“Do not be deceived, my beloved Brethren” (James 1:16). Some of the worst con artists and deceivers in the world are so-called spiritual leaders. Paul wrote, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). Jesus called Satan a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44); Satan is the deceiver of the whole world (Revelation 12:9). Satan deceived Adam and Eve and the entire universe is suffering the consequences. Satan tempted David into counting the people of Israel and it cost the lives of 70,000 men (1 Chronicles 21). “By greed they will exploit you with deceptive words” (2 Peter 2:3). Our mind is the battlefield for our soul, and if we expect to defeat Satan’s deceptions we must guard our thoughts, and replace bad thoughts with good thoughts. It’s impossible to keep bad thoughts from coming into our mind, but we don’t have to let them settle in and make their home in our mind.
Christians are not to conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Then we will be able to test and prove what God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will is (Romans 12:2). If we are to be led by the Holy Spirit we must learn to think like the Holy Spirit, because our actions will always be the result of our thinking. The only way we can renew our minds to think like the Holy Spirit is to read, study, and meditate on God’s Word—that takes an act of our will. Our sinful flesh and the worldly customs are like wells of polluted water; and why would we want to drink from them, when we can drink from the fountain of life Himself? (John 4:14, 7:38). We have to make up our mind to obey God while we live on this earth, or suffer the eternal consequences. “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17). “Every” means all inclusive; every gift from God is good and perfect, nothing is lacking, absolutely perfect. Jesus tells us that everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Our heavenly Father wants to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him (Luke 11:9-13). If we seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness, then everything we need will be given to us (Matthew 6:33). How foolish it is to grab Satan’s bait of the pleasures and things of this world, when we can put our faith in Jesus Christ and receive God’s perfect and eternal gifts. The Father of lights doesn’t cast shadows of doubt or turn back from His promises; God’s brilliant lights of His glory, goodness, and grace doesn’t vary—they are constant! In Him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5).
The Holy Spirit gives Christians the gifts of the Spirit, distributing to each Christian as He wills (1 Corinthians 12:11). Some gifts of the Holy Spirit are more visible than others, such as pastors, evangelists, deacons, and other church leaders. They do have more important roles to fulfill within Jesus’ church, but they also have more to be accountable for, “To whom much is given much is required” (Luke 12:48). But that doesn’t make these people more important in God’s eyes than other Christians. These church leaders are not to think more highly of themselves just because God has given them these gifts. Why? Because they are gifts, and no one earns the gifts of God. The men and women who do the secretarial work, or those who do the cooking and cleaning play a very important part within Jesus’ church. It’s not the gifts that God has given us that He will judge us by; it’s how we use our spiritual gifts for God’s glory that Christians will be rewarded for! (Matthew 6:1-4, 2 Corinthians 5:9-10).
“Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures” (James 1:18). God said, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). The Holy Spirit uses God’s word to open our mind and heart to the good news of Jesus Christ. Peter said, “Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever (1 Peter 1:23). The gospel of Christ is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes (Romans 1:17). God’s word teaches us how to relate to God through our faith in Jesus Christ, and live our life to please Him. Christians are to be a testimony of God’s redemption power that takes sinful humans and makes them into a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17), and use them for His eternal purposes.
I watched part of the Winter Olympics in February, 2018, and was amazed at the talent of these athletes, with some as young as 15-17 years old. These athletes trained for years to get earthly and very temporary rewards. The Christian life is a lot like that of an athlete. The Bible tells Christians, “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). Christians are to flee from the evil that’s in this ungodly world and chase after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, gentleness, and eternal life (1 Timothy 6:11-12). Christians are to contend earnestly for the faith (Jude 1:3). Jesus said, “Many are called but few are chosen.” Why aren’t all the called chosen? Because they ignore God’s call on their life and chase worldly pleasures and riches. Jesus said, “You cannot serve God and Mammon [riches]” (Matthew 6:24). God’s eternal heavenly riches, or earth’s temporary riches; it’s your choice!