The world says, “experience is the best teacher.” However, for the believer, the Holy Spirit is the Best Teacher Who uses experience as part of His curriculum.
That being said, it is important that we filter our experiences through Him. While it is equally important to leave the past in the past, part of the process includes gaining the understanding of the experience involved. What lessons can be drawn from them? This actually facilitates the letting go process, as it gives clarity to events in our lives. It may be something as simple as learning some things were out of our control, and we need to stop taking responsibility for what happened. Likewise, the lessons learned can help us from repeating mistakes, and so on.
If we do not allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us concerning our past, our past can be used against us. Unfortunately, because of an improper perspective, one's past can cause one to limit God in his or her present. When things go awry, or appear to have gone awry, it can make it difficult to trust God in current circumstances that are similar to past ones. Some people believe they are doomed to repeat their past because they have not allowed the Lord to give them the wisdom and understanding they need. If they feel that God is the blame for their hurts and failures, there is will be no trust for the present or future. Likewise, if they feel they failed God and blame themselves without learning from it, they will not trust they can succeed in the present. They lose sight of God's redemptive power. They fail to realize He restores what has been lost or stolen. While it is best not to ask why in the sense of questioning God, there are a number of times He wants to answer that question. Of course, we need to trust Him regardless if we know the why or not. We must embrace the Who if we are going to successfully navigate through life.
Without learning the lessons that the Holy Spirit wants to teach us, it would be easy to use our past against our identity. Face it, when we feel like we failed God, we don't much feel like His children. If we lose sight of our relationship because of it, we won't be confident in our current state of affairs. One of the things He wants us to learn is that the Father's love is unconditional. When we realize His love is not designed to be deserved, we will be confident to receive His forgiveness. Instead of running away from Daddy (Abba), we will run to Him if we fall and skin our knees. Of course, this leads us to another lesson. He can keep us from falling. Jude 1:24-25Now to Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, 25. To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
Because of God's redemptive power, your present and future are not contingent on your past. If anything, God will use it to build a brighter tomorrow. Do not equate your past with your present. They are not the same, regardless of how similar they may be.
We learn from the raising of Lazarus from the dead that some final events are not final after all (see John 11:1-44). God still uses our experiences for the present. Somethings that we consider over, are not over. God in His timing will bring life from what we consider dead. We need to consider those things over that He considers over. Nonetheless, because God is eternal and not chained to time, He can bring life to our past and use it in our present and future. Just like prophecy, God's timing is involved with everything. Just because something doesn't “turn out” as we would like, we need to realize that He's not done yet. We're not home. “That” is not always “that”; unless, He says so.
When we study the Bible, we all must be deliberate in our approach, lest we misinterpret what we read, and create false doctrines. We cannot afford to hurry through passages of scriptures and misread what is actually written. Furthermore, we must take care not to invent explanations for those things we don't quite understand. This is especially true when we do not have verses in the Bible to back them up. It is rather silly to teach things that fly in the face of scriptures that totally contradict those theories. We have been warned about adding or taking away from the Word of God. When we don't quite understand what we read, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to teach us; after all, He is The Teacher and true Interpreter of God's Word. At the same time, we must be patient. Revelation (the unveiling of an already existing truth) of His Word can come quickly; other times, we have to wait. Search the scriptures with the Lord, and the answers will come, and they do tend to come more quickly to the diligent.
To underscore these points, we will examine something that has been taught by some to be an explanation of a difficult passage. Upon examining it, you may discover their interpretation of what they read actually does not match what is written in the Bible. Furthermore, it will reveal by simply slowing down one can avoid unnecessary error. We now look at the idea that the giants of Genesis 6:4 came from the union of angels and women. Some of you may not have heard of this before, but this illustration will serve you well.
Genesis 6:1-4And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, 2. That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. 3. And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. 4. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
Lets first address the giants. Please notice that verse four says, “There were giants in the earth in those days.” The verse did not go on to say, “as the results of when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men.” Rather, these are two independent thoughts that are unrelated as to cause and affect: “and also after that, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them . . .” The giants were already in existence before the sons of God joined with the daughters of men. Secondly, the word “giants” does not refer stature or height; rather, the word actually means a “bully” or “tyrant.” They were violent tyrants who fell upon others, or men of violence or robbers. “And also after that,” refers to verse three which tells us what the Lord said in relation to mankind. It does not refer to the making of giants.
Some have tried to define “sons of God” as angels by using passages of scripture from the book of Job.
For example, Job 1:6Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. Notice that Satan was not actually counted with the sons of God; it said he “came also among them.” Satan as we know is a fallen angel, but nowhere in this passage do we find an actual reference to angels in terms of defining sons of God. Throughout the Bible, we don't find “angel(s)” in conjunction with “sons of God.” While, I'll not address who the sons of God actually refer to here, there is one thing important to consider, and that is the nature of angels. They are not flesh and blood as mankind. They are spirits. Nowhere in Scripture do we find that angels reproduce or procreate. As a matter of fact, Jesus told us in Matthew 22:30, “For in the resurrection they (men and women) neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven” (see Matthew 22:23-33 for full context). So, if angels are not designed for reproduction and are unlike mankind, how can they join with women to produce giants?
I believe I know who the sons of God refer to in Genesis six, but I cannot be emphatic about it. Therefore, since it's a personal opinion, I will not offer it. The only time I would do such a thing is when I'm studying with others in order to find the truth together. While some believers are mature enough to distinguish between opinions and true doctrine, some who are new to the faith may receive an opinion as an absolute. It is not a good idea to be flippant in relation to sharing theories. Teachers need to be careful in what they present, and be open to reproof and correction as well. That is also why I encourage you to study this out for yourself, to see if what is presented is true. We all should seek only the truth, while not trying to proof or disprove what we study. Let the Holy Spirit bring the clarity, while maintaining a sincere heart for the truth.
God has given us freedom by His grace through His Spirit. He empowered us to make decisions and choices that we were once powerless to make. While we do have the ability to make decisions and choices, we do not necessarily have the power to determine their outcome. We do not possess the capacity to control the future, which means we cannot determine every circumstance we will face in life. Granted, the decisions and choices we make can greatly influence them, but that is as far as it goes. Likewise, contrary to popular belief, we cannot control people. Sometimes, the way people interact with us can take us by surprise -both good and bad. The way we treat them greatly influences how they treat us, but there are no guarantees. Nonetheless, how we react or respond has been placed in our hands. To a large degree, preplanning can be the difference between reacting and responding.
For example, if I make a decision to be angry before something may happen a certain way or someone doesn't behave the way I think they should, I am already predisposed to anger and wrath. We've all heard people say, “If that happens, I'm going to be upset,” or “If they do that, I'm going to be mad.” On the other hand, if I purpose to walk in love and patience, I will have positioned myself to better respond to what's ahead. If I keep a disposition of forgiveness, I will be less apt to be offended by others. This is especially true if I decide not to hold what others do or say against them before the fact.
If you tend to hold an angry and wrathful disposition, why do you?
Do you enjoy the sense of power it gives you? Do you love manipulating people by your anger? Oh yes, people use anger to get what they want. Where's the freedom in that? Are you trying to protect yourself from further hurt? Have you been so wounded that you resort to wrath as the result of unforgiveness? Do you enjoy the rejection it causes? By God's grace you do not have to resort to anger. Anger that is misused is the result of selfishness. There are times when anger is appropriate. Such as when we see injustice, or when one person hurts another. However, that anger is based on love, and love never allows anger to take over. Grace enables us to control our emotions in the sense that they do not tell us what to do. For example, meekness keeps power and anger in check. It is part of the fruit of the Spirit, as is self-control (temperance). The Lord empowers us to use emotions as tools and indicators, as well as for us to experience a richer life. That is a lesson in itself. Galatians 5:22 – 23But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23. Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Contentment goes a long way in relation to patience and longsuffering.
Philippians 4:11 – 13Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content. 12. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13. I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.
Whether we have a little or much, we need to be content with what we have. If not, we will never be joyful, much less happy. Joy, of course, is an inner disposition that does not rely on exterior circumstances. It is based on our relationship with God. Our relationship with Him should make us the most content people on the planet. Where we live and what have should have no bearing on our joy. This includes our gifts and callings. We should never covet what someone else has; rather, we should embrace the abilities God gave us. Contentment lends itself to helping us navigate through tough circumstances with joy. That does not mean we have to like them, but we can embrace their outcome if we allow ourselves to be trained by the Lord through them. In other words, look to the result. That being said, discontentment may lead to unwanted results. Furthermore, it affects our patience with others and longsuffering during trials. Contentment and gratitude combat envy and jealousy. You have the power to decide what dispositions you hold. Grace does not make excuses for lack of patience with others, nor does it blame other for our shortcomings.
2 Corinthians 3:17Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
Being aware of mindsets is crucial in our walk with Jesus. Our thought patterns greatly affect our belief systems and how we navigate through the walk of faith. It can have such an affect that it means the difference between victory and a life filled with shame. Our worldview will determine whether we are of the Kingdom or of the world. The most bipolar people are those who try to adhere to Kingdom principles while still trying to live worldly. You cannot embrace both and hope to walk successfully by faith. Relationships between people are greatly hampered when there's a disconnect between what true love is and what a person truly believes about love. For those in Christ Jesus, they have the mind of Christ (1Corinthians 2:16). If that is true, why do a number of them maintain the world's approach to life? Holding onto the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life leads to disaster. Lets take a look at a few examples that may bring clarity to what each of us cling to in relation to mindsets.
The Bible teaches us that we cannot earn God's love nor eternal life. Our behavior does not make God love us more, or less. He does not withhold love because we blow it, nor does He lavish us with more love because we do well. God never changes. He is love, which means His love never changes. His love sees beyond behavior. If we truly believe that, should we not love others in the same manner? Why do some believers withhold love when people do not meet their expectations? Simple, they still view love through the world's eyes. In come cases, it is ingrained because they have learned a pattern of earned love while growing up in a dysfunctional environment; but then, the world is dysfunctional. In some cases, people are afraid of guilt by association. They are fearful they will be negatively branded if they love a “criminal” or someone who misbehaves. Jesus identified with sinners on the Cross, criminals before God, in order to reconcile mankind to God. Yep, He identified with you! Does not love forgive, restore and reconcile? Love recognizes bad behavior is the result of sin and brokenness. People are in bondage to sin and fear. It takes love to deliver them. Does your mindset toward behavior cause you to despise others, or stir you up to see them healed and reconciled? James1:17Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with Whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Hebrews13:8Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. 1 John4:16And we have known and believed the love that God has to us. God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him.
Forgiveness is huge in the kingdom of God; yet, even some believers will say things as, “He got what he deserved!” Did you get what you deserved when you asked the Lord to forgive you? That attitude is based on self-righteousness which embraces unforgiveness. Self-righteous people can be some of the most arrogant and unforgiving lot on the planet. At best, they expect people to live up to their expectations before they forgive them. They have to “tow the line” before they embrace them. For some, forgiveness is conditional. They forgive some offenses while not forgiving others. The blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is the only unforgivable sin before God. That means all the rest are forgivable. Where does your list of forgivable sins lie in relation to His? Granted, emotions can greatly impede forgiveness; however, God's grace is more than sufficient to get you through those emotions. In fact, as you forgive through the power of His grace, your emotions will follow. Instead of hatred, anger, wrath and bitterness, you will have perfect peace ruling in your heart. Love and compassion replaces hostility and vengeance. The mindset that says, “I will forgive, forget and restore,” wins!
One last example: victory. If Jesus made us more than conquers, why do so many try to get the victory in various areas of their lives? Without realizing it, they move into pride and failure when they take that approach. I can repress the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes by using the pride of life for a season. That's still self-righteousness that is doomed to fail; in fact, it already did. Pride is something God greatly despises. When you take the approach that sees the battle won already, because Jesus already fought the battle for you, you will walk in victory. Trying to get the victory says, “Jesus failed, it's up to me now.” We must always see things from the standpoint of victory, no matter how low you may feel at the time. Our victory is an act of submission, which includes giving Jesus all the credit. We cannot even sneak in a little, “I overcame through Jesus by faith.” No, Jesus overcame and gave us faith to receive it. He did it all! Romans 8:35–37Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For your sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.