When the man went out toward the east with a line in his hand, he measured a thousand cubits, and he led me through the water, water reaching the ankles.  Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the knees. Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the loins.  Again he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not ford, for the water had risen, enough water to swim in, a river that could not be forded.”
“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Today, I will deliver the series ‘God Measures Our Faith‘.
It is the 13th session.
Let us briefly review the flow of previous messages.
Ezekiel saw in vision that water came out of the Temple, flowed around the Temple, and went outside.
This symbolizes that the word of God preached in the Temple spreads out to the world.
This water became increasingly deeper until it became a river.
When Ezekiel first forded this water, it came up to his ankle, and then the knees, and then the loins.
Eventually, the water became overflowing, comparable to that of a river.
Water spiritually symbolizes the word of God.
Therefore, the level of being dipped in water symbolizes the level of practicing the word of God, by which faith is measured.
Here, before Ezekiel forded the water each time, the messenger of God measures a thousand cubits.
This symbolizes that God measures each one’s faith without any error.
Each person will receive either reward or punishment according to his measure of faith that is measured accurately.
While we go through human cultivation on this earth, we receive answers to our prayers according to justice, based on our measure of faith.
God the Father leads us in a way that our faith will keep on growing up.
The level of water up to the ankle, which is the first level of faith, is the least bit of faith that is necessary to receive salvation.
But as the world is full of sins today, there are so many people who do not even have this first level of faith.
There are many who don’t have any faith even among the people who come to church, not to mention unbelievers of the world.
Therefore, even if you are attending a church, you should check your faith carefully.
God writes in many parts of the Bible that there are sins that deprive of salvation.
Also, in the Bible, among the sins that deprive of salvation there are sins that can never be forgiven, which lead to death.
Sins depriving of salvation can be forgiven if you thoroughly repent, but sins leading to death are fearful sins that cannot be forgiven at all.
I talked about five major sins depriving of salvation through the last session. They are: idolatry, violating the Sabbath, robbing God by not giving the tithe, standing against men of God, and forms of adulteries and fornications.
Today, I am going to talk about the sixth sin depriving of salvation, which is ‘the evident works of the flesh.’
I wonder if anybody thinks as follows.
“Many believers were forgiven of their sins leading to death on Dec. 25, 2010, and now they are marching towards the rock of faith, towards spirit, and even further on into whole spirit, so why is the Sr. pastor preaching something like this?
Let me answer that with a Bible verse.
1 Timothy 2:4 says, “[God] desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
There are many people who live a life that is far from salvation in this country and all around the world because they do not know the truth, or even if they do know, they don’t because their faith is weak.
Even among our own church members there are a few who do not abide in the truth, and that is why I am delivering this message again.
I hope all of you will have faith to receive salvation and further faith of spirit before we go into Canaan Sanctuary.
I hope you will realize that to continually preach the truth is the love of God the Father who never gives up on us.
Brothers and sisters, Galatians 5:19-21 says, “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Works of the flesh refer to sins committed in action.
Among them, the evident works of the flesh are the sins that are clearly evil and filthy even by common morality and sense.
Among them, I explained in detail about sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, and idolatry, so let us briefly go over the rest.
Even if you might think you did not commit any of the five sins mentioned, I hope you would still check yourself carefully based on today’s message.
Today, the consciences of the people are so stained with evil that some people commit grave sins thinking that it is OK to commit such sins.
Brothers and sisters, among the evident works of the flesh, let me explain about the things that derive from hatred, which is spiritual murder, with the example of King Saul and Absalom.
Here, enmity is to hold grudges against and resent someone to the extent to drive him to destruction.
It is not just to have evil feelings thinking, “I don’t want to see him. I wish he would disappear,” but to try to destroy him by slandering and scheming.
If you suffer without a proper cause because of somebody, you hold grudges against him. If you don’t like somebody you just hate that person like an enemy.
Regardless of what the reason may be, having hatred in heart is great evil in God’s sight.
Especially, if you hate somebody who is innocent as though he were an enemy, it is an even greater evil.
King Saul had enmity with a man of God, David, and caused destruction to come upon himself.
David was a good man who revered God. He was also Saul’s faithful servant and son-in-law.
When Saul was suffering due to evil spirits, David drove them away by playing a harp.
When there were wars with the neighboring countries, he fought bravely and gave the victories to Saul.
But Saul treated this innocent David like a criminal and chased him with thousands of soldiers.
Saul hated the man of God as if he were an enemy and tried to kill him, and for Saul, this in essence was to have enmity with God.
Saul brought destruction upon himself.
You should not take this example lightly thinking, “It’s just the story of evil Saul in the Bible.”
You should keep in mind that such a sin can also grow in you too, as long as you do not uproot hatred completely.
For example, there were some middle school students who bullied another student to the point that he committed suicide. They did it because they didn’t like him and they thought it was fun.
If you hate somebody who is not an enemy to you, and if you do not control your heart, such a tragedy can happen any time.
Furthermore, if that person is a person who is loved by God, it is to have enmity with God. So, how do you figure you can be saved?
God the Father tells us to ‘love even our enemies’.
The Lord showed perfect mercy through sacrifice on the cross even for heinous sinners.
We all have to take after this example of the Lord.
In doing so, I hope that you will receive complements of the Lord saying, “Well done!”
Brothers and sisters, the main reason why Saul considered David his enemy was his jealousy.
This is also caused by hatred.
In today’s reading passage, it says jealousy is also one of the evident works of the flesh.
1 Samuel 18:7 depicts a scene where women sang as they played.
They sang, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.”
The Bible says Saul was displeased and angry hearing this.
Jealousy is to have discomfort. It causes hatred and avoidance of a person when you see somebody who is better than you.
Furthermore, you may even have evil desires thinking you want to destroy him and take away everything he has.
As this jealousy progressively develops, it becomes extreme envy.
If you have extreme envy, your jealousy will show as actions in harming that person.
Cain was jealous of his brother Abel and eventually killed him.
King Saul also tried to kill David many times.
He thought his throne would be firm and he would be loved more only if he got rid of David.
But God always protected David, and it was Saul who lost his fame and power due to his extreme envy.
God took the authority and honor from Saul and gave it to good David.
After all Saul did not receive salvation.
In history, there were many occasions where women in the royal palace were jealous of each other trying to receive more love from the king.
They spread false rumors, framed others, or cursed others with sorceries.
After all, one of them or both parties get in serious trouble, and so many other innocent people get killed.
If we just have the sinful nature of jealousy, God would say it is very evil.
And if a believer in God commits evil acts with jealousy, how could he be saved?
Therefore, I hope you will cultivate good hearts which have no form of jealousy at all.
In doing so, I hope that you will receive praises, honor, and love of the Lord.
Brothers and sisters, next, there is ‘outbursts of anger’ that is in one’s heart.
It is very violent words and actions that can harm other people or even pose a threat of life.
For example, when evil spirits came upon him mightily, King Saul threw his spear towards David thinking he would pin David to the wall.
He was also very angry with his son Jonathan just because he was protecting David.
He cursed at him saying, “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman!” and hurled his spear at him to strike him down.
When he learned that the priest Ahimelech helped David, he destroyed the whole city where the priests were living.
As mentioned, outbursts of anger would be revealed as severe strife or physical violence.
Today, there are so many incidents where people even commit murder just because they cannot control a moment’s anger.
Last year, a medical doctor killed his wife in the middle of an argument. His wife was almost due to give birth.
It was made known that he strangled his wife who was pregnant with their child just because he could not control his momentary anger.
Therefore, we have to pull out even the original root of anger from our heart.
As we can see from Saul’s case, those who get angry must keep in mind that they are being controlled by the enemy devil and Satan.
Next, there is sorcery. It refers to secret arts or tricks.
Most common examples of sorceries are shamanism and fortune-telling.
You can refer back to the discussion of idolatry about these.
There is another example of sorcery, which are tricks or deceptive schemes.
You make an evil plan to take away somebody else’s possessions or cause them to fall into a trap.
Before he began his rebellion Absalom stole the hearts of people that were towards King David with an evil kind of wisdom.
For example, he would stand before the city gate in the early morning, and when people came to King David for a trial, he would bring down David’s name.
2 Samuel 15:3 says, “See, your claims are good and right, but no man listens to you on the part of the king.” He cheated the people.
Next, he deceived them by saying that he would show them justice if they asked him for a judgment.
When the people were moved by his act and wanted to bow before him, he would kindly hold them, kiss them, and treated them nicely.
But the heart of this Absalom was only filled with his arrogance and grudges against his father David and his greed for power.
His heart was very different from that of King David who really cared for each of his people.
Absalom finally launched his rebellion.
He brought Ahitophel who was David’s counsel to his side and tried to destroy King David and all his men with an evil scheme.
But eventually, he was brutally killed because of the counter-counsel of the counselor on David’s side.
Today, the world in which we believers live is full of these schemes.
So many people try to destroy their competitors just to get what they want.
They might deceive the eyes of men with those evil plans, but they can never cheat the eyes of God the Father.
Therefore, I hope you believers in God will be cautious about these things and just walk the way that is righteous, which is the bounded way of salvation.
Brothers and sisters, the rebellion of Absalom can also be strife.
Strife is a fight and struggle to get what one wants, such as wealth, fame, and power.
Strife comes from hatred and greed.
For example, countries, races, or groups of people fight with others in a war, or in severe battles to get something beneficial for them.
Also, strife can include the court trials over wealth between divorcing couples or among brothers who fight for the inheritance money.
Strife does not only break peace, but also it brings about killing and destruction.
Absalom’s rebellion led to a civil war, and 20,000 men were killed overnight in a fight among their own people.
Of course, this incident did not develop into a greater trouble.
It was because King David did not want to have strife with those who participated in rebellion.
For David, the war was an unavoidable choice that he had to make to protect his men and people.
David continually prayed to God that God would end the strife as soon as possible.
When Absalom killed David’s first son and his brother, Amnon, and ran away, David still forgave him and accepted him.
Absalom forgot about this grace and rebelled against his father.
Nevertheless, David still asked his men to save the life of his son.
What a contrast do we see between the heart of Absalom and that of David who followed peace?
It’s the same in the church.
Some workers and members try their best to keep peace while some others constantly cause strife.
Some fight with other pastors or church members for personal benefit or for the benefit their own group.
Strife is a work of Satan.
A church that has constant strife will not have any revival and furthermore it will be destroyed.
Strife is a sin to act against the Lord.
If you committed such sin and have not repented yet, you cannot be saved.
When the believers in the church sued each other in the court of the world, the apostle Paul said it was unrighteousness that would stop them from inheriting the kingdom of God.
And before he said that, he warned the brothers as follows:
1 Corinthians 6:6-7 says, “…but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers? Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?”
As said, I hope you will have mature faith so that you would rather be wronged than degrading the glory of God by having strife with brothers or causing the brothers to carry out unrighteousness.
Not just in the church, but also in your homes, workplaces, and business fields, I hope you will all seek the benefit of others in the truth.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, and viewing audiences,
Proverbs 20:22 says, “Do not say, “I will repay evil”; wait for the LORD, and He will save you.”
David followed these words all his life.
He tried to avoid unnecessary strife.
When he was on the run from Saul, he had two chances to kill Saul, but he just let him go.
He even touched the heart of Saul with words of kindness.
It was because Saul was anointed by God even though he was evil.
Also, even after Saul was killed in a battle against the Philistines, David did not enthrone himself.
God made all the circumstances in a way that the people voluntarily asked him to become the king, and he accepted their request.
Between David and Saul and Absalom, which example would you like to take after?
I pray in the name of the Lord that you will act only in goodness like David, so that you will live a prosperous life in hope of salvation.