God's Sword of Truth - The Word
By The Holy Spirit's Disciple, Raymond Laginess
IT IS WRITTEN...."Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks; walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall be down in sorrow."Jewish History
We can see from this verse that the prophet was speaking to those who claimed to be religious, and who flattered themselves with the idea that they were in a state of salvation. But in fact, their hope was just a fire of their own kindling - torches created by themselves.
"Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock." Matthew 7;24-25.
THE NATURAL STATE OF MAN
Selfishness is putting your own happiness first, and seeking your own good because it is to your benefit. Whoever is selfish places his own happiness above other things of greater value, such as the glory of God and the good of the whole creation. It is obvious that all people before conversion are in this state. Almost everyone knows that people deal with each other on the principle of selfishness. If anyone overlooks this, and tries to deal with others as if they are not selfish, he would be considered a fool.
Benevolence is loving the happiness of others, or rather choosing the happiness of others. This is God's state of mind. We are told that God is love; that is, He is benevolent. Benevolence makes up His whole character. All of His qualities are other different expressions of His benevolence. Any individual who is converted is in this respect like God. I don't mean that no one is converted unless he is as purely and perfectly benevolent as God is, but that his prevailing choice is benevolent. He sincerely seeks the good of others for their own sake, and not because it will make him happy in the end.
God is purely and unselfishly benevolent. He doesn't make people happy for the sake of promoting His own happiness, but because He loves their happiness. It's not that He doesn't rejoice to bless them, but His own happiness is not His goal. The man who is unselfish finds joy in doing good. If he didn't love to do good, then doing good would be of no virtue to him. Benevolence is holiness. It is what the law of God requires. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all they soul, and with all the mind." (Matthew 22:37), and "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." (Matthew 22:37).
A CHANGE FROM SUPREME SELFISHNESS TO LOVE THE GOOD OF OTHERS
True conversion is a change in the goal you are seeking, and not a mere change in the way you reach that goal. It's not true that the converted and the unconverted have the same goal, but differ only in the method they use to get there. That would be like saying the angel Gabriel and the devil himself are both striving for their own happiness, only just trying to get there in 2 different ways. Gabriel does not obey God for the sake of his own happiness.
A man may change his methods, and yet still have his own happiness as his goal. He may not believe in Jesus, or in eternity, and yet he may see that doing good will be to his advantage in this world and bring him many (temporary) benefits.
Now suppose this man finally does see the reality of eternity and takes up religion as a way to find happiness. Now, everyone knows that there is no virtue in this. It is not his service to the Lord that blesses Him, but his reasons for serving God that are important.
The true convert chooses as his goal the glory of God and the good of His Kingdom. He chooses this for its own sake, because he views this as a greater good than his own individual happiness. Not that he doesn't care about his own happiness, but he prefers God's glory, because it is a greater good. He looks on the happiness of every individual according to its real importance, and he chooses the greatest good as his highest goal.
Let's look at two types; the true and the deceived. The Christian and the religious. They may agree in leading a strictly moral life. The difference is in their motives. The true Christian leads a moral life because he loves holiness, the deceived person because of selfish considerations. He uses morality as a means to an end, to bring about his own happiness.
They may be equally (prayerful), as far as the outward form is concerned. The difference is in their motives. The true Christian loves to pray - the person who is deceived prays because he hopes to obtain some benefit for himself from praying. The true Christian expects a benefit from praying, but that is not his leading motive. The false convert prays from no other motive.
He may also serve God to quiet his conscience, and not because he truly loves the Lord. They may be equally self-denying in many things. Self-denial is not confined to true saints. Look at the sacrifices and self-denials of the Muslims, going on their pilgrimage to Mecca. Look at the discipline and self-denial of those lost in the cults and eastern religions. The true Christian denies himself for the sake of doing more good to others. His sacrifices are not centered around his own gratification of his own interests. The deceived person may go to equal lengths, but from purely selfish motives.
They may both be willing to suffer martyrdom. Read about them and have no doubt that some were and did suffer from a wrong religious idea for expected rewards later. Many would rush to their own destruction because they were convinced or believed it was a sure road to heaven. Ever hear of holy wars?
Both may pay equal regard of what is right - the true convert because he loves what is right, and the false convert because he knows he cannot be saved unless he does right. He may be honest in his common business transactions, but if he has no higher motive, he will have no reward from the Lord.
They may agree in their desires to be useful. The true convert desiring usefulness for its own sake, the deceived person because he knows that's the way to obtain the favor of the Lord.
They may both desire the conversion of souls. The true saint because it will glorify God, the deceived person to gain reward. He will be motivated by this, just as he is in giving money, a tithe, out of law and not from the heart. A true saint gives all as the woman did with two mites.
They may both desire to glorify the Lord God. The true saint because he loves to see the Lord glorified, and the deceived person because he knows that is the way to be saved. The true convert has his heart set on the glory of God for His sake. The other as benefits to himself.
They may both desire to repent. The true convert hates sin, because it hurts and dishonors God, and therefore he desires to repent of it. The false convert desires to repent because he knows that unless he does, he will be damned. They may both want to obey the Lord. The true Christian obeys so he may increase in holiness. The false convert obeys because he wants the rewards of obedience.
They may also agree on the things they love, such as the Bible. The true saint because it's the truth and there is only one copy and the Holy Spirit has preserved it till today. The deceived person loves the Bible because he thinks it is in his own favor, and sees it as the plan for fulfilling his own hopes - and believes in many versions that man has written. He does not believe the Holy Spirit could write one version and preserve it.
They may both love the Lord God - the one because he sees the Lord's character to be beautiful and lovely in itself, and he loves Him for His own sake. The other, because he thinks God is his special friend Who is going to make him happy forever, and he connects the idea of God with his own selfish interests.
They both love Christ and Christians. The true convert loves His character and He'll save him from hell and He's good so we should love Him. The deceived loves the Christian because they belong to his denomination, or because they are on his side, they believe the way he does, not because of the truth.
Both may love to attend religious meetings. The true saint because he grows in the knowledge of the Word to be a better witness. The false convert because he thinks a religious meeting is a good feeling or they need it. They forget Christ is within - not in a building or meeting.
Both may find pleasures in private prayer - the true saint, because he draws near to the Lord, he talks to his Father. The deceived person finds a self-righteous kind of satisfaction in it, because it's his duty. He uses man's repetitious words or follows other men's prayers.
They may both love the doctrines of grace. The true saint because it is the gift of God. The deceived because he thinks the doctrines of grace are a guarantee of his own salvation - once saved, always saved. They forget what sin is, and believe that it gives them a right to sin.
They may both hate sexual immorality and oppose it. The true saint because it is a sin against God who hates sin. The other because it goes against religious views and opinions.
They may both hate sin - the true convert because it is repulsive to God, and hurts Him. You can even hate your own sin and yet not forsake them. Both oppose the sinners. The true convert because their sin offends God. The deceived because they are against their religion and not on their side. Motives of one go against the other - the difference lies in choice of goals. One chooses his own, the other God's interest and goal. You cannot be Christian and have your own beliefs. We know the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, so how are we to know whether we love the Lord and holiness for their own sake, or whether we are seeking the favor of the Lord, and aiming at heaven for our own benefit? If we are truly benevolent, it shall appear in our daily lives. If we do not love our neighbor who we see, how can we say we love God who we do not see. 1 John 4:20 (KJV). Being a Christian is not only loving the Lord God, but also loving all men. We are to love and forgive our neighbor all for the love of God.
If you love all and are unselfish, your spiritual responsibilities shall not be a chore or burden to you - all is done in love - you walk in spirit and truth, which has nothing to do with feelings. Your joy depends on your hope in Christ, not on things. Your thoughts are to be taken up with things of Christ and what He would do. These are thoughts of greater value.
If you are selfish, your enjoyment will be chiefly from anticipation and feelings. The true saint already enjoys the peace of the Lord, and heaven has begun in his soul. He doesn't have to wait until he dies to taste eternal life. His enjoyment is in proportion to his holiness, and not in proportion to his hope. The deceived person has only a purpose of obedience, while the saint has a preference of obedience. The true saint really prefers, and in his heart chooses obedience - therefore he finds it easy to obey. The false convert is determined to be holy, because he knows that it's the only way to be happy.
The true and deceived converts differ in their faith. The true saint has a confidence in the character of the Lord God that leads him to a whole-hearted submission to Him. There are only two principles on which any government, human or divine, is obeyed - fear and trust. Obedience flows from one of these springs. The true convert has a faith in God with confidence. The deceived person has only a partial faith, and a partial submission. The devil has a partial faith. He believes and trembles.
A person may believe that Christ came to save sinners and on that ground may submit to Him to be saved. But he does not submit wholly to His sovereign authority, or give Him control of his life. His submission is only on the condition that he will be saved. It is never with that unreserved confidence in God's whole character that leads him to say, "Thy Will Be Done". His religion is the religion of law - of man, not Word faith. One is selfish - he will fight for his faith....whereas, the other will die for his faith. Here lies the true difference between the two. Religion of the deceived convert is that which is of outward signs - and is hypocritical. The true convert has that which is of his heart - and is holy and acceptable to God.
Religious ways - the deceived convert will rejoice in the conversion of sinners as long as they have had a part in the conversion. They take credit for the saved...count the number of saved...and boast of them...when, in fact, they cannot save anyone. The religious person rejoices when they are active and successful in converting sinners, because they think that they will have great rewards. They are envious when others lead someone to Christ. The true saint delights in the conversion of any soul and sees the Holy Spirit at work in others.
YOUR OWN HAPPINESS SHOULD BE MEASURED IN THE GLORY OF GOD AND THE GOOD OF ALL MEN, NOT IN WHAT IS GOOD FOR YOU.
When you are less concerned about your own happiness - the happier you shall be. If you do good simply to secure your own happiness or reward, then you will fail.
Moses looked to the salvation of all Israel, he was not selfish when he said, "Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written." His motive was right, his method was wrong..so the Lord God corrected him. We must love God for His character, not for His favor to us. He died for all mankind, but all mankind does not love God.
The Word speaks of happiness as the result of virtue, but nowhere is your own happiness given as a reason for doing what is right.
Man naturally dreads harm, and it is not wrong to avoid it. We may have a concern for our own happiness, but only according to its value.
Man is so drunk with sin that the Holy Spirit cannot get their attention to consider Christ and His true character and the reason for living Him. When man awakes, the Holy Spirit can use their hopes and fears, and by the Word teach them the Love of God. Fear is the beginning of wisdom, not the total force,.....love is.
The Word does not teach a sinner to repent as a condition that he will be forgiven. It never authorizes a sinner to say, "I will repent if you will forgive", and nowhere does it offer forgiveness as a motive for repentance.
Some people [in religions] are more anxious to convert sinners than they are to see the Body sanctified and Christ glorified by the fruits of His people.
Many want to see people saved, not because their lives and deeds hurt and dishonor God, but because they feel sorry for them and don't want to see them go to hell. True saints are upset by sin because it is so dishonoring to God. And they are distressed when they see anyone sin - especially Christians. It dishonors the Lord even more. Most seem to care very little about the state of the Body of Christ, as long as they can see the work of conversion go forward.
To them "successful" evangelistic efforts, missions, etc., equal a "successful" church...but they are not really anxious to have the Lord honored. They don't care how many denominations there are, or if Christ is divided, which shows that they are not motivated by a genuine love of the Lord Jesus Christ and holiness, but by their own human feelings and emotions for sinners. They are always hearing from God to do great deeds, and need you and I to join with them. They always need our money. They view the Word as a mere convenience to mankind, a method of good living, a good life....and they are friends to all in the world. They believe that they can be as worldly as they want to be, and the Word will come in and make up for what they lack.
Others view the Gospel as a divine provision from God, having as its main purpose the destruction of sin and the promotion of holiness. Therefore, far from making it acceptable for them to be less holy that they should be under the law, its whole value consists in its power to make them holy.
All scripture based on the King James Authorized Version or 1611 Bible, New Testament only, otherwise known as THE WORD. All Old Testament scriptural references used in this article is Jewish History, not canonical, and is used as additional references.