John the Baptist had to face the loss of his disciples to a man that he testified to as the Christ. To promote Jesus, cost John his position. John was older than Jesus, his cousin. He was the one that started the discipleship program. He could have easily got jealous that Jesus was more popular, but instead he testified that ‘He must increase, I must decrease’, John 3:30.
I’ve met so many Christians that say that Christ must increase, but I’ve discovered that they’re just pretending. What they really mean is … Christ must increase and I must increase with Him. That’s not what John said. When it comes to popularity and self-value, the temptation for position repetitively wins the day, and a fake Christian’s inherent envy simply will justify their decision.
So how does this teach us what love is?
We have many definitions of love, but underneath it all, it’s pretty much … ‘you be nice to me, I’ll be nice to you.’
Both the church and the world are into this model of love. Both spread the same message of love because both of them are on the same path. For example, if you agree with the right to divorce and re-marry (contrary to the Word of God in Matthew 19:9), you’re the same as the world. If you are supportive of the right to be a homosexual (contrary to the Word of God in Romans 1), then you’re the same as the world. If you support the right for women to be equal with men (contrary to the Word of God in 1 Timothy 2:12), you’re the same as the world. If you say sorry and expect that person to say sorry back to you (contrary to the Word of God in Matthew 5:40), you’re the same as the world. If you practice retail shopping on God’s Sabbath (contrary to the Word of God in Nehemiah 10:31), you’re the same as the world.
If you think the Ten Commandments are now irrelevant Old Testament rules because we’re in the age of grace (contrary to the Word of God in Matthew 5:17-19), then you’ve been conned by the world in the church. [Note: ‘fulfil’ means to fully satisfy; it doesn’t mean ‘to cancel’ as verified by v.18].
But, if you’re fair dinkum for Christ, your path will diverge from the world and the church. Why? Because if you follow the same pattern as the world, you’re really an enemy of Christ (James 4:4).
Ultimately, love is a relationship with God, the Father, through the unconditional surrender of one’s will and wants to the will of Christ, and displayed by one’s attitude to the instructions of Christ through His Word, the Bible. Persecution by the world and the church simply because you stand on the Word of God, will verify your love, because the world and the church don’t want to be told they’re wrong.
The love of Christ is contrary to the world and will suffer the contempt of the world.
The measurement of love
1 Corinthians 13 clearly defines what real love is, and without it we are just a noise. Love is not measured by your good deeds, your warm attitude, your hard work or skills, or your courteous behaviour.
The real measurement of love is envy (v.4), and the real measurement of love is not vaunting itself or seeking its own. You see, love is not measured by what you do to your neighbour, it’s measured by your inner attitude towards your neighbour. You can give away all your money and even die for your neighbour, but if it isn’t love then it’s all a waste of time. You can be as nice to your neighbour as you like but if your heart envies your neighbour’s good fortune then your goodness is just a pretence for your own selfishness.
I’ve discovered that most Christians are just nice so you’ll be nice to them so they enjoy the pleasures of life without the hassles of life. Their real inner heart secretly envies their neighbour’s good fortune, believes that it’s special, and hates being below one’s neighbour. It’s not the love of God; it’s satanic.
So now we’ve mentioned Satan, let’s talk about angels for a second.
What’s the purpose of angels?
Most people seem to think angels are there to protect them, but, because people are basically selfish, what they really mean is … angels are there to keep my life happy. It’s one of the reasons why people become Christians.
Perhaps it’s better to ask what’s the purpose of demons?
Well, if everything is made by Christ for Christ (Colossians 1:16), then demons are there to save you or to destroy you. If you’re a genuine Christian, then you’ll be attacked by demons regularly and consistently, as outlined in Ephesians 6:12, just like Paul’s thorn (2 Corinthians 12:7). Under this constant barrage you’ll be forced to turn to yourself or turn to Christ. God’s taken a risk, but that’s what freedom of choice is, and once you learn to accept your weakness instead of trying to prove your greatness, then you will find His strength and His rest (2 Cor.12:10).
I think the purpose of an angel is, under God’s direction, to inhibit the power of a demon against you, and thus it is for protection, but not for your happiness, but for His glory.
So, in the light of this, let’s talk about truth.
What’s the measurement of truth?
Most people measure truth by how they feel. If you make me feel good, you’re nice, but if you make me feel bad, you’re not nice. On this basis of evaluation, my truth is my feelings. But, they’re deceiving themselves. Feelings will always deceive you when you live to protect your feelings, but, on the other hand, feelings always expose the truth when I live for His increase and my decrease.
I was counselling a young woman who, like most women, was heavy into feelings. If someone hurt her feelings or she observed someone else‘s feelings being hurt, she would immediately make a judgment against the offender, rather than turn to the Lord by faith and seek His wisdom over what she had observed. When I asked her how she felt about a certain offence she gave me a description of what the offender had done and why it was bad. She actually hadn’t answered what I asked; I asked her for a feeling, yet even though she was a feeling person, she wasn’t able to give me her feelings. Instead of feeling, I got logic.
I’ve learnt that when a person clearly misinterprets the question, you’re talking to someone under the influence of a demon.
What was happening?
This woman was circumventing her feelings because in her heart she knew her feelings were leading her to her own sin of judgment and thus would expose her selfishness. She lived in the fear of feeling stupid, so she automatically judged people for making her or others feel stupid. Because of the pain of feeling stupid, she subconsciously but also deliberately ignored her feelings, and unwittingly, she had succumbed to demonic influence. When she eventually shared with me her feeling of ‘anger’, she quickly admitted that she was in sin and the Spirit of God set her free from the demonic.
When you use logic to hide your feelings, you’re blocking the truth that’s being exposed by your feelings, and unwittingly reinforcing the demonic power over you.
John the Baptist could easily have allowed himself to be sad that Jesus was absconding with his disciples, but instead, he chose to be faithful. He used his logic to over-rule his feelings so that he would be faithful. Faith works by love (Galatians 5:6) and love is … ‘He must increase, I must decrease’. Consequently, he was attacked by demons to get him to relinquish his commitment to Christ, but yet, by faith, he was free from their power over his spirit and saved to eternity with Christ.
The goal of every genuine believer
What things were gain to me, I count loss for Christ. I count all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them dung that I might win Christ. Found in him not having my own righteousness by trying to keep the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death. Philippians 3:7-10
Everybody says they want Christ to increase, but what they really want is to protect themselves from their own decrease. Like the seed sown among thorns, these will never know the resurrection to eternal life.
May God strengthen your heart’s purpose to decrease for Christ by His Spirit.
Pastor Jim Stratton