Articles from the Blog
And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. — Jude 1:23I don’t know about you, but I believe the word “hate” is a very strong word that should only rarely be used. When our children were young, Denise and I forbade our children to use this word. Even if we strongly disliked something or someone, we never allowed ourselves or our children to use the word “hate” to describe this strong dislike. It was simply too strong an expression to describe how we or our children felt about something or someone. But there is a proper time and place for hate! Jude 1:23 gives us an example of one of those times. It says, “…Hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” The word “hate” in this verse is taken from the word miseo. It is one of the strongest, fiercest words in the Greek New Testament. In fact, it is so strong that it actually carries the idea of a hatred that can turn violent. So when Jude tells us to “hate” the garments spotted by the flesh, he isn’t talking about a mere dislike of something; he is talking about a radical, violent aversion to something. The Greek word miseo is the same Greek word that is used in Revelation 2:6 and 2:15, when Jesus declares that He “hates” the deeds of the Nicolaitans. Because the word miseo is used in these verses, the Bible categorically tells us that Jesus had no taste for what the Nicolaitans were doing. In Jesus’ opinion, their deeds and teachings were repugnant, disgusting, revolting, repulsive, and nauseating. The Lord Jesus possessed a deep-seated aversion to their activities and found their deeds abhorrent. Now Jude uses this Greek word miseo in Jude 1:23 when he writes, “…Hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” There is no doubt about it. Jude is letting us know that we should have a strong aversion to sin — so strong that it allows absolutely no tolerance for sin in our lives or in the lives of other believers.
This part of verse 23 could be taken to mean:
“When it comes to sin in your life or in the lives of others, you should have no stomach for it at all. In fact, your feelings about sin should be so strong that you possess an aversion and repugnance to it…”Our aversion to sin should be so fierce that Jude says we are to hate “…even the garment spotted by the flesh.” The word “garment” (from the Greek word chiton) was used in ancient times to describe a person’s undergarment. You see, the outer robe may be changed to look fresh and clean while the undergarment remains just as dirty as ever! A new, clean robe may hide the truth that a person’s undergarment is filthy — but this disguise doesn’t alter the fact that he has a deeper problem to deal with! Sin isn’t just a superficial, outward problem. If we allow wrong attitudes and behavior to continue in our lives, this moral decay will eventually permeate deeper than the surface and penetrate even to the deepest, most hidden parts of our souls. The defilement may begin as an outward problem, the same way loose dirt can soil a man’s outer garment. But if this filth is never dealt with, it will begin to work its way through every area of a person’s life until he is completely defiled. When this happens, Jude says the person has been “spotted by the flesh.” The word “spotted” is the word spilos. It means to stain, defile, or contaminate. This person could have dealt with his moral problems before the problem got so serious. However, through neglect he allowed that filth to contaminate his entire life.
Thus, the second part of this verse conveys this idea:
“…And don’t just deal with the superficial issues of sin by cloaking yourself with a garment that hides the true picture. Be honest with yourself about your true situations. And be hard on sin, refusing to allow it access to the deeper parts of your life. If sin sinks that deep below the surface, it won’t be long until you are completely contaminated and affected by it.”It is imperative that we understand the consequences of sin and learn to hate even the smallest hint of its presence in our lives. If we don’t deal with sin while it’s still a small, superficial problem, it will become a much deeper problem — and much more difficult to deal with! So before you do anything else today, ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to those areas of your life that need attention and correction. He will lovingly point them out to you and then show you how to change!
My Prayer for TodayLord, help me see sin the way You see it so that I have no stomach for it in my life. I know that as long as I view sin only as a mistake or a weakness, I will be tempted to tolerate it. So I ask You to teach me to see sin exactly the way You do so my desire for change will grow. Holy Spirit, help me see the truth and know the proper steps I need to take in order to make those needed changes.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that I understand the consequences of sin and that I hate even the smallest hint of sin in my life. I will deal with sin while it is still a small, superficial problem so that it never becomes a much deeper problem. The Holy Spirit opens my eyes to those areas of my life that need attention and correction. He lovingly shows me what needs to change, and I willingly obey Him as He shows me how to change.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. Have you had any ongoing battles with particular sins? Make a list of the areas you’ve been struggling with, and be honest with yourself. 2. Have you asked the Lord to help you overcome and change in these areas of your life? 3. What can you begin to do differently that will help you walk free of these sins once and for all?
Now then we are ambassadors for Christ.… — 2 Corinthians 5:20Did you know that you have a high-ranking, esteemed, celebrated, impressive, and influential job in the Kingdom of God? It’s true! You are so important to the Kingdom of God that all of Heaven is standing behind you, just waiting to back you up, defend you, provide for you, help and assist you, and join forces with your actions of faith! In short, Heaven is just waiting to act on your behalf. Why? Because you are an ambassador for Christ to this world! In Second Corinthians 5:20, Paul wrote, “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ.…” The word “ambassador” comes from the Greek word presbeuo. It describes an ambassador or one who fulfills the duties of an ambassador. How wonderful that Paul would use this word to describe you and me! In New Testament times and in today’s world, the word “ambassador” has the same meaning. An “ambassador” can be defined as:
- An envoy sent to represent a nation to a foreign land.
- A diplomatic agent of the highest rank accredited to a foreign government or king.
- A representative temporarily sent to a foreign country to represent the king or country that sent him.
- An authorized messenger who has the power to make decisions and to represent the will of the government, nation, or king he represents.
- An official representative who is authorized to speak on behalf of his sender.
Paul’s words in Second Corinthians 5:20 therefore mean:
“We are sent forth and temporarily stationed here as the fully authorized representatives of Jesus Christ! As His ambassadors, we are here to be His voice and His will — a true representation of who He really is. As His official representatives sent here to do His business, we are fully backed up by all the power and resources of Heaven….”Don’t ever think that you are unimportant to the plan of God. You are an ambassador! You represent Jesus Christ to your family, to your place of employment, and to your neighborhood. You have been invested with royal powers, including the name of Jesus and the authority of His blood, and you may call upon Heaven to assist you at any given moment! All angelic powers and all the vast resources stored in the treasury of Heaven are available for your use when you are representing Heaven to this world! So wherever you go today and whatever you do, remember the One you are representing. If you need special help from above in order to represent the Lord in a positive way, remember that as an ambassador of Christ, all of Heaven is standing by to fully support you! As your day gets started, stop for a moment and think about who you really are in Jesus Christ. You are a royal ambassador for the King of Kings Himself!
My Prayer for TodayLord, I thank You for the tremendous privilege of representing You on this earth! Please forgive me for the times I have overlooked the honor of being a child of God. I am sorry for the moments when I’ve been negative about myself, talked badly about myself, and did not acknowledge who You have made me to be in Jesus Christ. Today I am asking the Holy Spirit to help me see and truly perceive that You have made me to be an ambassador in this world!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that I am important to the plan of God. I am an ambassador! I represent Jesus Christ to my family, to my place of employment, and to my neighborhood. I have been invested with royal powers, including the name of Jesus and the authority of the blood, and I may call upon Heaven to assist me at any given moment! All angelic powers and all the vast resources stored in the treasury of Heaven are available for my use when I am representing Jesus to this world!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. Have you ever viewed yourself as an ambassador of Jesus Christ? 2. Have you asked the Father to give you a revelation of your rightful place as an ambassador for Jesus Christ? 3. In what ways can you act as an ambassador for Jesus where you live and work?
“And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” —Revelation 2:12-17 (KJV)From the words of Christ in Revelation 2:12-17, it is clear that a very serious false doctrine — a spiritual infection — was being advanced in the Pergamum congregation by certain unnamed leaders. It only takes a few spiritual leaders getting off track to affect the longevity of a church. It is important to recall that physical infections begin at the microscopic level with a relatively small number of contagions and that many are often very treatable if they are addressed in their early stages. However, if they are left untreated, infections can quickly grow out of control and lead to serious physical complications or even death. In Christ’s words to Pergamum, it is clear that a spiritual disease had infected the church of Pergamum, but it was still in its early stages. The spiritual infection had entered the Pergamene church through a “few” church leaders whose influence in the congregation provided a platform from which they could spread their false teaching to fellow believers. Although their numbers were still small at the time Christ delivered His message to John on the island of Patmos, they were already in the process of multiplying inside the church — exactly like an infectious disease. If this multiplication was not stopped by the power of the Spirit, it would spread from one believer to another until it finally affected not just “a few,” but the entire congregation. Just as a physical infection can be stopped in its early stages from fully developing, Jesus was calling for the Pergamum congregation to hear what the Spirit was saying (Revelation 2:17) and immediately stop the spread of this infectious teaching.
Similarities Between the Human Body and the Local Church BodyIn First Corinthians 12:12-27, Paul likened the local church body to a physical body, and indeed there are many similarities. For instance, just as the human body exhibits distinct symptoms when an infection begins to spread, a local church will demonstrate many telling signs that a spiritual infection has begun to take root in its midst. Consider the many parallels that exist between a physical infection that has invaded a human body and a spiritual infection that has invaded a local church body.
- Physical infection can be defined as the injurious colonization in a human body by a foreign species that begins to utilize the host’s resources to assist in its own infectious multiplication. Once inside a human body, an infecting organism quickly begins to multiply inside its host. Normally, the human body has multiple systems of defense designed to protect the body from infection. But when the human body is physically weak, malnourished, or exposed to fatigue over a long period of time, the immune system is compromised, and the body becomes susceptible to infection. Ultimately, an infected person becomes contagious to others.
- Persistent infections occur when a body is unable to completely purge the harmful organisms after the initial infection. Such infections may appear to go into remission, but in actuality, the infectious organisms merely remain dormant in the body, fully capable of being reactivated if the immune system is weakened once again. For persistent infections to be eliminated from the body, serious, directed treatment is often required.
- Infection can be transmitted in a variety of ways, but the most common means is horizontal transmission, or the direct or indirect transfer of an infectious organism from one person to another. Transmission through direct contact may occur when a healthy individual comes into physical contact with an infected person’s body or bodily fluids. This can occur in numerous ways, but two very common causes of direct transmission are unprotected sexual contact and breathing air that has been contaminated by an infected person’s cough or sneeze.
- Infections can also be transmitted through indirect contact. This occurs when a person touches a physical object that an infected person has previously handled. Common examples would be actions as simple as touching the same furniture, doorknobs, or toys or sharing foods or liquids. Although a person may not directly contact an infected individual, environment alone can be sufficient to transmit infection in extremely contagious cases. In these instances, the germs can be so robust that they are able to survive outside the human body for long periods of time and still retain their infectious nature. This fact demonstrates the necessity to thoroughly cleanse and sanitize any areas, items, or people that have beenexposed to the environment of an infected person.
- The longevity of an infection is dependent on whether the infecting organism is transmitted from one person to the next. If this transmission is stopped, the infection is stopped. Therefore, it is essential to stop that transmission process.
- In order to stop an infection from being transmitted to others, an infected individual must be willing to undergo treatment. Even in the ancient world, medication was used to treat infected individuals. Although the medication may be distasteful and unwanted, it is absolutely necessary to annihilate the infecting organisms in order to stop the spread of disease to others.
- If an infection progresses to a point in a person’s body that medicine alone is no longer sufficient to stem its advance, the infected person may need to submit to a surgical procedure. As unwanted and painful as this step is, it may be the only way to stop the spread of disease to the entire body. Removal or surgical correction is never easy to endure, but this procedure may save the life of a person in that dire condition.
- In most cases, it is relatively simple to avoid an outbreak of infection by making minor adjustments to one’s lifestyle. For instance, germs thrive in unsanitary environments, so regularly cleansing one’s hands and making an effort to live in a clean, sanitary environmentare helpful in preventing infection. In addition, it is important to eat food that is well prepared, healthy, and clean since unhealthy, dirty food is often a major contributor to the transmission of infection.
- In the human body, some infections are easy to detect because they are accompanied by immediate symptoms, whereas others produce no symptoms until the infection has already spread inside its host. Bodily aches, tenderness to the touch, chills, fatigue, inflammation and fever, loss of appetite, nausea, pain, weight loss, and vomiting are all common, easily detectable signs of infection. These symptoms alert a person that a foreign entity has penetrated his body and is now multiplying inside.
I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. — John 14:18
Have you ever felt isolated or alone in this world? If you have, just remember — you are never alone! Imagine how alone the disciples felt when Jesus informed them that He would soon ascend to Heaven and leave them behind on the earth!What do you think the disciples felt when Jesus told them this? They must have wondered, What will life be like without Jesus? How will we continue without the Master walking right alongside of us? But it was time for Jesus to ascend to the Father and to take His place as our Great High Priest. It was natural for the disciples to feel sorrowful. To them, it must have seemed like the end of their wonderful encounter with the Lord and with the power of God. Living and walking with Jesus was more than they had ever hoped for in this world. With Jesus at their side, their lives had been filled with adventure, excitement, joy, victory, power, healings, and miracles. Feelings of insecurity and uncertainty would have been normal for any human beings who found themselves in the disciples’ position. They had grown dependent upon the physical, visible presence of Jesus — something we’ve never experienced and therefore cannot fully comprehend. The thought of Jesus leaving this earth probably made the disciples feel spiritually forsaken and abandoned. In the midst of these fears, Jesus promised His disciples, “I will not leave you comfortless…” (John 14:18). Today I want us to look at the word “comfortless” in this verse. It is taken from the Greek word orphanos, which is where we get the word orphan. In New Testament times, the word orphanos described children left without a father or mother. In today’s world, the word orphan has exactly the same meaning. It refers to a child who is abandoned due to the death or desertion of a father or mother. Once orphaned, the child is deprived of parental care, supervision, and protection — unless that child is placed in the custody of a blood relative or a new guardian who assumes a parental role in that child’s life. However, in New Testament times the word orphanos was also used in a broader sense to describe students who had been abandoned by their teacher. Just as children are dependent on their parents, these students were reliant on their teacher to teach them, to guide them, and to prepare them for life. But once the teacher abandoned them, they felt deserted, forsaken, discarded, and thrown away. In both cases, the word orphanos is used to carry the same idea, whether it refers to children abandoned by their parents or students discarded by their teacher. It gives the picture of younger, less educated, less knowledgeable people feeling deserted by those they trusted and looked to for guidance. Jesus was a spiritual father to the disciples. He knew they were completely reliant upon Him. They couldn’t make it on their own in the world without Him. This is why He promised them, “I will not leave you like orphans.”
Jesus’ words could be translated to express this idea:
“I will not leave you behind like orphans who have been deserted by their parents, nor will I desert you like an unfaithful teacher who walks out on his students and leaves them with no supervision or help.…”Jesus knew the disciples couldn’t make it on their own in the world. That’s why He sent the Holy Spirit into the world to be their new Guardian and Teacher. You can’t make it on your own in this world either — but you don’t have to, because Jesus did not abandon you! He did not desert you, walk out on you, or throw you away. When He ascended to the Father, He sent the Holy Spirit to care for you, to guide you, and to teach you. Jesus did not leave you as an orphan in this world! So meditate on this truth today, and let it sink deep into your heart: I’m not alone! I’m not a spiritual orphan. Jesus has given me the Holy Spirit to comfort, guide, counsel, and strengthen me in every situation of life!
My Prayer for TodayLord, I thank You that I am not a spiritual orphan in this world. You didn’t abandon me or leave me to figure out everything on my own. You sent the Holy Spirit to be my Teacher and Guide. So right now I open my heart wide to the Holy Spirit, so He can be the Helper You sent Him to be in my life. I give You thanks for sending this divine Helper, and I ask You to teach me how to lean upon Him more and more in the course of my life.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI boldly declare that the Holy Spirit is my Helper, my Teacher, and my Guide. Everything Jesus did for the disciples, the Holy Spirit now does for me. He leads me, He teaches me, and He shows me everything the Father wants me to know. I am not a spiritual orphan! I am a child of God who is fully befriended, indwelt, empowered, and led by the Spirit of God.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. Can you think of a critical moment in your life when you felt abandoned and alone and turned to God for comfort and support? 2. What are some of the ways the Father has comforted you in the past? 3. Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to be your Comforter, Strengthener, and Guide?
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us.… — Hebrews 12:1Your biggest potential enemy in life (besides your own wrong thinking and the devil himself) is the environment in which you live. For instance, if you constantly live in an atmosphere of doubt and unbelief, it’s just a fact that you’ll have a much more difficult time maintaining a walk of strong faith. That doubt-filled environment will try to rub off on you! It’s just a fact that your environment tends to affect you and the way you think. For example, if you used to smoke or if you used to have a drinking problem, it’s obviously not a smart idea for you to hang around smokers or drinkers — unless, that is, you want to be influenced to return to your old habits. Hanging around people who still do these things may lure you to pick up a cigarette to take a smoke or to allow yourself one more small drink. However, those little allowances may possibly be the very hook that the devil uses to drag you back into the bondage from which Jesus Christ already delivered you. That’s why it’s vital for you to understand that the environment surrounding you is very important! With this in mind, look at the phrase “…the sin which doth so easily beset us….” What kind of sin is this verse talking about? The words “so easily beset us” are from the Greek word euperistatos, a compound of three words: eu, peri, and statos. Let’s look at all three of these words. The word eu usually means well, but in this case it carries the idea of something that feels well or something that is comfortable. The Greek word peri means around or being completely surrounded. The word statos is from the root word istimi, meaning to stand. When these three words are compounded, the new word describes something that comfortably stands all around you, such as a comfortable environment.
So this phrase in Hebrews 12:1 could be understood to say:
“…Lay aside the sin and the environment that so comfortably envelops you….”Sometimes in order to make necessary changes in your life, you must physically remove yourself from an unprofitable situation. If you’re not strong enough in your faith to stay there without being affected, you need to get up and get out of that unbelieving, negative environment — the one you’ve been comfortably living in for a long, long time. If you’re not strong enough to overcome it, it will unquestionably try to reach out and drag you back into your old behavior again. If God’s admonition to lay aside every weight applies to you, then obey Him and make a break from that unhealthy environment! Perhaps old friends, old places, or wrong believing are trying to exert a bad influence on you and you’re not resisting that influence too well. If that’s the case, get out of there! For you, that environment is sin if it keeps you from fulfilling your potential in Jesus Christ. Be honest as you consider your workplace, your friends, and your living conditions. Ask yourself, Is this environment conducive to my walk in Christ, or is it dragging me back down into the mire I was delivered from? Your friends and your job are not so important that you should let them destroy your spiritual life. If you cannot successfully handle the environment you’re in, get out of there. Then watch the Lord provide a better job and better friends than you’ve ever had in your life! Your Christian life is serious business. Don’t let your environment fill you with doubt and knock you out of your spiritual race! If you can’t handle your environment victoriously, initiate a plan of action to change it today!
My Prayer for TodayLord, I want to stay in an environment that will keep my faith alive and strong. Help me recognize those relationships and places I should avoid to keep my faith from being negatively affected. As You show me places, people, and things I should avoid, give me the strength I need to do what is right — and give me the wisdom I need to know how to avoid those places and people!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that I will physically remove myself from unprofitable situations that are not positive for my faith. I make the choice to get up and get out of unbelieving, negative environments that tend to pull me down. I am laying aside every weight, and I am making a break from all unhealthy environments! With God’s help, I make right choices and right friends. I do everything I can to stay in environments that help me keep my faith alive and well.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!