make the Word of God your main interest in life.

Fellowship with God the Holy Spirit is also closely tied in with occupation with Christ. Phil. 2:1,2Therefore, if there be any encouragement in Christ, if there is any comfort of love, if there is any fellowship with the Spirit, if there is any affection mercies, complete my happiness by thinking the same things.

God’s happiness is completed as we have fellowship with Him, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Then we can have true fellowship with people, without putting people before God. 2 Cor. 13:14The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love for God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” But without occupation with Christ, interaction with other people is often bad.

Occupation with Christ, therefore, eliminates the superficiality of human hero worship. Phil. 3:7,8…I count all things but loss except for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord…

As you become occupied with Christ, you have a stronger motivation to have a relationship with the Lord, and you change gradually from dependence on people to dependence on the Lord. You cannot change people; it is God who causes people to change, to grow up. And no one is fully grown up who is not making use of occupation with Christ. The key to God’s plan is that we no longer live for ourselves but for Christ.

2 Cor. 5:14-17 For the love of Christ continues to motivate us, in that One died for all; therefore, all have died. And He died as a substitute for all, in order that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and was resurrected…

Occupation with Christ brings spiritual self-esteem and self-confidence. You have self-esteem when you stop competing with people and undermining them. You stop slandering, gossiping, maligning, and judging other people. You have impersonal (professional) love for other people, because you are occupied with Christ. You live in grace, and you are a conduit of grace to other people, because Christ has become formed in your thinking and you love Him above everything else. The result is 2 Cor. 5:14The Lord for Christ motivates

Occupation with Christ is the Basis for Production and Blessing

  • It is the means by which mature believers contribute to national blessing (blessing by association). Deut. 30:15-20.
  • It produces courage and victory in battle, Jer. 23:10,11.
  • It is the basis for strength during testing, Psalm 31:23,24.
  • It results in great blessings, Psalm 37:4,5.
  • It provides strength under pressure, Heb. 11:27.
  • It helps the Christian avoid fatigue in the soul, Heb. 12:3.

Summary Remarks

Occupation with Christ is the ultimate function and outlook of the Christian way of life. It is the only answer to unrealistic expectations in life, which include not being treated the way you think you should be treated, and not being loved the way you think you should be loved.

Occupation with Christ is the main problem solving feature of Christian living, and it is the key to all other solutions which God’s plan provides.

Occupation with Christ proceeds through three phases as the Christian grows in Christ. First, “Christ is formed in you”, Gal. 4:19. As a result, “the love for Christ motivates us.” 2 Cor. 5:14

Second, occupation with Christ is characterized as “Christ at home in your hearts”, Eph. 3:17, resulting in “setting apart the Lord Christ in your hearts”, 1 Pet. 3:15.

Third, in spiritual maturity, “Christ is exalted in my body, whether by life or by death,” Phil. 1:20. The result “for me, living is Christ anddying is profit, Phil. 1:21.

Phil. 3:7-10, “Whatever things were gain to me, I have concluded them loss for the sake of Christ, I conclude all things to be loss because of the surpassing greatness of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, my Lord, because I have suffered the loss of all things, and I now consider then dung in order that I may gain Christ. And that I may be demonstrated in Him, not having my own righteousness from the law, but that righteousness which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness of God by faith in Christ. That I may know Him, the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to Christ in the fellowship of His death.

Confession of Sin: The principles of biblical confession of sin; how the Lord’s grace provision makes it possible for a Christian to stay in fellowship.

The presence of the sin nature in the soul guarantees that the Christian believer will have a problem with active personal sin for the rest of his life on earth. This personal sin causes a deep disturbance in the believer’s personal relationship with the Lord. The Holy Spirit is said to be personally grieved, and His work quenched by a Christian’s sin, or by his attempt to live outside of the will of God.

While you do not lose your salvation each time you sin, your personal growth and effectiveness are stifled as long as there is a rift in your fellowship with God. This rift is healed when you personally confess to God the sin which caused the breach.

Confession of sins is not the basis of salvation. Jesus Christ was judged once for our sins, on the cross; and He does not need to be judged repeatedly for our sins. The basis of salvation is your personal trust in Christ and His work, rather than confession or any other act which you might perform to try to win the favor of God. Acts 16:31; John 1:12; Eph. 1:13, 14; 2:8, 9; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Cor. 5:21.

A Christian is always in Christ. Eph. 1:3, 5, 7. So confession of personal sin is extremely important to the personal spiritual relationship that you have with God.

God requires confession of sin as the means of maintaining a close personal walk with Him. He requires a continual acknowledgment of His ruler ship; and confession of sin is the means by which you express your yielding and surrender to the sovereign will of God on a moment by moment basis. The Lord wants you to have a very useful and happy life, and part of His plan for providing this sort of life is confession of sin.

Etymology of the Word Confession

The word confession in 1 John 1:9 is the Greek verb oJmologew (homologeo). This word, and its derivatives, is a common term in ancient Greek and Hellenic speech, in the Septuagint Greek of the Old Testament, and in the New Testament Koine Greek. It means, literally, to say the same thing; to agree in statement.

Xenophon uses the phrase homologoi genesthai, to agree in statement. Herodotus, similarly, has the phrase glossan homologein, to speak the same language. The word also appears quite often in the passive voice to say such things as all men are agreed on the statement.

So in reviewing the ancient usages, there are found a number of such defining statements, for example:

  • to agree to the statement of another
  • to confirm the receipt of money
  • to agree to a proposal
  • to agree to or accept a promise
  • to agree with or to adopt social customs

So homologeo or homologia imply consent to something felt to be valid, and in such a way that the agreement is followed by definite resolve and action, by ready attachment to a cause.

From Kittel: The aim in homologia is not a theoretical agreement which does not commit us, but acceptance of a common cause. And, “homologeo means that, “I agree with someone on something; and it embraces both the fact and event along with the act and action in which I bear witness to the agreement.”

Thus, in the Christian’s life, confession of sins is based on an established agreement and personal acceptance of God’s divine sovereignty, which includes His right as creator and Father to set the standards by which Christians must live.

The Lord Encourages Confession

A novice believer may not be aware that it is possible to live out of fellowship and that he needs to confess sin. 1 John 1:6; 2:9, 10; 2 Pet. 1:9. God both commands and pleads with us to judge ourselves, to confess and then to forget sins. Take a look at: Isa. 43:26; 1 Cor. 11:28, 31; 1 John 1:9; Phil. 3:13, 14; Prov. 1:23. Any person who reads the Bible quickly becomes aware of God’s intentions in this matter.

Some Christians willfully ignore the commands to confess, leading God to employ more persuasive measures to encourage us to comply. These methods include:

A few Christians manage to ignore even severe chastening for a long time, leading to God’s administering the sin unto death. The alternative to confession is discipline. Heb. 12:1-5.

The Mechanics of Confession of Sin

Confession does not provide you with a license to sin. The idea that I can sin and confess repeatedly because God will always forgive is sinful in itself because it indicates that the believer does not actually think the same about his sin that God does. No real repentance or confession is shown.

Confession of sin does not remove the buildup of callousness or hardness in the soul of the person who has lived apart from God for a long time. This removal of scar tissue is accomplished through edification, the Biblical system for understanding and applying the Word of God.

Confession of sin does not give you an emotional experience, nor is it accompanied by an emotional reaction. God’s forgiveness is based on His promise to cleanse, not on how a person feels. Confession does not always remove the pain or suffering which is the result of the sin itself or which came as a result of divine discipline. The cursing is turned to blessing, the suffering may continue; but the suffering may be endured to the glory of God instead.

Some Christians try to get on God’s good side through some means other than the confession which is prescribed by God. Sometimes a person thinks that a demonstration of sorrowfulness is called for, or that weeping will impress God with one’s contrition. Others compensate for their sin by increasing their religious activities. Some will pray more often and longer and read their Bibles more. Some will try to bribe God with additional tithes and offerings, or with acts of self denial, sacrifice or service. Some will present themselves in rededication services and attend church functions more often. These things cannot be substituted for confession of sin. God is interested only in a person’s mental attitude toward the sin.

The word confession in the New Testament is taken from the Greek word ‘ομολογεω (homologeo), meaning to cite, to name, to classify in the same manner, to agree with, to say the same thing as. Confession acknowledges God’s ruler ship in the matter and agrees with His judgment.

This is a method of dealing with the disharmony caused by sins which causes no merit to accrue to the person who confesses. It is strictly a grace provision in which God makes a promise and carries out the function of cleansing. The Christian must confess the sin, 1 John 1:9; forget the sin, Phil. 3:13, 14; and isolate the sin, Heb. 12:15.

Forgiveness of sin is only from God(Mark. 2:7)and confession is made only to God the Father. Upon the condition of confession, forgiveness is guaranteed and cleansing from all unrighteousness is administered (1 John 1:9). The word cleanse refers to the removal of the guilt of the sin. Therefore, the cleansed individual is removed from the condition of discipline, chastening is no longer being administered and the hindrances to the ministry of the Holy Spirit are removed.

There are several synonyms in the Bible for the word “confess”, as follows”:

  • To yield means to confess. Rom. 6:13.
  • Putting off the old man, is tantamount to confession. Eph. 4:22.
  • Judging oneself is confession or leads to it. 1 Cor. 11:31.
  • Presenting one’s body is analogous to confession. Rom. 12:1.

Principles Derived from the Doctrine of Confession

Walking closer to God is, in reality, an activity in which you are more consistent in your relationship with the Lord, more consistent in your confession of sin. While confession does not, in itself, cause one to grow in Christ, there can be no growth in the Spirit as long as one is out of fellowship because of unconfessed sin. Therefore, confession sets the stage for progress in the Christian life. The ministry of the Holy Spirit depends on uninterrupted fellowship. So Christian growth depends on the unhindered work of the Holy Spirit.

Confession takes the believer out of the sphere where he is producing callous and scar tissue on his soul, and it puts him back in the sphere of the Holy Spirit’s control. You can thus produce gold, silver and precious stones rather than wood, hay and stubble.

As you learn more about the true doctrine of confession, you will increase normally in your discernment about your own status of fellowship. You will know whether you are controlled by the Holy Spirit; and you will know what to do about it when you are not. You will also learn to recognize carnality in others; but you will be more tolerant of other people because you realize better how your own standing depends entirely on the grace of God.

Bitterness: Bitterness is one of the most crushing mental problems in a person’s life; the Bible has solutions.

Bitterness is one of the most crushing mental problems in a person’s life. When a Christian is bitter, there is a loss of close fellowship with the Lord and a hindrance in one’s relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Bitterness causes a loss of many of the blessings of the normal Christian life, including emotional stability, peace and joy. Bitterness results in the loss of production of good works like gold, silver and precious stones which are a major source of blessing and reward in the plan of God.

Bitterness is a devastating mental attitude sin, and it triggers a wide range of other sins, such as:

  • Hatred
  • Cruelty
  • Antagonism
  • Self-pity
  • Unteachableness or implacability
  • Vindictiveness and desires for revenge
  • Prideful ambition or arrogance

Bitterness is neither consistent nor rational. A bitter person is his own worst enemy. It is very difficult to maintain any kind of relationship with a chronically bitter person; and bitterness is a major contributing cause of marital and family problems.

The objective in this short article is to provide Christians with a thorough look at what the Bible says about bitterness, including many scripture examples, then to offer some direction about how to have victory over bitterness.

There are quite a few companion studies in the Grace Notes library which can help identify the mental attitude sin of bitterness and help deal with it from divine viewpoint.

Definition

In English, the concept of mental bitterness comes from the idea of something that has a sharp or unpleasant taste. We speak of something being bitter if it causes grief or is hard to bear; a bitter defeat, bitter failure. We also speak of a bitter loss when someone’s death has caused great grief.

Then, bitterness has come to be used of those things that cause pain or grief, such as bitter remarks or the actions of bitter enemies. We say “he fought to the bitter end”, meaning a struggle in the last extremity.

The biblical Greek words for bitterness are PIKROS = “bitter” and PIKRIA = “bitterness”, and other derivatives. PIKROS originally meant “sharp”, or “pointed”. Then it was used more generally for anything that was penetrating to the senses, something that had a pervasive smell or a shrill noise. PIKRIA was used for the bitterness of the taste of some plants, and finally found use in speaking of personal experience when something was unpleasant, undesirable, or when something bad was unexpected.

The words PIKROS or PIKRIA are used about 40 times in the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament), only rarely to refer to literal bitterness, such as the reference to bitter water in Exo. 15:23. Usually it is a reference to men who are (pikroi) the bitter ones when they are soured or cruel (Ruth 1:20; Hab. 1:6).

There are seven instances of these words in the New Testament: Matt. 26:75; Luke 22:62; Acts 8:23; Rom. 3:14; Eph. 4:31; James 3:11, 14.

So, in the Bible, except when it is obvious that the actual taste of something in meant, PIKRIA refers to intensity of suffering of mind and body, something that is difficult to bear, something that causes animosity and reaction, something that is brought about by hatred or antagonism.

Bible Examples of Bitterness

  • Women are bitter because they cannot have children, 1 Sam 1:10.
  • A foolish son is bitterness to his mother, Prov. 17:25.
  • Divine discipline or chastisement of the Jewish people caused bitterness. This demonstrates the weakness and failure of the people. Bitterness destroyed the people’s spiritual lives. The Jews brought on self-destruction by their bitterness.
  • Lam. 1:4; Amos 8:10; Ezek. 27:30; Isa. 33:7; 2 Kings 14:26.
  • Slavery causes bitterness, Exo. 1:14.
  • Suffering causes bitterness to people who do not understand the Bible’s problem solving devices and principles, and who do not give number one priority to their relationship with God. Deut. 32:24.
  • Ridicule is a source of bitterness, Lam 3:14. The people ridiculed Jeremiah because of their bitterness toward him. When truth is taught, people sometimes react in bitterness.
  • Consummate human pride is a cause of bitterness, Acts 8:23.
  • Degeneracy is a source of bitterness, Rom. 3:14.
  • Personal choice is a source of bitterness, Eph. 4:31.
  • Husbands and wives are a source of bitterness toward each other, Col 3:19.

The Results of Bitterness

  • Bitterness is antisocial. A bitter person is selfish, inconsiderate of others, withdrawn from society, indifferent or adverse to conformity with conventional standards of social behavior. Even strangers avoid bitter people, Prov. 14:10. No one is happy around bitter people.
  • Bitterness is a sign of the spiritual life gone wrong, Jer. 2:19.
  • A bitter person rejects Bible teaching. James 3:14, “But if you have bitter jealousy and strife, stop being arrogant and lying against the truth.
  • Bitterness shows total lack of grace orientation. A bitter person does not understand the plan of God, let alone how it affects individuals. In Job 9:17-18, Job’s complaint against God. Why does God let this happen to me?, is a statement of bitterness.
  • Bitterness accompanies the sin unto death, Job 21:25.
  • Bitterness motivates complaining, Job 7:11, 10:1. People who habitually complain are bitter people; they have no self esteem.
  • Bitterness motivates gossip, Psalm 64:3.
  • Bitterness fragments other peoples lives. Heb 12:15, “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by it many be defiled;
  • Bitterness is self induced misery, and it produces chain sinning. Bitterness is misery to others in the periphery. But two wrongs never make a right. You cannot build your happiness on someone else’s unhappiness.

Recovery from Bitterness

Isa. 38:17, “Behold, bitterness became deliverance to me. In Your love You have delivered my soul out of the pit of destruction; for You have cast all my sins behind my back.

Ephesians 1:8 tells us that we have available to us wisdom and prudence which are part of God’s grace provision for us. Wisdom comes with a thorough understanding of Bible doctrine and the principles of Christian living. Prudence is the practical use of applied Bible truth in making decisions and solving problems in this life.

You can use the following practical methods to deal with bitterness in your life, regardless of the cause.

Many of these topics are discussed in considerably more detail in other Grace Notes articles, but this outline will give you ideas on how you can make specific application of doctrine to help with real world problems.

Confession of Sin

Personal sin leads to bitterness. You must deal with sin on a daily basis by confessing and moving on. If you do not do this, sin becomes a burden which clouds your joy, drains your spiritual energy and destroys your productivity and vitality. In short, sin is always depressing.

1 John 1:9 states that when you confess your sins, God “is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

In privacy, make a list of your mental attitude sins, verbal sins, and behavior sins. Ask the Lord to make you aware of the habits of your own life. Respond immediately to the Holy Spirit when He uses the word to spotlight your sin. Name the sin to God; then rejoice in forgiveness and cleansing and your renewed fellowship with God. All the promises and provisions of God the Father are now available to you. Make it a spiritual habit to confess sins whenever they show up in your life.

The Filling of the Holy Spirit

When you have unconfessed sin in your life, the Holy Spirit is grieved or quenched. But the Holy Spirit fills you and controls your life when you have no unconfessed sin in your life. This is why confession of sins is so important.

You can trust the Holy Spirit to reveal sin to you when you commit it, or even before. When the Holy Spirit is in control, He produces His fruit (Gal. 5:22). The fruit of the Spirit does not include heaviness, bitterness, discouragement, disillusion, anguish, sadness, dejection or loss of productivity. Consider these points:

  • Love is free from bitterness.
  • Joy pushes bitterness out.
  • Bitterness can not coexist with peace in the soul of the believer filled with the Holy spirit.
  • Long suffering gives the ability to deal with bitterness and other troubles.
  • Gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance are fruits of righteousness, which is divine good. Divine good takes the place of bitterness.

Living in the Word

By constant study and meditation in the Bible you are constantly reminded of God’s viewpoint, of His plan, of His provision, or His awareness of our spirit of bitterness and what He want to accomplish in us. Living in the sphere of human viewpoint is a source of bitterness. Living in the word gradually transplants you to a new sphere, a new environment for your life, in which there is victory over bitterness.

Furthermore, there is a continuous cleansing taking placed. See especially Ephesians 5 for how the Lord Jesus uses the word to cleanse believers.

Orientation to Grace

Bitterness is often caused by people, most of the time by people we cannot escape, or people we love, or people we cannot confront, or people we trust. Grace orientation includes the ability to look at people and see them as God sees them. It includes the ability to let them live their lives as unto the Lord, and trusting God to make His way clear to them. This technique lets people make mistakes without your judging them. It enables you to accept criticism without hurt or bitterness. It enables you to esteem others better than yourself, to do nothing through strife or vainglory.

Occupation with Christ

The technique of occupation with Christ helps to cure bitterness because it gets your eyes off your spouse, your children, your neighbors, your friends and yourself. Instead, as you move through the day, you are thinking about the Lord Jesus Christ, His plan for your life, the Father’s provision for each incident in your life, and His provision of wisdom for each decision you must make. Occupation with Christ is a by-product of the Faith rest Life. Bitterness is a by product of occupation with self, with life, with problems.

The Faith-Rest Life or Trusting God and Enjoying the Peace which Results

Faith rest is believing the promises of God and then entering into the rest phase of Christian living by claiming and enjoying those promises. Therefore, you must search the scriptures daily to remind yourself of promises, and to learn new ones. You must know who and what God is so that you will not hesitate to believe that He can do what He has promised to do. Study the attributes of God using verses about the essence of God. Know Him as He reveals Himself in the Bible. Believe Him when He tells you what He will do for you. Count on it. Let your faith rest on it. Cast your burden on the Lord.

Relaxed Mental Attitude

A relaxed mental attitude is based on knowing God and on having the divine production in the soul that comes with the fruit of the Holy Spirit. A relaxed mental attitude is one of the results of living in the word, Walking in fellowship, practicing the faith rest life, and being occupied with Christ.

Beatitudes: The eight blessings in the Beatitudes, related to the Christian life.

The first blessing: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, because theirs is the Kingdom of God” is found in Matthew 5:3.

There is something quite significant here: even though you may be a believer, you are still poor in spirit! Many believers have a terrible time with this concept, because they fail to understand that this sermon assumes residence in the kingdom.

Now, this is truly a remarkable statement! You have no power and yet the kingdom of heaven belongs to you! But you can see that this is a fantastic introductory statement. This is the wisest thing that you can say to a new believer which is just the simple fact that they are poor in spirit. They may like it or not, whether they acknowledge it or not.

This is a blessing from God regardless of whether it is enjoyed.

This is not something you obtain by being humble; it is your estate regardless of your attitude.

Furthermore, this is a remarkable statement because it holds in view the doctrine of eternal security. You have the kingdom of heaven in spite of your lack of merit!

Therefore the first blessing to the one in the kingdom is eternal security.

The second blessing: “Blessed are they who mourn, because they will be comforted” comes from Matthew 5:4.

There are two ways to take the mourning: in the literal sense of mourning for some loved one that is lost; in the figurative sense of mourning over lost fellowship with God.

Now let us turn to mourning. Mourning due to the loss of fellowship is a fairly common Biblical theme.

Psalm 30:1-6

  • “I will extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up, and have not let my enemies rejoice over me.
  • O Lord my god, I cried to You for help, and You healed me.
  • O Lord, You have brought up my soul from Sheol; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.
  • Sing praise to the Lord, you His godly ones, and give thanks to His holy name.
  • For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.

Psalm 30:10-12

  • Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me; O lord, be my helper.
  • You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness.
  • That my soul may sing praise to You, and not be silent.  O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

Psalm 38:1-8

  • O Lord rebuke me not in Your wrath; and chasten me not in Your burning anger.
  • For Your arrows have sunk deep into me, and Your hand has pressed down on me.
  • There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin.
  • For my iniquities are gone over my head; as a heavy burden the weigh too much for me.
  • My wounds grow foul and fester because of my folly.
  • I am bent over and greatly bowed down; I go mourning all day long.
  • For my loins are filled with burning; and there is no soundness in my flesh.
  • I am benumbed and badly crushed; I groan because of the agitation of my heart.

Isaiah 61:1-3 connects mourning and the atonement,

  • The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners;
  • to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn,
  • to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.  So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the lord, that He may be glorified.

2 Corinthians 7:9-13 makes a very direct connection between sin and grief.  This passage seems almost as if Paul intended to clarify our beatitude.

  • “I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will God, in order that you might not suffer loss in anything through us.”
  • For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
  • For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you:  what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter.
  • So although I wrote to you it was not for the sake of the offender, nor for the sake of the one offended, but that your earnestness on our behalf might be made known to you in the sight of God.  For this reason we have been comforted.

Conclusion:

  • Emotion is never to be a criterion for thought or action.
  • Emotion should always remain subordinate to thought.
  • Motivation is a system of thought which leads to action.
  • Sin puts you out of fellowship with God and the Holy Spirit.

While you are out of fellowship, God inflicts varying degrees and categories of suffering on your person.

These sufferings cause mental dissonance and God designs them to get you to wake up.

Once you understand that you are out of fellowship, and that you are receiving divine discipline, your period of mourning begins.

Mourning over sin is a complex of thought about the sin that includes:

  • The perception of pain over the loss of fellowship.
  • The perception of pain because of the divine discipline.

The mental mourning over sin then should naturally invoke emotional response in the form of sadness, or mourning.

This complex of thought and subordinate emotion naturally moves the believer toward confession, and this is the intent of God.

Therefore, mourning is a blessing from God, for it brings comfort in the restoration of fellowship. The comfort comes from the comforter, who is the Holy Spirit.

There is woe to those who laugh, because if they laugh at divine discipline and while they are out of fellowship they will have little motive to confess.

  • Hebrews 12:5, “and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him;’

Mourning and feelings of guilt after the restoration of fellowship are illegitimate and should be all left behind.

The third blessing: “Blessed are the humble, because they will inherit the earth” is found in Matthew 5:5.

This really denotes the ability to solve problems without violence or angry reaction, but to solve the problems really and truly through the use of Bible doctrine in the soul.

Therefore this meekness really brings the idea of doctrinal problem solving, and reliance on the truth vs. reliance on human viewpoint solutions.

Therefore, there really is the connotation of doctrinal orientation vs. human viewpoint orientation.

It brings the inheritance of the earth.

Inheriting the earth while Satan rules it is no prize. It is not about that.

Neither does being meek bring in the millennium. There is nothing that we can do to accomplish what only Christ can.

Therefore, this is about the inheritance of the earth during the millennium, an inheritance based on the death of Christ.

The fourth blessing: “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, because they will be filled” is found in Matthew 5:6.

The words for hunger and thirst are pretty standard here as we exactly what we understand them to be in the English, with little or no extra emphasis.

This blessing works as a companion to the poor in spirit. It is the realization of that very state.

No person in this world has righteousness in an of him or herself. That is the essence of being spiritually helpless. The one who hungers and thirsts after righteousness has realized this and thus seeks righteousness in God.

This is about positive volition and even quite a bit about doctrinal dependence.

There are two types of righteousness related to Jesus Christ.

The first is the righteousness which He produced on the cross and which is imputed to us at the moment that we believe in Him.

  • Romans 5:18, “So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.

The second righteousness is that which comes through the study of the word of God.

  • 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.
  • 1 Corinthians 2:16, “For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.

This beatitude concentrates on the second righteousness. This is a righteousness which can only come through faith perception.

Hunger and thirst are very excellent metaphors for positive volition, because they convey need, as opposed to simple desire.

Hungering and thirsting for righteousness is a simple honesty with self about a spiritual need. It is the need for divine viewpoint thinking.

Hungering and thirsting for righteousness leads to fulfillment. God is one hundred percent faithful to positive volition.

The fulfilling that comes from knowing the word of God is a great blessing in itself. To be filled to the point of overflowing is truly great.

Being filled with the Word of God means:

  • Knowing God is the greatest person you will ever know
  • Being able to resist temptation more effectively.
  • Being able to reduce the impact of sin in your life.
  • Understanding your destiny in Christ for this life and the next.
  • Tapping into a great portfolio of blessing for this life and the next.
  • Adding meaning to every blessing and understanding to every category of suffering.
  • The development of an invincible spiritual self esteem.
  • Becoming the recipient of divine personal love.
  • Being able to solve life’s problems through doctrine, and not reaction.

Therefore, this is a fantastic blessing indeed.

The fifth blessing: “Blessed are the merciful, because they will be shown mercy” is from Matthew 5:7.

All of the actions of God are done without conditions.

Unlimited atonement is an expression of divine mercy,

  • 1 John 2:2, “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

Eternal security is an expression of divine mercy,

  • 1 John 3:1a, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

The life and death of Jesus Christ are the ultimate testimony of the love of God.

An extension of your life is often an expression of mercy, so that you may have another chance to use your volition responsibly.

The merciful follows of Christ during the tribulation will be shown mercy in the preservation of their human lives.  In fact, human mercy as expressed in charity is very much a measure of Christian maturity during the millennium.

The sixth blessing: “Blessed are the pure in heart, because they will see God” is from Matthew 5:8.

Almost anyone can appear to be pure. This is not a great accomplishment. But those who are privately and mentally pure are another category entirely.

Why is anyone pure in heart? It only because they are in fellowship with God. No one is righteous at all. We can only be pure in heart because of the ability of God to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Pure in heart does not refer to spiritual maturity, but rather the state of being in fellowship and cleansed from all sins.

Putting the word in your heart causes personal purity related to spiritual maturity.

Purity of heart is a requirement for prayer,

  • 2 Tim 2:22, “Now flee from youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

Summary of Biblical References to Maturity

Purity may refer to the status of spiritual maturity.

Purity may also refer to the temporal state of being in fellowship with God.

The only extra context we have is the blessing which attends the state. The blessing is that the pure in heart will see God. The phrase “will see God”  is the future indicative of OPSONTAI  with the simple accusative case of THEON.

So, those who are pure in heart now will see God in the future.

Observation: This future may be in one minute or it may extend to the tribulation, the millennium or even into eternity.

OPSONTAI however, is from the verb HORAO, and this verb designates a category of sight that goes beyond on the literal to the figurative. It is seeing God in the figurative sense, and thus what can only be seen through the word of God.

Do you have to be pure in heart before you can become pure in heart? In other words, it is very important to separate the idea of fellowship from the idea of maturity. Both derive from purity, but they are quite distinct from one another.

Conclusion: This purity of heart is the fellowship which comes from the confession of sin. Thus a connection exists between this and the second beatitude, that to they who mourn.

Blessed are they who mourn, because they will be comforted and thus become pure in heart; blessed are the pure in heart, because they will see God. There is a definite string of blessings here, one balanced on the other.

Purity of heart is the status of being in fellowship with God. It is only while you are in fellowship that you can learn and apply most doctrines.

The seventh blessing: “Blessed are the peacemakers, because they will be called sons of God” comes from Matthew 5:9.

The interpretation of the term is somewhat more difficult. We will begin with the meaning of the word itself.

This is the only place in the Bible where this noun occurs. Its corresponding verb appears in Colossians 1:19-20.

  • For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

Christ is the peacemaker through the blood of His cross. Therefore, Paul connects the word to the doctrine of reconciliation.

Christ was the peacemaker through His fantastic victory on the cross. He founded that victory on His non violent policy for the incarnation.

However, at the second advent, Christ will make peace through His great military victory at the battle of Armageddon. That will be peace through violent means.

If Christ is the peacemaker through the reconciliation, then certainly we are whenever we introduce others to that same reconciliation.

So, peacemakers are purveyors of the gospel.

The peacemakers will be called the sons of God.

And so it comes  to this: that this is a special reward for those who lived or will live in any of the dispensations related to Israel.

A person’s name held great significance in Biblical times more so than today.

And to gain a new title, given by God Himself, would be significant indeed.

To hold the same title as God the Son is truly a fantastic complement. Peacemakers having the same title as the peacemaker has a certain poetic symmetry to it.

The eighth blessing and its explanation: “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, because theirs is the kingdom of heaven” comes from Matthew 5:10. You are blessed whenever they insult you and persecute you, and whenever they ostracize you and they insult you and cast down your name as evil falsely for my sake. Rejoice and exult and leap wildly, because your reward is great in heaven; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Conclusion: You may be persecuted for two reasons: because you are a Christian, and because you are a mature Christian.

The blessing for this is the kingdom of heaven. This seems curious at first, because the same is awarded the poor in spirit no matter what they might do.

However, there is a contrast. In the first beatitude the emphasis lay on eternal security.  In this last one it is on eternity, period.

Next comes the explanation. It begins with the phrase you are blessed.

Then comes a command that is predicated on the persecution. “Rejoice and exult and leap wildly, because your reward is great in heaven; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:12)

The second pairing of verbs has to do with wild rejoicing. Matthew’s verb concentrates more on verbal expression, while Luke’s on physical expression. They both describe an ecstatic kind of rejoicing. This is the kind you see when you win the World Series in baseball.

The reason for the rejoicing is the reward in heaven that waits for those who endure undeserved suffering.

Undeserved suffering leads to great reward in heaven.

And, therefore Christ commands His hearers to rejoice when they encounter it.

Separation: A Christian lives in the world, but is not “of” it.

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The Christian Believer in the World System

The ability to stand alone for that which is right is one of the truest signs of maturity in the Christian life. It is the sign that one has openly identified himself with a superior way of life and with the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

When a person takes a stand, he is saying to others that he has something worth standing for. This type of commitment attracts followers and is one of the primary characteristics of a good leader.

One of the strongest pressures against being true to the word of God comes from friends who have compromised their own standards or who have rejected Christ’s standards in some way. The most serious consequence of not taking a stand is that the word of God is not upheld by the believer’s testimony. The Bible has a great deal to say about the believer’s obligation to separate from people who knowingly and willfully disobey the Lord.

Separate yourself from those who are doctrinally disordered.

  • 1 Tim. 6:3-5. “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness; from such withdraw thyself.
  • 2 Tim 3:1-5. “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

Avoid those who cause divisions and offense.

  • Romans 16:17, 18. “Now I beseech you brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

Separate from the world.

  • John 15:19, “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

Separate from the works of darkness.

  • Eph. 5:11, 12, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.

Separate from Christians walking disorderly.

  • 2 Thess. 3:6, “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.

Those who would not repent were excommunicated.

  • Matt. 18:15-17, “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
  • Titus 3:9–11, “But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.

Separate from false teachers.

  • 2 John 10, “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:
  • Col. 2:8, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • Prov. 19:27, “Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge.
  • Prov. 14:6-8, “A scorner seeketh wisdom, and findeth it not: but knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth. Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge. The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way, but the folly of fools is deceit.
  • Psalm 1:1, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

Separate from sinful activities of the unbeliever.

1 Cor. 5:9-11; 1 Kings 11:12; 2 Cor. 6:14; 2 Chron. 19:2; Heb. 13:13 ; Ex. 34:12; 1 Pet. 4:1-5; Prov. 1:10-19; 4:14; 24:1; Num. 33:55

The Christian’s main goals in life should be occupation with the Lord Jesus Christ, conformity to His image, and fulfilling the plan of God for his life. The believer must make careful decisions about his purpose in life. He must compare every activity in his life with his goals to see whether the activity helps or hinders him in reaching the goals.

The following notes provide examples of the uses of the word αφοριζω which means separation in the Bible:

  • Matt. 13:49-51, the wicked are separated from the righteous at the final judgment.
  • Matt. 25:31-46, the sheep are separated from the goats.

Are you one of the righteous? How do you know? Can you explain to a friend how he can be one of the sheep instead of one of the goats?

  • Luke. 6:22, the righteous man is ostracized by the worldly.
  • Acts 13:2, Barnabas and Saul (Paul) were separated to the work of the ministry.
  • 2 Cor. 6:17, touch not the unclean thing.
  • Gal. 1:15, Paul separated from his mother’s womb.
  • Gal. 2:12, Peter wrongfully separated himself from Gentiles for fear of the opinion of the Jews.

 

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