Spiritual Exam Standards

Most of us have had a physical examination as an annual check-up or for employment, etc. Does God require us to have a spiritual examination?

A physical health examination is the process by which a doctor examines the body of a patient for signs of disease. A routine physical will check common measures of a healthy body: your personal and family medical history, lifestyle behaviors, vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, temperature, nervous system, etc.).

There are a few differences depending on whether we are male or female. (Biologically, there are only two sexes, though some try to argue with that fact today!) A few particulars apply to males, and a few to females, but, generally speaking, we all are measured against the same basic, “perfect” health standards.

An examination is a diagnostic, an act of identifying a potential disease from its symptoms and analyzing the cause. If we are above or below certain standards, it indicates we have a disease or condition.

In Old Testament times, the priesthood was responsible for examining the people of Israel to determine if there was leprosy or a plague (Leviticus 13–14).

David, king of Israel, wrote Psalm 26, which shows he understood the need to have his heart examined—a spiritual examination. He said in verse 2, “Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my mind and my heart.” The psalm indicates that he had examined himself in various measures to determine if he was living according to God’s ways. He recognized that, although he strived to walk in integrity, he needed God’s redemption and mercy (v. 11).

The Apostle Paul tells Christians: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

This idea may be foreign to many who call themselves Christian today, who have been told that they do not need to obey God’s commandments and that all they have to do is accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and they are saved “by grace alone” (implying that whatever they do after that doesn’t matter). But let’s examine that idea in light of some scriptures.

Why the need to examine ourselves? Notice further, in 1 Corinthians 11:27–28: “Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” Clearly a person can take the Lord’s Passover (which some call the Lord’s Supper) in an unworthy manner, and be guilty!

We need to know what could make us unworthy! As in a physical exam, there are things the doctor does not want to find because it indicates disease. Similarly, there are things we would not want to find when examining ourselves spiritually. Galatians 5:19–21 speaks of the “works of the flesh”: “adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; … those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

These sins are common in this modern age! If you are practicing them, you will not be in the kingdom of God! That’s what the Bible says! Did you know that?

Physically, we want our “readings” to be in the normal range. Likewise, in our spiritual lives, there are things we should expect to find. If we have God’s spirit, we should expect to find these spiritual fruits: “…love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (vv. 22–23).

Are you “IN THE FAITH”? Examine yourself! To help you in this process, read our booklets What Is a True Christian? and Satan’s Counterfeit Christianity. The article “The Danger of False Conversion” may also be helpful!

Article source: https://www.tomorrowsworld.org/commentary/spiritual-exam-standards

"Buy" the Truth

The old saying “Truth is a rare commodity” seems truer today than ever before. Truth is always valuable and investing in this commodity is always wise—particularly as it becomes rarer.

Let’s face it: lies, deceits, falsehoods, misrepresentations, omissions and so-called “spin” are rampant. If we have even a modicum of experience, we have grown rightly skeptical of all claims, no matter the source, whether in print, on television or the Internet. Nothing, it seems, can be trusted to be factual or accurate. Everything is suspect. The world is full of liars.

Like all human marketplaces, this “marketplace for truth” also contains half-truths, scams and outright lies. We are all invited to “buy” from this dizzying array. But lies spoil rather quickly. Like a waxed piece of fruit, the outside looks nice, but it may be rotten underneath. Half-truths may last a little bit longer, but eventually reveal what is true and what is not. Only real truth survives.

Lies are at least as old as the Garden of Eden, where the serpent (Satan the Devil in disguise) lied to Eve when it told her that she would not die if she ate of the forbidden fruit. Alas, she bought the lie, and mankind has been eating that rotten fruit ever since. Adam and Eve together “bought” the idea that they could decide for themselves what is true and what is a lie. This is the essence of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Satan told Eve, “You will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). In other words, Satan said, “YOU can decide what is right and wrong, what is ‘true’ and what is ‘false,’ for yourself. You don’t need God to tell you! Decide for yourself!” And he even accused GOD of being the liar one verse earlier, when he said “You will not surely die!” (v. 4)—a direct contradiction to God’s warning! (See Genesis 2:16–17.)

In this present age, a person does not need to be particularly astute to notice the partisan wrangling by leaders in many nations. Political parties present their own version of “the truth.” They strongly wrestle to convince the observer that one or the other is totally wrong, and that the other must be totally right! But both may be wrong, and in totally wrong attitudes!

More than ever before, competing “truths” are presented nearly instantaneously—and even live on TV or the Internet. We no longer have the time (or take the time, often enough) to weigh what we see, hear and read, and to “mull things over” or to critically analyze or test what is “fact.”

In this marketplace, the wisdom of old tells us, “Buy the truth, and do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding” (Proverbs 23:23). What wonderful advice! But the hard thing is, obviously, identifying the truth in this dizzying array of presentation of truth, half-truths and outright lies!

There is, ultimately, only ONE source of absolute truth. That source is God. Jesus said, “…Your word is truth” (John 17:17). That source can be verified. It can be tested and found to be rock solid. In fact, we are encouraged to “check it out”, as we are told, “Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). It can be proven! The original King James Version even uses the word where it says: “prove” all things!

The word of God, the Bible, declares the truth. Jesus declared the truth, claiming that He IS the truth (John 14:6), that He would give the “spirit of truth to guide us into all the truth” (John 16:13). If we become His disciples (followers), and hold to His teaching, we will “know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31–32).

Truth is a precious commodity. If we seek Him—and seek to be taught by Him—He will send out His truth, teaching us to walk in it (Psalm 25:5, 42:3, 86:11). We will become “a kind of firstfruits of His creatures” (James 1:18).

Truth is, indeed, a very precious commodity. Buy it, and don’t sell it! To help you find the truth revealed in the Holy Scripture of God, access our many articles and booklets at the Tomorrow’s World website, all completely free of charge.

Article source: https://www.tomorrowsworld.org/commentary/buy-the-truth

Vinegar on Soda

As a child, I remember my first “lesson” in chemistry. Somewhere, I obtained a little plastic boat—it probably came in a box of cereal or Cracker Jacks—into which one could put baking soda and vinegar. The chemical reaction propelled the little boat. Little did I know that this chemical reaction is mentioned in the Bible.

You can do an Internet search and find over 16 million results for “vinegar on soda.” It is a basic lesson in chemistry. Vinegar is an acetic acid, and soda (sodium bicarbonate) is an alkaline. When you mix the two ingredients together, you get a chemical reaction forming carbonic acid, which decomposes into water and carbon dioxide gas. Many extol the uses and virtues of both vinegar and sodium bicarbonate. As a child, I was simply delighted that my little plastic boat was propelled by this chemical reaction.

The Bible uses many analogies, and some involve these substances. For instance, in Proverbs 10:26, it says: “As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the lazy man to those who send him.” Anyone who has tasted undiluted vinegar has experienced the unpleasant flavor of an acid, with a PH of around 3. Smoke in the eyes is also very unpleasant. And so, a lazy person who is sent to do a job, but who is completely unreliable, is also very irritating.

The Bible gives an analogy about vinegar on soda in Proverbs 25:20. “Like one who takes away a garment in cold weather, and like vinegar on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.” The International Standard Version translates it: “Taking your coat off when it’s cold or pouring vinegar on soda—that’s what singing songs does to a heavy heart.”

Taking off your coat when it is cold is the exact opposite of what a person should do. You will be cold! Pouring vinegar on soda will make them both neutral (acids and bases cancel each other). So, the vinegar is no longer useful, and neither is the soda. Likewise, a grieving person with a heavy heart needs to grieve and mourn, and they have no use for someone trying to cheer them up by singing songs to them. As stated in Romans 12:15: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” Or, in 1 Corinthians 12:26: “If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it….” There is, indeed, “…a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…” (Ecclesiastes 3:4). A person who is mourning needs time to weep and mourn.

So, instead of singing songs and trying to cheer them up, general wisdom says to comfort those with a “heavy heart” by listening with compassion and patience, letting the grieving express their feelings, and not trying to tell them “how” to feel. Much as we would like, we can’t take away their emotional pains or sadness. We just need to “be there for them.”

And though some may even understand there is life and great potential after death, no matter what we go through, we are still human, and we suffer when we experience trials. But, there is also much we can do to help each other stay positive through them.

Each person differs to some degree in how they process a loss or endure some dire circumstance. We can simply ask them what we can do to be there for them and give support as they need it during a time of grief. Simply listening as they express their grief or performing some simple daily task they just cannot handle at the time are probably the best things we can do to help them get through the hardship and emotional pain they are suffering. That will be far more useful than singing songs to try and cheer them up—pouring vinegar on soda.

Article source: https://www.tomorrowsworld.org/commentary/vinegar-on-soda

The Benefits of Forgiveness

Everything we do has a cost. The cost may include money, time, physical or mental exertion, or a toll on our emotional health and well-being. Sometimes, the cost of our actions is imposed on people we love. Failing to forgive others exacts a tremendous cost.

If someone crashes into our automobile, there is not only a monetary cost for repairs, but also the costs of inconvenience, physical trauma, frustration and time exerted in making phone calls, filing insurance claims and obtaining police reports, etc.

There is also a cost for not forgiving another person who has wronged you. In fact, there are tremendous penalties imposed for failure to forgive another person. Forgiving another person can be a hard thing to do, perhaps even seemingly impossible. The person who has wronged us owes us a “debt.” Only the one “holding the note of debt” can choose to forgive it.

In psychology, forgiveness is a deliberate choice to let go of anger and resentment toward the individual who has caused you harm. Forgiveness is as if you forgave a debt.

Medical research conducted in hospitals and universities has discovered health benefits for forgiveness. These benefits include lowered blood pressure and heart rate, decreased stress, less depression and anxiety, improved sleep, less pain and increased psychological well-being. The one who forgives has greater peace of mind. Negativity is replaced with a positive mindset, healthier relationships and even a stronger immune system. These are tremendous physical benefits to the act of forgiving!

But those who hold a grudge, refusing to forgive, will suffer physical penalties for their anger, hatred, bitterness, depression and anxiety, all of which take a toll on their mental and physical well-being.

Those who study the world’s religions understand that one of the most important elements of Christianity is the forgiveness of sin that Jesus Christ has made possible through His crucifixion, endured for the benefit of mankind. His blood covers the penalty for the sins of believers, making possible our reconciliation with God, and extending to us the promise of eternal life.

But the interesting thing is that Jesus Christ requires us to forgive those who wrong us! In fact, it is essential that we do so in order for us to receive His forgiveness! In Luke 6, Jesus instructed His disciples to “…be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (vv. 36–37).

In Matthew 6, in what is known as “The Lord’s Prayer” or “Model Prayer,” is Christ’s clear instruction: “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (v. 12). After the prayer, Christ explains: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (vv. 14–15). Woah, that is serious! The consequence for not forgiving others is that we will not be forgiven by God, and without His forgiveness we are doomed to death. That is a heavy consequence!

One can research “famous” quotes about forgiveness and see that a few of them capture a glimpse of what it means to forgive, while others miss the mark entirely. For instance, one says that since the Bible says “forgive seventy times seven,” they are keeping a chart. Really?! That totally misses the object lesson! Another said to forgive your enemies because it really annoys them. That also misses the point.

All should read Christ’s parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18. It concludes with the clear instruction that we are required to forgive “from the heart” if we are to receive our Father’s forgiveness (v. 35).

This is part of being a true Christian. Our booklet What Is a True Christian? is available free of charge, online or in print, here at Tomorrow’s World.

Article source: https://www.tomorrowsworld.org/commentary/the-benefits-of-forgiveness