Proverbs 24:17-18 Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: Lest the Lord see it, and it displease Him, and He turn away His wrath from him (KJV).
Though a disciple of Jesus Christ may have many enemies, he or she should not be an enemy to any human being, no matter whom they are. Jesus said, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father Which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:44-45 (KJV). Does loving, blessing, doing good and praying for those who despise us sound like the attributes of an enemy? Why would the Father treat everyone well, even those who are evil? One reason is that the goodness of God leads people to repentance (see Romans 2:4). The Father desires repentance rather than condemnation (see 2Peter 3:9). Likewise, we should desire repentance and salvation for those who might be considered our enemies. Remember at one time, we were all enemies of God, but He had mercy on us.
Is it possible for believers to align themselves with the devil and be completely oblivious to it? When a person takes a stance that condemns another for his actions, he becomes his accuser. When he rails against him, his works are that of darkness. The moment someone rejoices over the fall or demise of an individual, he just became his enemy. One of the things Satan does is accuse with the intent to destroy and kill. One of his ploys is to get us to do the same. He attempts to get us to agree with him, so that not only is another destroyed, we are as well -two for the price of one. The devil knows that if he can get us into the place of judgment, he can move us out of mercy. Jesus said, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Matthew 7:1-2, KJV). When individuals begin to hold others’ sins against them, they have entered into unforgiveness. Being judgmental of others does not lead them to repentance; it pushes them farther away from it. How can we reach out to people if we shun them for their failures? When people choose judgment over mercy, they align themselves with the devil.
Only God knows everyone’s heart; in fact, we do not truly know our own. Therefore, how does anyone dare pretend to know what is in the heart of another? The Lord does give us discernment through the Holy Spirit. It serves a purpose, but that purpose can be twisted to serve darkness instead of Light. For example, the Holy Spirit might reveal that someone is in bondage to a particular sin. Initially, it might even be shocking, but the intent is restoration. Galatians 6:1-2 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ (KJV). How many of us have found themselves in bondage and needed help? When you cried for mercy, did you receive mercy? If someone else is in bondage, should you not also be merciful to him or her? Discernment can be turned into a weapon against another by virtue of negative filtration. There is a tendency for some to filter what they discern through past hurts and injustices they experienced, especially if they have not been properly dealt with. Because the negative emotions attached to those experiences are stirred up, they find it difficult to be compassionate. Instead, they become judgmental which in turn leads them to desire another to be condemned. They grow to be self-righteous and indignant. What God meant for good, was turned into something evil.
It is easy to praise the Lord for those with testimonies of being saved and delivered from a life of degradation. We even cheer for those who lived most despicable lifestyles. After all, they are just like us now. How do we view those who do not have such a testimony and are still living those lifestyles? Do we despise them or have compassion? When a criminal is put on death row or placed in prison, should we really say, “They get what they deserve?” There is a judgment coming for the wicked that reject God’s grace, and it is most horrific. It is beyond what we can imagine. We were criminals in the sight of God, but He had mercy on us when we asked for His forgiveness. We deserved that same judgment, but the Father was compassionate. It is funny how some people want to be understood and forgiven, but fail to understand and forgive others when “the shoe is on the other foot.” Sinners do sin; however, we should have an understanding that people do things for as reason. For example, some who abuse others have been abused themselves. One of the ways the devil seeks to destroy people is to attack them at a young age. If he can ensnare someone while he or she is at very young age, it will be easy to keep that one in bondage all his or her life. The actions of that person’s life reflect the damage that was done to him. Those reflections may be many, and of that number, several can be very ugly. If you meet a person who is always angry, be compassionate. They are angry for a reason. Please understand that we cannot endorse a victim mentality; in fact, compassion can help move a person out of that mindset. Simply put, we need to love the unlovable in order to set them free. Understanding their plight helps us to minister in proper fashion. Yes, it is necessary to have laws in place to protect society, no question. However, if we were truly merciful as our Father in heaven is merciful, would we not reach out to those ensnared by the devil in order to see them saved and delivered before they wound up in a lifestyle that leads to facing those laws? If we are merciful, would we not also reach out to those who are already there, or would we prefer to leave them as they are? For whom did Jesus go to the Cross?
Here is a simple, but profound truth: Jesus became the Son of man to represent all humanity on the Cross. In dying for us, bearing the entirety of sin for all, He enabled us to become sons and daughters of God. Until Jesus took our sin, becoming sin though He knew no sin (see 2Corinthians 5:21), He could have never died. His death declared our sin, but His Resurrection also declared Him the Son of God (see Romans 1:4). Likewise, it revealed that He did indeed take our sin upon Himself and that He is the only Way to the Father (see John 14:6).
While on His Cross, Jesus took the full wrath of God for us. That means the entire punishment we deserve for all eternity rested on Him. For those who receive this grace through faith, the wrath of God is nonexistent because Jesus took it all. Therefore, there is no more wrath to give. For this reason, we should count the Blood of Jesus to be most precious. His Blood alone is able to pay the penalty for all humanity. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power (KJV). There is a wrath to come for those who reject Jesus Christ and for those who count His Blood an unholy thing (see Hebrews 6:4-8; 10:23-31). Nonetheless, as long as a person lives, he or she is under grace where there is no judgment; only reconciliation to the Father. Meaning, as long as people are alive, God’s grace is available to them instead of His righteous judgment and wrath. If they receive His grace, they will forego the wrath to come.
What does this mean to believers? It means that it is not our job to condemn others for their sins. We do not judge them and hold their faults against them. We stop putting labels on them and publicly pronouncing their shortcomings. As ambassadors of Christ, we are to represent Jesus well to them. How did Jesus treat people? He went about doing good to them; not holding their sin against them (see Acts 10:38; 2Corinthians 5:18-20). Even today, Jesus is still reconciling people to the Father. He still treats them well! Instead of being angry with sinners, we should be compassionate. We should mourn for them. Just as we once were, they are in bondage to sin and have no way to deliver themselves. Sin rules them; they do not rule over sin. As long as the devil is their daddy, they will always serve sin. They are in need of the Spirit of adoption by Whom they are able to have God as their Father (see Romans 8:14-17; Galatians 4:1-7). By representing Jesus well, we may influence them to call on His Name and be saved from the wrath to come.
Another thing grace means to believers is that they need to stop holding themselves accountable for what has been forgiven. That does not mean we do not take responsibility for our actions altogether as responsible citizens of heaven. It means we stop beating ourselves up and trying to punish ourselves for past failures. It is time to see us from the Father’s point of view. We have no legal right to declare anything over ourselves that contradicts what He says about us. When a person contradicts the Father, he or she may not be considering how precious the Blood of Jesus is. Stop considering the deeds of the old man, because the old man was crucified with Christ –he’s dead (see Romans 6:3-7; Galatians 2:20)! Focus on being the new creature God made you (see 2Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:24). Live well as an ambassador of the Kingdom of God, so others may also become citizens (see 2Corinthians 5:20).
The Blood of Jesus is greater than our sins and His grace is sufficient for our weakness and our failures. He who the Sons sets free is free indeed (see John 8:36). These are not platitudes, but Spiritual Truths beyond mere facts. 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (KJV). 1 John 2:1-2 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And He is the Propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world (KJV). Even though verses also apply to believers who may have sinned after receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, some find it difficult to believe they can still be His as if there is no way back to the Father. They feel as if they no place for repentance because “they knew better.” While grace does not sanction nor sanctify sin, it is exactly what the Lord provided for time such as these.
Grace will not let the true disciple of Jesus Christ “get away with sin.” It is designed to empower us to live holy before God, and will not allow our conscience become oblivious to wrong doing. Grace is the avenue God gave us to repent and restore the fellowship that we enjoyed with Him before sinning. In fact, when a person comes to his senses and truly repents, God’s grace enables him to draw even closer to Him than before. Jesus taught that those who are forgiven much would also love much (see Luke 7:39-50).
The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and leads us to repentance; however, there is another element to consider. That is the discipline of the Father. At the time of one’s failure, He may withdraw the awareness of His presence, so that we become acutely aware of what it would be like to not be in His presence. Hence, that “lost feeling” comes into play. Secondly, it also reacquaints a person with the fear of the Lord. How dreadful to be lost without Him for all eternity! Hebrews 12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby (KJV). When we submit to the Father’s correction, peace will return.
The Father is not content to merely forgive us. As He cleanses us, He also roots out the core issues that lead to failure, but that is another subject. Nonetheless, the problem of sin is not always so black and white. There are matters of the heart at play here. It is not necessarily a question of rebellion. For example, there is such a thing as self-sabotage as the result of wrong thinking and faulty belief systems. That is why it is important to ask for wisdom when facing trials (see James 1:2-8).
God is greater than our failure. He did not go to such an Extraordinary Measure to save our souls, only to let us slip through His fingers. We must believe Him and trust His Word. A person who makes a conscious decision to depart from the living God with an evil heart of unbelief is something completely different. We are exhorted to take comfort through the Scriptures. Do you remember King David? Did he sin before God? Of course, but the Lord still said David’s heart was perfect with God, and he was a man after His own heart. Keep in mind that was Old Testament. Does your heart chase after God?
John 17:20-23 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word; That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me. And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one: I in them, and Thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me (KJV).
By definition, glory means splendor or majesty and is attached to weightiness or heaviness. Splendor means brilliance or to have great brightness or luster, which denotes an extreme brightness of the Lord’s glory (see Matthew 17:2). Glory is copious in nature; it is present on a large scale. It also means dignity and honor as the result of a good opinion, and results in worship. Glory reveals the acts and attributes of God in large variety of ways. There are too many elements of glory to be covered here, and is another area of study in of itself.
In His prayer to the Father, Jesus makes a very radical statement: “The glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them.” There are other passages of Scripture pertaining to His glory being in us (Romans 2:10; 8:18; 1Corinthians 15:40-57; Colossians 1:27, etc.), which is a mind-blower, but what is the purpose of that glory? One purpose that it serves is that it causes us to be to be one as the Body of Christ as the Father and Jesus are one. That we may be perfect or mature, and completely unified, Jesus dwelling in us, and the Father in Him. In this, we would indeed be one family. Revelation gives us an example of what oneness looks like on a very large scale. After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb (Revelation 7:9-10, KJV). Notice the large host of people from differing backgrounds that united to form one voice to glorify God. Not one person’s name is mentioned in these verses. There is only One Super Star and He is God. He alone receives the glory. If churches would embrace this atmosphere, everyone in the congregations would sing at the top of their lungs, instead of having only a few voices heard while praising and worshipping the Lord. Every voice that sings from a pure heart of worship is beautiful to God. Even the ones who sing out of key in the natural realm are in key in the spiritual. In such a setting, there is no fear of what others might think because everyone is concerned with glorifying God. He becomes the Focal Point, and the Body begins to function as the Lord intended.
Philippians 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves (KJV). When people do not embrace the true purposes of glory they enter into vainglory, which by definition means empty pride (glorying), self-conceit, and desire for praise. Even though Jesus gave them His glory by grace for higher purposes, they want to keep it for themselves and want others to glorify them as well. One basic reason for this is lust, pure and simple (see James 4:1-6). For some, however, it has more to do with an unsatisfied need of validation. Everyone needs love by design, so they can receive love from others, especially God. When that need is unfulfilled, it becomes distorted. Their thinking becomes flawed because now they embrace the idea they must earn love. Without love, no one feels validated. Unfortunately, vainglory has crept into a segment of churches. Think about it: how many say, or least want to believe they have the “best church around?” The problem is that there is only one Church and it belongs to the Lord. The Lord is undivided. Why do some get offended when they don’t get to sing the special or aren’t allowed to have a lead role in praise and worship? Unfortunately, when some minister in Word or song, they are more interested in the praise of people than the desire to obey and bless God. They are not so much concerned whether they are pleasing to God as they are to man. Bottom line, they want to be validated by others. Why is some leadership afraid to allow people to use their gifts? Is there a fear that people will give more honor to someone else, or somehow they will lose their position? Envy and jealousy are related to vainglory. There are many missed opportunities when individuals desire prominence over others. We see an extreme example of this in 3 John 1:9-10: “I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church” (KJV). Imagine the richness of teaching and impartation people could have been given if John and others were received. Why is it easier for some to mourn with those who mourn than to rejoice with those that rejoice? Is it that difficult to be happy for someone else’s success, promotion, gifting and so on? Vainglory strikes again!
There has been a desire by many to experience the glory of the Lord in the Church. In order to experience the glory, we have to cooperate with its purpose. When we come into the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (see Ephesians 4:3), the atmosphere will change. When we agree as one with the Holy Spirit, He is free to manifest through us. When we make the decision to corporately glorify God in one accord, His glory is free to flow. However, if we become prideful, we might as well go home and build our own little shrines to ourselves.