Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

Discipleship Series
by Rayola Kelley

Last month I talked about the intent of something. Intent points to motivation, approach, and fruits. Motivation has to do with personal agendas or the emphasis put on a matter.Approach is the manifestation of the attitude in which a person does something. Fruits are not just a matter of what an individual does, but the type of spirit in which he or she operates. Ultimately, intent has to do with the type of inward environment that will exist in the soul of man.

Without the right spirit or motivation, the intent will have a wrong attitude behind it. For example, take John and James in Luke 9:51-56. They felt righteous and justified in wanting to call fire down on the people of Samaria for not receiving Jesus. However, Jesus’ intent for traveling by way of Samaria was not to preach the Gospel, but to go on to Jerusalem where He would ransom humankind back from the claims of sin and death. John and James were not mindful of Jesus’ intent. They were trying to appear noble about taking personal offence for Him. Jesus told them that they did not know what spirit they were of. Their intent was not righteous but fleshly. They lacked the vantage point of God’s will and purpose.

What does it mean to line up to the intent of heaven to ensure that I am walking in step with Jesus? First, there must be a right motivation or spirit. Since the spirit establishes attitude, the attitude must be right if we are to walk out the intent of a matter correctly. For the next couple of months we will deal with the motivation, and on the third month, we will follow up the two articles with the way in which we must walk out a matter.

Since motivation determines environment, we must consider the present environment we live in as far as the world. The environment will reveal not only the spiritual temperature of this nation, but establish the type of battle Christians must wage to maintain the integrity, life or spirit behind their Christian walk and testimony. A good example of this is the kind of battle Christians who live in Muslim countries have to personally wage to maintain the integrity of their Christian life.

The environment that exists in America is that of being politically correct. In such an environment, there are no absolutes. This means that to advocate any type of absolute classifies a person as being narrow-minded, dogmatic, contrary, and out of touch with reality. In such a society the people are demanded to exercise tolerance towards diversity, while strong moral convictions are considered hateful, prejudicial, and as standing in the way of everyone coming together into a one-world community. In fact, in a politically correct society tolerance is to be maintained towards every type of lifestyle and philosophy except in the case of fundamental Christianity.

In a letter to the editor in our local paper, a man actually voiced the philosophy of such a society when he referred to getting rid of fundamental Christians. After all, those who advocate and stand for righteousness will not leave people in their preferred delusion that all will be well in a world where the concept and teachings of a holy God and His Law are eventually wiped out, allowing for everyone to live in peace and harmony.

Clearly, there has been a powerful move in this nation to obliterate the witness and testimony of the God of the Bible, along with His holy Law. His Law reveals the state of darkness in regard to people’s preferences for wickedness, and as a result, these individuals loathe such an intrusion into their delusion. They resent being identified as transgressors who are dead in their sin, and that they have no real means outside of Jesus’ redemption by which their transgressions are paid for without it costing them everything, including their very souls.

There was a woman who came to us because her demons tormented her. Clearly, Satan possessed her. After contending with her demons for many hours, she admitted she was a witch who willfully married Satan. When asked why she chose the way of Satan, she confessed that she became angry with God when she found out she could not just live any old way. We eventually discovered that she simply wanted relief from the torment of the demons, but she did not want deliverance from the power they had over her life.

Good is considered evil in a tolerant society because it will not adjust to any compromise, and evil is considered good because its darkness placates, justifies, and condones all wicked philosophies, preferences, attitudes, and actions. Consider what the prophet Isaiah says about this type of state in Isaiah 5:20: “Woe unto them who call evil, good, and good, evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.” Woe in this text means to express pain or grief. Its attitude is expressed best as “Oh, alas, I must face my day of reckoning, and experience the pain and grief of the bitter cup of my ways. Woe is me!”  These words are because the Lord’s vineyard, Israel, was in a state of utter spiritual ruin due to the people’s unholy compromise and agreement with the pagans and their gods. InIsaiah 5, God actually pronounced six woes upon Israel. These woes were in relationship to those who refused to maintain the integrity of their spiritual inheritance as God’s people. These people were described as wasting their lives drinking and partying, encouraging iniquity as a means to justify partaking of the vanity of this world, defining righteousness as being evil in order to embrace wickedness, considering themselves wise and prudent in being tolerant towards evil, and finding their strength and reality by partaking of that which is worldly.

Tolerance is the attitude advocated to bring about and ensure the state of political correctness. It is interesting to look this word up in the dictionary. It points out the obvious. A tolerant person will reveal a moderately good attitude towards diversity no matter how much he or she might disagree with it, and such a person can be most agreeable or show sympathy or indulgence towards apparent and disagreeable differences. However, the other meaning of the word tolerance has to do with enduring something that will prove to have unfavorable effects down the line. In other words, tolerance allows something that is unfavorable to a healthy environment to grow in that environment without any opposition.

The attitude of tolerance never has to be directed towards righteousness, because to do right and being right in a matter will not harm, defy or rip at the fiber or character of something. It is important to point out that tolerance never gives way or submits to what it disagrees with; rather, it simply allows something that is contrary and destructive to be without confrontation or challenge. In the majority of cases, such tolerance is nothing more than a mask that hides destruction, a cloak that hides pride, a robe that disguises the indifference of hatred and prejudice, and a covering that justifies dishonorable actions and practices.

This is why it is important to point out that the attitude of tolerance, which is being pushed upon our society, is for the main purpose of allowing the disease and ways of sin to have free reign in our society. This free reign will be able to express itself in any form, as well as grow without experiencing any opposition. Since sin is leaven, the sins that are advocated as normal, acceptable and righteous will have the capacity to consume and take over this nation. However, evil does have limitations. Eventually, wicked societies cave in on themselves because there is no substance or character left to maintain them, and/or they will be thoroughly judged by God.

Being in a tolerant society can cause Christians to become spiritually dull towards sin, compromise with the world and come into unholy agreements. This brings us to the battle that, as Christians, we must wage in this environment. We must choose to love the truth and hate what opposes, oppresses, and will ultimately destroy the souls of men. In summation, we must hate sin and wickedness. We know that righteous men such as Job possessed such hatred.

People think that by being tolerant towards that which opposes the righteous ways of God is a sign of love and wisdom. In a sense, tolerance is the world’s substitution for godly love. However, as already pointed out, the lopsided tolerance that is being shoved on us is not love, but is the indifference of prejudice and hatred. Challenge the person who uses tolerance to hide and justify personal sin, and his or her indifference will express itself in unbridled hatred, something we witnessed during the recent presidential election.

       Since February is the month in which we think about love, I want to take the next two months to talk about what the King James Version of the Bible refers to as charity. Charity, rather than love, is a good word to bring about a clearer picture of godly love. The reason for this is that the word love carries different emotional and sentimental connotations that will often cause a person to miss the intent of godly love. The word “charity” may also actually cause some to consider what the intent of this virtue is in regard to the Christian life.

The opposite of charity is pride. The attitude of the tolerance advocated in America is a disguise of pride. Pride is what motivates unregenerated people in their pursuits, passions and goals. Pride can serve as a premise, spirit, motive, attitude, look, feeling, and/or action. Likewise, charity should, and must, serve as Christians’ premise, point of inspiration or motive, attitude, look, feeling, and action. Let us now consider how charity responds in each area.

The premise of pride is selfishness, but the premise of charity is sacrifice (John 3:16). Charity is willing to be sacrificial to ensure the spiritual well-being of others. This was the premise God came from when He gave His only begotten Son as a sacrifice. Because of His sacrifice, we now can embrace eternal life that is abundant, as well as a spiritual inheritance that awaits us in the next world. For Christians, the premise of charity will manifest itself asselfless, consecrated service in light of God’s love.

The spirit motivating pride is the spirit of the world, which freely works within those who are disobedient. However, the spirit that should be compelling or constraining Christians is theHoly Spirit. The Spirit of God sheds abroad this incredible charity in our hearts. As this charity is worked into our lives by tribulations, patience, experience, and hope, we will express it through joyful service to God and others (Deuteronomy28:47; Romans 5:3-5; Ephesians 2:2).

The attitude of pride is arrogance, but the attitude of charity is meekness. Meekness comes out of a state of humility, and is in subjection to the Holy Spirit. The truest form of charity displays humility and meekness in being sensitive to act in a way that is upright and beneficial on the behalf of others. For the Christian, such meekness expresses itself in doingservice that is honorable and upright.

The look of pride is haughtiness, but the look of love is compassion. It is important to note the idea of “looking” is associated with how people intend to respond. Their response depends on how they actually see a matter in relationship to personal character, level of commitment, and the sense of responsibility they have towards others. Tolerance is actually a haughty indifference that often disguises itself with an outward show of sympathy. Granted, sympathy may show an emotional response, but it will remain indifferent when it comes to getting emotionally involved. On the other hand, compassion cannot ignore or remain indifferent to one who is truly in need or in trouble. This is why charity will rejoice only in the truth, and never in iniquity. It cannot remain indifferent to the destructive influences, workings and activities of sin upon the lives and relationships of people. Like the Good Samaritan, the look of compassion will cause one to do what he or she must do to help a person by making the necessary commitment to go the distance required. Such compassion will show itself inservice that completely identifies with, and enters into the plight of another. This means making all personal resources available to help lift the burden of the individual who is in need or in trouble.

       The feeling of pride is self-exaltation or an unrealistic feeling of euphoria because everything seems to be going the person’s way; but such a feeling is temporary and fickle. However, the feeling of charity is benevolence. Benevolence is naturally kind; therefore, it is always ready to show kindness and gentleness in a situation. In fact, benevolence will never stop to consider personal cost or inconvenience. As a result, benevolence expresses itself in committed, sacrificial service towards others.

The act of pride can express itself in good deeds tainted by selfishness, or it can come out in some form of cruelty such as indifference and mocking. The act of charity is submission.Godly submission gives way to that which is worthy of service for the benefit of the whole. Benefit in this text points to that which is good or moral. Such goodness will ensure the integrity of the service rendered, as well as the spiritual well-being of those who are being served. Regardless of the cost, submission considers all service to God as being reasonable, or the least it can do in light of the incredible charity God has shown each of us.

This brings us to the reality of this charity: it cannot be earned. Everything we receive from God is because each of us is a charitable case before the throne. Clearly, we are at the mercy of someone greater than we are, and worthy of devoted service. We all know that one day we will answer to Him for what type of service we have done in this body.

People can deny God exists, outlaw His Bible and moral Law, persecute and mock His servants, call His ways evil, and rage against His immovable truths about sin and salvation, but in the end each of these individuals will stand before this righteous God on a day of reckoning.  Every lie will give way to truth, every form of opposition against Him will melt in fear, and every excuse will be silenced as His righteous Law is exalted as the true standard of justice. At this time, these people will be declared guilty and doomed.

My challenge to every Christian is that each of you must refuse to give in to the present, convenient attitude of tolerance in order to get along in this world. Rather, I want to encourage every one of you to fan the flame of your love for God, His truth and each other into a greater fire. My prayer is that this fire will burn up any residue that remains of your self-life in order to refine and enlarge the charity that is already present in your life. May you walk according to, in, and because of this eternal virtue. May it truly become your premise, motivation, attitude, look, feeling, and act in your life before God and your service to others on His behalf.