Category: Walking by the Spirit

Lest we be carried away

When I was still using my own understanding trying to learn the things of God I jumped on every Scripture I could find that resembled what was on my mind at the time. I also read many books written by Christians. Consequently, I ended up thinking things that were not true. It wasn’t until I learned to allow the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s Word to me that I began learning the truths of God.

Many Christians today are still trying to learn the things of God with their own understanding. They jump from verse to verse, preacher to preacher, and book to book, trying to learn the things of God. As a result, their minds become weighed down with thoughts that often do nothing but confuse them. They end up trying this formula and that formula, hoping they’ll hit upon something that actually works. 

People who rely on their own understanding find themselves taking mental stands against anything that questions their beliefs for the moment. For instance, if one believes healing comes by claiming the promise, he will take a stand against any thoughts to the contrary. His struggle quickly erodes to a mind game, refusing even sound doctrine. In contrast, people who rely on Jesus listen from the heart, and, thus, never enter mind games, (nor do they claim promises from a holy God). 

 People who depend on their own understanding leave themselves open to the wiles of the devil and they end up, more often than not, fighting against the Holy Spirit, all the while thinking they are following Him. They blame the devil when they begin to doubt, when in reality, it is the Holy Spirit trying to warn them they’re heading down a wrong road. As a result, rather than listening to the Holy Spirit, they rebuke Him thinking He is the devil. Satan disguises himself as an angel of light and leads them from one snare to another.

When we enter into the things of God with our own understanding, we lose sight of true faith. True faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. It is a matter of the heart; with the heart we believe, with the mouth we confess. If what we believe is not in our heart, it isn’t faith; it’s just our thoughts. We must keep our thoughts in subjection to the Lord, lest we be carried away by them. 

Rev. Jon Banks

P.S. Please weigh everything I say on the scales of the Word of God before you discard them. May the Lord bless you.

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Truthfulness

A friend called me yesterday to talk about some problems he was having. At one point I told him about times doubt would creep in when our son was going crippled and how I would immediately confess them to God and He would help me overcome my doubts. My friend said, “That’s because you didn’t own the doubts.” He went on to explain that someone had told him that, when we doubt, it is really the devil tempting us to doubt, and that we should take authority over the devil and rebuke him, and tell him to leave. So he was saying it wasn’t me doubting, it was the devil tempting me to doubt.

I told him that, on the contrary, I was most assuredly the one doubting; it was my mind entertaining the doubts. I did the opposite of what his other friend had told him, I “owned” my doubts. I confessed them to God and asked for mercy, and He, in turn, granted me mercy and grace abundantly, showering me with love and His understanding of why I was doubting. And because I was honest with Him He became my Rock, my Protector, and hid me beneath the shadow of His wings. 

I explained to my friend that our Father desires truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part He will make us know wisdom, Psalm 52:6. He doesn’t want us stumbling around fighting the devil like our lives depended on it; He wants us cuddling up to Him, casting our cares upon Him and taking refuge in Him. The Bible tells us that when we are harassed by the devil we are to submit to God and resist the devil and he will flee from us. It doesn’t say we are to rebuke him or bind him or send him away. It says we are to resist him and he will flee from us. Peter said, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. And after you have suffered for little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you,” 1 Peter 5:8-10. 

We must always be honest and truthful with God. We have a high priest who was tempted in all things as we are and He sympathizes with our weaknesses. We can now draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, and receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. We don’t have to go before Him like mighty warriors in need of nothing. He would much rather that we admit our weaknesses, rather than blame the devil for them.

Rev. Jon Banks

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In His Body

Colossians 1:22-23 tells us that Jesus has reconciled us in His physical body through death, in order that He might present us to the Father holy and blameless and beyond reproach. We could not draw near to God while we were alienated and hostile in mind, and engaging in evil deeds. So God, in His infinite wisdom, placed us in Christ, that in the death of His physical body our body of sin might be done away with, as it is written, “…knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin,” Romans 6:6,7. We have also been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all, (Hebrews 10:10). 

Paul tells us that we were foreknown by God, and that He predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren, Romans 8:29. He accomplished this by placing us in Christ when He was crucified, buried, and raised from the dead.

We were most assuredly in Jesus when He was crucified; we were in Him when He was buried; we were in Him when He was raised from the dead. This is the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is Christianity — “For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God IN Christ Jesus,” Romans 6:10,11. We are in Him, and we have been in Him since before time when God foreknew us and predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son. And we were in Him when He was crucified, buried, and raised up into newness of life. We are now the body of the risen Christ and He is the head.

Through His sinless life, the giving of His body, and the shedding of His blood, Jesus disarmed the rulers and authorities, and made a public display of them, having triumphed over them. He is now the head of all rule and authority. Jesus is now a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek, no beginning and no end, and He has become the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him. And having been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin, He sympathizes with our weaknesses, and we may now draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, where we can receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need. There is nothing that can separate us from the love of Christ, absolutely nothing.

What a glorious and wonderful God we serve, full of mercy and compassion and lovingkindness, who sent His only begotten Son to sacrifice Himself, in order that we might be crucified, buried, and raised up together with Him, freed from sin and alive to the Father. We are forever in debt to the Father and Son. Thanks be to God that we will have eternity to praise and honor them.

In the most holy name of Jesus,

Rev. Jon Banks

P.S. Please weigh everything I say on the scales of the Word of God before you discard them. May the Lord bless you.

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Two Creations

The first Adam was born a mature man, given a commandment, and subsequently sinned. The last Adam, Jesus, was born an infant, trained up in the way He should go, learned obedience through that which He suffered, and offered Himself, blameless and without sin, as a sacrifice for the sins of Adam, the first creation. In His death the old creation, Adam, was done away with for those who would believe; and when He rose from the dead a new creation was born; that is, the body of Christ. There are now two creations, Adam and Christ, one of earth, one of heaven. Those who walk in the sinful nature of the old creation are of Adam, and those who walk in the godly nature of the new creation are of Christ. 

Romans 6:2b-7 says, “How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self (lit. man) was crucified with Him, that our body of sin (the first Adam) might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.”

Even though our old self was crucified with Jesus, there still remains what is described by Paul as the principle that evil is present in us. We serve the law of God with our minds and the law of sin with our flesh, Romans 7:23-25. The flesh wars against our minds, making us prisoners of the law of sin which is in the members of our body. Paul then tells us we don’t have to feel bad about the evil nature that is within us, for there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For since we could not conquer the desires of the flesh on our own, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, Romans 8:3b-4. 

Therefore, rather than repenting continually for the evil within our bodies, and rather than beating ourselves to death trying to make it go away, we need only walk by the Spirit. For as Paul says, “So then, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh — for if we are living according to the flesh, we must die; but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the body, we will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God,” Romans 8:12-14.

The principle of evil that is present in us will remain until mortality puts on immortality, but we don’t have to give in to it. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and of death,” Romans 8:2. We need only believe that Jesus has saved us to the uttermost, and in Him we have our salvation; in Him we have forgiveness of sins; and in Him we have deliverance from sins if we walk, not by the flesh, but by the Spirit, considering the members of our earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For we have died and our lives are hidden with Christ in God, Colossians 3:5,3. “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please,” Galatians 5:16. 

“Now those who are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires,’ Galatians 5:24. The flesh is the carnal mind; it is our human nature driven by animal appetites, or animal instincts. We crucify it by putting to death the deeds of the body with the help of the Holy Spirit, Romans 8:13; and by faith in the Son of God, as Paul says, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me,” Galatians 2:20. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 

We crucify the flesh by not allowing it to have its way, and by presenting ourselves to God to do His will, and His will alone. “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace,” Romans 6:12-14. “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers  to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul,” 1 Peter 2:11. 

As we diligently put to death the deeds of the body we find that we are becoming conformed to Christ’s death, Philippians 3:10. “And after we have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish us,” 1 Peter 5:10. “Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God,” 1 Peter 4:1,2.

Dear friends, the righteous shall live by faith, and that faith is in Jesus Christ who has become to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.” Let us put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts, Romans 13:14. Let us follow our Lord’s example and learn obedience through the things which we suffer, from one trial to another, until we have persevered to the end. 

We are more than conquerors through Him who loves us; for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and of death, Romans 8:2. Let us conduct ourselves accordingly; let us lay aside the old creation, Adam, and walk in the new creation, Christ Jesus. Amen.

Rev. Jon Banks

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We must be careful when we counsel:

The night I was born again I found that I was in a brand new place, a place I had never before experienced. Everything had changed; I was literally in a new life, a new realm, that I learned later was the kingdom of God. After the night of my new birth, I walked in the sweetest fellowship with Jesus day by day. I felt so comfortable with Him in those days, and I knew He loved me. I knew it because He showed me by leading me daily in where I was to go, what I was to do, what I was to say, etc. I was happy, content, and felt at home in His kingdom. 

However, it wasn’t long before I started asking my pastor and others questions concerning things in the church that didn’t correspond with the Bible. Unable to answer my questions, my pastor began telling me I had to die to self. I was very naive and believed it was impossible for a man of God to lead anyone in a wrong direction. So when he said I was so bad that I had to die to my self, I believed him. I tried and tried, and before long found that I had lost my fellowship with Jesus, and had become miserable because I couldn’t die to my self; I didn’t know how and I could find nothing in the Bible to help me. 

I started talking to other ministers and almost without exception they told me I either needed to die to self, or be sanctified. I felt as if I was dealing with my step-father again. He had made me feel that I should apologize to people for breathing the same air they breathed, and the church made me feel I was not worth God’s mercy and grace. They made me feel that I had to go farther and get rid of my self because I was so bad.

What they didn’t understand was that I had already reached the place they felt I should go, a place of complete submission to Jesus, free of sin, and doing the will of God. I walked this way in the first two or three years of my Christian life. But apparently it wasn’t supposed to happen the way it did; I was supposed to be born again first, and later down the line I was supposed to die to self and be sanctified, and then walk in humble obedience to Jesus. That was the Church of God way, and I had done it backwards.

As I’ve said, I believed men of God were men of God, and that God wouldn’t let one of His men lead anyone down a wrong road, so I continued trying to die to self and praying to be sanctified, all the while racked with guilt for not being able to accomplish it. Thank God that after walking in a state of constant guilt for years, always longing for the walk with Jesus I previously had, Jesus began separating me to Himself. During this time He taught me the truths of His Gospel and I learned that I had been crucified with Him and raised into newness of life when I was born again. 

When He showed me this, I thought, ‘Of course, that explains why I was able to walk with Him in the heavenly places He had taken me to back then.’ The old me had already been crucified with Him, and the new me had been sanctified through faith in Him, and set apart to God by the Holy Spirit. I had been saved by grace through faith and was walking in the will of God in my early Christian years. I felt so stupid to learn I had given that up to follow doctrines of men. After this experience, I was never led astray again, for I had the privilege of learning from Jesus, and not from man. 

It may be worth adding that during all these years I was battling PTSD and Major Depressive Disorder. During my first few years of being a Christian and walking with Jesus, these ailments didn’t bother me at all. When I began trying to die to self and become sanctified, the symptoms came roaring back, growing worse year after year. This was debilitating, to say the least. In addition to that, I had been taught since I was three years old that I was worthless, and should apologize for being here. Hence, I had no self-confidence and always deferred to others. 

Dear friends, I cannot stress enough the importance of being careful when we counsel people about God and His kingdom. Words alone can destroy a life, especially when repeating false doctrines. It is equally important to remember that it matters not where, nor by whom, we have been taught, for we are not to follow men; we are to follow Jesus, and the Scriptures testify of Him. Therefore, all must be verified by the Scriptures. 

In Him,

Jon Banks

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The other side of the coin

Years ago I was walking down a country road with three Christian friends. We were talking and joking with one another, having a good time. Just as we neared a clump of trees, I became unaware of our conversation and found myself engrossed with sounds unlike any I had ever heard before; the trees were praising God. One friend noticed that my mind had gone to another place, and asked me what was going on. I told him about the trees singing and praising God, but he couldn’t hear a word. 

Throughout my Christian life I have had experiences similar to this. Plants and flowers have spoken to me and birds have sung for me. And these things happen all of a sudden, out of the clear blue. Once I had been feeling bad for a few weeks and a bird told me I had diverticulitis. I asked my wife what diverticulitis was and she said the word didn’t exist, but there was a word diverticulosis. That same evening we found out that the bird was right and my wife was wrong, diverticulitis was a word; a day or two later the Lord healed me. —- Just for the record, I’m not saying birds are smarter than wives. 🙂

Yes, God has been gracious to me and given me these experiences, but recently He has revealed that things like these go on all the time; trees praise Him; birds sing for Him; the entire creation, having been subjected to futility, anxiously waits for the revealing of the children of God, in hope that the creation itself will also be set free from its slavery to corruption. And just as we groan to be set free from our mortal bodies, so also, the creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth, that it also might enter the freedom of the glory of the children of God. And, until the day arrives when a new heaven and a new earth appear, the creation will continue to offer praise and adoration to the Father of glory, just as we do. 

So, why do I see these things when others don’t? I’m not sure, but I believe it may possibly be because I have PTSD. It is a known fact that people with PTSD have heightened perception. They tend to see and sense things that average people miss. They are more in tune with their inner being than the average person. This heightened perception shows itself in many ways, such as when one senses a threat. A person with PTSD will sense a threat long before an average person, and will sense it far more deeply than the average person. It also shows itself when one is hurt, or falsely accused by another. A person with PTSD will become overwhelmed with pain and doubt for days, weeks, months, or years, while an average person will just walk away from the situation.

A person with PTSD lives in a world of doubt, worry, helplessness, hopelessness, fear, aloneness, horrific nightmares and extreme mental anguish. But there’s a bright side to all this:  With the right treatment these symptoms can become somewhat controllable, relieving the stress. This is wonderful.

But there is one thing more wonderful than this: When a PTSD victim offers himself, or herself, to the Son of God, and walks with Him in humble obedience, things unimaginable can begin to happen. Because of the heightened perception resulting from the PTSD there’s a very good chance that person may see things that most people only dream about. The Lord might very well lead him, or her, down a path strewn with divine delicacies that are meant only for the broken; delicacies that can raise one to a place where trees praise God, and birds sing to Him, and flowers and plants know you by name; delicacies that, when tasted, reveal the deep things of God. 

Oh, dear ones who have been abused and cast aside, take heart, the sun of righteousness has risen with healing in its wings, its rays dancing upon a river of life from which you may drink. The good Shepherd stands on the banks of this river, His arms of the cross outstretched to welcome you, and lead you home. O, how blessed are you who are poor in spirit, for yours is the kingdom of heaven; how blessed are you who mourn, for you shall surely be comforted. 

May the Lord give you ears to hear when I say, “Your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom; you may dare look away from yourself and unto to Him; you may dare lay your cares at His feet, and follow Him; and as He leads you into His rest — you may dare refuse defeat — I tell you from experience — He weeps for you.”

In Jesus,

Jon Banks

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The Principle That Evil Is Present In Me

Because of the sin of one man, Adam, all mankind was sold into bondage to sin, (Romans 7:14); and having been sold into bondage to sin, we are incapable of controlling our sinful nature, as Paul says, “For the good that I wish, I do not; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish,” and then he says, “But if I am doing the very thing that I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good,” (vs. 19-21). In these verses of Scripture we find that there is nothing we can do to tame or control our sinful and carnal nature; it is beyond our control. We wish to do good, only to end up doing the things we don’t wish to do. In and of ourselves we are absolutely helpless; we cannot control our sinful nature. 

In verses 24-25 Paul continues, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” and, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.” In Romans 8:1-4 he continues, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did:  sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Jesus became sin for us in order that the sinful nature we inherited from Adam might be done away with, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

In Romans 6:6-7 Paul says, “…knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.” And in verses 17-18 he says, “But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.”

According to these Scriptures, there is only one way to be freed from the carnal and sinful nature, and that is to believe in the Son of God, that He is the Savior of your spirit, mind, soul and body and offer all four to Him as a living sacrifice, as vessels of righteousness. Our body of sin was crucified with Him, resulting in our release from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and of death. Have faith in Jesus; He is a complete Savior; and we are saved to the uttermost.

We were crucified with our Lord Jesus Christ, my friends, and our sins and our sinful nature were both on the cross with Him. We are now to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him, walking by faith in Him, not according to the flesh as we once did, but according to the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law, (Romans 5:16-18). Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh, (Galatians 5:16). 

Never entertain impure thoughts, praise the Lord instead; submit to Him and he will deliver you because of your faith in Jesus. Our God is good, and His mercies are new every morning.

Rev. Jon Banks

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Jesus is the Savior

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them,” (Ephesians 2:1-10).

In accordance with the will of God, Jesus is the Savior and we are the saved. Touch not, taste not — rubbish — believe in the Son of God and you shall be saved. Consider yourself dead to the world, having been crucified with Christ. Enter the rest of God by believing in the One who conquered sin and death, and believe that He has become unto you wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption. Rise above the lusts of the flesh and of the mind by believing the truth that, having forgiven us of our sins, God raised us up with Jesus, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places. And He did this by the power of His might; the same power and might that raised Jesus from the dead raised us up with Him, to the end that we should be to the praise of His glory.

God has done all this with the kind intention to bless us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. As did Paul, I also pray that the Father of glory may give to each of us a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, and that the eyes of our hearts may be enlightened, so that we may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.

Dear friends, we are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that we may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. We are in Christ by God’s own doing, not of ourselves, lest we should boast (I Corinthians 1:30), and Christ became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption. In view  of this great salvation that has been bestowed on us, we must walk away from everything that hinders and encumbers us, including the sin which so easily entangles us (unbelief), and worship our Beloved Savior, giving thanks to God in all things and in all situations. We must refrain from arguments, whether they be with others, or within our own minds, and think only on things that are worthy of praise.

Let us lay down our pettiness and selfish ambitions, and follow the One who gave Himself up for us; let us worship Him with grateful hearts. In so doing I am confident the Lord God will bless us with all spiritual blessings that abound in Jesus, And He will do this because of His great love with which He loved us. We belong to Him; let us allow Him to shed His great love abroad in our hearts, that we might share His nature, and the nature of His Son, Jesus, in order that the light which once shone on the face of Moses may now shine in and through our hearts for His name’s sake.

If we walk this way, we are denying self; if we don’t walk this way, we are denying Jesus.

Rev. Jon Banks

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God chose us in Him before the foundation of the world

We who are in Christ are there for one reason — because God chose us in Him (Jesus) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. We were predestined to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to God, the Father, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.  And, we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory, Ephesians 1:4-6;11-12.

I fear that many Christians think too highly of themselves, and it’s understandable; they’ve grown up in a time when Self has been elevated to a place of prominence. In today’s society wives are no longer taught to be submissive to their husbands, and people speed on a regular basis. My wife and I are constantly being passed on the streets and highways, and many times by cars with Christian bumper stickers. I want to both scream and cry every time I see this. It’s so sad to see a Christian doing this, and it’s also irritating. How dare they be so blatantly disrespectful to the Jesus I know, the One who took me out of darkness and placed me into His marvelous light, the One who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Why would, and how could, a Christian be so disrespectful to Him? I don’t understand.

Jesus teaches us to deny ourselves and obey God; He teaches us to become nothing, esteeming others above ourselves. What on earth has happened to the church? I see and hear Christians taking Scriptures out of context just to prove a point, or prove someone else wrong. I see them contradicting their elders and those who have been put in charge of them by God. And they don’t do it in a humble manner, but in a haughty manner. No wonder Jesus asked if He would find faith on the earth when He returns.

My friends, the times we are living in are horrendous; we must redeem these times by looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. We are IN Him; we are HIS body; His love should flow through us to every human being we come in contact with. We, of all people, should abide by the laws of the land wherein we live. We were not created for ourselves; we were created for God, that we might be holy and blameless before Him, and that we might be to the praise of His glory. 

Let us deny ourselves in ALL things, from our desire to feel special, or equal, to others, to our desire to satisfy ourselves by lifting ourselves above the law, and above authorities God has subjected us to. Let us BE Christians. We were chosen before the foundation of the world and predestined to adoption as children of God through Jesus Christ, according to the kind intention of God’s will. And we were predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. Acts 13:48b says, …and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. Beloved, it is beyond doubt that we have been predestined in accordance with God’s purpose, that is, that we might walk before Him, holy and blameless, to the praise of the glory of His grace, and that we might live with Him throughout eternity. May we govern ourselves accordingly, step by step.

Jon Banks

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It is no longer I who live

I have been a Christian for a number of years and I don’t recall ever seeing the term ‘die to self’ in the Bible. Consequently, I believe this term has been misused by many; a better term, and a more biblical one, would have been ‘deny self,’. I believe our old self was crucified with Jesus, and the new life we were born into is now hidden with Him in God. We are citizens of a new realm; we have come to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.

Having been left in our mortal bodies, we must continually deny the self of the old nature. I believe we do this by believing in the work of Jesus, that He took upon Himself the punishment for our sins, and that God raised us up with Him when He raised Him from the dead. We are now to consider ourselves dead to sin, and alive to God through faith in Christ. There is no need to die to the old nature, or to the Self, for that person was crucified with Jesus; Self is already dead; for as it is written, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin;” and “For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 6:3-7,11).

Being found still in human form, we must humble ourselves and become obedient, denying to gratify the old nature that once had control of us, and put on the new nature by simply believing that God’s divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them we might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust, (I Peter 1:3-4).

We, as Christians, are to set our minds on the Spirit because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, we are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in us. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. And if Christ is in us, though our bodies are dead because of sin, yet our spirits are alive because of righteousness. But if  the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in us, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to our mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells us. So then, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh —- for if we are living according to the flesh, we must die; but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of our bodies, we will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God, (Romans 8:6-14). 

By the words, ‘if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of our bodies’, we know that we are not putting to death our old self, but only the ‘deeds’ of our bodies; in other words, we are denying our self, considering it to have been crucified with Christ, and not allowing it to control our actions; we prevent our self from taking control of our actions by taking up our cross and following Jesus, while all the while trusting our Father, who cannot lie, to work mightily in us through the power of His Holy Spirit, because of our faith in Jesus, leading us from victory to victory for His name’s sake. 

I think some call forsaking our will and giving ourselves to God’s will dying to Self. But I can find nowhere in the Bible where this is even hinted. Even Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, is nowhere found to have died to His Self. Rather, He humbled Himself and became obedient to God, turning from His will and doing the will of God. For He says, “…I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me,” (John 6:38). So submitting to God’s will is not an act of dying to self, but rather an act of denying that self, by humbling ourselves and learning obedience through the things which we suffer, in order that God’s perfect will may be done in us, and through us.

Some may say that in John 12 Jesus said that unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. In this instance, Jesus was referring to His own death, for in the sentence prior to this He says, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”

Others may ask, “What difference does it make which term we use, dying to self, or denying self? They both seem to lead to the same end.” The difference is this, one is correct, the other is not, and by using the incorrect term many people have been misled and hurt. For instance, as a baby Christian I was constantly told that I had to die. My pastor was constantly telling me, “Old Jon has to die,”. I was very tender and I thought that pastors, as men of God, would always speak the truth. So I tried to die, only to find, after years of trying, that it was impossible. The harder I tried, the more ‘Old Jon’ popped up in my face. During a time when the Lord pulled me away from the church in order to teach me His gospel Himself, my eyes were opened to the truth — I had already been crucified with Jesus — I didn’t have to die —- I was already dead. My spirit was finally free to follow Jesus with joy and with faith that God had also raised me up with Jesus into newness of life. All I needed to do was to believe, deny myself daily and follow Jesus.

No matter how hard we try, self will always rear its ugly head. We can only deny the self, and this we do daily, each and every time he wants his way. Our self is us; it is not some foreign thing attached to us; it IS us. Having been born again into newness of life we find that the principle of evil is still present in us, (Romans 7:21); and Romans 8:2 tells us that, even though that principle is still in us, we are freed from its power and influence because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and of death. So we must deny our self, take up our cross (lose, or walk away from, our old life) and follow Jesus in the new life, the life of doing God’s will instead of our own.

We must follow Jesus one day at a time. For just as God’s mercies are new every morning, so, also, are His promises; and we must walk in them day by day, persevering to the end. We must fight the good fight daily. In this way, and only in this way, can we be so bold as to say, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me,” ((Galatians 2:20).

I would like to finish by saying that the pastor I spoke of loved me deeply. He and I had a special connection in the Lord. He never meant to hurt me, and I never told him I was hurt by his words. He passed away many years ago and to this day he holds a special place in my heart.

Dear friends, I mean only to help people, not tear them down. If anything I’ve said is contrary to what someone else has said, or believes, I mean no harm, nor do I sit in judgment. I speak only of what I’ve seen and heard.

Rev. Jon Banks

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He Alone is Worthy

 

Colossians 1:9-12, “For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.”

The goal of every Christian should be to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will so that we might walk in a manner pleasing to our Father, and to be strengthened with the power of His glorious might so that we might attain steadfastness and patience. 

Our kind Father has seen fit to require every follower of Jesus to be born again, and to begin our lives in Christ as little children, in order that He might train us up in the way we should go. He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness (Hebrews 12:10).  

It is the Father’s will that we attain steadfastness and patience; it is His will that we learn to persevere in all situations. And those who persevere to the end will receive the crown of life, (James 1:12). So it is absolutely imperative that we not run from trials, though they be by fire, and that we submit to our heavenly Father in the midst of each one, trusting Him to keep us safe and deliver us. 

All the fulness of Deity dwells in Jesus and in Him we have been made complete, (Col 2:9). He is now our wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, (I Corinthians 1:30). And it is by God’s own doing that we are in Christ, in order that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord,” (Jeremiah 9:23-24). So, even when we endure the hottest of fires, we cannot take credit, for we are in Jesus, and it is by faith in Him that we are able to endure. It is by submitting to the Lord that we are able to endure trials and tribulations, trusting the Holy Spirit to intercede when we don’t have the words to convey what we feel. We have nothing whatsoever of which to boast, except the love of our Father and His Son, Jesus, in whom we were sealed by the Holy Spirit, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory, (Ephesians 1:13-14). 

One of the hardest trials I have ever gone through was when my only child was going crippled right before my eyes.This went on for approximately a year and a half, or maybe a little longer. The Lord had witnessed to my heart that He would heal my son, and I believed Him. But, even after the Lord witnessed to my heart, my son continued to grow worse and worse. Several times I had to pull off to the side of a very busy highway because I couldn’t see through my tears. I would burst into tears unexpectedly just from the weight of the burden I was bearing. 

Once a dentist who was giving my son a dental check up came out into the lobby of his office and told me that my son had a small cavity and wanted to know if I wanted him to fill it during that visit. I immediately burst into tears and shook my head, yes. He looked dumbfounded that I had started crying over a small cavity. But it wasn’t the cavity I was crying over; it was the fact that my boy’s body was decaying right in front of me, and had been for many months. The pressure seemed to be unbearable throughout this process, but, thanks be to God, I had help to ease the suffering, for no matter how hard, or how dark, it became, the One who loves me gave me glimmers of hope in the darkness. Time after time He would remind me that He is trustworthy. He would also comfort me by telling me He understood what I was feeling and that He didn’t judge me for those feelings. He was so very kind and understanding; He bore my pain with me; He loved me, He loved me beyond words. 

When the Lord healed my son, He did so in an instant. And He did it when I spoke the words, “In the name of Jesus be healed, be whole, be well,”. These words came out of me without any thought on my part. I have no idea why I said those precise words, but I do know my son was healed instantly when I said them. From that moment on the ordeal was over; it was nothing but a memory. 

Now, I would like to tell you the impact this whole experience had on me:

I was not proud that I had endured this year and a half trial, nor was I proud that it ended by my speaking in Jesus’ name. I was thoroughly aware that I had nothing to be proud of in myself. Instead, I was humbled beyond words at what the Lord had done for me from beginning to end; from His concern and His understanding of what I felt everyday, to His ever-present help in my time of need, as well as His comforting my wife and my son throughout the process. He was so good to us. I had nothing of which to boast about, other than the Lord, who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth because He delights in these things, (Jeremiah 9:24). And I feel that same way to this day.

My friends, we are nothing; He is everything. We are pieces of dirt; He is the Creator of all things. We are chunks of clay; He is the Potter. By His own will and by His own power we are in Christ Jesus, who has become to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, that just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

In our walk with the Lord we should never be proud, we should always be humbled by His dealings with us. The closer we are to the Lord, the less we see of ourselves, and the more we see of His purpose for us in His kingdom, that of being filled with the knowledge of His will, in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, that we might walk in a manner worthy of Him, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in good works, and increasing in the knowledge of God; and that of being strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

Dear friends, it is one thing to believe, and another to rest in that belief. It is one thing to cite the written Word, and another to place our hope in the Living Word. It is one thing to say we are Christians, and another to receive our life-blood from Christ. It is one thing to talk the talk, and another to walk the walk. You will know the difference by their fruits (Matthew 7:16)). And how do we bear good fruit? by walking in a manner worthy of the Lord, (Colossians 1:10).

We must continually gird the loins of our minds for action, fixing our hope completely on the grace to be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ; for we were redeemed with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ, (I Peter 1:13,19). Let us attain all steadfastness and patience that we might please our Lord, and enter into His glory at the return of Jesus. Let us forsake ourselves at all times, and submit to Him in all things, that we might share in the inheritance of the saints in light. Let us forever serve Him who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth simply because He delights in these things. Let us look away from ourselves and acknowledge Him, giving Him praise and honor and worship, now and throughout eternity. He alone is worthy.

Rev. Jon Banks

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Walking by Faith

Dear friends, try this:

Place both of your hands in front of your face, touching your nose. Spiritually speaking, this is how far you should be able to see if you are trusting Jesus. If you find yourself squirming to see what lies beyond your hands, you may very well be double-minded and/or have a hard time with trust issues; again, spiritually speaking.

If this is the case you would do well to change some habits such as picking up trash when you see it, rather than just walking by; cleaning public restrooms before you leave them, even if you didn’t dirty them; opening doors for your wife; changing your eating habits for the better, and drinking one soda, rather than two or three a day, etc., and do these things as unto the Lord. In other words, begin to practice discipline for the glory of God, doing what is practical and right, rather than what you want, thereby striking a blow to Self.

If you are diligent to practice these and/or other similar things, you will find it becoming easier and easier to let go of any preconceptions, and any hindrances you might have. Trust will slowly, but surely, become a part of your life. Looking beyond your hands will be something from which you would shy away; for the simple reason that Self is decreasing, and Jesus is increasing; Self is being relegated to a place of nothingness, and the Life of Christ is taking its rightful place.

Few will take this advice; most will shrug it off and continue down the wider road, where if you attend church regularly and are brushed up on your church’s doctrines, or if you spend enough time praying and reading the Bible, or preaching, your faithfulness in church attendance, and/or your knowledge and zeal alone should get you into heaven. And this wide road is crowded with the souls of those who want to control their own lives, their own destiny.

But this word is only for those chosen and called by God; those who know they were called to be His people; a people to work together with Him and allow Jesus to be Lord of their lives; a humble people who forsake all to heed that call. This word is for them.

Do you want to do the will of God? Walk away from yourself, and follow Jesus. Don’t look beyond your hands pressed against the nose of your face, as it were. Follow the still, small voice within.

The Lord bless and richly fulfill the longing of those who hunger for Him.

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Walk the Walk

The Word of God tells us that we have not only been forgiven of sin, we have also been freed from sin:

How shall we who died to sin still live in it?’ (Romans 6:2), ‘…we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life, (vs. 4) ‘…knowing this, that our old self [lit. man] was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.’ (vs. 6)

‘For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Jesus Christ, Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace,’ (vs.10-14).

‘Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God’ (I Peter 4:1-2).

Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh,’ (Galatians 5:16). ‘Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit,’ (vs. 24).

‘Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved us, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma,’ (Ephesians 5:1-2). ‘…for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), proving what is pleasing to the Lord,’ (vs. 8-10). 

‘And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin, (I John 1:5-7).

‘As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am Holy,”’ (I Peter 1:14-16).

This, my dear brothers and sisters, is the Gospel of Jesus Christ:  That we who believe in Him were crucified with Him, buried with Him through baptism, and raised up together with Him in newness of life, that we might no longer be slaves to sin; and, this, in order that we might be a Chosen Race, a Royal Priesthood, a Holy Nation, a people for God’s own possession, that we might proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. 

‘Therefore, having these promises, beloved (that God dwells in us and walks among us), let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God,’ (2 Corinthians 7:1).

Rev. Jon Banks

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Our First Love

Hebrews 11:5, ‘And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.’ 

Dear friends, we can beat our bodies until we are blue; we can exact discipline of ourselves until we attain perfection in obedience, however, if we don’t believe with all our hearts that God is a rewarder of those who seek Him, we are just beating the air. 

Our kind Father has not destined us to wrath, but to His eternal glory, giving us an inheritance with the saints in and through Jesus. We are His workmanship; we are the brothers and sisters of Jesus; we are children of God. I believe we would do well to bear these things in mind on a daily basis. Doing so would help us in our daily struggles and trials. To bear in mind that He loves and rewards those who seek Him, and that we are more than conquerers through Him who loves us, would lighten our load and give us confidence to stop worrying, and courage to cast our burdens upon Him. Walking in this knowledge would give the devil a blow he would feel throughout eternity.

Just to know that however depressed or confused we may feel at times the Lord will reward us for hanging on and seeking Him with all our hearts; He will send relief before it is too late; He will not tarry. I’ve found it so. We serve a mighty and powerful God. Oh, if we could just get a glimpse into His omnipresence, His omniscience, and the fact that He exists before time and now and forever. Before there was anything, there was God. Everything began and exists from Him and through and to Him; He is all in all. We are mere specs of dirt He has chosen to love. And when all is said and done there will be nothing but God and His kingdom, of which we are a part.

We are so fortunate to have been chosen and called by Him into His kingdom. We must keep these things in mind and be thankful, giving Him glory and honor and reverent worship at all times. He alone is worthy, and He is so very worthy.

May the Holy Spirit help us to know Him whom we serve, and may we always walk in that knowledge, which is found in Jesus, the image of the one true God.

In John 34:39-40 Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life.” Dear ones, don’t search the Scriptures to find out how many blessings or how much authority you may have; search them to learn about Jesus, for they truly do testify of Him. All blessings and all authority are in Him and come from the Father of lights. Make Jesus your first priority and you will find yourself enveloped in every good thing and in every perfect gift heaven holds for you. I’ve found it so. God is my witness, I’ve found it so.

Dear friends, we are not called to become proficient in theology, the Holy Spirit will bring things to our remembrance. We are called to follow Jesus by humbling ourselves and becoming as little children, trusting Him for guidance in and for all things pertaining to life and godliness. We are called to cling to our first love.

Rev. Jon Banks

P.S. Too often Christians become overly concerned with a certain belief, or something that’s dear to them, and concentrate on promoting, or defending, what they think is right. And, in so doing, they find themselves walking in a realm of thoughts and words pertaining to their passion. They get caught up in working to become proficient in their knowledge of what they feel passionate about. They believe in Jesus, they use His name, but they no longer walk before Him as a little child. They have left their first love. They didn’t mean to, it just happened because they got caught up using the Scriptures to prove their points, rather than allowing the Scriptures to lead them to the feet of Jesus.

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We are called to follow Jesus

When Jesus was being tempted in the wilderness, He became hungry. The devil then used His hunger to tempt Him by essentially saying that if He was the Son of God He could get rid of His problem by commanding some stones to become bread. In other words, if He was who He thought He was, He should use His authority and command the stones to become bread, thereby getting rid of His hunger problem.

Rather than turning the stones into bread, as the devil suggested, Jesus quoted Scripture and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God,’”. Jesus actually refused to use what the devil was saying was rightfully His by virtue of His being the Son of God, — His authority.  

Why didn’t Jesus use His authority and do what the devil was telling Him to do; why didn’t He turn the stones into bread and satisfy his hunger, or His ‘mountain’ as some would say in today’s vernacular? He didn’t do it for one simple reason — because He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped. Although He existed in the form of God, He chose instead to empty Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, being made in the likeness of men, and being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient… (Philippians 2:6-8). 

We, dear friends, are now in a form of God: We are the body of Christ and His Holy Spirit dwells within us. Should we do any less than Jesus? Rather than speaking to problems and so-called ‘mountains’, should we not instead be submitting to our Father, and our Lord’s Father? Shouldn’t we follow Jesus’ example and empty ourselves and take the form of bond-servants? Should we not be obedient?

The manner of some is to raise themselves up to an equal level with God and take authority over their so-called ‘mountains’ and problems. They, unlike Jesus, regard themselves as being equal with God in that they have all authority (or so they think). This belief comes not from the Holy Spirit, but from Satan himself. He tempts us as he tempted Jesus — he tells us that if we are who we think we are (children of God) then we should take authority over this, and that. But, God forbid that we follow the leadings of Satan; God forbid that we follow the teachings of those who have followed those leadings, and also teach them, swearing they are gospel. And, yes, they really are gospel, they tell us what not to do!

In Matthew 17:20 Jesus was speaking of a specific mountain, the mountain of transfiguration, vs. 9. He referred to it as ‘this mountain’. In Luke 17:6 He was speaking of a specific mulberry tree, for He referred to it as ‘ this mulberry tree’. In each mention of speaking to a mountain and/or a tree in the New Testament Jesus referred to them as ‘this mountain’ and ‘this tree’. Never once did He designate mountains, or trees, as problems. This concept originated in the minds of men who listened to Satan. It is not Scriptural.

The Scriptures tell us the Lord wants us to persevere through our problems and difficulties, not speak to them; He wants us to submit to suffering; He wants us to count it all joy when various trials come upon us; He wants us to learn perseverance and endurance through our problems and so-called ‘mountains’. And how long will we have to endure — until we receive the crown of life, James 1:12. The teaching that we can take authority over our problems and/or ‘mountains’ is preventing people from having a relationship with Jesus and comes dangerously close to robbing them of the crown of life. It is very serious. 

Dear friends, we are called to follow Jesus, not remedies. The next time you are tempted to command your so-called ‘mountain’ to be cast into the sea, say this instead, “It is written, ‘Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him,’”James 1:12.

Rev. Jon Banks

P.S. I hear people all the time saying, “Don’t tell God how big your mountains are; tell your mountains how big your God is.” The Bible never hints of anything like this. May I suggest that we, instead, talk to our God and tell Him how much we love Him and appreciate His sending Jesus to take away our sins, and to give us an inheritance with the children of God, and a promise of eternal life. 

I also suggest that we cast our cares upon Him and praise Him for His lovingkindness and mercy. Rather than get caught up in a boxing match of words with the devil, I suggest that we steadfastly look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, for our deliverance from every problem or so-called ‘mountain’ is in Him.

We are not saved by any authority we may have; we are saved by the gift of God, His only begotten Son. We are saved by His obedience and His sacrifice; for in Him we live and move and have our being.

So rather than run from problems or try to find a way out of them, I suggest that we refuse to lift ourselves up to a level with God and that we become obedient, enduring our problems and so-called ‘mountains’, which is the will of God. 

I also suggest we stop falsely calling speaking to our ‘mountains’ Biblical, and call it what it really is— an exercise in the power of the mind.

P.P.S. After writing this letter I saw the following on a Facebook post:

Now this is what you want to do all the time. Don’t place your attention on any difficulties at any time. Look only to Jesus through every circumstance. Keep your eyes fixed upon Him constantly. Maintain praise and adoration in your heart even when you don’t feel like it, when it is not easy to praise. We will never be able to work out a single situation ourselves anyway. Leave the working-out to God and simply keep your eyes on Jesus, who is the Answer to every need and every problem.

Rev Loran W. Helm

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