Sanctification

 

 


Introduction

 

Dear brothers in the Lord, this book of mine deals with sanctification (or holiness), which I consider a very important subject to us who are children of God.

First of all, you must understand that when you were born again (that is, when you were regenerated by God) you were sanctified, that is to say, you were made holy. For the Scriptures teach that at the new birth God performs an act of sanctification on believers, through which they are declared holy. Here is how Paul and Peter expressed this concept in their epistles. Paul said to the Corinthians: “Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are [were] washed, but ye are [were] sanctified, but ye are [were] justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11); and to the Thessalonians: “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of [by] the Spirit and belief of [in] the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13); while Peter said to God’s elect: “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied” (1 Peter 1:1-2). That’s why the apostles in their epistles called the believers ‘saints’ (1 Corinthians 1:2; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:2), ‘holy nation’ (1 Peter 2:9), and ‘holy brethren’ (Hebrews 3:1 - NKJV).

Secondly, beloved, you must understand that you are holy because of the obedience showed by Jesus Christ, for it was through His atoning sacrifice that you were sanctified, as it is written: “By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10 – NKJV). It follows that you don’t have anything to boast about before God, for - as Paul says - Christ became for us sanctification from God (1 Corinthians 1:30).

When I say that you were sanctified in Jesus Christ I mean these things.

● You attained the perfection in regard to the conscience through the blood of Christ, as it is written: “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14). The perfection in regard to the conscience could not be obtained under the Old Covenant because the gifts and the sacrifices which were offered according to the law were a shadow of the things which were to come and in them there was a reminder of sins every year (Hebrews 9:9-10; 10:1-4), while under the New Covenant it can be obtained because Christ offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sins once for all and His blood makes those who believe in Him perfect in regard to the conscience (Hebrews 9:13-14).

● God separated you from the world, so that you might serve righteousness. In other words, God separated you from those who live in darkness so that you might be a holy people to the Lord for the rest of your earthly life. In ancient times God chose the Israelites so that they might serve Him, for He said to them: “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 7:6), and again: “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth” (Deuteronomy 14:2). Now, in these last days God has set apart for Himself a people (His Church) which is formed of all those Jews and Gentiles whom He has rescued from this present evil age so that they might serve Him. This concept is expressed by Paul in his epistle to Titus when he says that Christ Jesus “gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14 - NKJV).

Therefore, brethren, you were set apart by God so that you might pursue sanctification, as Paul said to the saints in Rome: “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness ….” (Romans 6:22), and to the saints of Thessalonica: “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification …. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness” (1 Thessalonians 4:3,7); and as the author of the epistle to the Hebrews says: “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14), and as Peter says to the elect (whom he called holy nation); “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct because it is written: Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16 - NKJV).

As you can see, the Scriptures clearly state that we were called to be holy, that is to say, to perfect our sanctification before God. Therefore the pursuit of sanctification (or the perfecting of sanctification) is a divine command, and it is so important that the Scripture states that without sanctification no one will see the Lord. I say this because I know that today among many Churches many despise sanctification, making light of it and not considering it so important (for they consider it a human option).

Now, brethren, we have our fruit to sanctification, but how can we bear this fruit? We can bear this fruit by abiding in Christ, for Jesus Christ said: “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). In other words, we can bear this fruit by keeping the commandments of God, for John said: “He who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him” (1 John 3:24 - NKJV). Therefore, we must keep the commandments of God in order to have a holy conduct before God and men. And obviously to keep the commandments of God means that on the one hand we must not do certain things and on the other hand we must do some other things.

Before I go on, however, I would like to point out that we can perfect our sanctification (which is a process that involves a separation unto God, a purification of flesh and spirit, and a conformation to the image of Christ) only by the power of God, who works in us what is well pleasing to Him. In other words, we are able to perfect our sanctification because God works in us. However, it is very important to note that God will work in us if we allow Him to work. This principle that recognizes both God’s initiative and man’s responsibility is expressed by Paul in the epistle to the Philippians when he gives them this command: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13 – NKJV). So, God enables us to perfect our sanctification, but we MUST respond.

Let us now look closely at the things from which we, as believers, must abstain in order to live a holy life.

 

 

Murder

 

It is written in the law: “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13 - NKJV). Therefore we must not take our neighbour’s life. Let us not act as Cain, who was of the wicked one – says the apostle John – and murdered his brother; and why did he murder him? “Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous” (1 John 3:12 – NKJV).

Brethren, the way of the murderer leads to death, for it is written: “A man burdened with bloodshed will flee into a pit; let no one help him” (Proverbs 28:17 – NKJV; the NIV reads: “A man tormented by the guilt of murder will be a fugitive till death; let no one support him”). God hates “hands that shed innocent blood” (Proverbs 6:17 – NKJV), and many times He causes murderers to be killed, for it is written: “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man” (Genesis 9:6 - NKJV). Everybody can see the fulfilment of these words, for in criminal circles it happens very often that murderers are themselves murdered in turn. “As you have done, it shall be done to you” (Obadiah 15), the Lord still says to the wicked. Therefore, those who murder run the risk of being killed, for Wisdom warns us saying: “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. If they say, ‘Come with us, let us lie in wait to shed blood; let us lurk secretely for the innocent without cause; let us swallow them alive like Sheol, and whole, like those who go down to the Pit; we shall find all kinds of precious possessions, we shall fill our houses with spoil; cast in your lot among us, let us all have one purse’ – My son, do not walk in the way with them, keep your foot from their path; for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood. Surely, in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird; but they lie in wait for their own blood, they lurk secretely for their own lives” (Proverbs 1:10-18 – NKJV).

The biblical account of the punishment which God executed on those who murdered the sons of Gideon shows very clearly that God hates those who shed innocent blood and does not leave them unpunished. Here is what we read in the book of the Judges: “And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem unto his mother's brethren, and communed with them, and with all the family of the house of his mother's father, saying, Speak, I pray you, in the ears of all the men of Shechem, Whether is better for you, either that all the sons of Jerubbaal, which are threescore and ten persons, reign over you, or that one reign over you? remember also that I am your bone and your flesh. And his mother's brethren spake of him in the ears of all the men of Shechem all these words: and their hearts inclined to follow Abimelech; for they said, He is our brother. And they gave him threescore and ten pieces of silver out of the house of Baal-berith, wherewith Abimelech hired vain and light persons, which followed him. And he went unto his father's house at Ophrah, and slew his brethren the sons of Jerubbaal, being threescore and ten persons, upon one stone: notwithstanding yet Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left; for he hid himself. And all the men of Shechem gathered together, and all the house of Millo, and went, and made Abimelech king, by the plain of the pillar that was in Shechem. And when they told it to Jotham, he went and stood in the top of mount Gerizim, and lifted up his voice, and cried, and said unto them, Hearken unto me, ye men of Shechem, that God may hearken unto you. The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us. But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us. But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees? Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou, and reign over us. And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us. And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon. Now therefore, if ye have done truly and sincerely, in that ye have made Abimelech king, and if ye have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house, and have done unto him according to the deserving of his hands; (For my father fought for you, and adventured his life far, and delivered you out of the hand of Midian: And ye are risen up against my father's house this day, and have slain his sons, threescore and ten persons, upon one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his maidservant, king over the men of Shechem, because he is your brother;) If ye then have dealt truly and sincerely with Jerubbaal and with his house this day, then rejoice ye in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you: But if not, let fire come out from Abimelech, and devour the men of Shechem, and the house of Millo; and let fire come out from the men of Shechem, and from the house of Millo, and devour Abimelech. And Jotham ran away, and fled, and went to Beer, and dwelt there, for fear of Abimelech his brother. When Abimelech had reigned three years over Israel, Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech: That the cruelty done to the threescore and ten sons of Jerubbaal might come, and their blood be laid upon Abimelech their brother, which slew them; and upon the men of Shechem, which aided him in the killing of his brethren. And the men of Shechem set liers in wait for him in the top of the mountains, and they robbed all that came along that way by them: and it was told Abimelech. And Gaal the son of Ebed came with his brethren, and went over to Shechem: and the men of Shechem put their confidence in him. And they went out into the fields, and gathered their vineyards, and trode the grapes, and made merry, and went into the house of their god, and did eat and drink, and cursed Abimelech. And Gaal the son of Ebed said, Who is Abimelech, and who is Shechem, that we should serve him? is not he the son of Jerubbaal? and Zebul his officer? serve the men of Hamor the father of Shechem: for why should we serve him? And would to God this people were under my hand! then would I remove Abimelech. And he said to Abimelech, Increase thine army, and come out. And when Zebul the ruler of the city heard the words of Gaal the son of Ebed, his anger was kindled. And he sent messengers unto Abimelech privily, saying, Behold, Gaal the son of Ebed and his brethren be come to Shechem; and, behold, they fortify the city against thee. Now therefore up by night, thou and the people that is with thee, and lie in wait in the field: And it shall be, that in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, thou shalt rise early, and set upon the city: and, behold, when he and the people that is with him come out against thee, then mayest thou do to them as thou shalt find occasion. And Abimelech rose up, and all the people that were with him, by night, and they laid wait against Shechem in four companies. And Gaal the son of Ebed went out, and stood in the entering of the gate of the city: and Abimelech rose up, and the people that were with him, from lying in wait. And when Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, Behold, there come people down from the top of the mountains. And Zebul said unto him, Thou seest the shadow of the mountains as if they were men. And Gaal spake again and said, See there come people down by the middle of the land, and another company come along by the plain of Meonenim. Then said Zebul unto him, Where is now thy mouth, wherewith thou saidst, Who is Abimelech, that we should serve him? is not this the people that thou hast despised? go out, I pray now, and fight with them. And Gaal went out before the men of Shechem, and fought with Abimelech. And Abimelech chased him, and he fled before him, and many were overthrown and wounded, even unto the entering of the gate. And Abimelech dwelt at Arumah: and Zebul thrust out Gaal and his brethren, that they should not dwell in Shechem. And it came to pass on the morrow, that the people went out into the field; and they told Abimelech. And he took the people, and divided them into three companies, and laid wait in the field, and looked, and, behold, the people were come forth out of the city; and he rose up against them, and smote them. And Abimelech, and the company that was with him, rushed forward, and stood in the entering of the gate of the city: and the two other companies ran upon all the people that were in the fields, and slew them. And Abimelech fought against the city all that day; and he took the city, and slew the people that was therein, and beat down the city, and sowed it with salt. And when all the men of the tower of Shechem heard that, they entered into an hold of the house of the god Berith. And it was told Abimelech, that all the men of the tower of Shechem were gathered together. And Abimelech gat him up to mount Zalmon, he and all the people that were with him; and Abimelech took an axe in his hand, and cut down a bough from the trees, and took it, and laid it on his shoulder, and said unto the people that were with him, What ye have seen me do, make haste, and do as I have done. And all the people likewise cut down every man his bough, and followed Abimelech, and put them to the hold, and set the hold on fire upon them; so that all the men of the tower of Shechem died also, about a thousand men and women. Then went Abimelech to Thebez, and encamped against Thebez, and took it. But there was a strong tower within the city, and thither fled all the men and women, and all they of the city, and shut it to them, and gat them up to the top of the tower. And Abimelech came unto the tower, and fought against it, and went hard unto the door of the tower to burn it with fire. And a certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech's head, and all to brake his skull. Then he called hastily unto the young man his armourbearer, and said unto him, Draw thy sword, and slay me, that men say not of me, A woman slew him. And his young man thrust him through, and he died. And when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, they departed every man unto his place. Thus God rendered the wickedness of Abimelech, which he did unto his father, in slaying his seventy brethren: And all the evil of the men of Shechem did God render upon their heads: and upon them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal” (Judges 9:1-57).

Under grace, however, even he who hates his brother is a murderer, for John says: “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:15 - NKJV). The reason is because the law of Christ is stricter than the law of Moses, for Jesus said to His disciples: “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell [geenna] fire” (Matthew 5:21-22). Therefore, brothers, let us see to it that we keep hatred (against a brother or an unbelieving person) from entering our heart. Let us love one another fervently with a pure heart, for love covers over a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). If a brother sins against us, let us rebuke him (with love), in the hope that he will repent, but let us not hate him, for the law says: “You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him” (Leviticus 19:17 - NKJV). If he who wronged us is a sinner, let us bear with him patiently continuing to love him, for it is written that we must love our enemies and do good to those who hate us (Luke 6:27).

Among the twelve tribes which were scattered abroad and to which James wrote, there were some believers who were murderers and James called them sinners and exhorted them to cleanse their hands and to humble themselves in the sight of God (James 4:2,8-10). Peter says to us: “Let none of you suffer as a murderer” (1 Peter 4:15 - NKJV).

Murderers will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:21), for they will be cast into the lake which burns with fire and brimstone (Revelation 21:8).

 

 

Abortion

 

Abortion is ‘the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy’. Therefore, abortion is sin because is the deliberate killing of an unborn baby.

So, brothers and sisters who are married, I exhort you to flee this sin, lest you move God to anger. Surely, if you decide to have an abortion, God will punish you for your sin. Obviously, I am not speaking of miscarriage because miscarriage is ‘the spontaneous or unplanned expulsion of a fetus from the womb before it is able to survive independently’, that is, something which is not caused or planned by the woman or the couple.

To show you from the Scriptures that abortion is sin in the sight of God, I want to quote some passages from the Law of Moses, which is made for anything which is contrary to the sound doctrine. Here is what God said to Moses on Mount Sinai: “If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman’s husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe” (Exodus 21:22-25 – NKJV). Now, as you can see, the law envisaged a situation in which two brawling men accidentally injure a pregnant woman. The injury causes the woman to go into early labor, resulting in a premature birth of her child. If neither the woman nor the child is harmed, then the Law of Moses commanded that the one who caused the premature birth should pay a fine. But if injury or even death resulted from the brawl, then the law imposed a parallel punishment: if the premature baby died, the one who caused the premature birth was to be put to death – “you shall give life for life.” So to cause a pre-born infant’s death was homicide under the Old Testament - homicide punishable by death. Now, if according to God the one who caused a pre-born infant’s death accidentally was deserving of death, it is evident that since abortion is the deliberate killing of the unborn by an abortion doctor in collusion with the mother, those who deliberately put to death an unborn child are deserving of death too, in the sight of God. It cannot be otherwise. Therefore, brothers and sisters, I say it again, flee abortion.

Now let us examine in the light of the Scriptures the reasons why women have an abortion, in order to show that they do not justify at all abortion.

Many women have an abortion because they don’t want to give birth to many children, so in their opinion there are ‘wanted and unwanted children.’ However, this doesn’t justify abortion because the creature which is in the woman’s womb is a human being formed by the hands of God. Women in Christ, do not be afraid of giving birth to many children; God will not forsake them, but will meet all their needs. Have faith in Him. Know this, that the Scripture states that those who have many children are happy (Psalm 127:5). There can be no unwanted children in the life of a Christian couple, for every child is a gift of God, and every Christian must be willing to receive any gift from God.

Many other women have an abortion because they have been raped or because tests reveal that the unborn child has severe abnormalities. These arguments given in favour of abortion do not justify abortion either, for the creature which is in the woman’s womb is still a human being formed by the hands of God, and thus he has the right to be safely brought into the world regardless of how he was conceived. Therefore, I exhort all those Christian women who are with child because of a rape or know that their unborn child has severe abnormalities to give birth to their child. For sure, since all things work together for good to those who love God, God will turn evil into good: He will take that evil and its horrible effects on your life and bring good out of it; have faith in God.

Today, abortion is lawful in this country (as well as in many other countries), yet it is sin in the sight of God. That abortion is sin is confirmed by the sense of guilt a woman feels after she has had an abortion. On the contrary, those women who, even though they had been advised to have an abortion, refused to have an abortion are now happy and don’t regret taking that decision.

 

 

Euthanasia

 

Here is how euthanasia is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary: ‘The painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable disease or in an irreversible coma’. In other words, it is a death hastened by doctors with the permission of the sufferer’s relatives (or the sufferer himself) to keep him from continuing to suffer.

I exhort you in the Lord to reject and expose euthanasia because it is a murder in the sight of God. He who has the power to kill and to make alive is God alone (1 Samuel 2:6). Therefore, if the country where you live permits euthanasia and one of your relatives is in a hopeless condition from a medical point of view, because according to the doctors he is condemned to die after unspeakable sufferings without any chance of recovering, you must not give the permission to let him die in advance (before time) in order to put an end to his sufferings or to make him suffer less, because if you give such a permission you will share in a murder. And then who said that that man will surely die? The doctors, thus human beings who can’t lengthen the life of men and who have a limited knowledge like all the other human beings. Therefore they do not have the last word, for it is God (the Omnipotent, the Omniscient and the Omnipresent) who has the last word in the life of men. It is God who decides when a man is going to die and what kind of death he will die. Thus what counts is His decision, is what God says.

So, let us suppose that one of our relatives is dying of an incurable disease and is suffering terribly. How should we cope with such situation? Well, first of all, we should ask: ‘What did God determine to do? Did He determine to let him live or die?’ Nobody knows (unless God reveals His will by a word of wisdom). Therefore we must plead with God to heal that person who is dying of an incurable disease. For we must never give up hoping in God, for our God is able to raise up a man the doctors say he’s done for or a man who thinks he is done for. Job is a clear example of how God can change the most desperate situation. Job was suffering terrible pains, his flesh was wasting away from sight and his bones clung to his skin and to his flesh, he thought that he would soon depart from this world, and his wife was waiting for his death; but God healed him and made him prosperous again. Another eloquent example of what God can do when there is no more hope from a human point of view is that of king Hezekiah, who was taken ill and in the midst of his illness thought that he was a dead man, but God heard his prayer and saw his tears and added to his days fifteen years. “I said in the cutting off of my days, I shall go to the gates of the grave: I am deprived of the residue of my years. I said, I shall not see the LORD, even the LORD, in the land of the living: I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world. Mine age is departed, and is removed from me as a shepherd's tent: I have cut off like a weaver my life: he will cut me off with pining sickness: from day even to night wilt thou make an end of me” (Isaiah 38:10-12) said Hezekiah in his song after he was healed by the Lord, and he added: “What shall I say? he hath both spoken unto me, and himself hath done it: I shall go softly all my years in the bitterness of my soul. O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit: so wilt thou recover me, and make me to live. Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back” (Isaiah 38:15-17). As you can see, the above mentioned examples show us clearly that God can change the most desperate circumstances in the life of men, for both Job and Hezekiah were ‘terminally ill,’ but God healed them. Knowing this, therefore, let us pray for our relative who is terminally hill so that God may heal him, and God will surely heal him if it is His will to heal him. Do not lose heart, with God nothing is impossible.

But not only can God heal incurable diseases, which lead to death, if it is His will; but He can also raise the dead. Therefore He can act on behalf of a man even after his death. So he can allow a man to die of an incurable disease in order to raise him from the dead before or during of even after his funeral. The resurrections which are recorded in the Scripture confirm this concept. So it is lawful for us to plead with God to raise a dead person, and obviously if it is God’s will to raise him from the dead, it will come to pass that that man will rise again in answer to our prayers.

But what shall we say if God has determined to let him die of that incurable disease but not to bring him back to life? We will say: ‘The will of God be done.’ If the dying person is a believer, when he dies he will go to heaven to be with the Lord; if he is a sinner, he will go to Hades (hell), where he will be tormented with fire, and thus he will continue to suffer in another world, and we know that the sufferings in Hades are greater than any suffering on the earth.

I would like to point out that many of those who die in severe pain are people who have been struck by the rod of God for their wickedness. For God makes them reap the evil they have sowed. The Scripture says that God struck king Jehoram with an incurable disease because of his wickedness, as it is written: “After all this the Lord struck him in his intestines with an incurable disease. Then it happened in the course of time, after the end of two years, that his intestines came out because of his sickness: so he died in severe pain” (2 Chronicles 21:18-19). You may ask me now: ‘Does God strike with incurable diseases even Christians, for certain sins which they have committed?’ Yes, He does, for God is no respecter of persons. Know this, that some Christians have been struck by the rod of God because they take pleasure in committing adultery and fornication, in murdering, in getting drunk, in keeping back by fraud the wages of their labourers, and in other serious sins. They walk after the flesh, God gave them time to repent of their wickedness, but they did not repent, and thus they were struck by God. I realize that it is painful to see these people suffer on their bed of illness, yet we have to admit that it is right that God should make them suffer in that way for their iniquities. Nevertheless, we, who are not glad to see people suffer, must have compassion on them and pray for them, so that God may grant them repentance that leads to salvation and thus after death they may go to heaven.

 

 

Male and female homosexuality

 

Homosexuality is a sexual inclination according to which many people feel sexual attraction to persons of their own sex and have sexual relations with them.

The Scripture says that God at the beginning made them male and female (man first, and then the woman to satisfy man’s need for a marriage companion) and said: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Therefore, a man can lie carnally (that is, can have sexual relations) only with a woman (that is, his wife), and a woman can lie carnally only with a man (that is, her husband), for woman was created for the man (1 Corinthians 11:9). This is the natural order ordained by God, which thus excludes any form of sexual activity between men or between women. The Scripture condemns male homosexuality, for the law says: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination” (Leviticus 18:22 – NKJV) and Paul calls the sexual acts which men commit with other men “what is shameful” and “their error” (Romans 1:27 – NKJV); and it condemns also female homosexuality, for Paul calls the sexual acts between two women “vile passions” (Romans 1:26 - NKJV).

That homosexuality is contrary to nature, that is, a violation of the natural order ordained by God, is confirmed by the fact that those who lie carnally with people of their own sex cannot reproduce, that is to say, cannot keep the divine commandment: “Multiply” (Genesis 1:28 – NKJV), which God gave to male and female, for God’s natural order is for male and female to mate and reproduce, and the fundamental human anatomy confirms this. For this reason homosexuality is associated with bestiality (in that God, after saying, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination” - Leviticus 18:22, said: “Nor shall you mate with any animal, to defile yourself with it. Nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it. It is perversion” - Leviticus 18:23 NKJV), for also those who practice bestiality – that is, those who have sexual relations with animals – cannot reproduce, in that they violate the natural order ordained by God.

Those men who have sexual relations with other men (commonly called gays) will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:10), but they will be cast into the lake of fire along with those women who exchanged the natural use for what is against nature (these women are commonly called lesbians).

Gays and lesbians sin against nature (for both gays and lesbians have exchanged the natural use for what is against nature - Romans 1:26), and against their body, and receive in themselves the due penalty for their perversion, for God does not leave them unpunished but He makes them reap what they have sowed. For Paul says to the Romans: “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient” (Romans 1:26-28). AIDS, which is a disease contracted also by those who give themselves over to unnatural vices, is one of the punishments inflicted on them by God.

Take heed to yourselves, brothers and sisters, and flee homosexuality; know this, that if you give yourselves over to homosexuality you will spend eternity in the lake of fire along with the devil, his angels and all sinners. Remember that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed also for the sins against nature which were committed by their inhabitants, and that they are set forth as an example “suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 7 – NKJV).

Several Evangelical Churches accept and tolerate homosexuality, for they accept homosexuals as members and even as pastors. They call homosexuality ‘an existential condition which imposes itself at a certain moment of one’s life’ or ‘an alternative lifestyle’; they don’t call it ‘sin’ nor ‘a abominable way of life chosen by some men who are without God and sometimes even by some human beings who once knew God.’ According to these Churches, those who condemn homosexuality are ‘out-of-date persons’ or ‘people who are behind the times’. Brothers in the Lord, beware of these Churches, for they lie against the truth. And beware also of all those who call themselves brothers and sisters but are homosexuals. From such people withdraw yourselves. Do not associate with them, for they profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work (Titus 1:16).

 

 

Fornication

 

“Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body …. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication” (1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 4:3), says the Scripture. When the apostles and the elders gathered together at Jerusalem to discuss whether it was lawful to command the Gentiles to keep the law of Moses or not, it seemed good to the Holy Spirit to command the brethren who were of the Gentiles to abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled and from fornication (Acts 15:20).

Fornication is the sexual intercourse between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman. Therefore, if a man has sexual intercourse with his fiancée, both of them commit fornication, because in the sight of God a man can have sexual intercourse only with his wife, as it is written: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24 – NKJV). Note that God said: ‘He will be joined to his wife’ and not ‘He will be joined to his fiancée’, in order to understand that God commanded that a man should have sexual intercourse only with his wife. But the world, which has perverted the straight ways of the Lord, doesn’t think so, for it encourages the sexual intercourse between the betrothed, as if it were a right thing which they are allowed to do, as if there were no offence in it. Those who raise their voice against the sexual intercourse between the betrothed are called ‘people full of taboos who refuse to conform themselves to the times’. Well, yes, we refuse to conform ourselves to this present evil age; we refuse to call evil good. It is crazy to call what the Creator said it is harmful for man and woman a good thing; the God who made the human body and put into it the breath of life knows very well what is good for man and what is harmful for him. Sex before marriage produces a sense of guilt because it is sin (instead, sex does not produce any sense of guilt after marriage). For this reason we, as believers, refuse to listen to those who pass fornication off as a lawful and beneficial thing, because they boast and lie against the truth, being full of selfish ambition. God cannot lie, and if He said through Paul: “Flee fornication”, it is because He knows the evil consequences of fornication and He wants to spare us all kinds of troubles and pains. Sometimes young believing men are tempted to think that God, by forbidding them to have sexual intercourse with their fiancée before marriage, does not pursue their good, but that’s not true; it is a lie, whose father is the devil. It cannot be true because God is love, God is good, God is right. They wilfully forget that it is God who made man and woman, and that He knows very well whether a thing is good for us or not. Young people, heed the Word of God and you will find good (Proverbs 19:8)!

However, fornication is also the sexual intercourse between a man and a prostitute; therefore we must flee any sexual intercourse with a prostitute. For Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power. Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid [Certainly not!]. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh” (1 Corinthians 6:13-16). Wisdom says that “a harlot is a deep pit” (Proverbs 23:27 – NKJV), and those who went to prostitutes before their conversion know how deep that pit is.

We, as believers in Christ Jesus, must always bear in mind that when we received Christ we became the temple of God, that is, we became members of Christ in that we became one spirit with Him, and let it be known to you that when the Scripture states that we are the temple of God it means that we are His house, as it is written: “And we are his house” (Hebrews 3:6 – NIV). Note that it is His house and not ours; therefore our members, having been bought at a price by Christ, do not belong to us any longer. We are His treasured possession, we don’t belong to ourselves; for this reason we can’t use our members to do whatever we like, because they are Christ’s. Fornicators sin against their own body, and therefore they profane the temple of God; that’s why the Scripture states that they will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9).

Fornicators are punished by God as were those Israelites who committed fornication with the daughters of Moab (Numbers 25:1-9). Paul warns the saints against fornication, reminding them of that disobedience of the Israelites, when he says: “Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand” (1 Corinthians 10:8).

We must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is a fornicator, with such a man we must not even eat (1 Corinthians 5:9-11).

 

 

Adultery

 

Adultery is the sexual intercourse that a married man or a married woman has outside marriage. For instance, if a married man lies carnally with his neighbor’s wife he commits adultery. Adultery is commonly called ‘extramarital affair’

The Scripture condemns adultery in various ways, for the law says: “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14 - NKJV), and again: “The man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death” (Leviticus 20:10 – NKJV). Notice that, according to the law (therefore according to the righteous judgement of God), those who commit adultery deserve death.

Jesus Christ completed the commandment of the law concerning adultery, for He said: “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28).

The Lord Jesus said also: “Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery” (Luke 16:18). As you can see, both he who sends away his wife and marries another and he who marries her who is sent away from her husband commit adultery. Furthermore, if a woman sends away her husband and marries another, she commits adultery, as it is written: “And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery” (Mark 10:12), because the married woman is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives; therefore she can remarry only if her husband dies. Paul explains this when he says to the Romans: “For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man” (Romans 7:2-3). For this reason those brothers and sisters who were called by God while they were divorced or separated cannot remarry as long as their partners live, because if they remarry they commit adultery. Therefore, beware of all those who teach that a divorced brother is allowed to remarry while his wife is still alive, and that if a brother sends away his wife for fornication (that is, for marital infidelity) he can remarry, because they lie against the truth and through their lies they encourage some believers to commit adultery.

The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews says: “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (Hebrews 13:4 – NIV), and Wisdom says that no one who touches another man’s wife will go unpunished (Proverbs 6:29). This means that those who defile themselves with their neighbor’s wife are punished by God. Do not be deceived, therefore; don’t be deceived by those who say, in order ‘to tranquillize’ those who want to marry their neighbor’s wife, that even David, who was a man after God’s heart, committed adultery and then he was forgiven by God! Because even though David was forgiven by God, he was also punished by God because of his adultery with Bath-Sheba, for God, through the prophet Nathan, pronounced these judgements on David: “Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife. Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun …. because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.” (2 Samuel 12:10-12, 14), and after a while He executed them, just as He had said.

The book of Proverbs exhorts us to flee the immoral woman and contains many words which show what awaits all those who lie carnally with their neighbour’s wife. I want to quote these words that you may understand how harmful and dangerous is to lie carnally with another man’s wife. “If thou seekest her [wisdom] as silver, …. understanding shall keep thee: To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things; Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness; Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked; Whose ways are crooked, and they froward in their paths: To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words; Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God. For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead. None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life” (Proverbs 2:4, 11-19); “For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell. Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them. Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth. Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house: Lest thou give thine honour unto others, and thy years unto the cruel: Lest strangers be filled with thy wealth; and thy labours be in the house of a stranger; And thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed, And say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; And have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me! I was almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation and assembly. Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well. Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets. Let them be only thine own, and not strangers' with thee. Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love. And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?” (Proverbs 5:3-20); “For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman. Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids. For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life. Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? So he that goeth in to his neighbour's wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent. Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry; But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house. But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away. For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance. He will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts” (Proverbs 6:23-35); “Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman: That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words. For at the window of my house I looked through my casement, And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house, In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night: And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart. (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.) So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him, I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows. Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee. I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves. For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey: He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed. With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him. He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life. Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth. Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death” (Proverbs 7:4-27)

However, whereas, according to the wisdom of God, adultery must be avoided, according to foolishness adultery should be committed, for today there are many who think that they are wise, but actually they are fools, who advise people to commit adultery because they consider adultery beneficial; according to these people adultery has good effects on the married life for it is ‘a means of escape from boredom and routine.’

We live indeed in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, which calls evil good! But we know that foolishness stops its mouth and it is not justified by its actions because its actions are unfruitful works, whose end is death. The facts speaks for themselves: those who commit adultery are unhappy, they live in fear, they are full of all kinds of troubles (some of them have heart troubles, some have contracted venereal diseases, some are blackmailed, some are threatened, some are abused, and some have left the wife of their youth and their children); and many of them are put to death by the husband or the lover of the adulteress and they go in the fire of hell. What shall we say? We have to recognize that the words of the Wisdom of God are true; we see their fulfilment in those who refuse to heed the Word of God.

Therefore, to sum up, both those who are unmarried and those who are married must flee from the immoral woman because she leads men to destruction. Yes, it is true that adultery seems to be an harmless and wonderful act because that’s how the devil makes it appear in the movies and on many worldly magazines, yet know this, that bitterness and death are hidden behind its seeming beauty. It can’t be otherwise, because the Scripture calls adultery sin and says very clearly that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Do not be deceived; do not be deceived by sin! Flee the adulteress, who lies in wait like a robber, even in the place of worship.

 

 

Impurity

 

What is impurity? In the Oxford English Dictionary we read that impurity is ‘a constituent which impairs the purity of something’. Therefore, for instance, if the olive oil contains certain substances it will be called impure. But you must not avoid this kind of impurity, because you can eat an impure olive oil (I mean an olive oil which has been altered with harmless substances). The impurity which you must avoid is something that is able to defile you spiritually and causes you to lose the purity of your heart and of your body. Therefore, you must avoid impure thoughts, impure talks, impure behaviours, impure readings. In other words, you must avoid all kinds of obscenities, any thing which may offend the sense of decency. By so doing you will keep yourselves pure and blameless at the coming of the Lord. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8 - NKJV) said Jesus. Therefore, having this promise (which was made by the Lord), “let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit ….” (2 Corinthians 7:1 – NKJV).

 

 

Divining arts, spiritualist séances, black masses and other works of the devil

 

Magic is the art that purports to control or forecast natural events, effects, or forces by using supernatural powers, which are of the devil. Those who practice magic, therefore, purport to have the power of influencing the course of events by using devilish powers.

As it is fitting for the saints, we must flee all kinds of magic, knowing that magic is a work of the devil, which is condemned by God. No matter if magic is called white magic (employing magic to cure disease, or assure success in love or business, etc.) or black magic (using magic for personal gain, or for revenge in order to bring sickness, death, or adversity to an enemy, etc.), magic is magic and we must abhor it with all our heart. Here are some words that God spoke to Israel, which make it clear that God detests those who practice magic: “There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12). Those who practice magic or resort to magic (sorcery) will not inherit the Kingdom of God (Galatians 5:21).

Now, I am going to speak very briefly of some well-known divining arts (or forms of fortune telling), and of some other magic practices, and warn you against them.

 

Astrology is the ancient practice of studying the movements and positions of the sun, moon, planets, and stars in the belief that they determine the character, the health and the activity of every human being, and that by observing the position of the celestial bodies at a given time one can foretell future events. When a person consults an astrologer, the astrologer tells him the map of the sky over his birthplace at the moment of his birth (his personal horoscope, called also birth chart), and the fortunes and misfortunes which depend – according to the astrologer – on that specific map of the sky. However, there is another kind of horoscope cast by astrologers for their clients, it is called horary horoscope and it concerns specific problems. In this case the client tells the astrologer a specific problem he is facing, and the astrologer – after complicated calculations – tells him the outcome of that problem and gives him the ‘solution’ of the problem, on the basis of the map of the sky at the time the question is asked.

Know this, that behind the astrologers there are evil spirits who want to deceive you into believing that your destiny is in the hands of the stars and of the planets. Your destiny, as well as the destiny of every man, is in the hands of God; therefore, do not deceive yourself and let no one deceive you with empty words. The stars, the planets, the sun and the moon cannot influence your life (your decisions, your character, etc.), just as a stone along the wayside or a flower or a tree cannot influence your life. You will say to me then: ‘What should I do then when someone asks me when I was born in order to see if he or she will agree with me and some other things?’ Answer him or her that you refuse to tell him or her your date of birth because you don’t want him or her to waste time and because you don’t want to hear lies.

I close with the following words which God spoke through the prophet Isaiah against Babylon, which make it clear what God think of astrologers and their work “Stand now with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of thy sorceries, wherein thou hast laboured from thy youth; if so be thou shalt be able to profit, if so be thou mayest prevail. Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee. Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it.” (Isaiah 47:12-14).

Therefore, do not consult any astrologer and do not read your horoscope. Astrology is an abomination to God, and those who rely on astrology put their trust in lies, which influence their behaviour and decision to their disadvantage. Astrologers are nothing, and their work is nothing; he who chooses them is an abomination.

 

Cartomancy is a form of fortune-telling or divination using a deck of cards. Thus this divining art claims that you can know your future or someone else’s future by interpreting playing cards.

Flee from it, for it is a device of the devil through which he deceives people into believing all kinds all lies, which lead them to take wrong decisions.

 

Chiromancy (also known as palmistry) is the art of foretelling the future through the study of the palm. Thus those who practice it claim that they can predict people’s future from the lines on the palms of their hands. However, the palmist like the card reader tells fortunes not by actually reading the anatomical lines and other features of the hands, but divines the future by an evil spirit, which is called spirit of divination (Acts 16:16), which has endowed him with psychic powers of telepathy and clairvoyance.

Brothers, do not learn to read hands nor let anyone read your hands Therefore when you meet a gipsy fortune-teller (or anyone else) who asks you if you want her to read your hands, answer ‘No’. And I say the same thing to you young people, who meet so often at school some schoolfellows who want to read your hands, answer ‘No’. I know that the reading of hands is not a serious sin in the sight of most people, for it looks like a joke to them, but I assure you that it is a work of the devil despite its seeming harmlessness. It is a practice which lies under the sway of evil spirits, which may lead you to other forms of divination.

 

Tasseography (sometimes called tasseomancy) is a divining art according to which a man can read his present and his future in the bottom part of a cup of coffee after drinking the coffee.

You must flee and expose also the coffee cup reading. Know this, that it is a work of the devil; in the bottom part of a cup of coffee you can’t read anything about your present and your future. Those who claim that they are able to read your future in the bottom part of a cup of coffee are ministers of Satan. If they tell you that they want to read the bottom part of a cup of coffee for you, tell them that you don’t believe their words because they are lies.

 

Crystallomancy (or Crystallography) is a divining art based on the consultation of a crystal ball and on the use of crystals as ‘power objects’, and many New Agers (members of the New Age Movement) have had the subjective experience of some type of occult energy amplification and focusing when involving crystals in New Age practices.

Here is what the late Randall Baer, who had been an expert on crystallography before his conversion to Christ, wrote about his ‘crystal initiation’: ‘Vicki had received a small but perfect quartz crystal from an American Indian medicine man – one of his ‘power objects’. One day when doing New Age meditation, she was instructed by her ‘spirit guides’ to give me the crystal and to ask me to meditate with it. This was bizarre. The idea of meditating with a hunk of rock sounded patently ridiculous. After laughing about the idea for a couple of days, I decided to give it a shot. It couldn’t hurt, could it? Only minutes after focusing on the crystal in a state of trance-like meditation, my consciousness was catapulted into electrifying domains of extra-natural light the likes of which I had never before perceived. The upper part of my head felt like it wasn’t there, like it had become invisible, as my awareness raced upwards at the speed of light. From a high distance, I could see in my mind’s eye that my body was trembling and shaking as the power of the experience rattled through it. This was my ‘crystal initiation’ into an entirely different supernatural realm. Wow! Was this ‘crystal power’ or what? For the rest of the week my crystal-aided meditations brought vivid visions of strange high-tech machines and contraptions all using crystal in different ways. It was like stepping into a science fiction novel about technologies on an alien planet. I also saw visions of a high-crystal-tech holistic health clinic with lasers, holography, color beams, glowing liquids, and more in this mind-boggling sci-fi film. Several close friends remarked on a distinct change in my demeanor. Somehow, they said, I was more charged and outgoing. I felt blissful, as if I had found an entirely new part of myself. Sadly, though, in reality I blindly had entered an entirely different realm of Satan’s high-tech, dazzling deceptions. Sure, all this was a blast and I was riding a high like I had never known, but later there would be a very dear price to pay for all this occult adventurism. A dear price indeed.’ (Randall Baer, Inside the New Age Nightmare, Published by Huntington House, 1989, pag. 25-26). As you can see, it is evident that crystallomancy opens the door to demonic influence; so flee from it.

 

A spiritualist séance is a meeting of people during which the spirits of the dead are consulted or evoked (this occult practice is called necromancy or spiritism). It is led by a person known as a medium who usually go into a trance that allows evil spirits to communicate through him or her, which spirits make the participants believe that they are communicating with the dead. Séances are conducted in dark or semi-dark rooms with participants seated around a table. Sometimes the table leans and tilts, participants (sitters) may feel a cold breeze on their faces, items may materialize apparently out of thin air and musical instruments may play mysteriously. During the course of the séance, the medium speaks under the control of a spirit. Other methods of spirit communication includes automatic writing, writing on sealed slates, writing with planchettes, and impressing images onto photographic plates which have been kept in sealed enclosures. During séances evil spirits may even appear in human form to those who are present assuming the appearance of this or that dead loved one evoked and imitating his voice, so those who talk with these spirits believe that they are talking with their loved ones. A black mass is a ceremony supposedly celebrated during the Sabbath, which is a parody of the Roman Catholic Mass. The purpose of the black mass is to mock God, to blaspheme against the Trinity. Horrible things are done during black masses; the participants commit all kinds of sexual perversions, and sometimes they even offer human sacrifices to Satan their master.

Beloved, do not attend spiritualist séances, and do not attend black masses and any other meeting which is held by a wizard, a witch, etc., for these meetings are full of demons, who hate you and want to oppress you and enter your body in order to cause you to do evil things and to destroy you. Know this, that if you attend spiritualist séances or any other meeting held by ministers of Satan (who have evil spirits in their body), not only will you be defiled, but you will become demon oppressed or even demon possessed, and you will make God angry and for sure He will punish you, as He punished king Saul (by killing him) because he went to a medium (a woman who was a medium at En Dor) and inquired of her. Therefore, if anyone invites you to a spiritualist meeting or any other devilish meeting answer ‘no,’ and warn him against attending such meetings (for – as I have just said - one becomes demon oppressed or even demon possessed). Remember that the Scripture states that those who turn to mediums, or seek out spiritists, or consult the dead, and get involved in sorcery are an abomination to God (Deuteronomy 18:10-13).

 

Amulets, talismans, fetishes, and any other object about which it is said or believed that it protects the possessor from all dangers and evil spirits or has any other power, have to do with magic, for they have been made by ministers of Satan and over them a charm or spell has been cast, and thus they carry or attract evil spirits. It follows that the atmosphere of the houses where these occult objects are placed (or the life of those who wear these objects) is evilly influenced by the spirits which are behind these objects. If you still have some of these objects, I exhort you to destroy them and burn them immediately.

 

Hypnosis is the induction of a state of consciousness in which a person loses the power of voluntary action and is highly responsive to suggestion or direction, and self-hypnosis is hypnosis induced by yourself. Self-hypnosis generally combines relaxation techniques with visualization and imagery to induce a hypnotic state.

They are spiritual phenomena worked by demons, which open the door to demon oppression and even to demon possession. So flee from them.

 

I conclude by saying this, involvement in any form of magic practice invariably opens the door to influence, control, or oppression by demons, and it alienates you from God. So stay away from magic.

If you want to know your future, read the Bible; if you want to know God’s will for your life, pray God that He may reveal you His will, and He will make it known to you. If you want to know something about another person, pray God about it, and if it is His will, He will reveal it to you. If you need power, ask God for the baptism with the Holy Spirit. If you want to have some supernatural powers, earnestly desire the spiritual gifts. If you need a job, a wife, a house, etc. or you have a problem of any kind, let your request be made known to God, believing, and you will receive what you have asked for. Trust in Him with all your heart, and He will give you the desire of your heart. But do not turn to divination, sorcery, necromancy and any other kind of magic practice, for all these things are an abomination to God.

 

 

Eastern practices

 

Today here in Italy (as well as in many other countries all over the world) many people speak of yoga, eastern meditation, macrobiotics, acupuncture, and of many other practices which originated in the Eastern countries.

These eastern practices are very much widespread and every time they are advertised we are told that those who practice them experience peace, joy, relaxation, and even that they have been healed of some diseases. Should we believe what it is said about them? No, we must not believe it, because these practices are works of the devil, through which all those who practice them give place to the devil (or open the door to demonic influence).

Let us look closely at some of them. (To explain yoga and eastern meditation I have used the glossary which is in the book Death of a guru).

 

Yoga, which literally means ‘to unite’, is a Hindu ascetic discipline which includes breath control, simple meditation and the adoption of specific bodily postures. Its aim is to make people reach the union with Brahman. Who or what is Brahman? Brahman is the ultimate reality: formless, inexpressible, unknowable, and unknowing; neither personal nor impersonal; both creator and all that is created. Brahman is all and all is Brahman according to the Hindu philosophy. The ultimate truth and salvation for those who practice yoga is to ‘realize’ that they are themselves Brahman, that they and all the universe are one and the same Being. There are several kinds and schools of Yoga (the most important are raja-yoga, jnana-yoga, karma-yoga, hatha-yoga, and tantra-yoga) an various techniques, but all have this same ultimate goal of union with the Absolute or Brahman (which is not the God of the Bible but the devil, who is the enemy of God). The positions and breath control are intended as aids to Eastern meditation, and a means of controlling the body in disciplining oneself to renounce all desires which the body might otherwise impose upon the mind. Yoga is designed specifically to induce a state of trance which supposedly allows the mind to be drawn upward into a yoking with Brahman. It is a means of withdrawal from the word of illusion to seek the only true reality. No part of Yoga can be separated from the philosophy behind it. One who has attained, through the practice of Yoga, union with Brahman, which is its aim, is called Yogi.

As you can see, yoga is a work of the devil because the goal of yoga is ‘self-realization’ (to achieve godhood), and also because through it a man comes into contact with the devil (or with demons) and thus he can become demon-oppressed or demon-possessed. Actually this is what happens all over the world, when those who practice yoga manage to arouse the kundalini, which – according to the Hindu religion - is the latent power which resides in the body of man near the base of the spine. When aroused, the kundalini rages like a vicious serpent inside a person with a force that is impossible to resist (which is undoubtedly a manifestation of demonic power). Furthermore, according to yogis, the kundalini will produce special occult powers (including: becoming invisible, curing diseases, knowing or discovering certain things, leaving the body and travelling to any part of the world in a few seconds, hurting one’s enemies, etc.), which have their source in demonic beings and will lead ultimately to moral, spiritual, and physical destruction.

 

Eastern meditation, such as TM (which stands for Transcendental Meditation, which is a well known form of meditation), is a technique for detaching oneself from the world of things and ideas (which is called maya) through freeing one’s mind from all voluntary or rational thought, which projects one into ‘higher’ states of consciousness. Though popularized in the West under many names, the aim of all Eastern meditation is to ‘realize’ one’s essential union with the Universe (which is Brahman – or God - according to the Hindu religion), therefore its aim is to lead the meditator to think that he is God. Eastern meditation is the doorway to the ‘nothingness’ called nirvana. Generally sold as a ‘relaxation’ technique, meditation really aims at and ultimately leads to the surrender of oneself to mystical cosmic forces which are nothing but demons.

Eastern meditation also, therefore, is a work of the devil because its goal is ‘self-realization’, which is a superconscious state in which one thinks that he is God and that truth and salvation (which is not the salvation about which the Bible speaks) are inside himself. In addition to this, Eastern meditation can lead to demon oppression or possession like yoga, for the meditator is invited to repeat the mantra, which is a sound symbol of one or more syllables often used to induce a mystical state. It must be passed on by the living voice of a guru and cannot be learned in another way. One does not need to understand the meaning of the mantra; the virtue is in the repetition of the mantra. For it is said to embody a spirit or deity, and the repetition of the mantra calls this being to the one repeating it. Thus the mantra both invites a particular spiritual being to enter the one using it and creates the passive state in the meditator to facilitate this fusion of beings. Brethren, know this, that these spiritual beings or deities called on by the meditators through the repetition of the mantra are demons, that is, evil spirits who hate mankind and whose aim is to destroy people.

Now let me explain to you what the Bible says about meditation. A Christian must meditate, for the apostle Paul says: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8 – NKJV). How does a Christian know what is true, noble, just, of good report, excellent and praiseworthy? By the Holy Spirit who dwells in him, for He is truth. For instance, the Holy Spirit bears witness that the Holy Scripture (that is, the Bible) is truth and so he must meditate on it; the Holy Spirit bears witness also that the heaven, the earth and the sea and all that is in them is the work of God’s hands which testifies to His eternal power and Godhead, so it is good for a Christian to meditate on the work of His hands. Why must a Christian meditate on the things spoken of by Paul? In order to please God and to have fellowship with Him, and not in order to become one with God or to come to the conclusion that he is God, for he knows that he is and always will be a creature of God. A Christian knows that no matter how long he meditates on what is right and good, he will never become God nor will he come to the conclusion: ‘I am that Being who created all things’, for the Holy Spirit will keep him from thinking these evil thoughts. Rather we can say from experience that the Biblical meditation will lead the Christian to realize that he is a worm, a weak and little being, so little and full of limitations in the sight of His Creator who fills and rules the universe. Therefore the biblical meditation will lead him to humble himself before God and not to exalt himself. The Christian, while meditating, can call upon the Lord, thank Him and praise Him; he has no mantras, that is, no magical formula to use, but only thanksgivings and praises which come out of his heart spontaneously. And these words make him feel, by the Holy Spirit who is in him, in close communion with His God, they make him feel His presence in a particular way on some occasions.

 

Acupuncture is an ancient practice of Chinese medicine in which the alleviation of pain and/or the cure of a disease condition is accomplished through the pricking of the body at well-defined, specific points with fine needles. Let me explain to you why the cure of a disease condition is accomplished through the pricking of the body at well-defined, specific points with fine needles. The Chinese recognize ‘the existence of a life force that flows through all living things. They call it chi (variously spelled qi or ki). It is analogous to prana in Hindu thought. Chi flows through the body along invisible paths called meridians. Along the meridians are a number of points that connect the meridians with the organs of the body. It is into these points that the needles are inserted in acupuncture treatment. It is assumed that in the healthy person the chi is circulating freely. Conversely, the chi in an ill person has been blocked or is unbalanced in its flow. Through the discriminating use of acupuncture, practitioners seek to restore health by improving the circulation of the chi in the subject’s body. There are varying numbers of points recognized, but approximate 365 are commonly known and any given practitioner will use around 100 regularly. A precise knowledge of the location of these points is essential to the acupuncturist’ (J. Gordon Melton, New Age Encyclopedia, Detroit 1990, page 6).

There is no doubt that acupuncture is of the devil, for it leads people to believe the following principles of the Chinese philosophy: all of nature and the universe (including man) is eternally existing as vibrations of impersonal, polarized energy called Yin and Yang, and the key to physical well-being is to balance the positive and negative aspects of this energy. Which principles – being rooted in occultism - opposes the truth, and therefore they are false principles; and as you know the father of lies is the devil, who is the prince of this world. And the Scripture commands us to resist the devil. Brothers, beware of the Chinese philosophy (as well as of any other kind of philosophy), lest you wander from the truth which is in Christ Jesus. Remember what Paul wrote to the Colossians: “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8 – NKJV).

I conclude by saying this: know this, that whoever claims to be able to manipulate the imbalance of Yin Yang energy by placing needles along some points in the human body to stimulate the increase or decrease of Yin and Yang is involved in the occult and you must beware of him, lest you come under the influence of the evil spirits which assist the acupuncturist in the practice of acupuncture or rather of which the acupuncturist is slave, for all those who are involved in the occult are slaves of the evil spirits which assist them. Well, someone may say to me now, ‘Don’t you think that one can be an acupuncturist without being involved in the occult?’ No, I don’t think so, for acupuncture is a therapy based on occult principles, and thus anyone who practices it is involved in the occult somehow, for he is assisted by occult forces. Even if he is not a magician or does not know that there are evil spirits behind acupuncture which enables him to do his work, he is performing something which needs the assistance of evil spirits and he himself is under the influence of evil spirits.

So, brothers and sisters in the Lord, you who are sick, flee acupuncture and put your trust in the Lord who is the One who heals all your diseases (Psalm 103:3). I say it again, flee from acupuncture.

 

Macrobiotics is both a comprehensive vegetarian diet and a spiritual worldview based upon ancient oriental beliefs and practices refined during the twenty century. ‘Macrobiotic thought is based upon the ancient Chinese doctrine of the Tao, which has at least three interrelated but distinct ways of being used. Tao is the absolute, the impersonal but creative ground of existence, from which all phenomena derive; it is the operation of the Absolute within phenomena; and the path or way of coming into union with the Absolute. The Absolute manifests into two tendencies, yin and yang, which are at once complementary and antagonistic. Yin and yang combine in various proportions to produce differing phenomena. All phenomena have some yin and some yang. No pure yin or pure yang exists; there is no neutral phenomena. Each phenomenon contains either more yin or more yang. The yin-yang approach to phenomena can be applied to the entire world of experience from diet to government and chemistry to sociology. While applying yin-yang concepts to almost every sphere of life, Ohsawa [a Japanese Macrobiotics teacher] emphasized its application to diet and health. According to him, diet is the basic reality determining the other spheres of life. Bad diets distort reality and lead to all of the world’s problems, especially war. The basic element in the macrobiotic diet is cereal, which Ohsawa taught was the principal food for human beings. …. His diet prohibited potatoes, eggplants, and tomatoes …. Fish, salads, and fresh fruit are allowed in the transition diets, but should gradually be withdrawn. No red meat or processed, chemically prepared, or synthetic foods are to be consumed’ (J. Gordon Melton, New Age Encyclopedia, Detroit 1990, page 274). In other words, according to macrobiotics a man can become happy, he can find peace, and live a long life on earth by following a particular diet. His peace as well as his happiness and health depend on what he eats! Some foods influences negatively the life of men and therefore must be avoided.

However, the Scripture teaches that in order to have peace and to be happy a man must repent of his sins and believe in Jesus Christ. Furthermore, a man can eat everything “for every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:4-5 - NKJV). That’s why the apostle Paul states that those who command to abstain from foods which God created (to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth) teach a doctrine of demons (1 Timothy 4:1-3). Macrobiotics is based on the same occult principles of acupuncture, so flee from it.

 

Martial arts are forms of combat-techniques. They are called martial arts because they are ‘of warfare’ or ‘suitable for warfare’ (that’s the meaning of the word martial), and they are not merely combat-techniques but also an expression of an eastern spiritual philosophy (that’s why they are referred to as ‘arts’). Martial arts are strongly influenced by eastern religious doctrines for they encourage the practitioners to cultivate and use the life force called chi and their aim is to make them reach a perfect union with the universe or rather with the so called chi energy. In the New Age Encyclopedia we read that it is believed that originally the monks of the Shao-lin monastery in China ‘adopted some kind of martial art out of practical necessity, but discovered that, when approached with the right attitude, the discipline of regular practice could assist them in developing the kind of one-pointedness of mind that is necessary for effective meditation. This discovery was so fruitful that it is presently difficult to find a traditional martial art that is not somehow associated with a religious vision of the world’ (J. Gordon Melton, New Age Encyclopedia, Detroit 1990, page 278).

Therefore, martial arts must be avoided not only because we, as children of God, must not learn to fight against our enemies with carnal weapons nor to do any harm to them (for Jesus said that we must love our enemies and do good to those who hate us), but also for these reasons: 1) Because martial arts are based on occult philosophies, which encourage martial artists to develop and use the chi energy, which is an alleged mystical force that pervades the universe. This force is from the devil, the prince of this world, and the demons which follow him, and enables martial artists to perform feats which actually go beyond the outer limits of their personal human capacity. Therefore, anyone who seeks to use this energy is actually using a demonic power, behind which there are wicked spiritual beings, and as a result he is under the influence of these spiritual beings. 2) Because martial arts encourage the individual to practice a form of meditation whose purpose is to lead to a non-dualistic state of mind in which the distinction between subject and object disappears and the practitioner becomes one with ‘god’ or ‘the absolute’, and so when the individual reaches such state of mind he believes that he is God and that all is God, and therefore this form of meditation advocates a form of self-salvation.

In the light of this, therefore, if anyone among you is still practicing martial arts I exhort him to stop practicing them.

 

Brothers, remember that in ancient times God rebuked the Israelites saying that He had forsaken them because they were filled “with eastern ways” (Isaiah 2:6 – NKJV).

 

 

Superstitions

 

A superstition is a widely held but irrational belief that an object, action, or circumstance not logically related to a course of events influences its outcome. So there are objects, actions or circumstances which are believed to bring bad luck and others good luck.

We are surrounded by people who believe all kinds of superstitions. Let me cite some of these superstitions.

Bad luck superstitions. Opening an umbrella inside a house, walking under a ladder, taking a journey on the thirteenth day of every mouth (it is extremely unlucky on Friday the thirteenth) or at the thirteenth hour (that is, at one past twelve) of every day, living in a house whose street number is 13, a black cat crossing your path, spilling salt, putting a shirt on inside out, breaking a mirror, a picture falling. There are also two bad luck superstitions associated with the wedding ring (which, being considered a symbol of union, of love and of faithfulness, should be put on the left-hand annular finger, for it is believed that the fourth finger of the left hand has a vena amoris, that is, a love vein running directly to the heart, and that the nuptial sign is thus joined to the seat of life, which is obviously a superstition): it is extremely unlucky to drop the ring during the ceremony and to lose it.

Good luck superstitions. Crossing the fingers, knocking on wood, placing a horseshoe over the front door, wearing a horn-shaped amulet made of gold, wearing a locket round the neck, a robin flying into the house, to find a four-leaf clover, cutting your hair during a storm, avoiding cracks in the sidewalk.

Should we believe such things? Not at all, because all the above mentioned beliefs are lies, whose father is the devil, who uses them to cause millions of people to live in fear and to induce them not to trust in God but in objects, actions and circumstances. In other words, Satan uses superstitions to bind and oppress the lives of millions of people across the world. So – I say it again - don’t believe the above mentioned vanities and all the other vanities that I have not mentioned, lest you give place to the devil in your life.

You are sons of God, and God is your Keeper and Guide, therefore nothing can happen to you apart from His will. Whether an event is good or evil, it is the Lord who permits it to happen to you, it does not occur by chance or because you are a lucky or unlucky person. Furthermore, know this, that all things work together for good to those who love God (Romans 8:28), thus even so called misfortunes work for good to you who love God. God turns evil into good, so be of good cheer.  

Fear God and trust in Him with all your heart and you will find good for He will bless you (Psalm 112:1; Jeremiah 17:7). When a distress comes upon you, examine your ways; if the distress is a judgment of God upon you because of some sins which you have committed, repent of them and confess them to God, and God will forgive you and deliver you out of your distress; whereas, if you are walking in righteousness before God and thus the distress which comes upon you is not a judgement of God but simply a trial, rejoice, for the testing of your faith develops perseverance (James 1:2), and call upon God so that He may deliver you and God will deliver you. When you are in danger call upon the name of the Lord, and He will deliver you (Psalm 50:15). You may ask me now, ‘What should I do then if God does not deliver me out of my distress after I have done what you tell me to do?’ Well, continue to fear His name and to trust in Him, knowing that – as I said before – all things work for good to those who love Him. Do not lose heart, God is always in control and somehow will turn evil into good.

Don’t be afraid of the bad luck superstitions and do not put your trust in the good luck superstitions, for numbers, specific rituals and circumstances cannot influence the course of events in your life. Let no one deceive you into believing that the performance of certain prescribed acts will bring good fortune, or cause something desired to happen, or prevent something unpleasant from occurring. If you want something desired to happen, or you want to prevent something unpleasant from occurring, pray to God in faith, and you will receive what you have asked in prayer (Matthew 21:22).

I exhort you to keep before your eyes the following biblical passages: “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe” (Proverbs 29:25 – NKJV), “The fear of the wicked will come upon him, and the desire of the righteous will be granted” (Proverbs 10:24 – NKJV), for they clearly show the bad effects that superstitions have on those who accept them and they make it clear that believers do well to refuse superstitions.

 

 

 

Idolatry

 

The Holy Scripture commands us to flee from idolatry, for Paul says: “Flee from idolatry” (1 Corinthians 10:14 – NKJV) and John says at the end of his first epistle: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21 – NKJV). Let us see now how idolatry manifests itself in order to understand what we must avoid in order not to become idolaters in the sight of God.

While the Israelites were camped before Mount Sinai it came to pass that they became idolaters, here is what the Scripture says: “And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD. And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play” (Exodus 32:1-6). As you can see, the Israelites gave themselves over to idolatry because they made an idol and offered sacrifices to it. The apostle Paul took this example of idolatry in order to admonish us and warn us against idolatry, here are his words: “Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play” (1 Corinthians 10:6-7). But why are we forbidden to make for ourselves an idol in order to worship it? Because those who make for themselves idols and worship them provoke God (who is a Jealous God, who wants men to worship Him only) to jealousy and move Him to anger. For the Israelites, by making idols and worshipping them in the wilderness, provoked God to jealousy and anger, as God said: “They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities” (Deuteronomy 32:21). That’s why God said to Israel: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me” (Exodus 20:4-5) and again: “Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the LORD spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire: Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female, The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air, The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth” (Deuteronomy 4:15-18). As you can see, among the sculptures and the images forbidden by God there are also those sculptures and images representing men and women, and this confirms that according to God are idols not only the sculptures and images that represent animals, but also those which represent a man or a woman, therefore those statues or images representing Jesus, Paul or Mary are idols. Yet, as we all know, the Roman Catholics don’t call them idols and don’t want us to call them idols but ‘holy images,’ because they say that they don’t worship them rather they venerate them because these images help them to remember those who are represented by those statues and images in order to imitate their virtues. And since someone could try to persuade you into making for yourselves these so called holy statues and images, I want to tell you these things. First of all, God commanded us not to make for ourselves an idol in the form of any figure, whether formed like a man or a woman or like any animal or any bird or any fish or any creeping thing of the earth; secondly, He commanded us not to serve them, which means that we must not clean them, nor carry them on our shoulders, nor put flowers or candles before them, nor offer sacrifices to them, nor honor them in any way, which are all things that will happen once the statue or the image has been made, for as we saw before, after the Israelites made the golden calf they worshiped it and offered sacrifices to it. And let no one of you think that by serving a statue or an image you would serve God because that is a lie, rather you would serve the demons which hide themselves behind any idol. For the apostle Paul said that “the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God” (1 Corinthians 10:20 – NKJV); we can say the same thing about every service or sacrifice offered to a statue or an image, it is offered to demons and not to God. Therefore, we must flee any service or sacrifice offered to a so called holy image or holy statue, lest we provoke God to jealousy. In regard to the sacrifices offered to idols I want to tell you that we must abstain from things offered to idols (Acts 15:20,29; 1 Corinthians 10:14-31); no matter if they are fruits or animals or sweets or something else, we must abstain from them because those things are polluted by idols, being offered to demons and not to God. Therefore when the day of the so called patron saint of your town or country comes, you must abstain from every thing which is made to honor that dead man or that dead woman. Brothers, if you still have in your house some statues or images of the Roman Catholic Church, destroy them.

However, there are not only idols made of wood, of plaster or of stone or of paper representing animals or human beings, but also other kinds of idols. For instance, when someone begins to love money he becomes an idolater and thus money becomes his idol; that’s why Paul said that a covetous man “is an idolater” (Ephesians 5:5 – NKJV). Even those who love one of their relatives more than Jesus Christ are idolaters, that’s why Jesus said: “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37 – NKJV). And the same thing must be said about those who love their job, or their house, or their car, or any other object, more than Jesus Christ. They indeed are not worthy of Jesus.

Also the worship offered to a minister of the Gospel or to the angels of God is idolatry, for the apostle Peter rebuked Cornelius, when he fell down at his feet and worshiped him, saying to him: “Stand up; I myself am also a man” (Acts 10:26 – NKJV), and the angel who showed John the things to come rebuked the apostle, when he fell down to worship before the feet of the angel, saying to him: “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God” (Revelation 22:9 – NKJV). As for the worship of angels, Paul warns us saying: “Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels” (Colossians 2:18 - NKJV). Last but not least, also the worship of Satan (Satanism) is idolatry, for when Satan tempted Jesus to worship him in exchange for power and glory, Jesus said to him: “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve” (Matthew 4:10 – NKJV).

Therefore, to conclude, brothers, let us not provoke God to jealousy nor provoke Him to anger by any form of idolatry. Know that idolaters will not inherit the Kingdom of God but they will be cast into the lake which burns with fire and brimstone where they will be tormented forever (1 Corinthians 6:9; Revelation 21:8). We must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but he is an idolater (1 Corinthians 5:8-12).

Fear God, brothers, love Him with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength and worship Him in spirit and truth until the end of your life. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

 

 

Revelries and drunkennesses

 

Revelry and drunkenness are works of the flesh; revelry consists in eating immoderately while drunkenness consists in getting drunk with wine or with alcoholic drinks. Both of them are very widespread all over the world and they have harmful effects on the life of those who give themselves over to them. We who are children of God must abstain from eating immoderately and from getting drunk because our body is the temple of God and we must possess it in sanctification and honor at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ by abstaining from any vice and overindulgence. Several Scriptures warn us against these works of the flesh and tell us what is the end awaiting those who walk in them.

● Wisdom says: “Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way. Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags” (Proverbs 23:19-21), and again: “Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women [things - NKJV], and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again” (Proverbs 23:29-35)

● Jesus said: “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares” (Luke 21:34).

● The apostle Paul said to the Romans: “Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness ….” (Romans 13:13 - NKJV), and to the Ephesians: “Don’t get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery” (Ephesians 5:18 – NIV); and to the Galatians, after saying that revelries and drunkenness are works of the flesh, he says: “And the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21 – NKJV).

As you can see, the Scripture says in various ways what happens to those who give themselves over to revelries and drunkennesses; they will ruin themselves in this world, and at their death they will go to perdition. On the other hand, it cannot be otherwise because the Scripture says that “he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption” or destruction (Galatians 6:8 – NKJV) and that “the way of the ungodly shall perish” (Psalm 1:6 – NKJV).

Brothers, the fruit of the Spirit is temperance, that is, self-control (Galatians 5:23), and we must walk in the Spirit, that is, temperately, because this is the will of God for us. For sure, if we walk in the Spirit we will manage to use foods and drinks moderately and we won’t fulfil these desires of the flesh, that is, revelry and drunkenness.

We must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but he is a drunkard, with such a man we must not even eat (1 Corinthians 5:8-12).

 

 

Eating blood and things strangled

 

Even though Jesus said that “whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated” (Mark 7:18-19 - NKJV), and in saying this, he declared all foods ‘clean’, there are certain things that we who have believed in the Lord must not eat.

According to the decrees which were determined by the apostles and the elders, who gathered together at Jerusalem in order to discuss whether it was lawful to circumcise the Gentiles and to command them to keep the law or not, the things from which we must abstain are the following ones: things polluted by idols (of which I have already spoken), blood (therefore we must not eat blood sausage nor blood pudding) and things strangled (the meat of animals choked or strangled to death). For we read in the book of the Acts of the apostles: “Wherefore my sentence [it is James who is speaking] is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath day. Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well” (Acts 15:19-29).

Therefore, brethren, any teaching that somehow nullifies the decrees determined by the apostles and the elders under the guide of the Holy Spirit is to be rejected vigorously. Let no one deceive you, beloved.

 

 

Throwing away the leftovers

 

The apostle John says that after Jesus fed about 5000 men with five loaves and two small fish He said to His disciples: “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost” (John 6:12-13 – NKJV). Therefore, they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.

From the above mentioned words of Jesus we learn that we must not throw away the leftovers, but they must be kept in order to eat them afterwards. Someone may ask: ‘What’s the use of keeping four spoonfuls of soup or a little piece of bread or a few spaghetti?’ Here is my answer: ‘Why should we throw away some things which are still good to eat and which have been sanctified by the Word of God and by prayer? What right have we got to do such a thing?

 

 

Not saying grace in the presence of unbelievers

 

Brothers, since I know that there are some who think that we who are sons of God must give thanks for the food we are about to eat only when we are at home with other brothers, but we don’t need to give thanks for the food when we are together with unbelievers or in the marketplace or somewhere else, I exhort you to expose this way of thinking and doing. Know this, that you must give thanks to God before you eat wherever you are. With regard to this, I remind you that Jesus gave thanks to God for the five loaves and the two fish before five thousand men besides women and children (John 6:11; Matthew 14:19), and that on one occasion Paul gave thanks to God for the food he was about to eat in the presence of more than two hundred unbelieving people (Acts 27:35-37).

Do not be ashamed to give thanks to God for your food in the presence of unbelieving people because this act also is a testimony to them. For it reminds them of the fact that there are some persons on earth who believe that their food is given to them by the God who is in heaven and thus (unlike the unbelieving persons, who don’t think at all that the food they eat is given to them by God in His mercy) they give thanks to Him before they eat.

 

 

Smoking

 

The Word of God doesn’t say explicitly that smoking is sin, but it does give directions and principles that can be used as a guide, which lead us to the conclusion that smoking is sin.

Let us examine smoking. Is it necessary? Is it a healthy habit? No, it is neither necessary nor healthy for our body. Paul says: “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful” (1 Corinthians 6:12 – NKJV), and smoking is among the things which are not helpful. But not only it is among the things which are unhelpful, but it is also among the things which are harmful to the human body, for smoking harms smokers (for it causes bad breath, brown stained fingers and nails, it ages the skin prematurely; and causes cancer and emphysema, of which many people die every year). Now, since smoking harms the body, this means that if a believer smokes cigarettes he will destroy or damage the temple of God (because our body is the temple of God) and Paul says that “if anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple” (1 Corinthians 3:17 – NIV). Besides this, smoking harms also other humans if you smoke near others, for it is common knowledge that second-hand smoke harms non-smokers lungs too and cause breathing problems for children. That’s why in this country a few years ago the Government issued a law which forbids smoking in public places (such as offices, restaurants, bars, schools, hospitals). Last but not least, smoking leads smokers to waste much money, and this is not right in the sight of God, for every Christian should spend his money wisely, thus on useful things and not on vain things as smokers do. God warns all those who waste their money saying: “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy?” (Isaiah 55:2 – NKJV). That’s why all those who turn to the Lord must quit smoking.

Several years ago the pastor of a Baptist Church during an interview (which was reported by a newspaper) said that according to him smoking a cigarette after a cup of coffee was not a sin. It is most likely that his opinion on smoking was influenced by that of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the well known Baptist preacher who lived in the nineteenth century, who stated (in the autumn of 1874): ‘If anybody can show me in the Bible the command, 'Thou shalt not smoke,' I am ready to keep it; but I haven't found it yet. I find ten commandments, and it's as much as I can do to keep them; and I've no desire to make them into eleven or twelve. ….. I wish to say that I'm not ashamed of anything whatever that I do, and I don't feel that smoking makes me ashamed, and therefore I mean to smoke to the glory of God.’

Unfortunately Charles Spurgeon was deceived by the seeming harmlessness of this sin, that’s why he said those words. We thoroughly disagree with what he said about smoking (unfortunately many Evangelical pastors agree with what he said). Smoking is sin, it is a worldly lust from which a believer must abstain in order to possess his own body in sanctification and honor. Let me make some remarks about the following words of Spurgeon ‘If anybody can show me in the Bible the command, 'Thou shalt not smoke,' I am ready to keep it; but I haven't found it yet,’ for I consider them very pernicious and deceitful. The fact that smoking is not prohibited by an express divine command, does not mean that we are allowed to smoke cigarettes or cigars; just as the fact that gambling is not expressly prohibited by a divine command does not mean that we are allowed to bet on horses or the results of the soccer championship; or just as the fact that the Bible does not expressly forbids us to go to discotheque to dance does not mean that we are allowed to go to this amusement place. For the Bible does not contain the list of all the worldly lusts from which we must abstain. However, the Bible – as I said before - does give directions and principles which help us to understand what God does not want us to do. You may ask me then, ‘How can you affirm that a certain habit or behaviour, which is not expressly prohibited by the Bible, is a worldly lust or a fleshly lust and thus is wrong?’ Well, by observing and examining the effects which that behaviour or habit has on people. Now, ‘Are the effects of smoking, gambling and dancing, good effects?’ No, they aren’t, rather they are very harmful (for smoking damages the body of smokers and leads them to waste money; gambling creates a lust for riches and encourages covetousness; and dancing promotes lust and sensuality). A tree is known by its fruit, isn’t it? So we judge a person by his fruits, and not by his leaves, don’t we? Likewise, we judge a certain habit or behaviour, which is not mentioned in the Bible, by the effects it has on people. Thus, if a certain habit or behaviour damages somehow our body or leads us to waste our time and money or tends to make us become violent or sensual or spiritually idle or unfruitful, etc. we regard it as a bad habit or wicked behaviour.

Now, as for smoking, some say: ‘Smoking soothes my nerves’. That is untrue, because smoking cannot soothe the nerves of anyone; it is God who soothes a man’s nerves and this is what He does without the help of cigarettes or cigars. If smoking soothes nerves, then we should say that sedatives calm down those who don’t have peace and that sleeping draughts make people sleep; while it is better to say that these medicines befuddle those who use them and intoxicate them. We believe that just as believers don’t need to take sedatives and sleeping draughts because they have the Lord who gives them peace in the day of trouble and sleep when they need to sleep, so a believer does not need any cigarette ‘to relax’. The soothing effect of smoking is a device of the devil through which he gets people to believe that smoking is helpful and keeps people in this form of slavery.

In the book of Isaiah are written the following words that are fit for any believer who still smokes because he thinks that smoking is not a sin: “He feeds on ashes; a deceived heart has turned him aside; and he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?’ (Isaiah 44:20 – NKJV).

Let it be known to all those who are still smoking that they must quit smoking immediately. You will say then: ‘How can we quit smoking?’ First of all, you must understand that you can do it in Christ Jesus, for it is written: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 – NKJV); secondly, I tell you to pray God in the name of Jesus Christ, so that He may set you free from this vice and He will certainly set you free once for all. Strife against sin, do not caress it.

 

 

Taking drugs

 

We have just said that smoking is sin; but it is sin also to take drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, and to take hallucinogens, such as LSD. The reason is the same I told you before, for our body is the temple of God and this temple is holy and we must possess it in sanctification and honor (1 Thessalonians 4:4) abstaining from all those things which are able to destroy or damage it, and drugs and hallucinogens damage the body.

Therefore, brothers, you who were formerly drug addicts, do not return to your old ways, that is, to drug addiction, for any reason; and you who have never known drug addiction, do not become drug addicts. A word about hallucinogens: not only do they destroy the body (particularly the mind), but they also put people in touch with demons, for those who take hallucinogens make astral trips during which they meet monsters and see strange things which belong to the occult world. So abstain from them.

 

 

Stealing

 

The apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians: “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need” (Ephesians 4:28 – NKJV).

Therefore, he who was formerly a thief because he took pleasure in taking possession of his neighbor’s goods by fraud and violence, now he must not steal any longer, but rather he must labor, working honestly, so that he may help the needy. I would like you to notice that Paul says ‘working with his hands what is good’ or ‘doing something useful with his own hands’ (NIV) which means that a believer not only must work with his hands in order to conduct himself in a manner worthy of the Gospel, but he must also work honestly, that is, he must not cheat anybody through his work. Remember that Wisdom says: “Better is a little with righteousness, than vast revenues without justice” (Proverbs 16:8 – NKJV). Therefore, let no one deceive you with the following words which are on the lips of many people: ‘All people steal, so I also steal’.

Stealing is sin, yet the devil makes it appear lawful or innocuous, but it is neither lawful because God says: “You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15 – NKJV), nor innocuous because Wisdom says: “Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel” (Proverbs 20:17 – NKJV). Therefore, let us not associate with those who steal, lest we set a snare for our soul. I would like to say something else: even stealing something from one’s parents is sin, for Wisdom says: “Whoever robs his father or his mother, and says, ‘It is no transgression,’ the same is companion to a destroyer” (Proverbs 28:24 – NKJV). And it is sin also to steal something in order to help the needy (on the contrary, the catholic ‘morality’ allows people to steal for this purpose because the Roman Catholic Church does not consider it an injustice).

According to the Scripture, slaves must not steal from their own masters but they must be obedient to them and show all good fidelity (Titus 2:9-10). Thieves will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:10).

 

 

Lying

 

Today, many people are in the habit of lying, therefore they have a bad habit. But you, brothers, must not fall into this bad habit, for you must say the truth always, as it is written: “Therefore, putting away lying, let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another” (Ephesians 4:25 – NKJV).

Remember that Ananias and Sapphira his wife were put to death (by God) because they lied to the Holy Spirit. Here is what Luke wrote: “But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things” (Acts 5:1-11).

Brothers, we all are often tempted by the devil to tell lies. What should we do then? Let us resist the devil and speak truthfully to our neighbor. Let us remember that “lying lips are an abomination to the Lord” (Proverbs 12:22 – NKJV) and that all those who love and practice falsehood will be cast into the lake which burns with fire and brimstone (Revelation 21:8; 22:15)

To conclude, I want to say one last thing; since we must have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, we are not allowed to lie in order to help someone. For instance, those who work as a secretary sometimes are commanded by their boss to tell those who ask by phone to speak with him that he is not in the office. How should a believer conduct himself in such circumstances? Should he/she obey his or her boss, and thus say that his or her boss is not in the office (even though he/she knows that the boss is in the office and does not want to be disturbed), or refuse to obey such an order? He/she must refuse to tell lies, and therefore he/she must say to his/her boss that he/she will say the truth, thus if the boss is in the office he/she will say that he is in the office, while if the boss is not in the office he/she will say that he is not in the office.

 

 

Calumny

 

Brothers in the Lord, you must hate and expose calumny. What’s calumny? Calumny is the making of false and defamatory statements about someone. In the Scriptures we have several examples of persons who calumniated innocent people in order to ruin them.

● When the wife of Potiphar saw that Joseph refused to lie carnally with her and he left his garment in her hand she calumniated Joseph before the men of her house and her husband, for it is written: “She called unto the men of her house, and spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice: And it came to pass, when he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled, and got him out. And she laid up his garment by her, until his lord came home. And she spake unto him according to these words, saying, The Hebrew servant, which thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me: And it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out” (Genesis 39:14-18).

● Jezebel the wife of king Ahab, induced the elders and the nobles who were dwelling in the city with Naboth to calumniate Naboth in order to put him to death and thus she managed to give the vineyard of Naboth to Ahab his husband (the vineyard of Naboth was in Jezreel, next to the palace of Ahab and Naboth had refused to give it to Ahab). The Scripture says: “And it came to pass after these things, that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel, hard by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto my house: and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it; or, if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money. And Naboth said to Ahab, The LORD forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee. And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him: for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread. But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread? And he said unto her, Because I spake unto Naboth the Jezreelite, and said unto him, Give me thy vineyard for money; or else, if it please thee, I will give thee another vineyard for it: and he answered, I will not give thee my vineyard. And Jezebel his wife said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite. So she wrote letters in Ahab's name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that were in his city, dwelling with Naboth. And she wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people: And set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die. And the men of his city, even the elders and the nobles who were the inhabitants in his city, did as Jezebel had sent unto them, and as it was written in the letters which she had sent unto them. They proclaimed a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people. And there came in two men, children of Belial, and sat before him: and the men of Belial witnessed against him, even against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, Naboth did blaspheme God and the king. Then they carried him forth out of the city, and stoned him with stones, that he died” (1 Kings 21:1-13).

● The chief priests calumniated Jesus in the presence of Pilate by saying: “We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar ….” (Luke 23:2). That accusation was false because Jesus did not pervert the nation of Israel nor did He forbid to pay taxes to Caesar, rather, with regard to the payment of taxes, He commanded to pay taxes to Caesar, for He said: “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s ….” (Matthew 22:21 – NKJV).

● Some men were induced (by some members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen) to calumniate Stephen by saying: “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God” (Acts 6:11 – NKJV).

According to the law of Moses, calumniators, that is, false witnesses, after their witness proved to be false, had to be punished, for God said: “If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong; Then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days; And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you. And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you” (Deuteronomy 19:16-20). The book of Proverbs says about the false witness: “Whoever spreads slander is a fool” (Proverbs 10:18 – NKJV), and: “A wicked man is loathsome and comes to shame” (Proverbs 13:5 – NKJV), and again: “The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor” (Proverbs 11:9 – NKJV), and again: “A false witness will not go unpunished” (Proverbs 19:5 – NKJV).

As you can see, the false testimony spoken against somebody in order to ruin him is condemned by the Scripture, and whoever speaks it is a fool and will not go unpunished. But even though the Scripture is very clear with regard to this, there are some among the people of God who take pleasure in calumniating, for they spread all kinds of false accusations against certain upright men who live righteously in order to move their friends away from them and make them appear evildoers.

To these people calumny is a weapon through which they think they can ruin people and they put their trust in calumny, but calumny sooner or later will prove to be a false accusation and therefore it will fail and those who have spread it will be put to shame and punished by God because they are deserving of God’s punishment.

 

 

Judging the brethren

 

Jesus said: “Judge not ….” (Matthew 7:1 – NKJV). It is clear therefore that we must not judge our brothers. But what does it mean not to judge our brothers? I will answer this question through the Scriptures.

● Paul says to the Corinthians: “Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God” (1 Corinthians 4:1-5 – NKJV). Now, some of the believers in Corinth had judged Paul to be inferior, in the sight of God, to Apollos and Cephas, for some of them said that they were of Apollos and others said that they were of Cephas, but there were other believers who had judged him to be superior to Apollos and Cephas because they said that they were of Paul. Then Paul admonished them and among other things he said to them: “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord”. In this way Paul explained to them that judgement belongs to God and it is God who will judge him to be inferior or superior to Apollos or Cephas, while they (the believers in Corinth) could not judge him because they did not know all the counsels of his heart nor did they know all the counsels of the heart of Apollos and Cephas. Therefore, he commanded them not to judge anything before the time, until the Lord comes, who will reward each one of His sons according to his own labor but also according to all the hidden things (both good and bad things) done or said or thought by him. It is evident therefore that from this point of view we cannot judge a brother by saying that he is greater than another or by saying that he will receive a bigger reward than another or by saying that God will make him sit nearer to the Lord than another, because only God knows all thoughts, all works and all words of each one of His sons.

● Paul said to the Romans: “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. ….. But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way” (Romans 14:1-6, 10-13). From these words we learn that if a brother has a certain opinion about foods which is different from the opinion of another brother - for instance, he thinks that he should abstain from eating meat, while the other brother is convinced that he may eat all things - he must not judge him who has a different opinion. Why? Because God has received both him who eats only vegetables and him who eats all things. Both of them, even though they have a different opinion about meat, act in that way to the Lord, for they give thanks to God, therefore he who is weak in the faith (he who eats only vegetables) must not judge him who is strong in the faith (that is, him who eats all things). On the other hand, even he who eats all things must not despise him who eats only vegetables. As far as days are concerned, we need to say the same thing; if a brother esteems one day (Saturday or Sunday, etc.) above another and thus he observes it to the Lord, he must not judge him who esteems every day alike. And he who esteems every day alike must not despise him who esteems one day above another. In other words, the sons of God must receive one another just as God also received them in Christ and must not pass judgement on disputable matters. In this case, each one must be fully convinced in his own mind before God and must not grieve the other because of his different opinion. Therefore, no matter what is the opinion of a brother about a particular food or day, we must respect him. That’s how we must conduct ourselves toward a brother who has a different opinion than ours about a certain food but he does not command the others to conform to his opinion. However, if a brother says that everybody must abstain from this or that food, then he must be rebuked harshly because he teaches a doctrine of demons for “every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:4-5 – NKJV).

● James said: “Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?” (James 4:11-12). First of all, bear in mind that James wrote his epistle to believing Jews who were part of the diaspora, for at the beginning of his epistle he wrote: “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting” (James 1:1). Therefore, he wrote to persons who knew the law and still observed some precepts of the law (not in order to be justified by the law). Probably among those brethren, who were Jews by birth, some thought that they did not have to keep any longer some of the rites of their forefathers and spoke against or judged those who kept them. - Let us remember that in Jerusalem, at the time when Paul returned from his third apostolic journey, there were thousands of believing Jews who were zealous for the law (Acts 21:20), therefore we should not be surprised if among the Jews who were scattered abroad there were some believing Jews who were zealous for the law. - Then James found it necessary to write to those brothers, exhorting them not to speak against (that is, not to judge) one another, because by so doing they would speak against or judge the law. That’s how we must interpret these words of James.

At this point someone may ask: ‘Are we forbidden to judge brothers under any circumstance, according to the Word of God, then? Not at all, because there are some other Scriptures which affirm that we can, or rather, we must judge. Let us look at the circumstances in which we are allowed to judge.

We can judge a dispute between brothers. For, concerning the fact that in the Church of Corinth some brothers went to law against some other brothers before unbelievers rather than before the saints, Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?” (1 Corinthians 6:2-5). As you can see, we, who are the saints, are allowed to judge a dispute between believers. Therefore if a believer has a dispute with another believer, he doesn’t need to take it before the ungodly for judgement but he must take it before the saints because the saints are able to judge the things of this life.

We can judge those believers who have committed certain sins, which are particularly serious, by handing them over to Satan and by expelling them from among us. For instance, Paul judged that man who lived in Corinth who had his father’s wife; here is what he wrote to the Corinthians concerning that man: “For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 5:3-5). Paul judged in this way also Hymenaeus and Alexander, for he wrote to Timothy: “Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1 Timothy 1:20). That’s why Paul told us: “For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person” (1 Corinthians 5:12-13), because we have, as Church of God, authority to judge the wicked (fornicators, covetous persons, idolaters, slanderers, drunkards and swindlers) and expel them from among us.

There are other Scriptures which attest that we, as believers, can judge. For instance, Jesus said to the Jews: “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24 – NKJV), and also: “Yes, and why, even of yourselves, do you not judge what is right?” (Luke 12:57 - NKJV). And Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “I speak as to wise men: judge for yourselves what I say” (1 Corinthians 10:15 – NKJV), and again: “Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?” (1 Corinthians 11:13 – NKJV), and again: “Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge” (1 Corinthians 14:29 – NKJV). Therefore, as believers, we can judge, but not according to appearance but with righteous judgement, also the teachings of a minister of the Gospel, prophecies and revelations. And obviously we will be able to judge with righteous judgement if we fear God and know the Scriptures.

Now let me give you a few examples of prophecies and people judged with righteous judgement.

These prophecies are false, because they are inconsistent with the Scripture.  ‘Thus says the Lord, You want to know if the commandment concerning the veil (1 Corinthians 11:10) is still mandatory; well, know this, it has passed away.’ ‘Thus says the Lord, You want to know if you, as a divorced man, can remarry, as long as your wife is alive; well, you can, so do not be afraid to marry the woman you love.’ These other prophecies also are false, because they strengthen the hands of the wicked, so that they do not turn from their evil ways to save their soul, ‘Thus says the Lord, the Roman Catholics are Christians, for they have been born again through water baptism and they also heed my Word, so do not be afraid to accept them as brothers and sisters.’ ‘Thus says the Lord, those who affirm that you, as sons of God, must abstain from going to the beach, watching television, and telling jokes, are trying to deceive you, so do not listen to them.’

Those prophets who are greedy for money, sensual, arrogant, sexually immoral, and who lie against the truth and make false predictions, are false prophets, ministers of Satan who transform themselves into ministers of righteousness. Why do we say this about them? Because they bear bad fruits. For Jesus said that a tree is known by its fruit, and thus, just as we can recognize a good tree so we can recognize also a bad tree (Matthew 7:15-20; 12:33-35). And these persons who call themselves prophets are bad trees because the fruit of their mouth and their works are evil. Therefore if the Scripture calls them false prophets we must call them in this way. Likewise, those teachers who are lovers of money, who are presumptuous, self-willed, who speak evil of dignitaries, who carouse in the daytime, who are slaves of the pollutions of the world, who teach damnable heresies, are false teachers; for their words and works are evil, and thus we judge them to be false teachers. Don’t be deceived by the smooth and flattering words of some (who have been believers even for many years) who refuse to expose these impostors in order to avoid persecution.

Those sisters who wear miniskirts, or low-necked dresses, or jewelry, or trousers, or make up, etc., do not perfect holiness with propriety. We are not judging them unjustly because we don’t pass judgement on them according to appearance but according to real facts.

Those brothers and sisters who say ‘Yes’ to the worldly lusts love the world and don’t have the love of the Father in them: we don’t judge them unjustly, for the facts speak for themselves; they love the world and the things which are in the world.

Those preachers who charge a certain amount of money for every sermon or for every prayer for the sick or for every prophecy serve Mammon and not the Lord Jesus; we are not judging them unjustly but righteously, according to their wicked conduct.

To conclude I want to say this: many pastors, not wanting to expose the worldliness which exists in the midst of the Church (lest they make enemies), cite the biblical passage which says that we must not judge according to appearance, and thus they accuse us, who judge those brothers who say ‘Yes’ to worldly lusts to be carnal, of judging people according to appearance. Now, brothers, I speak as to wise men, judge for yourselves what I am going to say. Tell me this: ‘If one tells you that he has planted a cherry tree in his field and that tree bears plums and you say that that tree is a plum tree, could you ever accept his reproof according to which you must not say that that tree is a plum tree but a cherry tree? I don’t think you would accept such a reproof. Why then, in seeing some believers who love the fashion, make up, jewelry, television, soccer, money, who love to go to dance, to the beach and to the amusement parks, who love to fornicate, to commit adultery, to practice falsehood and duplicity, should we be accused of judging them unjustly or according to appearance because we say that they don’t have the love of the Father in them and they live for themselves and not for the Lord? Is it not true that their fruits bear witness that they love the world rather than the Lord? Is it not true that these people do not bear good fruits to the glory of God? Is it not true that they walk after the flesh and not after the Spirit? Why then should we say that they are spiritual? Should we call them spiritual just because they attend a place of worship on which it is written ‘Pentecostal Church’ or because they speak with other tongues or because they prophesy? And why should we call some ‘servants of God,’ when they live a rebellious life for they have a heart trained in covetous practices and give themselves over to the lusts of the flesh? Should we call them ‘servants of God’ because they have ‘a piece of paper’ and are able to make a speech by quoting a verse of the Bible after another? How can we call them ‘servants of God’ when everybody can see that they serve their belly rather than God? And besides this, why should I not expose the worldly lusts, when God commands me to expose them? Should I refrain from exposing them to please those who say ‘Yes’ to them and thus to avoid persecution? Certainly not, because it is written that if I still pleased men, I would not be a servant of Christ.

So, brothers, in the light of what the Scripture teaches, I tell you to beware of all those pastors who tolerate worldliness, for in so doing they deceive themselves and the hearts of the simple.

 

 

Bad language (stupid words, vulgar and frivolous witticisms, jokes, etc.)

 

Brothers, now I want to speak to you about the tongue, that is to say, about our speech.

The tongue is a little member of our body situated in our mouth. God said to Moses: “Who has made man’s mouth? …. Have not I, the Lord?” (Exodus 4:11 – NKJV), therefore our mouth was made by God and since God “works out everything for his own ends” (Proverbs 16:4 - NIV) the man’s mouth is useful. We know that God made man’s mouth in order to enable him to speak, to eat and drink, and in fact we use our mouth to praise and to pray God, to deliver to other people our thoughts, our opinions, our feelings and above all the Word of God, and we use our mouth also to eat and to drink in order to nourish our body so that he may have the necessary strength to work and to move freely. Now, one day Jesus said: “Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man” (Matthew 15:11 - NKJV), this means that there is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him because “there is nothing unclean of itself” (Romans 14:14 – NKJV), for “every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:4-5 – NKJV). However, whereas on the one hand it is true that what we eat cannot defile us because it is sanctified by the Word of God and prayer, on the other hand it is also true that we can defile ourselves by speaking corrupt words. At this point, it must be said that “those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart” (Matthew 15:18 – NKJV), therefore the things that a man says are nothing but the things which are in his heart. We can compare man’s heart to a store from which a man draws out continually what is into it. This is why we can know what kind of person is the one with whom we talk also by his speech, for his words reflect exactly the thoughts of his heart. For Jesus said: “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things” (Matthew 12:35). Have you ever wondered why a good man speaks in a way which is very different from the way a wicked man speaks? This happens because a good man has the wisdom of God in his heart and thus when he speaks he speaks with wisdom and righteousness, as it is written: “Wisdom rests in the heart of him who has understanding and even among fools she lets herself be known” (Proverbs 14: 33 – the first part is from the NKJV and the second part from the NIV) and again: “The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom” (Proverbs 10:31 – NKJV); while a wicked person speaks evil things because his heart is full of wickedness.

What should we do then lest we sin with our mouth and defile ourselves through our words? We must keep our heart, as Wisdom says: “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23 – NKJV). But if we give place to unbelief and wickedness, know that this will have harmful effects on our speech. I will give you some examples taken from the Scripture in order to explain to you this concept. In the Psalms it is written: “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God” (Psalm 14:1), however, besides saying it in his heart the fool says it also with his mouth; why? Because out of the abundance of his heart his mouth speaks. Therefore, it is clear that out of an unbelieving heart come expressions of unbelief. Is not this what the example of the Israelites in the wilderness teaches us? Yes, that’s exactly what the example of the Israelites teaches us. Let us look closely at it. God called the Israelites “a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God” (Psalm 78:8 – NIV) and “a people whose hearts go astray” (Psalm 95:10 - NIV). Now, God is He who searches the minds and hearts and the witness He witnessed of the heart of those Israelites is true. Let’s look therefore at what those Israelites spoke, that we may understand that their speech reflected the stubbornness of their heart and the unbelief which was in their heart. When the twelve spies, who had been sent by Moses to spy out the land of Canaan, returned from spying out the land and came back to Moses and all the congregation of the children of Israel, since ten of them said to the congregation that although the land of Canaan was a good land they were not able to overcome it because the land was inhabited by the giants, the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron and said: “Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us” (Deuteronomy 1:27) and also: “Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt” (Numbers 14:4). So they did not believe in the Lord, who had said to them: “Behold, the LORD thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 1:21). And it was because of their unbelief that God swore to them that they would not enter the promised land, that in the wilderness they would be consumed and there they would die. But where did those words of unbelief come from? They came from their heart, which went astray and was an unbelieving heart.

Let’s see now what are the evil things which come from within and defile a man. Jesus said: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man” (Mark 7:21-23). Therefore, Jesus called all these things ‘evil things’ and said that they defile those who speak them. That’s why the apostle Paul said to the Ephesians: “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks” (Ephesians 5:3-4), for he knew what are the things that must not be named by the saints lest they defile themselves. I ask you: ‘If those things edified and imparted grace to the hearers, would have Paul commanded that they must not even be named among us?’ Not at all, because Paul never commanded the saints to abstain from things which were useful to the saints and because he wrote all things to the saints “for what is proper” (1 Corinthians 7:35 - NKJV) and for their own profit.

Why should we abstain from all these things? For these reasons: in order to please God and to be an example to the people of the world, who take pleasure in the things forbidden by God, for Jesus said that we are “the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13 - NKJV), so that the name of God may be glorified in us. Now, salt seasons foods, but salt is not seasoned by foods. What do I mean by that? I mean that it is the people of the world who need to see in us an example, and not the contrary, because we are light while they are darkness. And so that they might see in us an example we need to use a sound, serious and blameless language, without foolish talk or coarse joking and any turbid word. In this way, that is, through our example, they will understand how they should speak. But if we conform ourselves to the violent, coarse and irreverent language used by the unbelievers, we will be of no use to them because they won’t be able to taste the salt since the salt has lost its flavor, as it is written: “But if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men” (Matthew 5:13 - NKJV). Therefore, I say it again in these terms, if we cast away the fear of God and the wisdom of God, we will become just as the tasteless salt which is good for nothing but to be thrown out. I ask you: ‘What good is, in the midst of this dark world, a believer who in the place of worship reads the Word of God and weeps and cries when he prays, but outside the place of worship, that is, at home and in the road or at work, he uses a language full of bad words and vulgarities and he speaks evil of his neighbor?’ He is good for nothing, don’t you think so?

James said: “Indeed we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body” (James 3:3 - NKJV), which means that it is sufficient to put bits in the mouths of these animals so fast and strong in order to turn them wherever we want them to go. Likewise, if with the help of God we put bits into our mouth we will manage to bridle our whole body and so we will not make threatening gestures, we will not lift our hands against our neighbor, we will not move our body in a way that is not fitting for the saints. Think about what I am going to say: when the buffoons (that is, the comic actors and the comedians) perform in public, they make threatening gestures, they make strange and ridiculous faces, they are dressed in an indecent and abominable way, and they move their body perversely, do you know why? Because they refuse to put bits into their mouth and thus their tongue leads them to act in that way. Think about the quarrels also: do you know what causes men to quarrel? The tongue, for it is written: “A fool’s lips enter into contention” (Proverbs 18:6- NKJV). And do you know what leads men to lift up their hand against one another? The tongue, for it is written that the mouth of the fool “calls for blows” (Proverbs 18:6 – NKJV). Wisdom says also that “a whisperer separates the best of friends” (Proverbs 16:28 – NKJV), which means that those who slander their neighbor manage with their tongue to separate him from his best friends. Do you realize how much evil power is in the perverse tongue? Therefore, let us watch, so that no corrupt word may proceed out of our mouth because corrupt words have only bad effects on ourselves and on others.

James said that “the tongue is a fire” (James 3:6 – NKJV) and what kindles this fire? The apostle says that the tongue “is set on fire by hell [Greek: geenna]” (James 3:6 – NKJV), that is, the everlasting fire; therefore let us not permit geenna to set on fire our tongue, so we will not kindle strife.

James calls the tongue “a world of iniquity” (James 3:6 – NKJV) because through it men say the most wicked and perverse things; the same apostle says that the tongue is “full of deadly poison” (James 3:8 – NKJV) to show us that death is in the power of the tongue.

How should our speech be then? We find the answer in the Scripture. Paul said to the Colossians: “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one …. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 4:6; 3:16 – NKJV), and to the Ephesians: “Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:18-20 – NKJV). If we keep these commandments, we will be able to distinguish ourselves from the people of the world. Why? Because we know that those who are outside speak to one another with jokes, stupid and offensive words, empty words spoken by their favourite comedians and singers, and by philosophers and famous writers, and they tell one another impure stories and all kinds of witty remarks. On the other hand, the word of God does not dwell in them, they don’t know the psalms, the hymns and the spiritual songs, and thus they speak to one another with the things they have in their heart.

However, those who know the truth must speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with the words of the Lord Jesus Christ and those of the apostles and the prophets, so that they may comfort, edify, teach, and admonish one another. Does this happen among the people of God? Yes, but it happens rarely, for almost all the believers speak to one another with impure stories, stupid words, vulgar and frivolous witticisms (witty remarks with a double meaning, one innocent and the other unchaste), and jokes.

As for jokes, they tell all kinds of jokes, such as jokes about the governing authorities appointed by God and sometimes even jokes about God, Jesus, the prophets and the apostles. And this form of speech in many cases passes unnoticed because it has become fashionable to use it. I can assure you, brothers, that this form of speech, which is present even in the sermons of some preachers, does not impart any grace to the hearers; it makes people laugh and sneer, but it does not edify the hearers. But on the other hand most believers want preachers to speak with jokes and not seriously; most believers hate serious sermons, they hate reprimands and exhortations because they don’t take pleasure in the Word of God any longer; they want to laugh, they want to joke, just as the people of the world. They even say to us: ‘God does not want us to sulk!’ But have we ever affirmed the contrary? It is written and we proclaim: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!’ (Philippians 4:4 – NKJV) and also: “Rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16 - NKJV). But what kind of joy Paul is speaking about? Paul is speaking of that joy which is the fruit of the Holy Spirit and not of the false and deceitful joy which is caused by jokes. When I was a slave of sin I had plenty of this kind of joy and I caused people to laugh a lot with my jokes, but what good was that joy? It was useless to me because Paul says to the Romans: “What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death” (Romans 6:21 - NKJV).

So you deceive your neighbor so that you may laugh; but have you never read that Scripture which says: “Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death, is the man who deceives his neighbor, and says, ‘I was only joking!’ (Proverbs 26:18-19 – NKJV)? Listen, you who takes pleasure in entertaining the believers with jokes and witticisms: have you ever read that Scripture which says “all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify” (1 Corinthians 10:23 – NKJV)? And if you have read it, did you understand it or do you pretend you have not understood it? You justify your perverse language by all kinds of arguments, but you cannot confirm it through the Word of God because this offensive and dishonest language, that you like so much, is abhorred by God. Yet you ignore it and keep on using such a perverse language, not knowing that also because of this “the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 5:6 - NKJV). When will you come to your senses? When will you acknowledge the truth? Be sober-minded, use clean language, seasoned with salt. It is written: “For the ear tests words as the palate tastes food” (Job 34:3 – NKJV); how is it then that your palate perceives that a certain food is insipid, but your ear has not yet perceived that your conversation is insipid? You have become dull of hearing and your ear has become calloused, so you don’t consider the words you speak, even though they are improper, dishonest and offensive. I exhort you to circumcise your ears, so that you may begin to expose the jokes you say together with your arrogant friends …. even during the worship service. If the righteous is grieved when he hears you speaking, it is because your jokes grieve the Holy Spirit of God, who is in Him and in you also; he does not take pleasure in your jokes because he pursues righteousness; you see that he is sad and angry because of your conduct but you don’t care about this because you feel strong, since besides you there are many others who use this perverse language.

As I said before, it is a rare thing to see brothers speaking to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs; the reason is because many don’t want to do the right things rather they want to do the wrong things. In the Church, a brother who is filled with the Holy Spirit and speaks with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, troubles those who take pleasure in witticisms and jokes. In order to be esteemed and accepted by some, it seems that one needs to tell continually jokes, and speak ambiguous words, even from the pulpit and not only when one meets the brethren outside the place of worship. On the contrary, persecutions and insults await those who have decided to put the Word of God into practice. Why? Because they are ‘fanatic’, ‘too much spiritual’, ‘a real misery’. There are some preachers who in their sermons mention more witticisms than biblical passages, and if you tell them that witticisms are not to be said even from the pulpit because that’s not the way the Word of God must be preached, then they reply: ‘We think that Jesus told some jokes to His disciples sometimes, and that the apostles also told some jokes while they were teaching?’ Listen, you who have not yet given up preaching with witticisms and jokes; neither Jesus nor the apostles preached the Word of God stuffing their messages with witticisms as you do. Therefore, repent, why do you mix the sacred with the profane? Can’t you see that certain false prophets are more serious than you when they preach; you are puffed up, that’s why you say those things. I know that your hearers like very much your witticisms and jokes, for they laugh, they move their head to show you that they agree with you, they wave their handkerchief, they clap their hands when you tell them your jokes. You think you are very important, so esteemed; they, who don’t have enough discernment, almost bow down before you!! Purify your hearts and then you will cease entertaining your hearers with jokes. “Let your laughter be turned to mourning” (James 4:9 – NKJV); it’s time for you to put in practice this word.

Beloved, let us ask God to set a guard over our mouth and let us put bits into our mouth; this does not mean that we must not speak at all, but that we must be slow to speak and that when we speak we are to use a sound speech; if we do these things we will prosper. Certainly, we all stumble in many things (James 3:2), so we all make mistakes when we speak, sometimes because we are hasty, some other times we are in high spirits because of a spiritual victory but our attention is distracted all of a sudden and that lack of attention costs us dear, some other times unintentionally (that is, without premeditation) we say something which is incorrect. Nevertheless, we want to be perfect; surely the mistakes we make will not stop us from aiming for perfection because we wish to be an example …. also in speech, by speaking truthfully and seriously and peaceably to one another, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, comforting one another with the words of God, telling Bible stories or Christian testimonies to edify one another, giving thanks for all things to God the Father.   

 

 

Grumbling (or murmuring)

 

The story of the people of Israel during their journey from Egypt to the promised land is studded with grumblings (or murmurings) against God and against Moses and Aaron.

At the waters of Marah, since the waters were bitter, the Israelites “murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?” (Exodus 15:24).

In the wilderness of Sin “the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger” (Exodus 16:2-3).

At Rephidim the children of Israel murmured against Moses, as it is written: “And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the LORD, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink. Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the LORD? And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?” (Exodus 17:1-3).

At Taberah it came to pass that “when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp” (Numbers 11:1).

At Kibroth Hattaavah “the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick: But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes” (Numbers 11:4-6).

At Kadesh, after ten of the twelve spies gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, “all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt? And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt” (Numbers 14:1-4).

On another occasion the Israelites murmured because they did not have any food and water and their soul loathed the bread God gave to them (called Manna) and for this reason God sent fiery serpents among them, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died (Numbers 21:4-6).

All these things happened to them as examples, for Paul says: “Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer” (1 Corinthians 10:10). James confirms that we must not murmur, saying: “Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!” (James 5:9 - NKJV). Therefore, we must not grumble against God nor against our brothers, beloved, lest we be punished by God. On the contrary, we must be patient in the midst of our sufferings (James 5:7), as James says, and we must take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience (James 5:10), as well as Job who was patient in the midst of his trials (James 5:11).

 

 

Reviling (or slandering)

 

We must not revile the brethren nor the people of the world nor the governing authorities appointed by God to rule our nation (as many do often when they demonstrate against the governing authorities because of a certain law which they consider to be unjust). For the Scripture commands us “to speak evil of no one” (Titus 3:2 -  NKJV).

As for not reviling the governing authorities, it is written: “You shall not …. curse a ruler of your people” (Exodus 22:28), and not only with your mouth but even in your thought, for it is written: “Do not curse the king, even in your thought ….. For a bird of the air may carry your voice, and a bird in flight may tell the matter” (Ecclesiastes 10:20 – NKJV).

Revilers (slanderers) will not inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:10). We must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is a reviler, we must not even eat with such a person (1 Corinthians 5:8-12).

 

 

Blaspheming the name of the Lord

 

In the law it is written: “Do not blaspheme God” (Exodus 22:28 – NIV), therefore we must not blaspheme the Holy Name of God. Under the law anyone who blasphemed God was deserving of death and had to be stoned. The following incident, occurred during the journey of the Israelites in the wilderness, confirms this clearly: “And the son of an Israelitish woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the children of Israel: and this son of the Israelitish woman and a man of Israel strove together in the camp; And the Israelitish woman's son blasphemed the name of the LORD, and cursed. And they brought him unto Moses: (and his mother's name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan:) And they put him in ward, that the mind of the LORD might be shewed them. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Bring forth him that hath cursed without the camp; and let all that heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him. And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, Whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin. And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the LORD, shall be put to death” (Leviticus 24:10-16).

Paul delivered Hymenaeus and Alexander to Satan, so that they might learn not to blaspheme (1 Timothy 1:20).

Blasphemers will not inherit the kingdom of God but they will be cast into the lake which burns with fire and brimstone.

 

 

Tempting God

 

Brothers, see that you do not tempt God. Someone may ask: ‘What does it mean to tempt God?’

I will answer this question by mentioning one of the temptations Jesus bore while He was in the wilderness. Matthew wrote: “Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (Matthew 4:5-7). As we can see, the devil tried to induce Jesus to throw himself down from the pinnacle of the temple by quoting a passage of the Scripture which assures divine protection to those who trust in God. Certainly, Jesus was a man who did trust in God with all his heart and knew that He was protected by the angels of God continually, but He did not consent to throw himself down from the pinnacle of the temple and resisted the devil by quoting the passage of the law which commands us not to tempt God. Therefore, if Jesus had thrown Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple He would have tempted God and He would have broken the law.

But how does the devil try to induce the children of God to tempt God? In many ways, and he often uses the Scripture to tempt them. For instance, while there is a tempest on a sea or on a river he may try to induce a believer to walk on the water because Jesus commanded Peter to come to Him on the water; or he may try to induce a believer to walk in the midst of the fire because God protected the three young Jews (Shadrach, Meshac and Abed-Nego) from the fire which was into the burning fiery furnace; or he may try to induce a believer to pick up poisonous serpents because Jesus promised that those who will take up serpents will be protected by God (this is what actually takes place among some churches in the United States of America). In all these cases, it must be said to the devil: ‘It is written: You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’

On the contrary, if in particular circumstances God commands (through a word of wisdom) one of his children to pick up a serpent (God commanded Moses to reach out his hand and take a serpent by the tail), or to walk on the water (Jesus commanded Peter to come to Him on the water); or to walk through the fire, then the matter is completely different because he who obeys that specific order of God does not tempt God. But I say it again, there must be a divine revelation (and when a believer obeys such commands of God the gift of faith is manifested).

Finally, I want to say that if a child of God believes that God is able to heal him and he expects to be healed of his sickness, he does not tempt God because he obeys the Word of God which commands us to trust in God with all our heart and to call upon Him in the midst of all our distresses. Therefore, if a brother who is sick refuses to send for the doctor, but he calls for the elders of the church so that they may pray over him the prayer of faith, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord, as James says (James 5:14-15), he does obey what God commands him to do, and the elders of the church must pray over him in faith so that God may heal him. They must not send him to the doctors, but they must pray over him. I have said these things because I know that in many Churches some pastors, who don’t have the necessary discernment, call good evil, for in their opinion those who trust God with all their heart so that God may heal them are tempting God! This is one of the devices of the devil, who makes every effort to induce men not to trust in God. According to some pastors, if a brother is sick and close to death (that is, if the doctors say he’s done for) then he does not tempt God by trusting in God with all his heart for his healing, but as long as his sickness can be cured by the doctors he must trust in the doctors for his healing and not in God, lest he tempt God!! Unfortunately this is what happens among the Churches of God.

 

 

Swearing

 

Jesus said: “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord’. But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’. For whatever is more than these is from the evil one” (Matthew 5:33-37 - NKJV), and James confirmed His words saying: “But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No,’ lest you fall into judgement” (James 5:12 – NKJV).

Therefore, as believers, we cannot swear any kind of oath, lest we fall into the judgement of God. Thus, if we are called to testify in court, we cannot swear to tell the truth. We simply tell the truth, for God commands us to speak truthfully to everyone.

 

 

Taking God’s name in vain

 

We, as children of obedience, must not take God’s name in vain, as it is written: “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” (Exodus 20:7). For His name is holy, and thus it must be hallowed (Matthew 6:9).

You may ask me, ‘When does one take God’s name in vain?’ Here is the answer.

If one makes a vow (a solemn promise) to the Lord, and he does not perform it, he takes God’s name in vain. That’s why Solomon said: “When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5).

If one swears by God’s name falsely, he takes God’s name in vain, for he profanes His name. That’s why the Law says: “Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:12 – NIV). – However, remember that we, as Christians, are forbidden to swear any kind of oath, lest we fall into judgement (Matthew 5:34; James 5:12) -.

If one claims to be speaking for God (that is, in His name) when he is not speaking His Word, he takes God’s name in vain. That is what the false prophets did in the days of Jeremiah, and because of their sin God foretold Jeremiah He would punish them. “Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart. Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, and I sent them not, yet they say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land; By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed.” (Jeremiah 14:14-15).

If one refers to God in trash talk or he uses God’s name as an exclamation, he takes God’s name in vain.

 

 

Meddling in other people’s business

 

Brothers in the Lord, the Scripture says: “We urge you brethren … that you also aspire to lead a quite life, to mind your own business ….” (1 Thessalonians 4:10-11 - NKJV) and again: “But let none of you suffer …. as a busybody in other people’s matters” (1 Peter 4:15 - NKJV).

Therefore, do not be curious and do not meddle in other people’s business; you have got enough things of yours to mind and enough problems to resolve in your own house and you don’t need to know the things and problems of other people.

Beloved, mind your own business.

 

 

Being ashamed of the Gospel

 

The devil tries to induce believers to be ashamed of the Gospel and thus of the Lord Jesus Christ, because the Gospel is the announcement of His death, which He suffered for our sins, and of His resurrection, which took place for our justification (1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Romans 4:25).

Why does the devil try to induce believers to be ashamed of the Gospel? Because he knows that the Gospel is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, therefore according to the devil sinners must not hear the Gospel; and also because he knows that if a believer is ashamed of Jesus, Jesus also will be ashamed of him in that day, as it is written: “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38 – NKJV).

Therefore, this temptation worked by the devil has two purposes: to keep those who are under his power from hearing the only message which is able to save them from his hands and thus from eternal perdition, and to keep those who have been delivered from his hand from being delivered from the wrath to come.

But you, brothers, do not be ashamed of the Gospel, rather proclaim it every time you have the opportunity to proclaim it, at the barber’s shop, at school, at work, in the street, in the marketplace, at the supermarket, on the bus or on the train; in other words, wherever you are and every time you see that God gives you the opportunity to speak to the lost. Do not be shy, don’t be afraid of men, do not be afraid of their insults: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7 – NKJV).

And proclaim the Gospel with boldness, as you should, not with persuasive words of human wisdom nor with excellency of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. Because this message, which is called by the scornful ‘old tale’ and which is a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks, is the message that brought you up out of the miry clay where you were, and set you free from the bondage of sin and gave you peace and joy, and it is able to save the greatest sinner on the face of the earth. Beloved, be strong.

 

 

Covetousness

 

One day Jesus said: “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15). Therefore, as it is fitting for the saints, we must beware of covetousness. What is covetousness? It is a greed for money or possessions, and those who are greedy for money and possessions want to heap up more and more money and material things for themselves and do not want to share their things with those who are in need and need their help. The apostle Paul called covetousness ‘a root of all kinds of evil’ for he said to Timothy: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10 – NKJV), and he told the Ephesians that no “covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Ephesians 5:5 – NKJV).

Solomon warned us against covetousness through these words: “Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not?  for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven” (Proverbs 23:4-5), “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity” (Ecclesiastes 5:10).

Jesus Christ spoke the following parable to warn us not to be covetous: “The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:16-21). Notice that this man was already rich when his ground produced a good crop, and since he was covetous, when he saw his abundant crops he did not think of giving part of them to the needy but he decided to keep all his goods for himself and to enjoy them. However, he was called by God ‘fool’ because he refused to lay up for himself treasures in heaven.

Brothers, let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with what you have, for God Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’ (Hebrews 13:5); and give generously and with a cheerful heart every time you are called to meet the needs of the poor or of your pastor, or you are called to pay for the expenses for the place of worship (that is, for the rent, the light, etc.), or you are called to do all kinds of good work, because this is the will of God. And, as Paul says, “God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8 – NKJV).

Do not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is covetous; with such a man you must not even eat (1 Corinthians 5:11)

 

 

Ungratefulness

 

As children of obedience, we must be grateful to God for He revealed to us His Son, and He rescued us from the power of darkness, and we are grateful to Him by doing what is right in His sight. However, we must be grateful also to all those who do good to us. We must be grateful, for it is written: “Be thankful” (Colossians 3:15 – NKJV). Ungratefulness is caused by greed, and by a short memory toward those who have done good to us.

Nabal, for instance, was ungrateful to David and his men, as it is written: “And David sent out ten young men, and David said unto the young men, Get you up to Carmel, and go to Nabal, and greet him in my name: And thus shall ye say to him that liveth in prosperity, Peace be both to thee, and peace be to thine house, and peace be unto all that thou hast. And now I have heard that thou hast shearers: now thy shepherds which were with us, we hurt them not, neither was there ought missing unto them, all the while they were in Carmel. Ask thy young men, and they will shew thee. Wherefore let the young men find favour in thine eyes: for we come in a good day: give, I pray thee, whatsoever cometh to thine hand unto thy servants, and to thy son David. And when David's young men came, they spake to Nabal according to all those words in the name of David, and ceased. And Nabal answered David's servants, and said, Who is David? and who is the son of Jesse? there be many servants now a days that break away every man from his master. Shall I then take my bread, and my water, and my flesh that I have killed for my shearers, and give it unto men, whom I know not whence they be?” (1 Samuel 25:5-11). And because of his answer he made David angry, and had it not been for Nabal’s wife (who took the initiative in overriding the effect of her husband’s bullish behaviour) David would have killed Nabal.

The children of Israel were ungrateful to the house of Gideon, for it is written: “And it came to pass, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the children of Israel turned again, and went a whoring after Baalim, and made Baal-berith their god. And the children of Israel remembered not the LORD their God, who had delivered them out of the hands of all their enemies on every side: Neither shewed they kindness to the house of Jerubbaal, namely, Gideon, according to all the goodness which he had shewed unto Israel” (Judges 8:33-35).

Therefore, let us take heed to ourselves and let us make every effort to repay the good which our neighbour, whether he is a child of God or not, does to us.

 

 

Envy

 

What is envy? According to the Oxford Dictionary envy is a ‘discontented or resentful longing aroused by another’s possessions, qualities, or luck’. The Holy Scripture states that “for all toil and every skillful work a man is envied by his neighbour” (Ecclesiastes 4:4 – NKJV), and this is confirmed by the following incident written in the Scripture: “Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him. And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great: For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him. For all the wells which his father's servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth” (Genesis 26:12-15).

Wisdom says that “envy is rottenness to the bones” (Proverbs 14:30 – NKJV); therefore it consumes or eats away to the marrow those who walk in it. Envy is one of the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:21), therefore we must flee it.

Why should we avoid being envious of a brother, if he is successful in his work or God answers his prayer or he is successful in the ministry God has given him? Because we are members of one another and we form one body. Let us suppose that someone compliments you on the beauty of your eyes and your arm is annoyed for the compliments received by your eyes, or that a member of your body is angry and hates another member of your body because it has a different function, what would you think? Would you not think that some of your members are walking in an unworthy manner. Likewise, those who are envious of other brothers, do not conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ.

Paul says that “if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26), this is the right thing we must do when our brothers are honored by God, we must rejoice with them. Just as David did, for in the Psalms David said first: “May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble ….. may He grant you according to your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your purpose” (Psalm 20:1,4 – NKJV), and then he said: “We will rejoice in your salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners!” (Psalm 20:5 – NKJV).

Obviously, there are some who don’t heed the Word of God and, being full of envy, rise up against some brothers because they see that God is with them and honor them in a particular ministry, but these people don’t walk in a manner worthy of the Gospel, for they lead a disorderly life and in due season the Lord will repay them according to their works.

Bear in mind always that those who are envious of another person conduct themselves badly toward that person who is envied by them, for envy only leads to evil, this is confirmed by the conduct of the Philistines toward Isaac, for – as we saw before – the Scripture says that they stopped up all the wells which his father’s servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father and they filled them with earth. But there are other passages of the Scripture which confirm this, here they are.

● “And the patriarchs, becoming envious, sold Joseph into Egypt” (Acts 7:9 – NKJV).

● “They envied Moses in the camp, and Aaron the saint of the Lord” (Psalm 106:16 – NKJV); these words refer to Korah, Dathan and Abiram and to other Israelites who gathered together against Moses and Aaron accusing them of exalting themselves above the assembly of the Lord (Numbers 16:1-3).

● “Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees) and were filled with envy, and laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison” (Acts 5:17-18).

● “On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul” (Acts 13:44-45 - NKJV).

However, we must not be envious only of the righteous who are blessed by God, but also of the wicked who prosper, for the Scripture says: “Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity” (Psalm 37:1 – NKJV), and again: “Do not let your heart envy sinners” (Proverbs 23:17 – NKJV). The reason is always the same, because it leads only to evil.

 

 

Jealousy

 

Jealousy also is one of the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:20), therefore we must flee it. Jealousy causes people to be fiercely protective or vigilant of a person whom they love or the things they possess because they are afraid of losing the persons they love or the things they possess. So a man who is jealous of his wife can even forbid his wife to speak with other men or to go out, because he is afraid that his wife may fall in love with another man, and this feeling does not come from God. Anyone who is jealous of a thing will forbid everybody to use that thing (a car, a tractor, a cell-phone, etc.) because he is afraid that thing may be damaged, stolen, etc.

In the Scripture we have an example of jealousy which shows that jealousy leads people to act wrongly. While the Israelites were at Kibroth Hattaavah it came to pass that God took of the Spirit that was on Moses and put the Spirit on the seventy elders chosen by Moses, and when the Spirit rested on them they prophesied. “However, two men, whose names were Eldad and Medad, had remained in the camp. They were listed among the elders, but did not go out to the tent. Yet the Spirit also rested on them, and they prophesied in the camp. A young man ran and told Moses, ‘Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp’. Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ aide since youth, spoke up and said: ‘Moses, my lord, stop them!’. But Moses replied, ‘Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit on them!” (Numbers 11-26-29 – NIV). Please, notice how Joshua on that occasion was jealous of Moses and Moses rebuked him.

 

 

Hypocrisy

 

Hypocrisy is called duplicity, simulation and falsehood, and is something you, beloved, must beware of. For Paul says that love must be “without hypocrisy” (Romans 12:9 – NKJV) and Peter says that we must lay aside hypocrisy (1 Peter 2:1).

The hypocrites are those who simulate goodliness, goodness, zeal and other good qualities; we have an example of hypocrites in the Pharisees who lived in the days of Jesus. According to what the Scripture says, the Pharisees gave a tenth of all they got, they travelled land and sea to win one proselyte, they paid much heed to the outward cleaning for they did not eat unless they washed their hands in a special way and when they came from the marketplace they did not eat unless they washed, they did not eat with sinners and tax collectors lest they should defile themselves, they fasted twice a week, they sat in Moses’ seat and taught the people, they trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others and they were considered righteous by the people, but actually they were full of hypocrisy and wickedness because they themselves did not put into practice what they taught people to do, for they loved money, they neglected justice, mercy and faith, and they did all their works in order to be seen by men. And because of their hypocrisy Jesus said to them: “Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell [geenna]?” (Matthew 23:33 – NKJV). Therefore, according to the words of Jesus, the Pharisees will be thrown into the everlasting fire, even though they outwardly appeared righteous to men. That’s where the hypocrites will go, brothers.

Therefore, take heed to yourselves and beware of all sorts of simulations and duplicities. Don’t tell others to do what you yourselves refuse to do; and don’t pretend to be righteous and holy, when you conduct yourselves as the sinners; don’t pretend to be generous or willing to give an offering, when you are covetous; don’t pretend to pray long prayers, when you never pray to God; do not love to be seen reading your Bible in the place of worship, as if you love very much the Bible, when at home you never open your Bible; and you, sisters in the Lord, don’t pretend to be an example in clothing on Sunday in the place of worship, when during the other days of the week you dress like the fashion models or the prostitutes, thinking that no one of the brethren will see you; and you, brothers, do not pretend to be an example in clothing at the place of worship on Sunday, when during the other days of the week at home you wear shorts or sleeveless shirts or you are bare-chested or half-naked, and you go at work dressed in a provocative way.

Do not deceive yourselves; because sooner or later every simulation of yours will be manifest to all because the brethren will find out what you really are and how you conduct yourselves at home or at work. Be sincere, acknowledging your faults, but do not deceive the brethren nor yourselves above all. See to it that you conduct yourselves in manner worthy of the Gospel, without any simulation at home, at work, at school, at the place of worship, whether you are alone or with other people.

I conclude with these words of Jesus: “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be shown” (Luke 12:1-2 – NKJV).

 

 

Unrighteousness

 

Paul says to the Corinthians: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?” (1 Corinthians 6:9). But who are the unrighteous? They are those who, having a matter against another brother, go to law before the unbelievers and not before the saints (1 Corinthians 6:1-9); those who have plenty of material things but they don’t want to help the needy; those who show favouritism, thus they honor the rich, the nobles and the wise after the flesh by speaking to them good and favourable words and are very attentive toward them, while they despise the poor, those who are of low position and the unlearned, by dealing violently and harshly with them and by showing complete indifference toward them (James 2:1-13); those who are racist, thus they treat well those who belong to their own race, while they deal badly with all those who belong to other races because they despise them or because in their own country they can oppress people of other races since they go unpunished or almost unpunished for their racist behaviour; those who belong to a particular denomination and despise all those who do not belong to that denomination looking on them as a sort of second-class Christians or just ‘Christian friends’ and not ‘Christian brothers’ and thus they show that if one enters their denomination he will have the right to be called by a more noble name; those who exalt those who are corrupt of mind and lovers of money calling them ‘servants of God’ and ‘servants of the Lord’ and despising instead those who pursue holiness and make every effort not to give any offence to anybody (Ezekiel 13:22); those who have become rich and get rich keeping back by fraud the wages of their workers (James 5:1-6) or giving them much less than what they deserve to receive, not paying the taxes to the State or paying much less than what they ought to; those who are ready to resort to all kinds of illicit means (lies, threatenings, violence, falsehood, bribes, etc.) in order to reach the pulpit of a Church.

It is evident, therefore, brethren, that you must flee each one of the above mentioned improper behaviours, lest you be counted among the unrighteous. Pursue righteousness, knowing that God “loves the righteous” (Psalm 146:8 – NKJV) and surely rewards them for their righteousness. Of course, you will be persecuted by men, even by some brothers, but do not give up, look to your reward which is before your God, who is in heaven.

 

 

Haughtiness (arrogance)

 

Haughtiness is another thing of which we, as believers, must beware for our good and in order to shine as lights in this dark world. In other words, we must see that we do not set our mind on sumptuous things.

The Scripture says that the pride of life is not of the Father but is of the world (1 John 2:16); and those who belong to this world show this pride in many ways, one of them is by buying costly and sumptuous things which draw the attention of people for their outward beauty. For instance, many people buy clothes which are very expensive in order to appear greater and more important than other people. Many buy high-powered cars or special models in order to appear very important people in the sight of the other people and to draw the attention of people when they travel by car. Many buy country seats with swimming-pool or sumptuous apartments (and sometimes they even run into many debts) just because they want to be noted, they want people to say that they live like the lords. There are indeed many people who act in this way, and all of them refuse to set their mind on humble things.

But the Scripture is against haughtiness, for Wisdom says: “The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this; they will not go unpunished” (Proverbs 16:5 - NIV), and again: “A haughty look, a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked are sin” (Proverbs 21:4 – NKJV), because God wants us to be humble, as it is written: “Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble” (Romans 12:16 - NKJV), and again: “Be … humble” (1 Peter 3:8 – NIV). What does it mean to be humble? It means that, concerning the material things we need, we must not buy or seek the most expensive things or those things which would certainly make us feel more important and higher than the other people and would induce other people to pay us a lot of compliments or to envy us. In other words, when we intend to buy something we need we should wonder whether it is a humble thing or not, whether it is something that will pass unnoticed because it is modest or something that will draw people’s attention and induce them to pay us some compliments for its sumptuousness and will cause many to envy us for it.

Now, in the Scripture we find an example of humility that is perfect, and that is the example of Jesus Christ. He was the King of Israel and the King of Jerusalem as well, yet on earth He did not live like the kings of this world, that is, wearing splendid clothes and living in luxury in a royal palace, and riding powerful horses or commanding His servants to carry Him on a royal litter. Let me dwell upon a circumstance of His life, that is, His entry into Jerusalem, in order to show you what it means to be humble and not to set one’s mind on high things. Here is what Matthew wrote about this incident: “And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest” (Matthew 21:1-9). As you can see, the King of Jerusalem entered Jerusalem sitting on a donkey and not on a powerful horse or on a royal litter; is this not a great example of humility left by Him who said: “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29 – NIV)?

Indeed, all the earthly life of the Lord Jesus Christ was marked by humility, from His birth in Bethlehem to His death in Jerusalem. But how many among the people of God have learnt or want to learn to be humble like Jesus? According to my personal experience, I must say that only a few believers want to be humble like Jesus; all the others walk according to the pride of life and when you see them they look like people of this dark world rather than people who have turned from the worldly lusts to Christ. It is sufficient to stand outside a place of worship about the opening time of the worship service or after the service has been closed in order to see a line of high-powered cars which have been polished beyond measure. It is sufficient to stand at the entry of the places of worship in order to see a real fashion parade. And in addition to this, you should go to the homes of these believers because it is there that you can see the rest of their haughtiness!

Be sure of this: the people of the world do not glorify God for the conduct of these believers, and in fact many unbelievers, who are offended, point out (and I must admit, they point out rightly) that they see much haughtiness in many who claim to be followers of Jesus. What can we answer these people when they make such remarks about these believers? They don’t know many things about Jesus, but they know that He was poor and humble, that’s why they are offended when they see some Christians living in unbridled luxury and setting their mind on the high things.

Those who are haughty show their haughtiness not only by seeking material things that can draw the attention of other people and cause them to be envied, but also in the following ways. For instance, when they are invited by someone to a wedding feast or when they go to the place of worship they choose the best places in order to be noticed. They say that they are great, and because of their studies they despise those who are not educated like them. They want to hold an office in the church at all costs and are ready to resort to cunning, fraud and vainglory to hold that office. They refuse to submit to those who have been appointed by God to shepherd the flock of God, and also to other brothers (as it is written that we must submit “to one another in the fear of God” Ephesians 5:21 - NKJV). And besides this, they boast about tomorrow (James 4:16), and they speak evil of dignitaries (2 Peter 2:10), and they despise wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 1:7). We can describe the attitude of the haughty in this way: somehow they want to draw people’s attention and exalt themselves.

According to the Word of God, they will be humbled by God, as it is written: “And whoever exalts himself will be humbled ….” (Matthew 23:12 - NKJV), and also: “God resists the proud” (1 Peter 5:5 – NKJV). The best thing to do is to humble oneself before the brethren (as well as before the unbelievers) as well as in the sight of God in order to receive grace from Him, because God “gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5 – NKJV) and exalts them in due time (1 Peter 5:5-6; James 4:10). The example of Jesus teaches us this very clearly; He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross, and therefore God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name which is above every name (Philippians 2:8-10). Let us follow His steps, and we will be blessed by God, even though we will have to suffer many things.

Brothers, it is true that we all stumble in many things, but let us make every effort to be humble in order to honor our God through our consecrated life.

 

 

Vainglory

 

Vainglory, as the word itself indicates, is a vain glory, therefore we must see that we do not glory in vain. You may ask: ‘Could you tell me how a believer can glory in vain?’ Here is the answer: if a believer glories in his riches (because he has got much money and many houses etc.), or in his physical strength (because he can lift big weights), or in his own wisdom (because he has studied some particular scientific subjects for many years, or he has some degrees, or he received some academic acknowledgements), etc. he glories in vain. For God commands us not to glory in these things, as it is written: “Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches” (Jeremiah 9:23). To glory in being a Jew by birth or a descendant of one of the twelve patriarchs such as Judah, Benjamin, and Levi is to glory in vain, for Paul – who was a Jew according to the flesh and a descendant of Benjamin - wrote to the Philippians: “Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Philippians 3:4-9).

However, while on the one hand we are not allowed to glory in certain things, on the other hand we are allowed to glory in other things, for God said through Jeremiah: “But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD” (Jeremiah 9:24). In other words, it is a right thing to glory in the Lord, that is to say, to glory in having received intelligence from God, to glory in knowing God or rather in being known by God. In addition to this, it is a right thing to glory in having been reconciled to God through faith in Christ, as it is written: “We also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation” (Romans 5:11 – NKJV. The IBRV reads ‘ma anche ci gloriamo in Dio…..,’ that is, ‘we also glory in God….”); in having been called by God to His everlasting glory, as it is written: “We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2 – NIV. The IBRV reads ‘ci gloriamo nella speranza ….’ that is, ‘we glory in the hope….’). And not only that, but it is also right to glory in our sufferings, as it is written: “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:3-5).

Brothers, let us not become vainglorious, provoking and envying each other.

 

 

Craftiness (cunning)

 

Some brothers say that we must be crafty as serpents. Is that true? Not at all, because Jesus did not tell His disciples to be crafty as serpents but He told them to be “wise as serpents” (Matthew 10:16), which is a very different thing, for to be wise means to be prudent, wary and shrewd and not to be crafty.

To explain to you what it means to be crafty I am going to quote some Scriptures.

● Matthew says: “Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?” (Matthew 22:15-18. The IBRV reads ‘ma Gesù, conosciuta la loro malizia, disse ….’ that is, “but Jesus, having perceived their cunning, said …”, and Luke 20:23 says: “But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me?”). As you can see, the Pharisees acted cunningly with Jesus in order to cause Him to sin. They were crafty people, for Jesus called them ‘serpents, brood of vipers’, therefore on that occasion they showed the craftiness of the old serpent, who was their father. But you, brethren, are not vipers but sheep, and you must not be crafty, but wise as serpents (which are prudent animals for when they hear a rustle they move because they perceive a danger) lest you fall into the snare of the devil. Therefore you must imitate the wisdom of the serpents and not their craftiness because craftiness is of the devil, as it is written that he “deceived Eve by his craftiness” (2 Corinthians 11:3 – NKJV).

● Stephen said that Pharaoh “dealt subtilly with our kindred, and evil entreated our fathers, so that they cast out their young children, to the end they might not live” (Acts 7:19). The IBRV reads: ‘Costui, procedendo con astuzia contro la nostra stirpe, trattò male I nostri padri’ that is, ‘he, dealing cunningly with our kindred, evil entreated our fathers ….”. As you can see, Pharaoh did not act honestly toward the Israelites but he acted cunningly.

Know this, that wisdom says that “a crafty man is hated” (Proverbs 14:17 – NIV), and in fact people hate crafty persons, and God also hate crafty persons, as it is written: “The Lord condemns a crafty man” (Proverbs 12:2 - NIV). And know also that God shows Himself shrewd to the crooked (2 Samuel 22:27). Do not be crafty, brothers, because God will return your craftiness on your own heads, for it is written in the Psalms: “Behold, he travaileth with iniquity, and hath conceived mischief, and brought forth falsehood. He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made. His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate” (Psalm 7:14-16).

Imitate Paul and Timothy, who never acted cunningly with the saints, so they could say to the Corinthians: “Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:1-2).

Those who conduct themselves honestly and sincerely toward their neighbour will have a sure and great reward; of course, such a conduct costs them because they need to make many sacrifices, but such a conduct gives them much peace and joy and enables them to keep a pure conscience.

 

 

Counterfeit baptism with the Holy Spirit, interpretation of tongues and prophecy

 

Brothers in the Lord, I exhort you to flee any counterfeit in the spiritual field, because just as the Italian law punishes those who counterfeit banknotes and circulate counterfeit banknotes, so God punishes those who counterfeit and urge to counterfeit the spiritual things.

Concerning the baptism with the Holy Spirit, I exhort you, if you have not yet received it, to desire it earnestly; pray God continually that He may give you the Holy Spirit, and fast as well, if you perceive that God leads you to fast, in order to receive the Holy Spirit. But while you wait for the baptism with the Holy Spirit do not lean on your own understanding nor act as some advise you to do, whether directly or indirectly with their words or behaviour. In other words, do not invent strange words to utter them in order to make others believe that you have received the Holy Spirit, because such a behaviour would profit you nothing and besides deceiving yourselves you would deceive the other people. Know this, that when the Holy Spirit comes upon a believer, it is the Holy Spirit who moves the believer to speak in other tongues, and He does this in an irresistible way for He seizes the mouth and the tongue of the believer and causes the tongue to speak the tongue (or the tongues) He wants the believer to speak. Luke confirms this when he says that on the day of Pentecost “they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). Therefore, do not worry, saying, ‘How will we be able to speak in an unknown tongue never learned at school?’ because this is something that the Spirit of God will work in you in a glorious and inscrutable way. When He comes upon you, you will be forced to speak in other tongues, and you will realize that you have not invented anything of what you have spoken in another tongue but that you have acted in that way because the Spirit of God moved you to speak in other tongues. And then you will feel just as the Scripture says, that is, “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4), thus you will see that when you speak in other tongues rivers of living waters will flow out of your heart. In addition to this, you will perceive that you have been clothed with power from on high, that is, that you have received something you did not have upon you before; this will help you realize that you have received the baptism with the Holy Spirit.

Once you are filled with the Holy Spirit and you speak in other tongues, of course, Satan will not stop tempting you, because he will continue to try by his craftiness to deceive you. One of the things he will try to induce you to do is this: he will try to induce you to interpret falsely what you or others have spoken in other tongues. How? He will try to deceive you into thinking that those words spoken in other tongues are addressed to His people according to some particular need existing in the Church or that even though you do not understand those words spoken in other tongues and you don’t have the gift of interpretation of tongues you can ‘interpret’ it anyway provided that the interpretation ‘does not oppose the sound doctrine’. Take heed to yourselves and do not deceive yourselves and the others either. Let it be known to you that just as speaking in tongues is supernatural, so is supernatural interpreting tongues; that is to say, it is through the Holy Spirit that you can interpret tongues and not by intuition nor by your own ability. Therefore if the Holy Spirit enables you to interpret tongues, you will understand them as you understand the English language and so you will be able, without understanding how you can do such a thing, to interpret tongues for the Church. But this will happen by the Spirit; it is something that is beyond our understanding, it is something that proceeds from the Spirit of God. Finally, I remind you that since he who speaks in other tongues speaks to God and not to men (1 Corinthians 14:2), the interpretation is directed toward God, but you have no need that I should write to you about this because when the Holy Spirit enables you to interpret you will realize it personally.

The devil will try also to induce you to think that by repeating some passages of the Bible, one after another, you are manifesting the gift of prophecy. Take heed to yourselves and do not fall into this diabolical trap. When the Holy Spirit comes upon a believer and moves him to prophesy he does not begin to recite some biblical passages learnt by heart, not at all, because the message comes from the Spirit of God and thus it is extemporary and unpredictable. It is always something you did not prepare beforehand and you did not intend to say. The reason is because the gift of prophecy is not a human ability but a supernatural ability.

 

 

Laziness

 

Wisdom says: “Because of laziness the building decays, and through idleness of hands the house leaks” (Ecclesiastes 10:18 – NKJV) and again: “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man” (Proverbs 6:6-11).

Through these words Solomon condemned laziness and rebuked sluggards, that is, those who do not want to work with their own hands but are busybodies. Paul also condemns laziness and rebukes sluggards, for, concerning some believers of Thessalonica who were idle, he wrote to the saints of Thessalonica: “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12).

Therefore, brothers, I warn you against laziness, for it has harmful effects on people, as also the people of this world say, ‘The devil finds work for idle hands’.

However, there is also a spiritual laziness of which we must beware, for Paul says to the Romans: “Never be lacking in zeal” (Romans 12:11 – NIV. The IBRV reads, “Quanto allo zelo, non siate pigri”, that is, ‘concerning zeal, do not be lazy”). Therefore, brothers, beware of any laziness in the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God, such as prayer, reading and meditation of the Word of God, visiting the sick, evangelizing the lost, attending the church services, doing good works such as taking an old brother (or sister) to the place of worship in your car, doing the shopping for him because he is sick, and many other useful things.

Let it be known to you that jus as he who does not want to work with his own hands because he is lazy will bear the consequences of his rebellion, for he will become poor, so he who is lazy in the things pertaining to the kingdom of God will bear the consequences of his rebellion because he will become – spiritually speaking - naked, poor and miserable.

The Scripture says: “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up” (John 2:17 - NKJV). Can you say to God these words? If your answer is ‘Yes’, continue in this holy zeal, but if your answer is ‘No’ then I exhort you not to be idle but zealous for the House of God. Consider how zealous are the supporters of the soccer teams, consider the sacrifices they make in order to go to the stadium to cheer on their favourite team; consider also how zealous are certain members of certain political parties, who are willing to spend part of their time and money on spreading the ideas of their party. Now, I say: ‘If sinners are so zealous for the vain things, which pass away, should you not be much more zealous for the truth, which abides forever?’ Awake, you who are spiritually lazy!

 

 

Overworking

 

The apostle Paul said: “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” (1 Corinthians 6:12).

Therefore, we must see to it that we do not become slaves of our work by giving ourselves over to it with our body, soul and spirit. Work is a useful and lawful thing, but it must never become the most important thing in our life. Therefore, brother, work in order to supply the needs of your family and to help the needy, but do not try to get rich by your work (or, if you can’t get rich by your work, by looking for a second work) lest you stray from the faith and pierce yourself through with endless sorrows. Remember that besides a physical life you have a spiritual life, of which you must take care by praying alone and together with other believers in the place of worship, by reading and studying the Scriptures at your home, by going to hear the sermons and the teachings in the place of worship (the place of worship can be the house of a brother or your own house), by doing good works, etc., but remember also that when the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter the heart of a believer they choke the word of God planted in him and it becomes unfruitful (Mark 4:19-20).

Watch and pray, brothers, lest you fall into this diabolical trap.

 

 

Some kinds of jobs

 

The saints are not allowed to do certain works because these works lead them to break the commandments of God. Let us see some of these works you must not do.

You must not work in an industry which produces weapons (bombs, rifles, pistols, mines, etc.) lest you be guilty of making some objects men use to kill other men or to harm them.

You must not work in a nightclub, lest you see indecent behaviours and hear obscenities and you have fellowship with the unfruitful works of the devil.

You must not work as a wedding photographer, lest you be led to frequent perverse people and to attend religious services in places of worship full of demons (such as those of the Roman Catholic Church and of the sects) and to say to the bride and the bridegroom to do certain things which they are allowed to do only privately and not publicly, and because many women who attend weddings are dressed like the prostitutes to draw attention to themselves.

You must not work as a goldsmith, lest you produce jewelry for men and women, and medals with the image of Mary or some other saint engraved in them, which are used by many people as lucky charms.

You must not work as a seller of worldly magazines and newspapers, lest you help to spread vanity and perversion.

You must not work as a bartender, lest you be forced to give wine and alcoholic drinks to the drunkards and alcoholics, to sell cigarettes, etc…

You must not work as a seller of worldly tapes, records and CD, lest you help to spread the diabolical music.

You must not cultivate tobacco, for cigarettes are made from tobacco and as you know smoking harms people.

You must not work as a jeweller, lest you help men and women to adorn themselves with vanity.

These are just some of the works that believers must not do, lest they have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness and they defile their own conscience, yes, because if we have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness we will defile our conscience. And we must strive “to have a conscience without offense toward God and men” (Acts 24:16 - NKJV). Do not despise this spiritual exercise, brothers, lest you suffer shipwreck concerning the faith.

 

 

Provocation

 

Beloved, as it is fitting for the saints, you must flee provocation, that is to say, you must not provoke anybody. What does it mean to provoke? It means to stimulate a reaction or emotion, (typically a strong or unwelcome one), in someone. We may provoke someone to anger, to jealousy, or in order to seduce him or her.

For instance, the Israelites in the wilderness provoked the Lord to anger by their idols, as it is written: “They have moved Me to anger by their foolish idols” (Deuteronomy 32:21 – NKJV) and again: “Also in Horeb you provoked the Lord to wrath, so that the Lord was angry enough with you to have destroyed you” (Deuteronomy 9:8 – NKJV), and bear in mind that God is slow to anger. Therefore, according to this example of provocation, we may say that we can provoke a person to anger by doing deliberately something that you know he hates, that is to say, by annoying him. For instance, it is written: “And you fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath ….. lest they become discouraged” (Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21 – NKJV), which means that fathers must not annoy their children. Believers, for instance, must not provoke their leaders by doing what they detest, and so on.

The Israelites in the wilderness provoked God to jealousy, as it is written: “They have provoked Me to jealousy by what is not God” (Deuteronomy 32:21). In this case also, provocation was made by idols. What do we learn from their behaviour? We learn that if we do something that annoys someone we love, that person will be provoked to jealousy. Thus, for instance, a husband must not provoke his wife to jealousy by taking pleasure in talking with his neighbour’s wife or by having a walk with her alone or by paying other women compliments on the way they dress or talk and on other things. A wife also must not provoke her husband to jealousy by wearing provocative dresses, that draw the attention of men, or by taking pleasure in talking with other men or by paying other men compliments on their body or on the way they dress, and so on.

Finally, a person can provoke someone in order to seduce him or her. For instance, a woman can try to seduce a man by putting on some exciting perfumes, or by speaking ambiguous words or frivolous words, or by adopting certain provocative postures, or by wearing some provocative dresses. However the same things can be said about a man toward a woman. Such a behaviour is diabolical and you must flee it.

 

 

Causing someone to stumble

 

Beloved in the Lord, you must not cause any brother to stumble, for it is written: “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way” (Romans 14:13 - NKJV). Someone may ask: ‘How can I put a cause to fall in my brother’s way?’ Here is my answer. You may cause a brother to fall in this way. He considers something to be unclean, and even though there is nothing unclean of itself, you must not grieve him because of his opinion, otherwise, as Paul says, “if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died” (Romans 14:15 – NKJV). Therefore, we must see that we don’t destroy with a food or a drink (for instance, wine) the work of God in the life of our brother. Is it not written that “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17 - NKJV)? So we ought to abstain from any food or drink which makes our brother stumble. Therefore, if you invite a brother to your house or you have to stay with a brother for some time, and you know that he doesn’t eat rabbit or pork or he does not drink wine because he considers these things to be unclean, you must not grieve him by setting before him that kind of meat he does not eat or that kind of drink he does not drink nor by eating or drinking those things he considers to be unclean, lest you lose him and destroy the work of God in him because of things that the Lord one day will destroy together with the stomach (1 Corinthians 6:13). And love does not seek its own profit, but the profit of the others that they may be saved. However, it is good not only to abstain from eating a certain kind of meat or drinking wine (if these things make our brother stumble), but also to abstain from doing anything by which our brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak (Romans 14:21). Therefore, be careful how you behave toward those brothers who are weak in the faith, lest you lose them and sin against Christ (1 Corinthians 8:7-13).

Bear in mind also that you must not cause any unbeliever to stumble either, for Paul says: “Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God” (1 Corinthians 10:32 – NIV). Therefore, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel you announce to the lost, because if you evangelize them and in the meantime you give offense to them, as some do, your scandals will be stumbling blocks to them and thus you will hinder them from turning to Christ and they won’t feel attracted to the congregation of the righteous, because they will think that you are a bunch of hypocrites, who love to sing Christian songs with a loud voice and play and listen to Christian music but don’t put into practice the precepts of the Gospel. Remember that many people pay more attention to your facts than to your words.

 

 

Unbelief

 

One of the schemes of the devil is this: he tries to induce the saints not to believe the Word of God. Now, I will give you some practical examples of how the adversary seeks to induce you not to take God at His word, that is, not to believe what God says but to believe what men say (sometimes even by quoting some passages from the Bible) and how you must resist him.

The tempter: ‘So you say that we are justified by faith apart from the works of the law, but that’s not true, keeping the law is necessary in order to be justified, because it is written: “For not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified” (Romans 2:13 - NKJV). Answer: ‘Away with you, Satan! For it is also written: “The just shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4 - NKJV).’

The tempter: ‘So you say that Jesus is God, but that’s not true because it is written that He is the beginning of the creation of God and the firstborn of all creation. How then can he be God? Did Jesus Himself not say that the Father was greater than Him?’ Answer: ‘Away with you, Satan! For it is also written that Jesus Christ is “the eternally blessed God” (Romans 9:5 - NKJV), and that He said to the Jews: “Before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58 – NKJV), and again that the Word (who became flesh in the fullness of the time) in the beginning was with God and the Word was God (John 1:1).’

The tempter: ‘So you place so much emphasis on holiness by saying continually ‘don’t do this’ and ‘don’t do that’, yet we are already holy and we are free in the Lord to do whatever we like.’ Answer: ‘Away with you, Satan! For it is written: “Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16 - NKJV) and that without holiness “no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14 – NKJV).’

The tempter: ‘So you say that believers must not go to the beach, nor watch television, etc, but it is wrong to command the believers to abstain from these things for it is written: “Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh” (Colossians 2:20-23).’ Answer: ‘Away with you, Satan! For it is also written: “Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22 – NKJV) and again: “Pursue …. holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14 - NKJV).’

The tempter: ‘So you say that a believer should ask God for the Holy Spirit, but every believer has already the Holy Spirit, thus it is absurd for a believer to ask something that he already possesses.’ Answer: ‘Away with you, Satan! For it is written: “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13).’

The tempter: ‘So you say that God still speaks through visions and dreams, but that’s not true because the canon of the Scripture we have is already complete and therefore we don’t need further revelations.’ Answer: ‘Away with you, Satan! For it is written: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” (Acts 2:17) and again that “in a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction” (Job 33:15-16).’

The tempter: ‘So you say that Jesus Christ still performs miracles and healings, but that’s not true, for the time of miracles ended with the death of the apostles; today we do not need miracles and healings for people believe in the Lord even without seeing miracles and healings.’ Answer: ‘Away with you, Satan! For it is written: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8 – NKJV) and also: “The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal” (1 Corinthians 12:7) and again: “But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work” (John 5:17).’

I could go on with more examples but I stop here because I have confidence in the Lord that you have understood how the devil with his craftiness tries to induce you not to believe the Word of God. But why does the devil try to induce you not to take God at His word? Because he knows that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Bear in mind this, because it is very important. He knows very well that if a believer ceases believing justification by faith or the deity of Christ or the fact that holiness must be pursued earnestly testing all things and holding fast what edifies and is useful and is according to the will of God, or the promise of the Holy Spirit, or the fact that God speaks by visions and dreams revealing the secrets of His knowledge and of His wisdom, or the fact that God heals and works miracles because He did not change and therefore everyone can ask God to heal him, I say, he knows very well that if believers stop believing one of the above mentioned teachings (besides them, there are many other sound teachings which the devil does not want Christians to believe) they will harm themselves. If they reject some of these teachings the harm will be very serious, while if they reject some other teachings the harm will be less serious; however, in any case they will harm themselves.

Therefore, brothers, take heed to yourselves and when doubt or unbelief comes to knock at the door of your heart take the shield of faith with which you can quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one, and take also the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and resist the wiles of the devil. Have faith in the Word of God, in every circumstance continue to believe that the Word of God is truth and will never fail. Remember that God is truthful and that it is impossible for God to lie and that the devil is a liar (and the father of all lies) even when he quotes some passages of the Scriptures. Be watchful, brothers.

 

 

Trusting in man

 

You have lost your job; you want to get married; you have been taken ill; you have been given notice to quit; you can’t have children; these are some of the situations in which one of you may find himself. What should you do? There are two possibilities before you; to put your trust in man or to put your trust in God.

If you trust in man, you will do what men will tell you to do in order to come out of your distress, and thus, according to the circumstances, you will pay a backhander, you will give presents to someone, you will court someone’s favour, you will take the medicines that the doctor will prescribe for you, etc. and you will expect to receive your deliverance from man because you will resort to him. By so doing you will not experience at all the peace of God, nor His joy, and you will have no fellowship with Him because you will make yourself an enemy of God.

However, if you trust with all your heart in God things will be completely different, because you will experience a great peace and joy in your heart and you will expect to receive in a glorious way what you need and desire from Him. You will pray, you will fast, you will be reviled and discouraged by both unbelievers and believers, but you will have plenty of joy and peace while you wait for the deliverance and eventually God will reward your faith and your steadfastness and will show to everybody that the goodness He shows towards those who fear Him and trust in Him with all their heart is really great. And you will be able to proclaim that the Lord heard your prayer and He will be highly glorified through you.

I urge you to choose the second way, because it is the best way, it is the way God commands us to follow. Of course, it is a way full of pains and afflictions and sometimes you need to wait on God for a long time, but it is also a way on which you can experience the powerful and great deliverances of God, which astonish everybody.

I conclude this exhortation of mine with the following words of the prophet Jeremiah, which show the difference existing between those who trust in man and those who trust in the Lord: “Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit” (Jeremiah 17:5-8).

Brothers, things are just as Jeremiah said so long ago; therefore, have faith in God, for He delights in those who rely on Him alone, I say it again, on Him alone. But God not only delights in them, but also delivers them from all kinds of distresses. Remember that He is the Almighty.

 

 

Dissensions (or divisions)

 

There is one God; one Lord, that is, Jesus Christ; one Spirit, who is the Spirit of God; one faith and one Church, which is the Church of God, whose head is Jesus Christ. And all those who are members of this holy Assembly are called to pursue peace with all people and to be like-minded, to have the same love, and to be of one accord and to speak the same thing and to be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgement. There should be no divisions among them (1 Corinthians 1:10: Philippians 2:2). However, it must be said that even though divisions must be rejected, there must be divisions among the Church of God. For Paul said to the Corinthians, among whom there were divisions: “For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you” (1 Corinthians 11:18-19 – NKJV). Notice that divisions are called factions by the apostle Paul and that they must be among us so that those who live in a manner worthy of the Gospel, and thus are approved by God may be recognized.

What are divisions, according to the Scripture? And why must you flee them? To answer these questions I will remind you of the divisions existing among the saints of Corinth and how Paul exposed them. While Paul was at Ephesus, those of Chloe’s household told Paul that among the saints of Corinth there were divisions because each of them said: “I am of Paul’, or ‘I am of Apollos’, or ‘I am of Cephas’ or ‘I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:12 - NKJV). Therefore, the saints of Corinth did not speak any longer the same thing and they were not any longer perfectly joined in the same mind and in the same judgement, for some said that they belonged to Paul, some to Apollos and some others to Cephas, and some others to Christ. When Paul heard this, he was angry and grieved and so he rebuked the Corinthians saying: “Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:13) and again: “I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. … Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's” (1 Corinthians 3:2-9, 21-23). Paul explained to the Corinthians that they committed a sin by saying that they belonged to Paul or to Apollos because Paul and Apollos were just God’s fellow workers, who worked in God’s field according to the grace of God which was given to them, and that it was not Paul nor Apollos who made the Word grow in them (thus, neither Paul, who had planted the seed, nor Apollos, who had watered it) but God alone. Therefore, the fact that they said ‘I am of Paul’ or ‘I am of Apollos’ was a wrong behaviour. They were carnal and they were moved by jealousy and strife (as you can see, divisions are associated with jealousies and quarrels, because it is the jealousy for a particular minister of the Gospel and the desire to exalt him above another minister of the Gospel that lead believers to part from one another and to quarrel), and they had forgotten that it was God who had worked in them what pleased Him and not Paul or Apollos. To what conclusion did Paul come then? He told the Corinthians not to boast in Paul nor in Apollos nor in Cephas because they were only ministers of the Gospel, who were theirs, because they had been given by God to the Church, while they were of Christ, who had bought them at a price, and Christ was of God.

Therefore, you must not say ‘I am of this minister of the Gospel’ or ‘I am of that minister of the Gospel’ because that is a carnal behaviour. Anyone who says such things walk according to the flesh and not according to the Spirit. You are of Christ, and therefore you must not boast in men but in Christ. Look unto Jesus, remember always what He did for you, and you will avoid saying ‘I am of Tom’ or ‘I am of Dick’.

 

 

Sects (heresies)

 

Among the works of the flesh there are also sects or heresies (Galatians 5:20). The Greek word haeresis is translated as ‘sètte’, that is, ‘sects’ in the Italian Bible Riveduta Version, while in the King James Version it is translated as ‘heresies’. For haeresis can be translated also as ‘sect,’ for in the KJV the word ‘sect’ we find in Acts 5:17 is translated from the same Greek word ‘haeresis’ which we find in Galatians 5:20.

What is a sect? A sect is group of people who part from the Church of God and proclaim that they are the only true believers existing on the face of the earth. Very often the sect is founded and ruled by someone who claims to be a very important person. One of the names of these leaders, who are nothing but false ministers of God, is often ‘the messenger of God for the last days’, but there are many other names by which they are called. One thing is evident and sure, he who founds a sect somehow or other thinks that he is the only person who preaches the true Gospel on the face of the earth because usually he claims that he was chosen by God to restore the Gospel or the Church. He expects obedience from his followers, a blind obedience, under pain of eternal perdition. Revelations, prophecies and messages of the ‘head’ of the sect are considered Word of God, even if they nullify the Scripture openly and impudently. Among the revelations, the prophecies and the teachings of those who have founded a sect we find revelations, prophecies and teachings that deny the deity of Christ and sometimes even His humanity, that deny the doctrine of the Trinity, that deny somehow the doctrine of salvation by grace, and we find also commandments according to which men must abstain from certain foods and drinks, and sometimes marriage is forbidden. I have cited the main false revelations, prophecies and teachings which can be found in a sect, but there are many more false revelations, prophecies and teachings that are taught by sects. One of the marks of a sect is greed because on the pretext of carrying on the work of God the founders of the sects extort money from their followers: there are sects that wants their members to give them all their possessions. Life in the sects is a bondage, for the members of the sects are slave of impostors who are the masters and the rulers of the life of the members.

Brothers, if from among you someone rises up who claims to be ‘the prophet of God for the last days’ (and claims he has received special revelations from God, which may concern even the date of the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that those who want to be saved must follow him otherwise they will perish), admonish him and expel him from among you because he wants to deceive you and turn you away from the Lord. Admonish those who have been deceived by such a man once, and then admonish them a second time, and after that have nothing to do with them because such men are warped and sinful and are self-condemned (Titus 3:10-11).

Finally, beloved, I tell you this: remember that the Church of God is formed of all those who, apart from the denomination they belong to, have been born again, and thus they are washed and sanctified in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, see that you are not deceived by sectarian feelings and attitudes existing even among some Pentecostal Churches, according to which somehow or other if you are not with them you are not Christ’s, because such a persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. Let no one deceive you.

 

 

Contentions (quarrels)

 

Contentions or quarrels are works of the flesh (Galatians 5:20). Those who are haughty, being full of pride, love to quarrel, as it is written: “By pride comes nothing but strife” (Proverbs 13:10 – NKJV. The NIV reads “Pride only breeds quarrels”). They reject any advice, they don’t want to be taught, they know everything! When one speaks with them strife rises at once, and the atmosphere becomes bad, very bad. In the life of these people, who are quarrelsome (as well as envious), there is confusion and every evil work, as it is written: “Where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work” (James 3:16). We must admonish them, as James did (James 4:1-10).

We, as servants of the Lord, must not quarrel, but be gentle to all and patient with all (2 Timothy 2:24; 1 Thessalonians 5:14), just as the Lord Jesus Christ did not quarrel (Matthew 12:19) but was gentle to all and patient with all.

 

 

Wraths

 

To be angry is not a sin, for Jesus Himself got angry, as it is written: “And when he had looked round about on them with anger ….” (Mark 3:5). However, to be swift to wrath is a sin, for it is written: “He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly” (Proverbs 14:17) and again: “A quick-tempered man displays folly” (Proverbs 14:29 - NIV).

Therefore, brothers, you must not be quick-tempered but slow to wrath, because – as Wisdom says – “he who is slow to wrath has great understanding” (Proverbs 14:29 – NKJV).

When you get angry with somebody take heed that you don’t speak corrupt words or you don’t lift your hand against him or you don’t make threatening gestures because whereas on the one hand you are allowed to be angry on the other hand you are not allowed to sin, for it is written: “Be angry, and do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26 – NKJV).

Control yourselves, so that you may remain blameless even when you are angry.

 

 

Avenging oneself

 

The Scripture says: “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath [but leave room for God’s wrath]: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:19-21) and again: “See that none render evil for evil unto any man” (1 Thessalonians 5:15).

Jesus Christ left us an example to follow, for He did not render evil for evil to His enemies, as it is written: “Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously” (1 Peter 2:23).

Therefore, brothers, when you are wronged by someone (whether he is an unbeliever or a believer) do not render evil for evil to him to avenge yourselves, lest you bear sin because of him. For if you return evil for evil, you commit a sin because you seek to take justice into your hands and because we are not allowed to do any harm not only to those who do good to us but also to those who wrong us. Of course, when we are wronged by someone we are greatly tempted to avenge ourselves somehow, but by watching and praying we can bear the temptation.

But why should we refrain from avenging ourselves? Because vengeance belongs to God. Therefore God alone can avenge Himself and avenge those who are wronged, and that’s what He does. Let no one deceive himself; our God is an avenging God and at His appointed time He makes people reap all the harm that they have done to other people, because - as Jeremiah said - “the LORD is the God of recompense, He will surely repay” (Jeremiah 51:56 – NKJV).

To God be the glory forever. Amen.

 

 

Rejoicing at the destruction of those who hate us

 

Wisdom says: “Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: Lest the LORD see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him” (Proverbs 24:17-18).

Therefore, brothers, take heed that you don’t rejoice when God punishes those who wrong us because God dislikes such a behaviour. Imitate Job, who was an upright man who feared God, who said he did not rejoice at the destruction of those who hated him nor did he lift himself up when evil found them (Job 31:29).

 

 

Military service and war

 

A child of God is a person who is called to pursue peace with all (Hebrews 12:14) and to do good to all (Galatians 6:10), thus he cannot be in favour of war. As a consequence, he cannot be in favour of military service either, because through it people are trained to fight against other people and to kill them. Therefore, I exhort young people to choose the alternative service (of course, provided that there is alternative service in the country they live; in any case they must refuse to do the compulsory military service) lest they learn to use carnal weapons against other people, because their use brings only death and destruction. Thus, beloved, you must be against war, and if a war breaks out and you are called to leave for the war you must disobey the governing authorities in order to obey God.

We who are believers are soldiers of Jesus Christ, and we must fight against the principalities, the powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, and the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places; however, we must not fight using carnal weapons but spiritual weapons, because our enemies are spiritual beings and not human beings, and the apostle Paul speaks of these weapons in the epistle to the Ephesians (Ephesians 6:10-20). The weapons of our warfare are these: truth, righteousness, the preparation of the Gospel of peace, faith, salvation, the Word of God and prayer. And through them we pull down the strongholds of our enemies (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Our warfare is called “the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12 - NKJV) because it is useful to us and to our neighbour, for by fighting this fight we stand firm in the faith, we help our brothers to stand firm, and we help people to be delivered from the hands of the devil. Furthermore, we are sure of overcoming our enemies because they have been defeated by our head, namely Jesus Christ, who triumphed over them by the cross (Colossians 2:15).

 

 

Evil thoughts

 

We who are children of God must love God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind; for when Jesus was asked which is the first commandment of all He answered saying: “The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment” (Mark 12:29-30). Therefore, our mind also must serve righteousness. For this reason you must not think evil thoughts, brothers, because God dislikes evil thoughts, as Wisdom says: “The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord” (Proverbs 15:26 – NKJV).

What should you do then when you are tempted to think evil thoughts? You must bring them into captivity to the obedience of Christ, as Paul said: “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

If you don’t do this, evil thoughts will spread like cancer and will lead you to act sinfully. Therefore, make every effort to keep also your mind pure by observing the following commandment of Paul: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8). Among the things to think about, which impart grace to the believer, I mention these: your new birth; the purpose of God according to election; your water baptism, the baptism with the Holy Spirit (whether you have received it or not); paradise, as it is described by the Word of God, and the day of your death when at last, if you stand firm in the faith till the end, you will enter this marvellous place; the judgements of God, so that you may walk in the fear of God; the way God has guided you till now; how He protected you from many dangers; how God answered your prayers when you called on Him; the story of Jesus of Nazareth, above all His death and His resurrection, but also His glorious return as it is described by the Scripture. Also think about how God all of a sudden can manifest Himself to you by giving you a dream or a vision or by sending an holy angel to you to reveal to you some secrets; the spiritual gifts given by the Holy Spirit for the edifying of the Church; think of doing good to all, both believers and unbelievers, whether in word or in deed; think about the love of God, His goodness, His righteousness; think about His invisible attributes which are clearly seen being understood by His works; think about all the things which are written in the Bible.

 

 

The ignorance of the things of God

 

Brothers, you must flee the ignorance of the things of God, because God does not want you to be ignorant of His will. Some expressions of the apostle Paul show this very clearly.

● Paul wrote to the Romans: “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Romans 11:25).

● Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness” (1 Corinthians 10:1-5), and again: “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant” (1 Corinthians 12:1), and also: “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11:3).

● Paul wrote to the Thessalonians: “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

● Paul wrote to Timothy: “I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:14-15 - NIV).

As you can see, the apostle Paul wanted the saints to know certain things, he did not want the saints to be ignorant of those things. Obviously, Paul wanted the saints to know not only the above mentioned things but also all the other things he wrote in his epistles. However, today the attitude of many Church leaders is not the same as that of Paul, because they don’t want the saints to know certain things. Yes, they want you to know that you must pay tithes or that you must give the ‘8 per mille’ (8 cents per thousand) to their Church - which is a percentage of money that an Italian citizen may choose to give to the State or to the Roman Catholic Church or to the Waldensian Church or to the Assemblies of God or to some other religious groups, and that sum of money which he gives according to his income tax return to the Italian Revenue (afterward the Italian Revenue will give that sum of money to the religious group chosen by the taxpayer) will be used by the religious group for humanitarian aims or for supporting the ministers of the religious group (it depends on what the religious group decided to do with that money when it reached an agreement with the Italian Government) -; they want you to know that you must attend the Sunday service (which is a right thing), or rather, that you must go to the House of God (so you are induced to think that those four walls of the place of worship are the House of God, when on the contrary it is you who are the House of God); they want you to know that you must submit to the statute of the denomination you belong to (which is a document which resists the Holy Spirit, but perhaps you have not yet read it because only the Church leaders of your denomination are allowed to read it); they want you to know that you must not have fellowship with brothers and sisters who belong to other Churches because they are dangerous (on the contrary, the dangerous people are right those who tell you such a diabolic thing and therefore you run the risk of being deceived by them) and many other things. But, as far as many other things are concerned, they want you to be ignorant of them or they try to frighten you in order to keep you from having certain experiences, which they call sarcastically ‘mystic experiences’. So you hardly ever hear of visions or dreams or revelations, and when you hear of them you hear people speaking about them in a negative way and thus you have come to the conclusion that such things are not important today or that today God is not so much interested in giving visions, dreams and revelations as He was in ancient times or that God has ceased giving visions, dreams and revelations; and they may frighten you by telling you always the false revelations which many who claim to be Christians have received (which false revelations of course exist); when you hear of the miracles and the healings recorded in the Bible they are allegorized, so you think that miracles and healings are not so much important today. As far as the baptism with the Holy Spirit is concerned, you hear of it and you have come to the conclusion that it is a biblical experience but not a revolutionary experience, as it was for the early disciples, therefore it is sufficient for you to hear someone saying ‘I spoke in tongues’ in order to think that he was baptized with the Holy Spirit, but unfortunately those tongues are the fruit of his craftiness or of his ignorance because such a person was without power beforehand and he is still without power after he has spoken these so called tongues. And what shall I say about holiness? Of course, you hear of it, but in the way they want you to hear of it. ‘No rules’, they say (while their statute is full of human rules), and again: ‘Yes, we must be holy, but not bigot’ (by that expression they mean that ‘exaggerations’ are not allowed) and many other things. Therefore you have formed a particular idea of holiness. What’s this idea? You think that God looks at the heart and he does not look at the clothes you wear or at many other ‘trifles’ (such as watching television, going to the beach to get sun tanned and to bathe, going to the cinema, going to dance, attending amusements parks, etc). So you wear haughty and indecent dresses, as when you were under the power of Satan; you go to the beach to get sun tanned and to bathe (maybe along with your blind pastor), and you watch television as if nothing happened in your life; and you do many other things which now I can’t write because it would take too much time to speak about them. How then can you say that the old things have passed away and all things have become new? You can’t say such a thing; if you say it, you will deceive yourselves. But why are these ‘Pentecostal pastors’ interested in letting you know certain things and they speak about them to you with boldness, but they are not interested in letting you know other things (provided that they know them)? Why, if some believers do not pay tithes, on Sunday do they preach their sermons based on Malachi accusing the brethren of robbing God? While, if a sister comes to the place of worship wearing a miniskirt or a low-necked dress or a close-fitting dress or jewelry or with her face made up, do they close their eyes and keep silent? Why do they insist so much on the fact that believers must give money for the work of God, but they don’t insist that the daughters of God must wear decent and modest dresses? Why do they proclaim with power and boldness that some Churches don’t accept the doctrine of the baptism with the Holy Spirit, but they do not expose with the same power and boldness the counterfeit baptisms with the Holy Spirit as well as the counterfeit interpretations of tongues, which are passed off as prophecies but are nothing but inventions? Why do they say to you with so much boldness and power that you must not attend a particular place of worship because there the full Gospel is not preached, but they do not say to you that you must not go to the beach to get tanned and to bathe lest you defile yourselves? And I could go on, but I stop here.

The reason why they don’t want you to know these things is because they fear that those who hear these things will choose another Church, that is, a Church whose pastor tolerates these things and therefore they are afraid their Church might lose some members and thus the offerings might decrease and their prestige might decrease as well because in their denomination the more souls they shepherd the more important they are in the sight of believers.

But as for me, I want you to know these things and many other things these pastors hide from you, so that you may grow spiritually and be consecrated to God, and I will do my best by the grace of God to remind you of them every time I will have an opportunity to do it. However, on your part, you must desire earnestly to know the truth about all things pertaining to the counsel of God. Therefore, brothers, search the Scriptures every day, meditate on them, devour them, absorb them, asking God to explain to you those things which you have not yet understood. pray, fast and abstain from every form of evil, and you will see that little by little you will find out those things many people want you to be ignorant of or don’t know or don’t want to know in their ignorance. Every time it seems to you that something is wrong, kneel down before God and ask Him to give you wisdom and to guide you and He will answer you, He will not disappoint you.

Do not be afraid of anything and of anybody because I know that the devil will try to dissuade you from doing what I have just told you to do; then you will see the awful ignorance existing in many brothers, who take pleasure in being ignorant, and you will realize that those who do not seek the good of the people of God, but only their own interests, are very numerous. And when you know the truth about this or that thing, acquaint the other brothers with it, so that they also may know it and you may be a testimony to them.

 

 

False doctrines

 

One day Jesus told His disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. In other words, He told them to beware of the doctrine of those Jewish sects because it nullified the Word of God (Matthew 16:6,12).

So we who are disciples of Christ must beware of all those doctrines which nullify the Word of God. To know which are these doctrines, I exhort you to read my confuting writings. False doctrines, as the word itself indicates, are false, and thus they cannot do any good to those who accept them, for they do nothing but harm to them. Only true and sound doctrines can edify believers. Therefore, hold the doctrines which are true and expose the false ones.

Do not accept strange doctrines, lest you wander away from the truth and you be put to shame. If you find out with the help of God that you are professing a false doctrine, I exhort you to reject it and to tell the others to do the same.

 

 

Preventing conception

 

Anyone who does not want to have children or tries to prevent conception in order to limit the number of children commits a sin, for the Scripture says: “Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28 – NKJV) and also that the woman “will be saved in child-bearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control” (1 Timothy 2:15 – NKJV).

Therefore, brothers, do not prevent conception, lest you resist the will of God. Know this, that the Scripture speaks well of those who have many children, for it states: “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate” (Psalm 127:3-5).

Since I know that among the brotherhood there are some (both men and women) who have been sterilized in order not to have children or to limit the number of children, I tell you that this is an abomination to God. Know this, that those who have undergone sterilization will bear their sin. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

 

 

Not chastening one’s children

 

There are many believers who, having been deceived by some who are wise according to the world but not according to God, refuse to rebuke severely or to beat their own children (according to the need, of course) when they disobey. For they say, ‘Our children also must have their own experiences’, ‘It is the Lord who will make them understand what is right and what is wrong’, ‘How can I beat the blood of my blood?’ etc.

Brothers, I exhort you not to be deceived by these words, rather expose them earnestly and destroy them because they openly oppose the Word of God which says: “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes” (Proverbs 13:24) and also: “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell” (Proverbs 23:13-14), and again: “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying” (Proverbs 19:18).

Why is correction (not only the verbal correction but also the correction with the rod) necessary? Because Wisdom says: “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15).

Therefore, there is only one way to bring up one’s children well, that is, by correcting them. Let no one deceive you, because if you allow them to do whatever they like they will grow like brute beasts and they will be your grief and your shame.

 

 

Offending little children

 

Brothers, take heed that you don’t offend and despise little children, for Jesus said: “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6) and again: “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10).

But how can one offend and despise little children who believe in Jesus? By beating them or by kicking them, by forcing them to steal, by committing indecent acts before them, or by sexually abusing them, or by beating his wife or parents before their eyes (as well as not before their eyes), and in many other ways. Take heed to yourselves, brothers, and flee all these works of the flesh, lest you incur the wrath of God by your evil actions.

 

 

Disobeying one’s parents

 

According to the Word of God, disobeying one’s parents is sin, for according to the law the rebellious son who did not want to obey the voice of his parents had to be put to death, as it is written: “If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear” (Deuteronomy 21:18-21). It is sin also to curse one’s father or mother, as it is written: “For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him” (Leviticus 20:9).

Therefore, children must not disobey their parents, rather they must honor them and obey them, as it is written: “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee” (Exodus 20:12) and again: “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord” (Colossians 3:20).

 

 

Marriages with unbelievers

 

The Scripture commands believers not to marry unbelievers, for it says: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Corinthians 6:14-16).

Therefore, brothers and sisters who want to get married, do not seek you wife or your husband among the people of the world but among those who are not of this world, that is, the saints or the redeemed. Perhaps someone of you will say to me: ‘I am seeking a good unbelieving person and not a bad one!’ Do not deceive yourself, because even if an unbelieving person is sweet and affectionate to you, the fact still remains that there can be no spiritual communion between you who are a believer and him or her who is an unbelieving person, because you are spiritually alive while he or she is dead in his/her transgressions. You are under the power of God, while he or she is under the power of the devil. You want to serve righteousness but he or she wants to serve sin. And I could go on. Know this, that there are no good sinners, but only sinners.

Perhaps someone else will say: ‘Little by little I will win him or her to Christ!’. Do not deceive yourself either, because eventually the person who is under the power of Satan will overcome you and you will stray from the faith and thus you will give up meeting together with other believers. And you will regret bitterly leaning on your own understanding. Know this, that many believers said that before their marriage, but afterward they disappeared and they were not seen in the midst of the flock of the Lord any longer because they went on the mountains of unfaithfulness.

Young people, I say it again, see to it that you marry only a believer even if your community is a little community and you don’t have the possibility of meeting many young people like you, do not worry about that because God from the place of His dwelling looks on you and sees your need and at His appointed time He will cause you to meet the right man or the right woman, that is, the person God has appointed for you. Be patient and trust in the Lord with all your heart, do not lose heart. He is faithful and will turn your mourning into joy, and your wailing into dancing, but remember, at His appointed time.

“Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart” (Psalm 37:4), and: “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:5). Do not let these words depart from your eyes and your heart because in the saddest moments they will give you much joy and peace.

 

 

The woman teaching and having authority over a man

 

Sisters in the Lord, you must learn in silence with all submission; therefore without grumbling and without interrupting him who is teaching the Word of God. So, when the Church comes together in one place (that is, during the worship service) you must not talk with anybody, rather you must keep silent “for it is shameful for women to speak in church” (1 Corinthians 14:35 - NKJV), says Paul; and if you want to learn something, do not ask the pastor (while the church Is gathered together in one place), but ask your husbands at home, as it is written: “And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home” (1 Corinthians 14:35 – NKJV). You ought to keep silent in the churches, for women “are to be submissive, as the law also says” (1 Corinthians 14:34 - NKJV).

Therefore, since you, sisters, must learn in silence, you are not allowed to teach the doctrine of God, that is, the same doctrine that Paul, Peter and the other apostles taught to the saints and which Paul commanded Timothy and Titus to teach. Neither are you allowed to exercise authority over your husband because he is your head and you are to submit to him.

To sum up, therefore, what I have just said: “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence” (1 Timothy 2:11-12 – NKJV).

 

A woman is not permitted to teach

 

With regard to the fact that a woman is not permitted to teach, the law also confirms it, and we know that the law is made for whatever is contrary to the sound doctrine (1 Timothy 1:10). For, when God chose the Levites, under the law of Moses, to entrust them with the service of the tabernacle and that they might teach His laws to the Israelites, as it is written: “They shall teach Jacob Your judgments, and Israel Your law” (Deuteronomy 33:10 – NKJV) he chose men and not women.

I can confirm this also by what we read in the book of Nehemia, for in the days of Nehemiah and Ezra, after the temple and the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt, when the law of God was read and explained publicly before the people, that was done by some men from among the Levites, as it is written: “Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused [helped] the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place. So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused [helped] them to understand the reading” (Nehemiah 8:7-8). On the basis of these passages, nowadays among the Jews (the Orthodox Jews) the woman is not permitted to read the law publicly in the synagogue nor to explain any passage of the law to the congregation.

Obviously, the New Testament’s writings confirm that a woman is not permitted to teach, for the twelve apostles appointed by Jesus, whom He sent to preach (Matthew 10:1-8; Luke 6:12-16) were all men, as well as the seventy disciples whom He appointed afterward and sent before His face (Luke 10:1).

There were of course some women who followed Jesus, but they did not teach the Word of God, for they ministered to Jesus and His disciples, as Luke says: “The Twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means” (Luke 8:1-3 - NIV). As you can see, the women who were with Jesus and His disciples did not preach nor teach the Word of God, but they provided for Jesus and His disciples from their substance. Is it not written: “Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches” (Galatians 6:6 – NKJV)?

 

Replies to the main objections

 

Let us now reply to the main objections raised by some sisters and brothers.

‘Since a woman can prophesy, she can teach because he who prophesies teaches’.

That’s not true, because the gift of prophecy and the gift of teaching are two different gifts, they are not the same gift. That is confirmed by Paul when he says: “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them; if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching” (Romans 12:6-7 – NKJV). Bear in mind this, that Paul did not say: ‘I do not permit a woman to prophesy’ because such a statement would have contradicted the Scripture which says: “Your daughters shall prophesy” (Joel 2:28 – NKJV), but he said a different thing, that is, “I do not permit a woman to teach” (1 Timothy 2:12 - NKJV).

‘According to the Scripture, a woman can serve as a deaconess, which means that she can also teach’

That’s not true; now I am going to explain why. The Word declares that in the Church of Cenchrea there was a deaconess, for Paul wrote to the Romans: “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant [or deaconess] of the Church in Cenchrea. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me” (Romans 16:1-2 – NIV). Therefore, a woman can be ordained as a deaconess in the Church, if she has the necessary qualifications. But the deacons are not appointed to teach the doctrine of God, but to minister to the saints; that’s why among the qualifications a believer must have to serve as a deacon we don’t find this one ‘able to teach’. Therefore, it is evident that since deacons do not need to be able to teach the doctrine of God because their job is not to teach the Word, those sisters who are appointed deaconesses are not called to teach the doctrine of God.

‘A woman can teach because in ancient times God appointed some women prophetesses’.

That’s not true, for the ministry of prophet is different from the ministry of teacher, and the fact that one is a prophet does not necessarily mean that he is able to teach. Deborah (who lived in the days of the judges), Huldah (who lived in the days of king Josiah) and Anna (who lived in the days of Jesus), were all prophetesses, but they were not appointed by God to teach the law to the people because according to the law of Moses the precepts of the law had to be taught by the Levites, as God said: “For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, and people should seek the law from his mouth” (Malachi 2:7 – NKJV).

The prophet Micah also made a distinction between the office of a priest and the office of a prophet, for when God rebuked the people of Israel through him He said: “Her priests teach for pay, and her prophets divine for money” (Micah 3:11 – NKJV). As you can see, it was the priests and not the prophets who were appointed to teach.

A woman, under grace, can be appointed by God prophetess, but to be a prophet does not mean to be enabled by God to teach the Word; a woman who is a prophetess prophesies by the Spirit when the Spirit comes upon her, and tells the visions and the revelations God gives to her, but this does not mean at all that God has appointed her to teach the doctrine of God. In order to be able to teach, a prophetess needs to possess also the ability to teach, but that’s an ability which she can’t receive from God.

‘A woman can teach because when Jesus rose from the dead He appeared first to a woman, that is, Mary Magdalene, to whom He said: “Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God” (John 20:17)’

Now, according to the Scripture, “Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her” (John 20:18 - NKJV), but she did not go to teach the doctrine of God to the disciples of the Lord. Nor from that day on did she teach, because Jesus had not given her authority to teach. Jesus gave that authority to the eleven disciples, for when He appeared to them on one of the mountains in Galilee He said to them: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:19-20).

To confirm this I remind you that the Scripture says that (after the Spirit was poured out upon the Church) the early believers “continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). As you can see, the Scripture does not say that some of the women to whom Jesus had appeared were teaching together with the apostles.

‘A woman can teach because Anna was a prophetess’.

Now, Anna was a prophetess who “departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day” (Luke 2:37). Therefore that godly woman was always in the temple, which was a holy place where the Jews always met. But Anna did not teach the law of Moses to the Jews in the temple, but she served God with fastings and prayers. Then, when the Child Jesus was brought to the temple to be presented to the Lord, Anna was there and “spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38 - NKJV). Does this mean that she taught the doctrine of God? How could we say such a thing when the Scripture states only that she spoke of the Child Jesus? I am convinced that if those women who want at all costs to teach began to serve God in the same way Anna served God, that is to say, with prayers and fastings, and stopped teaching, they would do something well pleasing to God.

‘A woman can teach because some of the women who helped Paul taught the Word of God’.

These women, according to this objection, were Priscilla, Euodias, and Syntyche, for it is written: “And he [Apollos] began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly” (Acts 18:26), and again: “I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life” (Philippians 4:2-3).

Now, if the above mentioned passages meant that Priscilla, Euodias and Syntyche did teach the Word, that would mean that Paul permitted them to teach. Then, if it were so, Paul told a lie to Timothy, because He told him that he did not permit a woman to teach. So, who says the truth? Those who say that these passages mean that those women taught or Paul? Perhaps we might say that Paul permitted some women to teach while he did not permit other women to teach! But if it were so, how could Paul say to Timothy: “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality” (1 Timothy 5:21)? The truth is that Priscilla, Eudioas and Syntyche did not teach. At most, we can say that Priscilla and her husband Aquila told Apollos something about the new Way privately, but certainly we cannot say that Priscilla taught the brethren publicly as Paul and the other apostles did.

I am convinced that you, sisters, ought to follow the example of Mary, Martha’s sister, who “sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word” (Luke 10:39 – NKJV). Jesus said that Mary had chosen that good part, which would not be taken away from her. However, what happens in many Churches? It happens that many sisters have not chosen that good part, that is, they have not decided to hear the Word of God and to learn in silence, but they have chosen a part which is not fit for them, that is, they have decided to teach!

 

A woman is not permitted to exercise authority over her husband

 

I said before that a woman is not permitted to exercise authority over her husband, let us see therefore how a woman must behave towards her own husband. Paul wrote: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing” (Ephesians 5:22-24), and again: “Let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Ephesians 5:33 – NKJV).

Now, the Church is the Lamb’s wife and she must submit to Her head, that is, Christ Jesus, therefore just as the Church submits to Christ with all reverence and doesn’t dare to exercise authority over the Christ of God, so, in the same manner, the wife must submit to her husband.

Sarah is an example of a woman who submitted to her husband, for the Scripture says that “Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord” (1 Peter 3:6 - NKJV). I would like to point out that even though she was submissive to her own husband, she was not a slave of her husband but a free woman, as it is written that “Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a free-woman” (Galatians 4:22). Why do I say this? Because some women think that in ancient times the wives of the patriarchs were treated and regarded as bondwomen. Consider this: the holy women who trusted in God were submissive to their own husbands, and because of their respectful behaviour they are called ‘bondwomen’! The reason why today many women think that those holy women were bondwomen is that they think that in this modern age for women to submit to their husbands, as did those holy women, is absurd. Today, what should be a normal thing for a woman, is considered outdated and inadequate; therefore, no wonder that many women do not want to submit to their husbands. Those women who call the obedience and the submission of Sarah towards Abraham ‘bondage’ are nothing but women who have become slaves of a perverse way of thinking, and if they want to escape the snare of the devil into which they have fallen they must repent and obey the truth.

We live in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation which has perverted the straight ways of the Lord, and we see with our eyes that many so called ‘feminist movements’ have risen and these movements are fighting against God, for their purpose is contrary to the sound doctrine of God. The fight which is called ‘the fight in favour of the emancipation of women’ is nothing but a device used by Satan to destroy the family. Furthermore, there are some women who do not know what the verb ‘to emancipate’ means. Now, to emancipate means ‘to set free from slavery’ and when a married woman says that she wants to become an emancipated woman she means that she wants to stop obeying her husband and submitting to him, and if she is unmarried she means that she doesn’t want to submit to man. After the woman was deceived and fell into transgression, God said to the woman: “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you” (Genesis 3:16 – NKJV); these words were spoken by God, the Creator of all things, and the woman, who is just a creature, has decided to nullify the Word of God. Will she manage to nullify it?’ No, she won’t. Did her struggle improve our society? No, it didn’t, rather things in this world are going from bad to worse, and we see that what the woman is doing in order to emancipate herself is hastening the destruction of the family. Am I wrong in saying that divorces and separations are increasing in number because of the perverse ideas displayed by the feminists, who are under the leadership of the devil? Am I wrong in saying that today a woman who is obedient and submissive to her own husband is considered by the feminists (who  are filled with hate for the Word of God because it reduces their claims to silence) a crazy and ignorant woman, and thus they encourage her to rebel against her husband to claim her ‘rights’? Today that old serpent, that is, Satan, is still deceiving the woman: he began in the Garden of Eden and is actively prosecuting his diabolical work to this day. Satan knows how to deceive the woman; he knows that it is sufficient to make her believe that God is a liar in order to cause her to fall into transgression. What did God say to Adam? He said: “In the day that you eat of it [that is, of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil] you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17 – NKJV); but what did the serpent say to Eve: “You will not surely die” (Genesis 3:4), and she believed the serpent and ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thinking that she would not die, and the baleful consequences of that disobedience can be still clearly seen today.

Sisters, I exhort you to obey the Word of God and not to deceive yourselves (by thinking that the freedom proclaimed by the feminist movements is useful to you and to your families). The true freedom is in the Lord, for it is written: “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17 – NKJV). On the contrary, where the spirit of this world is, there is no liberty but only slavery to sin. Sisters, do you want to be really free? Well, then, continue in the Word of Christ, for Jesus said: “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).

Daughters of Zion, be homemakers, so that your husbands, when they come home from work, may find the house clean and in perfect order and their clothes washed and ironed ready to be put on. Let them find savoury food, so that their spirit may be refreshed after a tiring day; do them good and not evil, they need you, you are the helper suitable that God made and gave to man; respect them and do not despise them (do not behave like Michal, David’s wife, who despised David in her heart when she saw David leaping and whirling before the Lord, and for this reason she “had no children to the day of her death” 2 Samuel 6:23 - NKJV); show them in deed and in truth that you love them; be faithful to your husbands, do not be quarrelsome, do not raise your voice against them; when they are tested by God stand by them to give them strength and do not behave like Job’s wife who, when she saw her husband’s sufferings, said to Job: “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9 – NKJV); bear children and bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord because this is one of the good works with which you must adorn yourselves.

 

The reasons of these prohibitions

 

Now, let us see why the woman is not permitted to teach nor to exercise authority over her husband but she must keep silent. Paul says that it is because “Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression” (1 Timothy 2:13-14 – NKJV).

Therefore the reasons of this prohibitions to women are these.

First, because man was not created for the woman, but woman for the man (1 Corinthians 11:9), as it is written that after God formed Adam, He said: “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18), and He took one of his ribs and made it into a woman. So man was formed before the woman. Being created first, the man has the creational priority, he is the head; and creational priority entails functional authority.

Second, because in the Garden of Eden it was not Adam who was deceived but Eve. Paul confirms this by saying to the Corinthians: “The serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness” (2 Corinthians 11:3 - NKJV). Why is it not written that the serpent deceived Adam by his craftiness? Because it is not true that the serpent deceived Adam. Of course, when Adam ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he sinned, as it is written: “Like Adam they have broken the covenant – they were unfaithful to me there” (Hosea 6:7 – NIV), and again: “By the one man’s offense many died” (Romans 5:15 – NKJV). But we need to say all the truth about what happened in the garden of Eden, by saying that the serpent deceived Eve and not Adam. The woman herself recognized that she was deceived, for – after both she and her husband had sinned - when God said to her: “What is this you have done?” (Genesis 3:13 - NKJV), she said: “The serpent deceived me, and I ate” (Genesis 3:13 – NKJV). And that is what the old serpent is still doing, for he is still deceiving the woman. Why do many women refuse to submit to their husbands in everything? Why do they refuse to be homemakers? Why do they refuse to bear children, and if they want to have children, they say arrogantly: ‘Just one or at the most two’? Why do they refuse to do what God commands them to do, but they want to do what they are not allowed to do? Because the serpent has deceived them by his craftiness, and through them he induces many men to sin. Yes, I am fully convinced that in the Church of God, many men are deceived into disobeying some commandments of God by these women, who, having been deceived by that old serpent, through smooth and flattering words, induce them to take crooked paths, and the consequence of their disobedience is confusion.

Therefore, women, submit to your own husbands as is fitting in the Lord, and do not have the presumption to teach. Be humble and respectful and you will be honored by God and by all those who love God and fear Him. Do not think about the so called emancipation of women, because you have already obtained the true freedom, and this freedom is in the Lord.

 

Some other words about the emancipation of women

 

The emancipation of women is a thing that the women of this world likes very much, because through it women and men are put on the same level both in society and in the family. Unfortunately, this so called emancipation of women is accepted even by many sisters in the Lord, who want at all costs to be considered equal to men and not inferior to them (in roles and functions), and therefore they don’t want to submit to them. So, besides going to work to earn their monthly salary (because the salary earned by their husbands was considered insufficient and humiliating to them), they took hold of the pulpit in some Churches and thus they are behind the pulpit teaching and rebuking the brethren. On the other hand, they say, if in Christ there is neither male nor female, why should only men have the opportunity to become pastors or elders?!!

First of all, I want to speak to you, women who keep the Word of God: take heed to yourselves and do not let this diabolical feeling enter you because it is a cancer which would destroy you, your family and the Church you belong to. Know this, that your head is man and whether you are married or not you must submit to man and as sign of this submission you must cover your head with a veil when you pray or prophesy. Be submissive to your husbands and respect them, love them and take care of them. Know that he needs you and by doing the housework you are a great helper to him.

Now listen, you ‘emancipated’ sisters, how long will you follow vanity and love lies? Is it not time for you to come to your senses and cast away your haughtiness and stop thinking that you have the same rights as men have? Do you not realize that since you gave heed to this so called emancipation you and your families have become less and less spiritual? Don’t you see that you are nervous, restless, full of worries and anxieties? Don’t you see that you are neglecting your husbands, who are forced to bear the baleful consequences of your so called emancipation? And what shall I say about your children? Don’t you see that they are growing bad because during the day you are not with them but you see them only in the evening when you have supper? Therefore, stop deceiving yourselves and walk according to the Word of God, that is, submit to your husbands and be busy at home. Resign from your post and work in your house where there is plenty of work for you to do. Then you will see that the money earned by your husband is enough to live, and it is not absolutely humiliating to you.

Now, I want to say something to you brothers who reject the emancipation of women. Continue to abhor it for the sake of your wives and your families; you will be called male chauvinists, antifeminists, selfish persons, etc, but don’t worry about that.

On the contrary, I say to those who accept the emancipation of women: ‘Stop supporting it. Don’t you see how many harms it has done to our society and to your family? Don’t you see the evil things caused by it in the midst of the Church?

 

 

The woman’s praying or prophesying with her head uncovered

 

Paul says to the Corinthians: “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head [the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head] because of the angels. Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God. Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God” (1 Corinthians 11:3-16).

Sister, know that your head, that is, the one who is in a role of authority over you, is man. Whether you are an unmarried woman or a married woman (or even a widow), know that your head is man. Therefore, because of the angels (that is to say, because the angels are being taught through the Church that the woman is under man’s authority) you must have on your head, when you pray or prophesy, a sign of man’s authority over you and that sign is the veil, which I advise you to tie well in order to keep it from falling on your shoulders. You will say to me: ‘What offence do I commit if I don’t put on the veil (that is to say, if I don’t cover my head)? Here is my answer: If you pray or prophesy with your head uncovered you dishonor your head, that is, man (in other words, you deprive him of the honor he is worthy to receive from you). Therefore, you must recognize that if you pray or prophesy with your head uncovered (obviously, not only when you are in the place of worship but also when you are in any other place, because your head is the man and the angels looks at you even outside the place of worship) you commit a sin.

 

Replies to the main objections

 

‘The words of Paul about the veil are just an advice’.

The words of Paul about the veil are not an advice, for Paul says: “For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels” (1 Corinthians 11:10 – NKJV. The NIV reads ‘a sign of authority’). That ‘ought to’ does not indicate that Paul advised believing women to put on the veil, but rather it indicates that he commanded them to put it on. Paul advised the Corinthians to do something when he said to them: “And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago. Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have” (2 Corinthians 8:10-11), but surely he does not give them an advice when he speaks of the veil. I am convinced that many sisters, if their boss told them that they ought to wear a veil or a particular hat, then they would keep that order lest they should make an enemy of their boss. But as chance would have it, God has commanded them through Paul to cover their head with a veil when they pray or prophesy and they don’t want to obey God. ‘It’s just an advice!’ they say, while it is a commandment of the Possessor of heaven and earth and of their life as well. That means that they fear men more than God; they fear the punishment which a man may inflict on them more than the punishment which the One who gives them life, breath and all things, may inflict on them. We are really surprised and filled with indignation because of such a behaviour. I am also convinced that if one day it becomes fashionable to cover one’s head with a veil, many sisters who refuse to cover their head with a veil will buy a veil immediately lest they should appear anticonformistic. But again, as a chance would have it, the custom of covering one’s head is a holy custom which is confirmed by the New Testament, which is the Word of God, a custom which must be kept as long as the Church is on the earth, but they are indifferent to it. They don’t want to look ‘outdated’, they don’t want to keep what Paul says. Therefore, they don’t want to conform themselves to the Word of God, but they are willing to conform themselves to the fashion of this wicked world! How many contradictions we see with our own eyes!!

 

‘The order about the veil given by Paul had to be kept only at that time and only in some places’.

That’s something we can’t affirm after reading carefully all the words of Paul. For we read that Paul said that the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head, “because of the angels”, that is to say, because the angels are being taught through the Church that the woman is under man’s authority.

Now, I ask you, ‘Did the angels observe only the saints who lived in the city of Corinth, or did they observe also the saints who lived in Ephesus and in Thessalonica and anywhere else at that time? We believe that the angels observed the saints wherever they were. Therefore, women had to cover their head with a veil – when they prayed or prophesied – also in Ephesus, in Thessalonica and anywhere else, because they had to show a sign of authority to the angels of God everywhere.

That is confirmed by the fact that Paul says that the Churches of God did not have the custom of letting women pray with their head uncovered (therefore it was not only the Church of Corinth which had the custom of letting women pray with their head covered).

But there is another question I want to ask you: Did the angels of God, after the death of Paul and of the other apostles, cease watching the Churches of God? The answer is ‘no’, therefore the woman must still cover her head because of the angels, when she prays or prophesies (I say it again, both inside and outside the place of worship).

What happens if she refuses to obey this commandment? The Scripture says that she “dishonors her head”, that is, man, because Paul says that the head of woman is man.

To confirm that the commandment about the veil for the woman when she prays or prophesies was not just for a place nor temporary, I want to point out to you that Paul commands man not to cover his head when he prays or prophesies, for he says: “A man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God” (1 Corinthians 11:7 – NKJV), and that if a man does not keep this commandment he dishonors his head, that is, Christ, for Paul says: “Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head” (1 Corinthians 11:4 – NKJV). Why do I say that this prohibition to men confirms that the necessity for the woman to wear a veil did not apply just to that time and to a place? Because today when believing men pray or prophesy, if they have a hat on their head, they feel they have to uncover their head, while if they have their head uncovered they don’t feel they have to cover their head. Why that? Because they feel inwardly that if they prayed with their head covered they would dishonor the Lord (and this confirms what Paul says to the Corinthians). And if they prayed or prophesied with their head covered, surely their conscience would immediately rebuke them. With regard to this, I want to tell you an incident which happened to me many years ago. I was doing my military service (I was a babe in Christ at that time and I did not understand that according to the Word of God we must not learn to fight against other men) and I wore a military hat very often while I was in the barracks. I always took off my hat before saying grace. However, one day, maybe because I was in a hurry to do something or because I was lost in thought, I forgot to take it off and I gave thanks before my lunch. But after I prayed, since I noticed that I had not taken off my hat as usual, my conscience rebuked me because I knew that according to the Scripture I had dishonoured Christ. Therefore, I immediately confessed my sin to the Lord and I resolved not to fall into the same transgression any more. Therefore, since we who are men dishonour Christ if we pray or prophesy with our head covered, we must abstain from praying or prophesying with our head covered. I remind you that Christ is worthy of all honor being Lord of lords, King of kings, and the supreme head of the Church, and thus we must not dishonour Him. Maybe someone thinks that to dishonour Christ is not a mistake so serious, thus I want to remind this person that Jesus said to the Jews: “He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him” (John 5:23). On another occasion, precisely when the Jews insulted Him by saying: “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” (John 8:48 - NKJV), Jesus said to them: “I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me” (John 8:49 - NKJV). The words ‘you dishonor Me’, spoken by Jesus to the Jews after they insulted Him, indicate that those who insult Christ dishonor Him. Therefore if Jesus rebuked the Jews because they had dishonoured Him, surely if we dishonor Him by praying or prophesying with our head covered He will rebuke us also. Therefore, if we, who are men, must not pray or prophesy with our head covered, for sure women must have their head covered when they pray or prophesy lest they dishonor man. Therefore, sisters in the Lord, I exhort you to cover your head when you pray or prophesy. Daughters of Zion, do not be contentious.

 

● ‘Long hair is given to the woman for a covering, therefore since she has long hair she does not need to cover her head with a veil’.

Long hair is certainly a glory to the woman (for it adorns her as an ornament and its appearance contributes to her beauty), but long hair is not the sign of authority on her head which must be seen by the angels of God, because her hair is given to her “as a covering” (1 Corinthians 11:15 – NIV), that is to say, it serves as a shawl for her, thus her hair is not the veil she must wear.  This is confirmed by what Paul says in verse 6: “If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off,” (NIV) for if we were to substitute ‘hair’ for ‘covering’ this statement of Paul would be ludicrous. Listen how it would read, ‘If a woman does not have her hair, she should have her hair cut off’!!! My question is: ‘But if her hair is already off, how can she have her hair cut off?’ That’s why to the question of Paul: “Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?” (1 Corinthians 11:13 – NKJV), we answer that it is not proper for a woman to pray God with her head uncovered (even if she has long hair).

 

● ‘So, should women go around always veiled as the Arab women, so that only their eyes or their face may be seen?

The Word of God does not say such a thing. First of all, it says that the woman must cover her head only when she prays or prophesies and not always. Obviously, if a sister prays continually or often, it is right for her to keep her head covered even while she does her housework, etc. And then it must be said that Paul doesn’t say that the woman must cover her face, as the Muslim religion commands the woman to do, but that she must cover her head, thus her eyes and her face can remain uncovered.

 

● ‘Will a sister who does not cover her head go to hell then? Isn’t she a daughter of God any longer then?

Absolutely not, a woman in Christ is a sister in the Lord even if she prays or prophesies with her head uncovered, but the fact is still true that in so doing she demonstrates that she does not want to obey the Word of God with regard to this particular order which applies to her. Therefore she proves to be a rebellious woman. And God does not take pleasure in any form of rebellion because He is righteous. Will she be punished then? Yes, even this disobedience will not go unpunished.

I conclude with the following words of Paul: “But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God” (1 Corinthians 11:16 – NKJV).

 

 

The man’s praying or prophesying with his head covered

 

As I said before, while a woman ought to pray or prophesy with her head covered in order not to dishonor her head, that is, man; a man ought not to cover his head when he prays or prophesies, for Paul says that “a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God” (1 Corinthians 11:7 - NKJV) and again: “Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head” (1 Corinthians 11:4 - NKJV).

Therefore, brothers, remember that you must take off your hat or whatever other thing you have upon you head before you begin to pray or prophesy in order not to dishonor Christ Jesus.

 

 

Lack of affection and respect toward one’s wife

 

One’s wife must be loved as oneself and respected, for Peter says to the husbands: “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered” (1 Peter 3:7) and Paul says: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25).

Therefore, brothers, don’t beat your wife, don’t throw anything at her, don’t speak to her any bad word, don’t treat her brutally, don’t slander her, don’t despise her, and don’t think that she has only duties toward you because she has also some rights according to the Scripture. And woe to those husbands who ride roughshod over the rights of their wives; they will surely be punished for their haughtiness!

 

 

Lack of respect toward those who are older

 

It is written: “You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man” (Leviticus 19:32 – NKJV). Therefore you younger people do not be lacking in respect toward those who are older. The apostle Peter tells the younger people to be submissive to those who are older (1 Peter 5:5).

Life is a wheel, those who are old today were once young, and those who now are young will be old. The younger people, therefore, ought to consider that as they will desire to be respected by the younger people when they are old, so now they must respect those who are older. And let them remember the words of the prophet: “As you have done, it shall be done to you” (Obadiah 15).

 

 

Lack of respect toward the governing authorities

 

Many people of the world speak evil of the governing authorities by mocking them and slandering them, and they would like you to do the same. I exhort you not to imitate these people, because it is not right to speak ill of the governing authorities in the sight of God. The Scripture says that we must render to all their due: “Honor to whom honor” (Romans 13:7 – NKJV) is due, and the governing authorities are worthy to be honored because God appointed them to do us good. Even when scandals come through them, we must take heed that we don’t slander them because to slander one’s neighbour is not fitting for the saints. Consider the fact that the Scripture rebukes those who speak evil of dignitaries, that is, the devil and all his invisible ministers, for it says about the false teachers: “These dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries. Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said: ‘The Lord rebuke you!’ (Jude 8-9 - NKJV) and again: “But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord” (2 Peter 2:10-11).

Therefore, if the Scripture rebukes those who slander the devil, who is the evil one and the enemy of all believers, no wonder that it rebukes also those who speak evil of the governing authorities even when the authorities make some mistakes. Take heed to yourselves and shine as lights in the midst of this generation which likes to slander the governing authorities. Remember that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is a slanderer, with such a man you must not even eat (1 Corinthians 5:11).

 

 

Selling things which pertain to the Kingdom of God

 

When Jesus sent out His twelve disciples to preach the Kingdom of God, to cast evil spirits, to heal the sick and to raise the dead, among other things He said to them: “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8 – NKJV). What do these words mean? They mean that Jesus told His disciples that since they had received freely the Gospel, as well as the power to heal and cast demons and raise the dead, they had to give freely to others what they had received; therefore without charging for their sermons or for their healings or for the resurrection of a dead person, or for the deliverance of a demon possessed person, and so on.

Therefore, according to these words of Jesus, it is sin to sell Bibles, hymnals, teaching books, and tapes. It cannot be otherwise, because if we can’t accept the fact that a pastor charges € 25 or € 50 for a sermon, or € 15 for a prayer on behalf of a sick person, or € 10 for each visit paid to a believer who is sick, in the same way we can’t accept the fact that some believers sell the Bible, and all those things which can help to edify the Church. Therefore, I exhort all those who are still selling Bibles and other things which edify the Church to stop selling them; give everything freely, believing that God will provide you with all the things you and your families need to live and to spread His Word. Instead, I encourage those who give freely to continue to act in this way because this is well pleasing to God. Be strong and don’t be afraid of anything and anybody.

 

 

Taking the collection by passing an offering basket during the worship service

 

In almost every place of worship, either a short time after the worship service has started or just before it ends, the collection is taken. In some places of worship the collection is taken through a little offering-basket while in some others through an offering-plate.

This way of collecting the offerings of the saints is not confirmed by any passage of the Scripture, therefore I exhort you not to use it in order to collect the money which is needed for the work of God. Actually, this way of collecting offerings looks like a form of begging, and it must be said that so far it has offended not a few of the unbelievers who have come to the place of worship in order to hear the Gospel. ‘They ask for money just like the Roman Catholic priests!’, some say; while others say: ‘Entry is not really free because once you are inside the place of worship they put the offering-basket before your nose because they want to be paid’. However, let me show you from the Scripture the right way to collect the offerings of the saints.

When God commanded the Israelites to make Him a sanctuary, He said to Moses: “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering. And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass, And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats' hair, And rams' skins dyed red, and badgers' skins, and shittim wood, Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense, Onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate. And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them” (Exodus 25:1-8). After Moses received that order, he “spake unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, This is the thing which the LORD commanded, saying, Take ye from among you an offering unto the LORD: whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it, an offering of the LORD ….” (Exodus 35:4-5). And the Israelites obeyed, as it is written: “And all the congregation of the children of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the LORD's offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments. …. The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the LORD, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring for all manner of work, which the LORD had commanded to be made by the hand of Moses” (Exodus 35:20-21,29). And bear in mind that the Israelites brought much more than what was needed, they brought so many things that Moses had to command the people of Israel not to bring any more offerings, as it is written: “And Moses gave commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing. For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much” (Exodus 36:6-7).

When king Hezekiah appointed the divisions of the priests and the Levites according to their divisions, each man according to his service, “he commanded the people that dwelt in Jerusalem to give the portion of the priests and the Levites, that they might be encouraged in the law of the LORD. And as soon as the commandment came abroad, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of corn, wine, and oil, and honey, and of all the increase of the field; and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly. And concerning the children of Israel and Judah, that dwelt in the cities of Judah, they also brought in the tithe of oxen and sheep, and the tithe of holy things which were consecrated unto the LORD their God, and laid them by heaps” (2 Chronicles 31:4-6). I have cited this incident not to uphold tithing under grace, which is not mandatory, but just to show you from the Scriptures the right way to collect offerings from believers.

It is written that in Jerusalem, after the Holy Spirit was poured out on the early disciples, “as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles' feet ….” (Acts 4:34-35).

Concerning the collection for the poor among the saints, Paul said to the Corinthians: “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come” (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). As far as these words are concerned, which are quoted by some to confirm that it is right to pass an offering basket in the place of worship, I want to point out that the offering had to be set aside by the saints at their houses (and when the apostles would come they would take their offering) and it was not to be put inside an offering basket which was passed among the saints during the worship service in the place of worship.

As you can see, no one of the above mentioned passages shows that an offering basket or a drum or any other container was passed out among those who were called to give for God’s work.

In case all these passages of the Scriptures are not enough to make you understand that it is unscriptural to pass out the offering basket among the saints or among the unbelievers after the preaching of the Gospel, I remind you brothers of the way our Lord Jesus acted. He went through every city and village, preaching the Good news of the Kingdom of God and teaching and casting out demons and healing the sick, but He never asked people for money, after or before preaching, by commanding His disciples to pass out an offering-basket among the people (who sometimes were thousands) who gathered together to hear the Word of God from Him. Did people make offerings to Him? Of course, they did, for many women provided for Him from their substance (Luke 8:1-3), and one of His disciples, namely Judas, kept the money bag (John 12:6) into which was put the money given to Him by His disciples. And the apostles also acted like Jesus, for they never passed out an offering basket among those who came to them (whether they were believers or not) to hear the Word of God. Read carefully the book of the Acts of the apostles and all the epistles and you will find not even a single passage which confirms somehow that it is lawful to pass out an offering basket in the place of worship or when Gospel meetings are held under a tent. He who has ears, let him hear.

Why is to pass out an offering basket in the place of worship (which can be the house of a brother) wrong?

● Because thus some are ‘forced’ to give money, and according to the Scripture a believer must not give under compulsion but willingly and joyfully, as Paul says: “not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7 – NKJV), and it is not right to force anyone to give, otherwise the offering is no longer made willingly but grudgingly, and if there is something which is disgusting and annoying is to see those who are covetous give to be seen (therefore, they give grudgingly) by those who give willingly, and therefore their giving is an act of hypocrisy. Let them keep their money in their wallet, lest we hear them complaining outside the place of worship as if they gave their money to support the work of a man or a useless work and not the work of God which is useful to men.

● Because by passing out the offering basket you cannot test the love of believers, that is you say, you can’t see if they really love the work of God. You could always think that some believers make offerings only because they don’t want others to see that they don’t make any offering.

● Because it looks like a form of begging; it looks like the way of begging of those who play a flute or a violin or an accordion in the underground railway, who, after playing their instrument for several minutes, pass out an offering basket to collect alms.

● Because it is as if the pastor after the sermon says: ‘I preached, didn’t I? Now, then, you must pay me for it!’. In other words, the preaching looks like the sale of a product rather than a service offered unselfishly to men.

● Because there might be some unbelievers among the saints, who would be offended by seeing an offering basket passing before them, and that’s what actually happens.

What is then the right way to collect the offerings of the saints? Here it is: an offering-box should be put in a corner of the place of worship and it must be said to the saints that those who are willing to make an offering for the work of God must put their offering into that box. Perhaps some will say: ‘If we do this, many brethren will forget to give!’ I don’t think so, because the Holy Spirit will remind them of the commandment of Jesus according to which we must give. Did not Jesus say: “He [the Holy Spirit] will …. bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26 – NKJV)? Do you think that the Holy Spirit reminds the saints that they must go to the place of worship but He does not remind them that they must give to support the work of God?

 

 

Arriving late at the worship service

 

There are some believers who are in the habit of arriving late at the worship services, that’s a bad habit, do not imitate them. Rather make every effort to arrive always in advance at the worship services, remembering that you go to the place of worship to meet the members of the body of Christ in order to edify one another and to glorify God. If the people of this world arrive early at the stadium or indoor stadium to watch a soccer game or a basketball game, if those who attend the black masses make every effort to arrive in advance to glorify Satan their master, if students make every effort to arrive at school early to attend the lessons, how much more the saints must see to it that they arrive at all costs early!

 

 

Sleeping during the worship service

 

In those communities where the worship Sunday service is held in the afternoon, it is not rare to see somebody fall asleep in his chair during the preaching of the Word of God. That’s a work of the devil, who does not want believers to hear the Word of God because he knows that faith comes by hearing the Word of God and through the preaching of the Word of God believers are edified. Expose this work of the enemy, and take heed to yourselves lest you fall into this trap of the devil. I advise you to eat in moderation at lunch in order to be sober during the worship service.

 

Making noise during the worship service

 

Besides causing some believers to fall asleep, the devil causes some other believers to make noise during the worship service in order to distract those who are listening to the Word of God or those who are praying or those who are singing. Some move a bunch of keys in their hands; some others move themselves in their chair because they start talking with someone who is beside or before or behind them; some distribute sweets to children; and some others move continually their mouth because they have a chewing-gum in it. Take heed to yourselves and expose these things. Pay attention to everything which is done for the common edifying during the worship service.

 

 

Improper clothing (whether female or male clothing), and other improper things concerning the outward adornment and one’s conduct

 

You, brothers and sisters in the Lord, being the light of the world and the salt of the earth, must be an example to the children of this age in clothing also. And in order to do this, you must not conform yourselves to this present age, that is to say, you must not follow the fashion, and you need to keep the commandments of God. And when we speak of the fashion of this world we must always bear in mind that it is provocative, expensive, and indecent, because that’s the kind of fashion the children of this age like.

Let’s see now, therefore, what a believing woman and a believing man must not put on and how she/he must dress in order to be an example. First of all, I want to say that a believer, as far as modesty and decency are concerned, must dress always in the same way. Whether a believer goes to the place of worship or to work, whether it is winter or summer, a believer must always dress modestly and decently. The only difference we permit and understand is the weight of the clothes because it is evident that during summer we cannot wear the clothes that we wear in winter. Therefore, in this case the weight of the clothes is different because the material of which they are made is different. A believing man or a believing woman is the temple of God wherever he/she lives on the face of the earth and every day of the year, that’s why he/she must dress always modestly and decently.

 

Woman

 

As far as the outward adornment of the woman is concerned, the apostle Paul says: “In like manner also, [I will] that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works” (1 Timothy 2:9-10), and Peter confirms these words by saying to women: “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands” (1 Peter 3:3-5).

Let’s start speaking of the things which a believing woman must not wear. She must not wear tight blouses, transparent blouses, and low-necked blouses. And her blouses must not be short-sleeved nor sleeveless, and they must not be made of costly materials. In addition to this, she must not wear trousers (whether they are man trousers or woman trousers), miniskirts, or skirts which reach her knees lest when she is seated she show off her thighs, which must be kept covered.

She must not wear slit skirts, or skirts made of expensive materials. Furthermore, she must not put on fishnet stockings nor those shoes with stiletto heels, nor silver or golden shoes. All these things are not proper for a woman professing godliness, because they make a woman provocative and haughty. Let the woman wear long skirts, which reach their ankles, and let her skirts be decent and modest; and let her blouses be decent and modest as well as her shoes.

Concerning gold or silver jewelry, she must not put any jewelry around her neck, in her ears, around her wrists, and in her fingers. Obviously, she should not put on the wedding ring either, also because the custom of wearing a wedding ring is based on a superstition, which can be read in almost every dictionary of superstitions. This superstition – as I have already said – holds that the fourth finger of the left hand has a vena amoris, that is, a love vein running directly to the heart, so the wedding ring, which is symbol of union of love and of faithfulness, should be put on the left-hand annular finger. Pearls also must not be worn by a woman.

As for the make-up, a woman must hate it, therefore she must not paint her eyes nor put rouge on his face, nor put on any lipstick. The Bible says that Jezebel, Achab’s wife, who was a very wicked woman painted her eyes (2 Kings 9:30). A woman should not put on any perfume because it distracts greatly men and attracts them to her.

As far as his head is concerned, a woman should not cut her hair, because it is shameful for a woman to have her hair cut as a man (instead, if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her), and she must not braid her hair nor perm her hair and nor have her hair dyed. A woman should not wear sun glasses because they make her appear haughty. And when she prays or prophesies she ought to cover her head with a veil, lest she dishonor her head, that is, man.

As for her behaviour, when a woman is seated she must not cross her legs nor part them, lest she provoke men. And she must not put a chewing-gum in her mouth, lest she move her lips in a provocative and sensual way.

 

Man

 

Now, let us speak of man, because many tailors have made also man provocative.

In the law is written: “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God” (Deuteronomy 22:5). Now, this is the only passage in the Scripture which refers clearly to the way a man should not dress, therefore we will start from it. Some time ago, I happened to read some words spoken by some famous tailors about the male fashion; the substance of what they said was that the man of this age must look like a woman in his bearing and therefore the male fashion must help to feminize him. Needless to say, those who speak in this way are effeminate men or sodomites. So in this age, through these famous tailors, who are under the power of the devil, many clothes for men which look like female clothes (both in the cut and in the colours) have been made. These tailors don’t pay any attention to the Word of God, rather it must be said that they scoff at the Word of God openly. That’s why believers, especially younger people for the fashion is addressed mainly to them, must be careful what they put on because various male clothes are influenced by this perverse tendency whose purpose is to make a man flabby and frivolous.

Before I start speaking of those articles of clothing that a believing man must not wear, I want to point out that it is not only women who seek to attract men through their clothes, for men also seek to attract women through their clothes. Remember that many tailors have made diligent researches on women in order to find out what male clothes attract women the most. Do not underestimate this, brothers, do not be ignorant of Satan’s devices.

Let’s start from the shirts. Men should not wear those pink or yellow shirts with strange and attractive drawings, because their purpose is to attract women’s attention. Shirts must not be close-fitting lest they show off the muscles of man’s bust and arms; I know that some believers like to show off their muscles in this way; brothers, abstain from doing such a thing, which is improper. Shirts must not be made of very expensive materials; the pride of life is not of the Father but is of the world.

As far as the tie is concerned, it is something which is superfluous and something which makes a man ‘higher’ and therefore don’t put it on. Put a man without a tie near a man with a tie on and you will notice immediately the difference; there is great demand for ties, in some places it is mandatory; what’s the use of it? At least, the belt helps to keep the trousers adherent to the waist and keeps them from falling down, but what’s the use of the tie? I believe that the tie – especially the tie which is fashionable - is useful only to make man attractive. Today, it’s not difficult to meet believers who forget to bring their Bible to the place of worship but don’t forget to put on their flashy and odd tie! They have all kinds of ties; always a new tie on, always an expensive tie!

As for trousers, they should not be too loose-fitting nor too tight-fitting; in the former case because they tend to feminize the man (which is the aim of many tailors), while in the latter case because they show off a man’s curves making him provocative and attractive. If the woman must not wear miniskirts, a man must not wear minitrousers (shorts and bermudas), which are so fashionable during summer, because it is shameful for men to show off their thighs and legs.

As for shoes, they must not be luxurious shoes made of crocodile skin or made of some other very expensive material. Let man dress with propriety and decency in order to glorify God in his body.

As for jewelry, men also must not wear any jewelry, therefore no necklaces around the neck, no bracelets around the wrists, no earrings, no rings.

As for hair, a man also should not perm his hair nor have his hair dyed. And since if a man has long hair it is a dishonor to him, he should not have long hair like a woman, he must not have a pigtail, and he must not have his hair shaved on both sides of his head in order to have the hair only on the top of his head as many young people do today. Men also should not wear sunglasses, nor put on any perfume because it distracts the woman and attracts her. And when a man prays or prophesies, he must not have his head covered, lest he dishonor his head, that is, Christ.

As for his behaviour, a man must not open his shirt to show off his chest, and he must abstain from crossing his legs in the place of worship and outside it; when it is hot he must not put himself bare-chested before other people because that is a bad habit.

 

Replies to the main objections

 

● ‘God looks at the heart!

That’s true, but it is also true that God does not look only at our heart, I mean that He looks also at the way we dress, and if we don’t honor our body and the sound doctrine through our clothing he is not well pleased with us. If God looked only at the heart, He would not have said through Paul how a woman must adorn herself, nor would He have said through Moses that a woman must not wear anything that pertains to a man. Don’t you think so? If God looked only at the heart, we could go to the place of worship or to work completely naked!!! But obviously we can’t do such a thing because it is an abomination to God. Then, I put the following question to you sisters: ‘If God looks at the heart, what do men look at?’ It does not seem to me that when men see you walking with your miniskirts or with your low-necked dresses or with your close-fitting dresses, they look at your heart! They look at everything except your heart. They don’t care about your heart at all, I say it again, ‘at all’!!! Here is the point, men looks at your body. Therefore, knowing that men feel attracted to women, and when they see you the first thing they look at is your body, you must be careful what you put on because the less covered you are the more exposed you will be to their insolent compliments and to their provocative and piercing glances.

Therefore, you must do every effort not to attract men’s attention through your clothing and anything else which may help to attract their lustful attention, which will cause them to sin and thus in this case you will cause them to stumble. However, there are men who, because of your provocative dresses, not only will look at you but will also try to touch you and to rape you. And in fact there are many women who have been raped because they were dressed in a very provocative way. There are some people who have come to the conclusion that it is not men who rape women but women who rape men! I must confess that they are not completely wrong in saying such a thing because there are some women who, through their clothing and behaviour, really solicit men to sin against them. Consider what I am saying, and you will see that it is so. Therefore, sisters, you run several dangers by wearing provocative and indecent dresses.

 

● ‘The cowl does not make the monk!

I agree with you, however the fact still remains that a monk must put on the cowl. Whether he is a true monk or a false monk, therefore, he must wear the cowl. This applies to the nuns also, who must wear a special dress. The fact still remains, however, that when a woman meets a monk or a man meets a nun, her or his senses are not stimulated as when a woman meets certain brothers or a man meets certain sisters who wear very provocative and tight-fitting clothes! Ah, if only many sisters were dressed like nuns! For sure they would not induce their neighbour to fall into temptation.

Furthermore, it must be said that the clothes a person wear show what the person is inwardly. That is something that have been said even by some sociologists and psychologists. That shows the importance of clothes. Younger people who rebel against the modern society show their rebellion through eccentric clothes. Prostitutes wear particular dresses to attract men. Transvestites are dressed like men or women, according to their perversion, in order to attract people of the same sex. In other words, in our society people speak also through the clothes they wear. And since we Christians live in the midst of the world, and we also have to say something to this world through our clothes – what we want to say to the children of this age is that God is holy and we are called to honour our body because it is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and we no longer belong to this world, having been delivered from this present age –, we will be able to deliver this message to the world only if we are dressed blamelessly. That’s why a believing man or a believing woman must appear a holy person outwardly. Be careful, I am not saying that we must pursue only the outward holiness, but I am only saying that the outward holiness also is important because it indicates that we want to honor God with our body, and also because in certain cases the world will see only this of us, it will hear only what we will say to it through our clothes.

Obviously, we must have also a pure mind, a pure conscience, a pure behaviour in our private life, otherwise we will be hypocrites, we will be like those whitewashed tombs which appear beautiful outwardly but inside are full of dead men’s bones. And we must beware of every form of hypocrisy since the hypocrites will be cast into the lake which burns with fire and brimstone. Nevertheless, clothes are very important in the life of a Christian. Some people of the world have gone as far saying: ‘Tell me what you eat and I will say who you are!’ and, ‘Tell me what kind of people you frequent, and I will tell you who you are!’, but also: ‘The way you dress is a reflection of what you are on the inside and indicates what you intend to do!’ As for the last two expressions, I must say that they are not wrong, because the people we frequent and the clothes we wear indicate what kind of people we are.

 

● ‘Many of the things you say are not written!

You are right in saying that they are not written, but in the way I have spoken them, for they are written in another way. How? Let’s take for example the following words of Paul: “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are [were] bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) and also these: “For this is the will of God, …. that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel [body] in sanctification and honour” (1 Thessalonians 4:3,4). What do we learn from these words? We learn that our body does not belong to us but to God, for He bought it, that the Holy Spirit dwells in it and thus our body is holy, as it is written: “The temple of God is holy” (1 Corinthians 3:17), and therefore we must see to it that we dress it properly and we do not adorn it with gold and silver nor uncover parts of it, as the children of this present age do. Answer this question of mine: ‘If the Scripture states that our body is the house of God, thus a sanctified house, what right have we got to profane this house by besmearing it with cosmetic and colouring creams or by adorning it with gold jewelry, or by putting haughty and indecent clothes on it? As you know, the pride of life is not of the Father but is of the world, which lies under the sway of the wicked one, therefore what shall we do if we wear haughty clothes? We will clothe the temple of God, or adorn the house of God, with the pride of the world. Jewelry is vanity and is not necessary to the body, therefore if we put jewelry on our body we will adorn the temple of God with the deceitful vanity, as the people of the world do. To uncover parts of our body in the presence of other people is a dishonor to us and dishonors our body, therefore if we uncover it we will dishonour God.

You see, brothers, what you need to bear in mind is that if you wear indecent clothes or haughty dresses and you uncover your body as the children of this age do, you will show that you don’t esteem your body, which is the temple of God; for this reason you must understand what the will of the Lord is, so that you may live as wise and not as fools.

 

● ‘There is no need to say these things (the Lord Himself will reveal them to the brethren!)

That is what many pastors say. However, answer this question of mine: ‘What would you answer me if I told you that you don’t need to tell your child not to put his fingers in the wall socket when you see him touching it? Or what would you answer me if I told you that you don’t need to tell your children not to speak bad words when you hear them using a bad language? Or what would you answer me if I told you that you don’t need to tell them that they must not steal if you know for sure that they have stolen something? Wouldn’t you say to me: ‘We are their parents, therefore we must instruct and admonish them! We can’t permit them to do whatever they like! As parents we have this duty towards our children!’? Likewise, as for the things which a believing man or woman must not wear, those who have been appointed to shepherd the saints MUST warn them and exhort them, so that they should not wear certain articles of clothing because they are indecent and dishonor the doctrine of God. If a sentry sees that the enemy is coming and does not blow up his trumpet, what shall we say about that sentry? We shall say that sentry is a sentry in name but not in deed, because such a sentry does not do his job. Obviously, those who rule over the sheep of the Lord must be an example, ruling their own houses well, because if they are not able to settle things in their own families they will not be able to settle things in the life of other believers. But the fact is that today most pastors are not careful what they put on (especially outside the place of worship), and the same thing must be said about their wives and their children. When we see them, they look like people of this world, who have not yet turned from worldliness and the vanity of this wicked world. Maybe when they go to the place of worship they are dressed properly, but outside it they are unrecognizable. That’s why these pastors don’t urge the sheep to dress modestly and decently, for they themselves don’t dress how they ought to, and thus they are afraid of the reprimands of the sheep, who know their way of dressing outside the place of worship. Things being as they are, therefore, the words ‘the Lord Himself will reveal these things to the brethren’, are lying words, for actually they don’t want the Lord to reveal these things to the brethren.

 

● ‘We have been saved by grace and not by works, what you teach is a form of legalism which kills spirituality’.

It is true that we have been saved by grace, but it is also true that God did not give us permission to live like the heathen who don’t know God. At least, the Bible that I read does not say that we have permission to live like the heathen. My Bible does not say to me such a thing, either directly or indirectly. The apostle Paul said that we have been set free from sin to serve righteousness, therefore we must present our members as slaves of righteousness and not as slaves of iniquity. Therefore, since we have been called to serve righteousness with our body, we must no longer dress as when we belonged to this world and we served sin. However, the fact is that today almost all speak of the salvation we obtained, but they hardly ever speak of the fact that when we turned to Christ we became slaves of righteousness. I mean that we hardly ever hear that we became slaves of Christ (1 Corinthians 7:22), and thus as slaves we must obey His word by doing what is right in His sight. Yes, we are Christ’s slaves; He is our Lord and our Master, who bought us with His blood, and therefore we must obey Him, we must honour Him, we must not provoke Him with unjust deeds and words. On the contrary, it seems to me that many have forgotten these things, because they are dressed just like the heathen. Perhaps someone will say to me: ‘Did Jesus not say that we are His friends?’ Yes, Jesus said that we are His friends, but He also said: “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:14 – NKJV). On the contrary, it really seems that – according to the things that are said by these rebels – Jesus said that we are His friends even if we don’t obey Him, that is, even if we love the world and all or just some of its lusts. No, Jesus of Nazareth did not teach that we are His friends even if we conduct ourselves like the heathen. Rather, James says that those who love the world are enemies of God, and thus they are enemies of Christ as well, because the Father and the Son are one. Therefore, consider carefully the fact that we are friends of God if we obey Him; the condition is very clear.

Another thing that must be said is this: to tell the brothers and sisters that they must not dress indecently but with decency and propriety is not a form a legalism which kills spirituality. The commandments which quench the Spirit and nullify the grace of God are the commandments regarding circumcision, the Sabbath day, the Jewish feasts and the new moon, foods (the prohibition of eating certain ‘unclean’ foods), and the commandment on tithing as well, to mention just some of them. Yes, even the commandment on tithing kills, because it is part of the mosaic law, thus of the Old Testament. However, it seems that no one realizes it. The commandment of tithing kills, that’s the legalism which kills. On the contrary, according to these pastors who love money rather than the Lord, tithing does not kill but does good to believers, much good to the faithful who pay tithes, but above all to them who collect the tithes of the faithful. Hypocrites, did you forget that according to the law tithes had to be collected by the Levites? Are you Levites? The levitical priesthood was abolished in Christ, therefore we cannot command the people of God to tithe any longer. I really don’t understand why according to you the levitical priesthood and the atoning sacrifices, which had to be offered by the priests, were abolished in Christ, while the tithes that the Levites had to collect from the people were not abolished!! However, you command the saints to tithe and you take advantage of the fact that the saints don’t know the Scriptures! You don’t care about the fact that many sisters are dressed like prostitutes, but you care about their tithes, you are very much interested in their tithes. You greatly err, for to command the brethren to dress properly is not legalism. The commandments which urges the saints to keep their own body in sanctification and honour are not precepts which bring the saints into the bondage of the law and cause them to fall from grace. Rather, it is your indifference that kills the saints, because it encourages them to dress indecently and to profane their body. Your jokes kill, your desire to become powerful after the flesh kills, your impudence kills, your misdeeds kill!! You mistake salvation for holiness. Therefore I remind you that the end of our faith is the salvation of our soul, while the fruit of our faith is holiness. Salvation is obtained by grace, through faith in Christ Jesus; but sanctification (the progressive sanctification) is achieved by keeping the commandments of the Lord and of the apostles. Therefore, if you don’t command the saints to dress with propriety and decency it means that you don’t want them to pursue holiness. This is serious, very serious, because it means that the biblical passage which says that without holiness no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14) is of no importance to you. Therefore, you do not honour the Word of God and you induce the saints to do the same. However, do not deceive yourselves, in due season you will reap the fruit of your rebellion.

You even say that these exhortations cause unbelievers to stumble. On the contrary, your exhortations, whose purpose is to induce people to give you tithes and a lot of money for God’s work, do not cause those unbelievers who hear you to stumble, do they?!! No, these precepts which I teach, whose purpose is to honour the doctrine of God, do not cause unbelievers to stumble, rather it is your greed, your love for money, of which you are full, that causes unbelievers to stumble. It is the passing of the offering basket - and sometimes you even pass it out twice or three times because once is not enough for you – before the face of both believers and unbelievers, accompanied by all kinds of blessings for those who give a lot of money, which causes the unbelievers who hear you to stumble.

I conclude by saying: ‘Wisdom says “It is a joy for the just to do justice” (Proverbs 21:15 - NKJV). To do what pleases God is not something that makes us angry or kills us or saddens us, rather it is something that makes us glad. As for dressing with decency and property, there is not a single God-fearing believer who is displeased with this way of dressing because by it the name of the Lord is glorified through him or her. It is a joy for the just to dress with decency and propriety also because he knows that God will reward him also for his efforts to pursue holiness. God is just and will never be indebted to anybody.

Therefore, brothers, bear with my word of exhortation which I wrote for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you. I have spoken openly to you, brothers. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

 

 

Making cuttings in our flesh and tattooing marks on us

 

The law says: “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you” (Leviticus 19:28 - NKJV).

Therefore, both the custom of making cuttings on one’s flesh for the dead, which is a custom that some peoples have, and the custom of tattooing one’s body, which is a custom that many like very much, are sins in the sight of God. We, as believers, are called to flee these vain customs, because our body is the temple of God and doesn’t belong to us for we were bought at a price.

 

 

Not washing oneself

 

There are some believers who think that to be humble means not to wash oneself or to wash oneself rarely, so wherever you meet these believers (even in the place of worship) they are dirty and smelly. Such a behaviour is of the devil, because it does not honour one’s body, which is the house of God and the Scripture says that God wants the saints to keep their body in sanctification and honour (1 Thessalonians 4:4), and because through it one causes people to blaspheme the doctrine of God, and thus he causes them to stumble. How will the people of the world honor the doctrine of our God if we say to them or show them that our God does not want us to wash ourselves? I am sure, they will by no means honour His doctrine because they will think that we have a God who wants us to be bad-smelling and to have lice or some other little animals on our body running the risk of passing them on to those who are near us.

The law was against the presence of dirt in the midst of the camp of God, for God said: “Also you shall have a place outside the camp, where you may go out; and you shall have an implement among your equipment, and when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and turn and cover your refuse. For the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and give your enemies over to you: therefore your camp shall be holy, that He may see no unclean thing among you, and turn away from you” (Deuteronomy 23:12-14 - NKJV). And since we are now God’s field (1 Corinthians 3:9) and God walks in the midst of us and dwells among us, we must keep ourselves clean even from the physical point of view and not only from the spiritual point of view because God does not take pleasure in seeing dirt in the midst of His field, which dirt I remind you has a bad smell.

So, brothers, I exhort you to wash yourselves, in order to keep your body clean and not to smell bad, otherwise your bad smell will keep people far from you. Remember that your body does not belong to you but it belongs to the Lord because it was bought at a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Your body is His house and we must take care of His house because it is a holy house. If the servants of an earthly king make every effort to keep the house of their master clean, so that their king may be honoured, shouldn’t you, who are servants of the King of kings and the Possessor of heaven and earth, make every effort to keep His house, which is your body, clean? If the place of worship, which is not the house of God, is cleaned and kept in order because the saints gather together in it, how much more must your body be kept clean because the God of glory dwells in it, I say it again, because the God of glory dwells in it!

 

 

The improper use of hands and feet

 

Unfortunately, among the brethren there are some violent men who use their hands and their feet against the children of other people, and even against other brothers and against their wife and against their parents. These men are corrupt men, who do not fear God, and at the proper time they will reap all the harm that they have done to others. The day is coming when what they have done to others will be done to them, because God will send against them some violent and cruel men. Do not walk in their ways, and make no friendship with them, for it is written: “Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go. Lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul” (Proverbs 22:24-25 – NKJV). Expose every wilful act of violence against anyone to harm him, because you must present your members as slaves of righteousness and not of iniquity, of meekness and not of haughtiness. Obviously all those beatings a father gives to his children to drive foolishness far from them are allowed and thus must not be exposed.

Among the things you must not do with your hands there are also those gestures which are made by the unbelievers to revile other people and to avert danger (for they are superstitious).

 

 

Winking with one’s eyes

 

Beloved, do not wink with your eyes, because it is written: “A worthless person, a wicked man, …. winks with his eyes ….” (Proverbs 6:12-13 - NKJV) and also that “he who winks with the eye causes trouble” (Proverbs 10:10 – NKJV).

 

 

Being surety

 

A surety is a person who takes responsibility for another’s undertaking, e.g. the payment of a debt. Brothers, avoid being surety for another, lest you suffer, as it is written: “He who is surety for a stranger will suffer, but one who hates being surety is secure” (Proverbs 11:15 – NKJV).

 

 

Running into debts

 

Brothers, the Scripture says: “Do not be one of those who shakes hands in a pledge, one of those who is surety for debts; if you have nothing with which to pay, why should he take away your bed from under you?” (Proverbs 22:26-27 - NKJV), and also: “Owe no one anything except to love one another ….” (Romans 13:8 - NKJV) and again: “The borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7 – NKJV).

Therefore, I exhort you not to run into debts. If you have the money with which to pay you can buy what you intend to buy, but if you don’t have enough money do not buy it, otherwise you will become a servant of those who lend you the money and you will lose your peace. The grieves, the anxieties and the troubles of those who run into debts are many; talk with those who have run into debts and you will realize what I am saying. Be wise, for the sake of your soul.

 

 

Displaying in one’s house the photos of departed loved ones and visiting their grave

 

As for the photos of the dead people and going every now and then to visit the grave where they are buried, how should a believer behave after one of his loved ones has died and been buried?

As to the photographs, he should not display them in his house, and as to visiting his grave he should not go to visit it periodically, as the Roman Catholics do thinking that they do a good work. The dead are either with the Lord in heaven or in hell, they know nothing, they cannot receive any good from us any longer, and we cannot receive any good from watching their photographs (rather we receive harm because by watching their photos our grief increases). Therefore, if you still have in your house some photographs of dead people, maybe with some flowers before them or even with some candles before them, I exhort you to take away all these things which grieve the Holy Spirit and attract demons. And if you are in the habit of visiting the grave of the dead people, I exhort you to stop doing such a thing, which is useless, which troubles, and which causes you to waste your time. Do good to the living, visit the living.

 

 

Pretending not to see the brothers

 

Beloved, when you meet a brother, whom you know, in the market place or on the train or on the bus or in the street, do not pretend you do not see him, as some do because they are ashamed to greet him (saying ‘Peace unto you!’ and giving him a holy kiss before the unbelievers). Rather, you should go to him with joy and greet him brotherly and ask him how he is and you should also begin to talk with him about the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. Do not pretend you do not see him, for such a behaviour grieves your brother and dishonors the Word of God.

 

 

Not giving a holy kiss

 

Unfortunately, among the brotherhood there are some who don’t give a holy kiss when they greet one another because they are ashamed or because they are disgusted. Such a behaviour is to be exposed because it is contrary to the Scripture, which says: “Greet one another with a kiss of love” (1 Peter 5:14 – NKJV) and again: “Greet one another with a holy kiss” (2 Corinthians 13:12 - NKJV).

Do not seek to avoid those who want to greet you with a holy kiss, rather give them a holy kiss.

 

 

Going out alone with one’s fiancée (going on dates alone)

 

As we know, young men go out alone with their fiancée. They go out with her to the beach or to a mountain or to some other places to spend time alone with her.

Such a behaviour is not fitting for the saints, for promotes lust and moderate sexual activity, opening the door for fornication. Therefore you brothers, who are betrothed, take heed that you don’t go out alone with your fiancée; make every effort to be with her always in the presence of other people who know you, whether you are at her house or at the house of some other persons or in the open air.

It is written: “Flee also youthful lusts” (2 Timothy 2:22 – NKJV) and again: “Be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12 – NKJV). But if you conduct yourselves like the people of this world, that is to say, if you spend time alone with your fiancée (at home, in your car, etc.) you will not be able to keep these commandments, because you will give an opportunity to people to speak ill of you, you will rouse all kinds of suspicions, and you will lose your purity. How? By doing what is lawful for you to do only after marriage, that is to say, by petting and having sex. You may ask me, ‘Why is petting between two people who are engaged and love one another wrong?’ For the Scripture warns us to avoid any physical involvement with the opposite sex that excites desires which cannot be legitimately fulfilled, that’s why petting between a believer and his fiancée is wrong. Petting before marriage is a form of impurity, and we must not be involved in any impure acts (Galatians 5:19). Furthermore, petting usually leads to sexual intercourse, which is sin in the sight of God when it takes place before marriage. This sin is called fornication, and the Scripture states that those who commit fornication sin against their own body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:18).

For this reason a Christian man ought not to spend time alone with his fiancée, because he must avoid all these evil things.

I am aware that some raises some objections against what I have just said, so I want to reply to these objections.

The first objection raised is this, ‘On what basis can you state that I will certainly lose my purity by spending time alone with my fiancée?’ On the basis of what the Scripture teaches me, and of the experience of many people. The flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41), says the Scripture, and by spending time alone with your fiancée you will incite your flesh to perform acts which only husband and wife are allowed to do, that is you say, you will be tempted to act as if you and your fiancée were husband and wife, for you love one another, and sooner or later you will fall into temptation. What will happen if you pour out some fuel on a little fire? The fire will become a big fire, won’t it? What will happen if you scoop fire into your lap? Your clothes will be burned, won’t they? And what will happen if you walk on hot coals? Your feet will be scorched, won’t they? (Proverbs 6:27-28) Likewise, if you decide to spend time alone with your fiancée, you will sooner or later sin. Do not lean on your own understanding, lest you do yourself harm. Have you ever read that though Potiphar’s wife spoke to Joseph day by day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her (Genesis 39:10 – NIV)? Why did Joseph refuse even to spend time alone with Potiphar’s wife? For he feared God, and he knew that if he had spent some time with that woman alone, he would sooner or later fall into temptation. Well, you may argue, ‘That woman was not Joseph’s fiancée.’ That’s true, however the conduct of Joseph teaches us an important lesson, which is this: for a man it is very dangerous to be alone with a woman (in a room or in a car), who is not his wife. In other words, a Christian ought to avoid not only sin, but also the risk of sin. Therefore I am fully persuaded that a believer ought to avoid spending time alone with his fiancée, lest he fall into temptation.

The second objection is this, ‘I don’t care about what people may think of me and my fiancée, if we go out alone! People should mind their own business! Furthermore, people always think evil!’ Well, according to the Scripture, it is wrong not only to commit sin, but also to give the appearance of committing sin, as it is written: “Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Therefore we, as Christians, ought to conduct ourselves always blamelessly in order to keep people from suspecting that we have committed this or that sin. But if people see or hear that you stay alone with your fiancée in your or her room/apartment till 2 a.m., they will certainly think evil, whether you sin or not. So, see to it that people have nothing bad to think or say about you. Do not ruin your own reputation for the desire of being alone with your fiancée. Wait, be patient; once you are married, you will have plenty of time to spend alone with the woman whom God has appointed for you.

 

Please note: In the light of the Scripture, petting is permitted after marriage, but must not include oral sex, for this sexual practice is unnatural

 

 

Going to dance and to the amusement parks

 

Those who have turned to the Lord must stop going to dance and to the amusement parks.

As for going to dance, it must be said that it is a bad habit which is widespread above all among young people. It is they who speak about it most and go to discotheque. On Saturday night millions of young people go to discotheque, which shows that this amusement place attracts many young people, who can’t do without going to dance. They are slaves of this habit, for they are mad on dancing, to them dance is everything, to them it is life. Why do they go to discotheque? They go there to listen to the music, to dance, and to pick up girls or boys. However, many go to discotheque also to push drugs and hallucinogens, some other people go there to buy drugs, some others go there to get drunk and to beat other people. In other words, the discotheque is a place where you can find people who are slaves of all kinds of fleshly lusts, a place full of perversions where a son of God must not go for the sake of his soul. So, why should a believer avoid going to discotheque to dance? First of all, because the music you hear there is a diabolic music; rock music, disco music, and rap (to mention just some kinds of music) are kinds of music which excites listeners and urges them to act in a bad way (do not forget that many famous singers practice witchcraft or somehow are involved in it). The songs one listens in a discotheque are full of vanity, full of obscenities and full of perversion, therefore a believer must not listen to them, lest he defile himself. Furthermore, a believer must not dance sensually because he must present his members as instruments of righteousness and no more as instruments of iniquity, as it is written: “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God” (Romans 6:13). He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him, how then can he use the members of Christ to twist, to make strange gestures, and to move sensually in the midst of people who do not fear God at all? Furthermore, as I have said, the discotheque is a dangerous place also because brawls break out in it, there are people who push drugs and it is full of seducers and seductresses, therefore how can a Christian go to such a place to spend his time? It is written in the Psalms: “For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness” (Psalm 84:10), and again: “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful” (Psalm 1:1). That’s why we don’t want to go to discotheque and any other dance hall, because they are tents of wickedness where sinners gather together to amuse themselves while they listen to their favourite perverted music. It is a place which is not fitting for us, we will not be blessed if we go to such a place to amuse ourselves together with sinners.

As for going to the amusement parks, the name itself indicates what kind of parks they are. They are places where those who want to amuse themselves find what they like; the roller coaster, the halls with mirrors which deforms the image of those who are reflected in those mirrors, the horror tunnel (where you can find all kinds of bad pictures), the bumper cars, the big wheel, and many other things. Why should a Christian avoid going to the amusement park? Because if he goes there he will spend his money for things which don’t satisfy and don’t edify. You who still go to these places, I will ask you some questions: ‘What’s the good of going to the amusement parks?’ What grace do these amusements impart to you?’ ‘Do they strengthen you in the faith? Do they edify you? Why don’t you realize that you are wasting the money and the time that God gave to you? Don’t you realize that you could spend that money and that time on serving righteousness rather than vanity? Don’t you realize that you could spend that time praying, reading the Word of God, testifying of the Lord, and doing some good works? The Word of God says: “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let you soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live ….” (Isaiah 55:2-3).

Therefore, brothers, stop going to these amusement places and consecrate your life to God not in word or in tongue but in deed and in truth. Don’t you know that the pleasures of life, which Jesus compared to the thorns, choke the Word? Come to your senses; awake, for the enemy has entered your life. I know, your pastor also goes to the amusement park, for he takes the initiative in bringing you there; do not follow him, lest you defile yourselves. Ah, my heart within me is broken because I hear that some pastors and elders go to Gardaland (a famous Italian amusement park located in the north of Italy) or in some other amusement parks. Those who should lead the sheep in the paths of righteousness and should be an example to the sheep, take the sheep and lead them in the crooked paths to amuse themselves. Darkness has blinded their eyes, they have been overcome by the pleasures of life. Then they sing: ‘I want to spend my best years for you, for you my Lord, who died for me ….’. Of course these are beautiful and truthful words, but when they are sung by people who want to spend their life serving vanity they are out of place.

 

 

Worldly music and worldly concerts

 

A son of God must stop listening to the worldly music and going to the concerts held by the singers of this world. Therefore he must take all his old music tapes and records and throw them away. However, he’d better break them first, to keep those who may find them from picking them up. Furthermore, as I said before, he must stop going to the concerts held by his former idols. The reason is this: since he is a new creature in Christ, he must no longer present his ears as slaves of iniquity, so he can’t listen to the music of those who don’t know God, which music exalts vanity, obscenity and perversion. The Scripture says: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). That’s why when a man comes to the knowledge of the truth he thinks that he must get rid of all the worldly music he used to listen when he was lost, because he knows that he is no longer the same, he knows that he has new tastes, which are completely different from the former ones. What was formerly a pleasure for him, now it’s an abomination; what he formerly liked to hear, now it disturbs and distresses him.

All these things must be said also about the concerts; therefore, if he formerly inquired about the time and place where the concert of his favourite singer would take place, now he is no longer interested in knowing these things because he does not want to attend his concerts any longer. He knows that if he attends these concerts he will spend his money for useless things, and will defile himself. But there are some believers who have not yet got rid of their worldly tapes and records, for they still keep them in their cars and in their houses and from time to time they listen to them. To these people I say: ‘It is time you put a stop to this worldly music!’ You even go to the worldly concerts, what kind of edification your receive from them? You are asleep, awake! Stop loving the music of this world’.

Brothers, know this, that if you begin to listen with pleasure to the worldly songs they will little by little enter your mind and your heart; for we easily memorize the melody and the words of a song. That’s why we must watch, so that we might not be fascinated by the vain melodies and the empty words of these songs which sometimes we hear involuntarily.

 

 

Going to the beach

 

In this country, near the end of spring, as soon as the days begin to be enough hot, it happens that the beaches begin to be crowded with bathers, both Italian and foreign bathers. And the beaches remain crowded for the whole summer and then they empty and remain deserted during the cold months. Why do so many people go to the beach during summer? Because they want to bathe and to get tanned; and also because they want to amuse themselves, for they find all kinds of amusements on the beach. When summer comes, those who live near the sea hear very often of sea, baths and tans; many of those who work till two or five o’ clock in the afternoon look forward to finishing their work so that they might go to the beach, while those who have to work till eight o’ clock wait anxiously for Saturday or Sunday, and all of them wait for their holidays in order to go to the beach nearly every day. In addition to these people, there are many others who travels for hours by car or by train or by bus to spend at least one day each week on the beach. It is sufficient to go to one of the railway stations which are near the beach to see an enormous and continuous flow of people dressed indecently going towards the beach.

What happens on the beach? People take off their clothes and remain half-naked, and sometimes even naked, under the hot and shining sun to get tanned. From time to time they bathe, they listen to the music, they play soccer or volleyball or basketball where there are the necessary facilities, they eat and drink what they have brought there from their houses or they have lunch in the restaurant or pizzeria which is in the bathing establishment. Not to mention all those obscene actions which are done by some people in the presence of all, and all those vulgar speeches and jokes, which concern almost always the woman, which one can hear. That’s the atmosphere you find in all the bathing establishments during summer.

You, beloved brothers, must not go to the beach to bathe and to get tanned for the following reasons. Because your body is the temple of God and it is holy, as it is written: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? …. the temple of God is holy” (1 Corinthians 3:16,17), and because you must control your own body in a way that is holy and honourable (1 Thessalonians 4:4) at the coming of the Lord, as it is written: “May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23 – NIV). But if you go to the beach to put yourselves half-naked before other people you will profane it and you will use it in a unworthy way and you will provoke God to anger. So that you may understand what you would do by putting yourselves half-naked on the beach, I will give you an example using the Old Testament. Let us suppose you are among the priests appointed by God for the service into the temple of God which is in Jerusalem; well, let us suppose you give a part of the temple to some prostitutes or you build a room where people can amuse themselves or you fill one room of the temple with idols. Would you not profane the temple of God and provoke God to anger?

What you need to bear in mind when you consider your body is that it does not belong to you because it is of the Lord, who bought it, for Paul calls the members of your body “members of Christ” (1 Corinthians 6:15 - NKJV) and he says to the saints of Corinth: “You were bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20 - NKJV). And the Lord not only bought it but also sanctified it by His Spirit, who dwells in you. Therefore your body is holy and you can’t use a holy thing unworthily. That’s why the apostle Paul exhorted many times and in various ways the saints to present their members as slaves of righteousness and not as slaves of iniquity; such as when he said to the Romans: “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God” (Romans 6:12-13), for he knew very well that their body was holy and had to be used in a holy way.

Therefore, brothers, since the temple of God is holy and you are that temple, you must pursue holiness, that is, you must abstain from all the things that can defile you and among these things there is also this bad habit. Perhaps someone will say: ‘Why do we defile ourselves by going to the beach then?’ First of all, because there you watch people who are half-naked and sometimes even naked; secondly, because you go to dwell among people who, not knowing God, speak and behave in a evil way and give themselves over to dissoluteness before all, and in watching this indecent sight you defile yourselves. Your body becomes full of darkness because the lamp of your body, that is, your eye, which should illuminate your body, goes out, for Jesus said that the lamp of the body is the eye and if our eye is bad, our whole body will be full of darkness (Matthew 6:22-23).

Now I will show that the arguments given by those believers who still go to the beach to amuse themselves like the sinners are vain and how these arguments are only pretexts.

 

● ‘The air of the sea is good and the doctor has advised us to go to the beach above all for the sake of our children

It is true that the air of the sea is good, and that it is good to breathe it, however it is good not only at twelve o’clock or in the afternoon but also in the morning just before the rising of the sun, and in the evening after the sunset, when the beaches are empty, and it is good also if you breathe it staying off the beach. Yet, according to some, it seems that the air of the sea is good only if you breathe it while you are half-naked and you are standing among half-naked people! I ask you: ‘How is it that almost all say that the air of the sea does good to their children, but they hardly ever say that the air of the mountain also has a salutary effect on their children?’ The truth is that many believers are slaves of this pleasure of life and they say that they go to the beach for their children’s sake in order not to appear worldly people to certain believers. In other words, they play on their children in order to go to the beach and thus cover their lust.

Furthermore, the Scripture tells the parents to bring their children up in the training and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4), therefore parents must not take their children to the beach because this does not mean to bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. If you accustom your children to go to the beach of the sea or to the shore of the lake or to the outdoor swimming pool when they are young, when they are older they will continue to go there, and since they will be able to go there by themselves without you, they will go there together with their school friends or fellow workers or even with their girlfriend. What will you do then, when your children go to the beach in order to amuse themselves and to give themselves over to immorality and they cause you endless sorrows? What will you say to them when they say to you: ‘I go to the beach because the air of the sea is good!’ or ‘It was you who took me there since I was a child, what do you want now from me?’.

Brothers, wisdom says: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6 – NKJV). Therefore, be careful where you take your children because when they are old they will go to the same places where you brought them when they were very young.

 

● ‘I go to the beach to get tanned since I have a fair skin!

What’s the good of this tan so extolled? Maybe it helps you to draw attention to yourself, doesn’t it? But I say to you: ‘Don’t you see that it disappears so quickly? And what’s more, it cost you much money because you had to buy special creams. Vanity has become so precious to you! You are chasing after the wind like the people of this world! Be content with the colour of your skin that God gave you! Don’t you realize that speaking in this way is tantamount to accusing God of not making your skin a little darker?’ Why don’t you glorify God – as David did (Psalm 139:14) - because you are wonderfully made, instead of complaining about the colour of your skin? You are like those who dye their hair in order to appear blond or blonde, or like those who touch up their face or some parts of their face because they are not happy with their outward appearance. Your mind needs to be renewed for your thoughts are wrong.

 

‘The sea was created by God’

That’s true, God created the sea and all the things which are into it. However, what do you mean by that? Do you mean that you have the right to put yourself half-naked on the beach because God created the sea? If that is what you mean, then the heat also is made by God, should we then wear indecent clothes as unbelievers do during summer? How could we think of doing such a foolish thing? So that you may understand how your words are a pretext and out of place, I remind you that even the drug addicts, who take pleasure in taking drugs, say that the plant from which heroin is extracted was created by God; even those who look at women to lust for them say that it was God who created women; even fornicators and adulterers affirm that it was God who created sex: even drunkards say that it was God who created grapes from which wine is made! As you can see, even those who give themselves over to evil things, in order to justify their infamous and deceitful lusts, affirm that after all they use something which was created by God! When will you realize that it is wrong to justify this deceitful lust of the old man (that is, going to the beach) saying that after all you have the right to give yourselves to this pleasure of life because God created the sea?

 

● ‘To the pure all things are pure

These words are written in the epistle of Paul to Titus and are taken by many believers, who are slaves of this deceitful lust, to affirm that to them, who are pure, going to the beach is a pure thing. But they are wrong, because the correct meaning of these words of Paul is completely different. The apostle says: “To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted” (Titus 1:15 - NIV). As you can see, Paul says that to those who are corrupted and do not believe nothing is pure; what shall we say then? Shall we say that to those who are corrupted and do not believe, going to the beach is not pure? We can’t say this, because we know that to them it is a good thing in which there is no harm. But what is not pure to those who are corrupted and do not believe? Here is the answer: both their consciences and minds, for they are defiled. Therefore we come to the conclusion that to those who are pure both their minds and consciences are pure. Let’s take for instance the conscience of those who believe in the Lord, is it not written that: “For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:13-14) and again that Paul says: “I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience …” (2 Timothy 1:3 - NKJV)? Realize that we can’t say that an amusement or a worldly lust is a ‘pure thing’; if it were so, that would mean that the pollutions of the world (that’s how the Scripture calls them), are no longer pollutions, because they are pure. Shall we say then that the pollutions of the world do not defile us any longer because they were ‘purified’ for the pure? Certainly not! Ah, there are really many believers who have been deceived into accepting this wrong interpretation of the words of Paul!!

 

● ‘It is true that on the beach there are women who are half-naked or completely naked, but it all depends on the way one looks at a woman who has her swimming suit on or does not have it on!

We find these words on the lips of many women and men, both married and unmarried. However, I want to say this: ‘If we men strive with difficulty against the flesh as we walk along the streets of a village or town during all the four seasons, because the streets and marketplaces are full of women dressed like the prostitutes, who are everywhere and it is impossible for us not to see them, what will happen if we go among women who practically have no dresses on? How will our mind remain pure among them? If our flesh is weak, how shall we keep it from falling into temptation? I would like to say to those sisters who say such things: ‘If I told you that once you have fallen into a pit full of mud you can continue to keep your dresses clean, it all depends on how you look at the mud into which you are, what would you answer me?’ It seems to me that you are like the superiors of the priests, who say to the priests when they receive the priesthood: ‘Take all precautions in order not to fall into temptation while you confess women in the confessional!’ I say: ‘How can these poor souls, on whom even celibacy is imposed, avoid sinning with their mind or body while they are confessing (or after they have confessed) when they are commanded to put to women some questions that husbands do not dare to put to their own wives?’ Indeed, it seems to me that you don’t know what you say, I say it again, you don’t know what you say. Probably you forgot or you have never heard that king David, who was a man who feared and loved God and to whom God gave testimony and said: ‘I have found David a man after My own heart’, fell into temptation and committed adultery because one evening he saw the wife of one of his soldiers bathing. Here is what the Scripture says: “And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon. And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bath-sheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite? And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house” (2 Samuel 11:2-4). Now, we don’t know whether Bath-sheba had some clothes on or not, but one thing is sure, she was not dressed as usual because she was washing herself. However, it is more likely that she was naked. That’s when the fall of David began, then; when he looked at a woman who was bathing. And how many men sinned after they saw on the beach a woman bathing or undressing? Only God knows. The fact is that many men go to the beach to look at women, and many women go there to look at men. And the sad reality is that right on the beach begins the ruin of many marriages. Know this, that many extramarital affairs begin on the beach of the sea. Then there are the causes of separation, divorces, and in some cases there is a crime of passion, which is called in this way because the unfaithful wife or husband is caught in the act and she or he is killed, and often the lover also is killed. And who will hear the cries of their children? How many tears will they shed because of their parents, who divorced because one of them or both of them decided to pursue unfaithfulness? And where did they begin to be unfaithful? Right on the beach.

Sisters, when will you come to your senses? When will your realize that by putting yourselves half naked before men you induce those who look at you to fall into temptation? When will you realize that by so doing you are guilty because you cause those who look at you to sin? Is it not enough for you to undress before your husband, who has authority over your body? Why do you want to undress also before other men? O women, who lack discretion, when will you understand what decency is? When? And now I speak to you brothers, both married and unmarried, who go the beach: ‘When will you realize that by putting yourselves half naked before women you induce women to fall into temptation? When will you realize that you too cause other people to stumble?

 

● ‘The money I spend to go to the beach is mine, it is not yours, I earned it and I am free to spend it as I like

It is true, you are absolutely right in saying that the money is not mine and that you earned it by the sweat of your brow, but it is also true that it was given to you by God. Therefore, since it is God who gave you the money you have, you are called to spend it rightly and not to spend it to satisfy your fleshly lusts as the unbelievers do. Wisdom says: “The labor of the righteous leads to life, the wages of the wicked to sin” (Proverbs 10:16 – NKJV). Therefore, since going to the beach is not something which is necessary for your body, but just a pleasure of life, if you use your wages to serve this worldly lust you conduct in a way which is not worthy of the calling with which you were called.

 

● ‘I carry my Bible to the beach to read it and I even evangelize those who are there

This is another expression used as a pretext by those who are rebuked by their conscience when they hear someone exposing this pleasure of life.

Now, it is a good thing to carry one’s Bible to read it, however the fact is that when you are in the midst of so many people half naked and in the midst of so much confusion on the beach you can’t concentrate; as for evangelizing on the beach, it doesn’t make sense for a believer to say that he has turned to the Lord and then he goes to the beach to evangelize because in this way he doesn’t show that he has turned from the pleasures of life to the Lord and he can’t say to the sinners that they must turn to the Lord from the pleasures of life. From what should a sinner (who goes to the beach during summer) turn, if he who tells him to turn to the Lord is still a slave of this deceitful lust? Furthermore, I would like to ask you: ‘How can you speak of Jesus Christ to men and women who are half naked and you yourself are half naked? Then, when these believers return from their holidays spent on the beach they stand up in the place of worship to thank God for sending them to evangelize on the beach to people half naked! Indeed, some believers say all kinds of absurd things in order to justify this deceitful lust!!

However, what distresses me most is that most pastors never expose this deceitful lust, rather if they have the opportunity, they say some words in favour of it (some of them even change the time of the Sunday worship service to enable the brethren ‘to enjoy the sea created by God’) for they themselves are still slaves of this lust. And many sheep are encouraged to go to the beach right because their pastors say nothing against this lust (for they can’t see the harm which is in it) and they see or hear that their pastors themselves go to the beach. Many pastors in name but not in deed say: ‘What’s the harm in it?’ There is harm in it, but they, having been blinded by darkness, can’t see it, or maybe they pretend they don’t see it.

Brothers, I say to you who still go to the beach: ‘Stop going there’; and to you who were appointed to shepherd the sheep of the Lord and go to the beach I say: ‘Stop going there and begin to expose with boldness this bad habit’. Instead, to you who don’t go to the beach – I know you are a minority – because you are fully convinced that this habit is a bad habit I say: ‘When it’s very hot, continue to resist the enemy who tempts you to join the sinners and those believers who go to the beach, resist him, standing firm in the faith and he will flee from you; know this, that you are abstaining from an evil thing and that God takes pleasure in your position’.

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, and among other things he refuses to go to the beach to amuse himself as the wicked do and recommend him to do.

 

 

Television

 

Television is still considered one of the greatest technological inventions ever made in the field of mass-media. Now, it is common knowledge that television has changed society for the worse. What are these changes? First of all, television has reduced the time which the family’s members spend on talking with each other, for as they have lunch or supper they hardly ever speak to one another about their problems because they are watching television and listening carefully to what the television says. In addition to this, television has helped to increase obscenity, perversion, violence and many other bad things among people. How did television manage to change society? Because of its power, which is very big; those who study the ‘television phenomenon’ recognize that television has a great influence on people, which surpasses human intelligence because it influences the subconscious of human beings.

Now, I’m going to show you from the Scriptures that watching television is harmful to a believing person.

 

● The apostle John says: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:15-16).

If one considers carefully what is broadcasted on television, he will come to the conclusion that the television broadcasts all the things which are in the world, that is to say, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. That’s why we are not surprised to see that this mass-media has been ‘successful’ all over the world, because the television broadcasts what belongs to this world, and since the world loves its own things, the television is loved by the sinners to the point that they can’t do without it. Watching television is like breathing the air to them, it is like eating bread, it is like drinking water; in other words, it is necessary to them. If their TV set is broken, they call immediately the television engineer to repair it, as if a water or gas piper is broken. Let’s say it very clearly; sinners love television because they find in it all the garbage they like feeding on.

Unfortunately, television is loved also by many believers, who love it as if it were one of their loved ones. They don’t dare to speak against it, and when they hear someone speaking against television they get angry as if someone had touched the apple of their eyes!! They begin to tremble with rage, to gnash their teeth, the colour of their face changes, they can’t stand people speaking against their domestic idol. Yes, it is an idol, because the television has entered their heart, but not without their permission, for they themselves allowed it to enter into their heart and put it into their heart. They adore television, they exalt it, they have bowed their knees to the television which has become their master, they are slaves to it! These are hard words, yet they reflect the sad reality existing in the midst of God’s people today. They like watching television, rather I would say that they watch it passionately because in it they find pasture for their insatiable eyes and ears. They want to fix their eyes on what is passing away, that is, on the vanity of this world, on the deceitful vanities; they watch the fashion shows, the Sanremo Festival, those amusing shows where comedians insult everybody and everything, they watch different kinds of films, they can watch whatever they like! Someone will say to me: ‘What are you talking about?’’ I am talking about the things which are happening in the houses of many believers and many pastors. Why then should we be surprised at seeing such a widespread worldliness among the Churches here in Italy also? Believers speak as the television speaks, they are dressed like the people they watch on television, they behave like the people they watch on television, that is to say, they have the same tastes and customs which are exalted and spread by television (saying ‘by television’ is tantamount to saying ‘by the prince of this world through his sons and daughters who appear on the television screen’). What can you expect then from believers and pastors who are slaves to television? Holiness? Not at all. Maybe justice? Not at all! Zeal for the things of God? No! Brotherly love? No. You can expect from them only indifference, superficiality and thoughtlessness towards the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God!

Why are the prayer meetings ignored by most of the believers? The reason is because when believers come back from work in the evening, the first thing they do is to turn on their television (unless it is already turned on) and to watch all the ‘beautiful and interesting’ things which will be broadcasted that evening. The Festival will be aired in a few minutes! Their favourite comedians, who make them die with laughter, will perform on TV in just a short time! The soccer game of their favourite team will be broadcasted live on TV! The latest film by Tom is on first release! Therefore, they have no time to go to pray to God together with other believers. Why, after the worship service is finished, do most of the believers want to go home as soon as possible? Because they want to be at home in front of their television set at the fixed time, in order to watch their favourite program. And why do many believers arrive late to the worship service? Still because of the television, for they leave their home when their favourite television program is finished or almost finished. How shameful! Many unbelievers are indeed more zealous than many believers, for when they go to the stadium to see the soccer game they arrive even five hours earlier, whereas many believers always arrive several minutes or half a hour later. Why do so few Christians desire the spiritual gifts? Because today almost all are so attached to the television that they have no intention of desiring the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Why is there so much lack of knowledge of the Word of God? Because the faithful spend most of their free time watching television instead of spending it reading, meditating and studying the Word of God as they should do. Then it is right those who stay day and night in front of their television set who get angry when they hear some brothers quoting more biblical passages above the average. ‘Brother, the letter kills but the Spirit gives life’ they are ready to tell you to discourage you from studying the Scripture. However, you know that the meaning given to these words by these believers is wrong, because the apostle Paul by these words meant that the Old Testament (the letter) kills, whereas the New Testament (the Spirit) gives life. I would like to say to these believers: ‘Know this, that the studying and assimilation of Scripture don’t kill, but rather it is your dear serials, your dear soap operas, which are an abomination, your dear festivals, the jokes and the coarse jesting of your favourite comedians, the violence and the obscenities you watch on television, which kill’. For this reason you are dead, even though you have a name that you are alive, because all that garbage you watch on television, which you have put into your heart, chocked the Word of God and you became unfruitful. Why don’t you speak using the Word of God, but you have a very short memory (as if you lost your memory), or you show such a lack of biblical knowledge that it seems that you turned to the Lord yesterday? You look for the book of Psalms between Genesis and Deuteronomy, the Bible is an unknown book to you, your carry it to the place of worship just because you want to appear Christians, but you hardly ever open your Bible at home. You know by heart the times of the movies, the titles of the movies, the actors of the movies and many other things; but you don’t know the Word of God. At your house one can see upon the table in your living room the magazines which speak about the television programmes, whereas he can’t find the Bible. Where is it? When you pray you say always the same things, you don’t pray in faith, you recite your prayers, you don’t pray with your heart. Your prayers are grammatically correct, every word and verb is at the right place, yet your prayers are dead, lifeless, without zeal. I know, all this is discouraging and distressing to those who want to pursue holiness and who seek continually the face of the Lord, yet on the other hand is the result produced by the love of the world and the things in the world when it enters the heart of a believer.

Therefore, brethren, since television promotes the love of the world and the pleasures of it, and tends to cause you to neglect the reading of the Word of God, prayer and the assembling of brethren together, and to cause you to forget the Word of God, don’t watch television any longer because it’s a waste of time and money and through it you don’t bear any fruit to the glory of God. Furthermore, television is a powerful instrument in the hands of the devil to imprint perverse and violent images in the minds of believers, who will think of them when they have turned off their television. Therefore, they will meditate on perverse things instead of meditating on good, right and true things, as the apostle Paul commands us to do (Philippians 4:8) and thus they will disobey God. A similar thing must be said about children, who memorize very easily in their minds all the things they watch and hear on television, and besides this they tend to do what they see on television and to speak the words they hear on television. That’s why they are violent, attached to vanity, and not attached to the family; that’s why when they are rebuked, they answer with bad words and vulgarly and they give themselves over to many vices. We can say that they are ‘brought up’ by the television and not by their parents. They ought to be brought up in the training and admonition of the Lord, but they are left to themselves.

Some of you will wonder why I say these things about television; well, the reason is that I myself have experienced both the harm that it causes to those who watch it and the peace and the joy which one experiences after he is set free from its dominion. Obviously, some will say that I am exaggerated or too much exaggerated; however, I can assure you that if you decide to understand the will of God, and to understand if what I am saying to you is right or wrong, and you pray God about this matter, God will reveal to you that watching television has an evil influence on you and your families and He will deliver you from the habit of watching television, of which billions of people are slaves all over the world. When this happens, you will get rid of your television set, and after that you will inform the RAI (which is the Italian broadcasting company to which every citizen, who has a television set, must pay a licence fee annually) that you have no longer a television set in your house. Your life will change for the better because you will begin to spend more time serving the Lord, as you have never done before.

 

● Jesus said: “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single [good], thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:22-23).

Our body has a lamp, which is the eye; note that Jesus did not say that the lamp of the body is another member of our body but He said that the lamp of our body is the eye. Now, if this lamp is burning it will enlighten all our body, but if it has gone out our body will be full of darkness. Therefore, if we want to keep our lamp burning (so that it might shine on us) we must see good things, true things and decent things; only on this condition we will keep the following words of Jesus: “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning ….” (Luke 12:35 – NKJV). However, if we fix our eyes on vanity, obscenity, and violence, our lamp will go out, that is to say, our eyes will be lifeless eyes and not living and bright eyes which emanate light from the Lord. Therefore, considering the fact that on the television screen are broadcasted all kinds of perverse and violent images, we conclude that by watching them our eyes become bad and thus our body becomes full of darkness; that’s why it is better not to watch television. Someone may ask: ‘What do you mean when you say that if our eye is bad our body will be full of darkness?’ I mean that, for instance, if we watch on television a sensual scene or a person dressed indecently, we will become corrupted because that perverse scene stimulates or stirs up the lust of the flesh. However, this can be said also about all the other perverse television images (wizards and witches performing their occult arts, people killing one another or beating one another, etc), for they also have harmful effects on our body. For instance, violent scenes promote violent behaviour. Remember that the prophet Isaiah says that the just “shuts his eyes from seeing evil” (Isaiah 33:15 – NKJV) because he (the just) knows the evil effects which a wicked image has on him.

 

● Isaiah says that he who walks righteously “stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed” (Isaiah 33:15 – NKJV).

Now, the television news, which seems so innocuous to many people, gives all kinds of bad news, such as murders, wars, atrocities, injustices, frauds, falsities, perversions and so on: so I ask you: ‘What grace does the TV news impart to you?’ Do you feel edified when you listen to it? Does the news do any spiritual good to you?’ I watched all kinds of television news (even foreign television news) for many years and I can say that I did not receive any spiritual good from them, rather I was disturbed, discouraged and many times I got angry because of certain news. Furthermore, it is a well known fact that the television news gives bad news every day, why then should we rush to listen to it? Oh, that those believers who take delight in the television news and are in a hurry to listen to the daily news were in the same hurry to listen to the Word of God! I think that if they were attached to the Word of God as they are attached to the television news, we would see a great deal of spiritual progress in their life. I think that if they had a thirst of hearing the words of the Lord (which abide forever) and not of hearing the television news, they would be different. But the facts are upsetting: believers know what the television news has said, but they don’t know what God has said in His Word; they remember perfectly what the television news has said, but they immediately forget what they have heard from the pulpit: they remain many hours in front of their television set to watch the television news and all kinds of programmes of current affairs, but they get bored listening to their pastor when his sermon is longer than usual, for at a certain point they begin to look at their watch saying to themselves: ‘When will he stop preaching?’

Many pastors speak about revival; they do a right thing, but I believe that the revival will come when the believers get rid also of their television set and begin to spend their time (which they spend watching television) on praying on their knees, on searching the Holy Scripture and on doing good works. But as long as ALSO the television is so important to them, the revival will not come; the reason is that at the root of this affection for the television there is the love of the world and its worldly lusts. And we know that if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. Do not love the world, do not love the things in this world, and then the light will dawn upon you, then the early zeal and power will return, as well as the early love. You will see the manifestation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the world will know that God is truly among us; you will begin to see that brotherly love by which all will know that we are disciples of Christ; then the pastors will expose those worldly lusts which today are accepted and thus the sheep of the Lord will pursue holiness because their pastors will rebuke and correct them. Our desire is that the believers may return to perfect holiness in the fear of God and that the Lord may work powerfully among the Churches as He did in the days of old.

Brothers, I implore you in the name of the Lord not to watch television anymore and to take it away from your house. Do not keep in your house this instrument that the devil uses to create strife in your family, to discourage you from doing good works, and to cause you to return to the pollutions of the world, which you once escaped by the grace of God (in other words, the devil uses your television set to destroy you), and for which – do not forget this – you pay a licence fee to the RAI annually!! Imitate that brother who, when he read the following words ‘THE WORLD IN YOUR HOUSE’ on the box in which was the television set he had just bought and which was about to be brought in his house, said to himself: ‘What! I was delivered from this world, why should I bring the world in my house?’ Know this, that you will never regret your decision, I say it again, NEVER, because you will be blessed, greatly blessed. Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.

 

Carnival

 

In this country, as well as in many other countries all over the world, the feast called ‘carnival’ is kept by many people. During this feast many people wear a carnival mask, many women dress up as Cinderella, as a witch, etc, and many men dress up as a woman, as a clown, Batman, Superman, etc.; many masked balls and many masquerade parades are held in many towns and villages. In relation to these events, many competitions are held during which the most beautiful mask and the most beautiful allegoric wagon, and so on, win a prize. In addition to this, the children of this age give themselves over to drunkenness and guzzlings, and to all kinds of jokes because they say: ‘When it’s carnival time, anything goes!’

The children of God must not keep the feast of carnival because it is an unfruitful work of darkness from which the children of light must abstain, as it is written: “Therefore do not be partakers with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord …. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them ….” (Ephesians 5:7-8, 11 - NKJV). Bear in mind that according to the Scripture everything that does not bear fruit to the glory of God and whose wages is death is an unfruitful work of darkness. Consider the feast of carnival. Can we say that by keeping the feast of carnival we perfect holiness? Or that by keeping it we are blessed? Or that by keeping it the name of God is glorified through us? Certainly not. That’s why we must abstain from carnival and we must expose it.

However, not all Christians abstain from carnival, for some dress up their children as clowns, Batman, Superman, etc., in order to please their children. They say: ‘We do it for our children’s sake and not for our sake!’. What does the Scripture say? It says: “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15 – NKJV), therefore by letting their children wear carnival masks these Christians allow foolishness to remain bound up in the heart of their children, instead of driving it far from their children; that’s exactly what the devil wants them to do, so that their children may become rebellious and spoilt. Furthermore, the Scripture says: “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification” (Romans 15:2 – NKJV), and it does not say we have to please our neighbour for his bad also: that’s why at carnival we must not please children by dressing them up as Zorro, or Superman, or another television personage who is in fashion in those days. Know this, that if you allow your children to wear carnival clothes and carnival masks you will spoil your children, you will spend much money in vain, and you will cause unbelieving persons to blaspheme the doctrine of God.

In conclusion I want to remind you, brethren, that the devil uses children to bring corruption in the houses of believers; therefore we need to watch out, lest we fall into his traps. One example; many believers bought a TV for their children’s sake because they wanted to fulfil their desire and make them happy, and afterwards they themselves became slaves to television. They thought that by buying a television they would do good to their children, but as time went by they understood that they made much harm to them.

 

 

The circus

 

Every now and then in our town we see some wall posters advertising a circus, or a car with megaphones announcing the hour of the circus’ show or a car with megaphones followed by some tropical animals (camels, elephants, etc.). What do they promise to the people? They assure them that they will spend an unforgettable and different afternoon or evening because they will watch a show full of amusements and extraordinary performances.

We have to recognize that the circus always attracts many people, especially children, because people can see under the circus’ tent certain animals, which live in very distant countries, such as dromedaries, camels, giraffes, hippos, monkeys, tigers, lions, and many others; people can see also clowns and their clowneries; they can see the trapeze artists performing their dangerous acrobatics; they can see magicians performing their ‘conjuring tricks’ (which are nothing but works of the devil which are passed off as ‘tricks’), and many other things.

We who are children of God must abstain from going to the circus, lest we spend our money for what does not satisfy; lest we see things such as clowneries, men and women who are half naked who perform their acrobatics through trapezes, someone who throws knives at a wheel to which a woman has been fastened to show how good he is at throwing knives; men and women who put big snakes upon their own bodies and kiss and caress those snakes, people who put some petrol in their mouth and they spit it out and set it on fire by some fire they hold in their hands; men and women who practice their occult arts; some animals who have been trained to do certain things in order to astonish those who see them; that is to say, lest we go to admire vanity.

I would like to point out to you that at the root of the success of the circus show, as well as of many other worldly amusements, there is the lust of the eyes, that is, that insatiable desire to see new, perverse and vain things which is in man. That’s why we abstain from going to the circus, because the lust of the eyes is not of God but is of the world (1 John 2:16).

We can say that the circus tent is a tent under which sinners gather together to amuse themselves, and one of the paths in which sinners walk; therefore, it is not a place fitting for the saints: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners ….” (Psalm 1:1 - NKJV), says the Psalmist.

 

 

Playing sport

 

What should a soccer player, or a basketball player, or a volley player, or a baseball player etc., do after his conversion to Christ? He must stop playing. You will ask: ‘Why?’ For the following reasons. Because the sporting world is perverse. You can hear bad words, blasphemes, and see fits of rage during the trainings as well as during the championship matches. In addition to this, those who play soccer and basketball sometimes must use cunning and that’s something which is not fitting for the saints. Nor is fitting for the saints to use violence towards a player of the opposite team by causing him to fall to the ground or by tripping him up, or by striking their elbow in his stomach or in his face (running continually the risk of harming both themselves and the opposite player). Furthermore, the sport environment is an environment where you have to show off your body, your muscles, and obviously everybody tries to make his own body more beautiful by playing body building for instance, or by using all kinds of creams and so on. And this is not a right thing in the sight of God. Then the sport environment is full of fornicators and adulterers, and many women with a crafty heart into whose traps it’s very easy to fall. Another reason is that both the trainings and the official matches cause you to miss sometimes all the worship meetings and some other times just some of them.

Finally, I want to warn you, brothers, against the soccer games between churches which are so in fashion in these days. Do not play them, lest you wear shorts in the presence of those sisters who come to see the match, you trip up and kick some brothers, and you get angry very often with the risk of saying bad words. “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness” (Ephesians 5:11 – NKJV), have a serious conduct.

Are the saints forbidden to do any bodily exercise then? No, we cannot affirm that they are not allowed to do any bodily exercises. However, even though we are allowed to do some bodily exercises, the Scripture says that “bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things” (1 Timothy 4:8 – NKJV). Therefore, the Scripture with these words does not encourage believers to spend their time doing bodily exercises rather it encourages them to pursue godliness.

 

 

Going to the stadium to see the soccer match

 

Believers must not go to the stadium to see the soccer match: you may ask: ‘Why?’ For the same reason I told before, that is, lest you have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. Let us consider this other worldly lust: what is it? It consist in going to see two soccer teams playing a game with violence and many fouls. However, the point is that those who go to the stadium go to hear people blaspheme against God, insult the opposite team, the referee and the supporters of the opposite team, and sometimes they go to see the supporters of both teams beating one another. Those who, before turning to the Lord, used to go to the stadium, know very well the atmosphere which is in a stadium during a soccer match, that’s why they have decided not to go there any more.

The fact is that when you watch a soccer match together with many other people, it happens that somehow you are led to make remarks about the match, the referee, the fouls and many other things; and these remarks are made in a state of enthusiasm (if your favourite team is winning) or in a state of affliction (if your favourite team is losing) and your mood influences what you say and how you say it. I mean that when you are among a crowd of unbelievers who are happy or disappointed you are easily led to say wrong things or to act badly against somebody.

All these things lead us to say that going to see a soccer match is useless and harmful to the spiritual life of a believer, and in fact it does not help him to honor his neighbour or to be meek towards all men (while, according to the Scripture we must honor all men and be meek towards them). Rather the atmosphere which is during a soccer match makes him become corrupted and causes him to speak against the opposite team and become violent.

The Scripture says that “a violent man entices his neighbor, and leads him in a way that is not good” (Proverbs 16:29 - NKJV), and that’s exactly what a fanatic supporter does when he brings his neighbor to the stadium. Therefore, brothers, above all you younger people, when you are invited to go to the stadium reject the invitation, lest you walk in way which is not good and which is full of thorns and snares.

 

 

Doing the pools, betting on numbers at the State lottery, and betting one’s money on horses

 

The pools is a form of gambling on the results of soccer matches, and is very much widespread also in this country. There are other widespread forms of gambling such as the State lottery and the bet on horses.

Those who bet on the pools present their coupon to a bar (or some other place) and on this coupon they have written the results of the soccer matches as they expect them, they pay some money hoping that they have guessed right. As for the State lottery, people bet on certain numbers that they think will be drawn on the appointed day of the week, in this case also they pay some money hoping that they have guessed right. As for betting on horses, people bet some money on a certain horse that they think will win the race (and even on the horse that will come second), hoping that they have guessed right.

Why do so many people bet money on the pools, on the numbers at the State lottery, and on horses, every week? Why do they try their fortune, as they say? Because they hope to become rich without working and in a very short time, and to be the next ‘lucky’ bettor.

Why must believers abstain from betting their money on soccer matches’ results, on numbers, and on horses? Because to try one’s fortune (or luck) is not fitting for people who confess that they are strangers and pilgrims on the earth and who desire to depart from their body and be with the Lord in heaven. To try one’s fortune means not to be content with what one has, while, as believers, we are commanded to be content with what we have, as it is written: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have” (Hebrews 13:5 – NIV), that’s why we don’t need to bet on the pools!!

In addition to this, it must be said that doing the pools and betting on the numbers of the State Lottery and on horses have some harmful effects on people, because these forms of gambling lead them to follow soccer matches, the drawing of numbers at the State Lottery, and the horse races, and these events fill them with anxiety while they wait for the results, they fill them with despair and wrath when they lose, and then they lead them little by little to specialize in the bets and to bet more money; “Deep calls unto deep …” (Psalm 42:7 – NKJV), and a believer, knowing what harmful effects these bets have on people’s life, abstains from them, lest he walk in paths where there is no peace, or joy, and where people waste much time and much money.

To sum up: the children of God, being strangers and pilgrims who are on the way to heaven, must be content with what they have and therefore they must not desire to become rich. Furthermore, they must not bet money on these things because that would have harmful effects on their life. I remind you that many bettors all over the world have ruined themselves.

 

 

Various kinds of games

 

I exhort you, brothers, not to play cards because cards have occult origin (we don’t know for sure who invented cards because there are different opinions about this matter) and in fact, as you know, they are used by fortune-tellers to predict the future (they practice an occult art called cartomancy). It doesn’t matter if someone wants to play cards with you in order to bet some money or just to spend some time playing cards; do not play this game, which the devil has used and still uses to destroy whole families and to induce many people to commit suicide. If you still have some playing cards, take them and burn them.

I exhort you not to play those videogames so much in fashion today, for they are powerful weapons in the hands of Satan to cause men to waste much money and much time. Not to mention that in many of these videogames appear monsters and other diabolical things which are connected to the world of occultism. I warn you to abstain also from playing with Ouija Board, which is an occult game using wooden board and pointer, which spells out messages allegedly from the dead. This game can lead to demon oppression or possession. Those who attempt to contact the dead by means of a Ouija Board practice necromancy, and thus they are an abomination to God.

Furthermore, be careful about the toys you buy for your children because many of the children toys which are on the market are connected to the world of occultism. These toys tend to present witchcraft as a joke, and to induce children to make friends with monsters, snakes, dragoons, etc. If you still have some of these toys, I exhort you to destroy them (do not give them to other people) and to throw them away immediately.

There are other games we, as believers, must abstain from, such as those games many Churches play on the last day of the year or on some other occasions. Tombola, Monopoly, eating spaghetti without fork and spoon, but just with one’s mouth, to see who comes first, and many others. They cause you to waste time and some of them are buffooneries,

We must abstain also from all the worldly riddles and puzzles which are so widespread, it is not difficult to see people on the bus or on the train taking pleasure in solving riddles and puzzles. They are a waste of time and tends to cause believers to use their mind in a wrong way, that is to say, they induce believers to look for the answers to some questions and to solve some riddles which are in most cases useless, and they tend to distract believers. That’s why I exhort you to abstain from them.

 

 

Buying and reading worldly newspapers and magazines

 

The sons of this world are dominated by the desire to know as many things as possible about all the latest events; wars, murders, divorces among actors or showmen and their new affairs, all kinds of scandals which happen in all circles, the results of the soccer championship, or the basketball championship and so on; just to mention some of the things those who are outside want to know. To understand how widespread is this desire it is sufficient to stand for a few minutes before a newspaper kiosk and see how many people buy newspapers and magazines.

Now it is a good thing to reflect upon this behaviour. First of all, let us wonder: ‘Why are the sons of this world so attached to newspapers and magazines? Why can’t they do without them?’ The answer is because they are under the power of the devil (who is the prince of this world), who rules over them causing them to read all the things which don’t edify and which pass away. This is how the devil manages to distract people, so that they might not seek God and be interested in the things of God; by causing them to read newspapers and magazines continually.

This answer of mine may seem an overstatement to someone, yet nobody can demonstrate that this is not the truth. Answer this question of mine: ‘Why, when we proclaim the Gospel, that is, the Good News of the Kingdom of God, to the children of this world, do many of them say to us: ‘That’s an old tale!’ and they depart in a great hurry saying that they have no time to listen to us, while when they are alone they spend many hours reading all kinds of newspapers and magazines with all the latest and most sensational news? Don’t you think it is because, as Paul says, “those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh” (Romans 8:5 – NKJV)? Of course, that’s the reason, it cannot be otherwise.

And why, when you want to give a Gospel or even the whole Bible to the sons of this world, many of them refuse to accept it because they are ashamed to accept freely the written Word of God, and some of them accept it and after a while throw it away, while each month they spend so much money to buy their favourite newspapers and magazines which speak about things that pass away, that can’t edify them nor save them? Don’t you think it is because they are ruled by the devil, who doesn’t want them to read the Word of God because he doesn’t want them to be saved? For sure, the devil uses all these newspapers and magazines to corrupt people, to distract them and to discourage them from believing in God. For the worldly newspapers and magazines induces people not to believe in the existence of God. Have you ever heard someone say to you: ‘If there is a God – as you say – why is there so much wickedness and injustice in this world’? As far as I am concerned, many people have asked me this question so far. Well, don’t you think that it is bound to happen that those who daily feed on the wickedness and injustice committed by men all over the world are induced to question the existence of God and His sovereignty? Of course, they speak in that way because they ignore the existence of the devil and his devices, yet the fact still remains that if they read the Word of God instead of the bad news, faith would come in their hearts and they would believe in the existence of God and in His sovereignty. But how can faith come by reading worldly newspapers and magazines? But all these things concern those who are outside. So let us come to those who are inside. What shall we say about them? It must be said that among God’s people it is not a rare thing to find believers who buy newspapers and sport magazines, fashion magazines, car magazines, etc, daily or weekly or monthly. They are dominated by these things, they can’t do without them (bear in mind that I am not speaking about useful magazines, such as a magazine which helps you to learn a job, but about useless magazines full of perversions, obscenities and vanities and profane arguments). For it is not a rare thing to see in their homes, and in their cars, all kinds of newspapers and magazines; perhaps you can’t see the Bible for it is not there, but you can see their newspapers! Obviously, since a man tends to talk about what he reads and hears, when you hear these believers talking it seems you are hearing some children of this age because they show that they are acquainted with all the wickedness, the obscenities, the injustices, the latest political, sporting, cinematographic, and musical events, and they talk about them even with pleasure! They have time to talk about the perverse and vain things they read in their newspapers, but they have no time to talk about the things of God which are written in the Word, for they say that they have something else to do and therefore they can’t talk at length, and in addition to this they show a terrible ignorance of the Word of God. When they talk they cite with much enthusiasm and a striking precision many details about the bad news they have read or about the latest worldly ‘happenings’, but if they hear someone citing with the same enthusiasm and the same precision the Scriptures then they begin to say: ‘Brother, be careful, the letter kills but the Spirit gives life’, and ‘Be careful, the devil also knows the Scripture and quotes it sometimes!’ In other words, they are so corrupt that they take more pleasure in reading the vanities than in reading the Scriptures, and instead of being glad to meet some believers who know the Scriptures and speak about them seriously, precisely and deeply, they are sorry; that’s what we deduce from their conduct. What I am saying to you is a sad thing, a very sad thing, yet it’s true. I feel sick at heart when I see that unbelievers are so much attached to their newspapers and magazines while many believers are not at all attached to the Word of God; when I see that unbelievers read so many vanities and obscenities and perversions, while many believers read the Word of truth so rarely.

Why should then a believer abstain from buying and reading these newspapers and magazines (dailies, Stop, Novella 2000, Sorrisi e Canzoni, Grazia and many others) to which the children of this age are so attached? Because in reading them we defile ourselves! I myself have experienced what I am saying, therefore I know what I am talking about. If I asked you: ‘Do you feel you defile yourselves when you read the Bible?’ You would answer me: ‘No, not at all, rather we feel we read and assimilate pure and holy words’. Why would you answer in this way? ‘Because the Bible is the Word of God, and the Word of God is very pure: “The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times” (Psalm 12:6 – NKJV), says David; that’s why you don’t run the risk of defiling yourselves in reading them, because they are pure. However, if I asked you: ‘Do you feel you defile yourselves in reading the articles which are in the newspapers and the magazines?’ In other words, ‘Do you feel as you feel when you read the Bible?’ What would you answer me? Certainly, if you are honest and examine carefully the reaction of the Holy Spirit who dwells in you, you will have to say: ‘As a matter of fact, in reading the articles in the newspaper we defile ourselves in a certain measure, also because our eyes see certain bad photos which are in it, it is as if we get dirty and we immediately want to cleanse ourselves’.

Let me tell you now something about the photos which are on the newspapers and magazines. It must be said that no matter what kind of photos they are, they help to sell more newspapers and magazines or to draw people’s attention to the article which is on the newspaper, this is something that the subeditors know very well. However, there are certain disturbing photos; photos of wizards while they practice their occult arts, photos of dead and wounded people, and seducing photos of women dressed indecently; it must be said that all these things defile our spirit and our flesh in a certain measure. In addition to this, we must consider the fact that the money spent to buy these newspapers and magazines is wasted money and we, as believers, must not waste our money but we must spend it wisely.

Beloved, let us spend our free time on reading the Word of God because it is truth, it lives and abides forever: let us say together with the Psalmist: “Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things …. Incline my heart to Your testimonies …” (Psalm 119:37,36), so that our delight may be in the Word of God till the end, and the love of the Word of God might not be chocked by the deceitful love of newspapers and magazines and novels which is so widespread all over the world.

We live in this world and we don’t pray that God should take us out of the world, but that He should keep us from the evil one because we know that our enemy walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour and we need God’s protection to stand.

We know that all the world lies under the sway of the wicked one and that the devil uses also the newspapers and magazines to turn away the believers’ eyes from reading the Word of God and to corrupt them by causing them to conform to the pattern of this world. So let us watch and pray without ceasing, lest we buy newspapers and magazines and read them with the same passion the children of this age have.

 

 

The Christmas tree

 

As time went by, people began to make the Christmas tree on the day which was supposed to be the day on which Jesus was born (that is, on the 25th of December).

The custom of celebrating Christmas with a tree dates back to the period of time during which Martin Luther (1483-1546) lived. Historians say that this custom spread along the Rhine first, then all over Germany; in the end, the custom crossed the borders of Germany and spread all over Europe.

Since the ancient times trees have meant something to peoples; I remind you that the fig tree and the oak tree were considered holy trees by the Romans, that the Assyrians and the Phoenicians worshiped certain trees and that in the course of the centuries many savage tribes have worshiped certain trees.

As for trees, we have to say that the Scripture contains some references to them because it often compares men to trees. The following passages of the Scriptures confirm this:

● “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper” (Psalm 1:1-3).

● “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon” (Psalm 92:12).

● “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8).

As you can see, the righteous who does the will of God is compared to a tree whose leaves are always green and which never fails to bring fruit.

However, according to Wisdom, the tree symbolizes both Wisdom itself and a longing fulfilled, for it is written that Wisdom is “a tree of life to those who take hold of her” (Proverbs 3:18 – NKJV) and that “a longing fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12 – NIV).

Furthermore, if we add those scriptures which say that in the middle of the street of the heavenly Jerusalem is the tree of life (Revelation 22:2), we will see that it was not by chance that some began to celebrate the birth of Jesus on the 25th of December with an evergreen tree, because according to them it represented the life which was manifested.

However, many people buy the Christmas tree, deck it with lights, and put the Christmas gifts under it, just because it is a custom followed by most people; as a matter of fact to them the Christmas tree means nothing.

As far as we are concerned, since we don’t celebrate the birth of Jesus, we don’t accept the custom of making the Christmas tree.

However, we know that unfortunately, and I say it again, unfortunately, this custom has been accepted by many Christians, for when Christmas comes you can see the Christmas tree in their houses and even in many places of worship: they don’t care if what they do is not written in the Bible, because they don’t want to look different from the Roman Catholics even in this matter.

However, what a contradiction; they are willing to accept a custom which was not followed by the early Churches but they are not willing to accept a custom which the early Churches of God had, such as that of the veil for a woman when she prays or prophesies!! That shows us that to many believers it is more important to conform to strange and pagan customs, than to customs which are Biblical and Christian. Judge for yourselves what I say, brothers.

 

 

The Christmas crib

 

Many of those who celebrate Christmas are in the habit of making the crib, which is a model of the nativity of Christ.

The Roman Catholic Catechism says the following things about the origins of the Christmas crib: ‘Saint Francis of Assisi was very much devoted to the mystery of the birth of the Saviour. He would often wake up at midnight to worship Jesus in the hour in which he was born. Later, in 1220, he asked and obtained from pope Onorius III permission to make the crib during the midnight Mass at Christmas in the middle of a wood which was next to the monastery of Greccio. He took some stones, some moss and some branches of trees and made a sort of cave in which he put a manger, a ox and a donkey, and an altar to celebrate Mass. A big crowd came to the church ceremony illuminating the wood with torches. Later the crib was made of statuettes, first in the territory round Naples towards the fifteenth century, then in Sicily and in some other Italian regions and in some regions abroad’ (Giuseppe Perardi, Il Nuovo Manuale del Catechista [The New Catechist Handbook], pages 143-144).

Making the Christmas crib may seem to many people a sign of great devotion towards the Saviour, the crib may seem even very beautiful, yet it is something which opposes the Scripture, for a Christian by making it breaks the commandment of God which forbids us to make for ourselves a carved image (Exodus 20:4). That’s why this custom must be rejected.

Beloved, remember the birth of Jesus Christ, but remember it often and not only once a year, and remember it in the simplicity of your heart meditating on all those passages of the Scripture which speak of it.

For if the Holy Spirit moved Matthew and Luke to write various things about the birth of Jesus that means that God wants us to remember all the events that marked His birth. However, more than His birth you should remember His death and His resurrection which took place for our justification. And speak about these two events to one another and to those who don’t know God, so that they might believe on them with all their heart and thus might be delivered from sin.

 

 

Destroying the environment

 

As believers, we must see to it that we do not destroy the environment just to see things destroyed, because the environment was made by God and thus must be respected. Woe to those who take pleasure in destroying the earth, for the Scripture says that the hour is coming in which God will destroy “those who destroy the earth” (Revelation 11:18 – NKJV).

Therefore when we are in the countryside and we eat or drink something, we must not throw the plastic bags or the bottles in the grass. Neither must we set the woods on fire, nor throw into the rivers and the sea substances that would destroy fishes and so on.

On the contrary, if we need to destroy certain things of the nature out of necessity (to build a house, or a bridge, or a road) then we are allowed to destroy them.

 

 

Killing animals for fun

 

We don’t have the right to kill animals just for the fun of killing them or seeing them suffer, but we can kill animals to feed on them.

Wisdom says: “The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel” (Proverbs 12:10 - NKJV), but the tender mercies of the just are not cruel nor should they become cruel for they love God’s creation and they use it within the limits set by God. That’s why hunting or fishing just to pass the time and to throw away the wild fowl or the fish is an unrighteousness. We must never forget that the tender mercies of God “are over all His works” (Psalm 145:9 - NKJV), that is to say, over all the beasts of the earth, the birds of the air and the fish in the seas, lakes and rivers, for God gives them their food in due season. And since we must be imitators of God, our tender mercies must be over all the beasts, the birds and the fish created by God, so we must not molest them, nor ill-treat them, nor behave unjustly towards them, nor kill them without a good reason.

On the other hand, even the law of God contains some precepts in favour of animals. For instance, the law says: “You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together” (Deuteronomy 22:10 – NKJV), and again: “If a bird’s nest happens to be before you along the way, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs, with the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young; you shall surely let the mother go, and take the young for yourself, that it may be well with you and that you may prolong your days” (Deuteronomy 22:6-7 – NKJV).

I would like to make it clear that this must be done to respect the works of God, but also that this respect has some precise limits and that must not turn into a fight against those who destroy the environment or the animals, lest we waste money and time and fall into one of the traps of the devil. Why do I call it a trap of the devil? Because the devil would like us to spend our time fighting on behalf of the plants and animals rather than fighting against him and all his demons to snatch as many souls as possible out of their hands. Our fight must be only one: that on behalf of the faith and the Gospel, so that sinners may hear the Gospel and believe and believers may stand firm in the faith till the end to inherit the crown of life. Bear in mind these things continually, brothers.

 

 

Making journeys of pleasure

 

In our society we are continually bombarded with alluring advertisements through which we are invited to go on pleasure journeys (at favourable prices) in many countries of the world to find out the beauties and the wonderful things of those places. And since here in Italy people are well-off many go on these journeys.

I exhort you not to make these journeys of pleasure because they are a waste of time and money. Paul says that “all things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify” (1 Corinthians 10:23 - NKJV) and these journeys are not helpful to your spiritual life.

If you really want to make useful journeys in African countries or in South American countries or Asian countries, then you can go to visit some poor Churches of those countries to meet their needs, that is, to help the widows, the orphans and the poor among the saints of those Churches by bringing some money to them or doing some other good works for the sake of those needy people.

By so doing, your journey will be helpful to you and to the needy believers living in those places. Be wise, brothers, and see that you use your abundance (which God has given you in this period of great plenty for this country) in order to glorify God. Take heed to yourselves because the pleasures of life are able to choke the Word planted in you.

 

 

Presenting the Gospel through mimes, rock music, etc.

 

Many believers present the Gospel through mimes, theatrical scenes, puppets, and so called Christian concerts where contemporary music (such as rock music, disco music, etc.) is played. These means are used to attract people in order to evangelize them. So they think that in the Kingdom of God the end justifies the means.

Beloved, I exhort you to evangelize, but I exhort you not to use these means to attract people to you because they are human means, they are carnal and worldly means, which neither Jesus first nor the apostles then ever used when they evangelized people. They did not need these tricks because they were full of the Holy Spirit and the power of the Lord was present with them to work miracles and to heal the sick, and people, hearing or seeing the miracles and the healings which they did, felt attracted to their meetings, and when there were no miracles or healings, people felt attracted to Jesus and to the apostles by their authority. Even John the Baptist, who, unlike Jesus and the apostles, performed no miraculous sign, did not resort to these tricks to attract people to him because he was a man full of the Holy Spirit. Read the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and the Acts of the apostles and you will notice that both in the ministry of Jesus and in the ministry of the apostles there were no carnal means.

However, what happens when there is no manifestation of the Holy Spirit? What happens when the Gospel is not preached with the power of God? It happens what we see with our eyes and we hear with our ears, that is, it happens that believers become actors, they paint their faces, they play the music of which young people are fond, in order to attract the world, not realizing unfortunately that by so doing the world has attracted them and trapped them.

Paul says: “And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules” (2 Timothy 2:5 – NKJV). As you can see, we must run the race (which is set before us) according to the divine laws (and the apostles are an example of people who ran the race according to the divine laws), thus refusing to conform ourselves to this present evil age. Therefore, we must not imitate those who want to bring the Gospel to the world through puppets, mimes, theatrical scenes, diabolical music, and other improper things, for these people have conformed themselves to this world.

Let no one deceive you with his sophisms: the Gospel must be preached in the Holy Spirit, in power and in much assurance. We must follow the example of the apostles, and we must not rely on the lust of the flesh or on the lust of the eyes or on the pride of life. Expose with boldness these worldly things, and if your Church encourages them I exhort you not to have fellowship with these things.

 

 

Taking part in politics

 

Brothers, abstain from taking part in politics, as it is fitting for strangers and pilgrims. Do not spread the political views of this or that political party, nor vote for this or that political party.

Perhaps someone will ask: ‘Why?’ Because even though we live in this world, we are not of this world (John 17:11,14) and we must not entangle ourselves with the affairs of this life, such as politics. It is the children of this age who should take part in politics; while we, who are sons of God, should do what the children of this age don’t do, that is, we should pray for all the governing authorities, who are appointed by God, so that God may save them, may give them wisdom to rule, may keep them and bless them; and furthermore, we should thank God for all the good we receive through the governing authorities, and we should abstain from speaking evil of them (as you know, the children of this age take pleasure in speaking evil of the governing authorities).

You will ask then: ‘What should we do then when there is the general election or there are local elections?’ Abstain from voting. That does not mean that you can’t go to the voting station, for you can go there if you want (in order to void the voting paper, obviously).

I remind you brothers that voting for a political party or a political candidate that is in favour of freedom of religion but, at the same time, is in favour of the homosexuals, the wizards, the astrologers, in favour of abortion, divorce, and many other perverse things, means having fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness because it is as if you say to that political party or that political candidate that you agree with it or him and you want it or him to support and spread those views.

Let no one deceive you with his sophisms; politics, even though God uses politicians, lies under the sway of the wicked one and those who begin to take part in politics somehow defile their consciences.

Neither the apostles nor the early Church took part in politics, because they knew that the Kingdom of God is not of this world, as Jesus said to Pilate: ‘My kingdom is not of this world …” (John 18:36