To Forgive or Not To Forgive?

Forgiveness through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, means that we are given the opportunity to spend eternity with Almighty God in Heaven.  John 3:16-21 state that Jesus came to provide for our salvation.  The verses also describe the difference between those practicing evil who are condemned and people who are honoring God.  People who willfully continue their evil, sinful behavior in spite of claiming to be a Christian are not sincerely following Jesus.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.  But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God. 

John 3:16-21 (NKJV)

Those verses and the rest of God’s Word have impacted my daily life for over 33 years since I asked Jesus to be my personal Lord and Savior.  I have lived differently ever since the evening that I surrendered my life to the King of kings and the Lord of lords.  My outlook changed from a worldly perspective to one based on God’s Word, His promises and His directions and guidance.  I accepted God’s forgiveness and do my best to obey Him in every area of my life.  I am not perfect and none of us will ever reach perfection on this earth.  That is why we must understand that God’s forgiveness requires us to sincerely repent by changing our ungodly behavior when we sin.  If we refuse to repent, Jesus Christ is not our Lord.

God’s forgiveness is not unconditional.  God expects us to obey Him.  When we disobey the Lord, we will suffer the consequences.  Deuteronomy 28 clearly describes the blessings that we will receive for obeying God and also some of the results if we choose to disobey Him.  In Genesis 19:15-26, Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt because she disobeyed the Lord and looked back after being told not to do so.  The cost of her disobedience was immediate death.

Biblical forgiveness is one of the most incorrectly taught principles to followers of Jesus Christ.  Some Christians believe that because they once said a prayer asking Jesus to be their Lord and Savior that all of their past, present and future sins are automatically forgiven by Almighty God.  They do not believe that they will be held accountable for any sins and that there is no need for them to repent.  That line of thinking only leads to rampant sin in the life of a person who is not a genuine Christian.

My Scriptural understanding of our responsibility to forgive others has changed greatly during the past several decades.  I was taught repeatedly, and as a result I once believed, that we are supposed to forgive everyone regardless of what they did, whether they were a genuine follower of Jesus or not, and whether or not they were sorry and repentant.  I no longer believe that based on several Scriptures, many of which are Jesus’ own words.  According to Luke 17:3, Jesus stated that repentance is a condition required for us to forgive a fellow Christian.

Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.

Luke 17:3 (NKJV)

True Christians will obey the Lord and if they sin, they will repent and change their behavior.  They will express genuine remorse.  However, there are many wolves in sheep’s clothing who are pretending to be followers of Jesus Christ, but do not obey Him and do not repent for their sins.  We can know the difference based on a person’s actions and sincere sorrow.  John 3:36 clearly warns us that the wrath of God remains on those who do not obey the Lord.

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. 

John 3:36 (ESV)

Sincere followers of Jesus Christ should always be willing to forgive others when it is appropriate to do so.  Our Most High God does not forgive everyone, but He is ready and willing to forgive us when we are truly sorry for our sins and change our behavior—repent—to live according to His Word.  People who refuse to genuinely accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior and obey God’s commandments and directions will not spend eternity with Him.  His forgiveness can only be received through the birth, death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.

For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,
And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.  

Psalm 86:5 (NKJV)

However, the Lord said in Matthew 12:31-32 that there is a sin that even God will not forgive.  Blasphemy—the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence—against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven by God.  These words from Jesus show that our Most High God considers that to be unforgivable!

“Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.  Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.” 

Matthew 12:31-32 (NKJV)

In Acts 5:1-11, Ananias and Sapphira tried to deceive the Holy Spirit and lied to Peter about the amount of money they had received when they sold a possession.  They kept back a portion of the proceeds from the sale.  That was not the problem.  Their sin was that they lied about it.  They were both guilty of deception and lying.  Ananias and Sapphira were given the opportunity to repent and tell the truth, but they did not do so.  They died as a result.  That may seem like a harsh consequence for lying, but it is one example of believers receiving God’s judgment for not repenting for their sin. 

But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”

Acts 5:3-4 (NKJV)

Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter answered her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?” She said, “Yes, for so much.”

Acts 5:7-8 (NKJV)

In addition, when we have sinned and not asked God to forgive us and repented for our sins, it always blocks our relationships with Him.  He will not hear our prayers if we have known sins on our accounts.  

But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
And your sins have hidden His face from you,
So that He will not hear.   

Isaiah 59:2 (NKJV)

God does expect us to forgive as we have been forgiven in Christ.  After we make a sincere profession of faith in Jesus, ask God for forgiveness for our sins and repent, God forgives us.  The condition of repentance is often ignored by those who want us to forgive them, but do not want to change their behavior.  At times, people may forgive someone who is not repentant because they do not want to lose that relationship.  However, that is a very selfish reason to forgive and it allows the offender to continue the ungodly behavior without consequences. That is not in agreement with God’s character and Word.  In this life or after they die, our Most High God always carries out His judgment against those who do not repent.

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. 

Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV)

This is a powerful quote from John Hagee: “Granting forgiveness without demanding a change in conduct (behavior) makes the grace of God an accomplice to evil.”  Just think about that statement.  Ungodly behavior is sin and evil.  If we grant forgiveness without requiring the person to repent and change their behavior, we are making the grace of God a partner with that evil.  Godly sorrow and repentance are not optional in order to receive God’s forgiveness. 

Why would we think that we should forgive unrepentant rapists, pedophiles, murderers, and other evil people, including pseudo Christians, when Almighty God does not forgive such people?  Those who tell abuse victims/survivors to forgive an unrepentant, evil perpetrator are asking them to do something that our Most High God does not do!  One woman to whom I ministered told me that she would never forgive the person who murdered her daughter.  Not only was the killer unrepentant, but he denied that he had committed the crime even though all the evidence proved he had done it.  I do not believe that the Lord expected that heartbroken lady to forgive the murderer of her precious daughter.

Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. 

Acts 8:22 (NKJV)

 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.    

2 Corinthians 7:10 (NKJV)

Without faith in the One True God and His Son, Jesus Christ, a person cannot truly forgive.  The love of God makes it possible for us to genuinely forgive when it is appropriate.  A desire to obey and please the Lord is absent without that faith.  A remorseless wrongdoer cannot benefit from God’s forgiveness.  The fact that God forgives us based on our acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice and our repentance is the only reason that we have hope and the assurance that we will spend eternity with the Lord in Heaven.  Obeying God and forgiving—when it is appropriate—helps to keep our relationships with the Lord strong.

Also, we cannot base whether or not we have truly forgiven someone on our feelings.  We may still feel emotional pain when we think about the person or situation.  Many years ago, the life and career of a man I know was seriously damaged and almost destroyed as a result of the wicked actions and lies of several people.  He was carrying an indescribable amount of pain and trauma.  Hoping to reduce his suffering, that man eventually made the conscious decision to forgive the people involved, but he still felt lots of bitterness and anger regarding the injustice that had been done to him.  The bitterness and anger were attached to the emotional pain and trauma that he had suffered, which had not been released or healed.  If we forgive someone who is truly sorry and repentant, we may not always feel like we have done so until Jesus releases the pain and trauma and heals our broken hearts.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;

Luke 4:18 (NKJV)

Our Most High God gives everyone the opportunity to receive true freedom and healing through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Whether or not we are forgiven by God depends on our sincere acceptance of Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  Our obedience to God and His Word and our repentance when we sin prove that our relationships with Him are genuine.  He will never force anyone to repent, but thank God that He gives us the choice to do so!

               Kathy Shelton

 

What in the world is going on with me?

Have you ever asked yourself that question?  You love the Lord Jesus and have sincerely asked Him to be your personal Lord and Savior, but something is blocking you from receiving freedom from ungodly habits and reactions to things.  The sin that we continue to battle in our lives is sometimes the result of past emotional pain and trauma that are festering beneath the surface.  If you find yourself repeatedly “going around the same mountains,” this may be the reason.

A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance,
But by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.
Proverbs 15:13 (NKJV)


Our spirits register everything about us from the moment of conception on.  When a person’s countenance is sad, there is a broken spirit involved. 

The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness,
But who can bear a broken spirit?
Proverbs 18:14 (NKJV)

 
A broken spirit is the result of traumatic events—one time occurrences or on-going situations.  We often suffer traumatic situations as the result of the actions of evil people who have no consciences.  The reality is that much of the trauma we experience is caused by close friends, family and others we trusted who were just pretending to be Christians.  Those traumatic circumstances are even more devastating due to the tremendous betrayal that is part of the trauma.  

Traumatic events include the death of a loved one, divorce, abuse of any kind (sexual, mental, verbal, emotional, spiritual or physical), domestic violence, being the victim of any violent crime, physical illnesses and surgeries, repeatedly moving from one location to another (especially during childhood), natural disasters (fires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc.), and anything else that is extremely upsetting to normal life circumstances.  Trauma can not only break our hearts, but it can also break our spirits!

Addiction to drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, gambling, food, prescription medications, ungodly relationships, cutting oneself, or anything else may be the result of trying to numb emotional pain and trauma from the past or present.  As painful memories from past events are triggered and come to the surface, the associated emotional, mental, spiritual or physical pain may be intense.  In an attempt to numb or deaden that pain, an individual may have one, two, three, or more drinks, use drugs, or in some other way try to relieve or deaden that pain.  It may work for a short time, because the activity changes the chemical balance in the person’s brain.  However, it is not a permanent solution and the unbearable emotional, mental, spiritual or physical pain eventually surfaces again.  The cycle of numbing the pain, the pain reappearing, and numbing it again can lead to full-blown addiction.


As genuine followers of Jesus Christ, we need to be living from the hearts and spirits that Jesus gave us.  Unfortunately, most of us are living from hearts and spirits that are broken.  Inner healing is the healing of our emotional and spiritual wounds.  Many of them are wounds that we initially experienced in early childhood.  These traumatic experiences often become repressed with time and remain hidden within us, contaminating our souls and distorting our beliefs and behaviors.  If we bury our emotional and spiritual pain, we are burying something that remains alive!  Suppressed emotional and spiritual pain doesn’t just disappear.  It can turn into lingering physical pain.

The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,
And saves such as have a contrite spirit.
Psalm 34:18 (NKJV)
  
A contrite spirit is also translated as a crushed spirit (NASB translation).  Therefore, the verse above reassures us that the Lord saves those who are crushed in spirit.  Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted and proclaim liberty to the captives (Luke 4:18, NKJV).  The Lord wants to heal our broken hearts and spirits!

The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord,

Searching all the innermost parts of his being.
Proverbs 20:27 (NASB)


James 1:4 (NIV) instructs us to become mature and complete, not lacking anything.  This reference is one of many portions of Scripture that highlight our responsibility to work on our maturity.  Once the Lord reveals that some sin in our lives is pain-driven, we must do all we can to pursue Biblical healing and freedom.  We should never use any type of pain as an excuse to sin!

Inner healing is a process like peeling and onion, one layer at a time.  It is not about trying to be perfect all at once.  We all need inner healing, because we have all been wounded emotionally or spiritually to one degree or another.  None of us grew up in a perfect world.  We don’t get healed if we stay in denial about how we are broken.  God does the redeeming, but we choose to mature.  If we are serious about becoming more like Jesus, we must ask Him to show us pain and trauma that He wants to heal in us. 

Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”
Matthew 22:37 (NKJV)


We were meant to love God with undivided, whole hearts.  Traumatic situations cause our hearts to be broken and divided into many pieces.  The good news is that there is hope!  A genuine, personal relationship with God’s Son, Jesus Christ, can lead to the healing and restoration of our hearts and spirits.  Jesus is the only One who can truly heal broken hearts and spirits!  Many people have received freedom from the effects of emotional and spiritual pain and trauma, including ungodly behavior, sin and addictions, through Biblical, healing prayer ministry.  Jesus Christ came to set the captives free, but sometimes it requires a person, “Jesus with skin on,” to help in the inner healing process.  We all need the encouragement and prayers of trusted, genuine followers of Jesus Christ! 

Do not give up hope!  Jesus loves you and wants to heal your broken heart and spirit.  The Lord will show you the way to receive the healing you need as you focus on loving Father God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit right where you are at the moment.  The Lord Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8, NKJV)

Kathy Shelton 

JUSTICE… What is it?

Many seek the ruler’s favor, But justice for man comes from the Lord.  Proverbs 29:26 (NKJV)

Countless followers of Jesus Christ, especially those with broken hearts, long for the day when they will see justice for the wrongs done to them by others. It can cause endless torment to our minds, hearts and spirits when there is seemingly no justice for evil acts committed against us. However, the reality is that we may never see justice accomplished here on this earth for many reasons. 

Definitions of justice include fairness or reasonableness, especially in the way people are treated or decisions are made. Justice is also defined as the legal system, or the act of applying or upholding the law. There is no justice achieved in the world’s court systems in an overwhelming number of cases. However, every judge on this earth will have to answer to the Most High God for every unjust ruling they have imposed in court.

 Therefore the law is powerless, And justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore perverse judgment proceeds.  Habakkuk 1:4 (NKJV)

Innocent people are wrongly convicted and go to prison. People who are guilty without a shadow of a doubt are released and serve no time for their crimes due to loop holes in the law. If a guilty person is convicted, sentences are often very minimal. Most of the time, criminals do not compensate their victims for the horrible pain and trauma they inflicted. To make matters worse, criminals usually find some way of blaming the victims for what happened. Criminals have no conscience and perjure themselves—lie  in court—and they will say and do anything to avoid justice.

A disreputable witness scorns justice, And the mouth of the wicked devours iniquity.  Proverbs 19:28 (NKJV)

There are so many repeat offenders in the world who just move on from one victim to the next. People who have 2, 3, or over a dozen driving while intoxicated (DWI) convictions are still free and driving after drinking. How many serial killers and serial rapists have we heard about on the news? Rape is an extremely traumatic crime that often goes unpunished due to a lack of evidence, a “he said, she said” attitude by the legal system, or outright blaming the victim. The emotional, mental and spiritual pain and trauma resulting from rape can lead to victims taking their own lives. Where is the justice in that?

For I proclaim the name of the Lord: Ascribe greatness to our God. He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He.  Deuteronomy 32:3-4 (NKJV)

Our Most High God is a God of truth, without injustice, righteous and upright! His justice will prevail in the end—if not on this earth, after we pass from this life into eternity. God knows the truth, the whole truth. No one can lie to Almighty God. He will punish evil doers. Our God will execute justice for their victims!

The Lord executes righteousness And justice for all who are oppressed.  Psalm 103:6 (NKJV)

He does not preserve the life of the wicked, But gives justice to the oppressed.  Job 36:6 (NKJV)

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all.  For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.  Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 (NKJV)

Make no mistake—there will be consequences for evil works and sins—if we do not sincerely repent and change our behavior, which is the evidence of a real, personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Our hearts must be renewed and sorrow for our sins must be godly and genuine. Our All-knowing God knows the difference.

It is a joy for the just to do justice, But destruction will come to the workers of iniquity.  Proverbs 21:15 (NKJV)

Deuteronomy 28 says that obedience to the Lord results in blessings and disobedience brings curses on us. The Bible includes numerous examples of justice and punishment that people experienced due to their disobedience and sin. Here are just a few:

• Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden of Eden. (Genesis 3:1-24)

• Pharaoh’s son died because Pharaoh would not let God’s people leave. (Exodus 12:29)

• Moses did not get to go into the promised land. (Numbers 20:7-12)

• David and Bathsheba’s son died. (2 Samuel 12:13-19)

• Ananias and Sapphira died after lying. (Acts 5:1-10)

• Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt. (Genesis 19:17, 26)

 

There are also many examples in the Bible of God’s justice that blessed people for their obedience to him. They include:

• Joseph received a huge honor and promotion after enduring an unjust prison sentence. (Genesis 41:37-46)

• Peter was supernaturally released from prison. (Acts 12:5-11)

• David was victorious over Goliath. (1 Samuel 17)

• Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego were unharmed in the fiery furnace. (Daniel 3:19-28)

• Daniel was not hurt in the lion’s den. (Daniel 6:10-22)

• Paul and Silas were set free from prison. (Acts 16:25-40)

 

While waiting and hoping for God’s justice to be carried out on our behalf, we should do the following:

» Trust God! Peace comes when we trust God and His Word.

» Read the Bible out loud daily.

» Praise and worship God on a daily basis.

» Thank God that justice will come in His way and timing.

» Focus on drawing closer to the Lord.

» Ask Jesus to heal the emotional and spiritual pain and trauma inside us.

» Pursue help to receive healing and freedom from a trained, follower of Jesus if needed.

 

There will be eternal consequences and God’s justice for sin and rebellion to God. Unbelievers will go to Hell. Liars will go to Hell. The devil and evil angels will end up in Hell. There are no loop holes in God’s laws! Some professing Christians choose to believe that the blood of Jesus Christ covers all their future sins and that there is no need for them to repent and change their attitudes and behaviors. They are wrong. Paul repeatedly confronted sinning “believers.” Jesus paid the price for our sins, but we must genuinely accept Him as our personal Lord and Savior, not just say a prayer and continue to practice known sin. The Lord Jesus said:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’  Matthew 7:21-23 (NKJV)

When we pass from this life into eternity, we will all be judged by our Most High God. The Bible is clear about God’s justice and judgment.

Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.  2 Corinthians 5:9-11 (NKJV)

But the Lord shall endure forever; He has prepared His throne for judgment.  He shall judge the world in righteousness, And He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness.  Psalm 9:7-8 (NKJV)

The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.  Revelation 20:10-12 (NKJV)

How much greater punishment do you think he will deserve who has rejected and trampled under foot the Son of God, and has considered unclean and common the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and has insulted the Spirit of grace [who imparts the unmerited favor and blessing of God]? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine [retribution and the deliverance of justice rest with Me], I will repay [the wrongdoer].” And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a fearful and terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God [incurring His judgment and wrath].  Hebrews 10:29-31 (AMP)

Justice is our Most High God’s righteous judgment and punishment for evil actions done to us, or by us, that have not been confessed and forgiven through the blood of Jesus Christ, and where no genuine repentance has been produced by godly sorrow. God’s justice and judgment will be executed in His perfect timing.

 

Kathy Shelton

Does the Truth Really Matter?

Does the truth really matter? Doing a word search of the Bible for truth, lies, liars and lying results in an overwhelming amount of Scriptures that clearly answer this question. However, many people these days, including professing Christians, have decided and believe that truth is subjective. In other words, they believe that truth depends on their opinions and worldviews. Nothing could be further from the truth according to God’s Word!

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Exodus 20:16 (NKJV)

He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

1 John 2:4 (NKJV)

Our Most High God included not bearing false witness—not lying, but telling the truth—as one of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:16. That is how seriously He regards telling the truth. According to 1 John 2:4, if we say that we know God and do not keep His commandments, we are liars! Nowhere in the Bible does the Lord treat lying as a minor sin. In fact, there are several places in God’s Word where it states that He hates lying!

These six things the Lord hates;
Indeed, seven are repulsive to Him:

A proud look [the attitude that makes one overestimate oneself and discount others], a lying tongue,
And hands that shed innocent blood,
 
A heart that creates wicked plans,
Feet that run swiftly to evil,

A false witness who breathes out lies [even half-truths],
And one who spreads discord (rumors) among brothers.

Proverbs 6:16-19 (AMP)

Many people also believe that there is a difference between an outright lie, a half-truth and a little white lie. Lying is lying. There are no little white lies in God’s eyes. According to Proverbs 6:19, our Holy God hates a false witness who speaks even half-truths! A half-truth is still a lie.

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, But those who deal truthfully are His delight.

Proverbs 12:22 (NKJV)

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord. He delights in those who deal truthfully with others. The truth was what Jesus came to tell everyone. He was never concerned about being politically correct when He spoke the truth. Jesus boldly spoke the truth without apology! He called the Pharisees and Sadducees a brood of vipers (Matthew 12:34) and He compared them to whitewashed tombs full of dead men’s bones (Matthew 23:27).

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

John 14:6 (NKJV)

Jesus said that He is the truth. If a person claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ, but does not live and speak the truth, they are not a child of God. They are not going to end up in Heaven when they pass from this life into eternity. According to Revelation 21:8, liars will end up in Hell. There is a difference between someone who slips up and lies, but quickly asks God to forgive them and repents, and people who have made serial lying their way of life. The latter cannot abide with God, because they do not speak the truth.

Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle?
Who may dwell in Your holy hill?

He who walks uprightly,
And works righteousness,
And speaks the truth in his heart;

Psalm 15:1-2 (NKJV)

Refusing to admit the truth does not make it any less true. Ananias and Sapphira suffered the most severe consequences when they lied about the money they received from selling their land. They immediately died after lying (Acts 5:1-11). That is how seriously the Lord views lying!

“And like their bow they have bent their tongues for lies. They are not valiant for the truth on the earth. For they proceed from evil to evil, And they do not know Me,” says the Lord.

Jeremiah 9:3 (NKJV)

It is very suspicious when people begin a sentence with the phrases, “To tell the truth,” or “Honestly.” As followers of Jesus Christ and children of God, we are supposed to tell the truth and be honest in our communication with others. We should always desire to obey God’s Word and commandments and change our behavior if it does not line up with His ways. Genuine repentance for lying is not an option if we are going to spend eternity with our Most High God. The Lord said that liars do not know Him!

Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?

Galatians 4:16 (NKJV)

Liars often think that those who tell them the truth are their enemies when, in reality, the opposite is true. God loves us and His Word is full of the truth and instructions that we need to obey to receive His blessings in our lives. Speaking God’s truth to someone we love takes courage and shows that we really care about them. Lying produces broken hearts and broken relationships. The most destructive effects caused by lying are to our relationships with Almighty God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Liars often view God and godly people as their enemies.

Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.

Psalm 86:11 (NKJV)

Walking in the truth is the evidence that we love God and that we have an awe and necessary fear of Him. Liars have no fear of God. They do not walk in His truth and their relationships are a mess as a result. Healthy, godly relationships cannot exist without truth and trust. There can be no trust in a relationship with a liar. Lying always destroys trust between people in any relationship. Slander—saying something false that damages somebody’s reputation—is a particularly evil and devastating form of lying. Liars often use slander to make themselves look better in people’s eyes, but God sees and knows the truth about everything. He has promised to bring to light the secret things that are hidden in darkness and disclose the motives of the hearts (1 Corinthians 4:5, Amplified Version).

In addition, most people who are not Christians consider lying to be unacceptable. Legally, lying under oath in a court of law is called perjury and the person who commits perjury is subject to significant punishment if they are caught. As children of the Most High God, we should always live according to His standards, which are much higher than the world’s standards. The truth protects us and allows us to take refuge in our Heavenly Father.

He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.

Psalm 91:4 (NKJV)

Unfortunately many people have become desensitized to lying. Misrepresenting or twisting the truth can become habitual. Liars may also have allowed their consciences to be seared if they ever had one. They lie when they are caught like the little child with their hand in the cookie jar and cookie crumbs all over their face who says they did not eat any cookies. Liars often lie to try to cover their lies. That is an endless cycle that pleases the devil. Jesus said that the devil is the father of lies and the devil is the father of those who lie!

You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

John 8:44 (NKJV)

Knowing and living the truth of the Bible is what determines if we are genuine followers of Jesus Christ. The truth sets us free. Lying never produces freedom. It only results in more bondage to the kingdom of darkness! When we admit and accept the truth, it gives the Lord the opportunity to heal our emotional and spiritual pain and trauma. The first step to inner healing is facing our brokenness. We cannot receive God’s lasting healing and freedom if we continue to lie.

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

John 8:31-32 (NKJV)

Therefore, putting away lying, Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.

Ephesians 4:25 (NKJV)

Without a doubt, our Most High God’s principles include that the truth really matters!

 

Kathy Shelton

 

Carry on, Soldier!

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.”

Matthew 10:34 (NKJV)

Jesus made this statement to His twelve disciples as He was preparing to send them out into the surrounding areas to preach the Gospel, heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and cast out demons. Jesus was warning them about the spiritual warfare that they would encounter as they served the Most High God. The sword that He was referring to was a weapon used not in peaceful situations, but in fighting the good fight (1 Timothy 6:12). Jesus also explained in the verses following Matthew 10:34 that division in relationships would occur as a result of their steadfast faith. We will experience the same things as we follow Jesus and serve the Most High God.

When we make a genuine decision to accept Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, it is life-changing in many ways. However, we rarely realize that we have also enlisted in a very real war in the spiritual realm. Life is not easy in general, but lives that are surrendered to the Most High God and His Son, Jesus Christ, include the reality of ongoing spiritual warfare at various levels and intensities throughout the Christian journey.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV)

The Lord has provided many spiritual weapons for us to use as we battle against Satan’s kingdom, the kingdom of darkness. Ephesians 6:14-18 contains a list of some of the weapons that are necessary and successful in the spiritual battles we face in our Christian lives. They include truth, righteousness, the Gospel of peace, faith, salvation, the Word of God and prayer.

If we are going to be effective in the battles, we must live a life of truth just as our Lord Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). Righteousness—godly standards and principles—must also be followed in order to avoid giving the enemy any right to repel the weapons we are using against him and the kingdom of darkness. During warfare, we cannot shift back and forth from one side to the other. We must choose God’s side and stay there. If we continue to practice known sin, we align ourselves with the armies of the kingdom of darkness. Opposing the enemy requires us to reject and repent for sin and to resist the temptation to join the devil’s side by being in agreement with his lies, deception, and all other sinful and evil behavior.

Quoting Scripture, the Word of God, is a powerful weapon that will cause the armies of the enemy to flee. Becoming diligent about praying every day, as frequently as needed and for as long as necessary, is essential in the fight against the attacks from the devil and his helpers.  Praise and worship are also huge weapons that are highly successful in fighting the good fight. Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to the Lord while they were in the most horrific prison, resulting in their miraculous release (Acts 16:25). 

Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory.

Psalm 24:10 (NKJV)

It is not the Lord’s will for us to fight in this warfare alone. We must always remember that the Lord our God fights for us! Our Most High God is also the Lord of Hosts, the Lord of Heaven’s armies! When we need help, warrior angels are ready to assist us in the battle against the kingdom of darkness. Hebrews 1:14 says that angels are ministering spirits sent forth to minister for us. Asking Jehovah Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts, to send them to help us fight spiritual battles is crucial for victory, especially when we are feeling beaten down and weak.

Spiritual warfare can be extremely exhausting—physically, emotionally and spiritually. Twila Paris’ song, The Warrior is a Child, is a great reminder that “even winners can get wounded in the fight” and “even soldiers need a quiet place to rest.” No follower of Jesus Christ is strong enough to constantly fight spiritual warfare without times of rest away from the front lines. We all need those times of refreshing and recovery. We also need the prayers of other genuine believers to help fortify us in the battles. The principles of warfare in the natural realm of never leaving anyone behind and supporting the other soldiers to the death are even more important in fighting spiritual warfare!

No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.

2 Timothy 2:4 (NKJV)

Staying focused on our calling as soldiers in God’s kingdom against the kingdom of darkness is also essential if we are going to be effective in spiritual warfare. The devil and his helpers will do their best to distract us with worldly matters and activities to trap us in their web of lies and deception to the point that we lose our concentration and ability to respond appropriately when attacks are launched against us. To please our Most High God and be ready to fight the spiritual battles that come our way, we must avoid sinful behavior and people who directly or indirectly discourage us from following Jesus’ example. During spiritual warfare we can never drop our spiritual weapons, and we must avoid the temptation to run away—going AWOL—in the same manner that a member of the armed forces is absent from his or her place of assignment without official permission. We must carry on to the best of our ability using the weapons that the Most High God has provided for us and continue to fight the good fight to the very end. Carry on, soldier! The victory celebration will be glorious when we meet the Lord face to face.

 

Kathy Shelton