It seems to me that my peace and joy as well as my purpose in life comes from the condition of my heart. For sometime now I have let my heart be deceived by the world around me. It is very important for me to stay on track and finish well the calling that has beeen placed upon my heart. I believe one way to do that is be disciplined in the things of God and in my relationship with God.
Rev. 21:3 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. God himself is with me. If God himself is with me and I believe he is then how can I be deceived? [NAS95S] 1Kings 22:21 “Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD and said, ‘I will entice him.’
First. We know that God has not used forcible means to prevent the rise of moral evil among his intelligent creatures. We cannot with reason affirm that he should have done so; because, to put force on a voluntary act, and yet leave it voluntary, seems to reason a contradiction in terms, and, therefore, impossible; and unless an act be voluntary, it cannot have any moral character; and without voluntary action, we cannot have a moral agent.
Second. We know that God does not immediately annihilate the evil-doer. Neither can we with reason that he ought to have done so; for, to lay an adequate penalty on sin, and then put the sinner out of existence, so that this penalty can never be exacted, seems to reason a moral inconsistency, and, therefore, impossible in a being of moral perfection.
Third. We know that God does not withdraw the evil-doer from all contact with other moral agents. Here, again, reason does not constrain us to pronounce that it is expedient so to do; for the innocent ought, and it is natural that they should, learn a holy abhorrence of sin, and a salutary dread of its penalty, from these waifs of society, rather than follow their pernicious example. The wrong-doers are not less under the control of God than if they were in the most impenetrable dungeon; while they are at the same time constant beacons to warn others from transgression. He leaves them to fill up the measure of their inequity, while the intelligent world are cognizant of their guilt, that they may acknowledge the justice of their punishment, and comprehend the infinite holiness of the judge of all the earth.
Fourth. We know that God tries his moral creatures. Abraham, Job, and all his saints have to undergo their trial. He suffered the Lord Jesus Christ, the second Adam, to be tempted. And we must not expect the first Adam to be exempted from the common ordeal. We can only be assured that his justice will not allow his moral creatures to be at any disadvantage in the trial. Accordingly,
First, God himself in the first instance speaks to Adam, and gives him an explicit command not arbitrary in its conception, but arising out of the necessity of the case. And it is plain that Eve was perfectly aware that he had himself imposed this prohibition.
Second. The tempter is not allowed to appear in his proper person to our first parents. The serpent only is seen or heard by them—a creature inferior to themselves, and infinitely beneath the God who made them, and condescended to communicate with them with the authority of a father.
Third. The serpent neither threatens nor directly persuades; much less is he permitted to use any means of compulsion: he simply falsities. As the God of truth had spoken to them before, the false insinuation places them at no disadvantage.
Man has now come to the second step in morals—the practice. Thereby he has come to the knowledge of good and evil, not merely as an ideal, but as an actual thing. But he has attained this end, not by standing in, but by falling from, his integrity. If he had stood the test of this temptation, as he might have done, he would have come by the knowledge of good and evil equally well, but with a far different result. As he bore the image of God in his higher nature, he would have resembled him, not only in knowledge, thus honorably acquired by resisting temptation, but also in moral good, thus realized in his own act and will. As it is, he has gained some knowledge in an unlawful and disastrous way; but he has also taken in that moral evil, which is the image, not of God, but of the tempter, to whom he has yielded.
This result is rendered still more lamentable when we remember that these transgressors constituted the human race in its primeval source. In them, therefore, the race actually falls. In their sin the race is become morally corrupt. In their guilt the race is involved in guilt. Their character and doom descend to their latest posterity.
We have not yet noticed the circumstance of the serpent’s speaking, and of course speaking rationally. This seems to have awakened no attention in the tempted, and, so far as we see, to have exercised no influence on their conduct. In their inexperience, it is probable that they did not yet know what was wonderful, and what not; or, in preciser terms, what was supernatural, and what natural. But even if they had known enough to be surprised at the serpent speaking, it might have told in opposite ways upon their conclusions. On the one hand, Adam had seen and named the serpent, and found in it merely a mute, irrational animal, altogether unfit to be his companion, and therefore he might have been amazed to hear him speak, and, shall we say, led to suspect a prompter. But, on the other hand, we have no reason to suppose that Adam had any knowledge or suspicion of any creature but those which had been already brought before him, among which was the serpent. He could, therefore, have no surmise of any superior creature who might make use of the serpent for its own purposes. We question whether the thought could have struck his mind that the serpent had partaken of the forbidden fruit, and thereby attained to the marvellous elevation from brutality to reason and speech. But, if it had, it would have made a deep impression on his mind of the wonderful potency of the tree. These considerations apply with perhaps still greater force to Eve, who was first deceived.
But to us who have a more extensive experience of the course of nature, the speaking of a serpent cannot be regarded otherwise than as a preternatural occurrence. It indicates the presence of a power above the nature of the serpent, possessed, too, by a being of a malignant nature, and at enmity with God and truth; a spiritual being, who is able and has been permitted to make use of the organs of the serpent in some way for the purposes of temptation. But while for a wise and worthy end this alien from God’s home is permitted to test the moral character of man, he is not allowed to make any appearance or show any sign of his own presence to man. The serpent alone is visibly present; the temptation is conducted only through words uttered by bodily organs, and the tempted show no suspicion of any other tempter. Thus, in the disposal of a just Providence, man is brought into immediate contact only with an inferior creature, and therefore has a fair field in the season of trial. And if that creature is possessed by a being of superior intelligence, this is only displayed in such a manner as to exert no influence on man but that of suggestive argument and false assertion.
So how do I stand accountable before God and be holy as he is holy? Disipline. Following are some ways I can be more displined in my walk with God and Gaurd my heart. I might also add here that the first thing I must do is repent and relize that I have sinned against God and he himself is in me.
Disciplines of Abstinence (Self-Denial)
These are ways of denying ourselves something we want or need in order to make space to focus on and connect with God.
Solitude: Refraining from interacting with other people in order to be alone with God and be found by him. (Solitude is completed by silence.)
Silence: Not speaking in a quiet place in order to quiet our minds and whole self and attend to God’s presence. Also, not speaking so that we can listen to others and bless them.
Fasting: Going without food (or something else like media) for a period of intensive prayer — the fast may be complete or partial.
Sabbath: Doing no work to rest in God’s person and provision; praying and playing with God and others. (God designed this for one day a week. We can practice it for shorter periods too.)
Secrecy: Not making our good deeds or qualities known to let God or others receive attention and to find our sufficiency in God alone (e.g., see Matthew 6).
Submission: Not asserting ourselves in order to come under the authority, wisdom, and power of Jesus Christ as our Lord, King, and Master. (If you think of this as submitting to a person as unto Christ then it’s a discipline of engagement.)
Disciplines of Engagement (Christ in Community)
These are ways of connecting with God and other people, conversing honestly with them in order to love and be loved.
Bible Reading: Trusting the Holy Spirit-inspired words of Scripture as our guide, wisdom, and strength for life. (Related disciplines include Bible study, Scripture meditation, and praying God’s Word.)
Worship: Praising God’s greatness, goodness, and beauty in words, music, ritual, or silence. (We can worship God privately or in community.)
Prayer: Conversing with God about what we’re experiencing and doing together. (As we see in the Lord’s Prayer the main thing we do in prayer is to make requests or intercessions to our Father for one another.)
Soul Friendship: Engaging fellow disciples of Jesus in prayerful conversation or other spiritual practices. (Related spiritual disciplines or practices include small groups, spiritual direction, and mentoring relationships.)
Personal Reflection: Paying attention to our inner self in order to grow in love for God, others, and self. (The Psalms in the Bible model this.)
Service: Humbly serving God by overflowing with his love and compassion to others, especially those in need. (Also tithing and giving.)
In closing I would ask you to lift me up to the Lord that I will remain dedicated to him in all things and I will you also. Stay focused and guard your hearts be disciplined in the things of God . Lord I pray you give us strength to stand in this world today. Father reveal the things to us you would have us to know. Let us see how much you love us and that you are with us. Help us Holy Spirit to be a lamp and salt to the world around us. Teach us to be holy, merciful and humble people. Amen