Society celebrates pride, yet, it is pride that has kept people from eternal life and has also led to the perversion of the Doctrine of Christ. Pride is attached to an independent spirit that says, “I don’t need God.” In the church it says, “I will do it my way.” It has led to atheism in that people want to do their own thing without consequences. If they are to have no consequences for their lifestyle, they need to believe there is no God. Hence, they enter into the sin of unbelief, even though deep down they know they are sinners who are destitute of God, because there is a God and He is holy.
Pride has spawned religion. In truth, many may say they have surrendered to God; nevertheless, their hearts say, “I want do it my way.” On one side, there are the religious zealots who have defined holiness by their own standards. They have negated the freedom found in the Holy Spirit because they have taken on a religious spirit. Essentially, they are saying that Jesus saves, but we still have to work to be righteous, even though it is Jesus Who makes us righteous (see 2Corinthians 5:21). They produce lists of dos and don’ts, confusing it with holiness. They make regulations on how to dress and wear your hair. They decide what things to avoid while equating it to righteousness. Without thinking it through, they become prideful in their religious positions. Instead of loving people, they avoid people because they are afraid of “guilt by association.” As a result, a number of them repel people from Jesus, instead of drawing them to Him. Unfortunately, they have brought themselves into bondage by not letting the Holy Spirit be the Holy Spirit in their life and the life of others. This religious attitude tends to reject or even condemn people instead of reconciling them to God. They do this by holding people’s sins against them and despising them for their shortcomings. They forget that they were saved by grace through faith, and that God did not impute their sin against them (see Ephesians 2:8-9; 2Corinthians 5:19).
The other extreme are those who pervert grace. Essentially, they still want to live the way the world lives without going to hell. Grace has become their license to sin, instead of the ability to walk in righteousness, free from sin. Of course, some simply do not understand the purpose of grace, but others know full well its purpose and have twisted it in order to fulfill their lusts. As it is written in Jude 1:4, “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ” (KJV). Grace is the unmerited favor of God, which enables us to do the things of God that we cannot do in our own strength. It does not sanction or sanctify sin. Furthermore, some have gone as far as to say there is no Judgment because grace has come. Those who truly walk by faith as the result of God’s grace will not face the lake of fire; however, grace does not cover those who reject God. It is not a “get out of hell free” card. 1 John 1:5-6 This then is the message which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, that God is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth (KJV). When it gets down to it, if a person says he is of the Light, but lives in darkness, he is considered a liar in God’s eyes. Revelation warns us, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8, KJV). In short, outside of the Kingdom of God are the liars. This is not meant to condemn people, but to warn them. Everyone’s work will be judged, Christian and non-Christian alike. Of course, those who are disciples of Jesus Christ will not face the second death, but their works will still pass before the Lord Jesus Christ. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom (see Proverbs 1:7; 9:10). It hates evil (see Proverbs 8:13); therefore, it does not embrace the lust of the flesh by trying to cover it with grace.
If you want to kill religion, get rid of pride. If you want eternal life, humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and call on the Name of Jesus. Proverbs 16:18 Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall (KJV).
Hope deferred makes the heart sick (see Proverbs 13:12); therefore, there are a number of people who find themselves spiritually sick. They have lost hope because they have failed to believe God. When you remove hope, you vacate faith, and when you take faith out of the equation, you lose the ability to hope. Unwittingly, many defer their hope by working against it and faith. They have hardened their hearts through unbelief. They fail to remember what He has done for them, and have let go of the promises He made to them as if He is unfaithful or incapable. In some cases, they believe their “unworthiness” is greater than God’s sovereignty and righteousness.
Through out Scripture, we are exhorted to remember God’s Word and what He has done. Not only are we to remember what He has done in a general sense, but also what God has done for us specifically. As soon as you forget what God has done, your heart will begin to harden. In turn, you will be incapable of seeing what He is doing in your midst, even when it is plain as day.
One of the reasons people forget what God has done is that the circumstances they face are greater than God in theirs eyes. The moment you magnify a problem you begin to forget the sovereignty of God. We have seen examples throughout the Bible. One is the children of Israel in the wilderness, who forgot what He did in Egypt as soon as they faced hardship. Even though God parted the waters of the Red Sea, which revealed He rules the water and is capable if giving them water in the desert, they did not trust Him to give them some to drink. They failed to see God as the faithful Father He is, and murmured against Him. Another example is the disciples of Jesus, who hardened their hearts right after seeing Jesus feed the five thousand (see Mark 6:45-52). Why do we forget what He has done the moment we face challenges? Should we not be able to stare challenges down because we know God is our Help in the times of trouble? Part of growing up in the Lord is learning to stay in the Spirit while facing difficulties. We learn to submit to the Holy Spirit and stop allowing our flesh to move us by what we see in the natural. As long as a person focuses on the mountain, the mountain will stay planted where it is. It will be rooted in unbelief. However, if he puts his trust in God he will be able to say unto the mountain, “be thou removed” and it will be (see Matthew 17:20; 21:21-22; Mark 11:22-24).
Another way to work against faith and hope is by putting God on trial. Without realizing it, some people judge God. There is a number of those who are skeptical of His goodness at best. The unfortunate thing is that their scales are slanted by unjust weights. They have already decided the verdict and use circumstances against God. In fact, to prove their hypothesis they themselves will create negative circumstances, and then blame God for them. Much of their judgment stems from hurts from their past. Those who were supposed to love them have wounded them. The ones, who should be the most trust worthy in their life, broke their trust. In some cases, it was broken repeatedly and in severe ways. Their thought is: if I cannot trust those whom I can see, how can I trust the One I cannot see? Some simply blame God for having a hard life. Whatever the case may be they question God. They need a revelation of His love and goodness. Many still need to forgive those who hurt them and even God Himself. Unforgiveness also works against faith and hope. It leads to bitterness, which in turn strangles hope and rejects faith.
Perhaps an approach to take during difficult times is found in Psalm 77:1-13. I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and He gave ear unto me. In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted. I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah. Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times. I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search. Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will He be favourable no more? Is His mercy clean gone for ever? doth His promise fail for evermore? Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath He in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah. And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High. I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all Thy work, and talk of Thy doings. Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God (KJV)? We acknowledge our struggles to the Lord, and then call to remembrance the great things He has already done in our lives. We decide to believe and hang on to the hope that is in Him.
The moment a believer thinks that he is entitled to his desires or that somehow God owes him, he has lost touch with gratitude. When a person loses touch with gratitude, the importance of the relationship with God has also been lost. When anything else becomes more important to a person than God is, he has started to serve an idol. When an individual places more value on another person than the Lord, he has set another god before him. The soul becomes impoverished when placing greater worth on personal desires than the relationship with God. With that comes a poverty mentality that says, “It is never enough.” Worst still, it says, “God is not enough.”
The danger of over focusing on what we do is that we may lose sight of our relationship. After time, it would be easy to fall into the trap of expecting God to give or do something because we performed. The idea that a person should be blessed because he prays or gives puts a premium on what he does; and not what Jesus did. A sign that we are losing proper focus is irritation or anger. If we get angry with God because He did not give us what we wanted or did not do something we expected, we will have lost our Way. When demand replaces gratitude, then we embrace the world instead of the Kingdom.
Romans 8:14-17 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ . . . (KJV). God does reward obedience; however, we cannot earn His rewards. If we think we earned a right to anything, we became hired servants or wage earners, instead of being a child of God. If we are joint heirs with Christ, the Kingdom of God already belongs to us, what more could we possibly want? Luke 12:32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom (KJV). If then, we are the children of God our desires should center on the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. Everything we do or desire should be the result of our relationship. This points to delighting ourselves in Him, Who in turn gives us the desires of our heart (see Psalm 37:4). The question is: what are those desires?
Sometimes people forget that the Father entitled them to become sons and daughters of God by receiving Jesus Christ (see John 1:12). They forget that by His grace they were saved through faith and not by their works (see Ephesians 2:8-9). They lose touch that the Father loves to freely bless His children and that they cannot earn those blessings. They forget that all these things come through Jesus Christ, and He only is worthy to receive all things. The only reason we are worthy is that He made us worthy by the shedding of His precious Blood. What does that mean? We are entitled to be grateful!
Those who practice intimidation are themselves run by the spirit of fear. As a result, they are disconnected from perfect love. As long as they embrace fear, they will be void of love. When they are void of love, they tend to fill that void with something else. With fear, comes hatred and anger, for hatred is the absence of love personified in unjustified disdain and even hostility toward others. Love empowers faith as it gives people the authority to walk in the power of faith (see Galatians 5:6). Fear leads to anger, which is a counterfeit of true power. Anger gives people a sense of power over fear as well as people, even though fear will at times trigger anger.
One way they use anger is to protect themselves from others, since it as a tendency to keep people at bay. Very few people get close to an angry person. Another use is manipulation. That is they employ anger and wrath (rage or a sudden burst of anger) to cause others to step in line with their wishes and demands. Anger works together with fear to limit, if not eliminate, someone’s freedom of choice. In a number of instances people would rather step in line than “face the consequences” or the perceived consequences. We all at one point or another heard someone say something to the effect, “If you don’t do as I say, I am going to be very angry.” Other times people will seek to intimidate others by that quick burst of anger, whether it is simply yelling or some other body motion such as slamming their fist on the table. Some are so effective with their use of intimidation that a person warns others about them. “Don’t make him mad!” They themselves may call it motivation, but it really is manipulation.
The greatest weapon against fear is love. As we know, “Perfect love casts out fear” (see 1 John 4:18). When people come to receive the love of God, fear departs from their midst. Love and fear (terror, anxiety, intimidation) cannot coexist. Love is of the Light, whereas, fear is a work of darkness. When Light enters into the picture, darkness has to flee. That is why we should ask for more love if we feel fear trying to come on us. Love is the opposite of fear and it rises up in faith and courage. Love also rises up in compassion for those ensnared by fear. 1John 4:18 also tells us that fear is attached to torment. Therefore, those who are fearful are tormented. Furthermore, people who are angry and afraid are those who have been hurt. This means that those who are constantly angry are in need of healing. Some who practice intimidation have come to use this weapon as a survival technique in a hostile environment, which includes dysfunctional families. Some cultures practice intimidation, which means there are people groups who are completely ran by the spirit of fear. Our challenge as believers is to love those who are in such bondage. Part of our warfare is to pray that those who intimidate or even terrorize others would receive the love of God. Love is the only way we can successfully combat fear.