How do you prepare to become a spiritual soldier, or a saint of God, for the spiritual combat or the war that the Bible clearly shows that you are engaged in?
I'd like you to turn with me, and let's begin this afternoon by turning to 2 Timothy chapter 2:1-4. The Apostle Paul is talking to the young evangelist Timothy and giving him very valuable instruction on how to serve effectively in the ministry. And so beginning in verse 1 he says,
2 Timothy 2:1 2 Timothy 2:1You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
American King James Version×- You therefore, My son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
And that's certainly an admonition for all of us to be strong in that grace. And he says,
V.2 - And the things which you have heard of Me among many witnesses, the same commit you to faithful men who shall be able to teach others also.
So what he's telling Timothy, he says, you have heard what I have taught you. You've heard what I have explained, and you have heard it among many witnesses. And now it's your responsibility to commit that and pass that on to others who are faithful individuals who will keep this information flowing down through time as the church of God continues, and that has been the case down through time. God has chosen individuals, and the truth of God has marched through time and continues even through our day today.
But he brings something interesting into play that I thought I would like to focus on in terms of our preparation for the Passover. And that is he says, therefore -- verse 3, there's something you need to understand. He says,
V.3 - You're going to have to endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
He likens us unto soldiers that would be like in the military taking instruction and teaching from our leaders. In this particular case Jesus Christ would be our Commander in Chief. And goes on to say, concerning this type of warfare, he says,
V.4 - No man that wars entangles himself in the affairs of this life, that he may please Him who has chosen him or her to be a soldier.
So we have been chosen to serve in what is a military setting. And Paul chose this because there is a spiritual combat that you and I need to be mindful of each and every day of our lives, because it is affecting us. It affects unbelievers, and it affects converted believers. It's something you and I need to look at.
So I asked myself this question, and this is part of what the sermon is today, and I've entitled this sermon, "To Prepare a People." The Bible tells us that we have a responsibility in the ministry to prepare God's people for not only what is coming, but what is necessary for them to be prepared, and especially in the context of here, enduring hardness, the difficult times. It is through much tribulation we must enter the kingdom of God. So we're going to have difficulty as soldiers, and that's what soldiers are used to. They get thrown in the middle of situations where they are what we call combat veterans. Now, you and I have been thrown in situations in our lives, and we are combat veterans of the truth of God. We hold to that truth by the Word of God.
And so I asked this question in context of this thought: How do you prepare a soldier for combat? Well, in this world, what they do is they take civilians and they pull them out of society and then they go and they send them to a location such as we have here in Georgia, in Columbus. It's called Fort Benning, Georgia, where civilians are trained, and they learn how to be combat soldiers. Now a very important training, so many men have gone through this facility. It's very well known. Very well understood by many men who have served in the military.
But then we kick this question up one step further, and we ask: How do you prepare a spiritual soldier, or a saint of God, for the spiritual combat or the war that the Bible clearly shows that you and I are engaged in? Every day when you wake up, whether you realize it or not, you're at war. And it is something that has to be understood in context of the scripture, because the Word of God is the training manual that is utilized, just like they have manuals for soldiers and they have to study the manuals, and they have to learn about their weapons and how to take them apart and put them together. They have to understand other basic military code and instructions, and then they are expected to operate accordingly.
And, of course, we know what happens if a soldier goes to sleep on guard duty. That can bring about a court-martial. In some -- in time of war, it could be of a death penalty. So it's a very serious thing that the Bible is talking about. But you and I fall into a trap if we're not careful. We begin to think like we're civilians, when the Bible is saying you're not civilians. You're smack dab in the middle of a war, folks, and you need to understand this each and every day because it's affecting you in ways that maybe you don't realize.
And so our training manual is designed to do what? To give us basic instruction on what we are to learn how to be a true spiritual soldier for Jesus Christ, and that becomes very, very important. That's why the scripture says study to show yourself approved to God. The second chapter again, in verse 15.
2 Timothy 2:15 2 Timothy 2:15Study to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
American King James Version×- Study to show yourself approved to God, a worker that shows not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
You see not just taking anything, but rightly dividing, understanding the context in how it is to be applied. And it says the word of truth, and then,
V.16 - Stay away from these profane and vain babblings, he says, because all that does is increase more ungodliness.
In other words, don't waste your time with a lot of foolish things, foolish questions, things that embroil your life and cause you a lot of heartache and pain.
You know, there's an old saying that if you want to fly a plane, you better learn how to train. Because if you don't train, you know, a good attitude will never get you off the ground. You have to have not only the attitude and desire to want to learn how to fly that plane, but you've got to understand the instructions, the avionics and all the other things that go with it. And then you can take your wings and become a pilot and fly the plane.
Well, the Word of God trains us in what we are constantly reminded of in the book of Revelation chapter 2 and 3, where it talks to the Spirit's talking to the churches. And it says that we are in a battle of overcoming. That we have to wage a war of overcoming each and every day. Now, what does that include? That includes old attitudes, old habits, old ways of doing things, that we can slip back into ever so quickly, if we do not keep ourselves mindful that we are in a war state of affairs.
The scripture goes on to say in Ephesians chapter 6. If you'll go to Ephesians chapter 6, it reminds us here very clearly again, from the Apostle Paul, beginning in verse 10 of chapter 6.
Ephesians 6:10 Ephesians 6:10Finally, my brothers, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
American King James Version×- Finally, my brethren -- notice he's talking to church members. People who have been converted to the truth of God -- brethren, he says, be strong in the Lord. Don't be against Him. Be with Him. Be in His understanding and teaching. And it says, and in the power of his might.
And what are we to do as a result of that?
V.11 - Put on the whole -- not some -- but the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles or the schemes of the devil.
And the devil is always out there scheming looking for opportunities to cause heartache and suffering to the people of God. And this becomes very important, because it says,
V.12 - We wrestle not against flesh and blood. This is not a physical operation that we're involved in. It's in a spiritual realm that we need to understand. And we're not fighting flesh and blood, but against principalities, against the powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places, or as it says in the margin, wicked spirits.
We're fighting invisible wicked spirits that dominate this age and this time. And they influence more than we understand on our day-to-day basis. We get caught up in our routines, and we forget sometimes. And what we do is we get sidetracked in our thinking, and we are just caught up in the everyday routines, and we start drifting a little bit. And if we're not careful, we can drift in a wrong direction.
And the Bible warns about going that broad way that leads to destruction. It says you've got to stay on course. It's like a physical soldier. He's got to have in his mind. He's got to stay on course. He's got to complete the mission. Well, the same thing holds true for us. We have to control our thinking and make sure that we never forget that we have an adversary out there who's always behind the scene lurking, waiting for us to drop our guard and cause us to slip and go back. And then he does what? He throws at you, "Ah, see there, you did it again. You went right back to your old habits, your old ways, and you sinned." And, of course, that gives him credence to go before God's throne, and he does what? Accuse us day and night before the throne of God. Saying, "See, look at that. There they are again. Look, they're in their attitude. Look. Look there what they did. Look what they're harboring. Look at that old habit. Look at that old addiction," whatever it might be. He's always there ready to deal a fitting blow to the Christian man and woman.
Notice 1 Peter 5:8 1 Peter 5:8Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour:
American King James Version×. Scripture that we should really be mindful of. It says,
1 Peter 5:8 1 Peter 5:8Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour:
American King James Version×- Be sober, and be vigilant. In other words, this is not a time to be lax in your Christian calling and in your life before God. Be sober, and be vigilant; because your adversary the devil -- we have a personal adversary, just like we have a personal savior. Your adversary, he's got your name in the crosshairs. He's watching you to see whether or not you are sliding away from God or drawing closer to God. If you draw closer to God, he draws away from you. He backs away. If we see here, your adversary the devil as a roaring lion walks about seeking whom he may devour.
So he's always on the prowl, always looking for the kill. And if he can kill a person's spiritual enthusiasm, if he can kill a person's relationship with God and Jesus Christ and then with others of like faith, where people become the problem, when people are not the problem, it's Satan and the demonic world that's the problem. And he will use any tactic necessary to try to destroy the relationship that God has created among the people of God. It's very important.
That's why the Word of God is necessary, because it trains us in how do we go forward in this battle of overcoming. I mean, you and I are novices at this. We've suddenly come into this world, and here we are. We're in Satan's backyard, and it's like being dumped behind enemy lines. And you go grow up in a ready-made world, and you don't really have a clue of what's really going on out there, not until you're called to the knowledge of God's way. And then you back out of her and come out of her, my people, as the scripture says. And what do you begin to see? You begin to see that the vast majority of people haven't got a clue as to who's really in charge of this world and why it is this way. Why do we have the problems and the difficulties in this world? The Bible addresses. Says it is sin. Who's the original sinner? Satan himself. He is the one that constantly cries out in the minds, hearts and spirits of people to do their way, rather than listen to what God says.
Now, the Apostle Paul -- because, again, he is so important in terms of giving us instruction, but the other disciples also had a very powerful admonition. And if we take James 4:7 James 4:7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
American King James Version×and plug it into this equation, notice what we come up with. It says,
That is paramount. That's what we've got to do on a day-to-day basis. If we leave this out, then this is often how you hear the scripture quoted by people. They say, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." Oh, no, he won't, unless you submit yourself to God first. He only fears us as we draw closer to God. If we lean to our own understanding, if we think we don't have to submit to God in all aspects of mind, body and spirit, and the devil somehow is going to be fearful of us, forget it. He's got us in his back pocket. He's done it since Adam and Eve, and he's done it down through time, and all of us are testimony to the fact that none of us sit here sin free.
That's why it says if we say we have no sin, we lie, and the truth is not in us. It's not that we're practicing sinners. It's not that we want to sin. But it's because we are weak in the flesh. And if we're not fighting and overcoming with the help of God's Spirit, which gives us the ammunition to fight and resist the devil, then that's where we begin to see the real difference. The more we fight on behalf of God and following His instruction, the more the devil backs off, and then you have peace of mind that passes all understanding. If you don't, then the devil begins to oppress your mind. He begins to wear your mind down, and he constantly assaults the mind, to give you a spirit of fear, rather than of faith.
So God wants us to be careful in this area and,
V.8 - Draw nigh to God, as it says, verse 8, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts. Now, that's a very important aspect. He says, you double-minded. Because here's what we have to keep in mind: We put a lot of emphasis, all of us, in the churches of God, about the Kingdom of God and Christ coming back and establishing the Kingdom of God. And you and I want to be a part of that kingdom.
But I got news for you. To prepare a people, as we must do, the Bible puts emphasis on your heart, your mind, what's going on in there. Right here (indicating), because this is right. If this mind and heart is not right with God, then all the talk about the kingdom of God and everything else will never happen. The heart has to be right. What did David do in Psalm 51? Now, we know David was a man after God's own heart. That heart is brought into a picture for a reason. And it goes on to say that he -- well, we know his example. He strayed, and he strayed very wrong from God's commands. But then finally, when he was brought to an awareness, the goodness of God, through Nathan the prophet, says, "You are the man," oh, it hit him like a ton of bricks, and he realized how wrong he had been.
What does Psalm 51 then talk about? It's the famous Psalm of repentance. one of the key verses in there says what? "Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me." Our hearts can get corrupted. Our thoughts can be preluded in such a way that our spirit gets out of synch with God, and we then begin to have serious problems. Well, we're told in the battle of overcoming that God will fight our battles for us. He will be there for us, if we look to him.
Now, back in Matthew, chapter 15, beginning in verse 7, we have God's admonition through Jesus Christ, where He was dealing with the Pharisees, who were the religious leaders of the time. And they looked good on the outside. But what did Jesus say about them? He says they look like white sepulchres, real pretty on the outside, but inside they were like dead men's bones. So things were not right on the inside. So that's where God goes. God goes to the inside. All the outside means nothing in reality. It's what goes on in here, in our minds, in our hearts before God.
Now, here notice what He says, beginning in verse 7.
Matthew 15:7 Matthew 15:7You hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,
American King James Version× - You hypocrites, or you play actors. You guys, you ladies play a religion. And there's a lot of people who do this. The Bible warns in the end time there would be many who would have a form and ceremony of godliness. On the outside they would look great, but it would only be a form because they would deny the power of God working in their lives. And that's the thing. Is God's Spirit working in your life to draw you closer to Him, or are you drifting further away? Have things gotten in the way that are conflicting you, causing you to have a fogginess of understanding, rather than a sharp clear picture of what God wants you to do as an individual? Well, back then, Jesus said,
V.7 - You hypocrites, you play actors, well did Isaiah prophecy of you. And what did Isaiah say?
V.8 - This people draws nigh unto Me with their mouth -- there's a lot of speaking about God and, oh, how we love God and so forth -- but notice, He says, and they honor Me with their lips, but what's missing? But their heart is far from Me. Their heart is far from Me.
That's what we have to examine ourselves, our innermost being, our heart of hearts, where nobody else basically can get in. You see, you have all this on the outside, but you have that innermost -- that's you. That's where the real you exists, right here, between your ears and in your mind and in your heart with the spirit in man, and then you've been given the Spirit of God to go with it, if you have been baptized and converted to God in His truth.
Now, the interesting part of it is that as Passover approaches you and I are told we have to do what? Examine what's in our heart. Isn't it interesting that in the book of Revelation when the Spirit of God is speaking to the churches and it lists the Laodicean church in the last element, it talks about, and those people will be in that timeframe will be struggling against an attitude of laxity in terms of rich and increased with goods, have need of nothing, yet Jesus says you're blind. You're naked. And He says, in other words, you don't see yourself the way you really are. You see yourself as being somehow different from all the rest that are in problems and difficulties. You see yourself on top of things. But what does He go on to say? "As many as I love," he says, "I stand at the door and I knock." He didn't say He opened it. He says He knocks. Why? Because it's the door to your mind, and you have to open your mind and your heart to God and to Jesus Christ in order for God's Spirit to work in and through you to accomplish His will and His purpose. If you don't open that door, then God's not going to force the door open. He's going to let you stay where it is, and He will let circumstances take their course, and that's where, again, the Bible gives us instruction as to what is coming. All of us need to heed and fear from that standpoint.
Now, if you join me, please, let's go to something historically that applies to all of us at this timeframe, and especially as soldiers of Jesus Christ called by our Commander in Chief to conduct ourselves with a certain awareness of what we're involved in.
It's found in 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 1 Corinthians 10:1-13  Moreover, brothers, I would not that you should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;  And were all baptized to Moses in the cloud and in the sea;  And did all eat the same spiritual meat;  And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.  But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.  Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.  Neither be you idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.  Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.  Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.  Neither murmur you, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.  Now all these things happened to them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the world are come.  Why let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.  There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.
American King James Version×. Paul is talking to the brethren, and he's telling them he -- this is something he does not want them to be ignorant of. He wants them to understand that this is something very, very important. He deals with an example that transpired in the Old Testament that is written for our learning. Because what happened there in type can happen to the Church of God in the end time, and we are told that every period of time as those called of God, they have to take note of this and be on guard, because, again, we have an enemy who's always trying to sabotage our conversion. He's always trying to make it difficult for you to pray. He's making it difficult for you to study. He's making it difficult for you at all times. The Bible uses the term "he hinders."
Have you been hindered in any way, shape, or form, or do you live a hinderless life where you're never hindered by anything? No. Sometimes -- ever notice when you pray -- has this ever happened to you? You really get in a mood to pray and you're really talking to God. Ring, ring, ring, ring, ring. That phone goes off. I used to jump when the phone went off, and I made the mistake, and I used to think, well, it must be important. And then I ran over there and answered the phone, and it was nothing. Now, why did nothing call me in the midst of prayer? And the answer, I finally learned, was you stay with God. If it's important, they'll call back. I'll get back to that, whatever it is. But when you're in the middle of prayer, you don't drop the throne of God and go running for a silly phone call. But we've all done it, I'm sure, at times. Maybe you haven't. I have. And I had to repent of that. I said, "No more. No more." Because when you talk to the throne of the universe and you're before His throne of mercy and splendor and grace, by the grace of God, through Jesus Christ, that's the greatest honor and privilege that can be bestowed upon any man and woman, and you and I have been granted that privilege. And we need to treat it with the respect that God gives us, because you're coming before the awe and the splendor of the universe.
Well, here in 1 Corinthians chapter 10 we have the history of how these Israelites came out of Egypt, which we know is a type of sin, and God delivered them. And in these verses we find that they came -- it uses the term in the first four verses that basically they all benefited from it. They all came out of Egypt together with a high hand. They all were blessed of God. He provided for them food, shelter, the things -- their food didn't -- I mean, their shoes did not wear out. Their clothes did not -- you know, for 40 long years He had to do that after the unfortunate disruption at the foot of Mount Sinai. That created a serious problem.
But this is a vivid dramatic terminology that Paul is using, how when they came out they all came out under the cloud. And that cloud was representative of God's blessing and watching over them. He gave them the wonderful blessing. It's found in Exodus 13:21-22 Exodus 13:21-22  And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:
 He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.
American King James Version×. And God's guidance was there for them. They could never have gotten out of there by themselves. And they were delivered by God. And you and I could never get out of our problems and difficulties of life without the help of God. He is the one that gets the glory and the honor, because, again, we see just how pitiful our situation is. Once we come to conversion and repentance, we realize, I don't have a chance. I guess the term is you don't have a snowball's chance in hell, because you couldn't deliver yourself. It just -- that's how serious it is.
Then, of course, they all passed through the seas, chapter 14 of Exodus talks about, again in verse 21 and 22. What we have there is that God gave them safe passage, and God has promised to give us safe passage and bring us to the kingdom of God by His guiding hand. And who was chasing them? The Egyptian Army.
There's something spoken of in Revelation 12, where it talks about the people of God who are going to be chased by a flood in the future. How that will all take place and how that will all come together, time will tell. But those people are going to need help, and God says, "The earth helps the woman, swallows the flood." So, people can spiritualize that away or they can see the reality of it. It's telling us there's going to be some very powerful events happening, and it's going to involve the people of God in this end time.
Then we see that they were all baptized under Moses' leadership, as he brought them through the Red Sea. They were under the cloud, and as they were baptized under Moses' leadership, when you and I are baptized, we surrender and come under Christ's leadership, because Moses was a type, in this case, of Jesus Christ, leading them out. We see that they all drank of that spiritual rock that followed them. That rock, of course, symbolic of Jesus Christ, who is a rock. The rock of our salvation, the rock on which we stand, the house that has to be built on a rock, so that when the storms and the upheavals come, we're able to survive.
The bottom lesson there is that in those early verses, God is showing that He supplied Israel's every need. And God tells us in the New Testament that He supplies our every need. And He will do that very thing, because, again, that's what He has called us to do, to be representative of the truth of God in our life.
Now, again to show you how these things represent the physical -- I guess the best way I could put it, they are representations. They're figurative terminologies, Christ being the rock. We have something else that is found in 1 Corinthians 11:24 1 Corinthians 11:24And when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
American King James Version×- 25. That's in the Passover season. And it talks about where Jesus uses the term, he says, "This is My body. This is My body." In other words, the bread represented His body. Then a cup of wine represented what? The blood of the covenant. He said, "This is my blood. My blood that is shed for you." Now, it wasn't literally. The Catholic church teaches transubstantiation, that when you take that, it literally becomes the body and the blood of Christ, and that's not what we believe according to scripture. Transubstantiation is not the answer.
But in verse 5, something happened. Notice:
1 Corinthians 10:5 1 Corinthians 10:5But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
American King James Version×- But with many of them, God was not well pleased.
Something happened and, of course, that was, again, at the foot of Mount Sinai, when they began to do what He said was forbidden in the commandments of God. They were then overthrown in the wilderness. Verse 6 gives us a very important punctuation of thought, that we never forget, that these things are our examples. Now, Santana, I believe it is, the Spanish poet who says, "If you don't learn from the lessons of history, you're destined to repeat it again." So here we are:
V.6 - These things are our examples, to the intent that we should not lust or desire after evil things, as they lusted. And they did. And as a result, that whole generation that left Egypt never saw the promise land. Of that original generation, there were only two that are outstandingly mentioned, and that was Joshua and Caleb, because they never -- they never strayed from God's instruction. And so their spirit was different, and their spirit was blessed, and they were able to go into that land.
Turn with me to Psalm 106. Hold your place in 1 Corinthians 10. We will come back there. But in Psalm 106, we find something very instructive from David, who writes the Psalm for our learning. And in Psalm 106 we have the following. This is a rehashing of the situation that transpired, how that in verse 16 of the 106th Psalm it talked about those in the body at that time who envied Moses and also Aaron, the saint of the Lord. And it talked about how, in verse 17,
Psalms 106:17 Psalms 106:17The earth opened and swallowed up Dathan and covered the company of Abiram.
American King James Version× - The earth opened and swallowed up Dathan, and covered up the company of Abiram.
So here this phenomenal event takes place, a literal earthquake, and these people just disappeared from the face of the earth. And it says,
V.18 - A fire was kindled in the company, and flame burned up the wicked, in other words, like lightning.
If you've ever seen the movie Indiana Jones and one of their remakes in there where all the bad people are up there, and what happens out of the ark of the covenant, comes wham, wham, wham. All this lightning flies, and these people are being dissolved and literally vaporized. Well, that's what happened back then. They got vaporized. God's power was unleashed against their attitudes.
V.19 - They had made a calf at Horeb, and they had worshiped the molten image,
V.20 - and thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eats grass. In other words, they had the glory of God before them. They had seen God's mighty hand at work. And what did they do? They turned around and made an animal, an ox, and they bowed down and worshiped because they were used to these idols back in Egypt. That's what they had always heard. Their children grew up seeing idols. Now, they were coming to recognize something totally different, but they wouldn't recognize it. It says -- and notice verse 21, and here's what you and I may stop to consider.
V.21 - They forgot God their savior. They forgot. And I submit to you how quick we can forget the hand of God at work in our life. When you suddenly are faced with a problem or a trial, you know what happens? All your focus goes to that trial and that problem. And then you say, "Where's God in all of this? What happened to God?" Well, He's always been there. Do you remember this happened here, and this, this, this, and how He intervened and how things changed and how God worked it out? Is He still there? Can He still do what He did before? Can He work out your own salvation for you, through working in and through you, through the power of His Spirit? You're told to work it out, solve the problem, but do it God's way, follow the manual of instruction. We forget, don't we? That's one of the reasons now we have to carry around little tablets and write things down because we forget, don't we? Years go by, we're not as sharp and clear and alert like we might have been when we were in our earlier years when we thought we remembered everything and, yet, we knew nothing.
When you talk about God you know nothing like you ought to know. And here in the Psalm it says,
V. 22 - Wondrous works in the land of Ham, or Egypt, terrible things by the Red Sea.
Yes, if you had seen that, if you can go to a movie and see a movie like the Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston, that even making the movie, he says, it changed his life. It had such a powerful effect on him. And yes, that might have been trick photography and it might have been Jell-O that was parting the Red Sea, but I tell you, it still was impressive, and it made you stop and think what would it have been like to stand there and literally see that sea open before you and God do these marvelous and awesome works and a pillar of fire to protect and keep the enemy away from you. I mean, you say, man, I'll never forget this. Never forget. What happens? You get out in the wilderness, and where's God out here? What are we going to eat tonight? What are we going to drink? I'm thirsty? I'm hungry. Murmur. Murmur. Murmur. Then Moses, "You brought us out here so we can die. At least we had leeks and onions back in Egypt. Why are you bringing us out here? You did this to us." Have we forgotten the Red Sea? Have we forgotten the terrible things that were done, the great power that was unleashed that destroyed the great army of Egypt so that she would never rise again to ever be anything like she once was? That's how fast we forget, brethren.
Now, the Passover is very important. But you know taking the Passover, reading the Bible, being baptized is not enough if your heart is not right with God. If your heart is not there with God, then going through the motions puts us nothing into but the same category as the Pharisees and the Sadducees. We go through the motions, but God looks at the heart and says something's not right here. Now, if you were God, would you put -- if your heart is not right, would you put yourself -- if God was -- let's put it this way. If God were there and He saw what was in your heart and your heart wasn't right, do you think He would be within His rights to say, "I don't think you qualify as one of my servants?"
Boy, I'm telling you, these are heavy thoughts. Things we have to really ask ourselves, because salvation is between you and God. It doesn't depend on organizations. It doesn't depend on other people. It doesn't depend on husbands and wives or children or anybody else. It depends on you and your confidence in the Word of God and trusting Him. They did not trust Him. He brought them out. He did marvelous things. And, yet, they turned on Him.
And so God says, "All right. You're not going into that land," that old covenant promise of going into the promise land. They couldn't go in. And you know as I mentioned to you before, you know, how it must have broke his heart, Moses, after going through all of this, and he couldn't even go into the land. Why? "Moses, I asked you to talk to the rock, speak to it. And you lost your temper, and you whacked the rock, and the rock was symbolic of My son. I still gave him the water because I'm a merciful God. But you did not glorify Me in the eyes of the people." And that is something we must always understand. God gets the glory at all times. There is nothing you nor I or anyone else can do that is so great, so wonderful that -- oh, no, God says no flesh -- no flesh will glory in My presence. We've got nothing to glory in. All we can do is cry out to God and ask for His forgiveness and his mercy.
Well, it goes on to say now back in 1 Corinthians 10. Let's go back there and continue the story on what Paul is trying to transmit to us, because it's so very, very vital to us. And, of course, you know, in chapter 11 it talks about the Passover and various things. So he goes on, he says, well, you don't want to be, like in verse 7 --
1 Corinthians 10:7 1 Corinthians 10:7Neither be you idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.
American King James Version×- Be you not idolaters.
There's an awful lot of that going on today in our society. But, first of all, what I want to emphasize, since verse 6 says that we should not lust or desire after evil things, let's take a look at the five key things that we need to be mindful of in this chapter, and I'll go over them very quickly. The very first thing is, again, don't lust after or desire things that God says are off limits. And where do we get into trouble? We get into trouble because of old habits, old ways, old thoughts, old ideas.
And, you know, and if we've done these things and we've practiced them for so long, what it ends up doing, it creates what we call a bad habit. And that bad habit has to be repented of, and you have to replace it with a good habit. And this is what Jesus constantly is instructing us. This is how we are prepared as soldiers of Jesus Christ for the battles that we are going to have to face as soldiers of Christ. And battles we will face. There is no doubt about it. The Bible talks about that, and it's going to be more so as time goes on.
Well, of course, the second thing right there, as you saw in verse 7, it says,
V.7 - Neither be you idolaters, as some of them were. Now, you know we live in a day and age, again, we might say, "Ugh, I don't -- I don't practice idolatry." Well, guess what? It's all around us. It's the society in which we live. If you remember one of the big T.V. shows, where everybody right now is trying to demonstrate their worthless talent, that they're going to be the next what? I say worthless talent. There are a few good ones that do come through. But some of these things, if you've ever seen the program, it's a joke. And maybe that's part of it. Maybe that's just to get your attention to watch some of them, but it's called American what folks? Idol. Now, why did they choose that name?
Then you have a rock performer. His name is Billy what? Idol. He chose that name. Why did he choose that name? He could choose any other name under the son. Why did he choose that name? It's all around us. And then we have different types of religious observance by different people in various places where they meet. And in those places where they meet, they have many, guess what? Idols. We live in an idolatrous society. We worship people. And so we get evening news called "The Insider," and we find out what's the latest coming out from our Hollywood idols. There they are. And so individuals today try to pattern themselves after these Hollywood celebrities. All of this, again, is nothing more than going down a path, giving honor. Look what we have, the Oscars. And we have the Oscars, and we do what?
And we have the Grammys, and it's all for what purpose? Aren't these people wonderful? Haven't they done -- isn't the motion picture, that terrible picture that you saw, where so and so was slaughtering and killing and all that stuff, we need to give him a Grammy for this. You know, these are the kind of movies -- remember Silence of the Lambs? You know, they gave him awards for this stuff.
And the more demonic and the more crazy it is, you know, the Texas Chainsaw Slaughterer (sic), or whatever it is, that, you know, they're killing people with chainsaws. Who wants to go sit and watch a movie like that? That, to me, is not inspiring. That does not lift you up. And the Bible tells you stay away from stuff like that. But people get in -- oh, I got to go see it. You know, what was in their mind when they did that? I don't want to know what's in their mind. It wasn't very good. That's for sure.
So whatever steals God's glory. When was the last time that we had an Oscar for God, for creating the heavens and the earth? Another Oscar for making human beings in the image of God, male and female? These are the real trophies to the handiwork of God. The whole heavens declare the glory of God. And what are we? We are His children. But God does not get that honor and that glory. That's why He says, "You shall have no other Gods before me." If you really understand all this that's around you, and you will know where it comes from, in light of my word that I've given to you, then you need to acknowledge that and acknowledge it every day of your life, because every day we walk upon the earth and live, move and have bane the breath we breathe, it all comes from Him. He sustains it all by the Word of His power.
All right. So what do we do? We flee idolatry and we cannot indulge ourselves in the entertainment of this world. That's, again, where we see today, what is spoken of right here. And neither do what? The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play. Do people like to eat and drink? Oh, yes. Do they like to have their so-called parties? Yes. Not that a party is wrong, but, you know, the indulgence of it. People live for these certain things. And all too often what happens? It's accommodated with what is spoken of here, sexual immorality. People get involved in things they shouldn't do sexually.
It says 23,000 fell in one day back in that time. What would happen to man's population if God did that today? I think we would have a mass population reduction, simply because people who don't believe in the Word of God, they don't see any -- nothing there. But people who fear God realize that happened once. And if God had chosen to do it again, He could do it. But by God's grace, He has deferred that to a later time. But He says, "Vengeance is mine, and I will repay, sayeth the Lord."
Then, of course, we have to do what? It says we must be careful. Verse 9,
V.9 - Let us not tempt Christ.
That's another area here to be understood. By tempting God, that means to provoke Him to anger, doing things that take you away from the will of God. We should never act in a way that does what? That shows that we are antagonizing our God and our Creator.
Now, you know when young people grow up, teenagers, many times they antagonize their parents. They manipulate their parents. They do things to aggravate their parents. It's called teenage rebellion, and it happens. And many of us have experienced it, either by doing it or having it done to us, because what goes around comes around. And so we learn these things. And we understand that these are not things that God desires. He does not want to see manipulation. He does not want to see pushing our heavenly parent to do something. You know, it says it repented God. You know you have to go really far to really aggravate God. And, yet, you read there in the book of Genesis, it says, it repented Him when He made man when He looked down and saw all the ugliness that was going on in the pre-flood world. And we're told it's going to happen again.
That brings us to another important point, verse 10.
V.10 - Neither murmur you, as some of them murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. We live in a murmuring society today. And it takes time for us. We have to be trained in the things of God, because we've been trained in the things of the world. We've listened to teachers and people who have instructed us in wrong directions. Now, God is telling us it's time to listen and take the training that we really need for the kingdom of God and for what God has purposed.
Training is needed so we don't make the same mistakes that our ancestors make. That's why we study the Word of God, to find out what did they do wrong? What must I stay away from so that I don't fall prey to that. The stakes are much higher now. Before, what was it? It was going into the physical land of Canaan. Now, it's the kingdom of God. Now, it's a higher stake, because it's under the new covenant.
What you and I then must understand is that we are not in any way, shape, or form different than anyone else. If you have a trial, if you are being tempted in thought, in word, in deed, whatever it might be, you're not unique. Your trial -- you know, when people say, "Nobody understands. Nobody understands." You've got something special going on that is different than everybody else? According to the Bible, it says, "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." And that's why it goes on to end in this verse 12 of 1 Corinthians 10. It says,
V.12 - Wherefore, after all this has been brought to your attention, if you think you stand, take heed, lest you fall.
That's the same as speaking of in the book of Revelation, where we're told what? We're told about your spiritual condition. You think you're rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing? We all have need of something. That's why Passover is a time of rededication in our devotion and our service to God. And it says,
V.13 - There is no temptation that is come to you, that is just common to men; but God is faithful. He's always promised to provide a way of escape for us, he says, so that we don't end up falling prey. And notice the very next verse 14:
V.14 - Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.
In the Old Testament, Exodus 20, the two cardinal sins that broke the back of ancient Israel, when you put it all together, was Sabbath breaking and idolatry. How we treat God's Sabbath is very important. Treat it holy, but don't make a God out of the Sabbath. He's the Lord of the Sabbath. We worship God, not the Sabbath. But the Sabbath is important because it's a reflection of our devotion to God in heaven above, because He told us and commanded us to keep it holy. So we want to do that. And then He says be careful of this thing of idolatry. And you say, well, I don't practice idolatry. The Bible goes on to say in our minds we have been guilty of abominable idolatries. In our minds things have been going on. You don't have to do a physical act to be guilty of it.
Jesus said if you look in the wrong direction, you're already guilty of it if you have the wrong thoughts running through your mind. So these are things that the Bible reminds us, because as soldiers of Jesus Christ we've got to fight the good fight of faith. We have to bring every thought and subjection into Christ because, if we don't, we're going to have other thoughts flying through our mind and are going to take us in directions that are not right.
Now, a soldier is not going to be very good in combat unless he has logistics and support. He's got to have the backing of his supporters in order to do the job as a good soldier. If he goes out into combat and he's got no ammunition in his rifle, he's a dead duck. He's not going to survive long.
You and I have to fill our minds with the manual of instruction of what is necessary to have the mind of Christ so that we can deal with these problems that we face. And we're going to have to deal with problems. It is through much tribulation. The good news is that God is faithful and that He will do what? He will support us and provide our every need so that we can endure to the end, that we can be a part of the kingdom of God.
But our hearts have first got to be right. It's the main struggle we all have every day. A husband has to have his right -- the right heart towards his wife. A wife has to have the right heart toward her husband. Both have to submit to each other in the fear of God and submit their hearts to God, so that God knows He is number one in their heart. Otherwise, we're just mouthing, saying, and not doing.
Proverbs 3:26 Proverbs 3:26For the LORD shall be your confidence, and shall keep your foot from being taken.
American King James Version×. One of my favorite scriptures among many. But in Proverbs 3:26 Proverbs 3:26For the LORD shall be your confidence, and shall keep your foot from being taken.
American King James Version×we have the following:
That's where confidence comes from when we understand the Bible. You know, a soldier has to have high morale, or he can lose it in the field, if his morale goes kaput. Now you and I can have high morale when we have what? When we have the confidence to know God is backing us in what we're trying to do because we're looking to Him to provide the answers, to fight our battles for us, which He's promised to do.
Now if we're not looking there, then I don't have any answers for you, if you're trying to do it on your own strength, because it's not going to go very far, because the enemy is pretty strong out there. But He that is in you is far greater than He that is in this world. As long as we remember that and claim those promises as outlined in the manual of instruction, then we as soldiers can face daily combat, whatever we have to combat in the war of overcoming.
And it says the Spirit speaks to the churches in Revelation 2 and 3, to him that overcomes, overcomes. Jesus said, "Be of good cheer. I have overcome the world." That's the battle that we all face. It starts in the heart, the heart of hearts, our inner sanctum. And it says,
Proverbs 3:26 Proverbs 3:26For the LORD shall be your confidence, and shall keep your foot from being taken.
American King James Version×- The Lord will be your confidence, and shall keep your foot from being taken.
Now moving to Hebrews 10:25 Hebrews 10:25Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.
American King James Version×. And here we find, again, a very important admonition in light of the new covenant. In Hebrews 10:25 Hebrews 10:25Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.
American King James Version×we're reminded of this:
Hebrews 10:35 Hebrews 10:35Cast not away therefore your confidence, which has great recompense of reward.
American King James Version×- Cast not away therefore your confidence. Now, we read where our confidence comes from: Proverbs 3:26 Proverbs 3:26For the LORD shall be your confidence, and shall keep your foot from being taken.
American King James Version×. It's God. And you're told don't cast it away. Don't minimize it. Don't put it on a back burner. It says, which has great recompense of reward. Yes, because it's the kingdom of God. It's the very first resurrection. It's being changed from flesh to spirit, the very things we hunger and desire to be a part of. But, notice:
V.36 - For you have need of patience. And there is a real ringer for all of us, because we tend to be impatient. We want things to happen fast and quick, and God doesn't always do it that way. He takes His time, and He says you need to take your time, put your trust and confidence in Me. And He says,
V.36 - That after you have done the will of God, you might receive the promise.
V.37 - For yet a little while and He shall come -- will come -- or he that shall come will come and will not tarry.
V.38 - Now, the just shall live by faith: But if any individual, any man, any woman draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
V.39 - But we are not of them who draw back, means falling back. Or the protestant community would use the term, I guess, backsliding. And it does use the term in Jeremiah "backsliding Israel," so it is a biblical term. Now, we don't want to be backsliding and drawing back, He says, because the soul would not have any pleasure in that. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition. Now perdition means something very serious that we don't want to be a part of. But unto them that believe to the saving of the soul, our heart and our desire is that we want God to save us from our condition.
So the Word of God is vital to our training and preparation for service ultimately in the kingdom of God. That's why Hebrews 10 and also verse 25 says,
Hebrews 10:25 Hebrews 10:25Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.
American King James Version×- Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another; so much as you see the day approaching.
That day is approaching, dear brethren, for all of us. And we never know how fast, how quick it can come. We see what can happen in just a matter of 18 days over in Egypt and the Middle East. Gas has been shut off. The pipeline's now to Israel. We don't know how that's going to impact. You know, when people start hurting, when people start getting hungry, people start acting strange. And when you have a devil and his demons out there doing what they do, and stirring up hornets, they work in the children of disobedience it says. And most people don't even know that that's going on. You and I have to learn what is required. That's why we have to study to show ourselves approved to God in studying the Word of God as a soldier of Jesus Christ.
Next week I'm going to talk about the spiritual combat and the war of overcoming, that all of us are going to be facing on a much more intense level as never before.
May God help us all to be the overcomers He wants us to be.