The apostle Paul never concealed his past. in sharing his former life as “a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man,” he was able to show others just how merciful,gracious, and patient God is.
Paul’s attitude is a good one for each of us to emulate. God wants to use our triumphs over our past to glorify Himself. If we are listening carefully to His voice, we will find that He is placing before us opportunities to share how we have been changed.
Many people agonize through life because they believe they are not good enough for God to love or to save. Sharing the recovery stories of how our lives have been transformed may become the key that opens the door of Gods love to a struggling friend.
As we continue to practice and apply each of the Twelve Steps, our daily lives can be “a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him.”
Today has been a struggle for me. I’m searching for peace and finding none. I find myself irritated and not fully understanding why. I have so much to be grateful for yet I’m not finding the emotional release I need in none of the things I do or the people I find around me. However I know God has a plan and a purpose for me and my life. I just have to keep the faith and stay in his will. I really miss having my recovery group up and running. I think I have to find a new way to get it back up and running. Theres been so many changes I just need to take a better look a my position before I take this next step. However until then I’ll just keep putting God first. Continue to do the next right thing and keep my integrity intact. And let God show me how to navigate this journey that’s unique to the vision he has give me. So let me go find me a meeting to go to so I can talk with somebody that understands my struggle.
“Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” — 1 John 4:4, ESV
This passage of scripture is one of the most popularly quoted among Christians — right up there with John 3:16 (“God so loved the world”), 1 Timothy 1:7 (“God has not given us a spirit of fear”), and Romans 10:9(“confess with your mouth”). It is a motivational verse for fearless living. Whether its dealing with a bad boss, an unfaithful friend, a critic, or with some unmet life goal, this verse is used to encourage Christians that they can overcome any perceived obstacle in their life.
What many fail to realize is that the writer John has a very specific purpose in mind for this statement that has nothing to do with bad bosses, unfaithful friends, or life dreams. Rather, John’s goal is to assure his readers that they have overcome the false prophets he introduces in verse 1: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
It’s frustrating that Christians who quote 1 John 4:4 almost never mention it within the context of dealing with false teachers. In fact, many false teachers themselves use this very verse to support their health and wealth prosperity gospel. It is used as a motivational instrument to encourage people to have the courage to chase their own dreams and desires.
That’s probably why you’ll find it on coffee mugs and bookmarks, mouse pads and t-shirts in every Christian store and coffee shop. Many popular Christian songs include the verse in their lyrics, not to mention in top selling devotionals. To many Christians, 1 John 4:4 is just another in a line of marketable catchphrases.
John’s intent, however, isn’t to promote a clever one-liner marketing catchphrase. He instead has in mind to give confidence to believers battling against the false teachings of Gnosticism. The Gnostics believed that truth comes from personally applied knowledge and experience (Greek γνῶσις, transliterated gnosis). In other words, instead of trusting in the revealed word of God in scripture, they believed that a person needed new, special revelation to understand “hidden meanings” of scripture. These false teachers would sometimes claim that they had visions or new prophecies not found in scripture and that they had divine authority to impose these revelations upon the church.
Many false teachings found in today’s churches employ similar Gnostic principles. Whether it’s through the requirement of speaking in tongues as the genuine sign of true Christianity as claimed by Pentecostalism, the spurious revelations of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon claimed by the church of the Latter Day Saints, or the prophetic utterances of the Word of Faith preachers, they all deny the sufficiency of the Bible as the completely revealed word of God. At the core of these false religions lies the belief that the Bible is simply not enough. They are always in continual need of new prophecies, new experiences, new techniques and new requirements to reach God.
With so many cults and counterfeit faiths in the world, I’ve long wondered how I could be sure that I myself would not be sucked into false teaching. John answers that in 1 John 4:4 by saying that those who are “from God have overcome them.” Those who are “from God” are identified in verse 6 as those who listened to the apostle John (and presumably the testimony of the other apostles as well). We know what the apostles taught because it is recorded in the New Testament books of the Gospels and the epistles. By remaining faithful to the teachings of scripture, therefore, the believer can be sure that he is indeed from God and that he is protected against the schemes of false teachers that surround and infiltrate the church.
John’s command to his audience is stated in both negative and positive terms. First, he instructs them not to “believe every spirit” (1 John 4:1). The implication here is that every spirit does not deserve the trust of the true believer. According to John Gill’s commentary, a good contextual definition of the word “spirit” refers to “every doctrine that is pretended to come from the Spirit of God”. Even Jesus predicted that impostors would appear in Matthew 24:5 when He said that “many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray”. It is easy for someone to claim that they have “received a word from the Lord” or was told something by the Spirit, but John exhorts his audience not to believe anyone’s teaching solely based on this claim.
Flipping to a positive exhortation, John commands the church to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4:1). He then tells the audience exactly by what criteria each spirit should be tested:
“By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already” — 1 John 4:2–3
John says here that the test for whether a spirit is the Holy Spirit, or whether it is from the antichrist, is to assess how well it reflects a true and accurate doctrine of Christ. The word “test” here means to “recognize as genuine after examination” (Greek δοκιμάζω, transliterated dokimazō). By this standard, Paul authenticated the authority of his teaching to the Corinthian church when he wrote saying “I…did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom[,] for I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:1–2).
As God’s elect, we are not called to merely accept any assertion at face value, but to thoroughly and reasonably examine the testimony of anyone who claims to speak by the Spirit of God. Whether pastor, preacher, evangelist, teacher, bishop, prophet, or next door neighbor, every word they speak be verified and validated by the canon of scripture, sola scriptura.
There are many ministries and doctrines in the church that claim to preach Jesus, but any teaching that does not make Jesus the absolute central focus of its theology is inherently anti-Jesus. However, a biblical Christology assures the believer that he can rely on the full power of the Godhead to protect him from the deceptions of false teachers (see the temptation of Christ, Matthew 4:1–11). Those who purport to have a different Gospel than what the Bible teaches will not ultimately succeed, for “just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth…but they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men” (2 Timothy 3:8–9).
For those of us who are among God’s elect, it can sometimes feel like defending the Gospel of Christ is a losing battle in a world where false teachers enjoy unprecedented success. Yet we are already victorious if we are truly from God. We ought to give thanks daily to God that His divine, revealed word gives us all that we need to maintain the course and finish the race. Our joy remains in this, that greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.
Started of this day feeling the pressure of change and the gravity of the moment not only in my life but of history in the making. Today I am so grateful that I have out grown my own stupidity and childish thoughts that once dominated my life. As a black man I find myself very uneasy right now. Knowing that the true hate that is in America is about to raise it head again in a way few are prepared for. The hate I’m talking about is the one where those of the white communities would rather see are country burn to the ground with the death and destruction of people of color. Particularly my people. Then to change the mindset and direction of the country. I find myself praying more then ever, while at the same time preparing for war. The protection of my family and my community. I see all the races buying all the ammo and weapons of war off the shelves. The churches are empty. The love for one another is at a all time low. Respect for life is at a all time low. I am constantly reminded when I look at the penny with Lincoln head facing the opposite direction then any other US currency. It faces that way because they said he turned his back on the country by abolishing slavery. Anyway thats a conversation for another time. So with all these thoughts going through my mind this morning one of my all time favorite songs comes on the radio. Lovely day by Bill Withers. This song always seems to come on every time I’m feeling some kind of way and helps me put things in perspective. I am reminded that God can an will change things if it be his will. So with that being said. I will continue to put God first in all my dealings. Continue to do the next right thing and keep my Integrity intact. My God be with us all as we go through this together or apart.
My father use to always say to me. “If you find one friend in life your lucky.” I really didn’t understand it then but I do now. Over the years I have had people in my life that I thought where friends only to find out later that they really meant me no good and they were only there to take from me. As I was doing to them.
As I’ve been working to change my life for the betterment of myself and my family. There still is something missing real friendships. When I was young I had tight bonds with a few people that I would call friends. But over the years we grew apart. Stopped communicating with one another. Or maybe it was just me. It might have been the gangs or the drugs, Jealousy, Envy or that killer of all friendships Resentment.
However those close relationships are still needed to have a healthy life. I didn’t realize how much I would like to have those type of relationships in my life until an old friend decided to pick up the phone and facetime me the other day. I can truly say it made my day. The conversation we had felt good because this was someone that understood where I came from and the struggles that we both shared over the years. It was refreshing just to have a conversation and a very real one.
As men we often hide are feelings and our needs. Often afraid to express them for fear of how they might be perceived. Especially black men. When I was young I used to watch my father and his partners. I would listen to the conversation that they would have and the truthfulness that they would enter the conversation with. They really didn’t spend a lot of time on things that weren’t real. They talked about things like family, children, jobs, money and keeping each other focused on handling there business.
They didn’t believe in pulling punches with one another when it came to the truth. They reach out to one another for support. Maybe those friendships still exist. However because of the life I choose I never cultivated those solid meaningful relationships. But today I am grateful that I still have the opportunity to work on the relationships that I do have. To develop those real friendships. To my Friend that took the time to reach out. Thanks for opening the door.
For me this has been a very interesting journey. Full of grace and mercy. Heartache and pain. However something happened along the way that I wasn’t expecting. I learned to love myself. I also acquired the ability to forgive myself for the things in my past that I regret. For the hurt and the pain I have caused others as well as myself. I also found out that God was real and that he lives within me. I found that the strength I needed to overcome my addictive behavior. I already possessed. I just needed to tap into it. Anyway I’m gearing up for the next phase of this journey. Getting ready to get the Certified addiction counseling licenses under my belt so I can help others find the strength to do the next right thing. Like I was able to do. So with that being said continue to pray for me.
“There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It is the only true guide you will ever have. And if you cannot hear it, you will all of your life spend your days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls.” ― Howard Thurman
The spirit of God that lies within all of us is something to be explored. Taking the time to find the true authentic you is a journey everyone should try in their life at least once. I say that because it has taken me the majority of my life, to find that person. To stop trying to be something or someone that I am not. To stop looking for the approval of those around me. Never along the way did I ever think that I would find the kind of happiness that comes with learning to tap into the power that lies within. However great the struggle has been I am truly grateful that God spared me and gave me a chance to tap back in to the gift he gave me. His very essence.