Every true child of God (old or young, male or female, learned or not, rich or poor, minister, evangelist or only a normal believer) is called to sanctification so that he or she can be cleansed and spiritually equipped, to be a witness through whom the Lord can address the world (Acts 1:8). Your way of life, your conduct, your conversation and your actions must radiate the love and saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. People must be able to see without doubt by your way of life that the Lord has made you a new person. You must also be a person who spreads the message that Jesus Christ is the only saviour of the world. “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart”. (2 Cor. 3:2-3).
The world watches your life closely when you claim to be a Christian, whether you like or not. You are a letter that is read by other people. It is to the honour of the Lord and definitely in your own interest that you make sure that you are not just a religious person – one who is not born again, only a Christian in name, with a form of godliness and in spite of your best efforts are busy misleading others spiritually. (2 Tim. 3:5).
Secondly you should make sure that you are not a Christian after the flesh that can testify to being saved but still lives under the power of the flesh that has not been crucified, thus doing the selfish, alienating and undermining work of the flesh (1 Cor. 3:1-3; Gal. 5:17). Such a person does try to convey an image of being a Christian but is at the same time focused on honour, riches and the grandeur of life.
Some of the disciples of the Lord Jesus suffered from the ailment of spiritual pride at some stage before they received and were filled with the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ immediately laid the idea to rest: “And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:27-28). A carnal Christian leads a life of falling and getting up again and thus conveys a conflicting message to the world. As hard as you may try you will never know where you stand with such a person. The more you acquaint yourself with this person, the greater and more inexplicable these conflicting messages become. This problem will not be rectified of its own accord but only when there has been a total surrender and cleansing of the heart followed by being filled with the Holy Spirit. (Luke 9:23; Gal. 6:14; Eph. 4:22-24).
Only when the Holy Spirit has received full control of your life and the Words of God as the rules of life are engraved on the tables of your heart, can your life be a letter from Christ to address the world. You will quickly find that the power of the Lord is accomplished in your weakness and that you will preach with much fear, trembling and realisation of your unworthiness, but that the Lord’s blessing will rest richly on you and your ministry. Your preaching will not be persuasive words of human wisdom but in the “demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Cor. 2:4).
The true prophets of God have never competed with the world to see who is the most popular, the best looking, the most intelligent, the richest, the most learned or the most powerful. They were all simple men on whom the Lords anointing clearly rested. The authority of their message did not depend on their own position, appearance or esteem but on the giver - God Himself. They did not only deliver God’s message, they also lived accordingly. They were however always rejected by the world.
The modern preachers and “prophets”(many of them are self appointed prophets) do not want to follow the way of the Cross and are not satisfied with a moderate existence. They do not accept the fact that we are strangers and foreigners in this dispensation and that we will only receive our reward in the kingdom dispensation of the millennium. They distort the Bible in order to please themselves and openly strive for power, majesty and riches by declaring that we are already in the kingdom dispensation, and thus strive for, promote and confirm an exalted position.
The fact is that after the second coming of Jesus Christ there will be a thousand years of peace, during which time the devil will be bound and we will reign as kings with the Lord Jesus. People who do not believe this try to make the church dispensation a kingdom dispensation as well. This means that the devil is now bound and must be striped of all power on earth, so that we must be reigning kings and not rejected servants, and that we do not need to be sick or poor, and that we must do unlimited signs and wonders to prove our position as kings or “little gods”.
Are you a victim of kingdom now theology? Come out of it quickly and walk upon the narrow road again. Do not allow signs and wonders, fall or laugh in the spirit, prosperity gospel, or any display of spiritual power to let you stray from the way of the cross. Also on the other side guard against a dead form of religion where you are declared as being saved without having to repent in Jesus Christ by confessing your sins to the living God. He is standing ready to forgive, but you have approach Him in prayer by confessing your sins (1 John 1:8-9; Proverbs 28:13). Christians to who have fallen away, have to return to the Lord by confessing their sins (Luke 15:18).
Thereafter seek being filled with the Holy Spirit so that you can be clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49). The power of the Holy Spirit will give you victory over sin (Gal. 5:16), strength in the struggle against evil (Eph. 6:10-11) and also strength and boldness to preach the Gospel (Acts 1:8; 4:31). Only then will you be a letter from God written by the Holy Spirit on the tables of your heart. That is what God’s anointment on your life embraces - it is the same anointment that is on the Lord’s Word, because He said: “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). When the life-giving Spirit of God has filled and equipped you, then only can you be used as a mouthpiece and a witness for Jesus Christ in the present godless world.
The Bible makes use of several likenesses to demonstrate to us in which way our lives and testimony should address the world on behalf of the kingdom of God. Judge yourself accordingly to establish whether you are satisfying your high calling in Christ.
The light of the world
The Lord Jesus, who is the light of the world, says to His disciples: “Ye are the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14). Of ourselves we are not the light but we have to bear witness of the light (John 1:8). If Christ lives in our hearts, then the light of His presence and knowledge shines in and through us. Through our conduct and testimony we can be the light in a spiritually dark world and shine like lights in the midst of a crooked and distorted generation (Phil. 2:15).
Do you let your light shine, or are you by your silence and the low profile that you maintain as a Christian, busy putting a cover over your light and in so doing extinguishing it? (Matt. 5:15). Walk in the light and let the light of God’s presence shine on you every day. A Christian is like a candlestick where the oil of the Holy Spirit is poured in and filled daily. The wick must also be cleaned regularly and all the soot removed. Take care that you are always full of the Holy Spirit and lead a pure life so that the Lord can use you. Let your loins be girded (ready for service) and your lamps be burning (the flame of faith, hope and love that burns bright) so that you can be sent to find lost sheep that have gone the wrong way.
The salt of the earth
We live in a morally and spiritually decaying world that is becoming worse as we approach the end (1 Tim. 4:1-2; 2 Tim. 3:1-5). It is a Christian’s duty to act like an antiseptic to the decay and not just accept the downward tendency. “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Eph. 5:11). We must keep ourselves without blemish and have nothing to do with the sinful things of the world. It is only when our hands are clean and our hearts are pure that we will have the openheartedness to appear in the sacred presence of the Lord and pray regularly for others.
We must have a spiritual openheartedness to enter onto the new living road to the throne of mercy, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb. 10:22). It is only when we are truly washed clean by the blood of the Lam and live by the power of the Holy Spirit that we can pray for others and constructively work against the decay. If we do not first remove the beam from our own eye, we will not be able to see well enough to identify the problems in the lives of other people and thus will not be able to help solve them.
An effective member of the Body of Christ
Every Christian has a definite calling and purpose in the kingdom of the Lord. We are not in competition with each other and should rather act in a complementary way toward each other, so that the body can function well and effectively pursue our main objective, which is the extension of the kingdom of God on earth. Do you serve and strengthen other members of the body of Christ through the special gifts and talents that the Lord has given you? If so, then you will not stand before the Lord one day with empty hands. (1 Cor. 3:15).
Only do your duty, especially in the areas that the Lord has made you qualified. A talent or gift is only improved through spiritual devotion (Bible study and prayer) and intensive use (constantly available for service). Many Christians are not mindful of this, thus the warning: “Do not be neglectful of the gift in you” 1 Timothy 4:14). We must endeavour to deliver quality service to the Lord and to each other especially in this time of permissiveness, prayerlessness and when discipline is not maintained: “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. And above all things have fervent charity (Love) among yourselves…..As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Pet. 4:7-10). This is the only way that the body of Christ can function well on earth.
A Tree that constantly bears fruit
All Christians are called to be spiritually productive and bear fruit that relates to repentance (Matt. 3:8). The Lord makes it possible for us achieve this goal. The righteous are “… like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” (Ps. 1:3). Such a life is made possible only through God’s mercy and His blessing: “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit” (Jer. 17:7-8).
The secret of a fruitful life, even in extremely difficult circumstances, is the rivers of water next to which the tree of our life is planted. The Lord Jesus Himself is the living water (John 6:35). His spiritual blessings are given to us through the Holy Spirit. Jesus said: “…If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)” (John 7:37-39). When we live a life that is Spirit filled, then the fruit of the Holy Spirit will thrive in our lives.
Many people’s lives are completely fruitless because they are far from the river of God’s mercy and thus do not benefit from it at all. They do not experience the warmth and care of His presence and conduct a deteriorating existence away from Him – without God and without hope in this world. In the drought and cold these trees lose their leaves and stand with branches stripped naked on the plain of loneliness, where they grab at comfortless air with long crooked fingers. They have a deep desire for a better life but do not know how to obtain it.
This is also the picture of the Christian who has fallen back. He knows of better days in his life and longs passionately for them to return. Someone described this situation in a poem: “Here where I stand beside you in the biting cold, o great tree, I hear how the winter wind roars through your naked branches; and in a crackling sighing way you call: Please give back to me my green leaves and glorious bloom!”
Turn back to the heavenly Farmer so that He can once again plant you on the banks of the river of His mercy where you can be rooted and grounded in His love. Then you will be like a garden that is well watered and that spreads the spring fragrance of blossoms everywhere (Isaiah 58:11). Even at a ripe old age will you continue to bear fruit: “Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; To shew that the LORD is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him. (Psalm 92:13-16).
A Sanctified Member Of The Bridal Congregation
The church of Christ is described as his bridal congregation (His bride). We must now, in this sinful world, be purified and sanctified so that we can be introduced without spot or wrinkle, to the heavenly bridegroom, at the bridal feast of the Lamb. The Lord makes this possible for us: “even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27).
Unfortunately not many Christians live consecrated and dedicated lives. They allow the devil mislead them into committing sin and to live lives that do not differ from the world by seeking riches, honour and glory. In the process they suffer much damage to their souls and heap much pain and suffering on themselves. Another of Satan’s traps that millions of Christians fall into is falling prey to false teachings and in so doing fall away from their sincerity toward Christ. Paul earnestly warns the congregation against spiritual decline:
“For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him” (2 Cor. 11:2-4).
What do these false presentations embrace by which the congregation of Christ become faithless and the message that they are to take to the world becomes corrupted?
● It is distorted presentations of Jesus where more emphasis is placed on signs and wonders than on spiritual blessings and the gift of rebirth and sanctification.
● It is distorted presentations of the Holy Spirit, by linking Him to absurd and unbiblical manifestations such as fits of laughter, drunkenness, making animal sounds and other experiences.
● It is distorted presentations of the gospel where the meaning of the cross and the blood of Jesus are renounced and sacraments and supernatural experiences are elevated to be the norm.
Through these falsifications Christians defile themselves spiritually and make themselves unworthy to be presented to the heavenly Bridegroom in the palace of the King. And your garment, have you prepared it and is it ready? John says: “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (Rev. 19:7-8). Will you be a member of this group?
“upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir… The king's daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework” (Psa. 45: 9, 13-14).
Live every day according to the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. The enabling power of the Holy Spirit is at your disposal. If you are prepared to humbly and obediently follow in Jesus’ footsteps, you will have confidence when He appears and will not go away ashamed at His return (1 John 2:28).