Spiritual Examination

“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test” (2 Corinthians 13:5)!

Paul gave a final warning to the church in Corinth, about staying away from sin. He sent this warning on three occasions and confirmed that every charge must be established, by the evidence of two or three witnesses. He spoke on behalf of Christ who was powerful among the saints. Christ had been crucified in weakness and now lives by the power of God. In the same way, saints are weak but live through the power of Christ. Paul warned them to examine themselves to see if they were still in the faith. He wanted them to test their belief and examine if Christ was living in and being manifested through them. If Christ was not alive in them, they would fail the test of faith. Paul wanted the saints to live right so that they would not fail the test.

Paul was also ready to test his own works and was confident that he would pass. Despite the failing of the saints, he wanted them to be restored. “For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for” (2 Corinthians 13:9). He wrote these things to the church and was firm in his correction. His hope was that they would repent so that he would not need to be authoritative when he was with them. His desire was to build them up and not tear them down. His final greeting was for them to aim for restoration, to comfort and agree with one another and to live in peace. Earlier in 1 Corinthians 6, Paul scolded the church about sexual immorality.

““All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12). What he was saying in this scripture was that, even things that are not expressly forbidden in scripture can be unhelpful for believers. For example, the bible does not warn against watching television. However, binge watching movies and shows while neglecting prayer and bible study is unhelpful. The devil uses things that seem insignificant to pull people away and to keep them distracted. Constant distractions and neglecting our fellowship with God will stunt our spiritual growth. Paul cautioned that our bodies belong to God and as such, should remain consecrated to him.

“Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18). Paul’s advice was to run away from sexual sins as this was committed against a person’s body. The main reason is that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is from God. We belong to God and he lives in us. We each have to do regular examinations of our selves to see if we are in the faith. Although I have mentioned sexual sin, there are other sins that can stand between us and God. Pride, envy, jealousy, bitterness and resentment will also separate us from God. We are not perfect and we live with daily temptations. We need God’s help to live free from sin and he is able and willing to help us as we surrender and remain connected to him.

“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy” (Jude 1:24).


Reward or Consequence

“Can two walk together, unless they are agreed” (Amos 3:3)?

Chapter 3 of Amos speaks to the authority of the prophet’s message and he prophesied about Isreal’s disobedience. God made a covenant with Israel and brought them out of Egypt using signs and miracles. Despite God’s grace and mercy, the people rebelled against God and his prophets. God has a principle which precedes judgement and recompense. “Surely the Lord God does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). God always sent a word of caution to his people, with an opportunity for repentance. I had a conversation with my sister the other day about parenting. She spoke about the importance of boundary setting with children and explained the importance of following through on a caution, when a child oversteps a boundary.

She said that when a parent gives a warning and promises a punishment, if the warning is not heeded, then not following through on a punishment, can send the message to a child that they are allowed to cross that line again. Following through on a punishment helps to reinforce a boundary and allows a child to know what can be expected. God is our father and the bible speaks about godly chastisement, rewards for obedience and consequences for disobedience. Like a parent, God will send a warning when we have crossed a boundary and are living in sin. “He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy” (Proverbs 29:1). The difference between God and most earthly parents is that he is long suffering.

God can spend years warning people about error before their final destruction. Not all sin leads to ultimate destruction, but there are consequences for sin. Many people are living under the grace of God and we all have sinned. We daily make confession for sin so that God can cleanse us. It is living in a state perpetual disobedience which leaves us open for destruction. It is not God who destroys, but living in disobedience means that we are outside of his protection. We each have to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. It is much easier to identify and point out error in others, than it is to reflect on our own wrong doing.

“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified” (II Corinthians 13:5). God is not the author of confusion and when he speaks, he means what he says. None of his words will return to him void and he does not want destruction for anyone. “Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel’” (Ezekiel 33:11)?


Life in the Spirit

“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).

In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he encouraged them to walk in the spirit, so that they would not give heed to the lust of the flesh. The lust of the flesh includes adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousy, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, envy, murder, drunkenness and all other forms of sin and wickedness. The flesh relates to our Adamic nature which is predisposed to sin. It is our salvation and the grace of God, through faith, which allows us to live and walk in the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. The opposite of the works of the flesh are the fruits of the spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness” (Galatians 5:22).

Walking and living in the spirit is allowing God to live through us. In this way, we are not controlled by our human desires and passions, but the life of Jesus Christ is alive in us. When Jesus died on the cross, he put to death the works of the flesh, so that we are no longer slaves to sin. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). We are now dead to sin and alive in Christ Jesus as new creatures. Paul spoke about crucifying the works of the flesh and the need to die daily. In this way, we keep the flesh and it’s works under subjection to the spirit of God. Walking in the spirit requires that we listen and remain in step with the Holy Spirit.

The flesh is hostile and contrary to the spirit and the spirit is contrary to the flesh. Both the flesh and the spirit are engaged in an ongoing battle for dominance. “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find” (Romans 7:18). Paul said that he observed the law of the flesh, warring against the law of the spirit. This law of the flesh often causes people to do those things, that they desire not to do and fail to do those things that they want to do. This law also seeks to wage war against our minds to bring us into captivity to the law of sin. The Holy Spirit is our Teacher, Comforter, Counsellor and friend. He guides us into all truth and helps us to grow and live in the spirit.

We have to daily crucify and deny the flesh in order to grow in the spirit. Daily disciplines of reading the bible, praying, quiet time to listen to the Holy Spirit are what will help us to grow in God. We have to develop the habit of spending time to listen to what God has to say. It is not only Pastors and Prophets who can hear the voice of God. The Holy Spirit is always speaking through a still small voice, but many of us are not trained to listen and hear. Schedule time in between praying to ask God questions and then pause to listen. You can’t develop a relationship with God where you do all of the talking. Listening and heeding the voice of God is the most important ingredient to living life in the spirit.

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27).



“No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you” (Joshua 1:5).

Joshua was one of the most formidable characters in the bible and the army that he led at the time was also quite fierce. The word formidable means inspiring fear through being impressively large, powerful, intense or capable. Let us consider Joshua’s journey through scripture and learn more about how he developed his reputation. In Numbers 12, Joshua and Caleb were two of the twelve spies, that Moses sent to spy out the land of Canaan. Ten of the men brought back an evil report about the land which caused the people to be fearful. “Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there” (Numbers 13:28).

It was Caleb who first quieted the people and encouraged them to go forward. Joshua also spoke up and was willing to stand with Moses and Aaron. “Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them”” (Numbers 14:9). For this the people wanted to stone them, appoint a new leader and return back to slavery in Egypt. God was angry at the people’s rebellion and the result was that entire generation died in the wilderness, except Joshua and Caleb. Later on, Moses was instructed to anoint Joshua to be his successor as he would lead the people into Canaan.

Joshua was full of the spirit of wisdom and the people listened and followed his lead. God also promised to be with him in the same way that he was with Moses. “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses”(Joshua 1:3). Joshua learnt how to listen and heed the voice of God for victory over the enemies. He first sent two men to spy out the land of Jericho and they brought back a good report. “And they said to Joshua, “Truly the Lord has delivered all the land into our hands, for indeed all the inhabitants of the country are fainthearted because of us”” (Joshua 2:24). They crossed the Jordan, circumcised the people and then Joshua met with the Commander of the Lord’s army.

Jericho was the first city after the Jordan and the walls were high and the people shut up the city to try to stop them from gaining entry. God gave Joshua the strategy to tear down the walls and to take possession of that city and every city after that. On one occasion in chapter 10, Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, until Isreal had completely defeated their enemies (Joshua 10:12-13). Joshua took all the lands which God promised to Moses and his people and drove out the inhabitants. Just as God had promised, they were unstoppable and formidable and absolutely no one stood in their way. We are the seed of Abraham and like Joshua, we are unstoppable and no one can stand against us with God on our side.

“No man shall be able to stand against you; the Lord your God will put the dread of you and the fear of you upon all the land where you tread, just as He has said to you” (Deuteronomy 11:25).


The Sceptre Of Judah

“The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples” (Genesis 49:10).

In Genesis 49, Jacob called his sons and pronounced a blessing over them. To Judah he declared that his brothers would praise him and his hands would be on the neck of his enemies. His father’s sons would bow down to him and he was declared a lion’s cub, who from the prey he went up to the mountain: He stooped and crouched like a lion and as a lion who no one would dare to interfere with. The sceptre (of royalty) would never leave Judah and all people would obey him. A sceptre is an ornamented staff carried by rulers, on ceremonial occasions as a symbol of royalty or sovereignty. David also came from the lineage of Judah and Jesse and ruled the kingdom of Judah. Nathan prophesied over David’s reign and over his lineage.

“And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:16). Despite David’s sin later in his reign, when he took Uriah’s wife and killed him, God appointed his son Solomon to take over his throne. “As the Lord has been with my Lord the king, even so may he be with Solomon, and make his throne greater than the throne of my Lord King David” (1 Kings 1:37). Solomon married wives that drew his heart away from God and this led to the gradual decline in the people of God. This led to years of sin and gradual backsliding from the things and commandments of God. Eventually the people of God lost their possessions and were take into captivity.

God’s people spent many years in hardship and in the New Testament, were under the rule of the Roman Empire. Despite the challenges that faced God’s people, His covenant concerning Judah was established, when Jesus was born from the genealogy of David and Judah. “So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations” (Matthew 1:17). Jesus was crucified, died and rose again to conquer death, hell and the grave. He is right now seated at the right hand of God and he reigns forever.

The name Judah means praise and symbolises a violent praise that proceeds warfare. The worshippers and singers went ahead of the armies in battle, with singers and musicians. Our worship sets the atmosphere for victory as we hail the lion of the tribe of Judah and acknowledge his preeminence. As Jesus Christ is exalted, he fights the battles for us and we are sure of victory. Jesus is worthy to receive our praises, because he is the spotless lamb, who died for our sins and is now exalted on high. His second coming will not be as a lamb, but as the conquering lion of the tribe of Judah. “And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals”” (Revelation 5:5).


Healing the Soul (4)

“He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3).

David spoke in Psalm 23 of God being his shepherd, who provided for all of his needs. God caused him to lie down in green pastures, led him beside still waters and restored his soul. This verse points to the fact that it is possible to restore the soul. Restoration relates to bringing back or re-establishing something to its former state. The Psalm suggests that David’s soul had been depleted, worn out or exhausted. He was the youngest of Jesse’s sons and not even considered when Samuel visited, to anoint one of them to be king. He spent most of his time in the fields, looking after flock for his father or running errands for his brothers. He was anointed despite his father’s misgivings and set himself apart, when he took down Goliath.

Saul appointed David to his service as a Musician first and then a soldier in his army. He soon grew jealous of David once the people celebrated him more after victory. He made several attempts to kill David who constantly ran and hid as he pursued him. It was only when David entered enemy territory when Saul stopped pursuing him. These challenges would have made David exhausted, weary and his soul would have been wounded. Yet, he sought sustenance and restoration from God. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me”(Psalm 23:4). He was confident that God would prepare a table of good things, in the very presence of his enemies.

Moreover, God’s anointing was continually over his life and he overflowed with the presence of God. He was confident of God’s goodness forever and made a vow to remain always in the presence of God. David often worried about the advances of the wicked and oftentimes cried out to God for help. “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid” (Psalm 27:1)? He was confident about the outcome for the wicked who rose up against him. He could depend on God as a rock and shelter and his heart always rejoiced in the Lord. “And now shall mine head be lifted up, Above mine enemies round about me: Therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD” (Psalm 27:6).

Many times David almost lost hope, when he saw what appeared to be the prosperity of the wicked. Yet he learnt how to wait on the Lord and to take courage. “I had fainted, Unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13). He observed that although the wicked seemed to prosper for a season or spring up like a herb, very soon they wither and are driven away by the wind. Life can be challenging and trials can cause us to feel wounded. Like David, God is able to restore our souls. We have to trust him, surrender and allow him to do his work in our lives. God will prepare a table in the presence of our enemies and he will restore lost relationships and opportunities. Our praise and worship acknowledges the power and awesome of God and sets him high above our difficulties.