HOW TO LIVE FOR GOD:

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God has given us some very clear instructions in His Word as to how we are to live for Him. These include the command to love one another (John 13:34-35), the call to follow Him at the cost of denying our own desires (Matthew 16:24), the exhortation to care for the poor and needy (James 1:27), and the warning to not fall into sinful behaviors like those who don’t know God (1 Thessalonians 5:6-8). Jesus summed up a life lived for God when a teacher of the law asked Him the most important of commandments. Jesus replied, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31).

Jesus’ prayer prior to His crucifixion also sheds light on our purpose. Referring to believers, He prayed, “I have given them the glory you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them” (John 17:22-26). Jesus’ desire is for relationship with us.

 “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” A life lived for God glorifies God. We pursue God with our entire being – heart, soul, mind, and strength. We abide in Christ (John 15:48) and therefore act like Him by loving others. In doing that, we bring glory to His name and also enjoy the relationship for which we were originally created.

Those who wish to live for God must seek Him in His Word. We must seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to apply the Word to our lives. Living for God means giving up ourselves and desiring God’s will above all else. As we draw nearer to God and come to know Him more, His desires will more naturally become ours. As we mature, our desire to obey God’s commands increases as our love for Him increases. As Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15).

Prophet Nathan Emol

DOES THE BIBLE INSTRUCT US TO FORGIVE AND FORGET?

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The phrase “forgive and forget” is not found in the Bible. However, there are numerous verses commanding us to “forgive one another” (e.g., Matthew 6:14 and Ephesians 4:32). A Christian who is not willing to forgive others will find his fellowship with God hindered (Matthew 6:15) and can reap bitterness and the loss of reward (Hebrews 12:14–152 John 1:8).

Forgiveness is a decision of the will. Since God commands us to forgive, we must make a conscious choice to obey God and forgive. The offender may not desire forgiveness and may not ever change, but that doesn’t negate God’s desire that we possess a forgiving spirit (Matthew 5:44). Ideally, the offender will seek reconciliation, but, if not, the one wronged can still make a decision to forgive.

Of course, it is impossible to truly forget sins that have been committed against us. We cannot selectively “delete” events from our memory. The Bible states that God does not “remember” our wickedness (Hebrews 8:12). But God is still all-knowing. God remembers that we have “sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). But, having been forgiven, we are positionally (or judicially) justified. Heaven is ours, as if our sin had never occurred. If we belong to Him through faith in Christ, God does not condemn us for our sins (Romans 8:1). In that sense God “forgives and forgets.”

If by “forgive and forget” one means, “I choose to forgive the offender for the sake of Christ and move on with my life,” then this is a wise and godly course of action. As much as possible, we should forget what is behind and strive toward what is ahead (Philippians 3:13). We should forgive each other “just as in Christ God forgave” (Ephesians 4:32). We must not allow a root of bitterness to spring up in our hearts (Hebrews 12:15).

However, if by “forgive and forget” one means, “I will act as if the sin had never occurred and live as if I don’t remember it,” then we can run into trouble. For example, a rape victim can choose to forgive the rapist, but that does not mean she should act as if that sin had never happened. To spend time alone with the rapist, especially if he is unrepentant, is not what Scripture teaches. Forgiveness involves not holding a sin against a person any longer, but forgiveness is different from trust. It is wise to take precautions, and sometimes the dynamics of a relationship will have to change. “The prudent see danger and take refuge, / but the simple keep going and pay the penalty” (Proverbs 22:3). Jesus told His followers to “be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). In the context of keeping company with unrepentant sinners, we must be “innocent” (willing to forgive) yet at the same time “shrewd” (being cautious).

The ideal is to forgive and forget. Love keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5) and covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). However, changing hearts is God’s business, and, until an offender has a true, supernatural heart change, it is only wise to limit the level of trust one places in that person. Being cautious doesn’t mean we haven’t forgiven. It simply means we are not God and we cannot see that person’s heart.

Prophet Nathan Emol

LOVE ONE ANOTHER:

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In John 13:34 Jesus taught, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Then He added, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (verse 35). How do we do this? What does it mean to love one another? 

The “one another” in these verses is a reference to fellow believers. A distinguishing mark of being a follower of Christ is a deep, sincere love for brothers and sisters in Christ. The apostle John reminds us of this fact elsewhere: “He has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister” (1 John 4:21).

In giving this command, Jesus did something the world had never seen before—He created a group identified by one thing: love. There are many groups in the world, and they identify themselves in any number of ways: by skin color, by uniform, by shared interest, by alma mater, etc. One group has tattoos and piercings; another group abstains from meat; yet another group wears fezzes—the ways people categorize themselves are endless. But the church is unique. For the first and only time in history, Jesus created a group whose identifying factor is love. Skin color doesn’t matter. Native language doesn’t matter. There are no rules about diet or uniforms or wearing funny hats. Followers of Christ are identified by their love for each other.

The early church demonstrated the type of love Jesus was talking about. There were people in Jerusalem from all over the known world (Acts 2:9–11). Those who were saved got together and immediately began meeting each other’s needs: “All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need” (Acts 2:44–45). This was love in action, and you can be sure it made an impression on the people of that city.

Jesus’ statements in John 13:34–35 raise a couple of other questions that may be good to answer. First, how does Jesus love? He loves unconditionally (Romans 5:8), sacrificially (2 Corinthians 5:21), with forgiveness (Ephesians 4:32), and eternally (Romans 8:38–39). At the same time, Jesus’ love is holy—characterized by transcendent moral purity—because He is holy (Hebrews 7:26). The culmination of Christ’s amazing love for us is His death on the cross, burial, and bodily resurrection (1 John 4:9–10). Believers are to love each other like that.

Second, how then can the believer in Christ love as Christ loved? The believer in Christ has the Holy Spirit living within him (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). By obeying the Spirit, through the Word of God, the believer can love like Christ does. He shows that unconditional, sacrificial, forgiving love to fellow believers, but it doesn’t stop there. He also shows the love of Christ to friends, to family members, to coworkers, etc. (Ephesians 5:18–6:4Galatians 5:1622–23). Even enemies are the recipients of Christ’s love (see Matthew 5:43–48).

Christ’s love displayed through the believer is unlike the “love” generated by the flesh, which can be selfish, egotistical, unforgiving, and insincere. First Corinthians 13:4–8 gives a wonderful description of what Christ’s love will be like in and through the believer who walks in the Spirit.

People don’t naturally love with a 1 Corinthians 13-type love. To love like that, there must be a change of heart. A person must realize that he is a sinner before God and understand that Christ died on the cross and rose again to provide him forgiveness; then he must make the decision to accept Christ as his personal Savior. At that point he is forgiven by Christ and receives God’s gift of eternal life—in fact, he becomes a participant in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). In Christ he knows that he is genuinely loved by God. The new life the believer receives includes a new capacity to love like Christ loves, for the believer now has living within him the unconditional, sacrificial, forgiving, eternal, and holy love of God (Romans 5:5).

To love one another is to love fellow believers as Christ loves us. Those who love like Christ in the Holy Spirit’s power will give evidence that they are disciples, or learners, of Jesus Christ.

Prophet Nathan Emol

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT FRIENDS?

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Human beings were created to be social creatures, meaning that we are most comfortable when we have family, friends and acquaintances. Friendship is an important element in a fulfilled, contented life, and those who have close friends, whether one or two or a multitude, will usually be happy and well-adjusted. At the same time, those who call themselves our friends may cause us grief and hardship, constantly disappointing us. So what exactly is a friend, and what does the Bible have to say about friends?

On the positive side, friends can console and help us when we are in trouble, as when Barzillai the Gileadite consoled David when he was being hunted by Absalom (2 Samuel 17:27–29) or when Jephthah’s daughter’s friends consoled her before her death (Judges 11:37-38). A friend may also rebuke in love, proving more faithful than a hypocritical flatterer (Proverbs 27:6). One of the greatest biblical examples of friendship is David and Jonathan, son of King Saul. Jonathan’s loyalty to his friend, David, exceeded that to his own father and his own ambitions (1 Samuel 18:1-420:14-17). So attached was David to his loyal friend that, after Jonathan’s death, David wrote a song to him, a tribute filled with heart-wrenching pathos (2 Samuel 1:19-27). Theirs was a friendship closer than brotherhood. In the New Testament, many of Paul’s letters begin and end with tributes to his friends, those who ministered to him, supported him, prayed for him, and loved him.

Friendship can have its negative aspects as well. Supposed friends can lead us into sin, as when Jonadab persuades Amnon to rape his half-sister, Tamar (2 Samuel 13:1-6). A friend can lead us astray in regard to our faith, as they sometimes did in Israel, leading others to worship false gods (Deuteronomy 13:6-11). In those days, such an act was punishable by death. Even if our friends do not lead us astray, they can provide false comfort and bad advice, as Job’s friends did, making his suffering worse and displeasing the Lord (Job 2:11-136:14-2742:7-9). Friends can also prove false, pretending affection for their own motives and deserting us when our friendship no longer benefits them (Psalm 55:12-14Proverbs 19:46-7). Friendship can be broken down through gossip (Proverbs 16:28) or grudges (Proverbs 17:9). Friends should be chosen carefully because, as Paul told the Corinthians, “Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33).

Proverbs 1:10-19 and 4:14-19 contain warnings about friends and how we should choose them. We are not to associate with those who entice us to do wrong, no matter how appealing their “friendship” seems to be. Those whose “feet rush to sin” should be avoided. The path they choose is no place for a Christian whose choice should be to follow the “path of the righteous.” Only that path leads to friendship with God, which is the ultimate goal of a Christian.

Prophet Nathan Emol