The Scriptures caution us over and over to watch out so that we will not be deceived. We should pray for discernment, so that we are not swept away by every new and foolish doctrine that comes along. But we also need to be careful that in our discerning, we don’t give in to a habit of criticism and judgment. It is very easy for our righteousness to turn into self-righteousness. If God had wanted one person to corner the market on all of His truth, our New Testament would contain only one book. The Scriptures and the truths that they present to us never change. but, thank God, that as we mature, our perception of the Scriptures does change. As we follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit and meditate on God’s word, He opens up new meanings for us. We must be very sure that our discernment is not clouded by our flesh but that it is guided by the Holy Spirit. God made each of us different in many ways, then He did a wonderful, amazing thing — He died on a cross so that we all could become like Him.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
It wasn’t necessary for Jesus to accuse us or condemn us. Our unbelief has already condemned us. Just as the religious leaders were condemned by their unbelief of the Old Testament Scriptures, we are condemned by our unbelief. We have even more reason to believe the truth about Jesus than the people that Jesus was speaking to then. If we believe in Him, there is no condemnation or judgment for us.
18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. 19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.–John 3:18,19 (NLT)
33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.—Romans 8:33, 34 (NLT)
Will the world accuse us and condemn us? Will we be offended? Of course, but we must remember that the words they speak have no authority in the courts of heaven. If we believe, there is no condemnation for us. This is the Good News that we need to spread to a world full of people searching for something to give them hope in a world filled with violence and discord. There is someone who can give them the peace for which they are so desperately searching.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
37 Pilate said, “So you are a king!” Jesus answered, “You are the one saying I am a king. This is why I was born and came into the world: to tell people the truth. And everyone who belongs to the truth listens to me.” 38 Pilate said, “What is truth?” After he said this, he went out to the crowd again and said to them, “I find nothing against this man. 39 But it is your custom that I free one prisoner to you at Passover time. Do you want me to free the ‘king of the Jews’?” 40 They shouted back, “No, not him! Let Barabbas go free!” (Barabbas was a robber.)—John 18:37-40 (NCV)
Jesus states that the purpose of His being be born and coming into the world was to tell people the truth. Now, Pilate asks the ages-old question–“What is truth?”
(Maybe this is where the old cliche comes from–“You wouldn’t recognize the truth if it was standing right in front of you.) Before Jesus answers this question, Pilate turns to leave and goes out to the crowd again. Does this remind you of anything that we do on a regular basis? We pray and earnestly seek God, then we get up and go about our business without giving Him time to answer our prayers. When we get to heaven, we will find out that Jesus answered all of our prayers, we just didn’t hang around to hear the answer. How rude of us! What if we were having a serious conversation with someone and just when we were getting to our point, they just got up and walked out of the room. We do it to Jesus all the time. Instead of being in such a hurry, take the advice of the Psalmist. 13 Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. 14 Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.—Psalm 27:13, 14 (NLT)
Don’t talk to God, talk with God. The first few minutes after talking with God, we need to just “be still and know that He is God”.
5 Now I am going back to the One who sent me. But none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Your hearts are filled with sadness because I have told you these things. 7 But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go away. When I go away, I will send the Helper to you. If I do not go away, the Helper will not come. 8 When the Helper comes, he will prove to the people of the world the truth about sin, about being right with God, and about judgment. 9 He will prove to them that sin is not believing in me. 10 He will prove to them that being right with God comes from my going to the Father and not being seen anymore. 11 And the Helper will prove to them that judgment happened when the ruler of this world was judged.—John 16:5-11 (NCV)
The disciples must have wondered how Jesus going away could be better than having Him here, face to face. But Jesus knew that His time to leave was very near at this time. He also knew that the Helper could do something that He, in human flesh, could never do. That was to actually live inside a human being. The Helper, the Holy Spirit would take up a permanent residence inside those that accepted Jesus as their Savior. The Holy Spirit could be omnipresent, He could dwell in all of us at the same time thus as God had promised, we would never be alone, He would always be with each of us. He will prove to unbelievers that not believing in Jesus is the sin that caused Jesus to die on the Cross. He will prove that judgment happened when satan was judged. This judgment is spoken of in Isaiah. 12 King of Babylon, morning star, you have fallen from heaven, even though you were as bright as the rising sun! In the past all the nations on earth bowed down before you, but now you have been cut down–Isaiah 14:12 (NCV)
This judgment was also the event Jesus was referring to in Luke 10, when He said: 18 “Yes,” he told them, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning! 19 Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you.–Luke 10:18,19 NCV)
In this statement, Jesus tells us He was there in heaven when satan was judged and He witnessed satan being cast out of heaven. And now, Jesus has the blessings of the Father to give the disciples and us authority over all the power of the enemy. The Holy Spirit is the guarantor of that promise of authority and He fights our battles for us.
26 “I will send you the Helper from the Father; he is the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father. When he comes, he will tell about me, 27 and you also must tell people about me, because you have been with me from the beginning.–John 15:26, 27 (NCV)
Though the disciples don’t know or understand at this point, this is the 2nd greatest gift that God has promised. His best gift was His Son, Jesus, giving His life for us. Now, that Jesus is leaving, God the Father is sending us a Helper. The Helper will tell us more about Jesus and our Father. Jesus has been telling the disciples what the Father says and He has been showing them what the Father is doing. Now this Helper will do the same for each of us. Our job is to tell others what we are told. These are exciting times to be alive! With all the junk that is going on in the world, God is still in control and our Helper will show us the way home. Not only that, but He will teach us how to live and how to pray. Just as the disciples learned when they received the Helper, so are we learning now. Their sadness turned to joy and so should our lives reflect the joy of the indwelling Helper.
20 The crowd replied, “You’re demon possessed! Who’s trying to kill you?” 21 Jesus replied, “I did one miracle on the Sabbath, and you were amazed.22 But you work on the Sabbath, too, when you obey Moses’ law of circumcision. (Actually, this tradition of circumcision began with the patriarchs, long before the law of Moses.) 23 For if the correct time for circumcising your son falls on the Sabbath, you go ahead and do it so as not to break the law of Moses. So why should you be angry with me for healing a man on the Sabbath? 24 Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.”—John 7:20-24 (NLT)
Doesn’t the crowd in Jerusalem that day kind of remind us of ourselves? Aren’t we always pointing fingers at others and trying to justify why and when we do what we do? Jesus pointed out some of the things that they and their ancestors had done on the Sabbath. Under the law, if the eighth day after birth occurred on the Sabbath, you would have to violate Moses’ law by working on the Sabbath or not circumcising the male child on the correct day. That is why Jesus said: 27 Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!”–Mark 2:27,28 (NLT)
Jesus asks them to look beneath the surface, in other words, look into the situation and determine why the person is doing what they are doing on the Sabbath or any other time. Jesus has set us free from the law and now we live under grace. If we are led by the Holy Spirit, our conscience will determine if our actions are right or wrong. No law is required.
28 Don’t be so surprised! Indeed, the time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son, 29 and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment. 30 I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will. 31 “If I were to testify on my own behalf, my testimony would not be valid. 32 But someone else is also testifying about me, and I assure you that everything he says about me is true.—John 5:28-32 (NLT)
When Jesus returns to earth, the dead in Christ shall rise first, then those of us who are still alive will join with them to meet Jesus in the air. Others will arise from the graves to experience judgment and the second death, which is eternal damnation in hell.
Jesus sets a great example for us to follow. We should never attempt to do anything on our own. Even though He has been given all authority in heaven and on earth, He still says what His Father says and does what His Father does. if we do the same thing, then we can know that our actions are just and our words are true. The Holy Spirit living in us testifies of the Father and of Jesus. He knows our minds as well as the minds of the Father and the Son so the Holy Spirit can guide us in our actions and our speech. 26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers[l] in harmony with God’s own will—Romans 8:26,27 (NLT)
17 But you, my dear friends, must remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ predicted. 18 They told you that in the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires. 19 These people are the ones who are creating divisions among you. They follow their natural instincts because they do not have God’s Spirit in them. 20 But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, 21 and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love. 22 And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. 23 Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.—Jude 17-23 (NLT)
We live in the times Jude is describing in these verses. Everyday, we read more and more articles and hear more comments about people who either disrespect Christianity or refuse to believe in God. They are becoming much more militant in their actions each day, demanding more and more rights but at the same time wanting to limit the rights of others. They use all manner of deception and false claims that others are mistreating them. We must stand firm in our beliefs and refuse to compromise the truth that is laid out in the Scriptures. God has not changed His mind about what He knows to be sin. After all, does the Creator not know what actions will harm the creatures He so lovingly created? Which of us can say to the Creator, “hey, you made a mistake”? After all God is Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Omniscient. We must encourage new believers to stand firm and grow in the faith. We do this with love and mercy, just as God has shown love and mercy to us. We “snatch others from the flames of judgment” by witnessing to them about Jesus. We must do this also with great love and mercy, not judging them for their sins, but showing them a different way of life. We must love the sinner and hate the sin just as God does. As we do this, we must be sure not to allow the sins to contaminate our lives.
****Bob Dylan circa 1964
8 In the same way, these people—who claim authority from their dreams—live immoral lives, defy authority, and scoff at supernatural beings. 9 But even Michael, one of the mightiest of the angels, did not dare accuse the devil of blasphemy, but simply said, “The Lord rebuke you!” (This took place when Michael was arguing with the devil about Moses’ body.) 10 But these people scoff at things they do not understand. Like unthinking animals, they do whatever their instincts tell them, and so they bring about their own destruction. 11 What sorrow awaits them! For they follow in the footsteps of Cain, who killed his brother. Like Balaam, they deceive people for money. And like Korah, they perish in their rebellion.—Jude 8-11 (NLT)
God does use visions and dreams to direct His people, but we have to be very careful when we are determining if a dream or vision is from God. In Joel 2:28, God says that this will happen in the latter days and then it is quoted in Acts 2:15. But if a dream, vision, or prophecy is from God, it will not contradict Scripture in any way. So, if anything the dreamer, visionary or prophet says contradicts the Bible, then we must refute the entire message they are bringing. Any half truth is all lie. The false prophets use dreams and visions to mislead people into all kinds of sin and misconduct. They are deceived by the lusts of their own flesh and they try to lead others astray as well. Their consciences have become “seared over”, so they feel no guilt about anything they say or do. They use this to obtain money, power, and positions. They will perish in their rebellion and so will those who are deceived and follow after this new “religion”. When Jesus was hanging on the cross, He said “it is finished”, there won’t be another Messiah coming, so when people say Jesus is here and Jesus is there, don’t follow after them. God has instructed us to add nothing and to take nothing away from the Scriptures that He has breathed into being. So, if their visions, dreams and prophecies can’t be verified by Scripture, then don’t believe them and don’t follow after them.
5 So I want to remind you, though you already know these things, that Jesus first rescued the nation of Israel from Egypt, but later he destroyed those who did not remain faithful. 6 And I remind you of the angels who did not stay within the limits of authority God gave them but left the place where they belonged. God has kept them securely chained in prisons of darkness, waiting for the great day of judgment. 7 And don’t forget Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns, which were filled with immorality and every kind of sexual perversion. Those cities were destroyed by fire and serve as a warning of the eternal fire of God’s judgment. 8 In the same way, these people—who claim authority from their dreams—live immoral lives, defy authority, and scoff at supernatural beings.—Jude: 5-8 (NLT)
Jude continues his warnings to the early Christians and to us to stay alert for false prophets and those teaching false doctrines. When we look around us in today’s world, we see the same things happening. We often wonder why God allows it to continue. God’s judgment may not come on these people when we think it should, but we can be sure that it is coming in His timing. The people who deny God’s existence will be punished as surely as these people in the Old Testament. There is a heaven and there is a hell. There are angels and there are demons. Those who do not believe this live immoral lives and tempt others to do the same. We must continue to stand firm. The end will come and the earth will be consumed by fire. Of this, we can be sure. We don’t need to focus on how or when this will happen. We just need to keep our eyes on Jesus and know that one day we will see Him face-to-face.