Do Not Sound a Trumpet Before You (Virtue Signal)

Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. – Matthew 6:1-4.

One of the first things that come to mind when I read this is the “virtue signaling” problem of our culture. People love to tout their “tolerance,” that is no tolerance for others who do not praise them for the wickedness they boast of.

There is boasting in gender ideations, mask and vaccine mandate compliance, child abuse in the educational system, abortion, deplatforming voices of descent, and more.

The strange thing is, these “virtues” are not virtuous at all, but wickedness.

I also think about the “mark of the beast” that is to come. Could this be another opportunity for people to signal their so-called “virtue?”

On the other side, we have the seal of God—the seal of the Holy Spirit—which is within and unseen, not flaunted to be seen of man.

As those who are sealed by the promise of the gospel of Jesus Christ, let us be on-guard against all forms of “virtue signaling.” Maybe we do things that are indeed virtuous, not as those who call evil good and good evil, but as those who keep the teachings of Jesus and the apostles.

However, we should not do good so that others can view us as good, but instead do good for the sake of the good that is being done. In so doing, God rewards us.

We should not boast about the good things we do, but we can “let your light shine before man, that they might see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

It all comes down to what motivates our actions, and Jesus will search this out by His Spirit. Are we doing good to bring glory to God as those who are faithful examples of Jesus in a dying world, or are we doing good so that we can pat one another on the back and feel ourselves morally superior to another?

The temptation to be morally superior and to flaunt our “goodness” can be dangerous. It is written that the false Christ will deceive many with flatteries. We can see this already.

People are flattered as being smart if they get vaccinated while those who don’t are stupid. People are flattered as being empowered if they murder their unborn babies while those who choose motherhood are called oppressed. People are flattered as being brave and authentic if they pursue gender confusion, while those who say that boys are boys and girls are girls are called bigoted.

Before long, many might be flattered into destroying their neighbor, all the while thinking that they are doing what is virtuous. Let us consider this.

I suspect that things will proceed in a manner in which many do not suspect, because that seems to be God’s way. It was when Jesus came. He was not what His people expected. Our pride, vengefulness, and other human nature flaws prevent us from seeing what He is doing.

This is speculation, but I wonder if the final false christ will seem to be a champion of the Christian people. It is written that he will turn on his own. What if he opposes all of those who currently oppose us, rounds them up, and destroys them—all the while encouraging us to join in? If we hate them already, what is going to stop us?

It is easy to look at the big sinners of the world and consider ourselves to be virtuous, and although we should make a stand for what is true and good, we should consider ourselves carefully. What motivates us?

If we are motivated by fear, pride, vengefulness, and other evil “spirits,” then we might be at risk of doing the work of Satan and not of Jesus.

“Many will kill you thinking they do God’s service, and this they will do because they have not known the Father, nor me.”

Do all things for the glory of Jesus, just as He did all things for the glory of the Father, and we will be kept from the flattery of the wicked and their seduction into destroying others in the name of virtue. Jesus will not cause us to signal our virtue in a self-righteous, proud manner. His seal is in secret, and He rewards His redeemed openly—not according to the rewards of this world, but His Kingdom.

This article is part of a series that considers the Parables of Jesus. Right now, we are looking at the statements Jesus made during His Sermon on the Mount, to which He referenced in His Parable of the Building on Rock and Sand. Visit the link for quick access to all articles written within this series. Subscribe for notifications of future posts.

Sometimes it is Love to Subdue Your Enemies

My two oldest sons have been enrolled in a Judo school for a few months now. I appreciate the discipline they are learning and I don’t have any problem with my boys learning how to defend themselves or others.

On the other hand, I work hard to teach them to control themselves and they know that I do not support violence, especially when peace can be had instead.

We were playing at the park recently, and a kid that was a little bigger than my middle child kept beating on him. He was kicking him, hitting him, and shoving him down. My child ignored it for a while and tried to continue playing with the kid. I sat on the park bench and watched (the last thing my son needed is mom interfering. Embarrassing!)

After this continued for a little while, my son came over to me. He didn’t know what to do. I considered it for a minute. We could leave. I could talk to the parents. Or, I could allow my son to defend himself.

This kid seemed like the sort who made a habit of picking on the little guys, like my son. My son showed restraint. He tried to make peace. So, I decided that it would be a good lesson for my son and that other boy if something was done about the bullying.

I told him to tell the boy, “if you do not stop, I will make you stop.” Then, if he continues, you have my permission to throw him and pin him. Do not let him up. You won’t hurt him by doing this, but it might make him think before he bullies again.

The bullying continued, despite my son’s warning. So, he grabbed the boy, threw him over his shoulder, and pinned him to the ground. “Are you done now?” He was done bullying, and they played nicely together after that.

I’m becoming a big “turn the other cheek” and “love your enemies” advocate, and there are personal reasons why that is. Of course, Jesus teaches these things and I want to be faithful to Him. However, life experience informs me too. I have been one who took evil from others, not because I could resist, but because I was weak and afraid. Then, once I became stronger, I found it very difficult to take any form of evil from others. I was too hash and too quick to respond at times.

Now, being someone who is not afraid and can defend myself, I appreciate the self control it takes not to. I appreciate waiting on the Lord and watching Him work on people as I keep His ways instead of taking vengeance into my own hands.

However, there is a time when loving our enemies means subduing them. We try to persuade them of the truth first. We do so by speaking and living the truth and providing time for the person or entity to repent. If they will not, it might be love to stop them, because if they continue, they might become more emboldened to continue the wicked behavior and who knows how many people they might harm–people who unlike us cannot defend themselves?

Sometimes we can subdue without violence, but with other forms of strength–strength that God gives us. He will lead us in all things, and when we run to Him, just as my son ran to me, He will tell us what to do.

Considering Proverbs 11:12

He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace.

If there is one thing we have in abundance these days, it is the tendency towards despising our neighbor.

It is easy to despise things that we do not understand. It is easy to despise people who sin differently than we do. It is easy to despise those who we view as a threat to our values and way of life.

It is not always so easy to hear someone out and do our upmost to understand where they are coming from, even if we disagree. It is not always so easy to treat people as people, made in God’s image, and not as some foreign body that needs to be treated with spite and removed far away—especially when we feel threatened.

It is not so easy to remember that any good thing we have came from God, so any good thing our neighbor lacks can only be supplied by God. Why do we hate him then?

It is not so easy to remember that God is in control of all things, so if our neighbor hates us, this is His doing ultimately. “You would have no power over me unless the Father had give it.”

Love. Your. Neighbor.

Period.

“Great peace have they which love thy law, and nothing can offend them.”

It is an astonishing thing we have today within Christianity. There are so many “prophets” so called, but they sound nothing different from a right-wing non-believer. Why is that?

Some justify themselves using scripture, stating things like, “there is a time and season for all things.” A time to war, yes. However, we do not war as man does—with hatefulness, holier-than-thou attitudes, and with a heart full of vengeance—but by speaking the truth in a manner that seeks to open the blind eyes and deaf ears and to soften the hard hearts that are captive to sin.

Do not shove your beams into the eyes of another, or cause the ears to bleed with shrieking, or harden hearts further—hearts that are already damaged, deceived, and in darkness.

Go ahead. “Call down fire on the earth in the sight of man.” Go ahead and let “unclean spirits as frogs” come out of your mouth. All the while claiming to be God’s prophet. See where you wind up. *saracasm*

It is not easy to love as Jesus would have us to. It takes a wisdom of God that is foolishness to this world—a wisdom that means loving those who hate you, even if they kill you. It means speaking the truth and living the truth, even if the whole world is living a lie and attempts to hide their wicked deeds in darkness.

Why? Because you received the grace of God and salvation in Jesus Christ—and they have not—and what if by chance you might reach some by being an example of Jesus in this time?

You will not reach any by preaching to the choir. We do not need any more self-righteous Christians who hate those who are lost. We need more Christians who are willing to love those who hate them—and to love one another as we should, which is something many among the household of the faith neglect. We still fight among ourselves. How can we love our enemies?

We can hate what God hates but in a righteous manner—as one who is a sinner saved by grace, who has escaped the judgment of God, who will live eternally with Jesus in a righteous kingdom—not as one who takes the place of God, doing what only He should do.

God closes ears and this is right. God closes eyes and this is right. God hardens hearts and this is right. God executes vengeance and this is right.

We have no right, because we ARE NO BETTER than the neighbors who we hate.

Hold your peace as one who brings peace—not a peace that destroys, as the peace of the false christ, but a peace that rests in the goodness of God, the grace we received by Jesus, and the promises we hope in. Speak the truth, but in the right spirit.

There is never a time to take up the spirts of devils, nor of Satan, who does what only God has the right to do. Wait on Jesus. He will avenge us, and until that time, LOVE YOUR ENEMIES. This means rebuking sin, not calling evil good to please man. However, do so in meekness, hoping to save a few in Jesus Christ, not hoping to condemn.

God gives power, but we do not rightly interpret His power. We do not rightly use “knowledge of good and evil.” Satan is given power too, and he is corrupted by it. Jesus had power. What did He do with it? Did He kill or did He make alive? Did He save Himself or did He die to save the world? Just because you can do something, does not mean that you should. Jesus is our example, and just as He died and is victorious, just as He is granted authority and can righteously judge the earth and execute judgment, so shall we—once we die and are raised at His coming—and not before.

The Proverbs study is meant to consider present-day events from a Christian perspective. Please join me in this study; feel free to disagree, ask questions, and discuss below.

“These Things Saith He” 10/24/21 Update

This is just a quick note letting anyone who is interested know that the necessary updates to “These Things Saith He” are completed.

Here are links to the revised articles for your convenience. Lord willing, I plan to get back to regular posting.

Thank you for your patience! ❤

These Things Saith He – Scriptures for Ephesus

“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.”

All things should be done out of love towards Jesus and our fellow man. It does not matter how right we are factually; if our heart or spirit is not right, then the good that we might do is corrupted and the judgement of the Lord will snuff our works (and candlesticks) out, because they are not the light of Christ, but darkness.

Let us continue to grow faith that is shown in love and deed, not in mere facts and vain words as we tear down others proudly and self-righteously, because such as these might find their faith counted unworthy of His Kingdom. This is the general idea found when considering the letter written to the church of Ephesus.

Below are some scriptures that we might consider as we search our own heart for an Ephesus-like nature and seek the grace of Jesus to forgive us and lead us in a better way by the working of His Holy Spirit within us.

Note: This scripture list is a work in progress that will be updated as These Things Saith He is completed.

  • John 15
  • 1 John
  • James
  • Romans 12
  • 1 Corinthians

The Narcissistic Abuse Cycle from a Christian Perspective

Idealize. Devalue. Discard.

Over and over. It is quite dizzying and crazy-making behavior, as anyone who has been through this will understand.

First, they seem to adore you. They excitedly talk about the things you will experience together one day or grand plans they have to do some good for you in the future. Next, seemingly out of nowhere, they hate you. They ignore you, avoid you, then find ways to falsely accuse you so that they can feel justified in discarding you.

You weren’t so great after all. No so appreciated. Not so valued. No so liked. Not so loved.

You were used, but you don’t realize it because you spend all your time going over the dizzying details.

What did I do wrong? What did I do wrong? What did I do wrong?

The closure never comes, or if it does, it is in the form of projection, gaslighting, and triangulation.

The result?

You feel all used up, taken advantage of, misrepresented, slandered, and cast away like filth that can’t be rid of quickly enough.

Just when you start to move on and accept that the dream was nothing more, it starts again.

They ask about how you have been or find some other way to initiate conversation with you. You allow it, then they know: you’re ready to be used again. So, they do. But first, they “love bomb” you. They make you feel wanted and for some reason you get sucked back in.

This is probably because you were conditioned from childhood to accept these cycles as normal and your sense of self-worth is so low that you take any form friendship, family, or love that comes your way, false or not, with hope:

Maybe this time it will be different. Maybe I can do better this time. I must be the problem, after all. Look at how nice they are. I’m such a bad person for ever thinking poorly of them. What is wrong with me? I’m just paranoid. I hope they will forgive me.

They have you. Again.

More promises unkempt. More abuse. More coverups and lies. More slandering your name so that no one believes you. More keeping up with appearances so that everyone else thinks that they are so great—and you? You’re filth. Why? Because unlike them, you don’t brag about how great you are. You don’t make shows of how great you are. You don’t flatter people to their face and smear them behind their back. You don’t put on all the right appearances.

You are genuine and they HATE that.

They hate that because they are an empty vessel of lies and their greatest fear is exposure—and you—who they have love bombed, gaslighted, abused, slandered, scapegoated, and discarded, just might reveal who they really are someday. So, they destroy you. Or they love bomb you. Just to keep you happy for a while so they can maintain their false image a little longer.

Unless you have experienced it, it can be very hard to imagine. This is reality for many people who are in relationships with narcissistic people, and for some, this is all they will ever know.

This is who they attract and they cannot help it. They were born into it. They marry into it. They make friendships that are the same. Then they wonder why they are all alone with no one who really cares. Or few.

What did I do wrong? What is wrong with me? Why am I so unlikable? Why am I so unlovable?

You soul search, looking for the answer. You have flaws, like everyone. Are your flaws really that bad? Maybe. Maybe you are the problem. You can never really tell. So, you do your best to do good to all. Love all.

Trust no one.

And despite it all, pray with all you have that the love in you does not go cold because of the crippling isolation and feelings of confusion and worthlessness.

Trust in Jesus knowing that He can see it all. Then, when you are accused, slandered, devalued, and discarded, you can know: I did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.

Maybe, just maybe, despite what they always say as they mistreat you then accuse you of doing to them the very thing they do to you, you can say, it isn’t me. Worse yet, they believe their own lie. They believe they are the victim. They have to be because they can never be wrong. “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

The Narcissistic Abuse Cycle from a Christian Perspective

First Jesus was praised and hailed when He entered Jerusalem. Then, He was arrested, beaten, mocked, slandered, accused, and crucified.

If ever there was a person who was idealized, devalued, then discarded, it was Jesus. Even now, I think this happens a great deal. Let this not be true for us who believe in Him.

When we first accept the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we idealize Him. We want to serve Him and live for Him. Do we later devalue Him? Do we make light of His teachings and calling for our life? Do we then call His perfect ways evil or unnecessary and toss Him out for the pleasures of sin and of this life?

God forbid, but sometimes we might. We should not. Not ever.

Jesus is all too familiar with what we call “narcissism” today. These characteristics are Satanic. Maybe we have some of them ourselves—those dirty little “narcissistic fleas” as they are called that we have picked up from living in this wicked world and enduring cycles of soul-corrupting use, neglect, and abuse.

He can heal us. He can heal any heart of any wound, so long as His grace is aimed at that person. The truth is, we all have these very same tendencies to greater and lesser degrees. We are all sons of Satan naturally, but through Jesus, we can find forgiveness and healing as He brings us into His family—and there is no narcissistic abuse there.

 As for those who carry His name and continue in these things, how can the love of God be in them of a truth? Jesus sees all. He sees what we cannot, and sometimes things seem to be many things that they are not.

Maybe they discard you because they think you are getting ready to devalue and discard them—because this is their past experience with most—so rather than go through all that again, or rather than be a bother to someone who doesn’t really want them, they simply disappear. If someone you love drops off suddenly, find out why. Maybe they have a hard time accepting love from people and any sign of trouble means they are about to be dropped hard, so they run.

Not all things are as they appear, but when a pattern repeats again and again with the same individuals or other entities socially and politically, consider it. Turn to Jesus. He knows.

Sometimes all we can do is our upmost to do good to all and trust in Jesus and Him alone.

Some people will only love you when they need you. They will discard you when they don’t. They will make up reasons to hate you so that they can feel justified in using you and tossing you out. Turn the other cheek and pray for them that use you and hate you, and in so doing, you are as the children of our Father. Take care that you do not do the same to others—and especially—do not do this to our Lord and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

I’m not a mental health professional. I write narcissistic abuse recovery articles based on my life experience. This life can teach us a lot about trauma, but Jesus can teach us a lot about recovery and His ways are so much better than anything we find in this world. If you have endured narcissistic abuse, turn to Jesus because He knows exactly what you are dealing with—and He has the answers that will heal.

Reward Her Even as She Rewarded You

I mentioned recently that I am taking some time away to sort out a problem I ran into when working on “These Things Saith He.” I am working on it, though, the demands of this life are weighing me down to a despairing degree. I am taking some steps to help carry it all better, Lord willing, with His help.

The trouble began as a very simple mistake; it was more like missing information. The Lord is still working, and I have to do some revising to the existing chapters before I can move on to writing new chapters.

One thing I find very interesting, and I want to quickly share, is an idea that we see in Revelation concerning the Great Whore of Mystery Babylon and the judgement of God against her.

It states, “reward her even as she rewarded you.”

That theme is shown within the rebuked churches of Revelation Chapters 2-3.

I made the mistake of stating that all but two churches were warned with having their “candlestick removed out of its place.” Actually, that specific warning was only given to Ephesus. In the end, we can imply that outcome to the 5 because only 2 are remaining in Chapter 11. That is not an incorrect assumption.

However, forgetting that each church has it’s own, personalized rebuke does not well-represent the judgment of Christ to these churches. So, instead of painting with a broad brush, I need to make some changes. I also had to take a close look at the other two, just to be certain that they were not in-fact rebuked, just to make sure I had not misunderstood that as well. I don’t think so, but one small mistake has a way of making me question many things.

Anyhow, back to “reward her even as she rewarded you.” I have a point here that I’m getting at.

To Ephesus, the church above all other churches (in their estimation), full of pride and self-righteous indignation: I will remove your candlestick out of it’s place, says the Lord.

To Pergamos, the church that misuses the word of God and therewith causes the faith of many to fail: I will fight against you with the sword of my mouth, says the Lord.

To Thyatira, who misuses the love of Jesus, turning His love into the corrupt love of man and of this world; whose women have softened the judgment of God and the Christian life into something self-serving and impotent: I will cast all who commit adultery with her into great tribulation and I will kill her children with death, says the Lord.

To Sardis, who neglects the Holy Spirit and seeks to walk after the corrupt spirits of this world instead of walking in newness by the power of the Spirit of God: Since you do not walk with me, I will come upon you like a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come. However, there are a few names who have not defiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy, says the Lord.

To Laodicea, who covets riches and is therewith content and zealous to pursue, but is not zealous of the things of the Kingdom of God: I will spew you out of my mouth, because you think you are rich and in need of nothing and do not realize that you are poor, bloody, blind, and naked. Buy of me gold tried in fire and be rich, be clothed with white raiment, anoint your eyes and see. As many as I love I rebuke and chasten, so be zealous and repent. I stand at the door and knock, and I will come in and sup with those who open to me, says the Lord.

We get some general ideas by studying the letters to the churches, and they are worth considering as one who is given by Jesus and His Holy Spirit to “hear” what is being said to these churches. However, there is an over-arching idea also: “reward her even as she rewarded you.”

We are not to repay evil for evil. Turn the other cheek, as Jesus teaches. In so doing, Jesus will look the other way from our sins. However, He will repay those who carry His name yet do not keep His ways—or with a sincere heart strive to grow in that direction. He knows our frame. Yet, as those who are sincere and zealous for our Lord, Jesus, let us consider.

Mercy for the merciful.

Plagues to those who are for plagues. Famine to those who are for famine. Death to those who are for death.

He will avenge, and to think that we can carry His name but do the work of the enemy at the same time without care or repentance is foolishness. Those who do will be “removed out of their place” but there is more to it.

Our God will judge and He is a just judge. He is also a merciful judge, so we hope in mercy. However, we also respect Him knowing that we are not entitled to mercy or any good thing. It is the Great Whore who is entitled and assumes that she can use the sacrifice of Jesus to serve sin and Satan freely without consequence. We who love Jesus and are truly called, chosen, and faithful will strive to overcome in all things that keep us from living as one who will live forever in His Kingdom, lest we be cast out and there is, as Jesus said, “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” It is no light matter. We Westerners would do well to remember.

Something Isn’t Right, But Some Things Are

Have you ever been in the middle of a project and ran head-first into a brick wall?

That’s kind of what just happened to me. Metaphorically speaking, of course. Though, walking into walls literally isn’t uncommon for me. As is my nature it seems, literally and metaphorically or spiritually, sometimes I get so focused on where I am going that I don’t see what is right in front of me. Until I painfully run into it.

I was going to start writing the next chapter of, “These Things Saith He” and I froze because I started to consider some things differently, and this has thrown me for a loop. Truly, we don’t really know anything as we should. Or maybe I am going astray from what is right. In any case, something is wrong and I need to take some time to figure it out, Lord willing.

Something isn’t right, but I know that the general understanding I have is true and given by the Spirit of the Lord. Even so, there are some details that I am hung up on, and for me, these details matter because “a little leaven leavens the whole lump.” One misunderstanding in the wrong place, even a small one, can have large, corrupting effects down the line.

However, there are some things that I know are true, and I want to leave you with these while I take some time away to sort the rest out, Lord willing.

I believe that we can take the generalized themes learned in the letters to the 7 churches as fundamental components of the Christian walk. With these, we can grow as a Christian aught to as one who is growing into Christ, more and more until the day He returns.

These ideas can only be understood correctly if we first know the teachings of Jesus and the apostles while seeking and following the instruction that the Holy Spirit gives. Although much could be expanded upon and explained concerning these ideas, here they are in basic terms for your consideration:

  • Stand up for what is good and true, but first and foremost, do all things out of a love for Jesus and for others.
  • Expect suffering as a Christian knowing that through Jesus, we will overcome death.
  • Use the word of God justly, not as an excuse for sinful living, thereby causing others to stumble in the faith.
  • A love of this world is fornication with this world. The love of Christ, which Jesus will teach, is a love of Him and not of this world.
  • Do not quench the Spirit of God; continue to seek the Spirit so that we can walk after the Spirit as one who is alive from the dead.
  • Patiently trust and wait on the Lord, knowing that He will provide all things according to His perfect will and timing, including mercy, judgment, justice, and that which is needful in body, spirit, and service to the Lord.
  • Do not covet the riches of this world and be content therewith, but be zealous for the things of God, always seeking more of Him as one who is “poor in spirit.”

Love Your Enemies

43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. – Matthew 5:43-48

“Horror has taken hold of me because of the wicked that forsake thy law.” This comes to mind when thinking of how little value many have for the greatest commandment of our Lord, Jesus: love one another as your Father in heaven loves you.

There seems to be little love for our neighbor—even our own family members—much less our enemies. Of course, there are many who do love, and even venture to the seemingly forsaken land of loving their enemies. Beautiful these are. So rare, it seems.

We can all strive to love one another better, and thanks to God through Jesus Christ that by Him we can learn what that looks like.

There will come a day when the love of many has grown so cold that God no longer cares for the unjust. When the day of vengeance is near, we will know because His prophets will say so, and if so called, the rain stops. What manner of time might we be in when such things are called for and indeed righteous in the eyes of God?

We are not in those times, so there is still time to return to the ways of Jesus and learn what love really looks like—not according to the “love” of this world, but according to the perfect love of Christ. He did not condone a love of this world. He rebuked it because love of this world is death.

We do not love by condoning sin, neither do we love by dealing with others in an overly critical manner. We love by rebuking evil in a self-controlled manner, using the word of God to do so, preferably. We love by being an example of what goodness is as we look to our own sin first, always seeking to be perfected by the Spirit that works in us, knowing our lack and returning to a place of humility as one who is “poor in spirit” and patient with others.

We love by hoping for the best and looking for the best in others, not looking for a reason to be fearful, self-righteous, envious, or proud.

We love by sacrificing our own gain or pleasures for the good of another, so long as our sacrifices are not by way of oppression, such as the sacrifice of mask and vaccine mandates or other forms of outward allegiance to tyrannical powers that destroy our neighbors by condoning the vanity and pride of virtue-signaling man and false prophet politicians, robbing the poor blind, and leading many into fear-mongering-induced slavery.

Yet, love those who hate us for not complying with tyranny. Love those who are snared by deceit and pray that the same grace we received of God is given to them knowing that any good thing we have in us came from Him. We are sinners too. Do not be overcome with a false sense of superiority or the temptation to look overmuch at the sins of others, no matter how severe they might be. Many take up vengeance too soon, joining with those who are “drunken with blood.” That is not our way.

God rewards the meek, self-controlled of the earth who seek peace. When it is time to war, it is He in us who will do it–not according to the murderous ways of the flesh and outward shows of self-righteous indignation as he who “calls down fire from heaven in the sight of man”–but as one who testifies to the truth of Jesus Christ with humility, self reflection and repentance, and a willingness to lay life down for His sake because we love Him most of all.

We love by loving Jesus first because He first loves us and He knows what love really looks like. He can teach us and work that which is unnatural to man within us—even when the love of many grows cold.

It can be hard to retain love in dark times full of murder, deceit, pride, envy, and all manner of wickedness. However, all things are possible by Jesus who saves us from the traps of this world that would destroy us. When we fail to love as we should, we rest on the mercy of Christ who died for us and we hope in the power of His resurrection.

We are called to perfection, but until “that which is perfect is come,” we don’t fully know what that looks like. However, by the word of God given in the scriptures and by the “engrafted word that saves our soul” given of the Spirit of God, we can grow in that direction. Jesus is our aim, and with so high a calling as that, all of us have room to love better. So, let us try in faith that He that is in us is stronger than this world.

This article is part of a series that considers the Parables of Jesus. Right now, we are looking at the statements Jesus made during His Sermon on the Mount, to which He referenced in His Parable of the Building on Rock and Sand. Visit the link for quick access to all articles written within this series. Subscribe for notifications of future posts.

These Things Saith He – Overcoming Ephesus

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 tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God (Revelation 2:7).

What is it that Ephesus must overcome if they are to avoid having their candlestick removed out of its place? What is their call to repentance?

Jesus says,

Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

The first love of a Christian is Jesus Christ Himself. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the foundation on which we stand. However, this is a gospel of the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ by which we have the forgiveness of sins and a promise of life from the dead.

This is not a gospel of hunting down our neighbors and executing swift judgment upon them. This is not a gospel of having the correct teachings according to the letter of the law yet neglecting the larger commandments of Jesus in Spirit that focus on love towards God and towards our neighbors.

It is by grace that we all stand, and if the grace of God is for us, who can be against us? Why do we judge one another who stand by grace through faith in Jesus Christ?

Many judgments within the household of the faith concern secondary or tertiary issues of which many within the faith disagree. With these judgments, we begin to excuse and condemn one another. We begin to consider ourselves to be more righteous than another—forgetting that the righteousness we hold is not of our own works, but of the works of Jesus and the perfect life He sacrificed for us.

There is a time for taking a stand against corruption within the Christian faith. However, this must be done with diligence and great care to ensure that the judgments we make are just and needful lest we find ourselves falling under the weight of our own judgments.

If we want gracious judgment, we must give gracious judgment.

This begins by learning to weigh what matters most for us as Christians.

What teachings are indeed necessary for salvation? It is not difficult to connect any teaching we like to the issue of salvation, but if we seek the Spirit to help, He will show us how to remove our biases so that we can judge rightly—not according to the corruptions of our spirit—but according to the faithfulness of the Holy Spirit.

When all else fails, we can fall back on Jesus Christ and Him crucified for the forgiveness of sins.

Of course, much is built upon this, and as Paul the apostle instructs, we must “take heed what you build,” and what are we building if not Christ-like Christians? We might have some debate about what it means to be Christ-like, but to a large degree we should be of one mind and one spirit by the unity of the Holy Spirit.

However, when dealing with our brethren—and we must remember that they are brethren of whom Jesus upholds and walks among—taking the most humble and gracious position will not be frowned upon by our Lord.

He would rather that we stand up for what we believe is true, with a willingness to agree to disagree on secondary and tertiary issues, than for us to fuel accusation, slander, division, and strife among His house.

We must have faith, knowing that if the grace of God is for us, then He will work all knowledge in us and our brethren according to His perfect timing and methods by the Spirit of God in us. We do not have to force the matter.

In humility, we can accept that none of us knows all truth as we aught to know it, and one day we will. We can accept that every Christian will give an account of themselves to Jesus, and He will set all things right. In so doing, it is likely that all of us will marvel at His judgments, fall on our faces before Him, and thank Him for how incredibly patient, gracious, and merciful He is with us all.

This idea applies to more than the household of the faith. However, judgement begins from within and thereby we can have the right heart as we go out into the world, doing the work of our Lord and not the works of this world.

To that end, we have things to overcome as well.

When dealing with contentious issues, we need to remember Who we serve first. From large-scale conflicts on the national and global sphere to daily disagreements with people in our lives, Jesus comes before our worldly disputes—and He would have us to deal with one another in a fashion that mirrors His dealings with us.

As with Ephesus, it is not wrong to test ideas, sift the good from the bad, and take a stand for what is right. However, if we are not doing so with the leading of God and His Spirit according to the teachings of Jesus and the apostles, then we have “left our first love” in pursuit of another. No matter how good this other might be, it is not Jesus Christ our Lord.

How should we deal with people during disagreements? We should be quick to listen and slow to speak, quick to mercy and slow to wrath, humble in our own righteousness and wisdom and gracious towards the goodness and intelligence of those with who we disagree.

Stand up for what is right. Rebuke evil. However, do so in love, self-control, and the goal of persuasion instead of the goal of condemning others as you exalt yourself because of how right you are. Repay no one evil for evil but do good to all and trust in God who is the Avenger. Hope in mercy.

This is a high calling, but with persistence we can learn to stand up for what is right and in the right way. We can seek the Lord to forgive us of our pride, anger, resentments, fear, envy, and all other evils of the heart and spirit that cause us to leave of first love in favor of another. Jesus knows our frame and He forgives. He can see when we value what is right according to His Spirit as we wrestle with the sins of our flesh.

However, let us not deceive ourselves.

Seek the Spirit to test our hearts, reveal things to us, and lead us to repentance by the patience of God that we all need.

Seek strength to perform that which is not natural to man. What is natural to man is to kill, steal, and destroy for the sake of what man deems to be right, good, and true. This is not the Christian way and this is not the way of the gospel: a gospel of peace and grace through faith in our Lord and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

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 tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God (Revelation 2:7).

From the beginning, man has killed man with their knowledge of good and evil that came from a forbidden tree. Because of this, man must die. In Jesus we have forgiveness and the promise of eternal life within a truly righteous kingdom.

We cannot build paradise using our own knowledge and strength. We cannot build paradise by joining with this world and the ways of this world that destroy all who stand in its way. We wait on our first love, Jesus Christ. He will come and He will make all things right.

However, the Wicked One comes first—and He “was and was not and yet is.” He tempts us using our pride, self-righteous indignation, resentment, fear, and impatience. When He comes in a full way, the spirit of Ephesus unrepented of leaves this church vulnerable to great deception. If we follow the spirit of Ephesus, we are already fallen away from the grace of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ in some measure.

In Jesus, we can overcome. We can repent and return to our first love, and the good news is that if the grace of God is for us, we will.

The above is the draft version of the fourth chapter to a book I plan to write and publish in a manner that is free of charge to the public.

I wrote in These Things Saith He: Contents that I will publish the drafts here first and offer opportunity for others to share their thoughts before the final work is completed.

I’m open to and greatly value the insight, experiences, and thoughts of my Christian brethren because we are a body knit together in Christ that is meant to work together without over reliance on our leaders. I am not your leader, but I do try to be faithful to what I have received to the best of my ability, and I look to Jesus for gracious judgment of my service and the service of all who truly love Him.

PREVEIOIUS CHAPTER: These Things Saith He — Ephesus Overview

All Chapter Drafts: These Things Saith He