During my ninety plus years, everything I did has my mark on it and no one else’s. There were many times when I had to put the brakes on my desire. James, the half-brother of Jesus, has been a profound guide in maintaining my “Journey of Grace.”
“Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted of God’; for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one; but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
Know this, my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rank growth of wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For id any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who observes his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was kike. But he who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and preserves, being no hearer that forgets but a doer that acts, he shall be blessed in his doing” (James 1:12-25).
I, and no one else, has to keep my desire in check
I am human and my eyes have traveled, but my will has not followed. I am not on a lease to anyone, and especially not to God who has made me in such a marvelous way that I can function on my own, even when I became handicapped at the age of twenty-one. I have never quite understood why translators, regarded the Greek verb “eisenegkes” from “eisphero,” as being led by someone instead of using “yielding” by myself without anyone dragging me into temptation (Luke 11:4; Matthew 6:13). God does not lead nor does God mislead anyone! Therefore, God has provided, with the Law and the Prophets, with Words of His Son, and with the witness of the Apostles, to keep me on the “straight and narrow” for over ninety years. If I had not anchored myself in the Scripture, I would have fallen many times, as Jesus had predicted. It always was up to me to stop gratifying the desire of the flesh. I am no one’s slave, but my own! The Lord has helped me not to yield to temptation, and He never has led me into one temptation. We read:
Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon sand; and the rain fell, and the floods came; and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it (Matthew 7:24-27; Luke 6:46-49).
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. Do not yield your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but yield yourselves to God as men who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments of righteousness (Romans 6:12-13).
But I (Paul) say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are plain: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like.I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the S;pirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gengleness, self-control; against such there is no law. And those whobe.ong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passion and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us have no self-conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another (Galatians 5:16-26).
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other: as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as you teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3:12-17).
Our Lord gave us a glimpse of what our world will be like?
Jesus warned us to watch out for deceivers, false Christs, false signs, and false miracles (Mark 13; Matthew 24; 7:15-23). If we are ashamed of Him and His Word, He will reciprocate (Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26). If we confess Christ before man, He will also confess us before the angels and God (Matthew 10:32-33; Luke 12:8-9). A special effort will be made to bypass the Law of God by limiting it to specifics. For example, adultery (moicheuw) is not just stepping outside a marriage, but it is violating God’s creative act of wanting more than one partner. He sanctioned only one male and one female. Hence, “You shall not commit adultery” (Leviticus 20:13), also means you shall not engage in sex with any other man, any other woman, or any beast because it is an “abomination to God.”
Man’s body is the “temple of God’s Spirit!” And therefore, our body is not an object of sex-perversion. Sex-perversion is not just a sin against man — sex-perversion is against God — and sex-perversion infringes on most of the other Laws of God. In addition to dishonoring and disobeying God and parents, adulterers and adulteresses covet, steal, lie, and even end up killing for sex (Matthew 5:17-20; 5:27-30; 19:3-6; I Corinthians 6:12-20; Psalm 51; James 2:8-11). By the way, disobedience to God is also called “adultery” (Isaiah 57:3-5; Jeremiah 7:9-15; Jeremiah 23:9-12; Ezekiel 23:42-44; Revelation 2:20-24). Adultery is called “the great harlot and the mother of prostitution and confusion” (Revelation 17).
“A spirit” will be at work that is not the Spirit of God or the Spirit of Christ (Ephesians 2:2). “This spirit” will form alliances, but not with of the Spirit of God (Isaiah 30:1). They will proclaim a “false message and a false hope” (Ezra 13:3-7). It will be a “spirit of prostitution” that will detain them from returning to God or repent from their sin (Hosea 5:4). There will be false prophets (Matthew 7:15; 24:11; Revelation 16:13; 19:20). There will come false apostles and false teachers (II Corinthians 11:13; II Peter 2:1-3). There will also be a false Christ (Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22). There will even be a false trinity, the beast, the prophet and the dragon (Revelation 16:12-114). Do not believe every spirit. Test them (I John 4:1-13)! This is what Jesus said the Spirit of God will do: (John 14:15-26; 16:5-15). The scary part is that all sins can be forgiven, even speaking against the Son of Man, but not the sin against the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:31-32; Luke 12:10).
It shall be a “world of confusion” where good will become bad and bad will become good (political and social correctness) Romans 1. It will be like in the days of Noah and Lot (Matthew 24:37-38; Luke 17:26-28). It will be Babylon on earth and worldwide confusion; namely, the home of every foul spirit and demons (Revelation 18). Especially the Church of Jesus Christ will be driven into the desert and from her primary mission in the world (Revelation 2-3; 12). The dragon will strip her of her influence and turn her into another social organization. Satan will do everything to destroy “faith in Jesus the Christ” (Luke 18:8). Christians will abandon the Scriptures and follow deceiving spirits (I Timothy 4:1). Sound Biblical teaching will not be tolerated (II Timothy 3:12-17; 4:1-5). A Christ-like language will be used to enhance deception (Romans 3:13; 16:18). And therefore, mostly human interests shall be served at the expense of good morals (I Corinthians 3:18; 6:9-20). Bad company will corrupt good character (I Corinthians 15:33). Leaders will be deceitful and Satan will masquerade as an “angel of light” (II Corinthians 11:13). Therefore, man will reap what he sows (Galatians 6:7). Too many opinions will keep people from adopting the attributes of Christ (Ephesians 4:14). The falling away from the Church has begun, the lawless Antichrist is actively leading the rebellion (II Thessalonians 2:3-11). God has allowed this delusion and has taken away His Spirit from among us (II Thessalonians 2:10-11). Those who do no longer confess Jesus, keep on sinning and allow themselves to be led astray are following the devil (I John 1-5). Be not hardened by deceitfulness (Hebrews 3:13) and a spirit of stupor (Revelation 11:8). Due to the similarities with Christ, people will not even realize that they are worshipping the beast (Revelation 19:20).
What kind of Attitude do we need to overcome the world?
Our prayer ought to be, “Grieve not the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 4:30) and please Lord, “Do not take Your Holy Spirit from us” (Psalm 51:11). Our desire must remain to be close to God’s Laws and Christ’s Life, God’s Work, and God’s Words. It is our solemn task to abide in Christ and do what He commanded so that the God-head can continue to live in us (John 14:23). It is when we remain faithful to Jesus to our very end that we shall be saved (Mark 13:13). We do need a mind like Jesus had (Philippians 2:5-11).
Our Lord had a major concern, that man’s faith in the Son of man, would decline. Man will stop being persistent. Jesus put it thus, “When the Son of man returns, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8). What exactly will happen to Jesus’ concern? First of all, for Jesus, faith, along with justice and mercy, were part of the Law (Matthew 23:23). It was the Son of man that brought mercy and grace to the Law (John 1:17). Secondly, to remove faith in the Son of man also removes faith from the Law. That makes the Law weak and ineffective. And thirdly, to remove faith from the Law ceases the connection with God. And when you remove faith; then, there is no longer any fear of God. Without the fear of God — then — God only has become “love.” The argument is then that, “God is incapable of holding guilty human beings responsible or their criminal activities.” That is precisely where we are! There is no more fear of God because we again argue that, “Love has cast out fear.” Therefore, our excuse becomes simply that, “Human beings are what they are because they were born that way. How can they be held accountable for being what they are?” Interpreters of professing Christians are even propounding this stunning logic. The interpreters and the critics are trying to manage to disown Jesus of all of Jesus’ Sayings; and therefore, they are inclined to turn Jesus into a “myth.” These interpreters and these critics prefer to assign most of Jesus’ Words and Jesus’ Deeds to secondary sources; namely, as “the concoctions of Jesus’ followers.” This, of course, is nothing new! Three days after Jesus’ death, the chief priests and leaders of the people paid the Roman guards to lie about Jesus’ Resurrection (Matthew 11:15). That lie has been perpetrated, tarnished, and even cleverly concealed to our own day.
Jesus said, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33; Revised Standard Version). How do we overcome the world? The key is “Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15). A change in us has to take effect before we can live in a world, in which we, no longer, feel a part of (John 17:14). This even becomes more difficult when the eyes of the world are upon us to prove that our Lord is real. How do we do that? John took great pains to write a Gospel based on “believing by seeing.” All the things Jesus did and Jesus said where signs to prove that Jesus was who Jesus claimed to be. When Jesus turned water into wine, his disciples believed in Him (John 2:1-11). The Samaritans believed in Jesus (John 4). The blind man believed in Jesus (John 9:35). And so did Mary, Martha, and Lazarus (John 11). The other disciple, saw the empty grave and he believed (John 20:8). Mary of Magdala found believing more difficult and she required to see, to hear, and to touch Jesus (John 20:10-16). Thomas was not satisfied with the testimony of his fellow disciples. Thomas demanded personal proof and Jesus obliged (John 20:10-16). In a way, Thomas spoke for all of us, who were yet to be born into the world and into God’s Kingdom. In like manner, Jesus answered for all of us when He said, “Blessed are those that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29). For it is he, who believes in the Son of God, and magnifies Him with his/her life, who has eternal life! (John 3:36; Matthew 10:32; Luke 12:8).
Every one who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God, and every one who loves the parent (God-Father) loves the child. By this we know that we love the children (one another) of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
This is he who comes by water and blood, Jesus the Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the witness, because the Spirit is the truth.There are three witnesses, the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree. If we receive the testimony of me, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has borne to his Son. He who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. He who does not believe God, has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne to his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life; and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who has not the Son has not life (I John 5:1-12).