Monday, December 12, 2022

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In this blog, I provide encouragement and biblical teaching on seeking the Lord with all your heart, loving Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and living a life of holiness, righteousness, and truth.

As the Scripture says:

'You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jer 29:13)

And "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Mat 7:13-14)

Some of the topics covered include seeking the Lord, prayer, worship, tithing, inquiring of the Lord, hearing His voice, obedience, grace, godly attire and adornment, sanctification, consecration, backsliding, repentance, brokenness, suffering, humility, the fear of the Lord, the role of the commandments for the disciple of Christ, and the conditions of the New Covenant.  I hope this will be an edifying and encouraging experience for you that will help you to grow in your walk with the Lord.

Seeking the Lord Striving to Enter the Kingdom of God Holy Fire Baptism
Lifting Your Face in Prayer Lifting Hands in Prayer Crying Out to God Loudly
Pressing on Toward the Goal Taking Heaven by Force God Exalts the Humble and Brings Down the Proud
Whom Are You Seeking? Should you fear the Lord? Is a Woman's Hair Her Head Covering?
Aim for Perfection Obedience by the Spirit Is Obedience Optional?
Salvation with Fear and Trembling Holy Living in a Perverted World Drifting Away
The Cost of Discipleship Deleted Scriptures in the Bible? Is Tithing Required?
Where Should You Give Your Tithe? Walking in the Perfect Will of God Avoid Becoming a Corrupted Christian
The Obedience of Faith Did Jesus Nail the Law to the Cross? Law of Love in the New Testament
The New Covenant Law of Love in the New Testament The Law Fulfilled in Us
The Law Established Through Faith Costly Grace The Law of Christ
The Eyes of the Lord Garments of Godliness The Three Elijahs
The Burning Ones The End Has Come Now, But Not Yet
The Happy Hunters on Fire You're Better Off Following Jesus God Chooses the Weak Things 
The Beauty of Brokenness Seeing Jesus, Loving Him, Character and Glory Hearing the Lord's Voice
Hearing the Lord's Voice Inquiring of the Lord Praise the Lord!
The Loving God Who Bids Us to Come One thing Righteousness, Peace, and Joy
Is the the Self-Help and Actualization Movement a Sham? From Self-confidence to Confidence in the Lord The Self-Help Gospel
Checklist for Revival God Has Not Rejected His Jewish People, Has He? The Fiery Sufferings of the Believer
The Flaming Sword Clean Hands and a Pure Heart The Spirit of the Law
Keeping Your Body Pure and Holy An Open Mind that Loves the Truth Carrying Your Cross or Cross Dressing?
Is Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth? The Apostasy Parables

The Top Ten Things Jesus Taught
The Disciples’ Prayer Is Tolerance a Virtue? Righteousness by Faith not Law
Life is Short. Eternity is Not. Noah's Ark a Type of Christ Grace, Mercy, and Peace
Ultimate Accountability Separation from the World The Knowledge of the Holy
The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness Ask for the Ancient Paths Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven
The Straight and Narrow Path Unhealthy Competition A Peculiar People
Listen to Jesus, Who Upholds Moses and the Prophets Hope for You

Beware of Philosophy and Empty Deception
The Love of Jesus The Difference Between a Disciple and a Believer Having a Servant's Heart
Avoiding Worldly Worship Purge the Evil from Among You Who is God?
Living a Life Worthy of the Lord Praying for the Lord Jesus Who is God? - Part II
The Way, Will, and Word of God Overcomers in This Life The Afflictions of the Righteous
Saints Alive in Jesus Bowing Low in Worship Repentance That Leads to Life
Keeping a Good Conscience Remember Lot’s Wife Called to be Blameless
If -- A Picture Paints a Thousand Words The Lord Will Rejoice Over You The Nature of Persecution
The Wardrobe of the Saints Filled Up to All the Fullness of God Loving Deeply
Seeking Glory from God Amazing Grace God's Sovereign Plans and Purposes
Abominations in the Sight of God Identification with Christ Alabaster Jar
Running from God Forgetting the Past Was Jesus Seeker Friendly?
God's View of Public Bathing Is Secular Music for Christians? Ignorance is Not Bliss
In the Yolk of Christianity Songs of the Holy Fire Known by God
Modern Day Idols Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God Walking in Truth, Righteousness, and Holiness
Escaping from Dead Religion Living Sacrifices in Consuming Fire God's Amazing Plan for Your Life
Your Identity in Christ Having the Love of God in Your Heart Knowing the Lord
Following in His Steps Our God is an Awesome God! Hide and Seek with God
Belonging to the Lord No Turning Back David, A Man After God's Own Heart
Living on Earth as They Do in Heaven Chosen for Obedience The Ironies Between Jesus and Barabbas
Dedication to God Keep Your Lamp Burning The Holy Fire Series
The Active Nature of Faith Why God Hides His Face Only What's Done for Christ Will Last
Praying Heart-Prayers Trembling at His Word Seeking Him in the Wee Hours of the Night
If My People Who Are Called by My Name The Flesh vs the Spirit The Sin of Sodom
Christian Perfection The Timeless Beauty of Holiness Stay at Home and Seek the Lord (COVID Quarantine)
Global Prayer Meeting Sins of Ignorance Sins of Omission
What We Should Always Be Doing The "Never" Promises to Sinners The "Never" Promises to the Righteous
Things You Should Never Do Things God Will Never Do The Throne of God
Peter and the Rooster: A Call to Watch and Pray The Fruit Test of a Genuine Disciple Black and White

Our gift of these articles by Len Lacroix is made possible in part by your gracious support of the ministry. Partner with us online.  You may also access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. "Seek My Face" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist. 

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

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Doulos Missions International now offers discipleship training online through the Doulos Training School (DTS).  Please visit the DTS online at Doulos Training School to find out more about how you or someone you know can participate.
___________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org. Partner with us online by giving to DMI.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Black and White

The popular trend these days is for everyone to dress in black. Some people even dress all in black. They may have black trousers, a black shirt, a black tie, and a black sport jacket. Others may wear black pants, 
a black hat, and a black T-shirt. While this may be very popular, even among Christians – and even pastors --  is this the way in which the holy people of God should dress, or is it worldly?
 
After all, one of the distinguishing characteristics of Satanists, witches, and Gothic people is that they dress in black. And when you consider the main color of Halloween, the evil holiday that celebrates darkness and death, it is the color black. Black clothing represents death and mourning, which is why people (like widows) dress all in black at funerals. I think the reason why it is so popular these days to dress in black is because we live in a culture that loves death, darkness, and evil.
 
Since there seems to be confusion about this matter in the Church today and compromise among so many that think the way we dress does not matter at all to God, let’s do a study in the Word to see whether this has any importance at all to Him. This is in no way meant to have any relevance to one’s race or skin color, but rather to the clothing we wear.
 
Light and Darkness, Day and Night:
Listen to what the Scriptures say about light and darkness, as well as day and night.

“And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light 'day,' and the darkness he called 'night.' And there was evening, and there was morning--the first day.” (Gen 1:3-5)
 
“No one could see anyone else or leave his place for three days. Yet all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived..” (Exo 10:23)
 
"The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.” (Luk 16:8)
 
"'Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light.' When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.” (Joh 12:36)

"...and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light." (Col 1:12)
 
“The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” (Rom 13:12)
 
“for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” (1Th 5:2).
 
You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.” (1Th 5:5)
 
“For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night.” (1Th 5:7)
 
“As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.” (Joh 9:4)
 
“It is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light." (Joh 11:10)
 
“As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.” (Joh 13:30)
 
“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” (1Jn 1:5)

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." (Jas 1:17)

"...who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen." (1Ti 6:16)
 
“If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.” (1Jn 1:6)
 
“But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1Jn 1:7)
 
“Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true Light is already shining.” (1Jn 2:8)
 
“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.” (1Jn 2:9)
 
“Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.” (1Jn 2:10)
 
“But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.” (1Jn 2:11)
 
“But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Mat 6:23)
 
“But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Mat 8:12)
 
"Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'” (Mat 22:13)
 
“And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'” (Mat 25:30)
 
“Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness.” (Luk 11:34)
 
See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.” (Luk 11:35)
 
“Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour--when darkness reigns." (Luk 22:53)
 
The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” (Joh 1:5)
 
“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” (Joh 3:19)
 
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’" (Joh 8:12)
 
“Then Jesus told them, 'You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going.'” (Joh 12:35)
 
I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” (Joh 12:46)
 
"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Mat 5:14-16)

"The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day." (Pro 4:18).

"Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear." (Mt 13:43).
 
Black
While some black animals like the rat, the black vulture and the bat have an evil (or negative) connotation in our minds, the white dove is always considered a symbol of peace and of the Holy Spirit. In the same way, the man wearing the black hat is considered the evil villain and the man in the white hat is the good guy, at least in the movies. Listen to what the Scriptures say about the color black:
 
“These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them.” (2Pe 2:17)
 
“They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.” (Jud 1:13)

Blackness and darkness are associated with judgment, such as when the Lamb opens the sixth seal, and the sun turns black like sackcloth made of goat hair." (Rev 6:12; cf. Matt 24:29)

The collage below that I created shows various people dressed in black, all of whom are either Christian pastors, worship leaders, musicians, or vocalists. You may recognize Guy Penrod, former Hillsong pastor Sam Collier, apostate pastor Rick Warren, and Michael W. Smith, as well as disgraced Hillsong pastors Brian Houston, and Carl Lentz among them. It seems that these days there is only one color for such people to dress in any more, and that is black. It's a sign of the times. 


Notice also how most of the backgrounds behind them are dark, too. We've noticed the same trend in the way some church sanctuaries are designed today with black ceilings, dim lighting, and a dark atmosphere. For more examples, hit mute on your speakers, and quickly jump through this video, this video, this video, this video, this video, this video, this video, this video, this video, this video, this video, this video, this video, this video, this video, and this video. In these videos of top Christian performers Philips, Craig, and Dean, Mercy Me, Hillsong Worship, Chris Tomlin, Jeremy Camp, Phil Wickham, Jason Ingram, Jenn Johnson, Amy Grant, Michael W Smith, and Casting Crowns, notice the black clothing of the lead singers, as well as their ensembles and the backdrops around them. 

Other examples not shown here include Third Day, Newsboys, Darlene Zschech, William McDowell, Leeland, Matt Redman, Toby Mac, Cody Carnes, Michael Tate, Steven Curtis Chapman, Kari Jobe, CeCe Winans, Kenny J. West, Zauntee, Paul McClure, Passion, Building 429, Audio Adrenaline, DC Talk, Cory Asbury, Mandisa, Nichole Nordeman, Newsong, Jon Reddick, Matt Maher, Big Daddy Weave, Kirk Franklin, Needtobreathe, and Bethel Music. The list goes on and on. Is it just a coincidence? I think not. I see a dark theme.
 
White
Now let's see what the Scriptures say about the color white, especially white clothes:

“There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.” (Mat 17:2)
 
“His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.” (Mar 9:3)
 
“His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.” (Rev 1:14)
 
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.” (Rev 2:17)
 
“Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.” (Rev 3:4)
 
He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.” (Rev 3:5)
 
“I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.” (Rev 3:18)
 
“Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads.” (Rev 4:4)
 
Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed.” (Rev 6:11)
 
“After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.” (Rev 7:9)
 
“Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robes--who are they, and where did they come from?" (Rev 7:13)
 
“I answered, "Sir, you know." And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Rev 7:14)
 
“I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one "like a son of man" with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand.” (Rev 14:14)
 
Fine linen, bright (white) and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)” (Rev 19:8)
 
“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war.” (Rev 19:11)

“The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.” (Rev 19:14)
 
“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.” (Rev 20:11)
 
Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil.” (Ecc 9:8)

For more on this, also see Righteous Deeds and White Robes.
 
Closing Words
God is light, who dwells in unapproachable light, and in Him is no darkness at all. He is the Father of the heavenly lights. Likewise, Jesus is the Light, the radiance of God's glory, whose face is like the sun shining in all its brilliance. He sits on a great white throne and rides a white horse, The angels are dressed in white, and so are the twenty-four elders, the martyrs, and the rest of the saints in glory. The Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus do not dress in black, and neither do the saints in heaven. However, the devil, his demons, and those who follow them, like satanists, witches, Gothic people, Druids, and other Luciferians, do dress in black and prefer black. They are of the darkness. So why should the people of God, who are sons of light, be dressed like them? Shouldn’t we avoid even the appearance of evil, as the Word tells us to do 
(1 Thes 5:22)

Those who would go to heaven must begin their heaven now. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the righteous must always wear white clothing. We are not making this into a rule or a law and creating some kind of cult. We are not saying it is a sin to wear black clothing. But in my opinion, based on the Scriptures, wearing black should generally not be the preferred way for the people of God to dress.

Rather those who love to dress in black should ask themselves why they are drawn to copy this worldly fashion, in light of what I've plainly laid out here from Scripture. They should pray and ask the Lord to show them why, and to remove every desire from their hearts that is displeasing to Him, including the sin of worldliness. They should wash their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. They should ask to buy from Him white clothes to wear, so they can cover their shameful nakedness. They should seek to separate themselves from the world, and not be led astray by what the world is doing, which is a sign of the times. Any changes they make should be done out of love for God. If they want to be sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty, this is what He requires, and He says they must purify themselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
 
Therefore, "Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." And, "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. (2Co 6:17-18; 7:1)

Attribution Notice: The photo of lead singer for German Christian worship group called Outbreakband (OBB). You may find the worship video here and their website here. The image in the closing is that of  Christian music artists Shawn Craig and Randy Philips of Philips, Craig, and Dean performing on Trinity Broadcasting. This photos are all used per the Fair Use Act for educational and commentary purposes only. All Scriptures are taken from the New International Version (NIV), copyright Zondervan, used by permission, all rights reserved.


Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org 

The Fruit Test of a Genuine Disciple

Dear God Seekers,

We are living in the last days when men call darkness light and light darkness. We live in a generation when grace is used as a license for sin, and the false doctrine of eternal security is preached around the world. The lines that separate good from evil have intentionally been blurred by the enemy, so that many have entered into compromise and are not longer on the narrow path that leads to life, but are on the wide road that leads to destruction.

Our Lord taught us to test the fruit of those who claim to be His, in order to determine if they are genuine disciples or not. His original words referred to false prophets, but the same is true of disciples in general. He said:

"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Mat 7:15-21)

That being said, the apostle John's first epistle gives us several examples of fruit tests, which prove whether a person is either a genuine disciple or not. 

Test That Reveals Bad Fruit
Let's begin with John’s fruit test showing the conditions proving someone is not a genuine believer:

Walking in Darkness
"If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth." (1Jn 1:6)

Claiming to be without Sin
"If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." (1Jn 1:8)

If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. (1Jn 1:10)

Disobedience to God
"The man who says, 'I know him,' but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him." (1Jn 2:4)

Hating Your Brother
"Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness." (1Jn 2:9)

"But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him." (1Jn 2:11)

"Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. " (1Jn 3:15)

"If anyone says, 'I love God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen." (1Jn 4:20)

Not Loving Others
"Anyone who does not love remains in death." (1Jn 3:14b)

"Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." (1Jn 4:8)

Denying the Son
"No one who denies the Son has the Father;" (1Jn 2:23a)

Continuing to Sin
"No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him." (1Jn 3:6)

Doing What is Sinful
"He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work." (1Jn 3:8)

Not Doing What is Right
"This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother." (1Jn 3:10)

Loving the World or Anything in the World
"Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." (1Jn 2:15)

Speaking from a Worldly Viewpoint
"They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them." (1Jn 4:5)

Not Listening to Us, the Apostles, the Word, or the Truth
"We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood." (1Jn 4:6)

Not Continuing in the Teaching of Christ
"Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God..." (2Jn 1:9a)

Summary
The man who walks in darkness, who claims to have no sin, who hates his brother, who does not love, who doesn’t listen to the truth, the Word, the apostles, and others who are truly from God, but listens to the world, who loves the world or anything in the world, who does not continue in the teaching of Christ, who does not do what is right, who keeps on sinning, and does not do what the Lord commands, does not have God, is a liar, is not a child of God, is of the devil, is from the world, is self-deceived, has the spirit of falsehood, is blind, does not know where he is going, speaks from the viewpoint of the world, and remains in death. Such a person does not live out the truth, the truth is not in him, the Word is not in him, and eternal life is not in him. It doesn’t matter if he claims to love God, to know the Lord, and have fellowship with Him, because he does not know God (1 Jn 1:6,10; 2:4,9,11,15,23a; 3:6,8,10,14-15; 4:5-6,8,20; 2Jn 1:9a).

Test That Reveals Good Fruit
Now let's examine John’s fruit test showing the conditions proving someone is in fact a genuine believer:

Walking in the Light
"But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." (1Jn 1:7)

Confessing Our Sins
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1Jn 1:9)

Keeping His Commands
"We know that we have come to know him if we keep His commands." (1Jn 2:3)

Obeying His Word and Living as Jesus Did
"But if anyone obeys His word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did." (1Jn 2:5-6)

Continuing in the Teaching of Christ
"Whoever continues in the teaching [of Christ] has both the Father and the Son." (2Jn 1:9b)

Loving One Another
"Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble." (1Jn 2:10)

"We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers." (1Jn 3:14a)

"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God." (1Jn 4:7)

"No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." (1Jn 4:12)

Doing the Will of God
"The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." (1Jn 2:17)

Doing What is Right
"If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him." (1Jn 2:29)

"Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous." (1Jn 3:7)

Acknowledging the Son
"Whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also." (1Jn 2:23b)

Cannot Go On Sinning
"No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God." (1Jn 3:9)

Listening to Us, the Apostles, the Word, or the Truth
"We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood." (1Jn 4:6)

Acknowledging That Jesus is the Son of God
"If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God." (1Jn 4:15)

Please note that this verse cannot be understood out of context with the rest of John's epistle, as explained throughout this entire article.

Believing That Jesus is the Christ
"Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well." (1Jn 5:1)

Summary
The man who walks in the light, as He is in the light, who confesses his sins, who keeps the Lord’s commands, who obeys His Word, who does not continue to sin, who lives as Jesus did, who continues in His teaching, who loves the Father, who loves Jesus, who loves his neighbor as himself, and who acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, and who believes that He is the Christ, has God’s seed remaining in him, has fellowship with the Lord, has been born of God, knows God, is from God, lives in God, has passed from death to life, has the Spirit of Truth, listens to the apostles and those who are from God, is in Christ, is purified by His blood from all unrighteousness, and is righteous just as He is righteous. God’s love is made complete in him, and God lives in him (1 Jn 1:7,9; 2:3,5-6,10,17,23b,29; 3:7,9,14a; 4:6-7,12,15; 5:1).

Closing Words
Dear friends, John was very clear in his epistle, as He wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He drew the lines in a very definite way between those who are genuine disciples of Christ and those who are not. He did not leave any gray area in between, but made it very black-and-white, and showed that you are either a true follower of Christ or you are not. Therefore, do not be deceived by the watered-down message, which is not the true gospel, that says once you are saved, you are always saved (regardless of how you live), or by those who preach the hyper-grace message devoid of the need for obedience to God. May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance.

Attribution notice: All Scriptures are taken from the New International Version (NIV1984), copyright Zondervan, used by permission, all rights reserved.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy Black and WhiteSins That Will Keep You From HeavenDrifting AwayIs Obedience Optional?The Apostasy ParablesHoly Living in a Perverted WorldAim for PerfectionWalking in the Perfect Will of GodThe Straight and Narrow PathStriving to Enter the Kingdom of GodAsk for the Ancient PathsLiving a Life Worthy of the LordSeparation from the WorldThe Difference Between a Disciple and a Believer, and Doing What is Right. You can find more of my articles related to Seeking the Lord on the Home page of this blog. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." Now I'd like to ask a very important question.


Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org

Monday, January 10, 2022

Peter and the Rooster: A Call to Watch and Pray

We are all familiar with the passage in the gospels where Peter denies Christ despite his emphatic declaration of loyalty and fidelity to Jesus.

"Peter declared, 'Even if all fall away, I will not.' 'Truly I tell you,' Jesus answered, 'today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.' But Peter insisted emphatically, 'Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.' And all the others said the same." (Mar 14:30 -31).

Peter and the Rooster
Let's compare and contrast the rooster with Peter, because in doing so we can learn a valuable spiritual lesson. In h
is article called Why Do Roosters Crow on the website Chicken Scratch, Joseph Hudson writes: 

“As with a vast majority of seemingly-strange animal behavior, one of the primary motivations for roosters to crow is to attract a mate. While our human ears struggle to detect any nuances between calls, scientists have analyzed the crows of distinct roosters and found that each rooster has a slightly different crow.

Thus, many researchers have concluded that the slight changes between each rooster are used as a method of impressing potential mates and out-gunning competing roosters.

The number of changes is extensive. Many roosters like to introduce a warbling effect into the calls as a sign of complexity and health. Further, the length of the song itself will vary between animals. While a rooster’s crow may seem arbitrary to many listeners, they are playing a distinct and repeatable song.

Depending on the rooster, this repetition may occur as often as every two minutes, or as infrequently as every ten. While the studies have not been wholly conclusive, it appears that hens tend to be more quickly attracted to roosters that exhibit longer and more complex songs.

Beyond the complexity of the call, there is also a much simpler variable: volume. One of the key differences in the crows of different roosters is how long they can become. While not always true, a larger rooster can typically produce a higher maximum volume compared to a smaller specimen. Thus, exhibiting a higher volume is a means by which roosters can brag about their size, strength, and health.

This effect is amplified when multiple roosters are within the hearing range of each other. When placed in the vicinity of another rooster, roosters tend to increase the volume of their crowing. This often results in a kind of competition between the males, resulting in a back-and-forth battle with increasing volume each round.

In extreme instances, agitated roosters have been known to damage their lungs or vocal cords in an attempt to out-shine another rooster. They are liable to become so engrossed in outperforming the other, and winning the affection of a mate, that they forget any self-preservation instincts and overwork themselves. While they typically recover from these episodes, the damage can sometimes be permanent.”

Hudson also states in his article:

“Unlike hens, which are primarily communal and docile animals, roosters are fiercely territorial. Thus, marking their territory is one of the primary reasons why a rooster may crow. In any given community, there will be much fewer roosters than hens. Hens often outnumber their male equivalents by over a hundred to one.

Therefore, roosters are allowed to rule a fairly large range of territory. A typical rooster will lay claim to an area of roughly an acre. It considers this range to be its property and will become disturbed if its land is intruded on by another male bird.

Crowing for territorial reasons takes on two forms. A rooster will often seek to remind other birds in the area that a certain portion of land is its territory. This is generally the function of the ‘alarm clock’ morning crowing that roosters are so well known for. When crowing for this reason, a rooster will attempt to find the highest perch possible.

Normally, this will be a tree or fence post. Then, the rooster will project out into its territory. This call normally resembles its mating song, but with even more embellishments added. In fact, territorial marking will often have the secondary effect of attracting a mate.” 

Now consider Peter in the courtyard warming himself among the soldiers with servant girls around. Peter and the soldiers are likened to the roosters and the females are likened to the hens. His protests and denials of being associated with Christ are like the rooster’s crows to mark out its territory. It’s as if Peter is saying, “This is my territory. I do not know Him. I’m not from Galilee.” Just as there is “a kind of competition between the male (roosters), resulting in a back-and-forth battle with increasing volume each round,” likewise, each one of Peter’s denials seemed to increase in intensity like a crescendo. 

Consider how “agitated roosters have been known to damage their lungs or vocal cords in an attempt to out-shine another rooster. They are liable to become so engrossed in outperforming the other, and winning the affection of a mate, that they forget any self-preservation instincts and overwork themselves. While they typically recover from these episodes, the damage can sometimes be permanent.” And consider how Peter became so agitated that he hurt himself spiritually in his attempts to prove he was not Christ’s disciple. 

In Mark's gospel it states:

"While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him. 

'You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,' she said. 

But he denied it. 'I don't know or understand what you're talking about,' he said, and went out into the entryway. 

When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, 

'This fellow is one of them.' Again he denied it. After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, 

'Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.' 

He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, 'I don't know this man you're talking about.'

Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: 'Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.' And he broke down and wept."(Mar 14:66-72)

You can clearly see the crescendo of denial that reaches its climax when Peter even called down curses on himself and swore to them that he didn't know the Lord. Like a rooster, who becomes engrossed in outperforming the others, Peter was so caught up in not wanting to be seen before them as a follower of Christ, that he forgot any self-preservation instincts and overworked himself to the point of doing permanent damage to his spirit that could only be healed by the Lord.

Consider how the rooster that night had only crowed once by the time Peter had already denied the Lord three times. Roosters typically crow once every two minutes or as infrequently as every ten minutes. Therefore, the time between the rooster’s two crows that night would have been between two and ten minutes. During that short space of time, Peter had already denied the Lord three times, just as the Lord said he would do. As if Peter was in some sort of competition, he outgunned the crow and got out three vehement denials of Christ in that short space of time before the rooster even had a chance to get out a second crow.

In Matthew, Luke, and John’s gospels, they record the Lord saying, “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown Me three times.” That would have a different meaning than if He had said, "Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times." Roosters start to crow two hours before the onset of light. This is called anticipatory predawn crowing. Therefore if the Lord had said that Peter would disown him three times before the rooster crows today, that would indicate the imminence of Peter's denial of the Lord, which would even occur a couple of hours before dawn; whereas the statement that he would deny the Lord three times before the rooster crowed twice connotes the quickness with which he would deny the Lord three times in such a very short time span. 

But whether the Lord said the rooster would crow today or the rooster would crow twice, the analogy between Peter’s denials and the rooster’s crow is still valid. And besides, since Peter likely influenced the writing of Mark’s gospel, it is likely that Mark’s record of what Jesus said about the rooster crowing twice is more accurate than the others, since this was spoken directly by Jesus to Peter. He would probably have a better recollection of it than anyone else, since it involved him personally and had such a big impact on his life.

Either way you look at it, essentially the rooster’s crow is coming from its animal nature and not from anything spiritual. In the same way, Peter’s denials came from the baser instincts of his sinful human nature. It shows that no matter how emphatically Peter boasted about his loyalty and faithfulness to Christ, he was still capable of committing such a damnable sin as disowning the Lord whom he loved. If Peter, who loved the Lord so much and was such a passionate follower of Christ, could do this, how much more the rest of us who follow Jesus!

This was no small thing to disown the Lord. For Jesus had warned, “But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” (Mat 10:33). This indicates that one who disowns Christ after having known the Lord cannot be saved unless he repents and asks forgiveness before he dies. Peter certainly repented and was reinstated by Jesus after his resurrection from the dead.

Watch and Pray!
The one thing that could have kept Peter from denying Christ in the first place was prayer. The Lord had told him to watch and pray in the Garden of Gethsemane lest he fall into temptation. He said, "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Mat 26:41). Peter’s spirit was willing to follow the Lord to prison and even to death, but his flesh was weak. Since he didn’t take the time to pray, his spirit remained weak, and when presented with a strong temptation, he fell into it.

The same goes for all of us who follow the Lord as His disciples. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Because of the sinful nature, we are capable of committing damnable sins that can keep us from heaven. That’s why we must be careful to watch and pray so that we do not fall into temptation.

On the other hand, Jesus is our perfect example. He always took the time to pray every day, often very early while it was still dark, and even late at night, or throughout the night. And He did so especially on that fateful night, as the disciples slept, yet He prayed intensely all the way through to victory in the garden, surrendering His will to the will of the Father. And when He was confronted with all the temptations that night brought to Him, including His arrest and mock trial before the high priest, He didn't falter a bit. He remained faithful to the Heavenly Father all throughout that ordeal, even as Peter in contrast to Him was outside disowning Him. He was tempted in every way just as we are, yet was without sin (Heb 4:15). May we all follow in His steps (1 Pet 2:21) by imitating Him and obeying His command to watch and pray so that we do not fall into temptation.

Attribution: All Scripture taken from the Holy Bible NIV, copyright Zondervan, used by permission. Excerpts from Why Do Roosters Crow by Joseph Hudson taken from Chicken Scratch website, used for educational and commentary purposes only per the Fair Use Act. Image of Peter Denies Christ also used per the Fair Use Act.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, please also see the following: Sins That Will Keep You From HeavenSins of IgnoranceSins of OmissionAsk for the Ancient PathsThe False Gospel of Eternal Security, and Seeking Him in the Wee Hours of the Night. You may find the Main Directory for this blog at Home, and you may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.