A central theme throughout Jesus' example of living, and one that His true disciples will obey, is to suffer evil rather than to do it, and to be killed rather than to be one of those that kill. That any attempt to resist, avenge, or preemptively do violence to others before something gets done to you is the same as being an animal obeying its instincts (the exact opposite of the spirit). The apostles did not fear the death of their bodies, and were subject to stonings, floggings, slanders, and conspiracies, with Paul willingly going to be decapitated while Peter to be crucified upside down. As a matter of fact Paul freely admitted his selfish desire to be freed from his body with the statement "My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account." Phil1:23-24. Anyone that's truly a servant of Christ in this world will be hated by this world, because the world is evil(John7:7), and runs on the natural instincts which include pride, lust, greed, hunger, jealousy, anger, fight or flight, etc. That's why Peter's epistle directs one to suffer for being righteous in a wicked world, rather than suffering because of sins one has committed; the former deserves reward, while the latter is only justice being served. Anyone that is predestined to conform to Christ's example of living and dying will tell the truth to power, even if it mean they risk being hated, harmed, or killed. Along with feeding the poor, healing the sick, loving those that hate you, warning where others will end up if they do not repent from their sins, and even disregarding your own family to do these things, that is the example given.
"I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles."Matt5:39-41
Many will, and do, call themselves "Christian", without imitating Jesus Christ's example or doing much of anything He said to do. Their declaration is as genuine as if they call themselves an oak tree. A person may actually believe they are an oak tree, but without having a body made of hardwood, without the right kind of leaves, without producing acorns, what they are believing and saying is a lie, a comfortable and pleasing self-deception. Or as the bible puts it, "And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie" 2Thes2:11. Reading the bible, preaching the word, going to church, talking about Jesus, prophesying, speaking in tongues, good deeds, professing Christ, listening to Christian music, etc., are behaviors that do not save anyone, and are not proof that someone is saved; someone headed to heaven may or may not do these things, but for anyone doing them without the love of God and the Holy Spirit in their heart those things will amount to the same as anything else, an inevitable perishing. Because if "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." Jam1:27, then all that other stuff really boils down to no more than a social club consisting of people worshiping religion and their own ideas of themselves. Let's not forget that it was religious people, choosing their religion over the truth, that played their part in crucifying Jesus the Christ. And that this type of belief is referenced many times in the Holy bible: that there would be many that think they are saved and find out otherwise on the last day, many that hear but do not do, many that are and will be deceived, many that will be put under a strong delusion that they are right, many that think they can make concessions to the world and still are being faithful(cleaving) to Christ's example (the divided heart or mind thinking they can serve two masters), etc. The only perceivable proof would come from looking at the fruits someone produces, but I saw a post on a thread that said hey, 'even fruits can be faked' by those trying to work their way into heaven or just to appear good in the eyes of others (did Jesus say to pray in front of one another, or in privacy and seclusion? Matthew 6:6 Did he say that reading the bible will save anyone? John 5:39 That is unlikely, since, up until a 500 years ago, there was no bible as we know it and literacy rates were less than 40% in the most developed nations; and in the first century A.D. literacy rates were likely less than 5%). So, when it comes right down to it, only God really knows, and the rest of us must deal in probability. The way human nature works, of course nearly everyone that hears about heaven is going to say "I'm in", but that's not really going to get anyone in is it?
If a true believer is not supposed to faithfully conform to Christ's example then scriptures like:
-"Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin"
-"to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings"
-"the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death"
-"there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven"
-"it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven"
-"whoever does not take up his cross"
-"we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God"
-"Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ."
-"But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."
-"Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple"
and many other difficult sayings, are discarded or disregarded as figurative, and not really expecting anyone to have to do anything more than they "believe" is necessary. With easy believism and cafeteria Christianity the message gets neutered, the verses meant literally are taken figuratively and the ones meant figuratively are taken literally, because that's so much easier and pleasing to the bias, lust, fear, and pride in the human heart; and the traditions of man continue to obscure and ignore the difficult truths of God's word. Concerning the last underlined verse, I take it to mean if you have been given the option of obeying and pleasing your most cherished people on earth, saving your own skin, or obeying and pleasing God, there should be no contest. Yet we know there is a contest, for the flesh and the evil one do not surrender so easily that just anyone can resist them, but only those indwelt by the HS.
The prevailing and popular translations of the Holy bible allow for someone to say believing, or being in intellectual agreement with a statement or concept, is somehow an act of obedience; but that is not actually equivalent with what the original Koine Greek word "pisteuo" means, assent is a part of the meaning but not all of it. Yes one must trust in order to believe, and believe in order to obey. But the end result of a saving faith is that the saved conform themselves to what is expected (Acts 3:22). But many just say they believe as if that's all it takes. And, in this sense, the demon's belief of James 2:19 has become a prevalent case, and many end up falling into error, because it's so easy to believe in this way once one is convinced themselves that he or she does. And I know this because I have fallen prey to it myself.
But if the original Koine Greek "pisteuo" is closest in meaning to the English word "cleave"(abide by, be loyal to, conform to), then conformity to Christ's example would be the end result of what is meant by "faith" and the word "believe" in the scriptures. And why it's stressed "be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves" James 1:22
The original Greek of Mark 16:16 is:
"ho pisteusas kai baptistheis sothesetai ho de apistesas katakrithestetai"
Which would mean, "he who cleaves(conforms to Christ's example in living and dying) and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not cleave(conform to His example in living and dying) will be condemned". And that would be one way to explain why the way is steep and narrow, and not many will find it.
Are we expected to be able to jump right into perfect obedience? Of course not. Paul mentions many times how a believer will be in distress, even be cast down only to rise again. The story of David tells how a saved man after God's own heart fell into lust, lies, adultery, and murder, without even recognizing it until well after the fact and being confronted about it by Nathan the prophet; only then did David grieve, plead for forgiveness, and fear the loss of his salvation in psalm 51. He was reinstated, but the consequences of the sins still had to be lived out. The epistle of Peter tells a believer to suffer for being righteous rather than sins one commits. Would it be warned of if it weren't possible? As for the evil of this world, confirmed by the passage "We know that we are of God, and the whole world is under the sway of the evil one." (1 John 5:19), if one does not perceive it or acknowledge it in any way it is possibly because he or she is playing a part in that evil.
Yes, salvation from the fallen world is offered and given freely, to whom it is offered and given (Hebrews 9:15), and no one will ever earn or deserve such a gift. But after that do not presume you have a guaranteed free ride, because "He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit" so "do not become proud, but fear." "Otherwise you too will be cut off." and "If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned." John 15:6.
Paul says test yourself to see if you are in the faith, and John says "do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God". Well, how does one do that? If you're convinced that you have been born again, then ask yourself "at which exact point in my life was I freed from seeking and desiring to obey what my body wants, to the point of willing to suppress and deny it, and start to desire seeking to obey what the Holy Spirit wants, to the possible eventual point of going to my own physical death?". Your measure of faith(fulness) is not yours to choose, one must accept the understanding that God grants them; and hope, trust, and pray that it is in the Spirit of Truth. Faith is not just a trusting belief that one is right in his or her relation to Yahweh, it is a loyal and trusting belief that Jesus is the son of God, that came in the flesh and was given as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world, and that also leads to obedience to Christ's words and example of living and, if need be, dying. How does one accomplish such obedience? If we truly believe Him and his example, what excuse do we have for failing to escape hell?
A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother." Luke 18:18-20
"It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law" Luke 16:17
"Moses said to the forefathers, The Lord God will raise up for you a Prophet from among your brethren as [He raised up] me; Him you shall listen to and understand by hearing and heed in all things whatever He tells you. And it shall be that every soul that does not listen to and understand by hearing and heed that Prophet shall be utterly exterminated from among the people." Acts 3:22-23
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