How often do we look at ourselves when things are going against us? It is the habit of people to look for someone or something to blame when times are not conducive to them. They quickly throw the blame on anyone or anything. In doing so, they assume relief or diversion, though they do not appear at all. So, how often do we first examine ourselves? Often times people’s own doing places them on the receiving end. Naturally, pain and stress appear and they eventually seek to live with them. Make no mistake there is genuine suffering and it is for the stand we take on faith, righteousness and the law of God. Its distinct nature is not farfetched. In genuine suffering there is the Lord’s presence providing comfort, hope, strength, understanding, vision, the courage that speaks against all odds and the work of God. But in the consequences of our own doings we do not find any of these except the manner of sin-nature springing up from us; our deeds become visible which plainly stand against God. Then it will be God Himself working against us making life difficult in every area we step in.
“In those days the LORD began to send Rezin king of Aram and Pekah the son of Remaliah against Judah” (2 Kings 15:37). It is the irreversible actions of Judah that provoked God to punish them in order that their sin is quenched. When God’s people begin walking according to the flesh or the wisdom developed by the knowledge of the flesh, it can lead to willful refusal of overturning their paths. The desire of the flesh should never dominate the desire of God. Therefore, every instance or event we venture to step into it is best we weigh it with God’s ways and thoughts. Or else, the time will come when we cannot turn around, to be precise, when we do not wish to turn around and God will be our enemy. In every step of our way it only becomes more and more difficult to progress.
God hates sin. Most of the time it is not that believers do not know what sin is, but it is the constant negligence or arrogance in using the knowledge of sin to act against it. The effect would be earth shattering. “If it pleases the king, let a royal edict be issued by him and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media so that it cannot be repealed, that Vashti may no longer come into the presence of King Ahasuerus, and let the king give her royal position to another who is more worthy than she” (Esth. 1:19). Much can be reaped from it. They may still be God’s children owing to Christ’s blood, but they may never be useful to Him again. God will not use them for His kingdom, but rather make them a proverb to explain why one should not disobey Him. Vashti was still a queen, but a dishonored queen and someone else took her place. Her disobedience led to her fall. When believers are not in the habit of checking their faith, i.e. the faith that produces fruit for God, dishonor is round the corner. Going to church once or twice a week is only a step toward examining ourselves and that too if we are going to the right church. The chief act is living godly on a daily basis. Our faith should not only result in works that God desires, but also ensure His working manner upon us. All the things we desire and receive must be of faith, whatever they may be. Based on the way Judah lived they who were called to be a light to the nations were not and a new way and people were ordained through Christ. The honor to shine the light is no longer theirs, but those who were chosen in their stead. The following has become true in their case. “A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding than a hundred blows into a fool” (Prov. 17:10). How many times were they warned and they still could not take understanding? So, it is our duty and for our well-being that we do not replicate them.
The saved are happy knowing they are tied to eternity, but only the number that walk with understanding have the true joy of being saved. It is nonetheless hard work, in fact it can get very difficult at times, but with the assurance of joy. It is where they get to know their faith is lively. This faith separates them from God’s rebuke, a rebuke given to those who do not discern for themselves to turn to God. “Say now to the rebellious house, ‘Do you not know what these things mean?’ Say, ‘Behold, the king of Babylon came to Jerusalem, took its king and princes and brought them to him in Babylon” (Ezek. 17:12). They have ignored the warnings. They rejected the chances God gave them to return to Him. Their deeds have caught up with them. In similar lines another prophet opines God’s justice. “The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, And the LORD will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. In whirlwind and storm is His way, and clouds are the dust beneath His feet” (Nah. 1:3). Once a man allows sin to captivate him he is made a captive of its greater consequences. This is of the Lord.
We are all humans after all and are prone to making mistakes. But we should not let a mistake be the catalyst to another and so on. Rather, we should end it by turning to God, since we have His commands and promises that lead to life. The habit of correcting ourselves will build us to the extent that we drastically curb our disobedience to Him. A great advantage to us here is that our God is slow to anger. As long as we do not test Him with our disobedience we are in good stead. What might be testing Him? Jesus says, “And He answered and said to them, ‘Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?’” (Matt. 15:3).
Maintaining man-made norms and doctrine, a common practice among many churches, is prioritizing tradition over God’s commandment. There is so much knowledge around these days born from great education that many have become the ways to interpret God’s word. Knowledge is preferred to Spirit’s wisdom and guidance. It then begs the question, who is right and what? So, often believers are either afraid or confused regarding the factual and in order to escape the conundrum they hold on to traditions causing further grievance and lifelessness.
A tradition is as good as God’s commandment when it does not cause factions and controversies. So, if one wants a tradition it should be from God’s command. Or else, disobedience takes its course leading him to provoke God. It takes good faith and courage to stand up for God and abandon everything that is man-made. Such gives great relief leaving no room for bad emotions. Most doctrines are man-made traditions; they have little basis from God’s word or command and they add burden than relief. They are profitable only to those who proclaim them. Those abiding by them are always under constraint. Biblical doctrine never causes dissensions. It is full of wisdom having a single source, i.e. the Holy Spirit. Embracing it restores and energizes us. “And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb” (Luke 24:2).