“I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument.”
Though false teachers often use Biblical phases, passages and Christian-sounding words, they distort the truth by taking passages out of context, ignoring dispensational truth or in some cases changing the meaning of God’s Word to fit their particular teaching. In some instances they even accidentally present truth. Satan is the great counterfeiter. Therefore, what his ministers teach is mixed with a small amount of truth in order to look like the real thing. Beware… you must always evaluate the message in light of the truth of God’s Word. (II Peter 2:1-22)
We will be able to discern this wrong motive from the false teacher, only if we have developed our spiritual I.Q. through the study and application of Bible doctrine. When the motive for doing “God’s work” is to gain favor, wealth, notoriety or power it is wrong. Even when the motive is pure, God’s work must be done God’s way or it is still wrong. In the Christian life, the ends do not justify the means. We are told to separate ourselves from these false teachers. This means we should not acknowledge them, fellowship with them, be on television with them, send them money, participate in their programs, attend their churches, attend their meetings or conferences, or in any way condone what they are doing or saying. (II Corinthians 6:11-18; II John 9-11)
“For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ.”
In spirit meant that even though Paul could not be with them in person, he was “with them” as a member of the body of Christ. Rejoicing means with inner happiness from sharing the happiness of God. He was constantly in a state of inner happiness. Sharing the happiness of God is having permanent contentment as your constant companion. This happiness is permanent because it does not depend on the circumstances in your life. It is actually God’s own perfect happiness that He shares with the advancing believer as a grace gift. Sharing God’s happiness is obtained only by consistently learning, believing and applying the Word of God over a period of time. The more time you log under the power and the control of God the Holy Spirit and thinking divine viewpoint, the happier you are going to be. Therefore, sharing the happiness of God is not for the novice believer. It is impossible to share in something that you know nothing about. Being happy is one of the many spiritual blessings that comes with increased capacity. Increased capacity to receive God’s blessing of happiness comes only one way - study and application of Bible doctrine. (Jeremiah 15:16; John 13:17; I Corinthians 12:25-26)
Sharing the happiness of God is also invisible. God shares His happiness with you through your perception of Bible doctrine. It is happiness in the soul, the ultimate in problem-solving devices. A mature believer has mental stability, which is the ability to think metabolized doctrine and apply it to every circumstance in life. Paul certainly fit this profile of a believer sharing God’s happiness regardless of his circumstances. (Romans 12:2-3)
Mental stability is having the discipline to put doctrine (your faith in Christ) before experience. Mental stability includes maximum courage toward everything that life throws at you, plus the ability to make the correct and accurate application of metabolized doctrine to testing. Remember that testing often comes without any warning. But a mature believer is ready for it, having a phenomenal mental stability. A mature believer functions under maximum effectiveness in life. Maximum effectiveness means maximum contentment. (Philippians 4:11-13; Hebrews 13:5; I Timothy 6:6-8)
“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.”
A believer always has the choice to either “walk in the light” or to “walk in darkness.” You cannot walk in darkness and be in fellowship with God at the same time. Therefore, we need to understand what the Bible means by “walking.” Walking is the Greek word “peripateo” and means “your manner of living.” Walking is a metaphor for the course being pursued by the believer. In God’s power system, walking is an analogy for aligning your experience with your position in Christ, as royal family of God. In other words, the believer is either pursuing a course according to the “light” (God’s power system) or according to the “darkness” (Satan’s cosmic system).
The word light in Greek is “phos” and metaphorically means “to make evident” or “to make to appear.” Jesus Christ, as the Light of the World, makes God evident and makes Him “appear.” Light, when used to describe God’s nature, denotes the highest quality of character and the absence of any impurity. With this definition of light and its usage in Scripture, we can see that when “light” is used in reference to God it encompasses the entire character of God (His nature and impartiality) and His work in the life of the believer (His favor, illumination and guidance). It is God’s “light” (we are called “the light of the world”) that is being reproduced in the life of the advancing believer as the character of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 5:14-16; Galatians 5:22-23) And the believer will spend all eternity in the “light.”
If the believer says he is pursuing a course according to God’s power system and yet he is operating according to Satan’s cosmic system he is lying and out of fellowship with God. “Not doing the truth”, means the believer is not doing what the truth teaches him to do. The truth, “aletheia” in Greek, means a body of truth that is believed. Bible doctrine (truth) teaches the believer how to think divine viewpoint and how “to do” divine production. This is possible only when the believer is in fellowship with God.
We have already seen that “walk” is a metaphor for aligning your life with the royalty that you are in Christ. We have also seen that “light” is a metaphor for God’s perfect character, personified in the Person of Christ. Therefore, walking in the light can be easily understood as aligning your life through correct thinking with the character of God, as the character of Christ is being produced in you. The believer cannot think correctly, as God would have him think, without the persistent and consistent intake and application of Bible doctrine. We know this can be accomplished only under the guidance and power of God the Holy Spirit. (I John 1:6-10)
The basis for being rooted, built up and established in Christ is always grace. The word grace itself makes it clear that God’s system for building the spiritual building is void of any human merit, human works, human ability or human viewpoint thinking. The reason that God planned it this way is to eliminate human viewpoint thinking and human production as the means for building anything spiritual. Instead, He provided a non-meritorious system for both perception and execution of the Christian Way of Life: faith. We learn how to erect a building in our souls by faith and it takes faith to put into practice. This method is the only one that can bring honor and glory to God. (Hebrews 11:6)
The spiritual building is built using the stored Bible doctrine in the mind of the believer. Consistent study and accurate application over a period of time is the method for developing our complex. This building is literally Christ being formed in the soul of the believer. Positionally, Christ is “in” every believer, but He is not “formed” in every believer. Jesus Christ had this spiritual building formed in His soul. He had all the characteristics of spiritual maturity: 1) He was full of grace and truth 2) He had a relaxed mental attitude 3) He was free from mental attitude sins 4) He had capacity for love and 5) He had divine inner happiness. Christ erected the spiritual building in His soul as a demonstration to all believers that it is possible for us to do the same through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 4:19; John 1:14)
As believer-priests, we have the opportunity to build a spiritual building in our souls. With Christ as our example, we simply follow His pattern. Christ, as a perfect human being, built this building under the filling of the Holy Spirit as He learned and applied the Word of God. As we abide in Him (fellowship with God) and His word abides in us (Bible doctrine) we are allowing God the Holy Spirit to produce the character of Christ in our lives. (John 15:10) The Bible uses a number of terms to refer to this building process. For example, walking in the light (I John 2:3-11), walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-23), imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1), Christ at home in your hearts (Ephesians 3:17), and Christ formed in you. (Galatians 4:19) The true function of the believer-priest’s spiritual life is the development of a relationship with God. This relationship is your unseen, private life with God. You and you alone know what that relationship is like.
There are many counterfeits to the spiritual life. It is therefore of extreme importance for each of us as believers to learn, understand and execute the true spiritual life. Without a correct understanding of the Biblical spiritual life, the believer will go through life executing some form of legalism or asceticism that will lead to only misery and unhappiness. The spiritual life is not what you do for God, the church or other people. The true spiritual life is your invisible relationship with God.
Building our spiritual complex is a process of transformation (not reformation), which takes place in the mind of the believer as he thinks Bible doctrine (the mind of Christ). We call this thinking Divine Viewpoint Thinking. As our spiritual complex is being built, happiness, stability and blessing are being produced by God the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. (Romans 12:1-2; Galatians 5:22-23)
The Christian Way of Life is a supernatural way of life, which cannot be lived apart from knowledge of Bible doctrine and the guidance of God the Holy Spirit. (Romans 7:6, 8:2; Galatians 5:25; Ephesians 5:18) This way of life requires thinking. All changes in our lives must come from the inside. The true character of the believer is determined by what he thinks, not by what he does. God never forces the believer into any course of action. We determine what our own spiritual lives are going to look like based on what we allow ourselves to think. Divine Viewpoint Thinking equals a victorious Christian Way of Life.
Gratitude is a matter of having the right attitude. And attitude is everything! Knowing who we are and what we have as a result of being in union with Jesus Christ should cause us to be grateful. As we grow up spiritually our gratitude will also grow. If we understand that our lives are in God’s hands and that He will direct our paths if we choose to allow Him to, we can have gratitude in any circumstance of life. (Colossians 2:6-8)
We must also learn to be grateful for even the hardships in life. Quite often these situations are used by God to teach us valuable lessons. They can also reveal areas of weakness with which we need to deal. How we handle these hardships can be a springboard to advance us in the Christian Way of Life by increasing our faith in God and our dependence upon God. (I Corinthians 15:54-57; I Thessalonians 5:18)
A part of gratitude is being content with what you have. God warns against a lustful attitude and encourages us to be satisfied with what He has already provided. His promise to all believers is that He will never leave us nor forsake us. God knows even before it happens what each of us will face in life, and He has made every provision for us. Our responsibility is to exercise our faith by always giving thanks regardless of circumstances, knowing that God is working things out to benefit us. (Philippians 4:11; Ephesians 5:20; Romans 8:28)
If your primary goal in life is to acquire material possessions, it may come at the expense of your spiritual life. God’s Word says, “What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?” We know that as believers in Jesus Christ we can’t lose our soul. However, we can lose our victory in the Christian Way of Life by wrong priorities. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” What do we have that we have not received from God? We came into this world with no material possessions and we will depart in the same manner. The real gain in life is to truly know Jesus Christ and to glorify Him. (Matthew 6:24-34, 16:26; Hebrews 13:5, I Timothy 6:6-7)