There are some truly hard teachings when you get into the Word of God. I think that the church skirts around these too often. For those of us pursuing the Father, we cannot set these aside.
Some of the hardest teachings are found in the Gospels. Many paint a picture of Jesus that is not Scripturally accurate. Too often He is painted as someone who will condone all sin in the name of love. I say “in the name of love” because that is what it is – what people name love, not what love truly is. Pure love does not condone sin. Those walking in the love of God do not condone sin. Walking in step with the Spirit means bearing fruit of repentance. It means walking the narrow road. It means standing up for truth despite the personal cost.
A perfect example, which has been on my heart lately, is found in Matthew 7. Let’s go through some of the hard verses.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matthew 7:13-14).
Are you willing to walk by the narrow road? Many in the church today cannot be distinguished from the world. Can you? Do you know Scripture? Do you know the teachings of Christ? Do you apply them? The gate to salvation is narrow – and the way hard – that leads to life; believers should not be expecting an easy life in this temporal existence. We are called to lay down all we have, all we are and all we desire, to follow Christ as He leads us.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:15-20)
Jesus tells us that we can recognise false prophets by their fruit. It is easy to get carried a way by a charismatic leader, or someone with strong giftings. Before you fly away on their words, pause and look at their character. First line up the fruit of their life to what Scripture says will be produced by those walking according to the Spirit. God can still use false prophets and teachers through their gifts, but we should not attempt to immolate their lives! And we must be very careful to discern what is good and sound, and what is erroneous, of their teaching.
How can you look into someone’s character? See how they respond to stress, or how they react when no one is looking – particularly the home life/ family. Consider what works of the flesh are apparent in their lives:
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)
Let’s see that list again through a modern translation (Galatians 5:19-20, Amplified Bible*):
Now the practices of the sinful nature are clearly evident: they are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality (total irresponsibility, lack of self-control), idolatry, sorcery, hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions [that promote heresies], envy, drunkenness, riotous behavior, and other things like these.
If the above are the fruit f the flesh, what is the fruit produced by someone walking according to the Spirit?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:122-23).
The passage in Matthew gets even tougher and should inspire godly fear in our hearts. Those walking with the Spirit and whose hearts seek God and seek Christ have nothing to fear, but those who preach the Gospel for self-gain, and walk according to the flesh should take note:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23)
Let us not worship God in word or deed only, but through our very being. We are to present our whole selves as a living sacrifice and walk contrary to the ways of the world.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)
How can we be wise? How can we produce good fruit? Get into the Word, reading it with the Spirit. Pray and ask God to help you to read and study the Bible. Ask Him to speak application to your heart. Don’t know where to start? Start with one of the Gospels – which follow the life of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Revelation is also a great book to see Jesus, our coming Conqueror; I hope to do a blog series on it soon.
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the 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)
May we be recognised as children of God by the fruits we produce.