Monday, October 21, 2013

Enemies To Your Faith – Part 2

In the first part of our series, we looked at one of the biggest enemies to our faith.  There we found that enemy to be our lack of knowledge or our ignorance when it comes to the word of God.  We found that our lack of knowledge was not due to the knowledge being hidden or being unavailable, but due to the rejection of knowledge.  Our rejection of knowledge coupled with our lack of knowledge has caused us to misplace our faith and our trust.  Instead of placing these things in God, we have actually placed them in man’s interpretation of who God is, what God is, what God does, and what God says.  We are instructed to test every spirit to see if that spirit be of God, but because we lack the necessary knowledge to perform the test, we have unknowingly subjected ourselves to false apostles and deceitful workers, who can transform themselves into the apostles of Christ and to Satan, who can transform himself into an angel of light.  God has instructed us to study, to investigate, to analyze, and to question his word, if necessary, so that we may be able to rightly divide the word of truth and get the revelation knowledge needed to strengthen our faith.  Our lack of knowledge or our ignorance when it comes to the word of God remains the biggest enemy to our faith.

Another enemy to our faith is our failure to act as if God’s word is true.  In other words, it is our disbelief in the word of God that prevents us from acting as if his word is true.  This brings to mind the story of the Israelites as they arrived at the promised land.

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Send thou men, that they may search (spy out) the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel: of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a ruler among them.  And Moses by the commandment of the Lord sent them from the wilderness of Paran: all those men were heads of the children of Israel (Numbers 13:1-3).

While they camped in the wilderness, God instructed Moses to send spies, one leader from each tribe, into the land of Canaan, the land that God promised to Israel.

And Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said unto them, Get you up this way southward, and go up into the mountain:  and see the land (what the land is like), what it is; and the people that dwelleth therein, whether they be strong or weak, few or many; and what the land is that they dwell in, whether it be good or bad; and what cities they be that they dwell in, whether in tents, or in strong holds; and what the land is, whether it be fat or lean (fertile or barren), whether there be wood therein, or not.  And be ye of good courage, and bring of the fruit of the land.  Now the time was the time of the firstripe grapes (Numbers 13:17-20).

Moses did as God instructed, sending twelve tribal leaders into the promised land.  He instructed them to see what the land was like; to see if the people there were strong or weak, small or great in number; to see if the land their dwell in was good or bad; to see whether the people lived in villages or in fortified walled cities; and to see if the land was fertile or not and if it was wooded or not.  He even told them not to be afraid to bring back samples of the crops that they saw.

And they returned from searching of the land after forty days.  And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land.  And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely (truly) it floweth with milk and honey (it has an abundance of food); and this is the fruit of it.  Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there.  The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan.  (Numbers 13:25-29).

We see that the spies returned after forty days and gave an account of what they had seen to Moses, Aaron, and all the children of Israel.  They said that the land was indeed magnificent, a land flowing with milk and honey.  They even showed the samples of crops they had brought back with them as proof.  Then they reported that the people that lived in the land were strong and powerful and the cites they lived in were very large and well fortified.  And they reported that they saw the sons of Anak, the Amalekites, the Hittites, the Jebusites, the Amorites, and the Canaanites.

And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess (take possession of) it; for we are well able to overcome it.  But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.  And they brought up an evil (bad) report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth (devours) up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature.  And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak (nephilim), which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers (insects), and so we were in their sight (Numbers 13:30-33).

But Caleb quieted the people, reassured them, and told them that they needed to go straight away and take possession of the land because they were well able to conquer it.  But it was the majority of the spies who convinced the Israelites that the people of the land were too strong and that they would be crushed should they try to take possession of the land.  They told the Israelites that the land was full of warriors and the descendants of the ancient race of giants, which made them feel as if there were but mere insects.

And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.  And all the children of Israel murmured (grumbled) against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!  And wherefore hath the Lord brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword (be killed in battle), that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?  And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.  Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces (prostrated themselves) before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel.  And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent (tore) their clothes:  and they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land.  If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.  Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us (food for our consumption): their defense (protection) is departed from them, and the Lord is with us: fear them not.  But all the congregation bade stone them with stones.  And the glory of the Lord appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel.  And the Lord said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke (despise) me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs (miraculous signs) which I have showed among them (Number 14:1-11)?

After all of that, the Israelites began to complain, doing this all night long.  They cried against Moses and Aaron saying that they wished they had died in Egypt or even in the wilderness.  They stated that God had brought them there to this land just to die by the sword.  They even thought their women and children would become slaves to the people of the land.  Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb tried to convince all of the children of Israel that God loved them, that God was with them, and not to go against the Lord.  They told them not to fear the people of the land because God would bring them safely into this wonderful land and give it to them.  They emphasized that the strength of the people in the land had been taken from them, that their protection was gone, and that they were bread for them, just mere food for their consumption.  Their unbelief was so great that the children of Israel thought it best to make a captain and return back to Egypt.  The Israelite children even talked of stoning them who tried to convince them to believe in the Lord, with stones.  But the proof is in the pudding so to speak.  In our case, the key to all of this is in what God spoke to Moses.  God asked Moses, How long will these people despise me, having not respect for me?  Will they never believe me, even after all of the miracles I have done among them and signs I have showed them?  Well we all know what happened next.

So, instead of acting on the promises of God, acting as if the word of God was true, they allowed their disbeliefs to prevent them from getting the land that God had promised them.  But do not think they were the only ones listed in the Bible that doubted the word of God and allowed their disbeliefs to prevent them from getting those things that God had promised.  There are many documented instances where individuals did not take God at his word.  This is not to say that these people never got the promises of God, because they did, but not until their unbelief changed and they acted upon the word of God.  This brings to mind the part of the story where the Israelites had arrived at the promised land for the second time.  This time around, the Israelites are a perfect example of acting on the word of God.  We know that eventually, they went across the Jordan and took possession of the land that God had promised to give them.  Therefore, by ridding themselves of their unbelief, in their case, the unbelievers, and then acting upon the word of God, the Israelites were able to receive all that God had promised them.

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.  For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding (observing) his natural face in a glass (mirror): for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.  But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed (what he does)(James 1:22-25).

Scripture clearly tells us that we are to be doers of the word and not just hearers of it.  He, who is a hearer only, is likened to a man who looks at his image in a mirror; once he walks away from the mirror, he cannot see himself anymore or remember what he looks like.  He has no memory of what he saw in the mirror.  But he, who constantly looks at the true and perfect law that makes men free, will not only remember it but he will also do what it says.  By not being a hearer only who has a short memory of what the word of God says to do, the doer will put into effect or act upon what the word says.  The doer, in acting upon what the word of God says, will be greatly blessed in everything that he or she does.

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a (the) rock:  and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a (the) rock.  And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:  and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it (Matthew 7:24-27).

Jesus tells us that everyone who hears his teachings and acts upon them will be like the wise man who builds his house on solid rock.  When the heavy rains fall and the floods rise and the storm winds beat against his house, his house will not be moved nor will it collapse because its foundation was based on the rock.  Jesus also tells us that those who hears his teachings and ignores them will be like the foolish man who builds his house on the sand.  When the heavy rains fall and the floods rise and the storm winds beat against his house, his house will collapse because its foundation was based on the sand and great will be its fall.

This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works.  These things are good and profitable unto men (Titus 3:8).

The scriptures instruct us who have our faith fixed on God and believed in God to be careful to do good deeds all the time, setting an example to do good actions.  Not only are these actions right, the actions will also bring results and will be profitable and useful to mankind.

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:  you must truly give all to Him with out any doubt.  Stop trying to give God a hand with the worries and cares you give him (I Peter 5:6-7).

We see here that if we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, that God, at the right time, will lift us up and set us on high.  But we have to let him have all of our worries and all of our cares.  God cares for us and he wants to take care of us, but we must stop trying to give God a hand and place all of our anxieties upon him.

Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left (remaining of) us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.  For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.  For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall (they shall not) enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world (Hebrews 4:1-3).

We are told to be on our guard, for the promise of God, the promise of being admitted into his rest, still stands, but for some of us, we may be on the verge of falling short and failing to get there at all.  The Good News was preached to us just as it was preached to them, the Israelites, but they did not profit from it because they did not mix it with their faith, for they showed disbelief.  They just did not believe it.  Because they did not believe, they did not act upon the word of God.  The Israelites refused to go into the land that God had given them.  By not believing in the word of God, by not mixing the word of God with their faith, they did not profit from what the word of God promised.  Only those who believe in God may enter into his rest.  It was God who said, I have sworn in my anger that those who do not believe me will never come into my rest, even though the works were finished from the time he made the world and he has been ready and waiting since that time.

Yes, that is right, our disbelief or unbelief in God’s word is a hindrance to our faith.  Just as the Israelites disbelief hampered them from acting on the word of God, our disbelief in the word of God works much the same way.  It prevents us from acting as if his word is true, which is just another one of the many enemies to our faith that we need to overcome.  (to be continued).

Enjoy your blessings. - KW

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