What do your actions say about you? About your character? Do you say one thing, but yet do another? Do you say nice things to people but then blast them to others behind their backs? Do you tell people you love them, and then treat them with hate? Do you promise faithfulness, and yet remain unfaithful? Do you voice that you love God and yet you do not do what he says? If God speaks truth to your heart, do you remember it? And, then do you act upon it? Or, do you walk away and forget what He said?
Test the Spirits
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 1 John 4:1-3 ESV
We can tell a lot about our own characters (attitudes, beliefs, heart) by what we do, rather than by what we say, for we may lie to others and to ourselves. So, our words may not be a true test of who we really are. But, our actions speak louder than words, and they reveal to us what is truly in our hearts. They reveal our true character, which cannot be denied, if we are honest with ourselves in our own evaluations of our hearts and characters.
For instance, if I proclaim to love God, but then I don’t do, in practice, what his Word says I must do, what that says about me is that I don’t love him, but I just think I do. And, then if I do the opposite of what he says I must do, in practice, that says that I hate him, or at the very least that I have no regard for what he says, for I want to do what I want despite what his words say I must do. It definitely says that I am his enemy, for I oppose his word by my very actions and attitudes.
If I say, too, that I believe the Bible, and that I am a follower of Christ, but then I willfully forget what God’s Word says and I let his words fade to nothing in my heart, and instead I choose to follow after the wisdom of this world, then that says I do not honor, respect, value, revere, love or worship God. It says, instead, that I honor, value, and worship the flesh, including my own flesh. For, that is what I feed rather than feeding on the Word of God, and doing what it says I must do. Although I might claim to be in relationship with Jesus Christ, truly I am in relationship with myself, to please myself above all else, if I ignore God’s words and follow the flesh.
If I claim to worship God, i.e. to adore, respect, love, be devoted to, be faithful to, and dedicated to him, above all else, but I don’t do what he says, I don’t talk about him to others, I don’t sing his praises, and I don’t get excited about his Word and about obeying it (and Him), but instead I am devoted, dedicated, and am passionate about the people or the things of this world, and I sing their praises, or my own, then that tells God that I am not a worshiper of him but of self and of the flesh and the things of this world.
Basically, according to the Word of God (of truth), if I claim to have fellowship with God but by my lifestyle I still live to please the flesh, and to do what I want, despite what God’s Word says how I should live, then I am a liar and a hypocrite. I am still walking in darkness, and not in the light. I am still bound in my sins, not free in the Spirit. The chains are not gone, because I am still holding on to those chains, which is evident by how I live. Thus, I am not reconciled to God, delivered from slavery to sin, but I am God’s enemy, not his friend, if I live to please the flesh and not the Spirit.
Are we Overcomers?
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. 1 John 4:4-6 ESV
What have we to overcome? And, how do we overcome them? We have to overcome these spirits (our attitudes, hearts, characters) which are contrary to the Lord, to his Word, to his divine character, and to his will and purposes for our lives. And, our attitudes, hearts, beliefs and characters are revealed for what they really are by how we live our lives day in and day out, i.e. by what we do (our lifestyles), which includes the words we say, although our words can be deceptive, and are not always a true test of who we really are.
The way we overcome these wrong hearts, attitudes, and characters is first of all by being in genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. Many people claim to know Jesus, but they have never had a heart transformation of the Spirit of God. They have never been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. They are, thus, not truly born again of the Spirit of God, but they are still bound in their sins. So, they need to repent of their sins and turn to God to follow in his ways, and they need to yield their lives over to the Lord and allow his grace to transform their hearts anew.
You may have done that, though, and truly you have been turned from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that you have received forgiveness of sins. But, since that time you have slipped away from your pure devotion to Christ, and you have fallen back into some of your old destructive patterns. Or, you may be a new believer in Jesus Christ, but you are still dealing with some of those old attitudes and behaviors. The only way you overcome these is through the power of the cross of Christ in your lives, i.e. through dying with Christ to sin and living with Christ to righteousness – all in the power and working of God’s Spirit within you.
Making it Practical
Let me make a few suggestions here. I would suggest that you take an inventory of your actions. Who do you really listen to? Whose opinions do you respect? Whose words do you remember? And, which ones do you tend to follow the most? Who or what are you the most vocal about in the way of showing respect, honor and praise to your friends? Is it sports figures, preachers, movie stars, your spouse or God? What grabs your attention the most? Excites you the most? Gets your dedication and time the most? What are you most likely to see to the finish and to follow through on?
And, on the flip side of that, what or who most gets your lack of time and enthusiasm, devotion, commitment, heart, listening ear, following, faithfulness, vocal adoration, respect, attention, and follow-through? And, coupled with that, what or who gets most of your disregard, disdain, disapproval, and/or disrespect?
After you have answered these questions, and written down your answers, now go back and prayerfully evaluate what these answers say about your character, your relationship with God and with others? They will reveal what is truly in your heart which may need to be cleansed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Then, you may need to turn away from any wrong attitudes, forgive others, confess wrongdoing, tell the truth, and follow the Lord. Pull away, too, from what is leading you into sin, and bathe yourself with God’s Word, and then do what he says – all in the power of God’s Spirit within you.
Love Each Other
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:7-12 ESV
Then, put on love. This love is not human love, but it is God-like love, which prefers what God prefers, i.e. it prefers his righteousness, holiness, purity, faithfulness, honesty, and uprightness, etc. This kind of love does no harm to another. It does not take advantage of others, treat them abusively, or lie to them, manipulate or otherwise try to deceive them. It treats others with kindness, respect, honesty, and humility, etc. And, it treats God with honor, respect, submission, obedience, faithfulness, purity and surrender to his will. It puts God above all others, and it follows him and his counsel. And, it no longer walks in the ways of the flesh and of the world, but it walks in the ways of the Spirit to please God. And, this is where all of us should be.
Only Trust Him
John Hart Stockton
Come, ev’ry soul by sin oppressed
There’s mercy with the Lord,
And He will surely give you rest
By trusting in His Word.
For Jesus shed His precious blood,
Rich blessings to bestow;
Plunge now into the crimson flood
That washes white as snow.
Yes, Jesus is the Truth, the Way,
That leads you into rest;
Believe in Him without delay
And you are fully blest.
Only trust Him, only trust Him,
Only trust Him now;
He will save you, He will save you,
He will save you now.
Monday, February 26, 2018, 6:06 a.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for this teaching from your Word today. May we take it to heart, and follow you always.