“You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in you, in the Lord, that you will have no other mind ; but he who troubles you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is. And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased. I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off! For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”
There are so many Christians in this age who still have not been remitted from their sins, as they have not found the gospel of the remission of sin that has come by the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and they remain seized by fallacious Christian doctrines. So, through this Book of Galatians, I would like to admonish them for they are facing spiritual destruction because of the doctrine of prayers of repentance that they have been adhering to. I feel that unless I take this opportunity to make this point clear, there will be no other opportunity to correct their mistaken faith.
The saints at the churches of Galatia suffered a tremendous harm because of the circumcisionists. Many Galatian saints abandoned the perfect gospel of salvation that Paul had preached to them, turned to a different gospel, and were falling into destruction as a result. That was why the Apostle Paul wrote his earnest letter of rebuke and admonishment to the churches of Galatia. Now in this age also, some Christians are trying to undermine God’s gospel, much like the circumcisionists who had thrown the churches of Galatia into confusion. Today, these people are none other than those who try to wash away their sins by believing in the doctrine of repentance.
Today’s Christian leaders are killing the souls that should not die, and keeping alive those that should not live (Ezekiel 13:19). In other words, countless Christian souls that should not face spiritual death are needlessly perishing away because of a fallacious doctrine called the doctrine of prayers of repentance. Just how wrong is their faith, since they believe that their sins are washed away through their own prayers of repentance? Yet they are living without even realizing how wrong the doctrine of prayers of repentance is. Today, those who believe in such a mistaken doctrine have no interest in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and instead, they rely only on some groundless Christian doctrines. This, too, is also because they do not even realize that the remission of sin is received through the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
As such, we must preach to everyone the gospel of the water and the Spirit revealed in the Scriptures. In doing so, we can make those who offer prayers of repentance realize just how wrong their faith is. That’s because people can come into the blessing of the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit only if we teach them the Truth. It’s also because if we fail to testify of the true gospel properly based on the Word of God, and instead just keep criticizing Christian doctrines, then people will not pay attention to our arguments. They will simply say, “Well, that’s just your own thought.” This is why we must testify in detail, based on the Word of the Scriptures, as to exactly why the doctrine of prayers of repentance is wrong. Only then will they turn away from their mistaken faith, and be saved by believing in the gospel of Truth.
Since almost every Christian now misconceives that the remission of sin is received by offering prayers of repentance, I will take this opportunity to testify of the gospel of the water and the Spirit very clearly beyond leaving any doubt. These Christians must realize how useless their faith is. We the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit are able to discern false beliefs, and we can pinpoint their errors based on the Word. Based on the Bible, we can explain exactly why the faith of the physical circumcisionists is false.
This year, it’s said in Korea that the water temperature in the East Sea (also known as the Sea of Japan) is about 5 degrees higher than on the average. The rise in the water temperature by just one degree is said to be on a similar scale to a 10-degree rise in the ground temperature. Little by little, this world is inching toward its end. Let me remind you that the more troubled the world becomes, the faster and the more we must preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit throughout the whole wide world.
At the same time, however, I have some concerns as well, worried that the difficult political and economic conditions in Korea would present an obstacle for us to spread the gospel of the water and the Spirit. So I ask God for His help, praying, “Lord, please help us to preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit everywhere around the world as soon as possible.” I ask you to also pray hard for the spreading of the gospel. I request your prayers for God’s Church first of all, for His workers, for the gospel to be proclaimed on this earth, and for the servants of God to be united into one heart and triumph by faith.
The True Gospel of the Water and the Spirit That Must Be Testified to Even Now
Let us turn to Galatians 5:7-9, “You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump.”
Who are the people whom the Apostle Paul called “you” here? It is to the whole congregation of the Galatian churches, to their every soul, that the Apostle Paul called “you.” In other words, Paul was addressing here both the advocates of physical circumcision and the saints who believed properly. The Apostle Paul stated clearly that the teachings of the advocates of physical circumcision constituted a mistaken Christian doctrine that deviated from the will of God. He was saying that these people advocated physical circumcision in the Galatian churches not out of the will of God, but to pursue their vain lust for glory. That’s why Paul called the circumcisionists’ teachings as leaven, saying, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9).
The Apostle Paul made it clear that the circumcisionists had to be removed from God’s Church, and instead of circumcision, the gospel of the water and the Spirit must be preached always. Yet the circumcisionists were so foolish that they kept insisting that men had to be physically circumcised to become God’s people, trying to Judaize God’s Church. As they stirred up confusion in God’s Church with their foolish claims, the Apostle Paul said to them forcefully, “If you advocate physical circumcision and preach it to others like this, you will perish in both body and spirit. You will be cursed by God. So stop adhering to physical circumcision, and do not preach such a useless doctrine anymore.”
Just as the Apostle Paul did, we must also defeat the doctrine of prayers of repentance that is corrupting Christianity all over the world in this present age. Paul is pointing out that legalistic faith is the spiritual leaven that leads every believer to death. This means that we must vanquish the fallacious belief that people are remitted from their sins through their own prayers of repentance. It also means that in God’s Church, only the gospel of the water and the Spirit should now be preached, and that no other Christian doctrine should be developed or sneaked in. We shouldn’t tolerate the doctrine of prayers of repentance or any other doctrines that stand against the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Some people claim falsely, “While I was praying, God appeared in my prayer and gave His Word to me personally.” In God’s Church, such mystical faith should not be espoused, nor should anyone spread Charismatic beliefs, claiming falsely to exercise supernatural power.
We must believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior, who has called us with the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Jesus Christ has delivered us from all our sins once and for all through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and every true believer in this gospel has been saved from all his sins by His grace. God has made the believers in this true gospel preach it all over the world. Now that we believe in the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit, and we have been saved from all our sins, we must defend our faith in this true gospel in our lives.
We need to realize that it is in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that we’ve come to praise the Lord and serve Him. We must believe in this gospel Truth, and we must live by an ever-growing faith, for only then can we glorify God. We have to defend our souls by placing our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We must realize that God’s Church is the Church that preaches only this genuine gospel. Therefore, in God’s Church, we should never tolerate anyone who spreads false leaven. Now, no other teaching but the gospel of the water and the Spirit should come into God’s Church, nor should any such teachings ever be followed.
We Must Beware of Spiritual Leaven Entering God’s Church
Leaven is characterized by its propensity to swell.
To free the people of Israel from the slavery of Egypt, God had enabled them to cross the Red Sea, and to save them from the future plague, He had established the Passover Feast for them. The Feast of Passover was to be followed by a week of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. So, the people of Israel had to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days in the wilderness after escaping from Egypt. God had told the people of Israel to throw away leaven from their dwellings during the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread established by Him. This leaven here is equivalent to today’s evil doctrines that lead Christians to spiritual corruption. That is why God wanted the people of Israel to eat plain, unleavened bread.
That God told us to eat pure, unleavened bread means that He wanted to give us the pure gospel Word of the water and the Spirit, so that we would receive eternal life into our hearts. Therefore, those who still believe in the doctrine of prayers of repentance must now cast aside this faith and instead believe in the true gospel and reach their salvation. To make this possible, we ourselves should also believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit wholeheartedly as it is, and preach it to sinners exactly as it is, since we have received the remission of our sins by believing in this genuine gospel.
While leavened bread may look tasty for a while, it cannot be preserved for long, as it gets spoiled quickly to become inedible. Leavened bread signifies spiritually corrupt teachings. If someone in God’s Church believes in the doctrine of prayers of repentance instead of the gospel of the water and the Spirit, such people’s faith will be easily corrupted. Also, if some people think that the power to drive out demons is better than the faith of believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, the gospel of God, then with such beliefs, they are following no more than miracles and signs coming from Satan himself. The gospel of the water and the Spirit we have is the gospel of power that gives eternal life to its believers. That is why God told us to defend our faith placed in the Word of God wholeheartedly, and keep our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit: “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:8).
However, just as the circumcisionists had multiplied greatly in the Early Church era, nowadays, there also are so many people who believe in false teachings. That’s why now in this age, it’s so indispensable for us to have faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, to defend it, and to live our proper lives of faith as God’s servants.
It is written in Galatians 5:10-12: “I have confidence in you, in the Lord, that you will have no other mind; but he who troubles you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is. And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased. I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off!”
The Apostle Paul said here, “I have confidence in you, in the Lord, that you will have no other mind.” Paul also said that God would judge the advocates of physical circumcision. He continued on to say, “If I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased” (Galatians 5:11). In other words, Paul was pointing out that the faith of the advocates of physical circumcision was completely mistaken.
Paul told the Galatian saints to cast aside fallacious teachings by themselves. In other words, he admonished the circumcisionists to throw away their mistaken faith not because of someone else’s criticism, but out of their own volition, for such a faith did not come from God, but was of their own making. This was not just Paul’s order, but God’s order.
The Apostle Paul was a true servant God who believed in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and had been greatly persecuted to preach this faith. To defend this faith, he had endured tremendous sufferings nearing death for his witnessing. The Apostle Paul also had endured some kind of chronic physical pain to defend the gospel of the water and the Spirit. That is why Paul rebuked the circumcisionists, saying that they were advocating physical circumcision only to avoid being persecuted with Christ.
What kind of faith was the Apostle Paul’s faith? He confessed his faith with the following words: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27). These are Paul’s words of true confession, proclaiming that his faith was wholly placed in Jesus Christ, who came to this earth by the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Paul believed wholeheartedly that when the Lord came to this world and was baptized by John the Baptist, He took upon Himself all the sins of this world once and for all. And he also believed that the Lord, after taking upon the sins of this world through His baptism, carried them to the Cross, was crucified, and shed His blood.
The Apostle Paul was a servant of God whose faith was completely placed in the fact that by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, he had passed all his sins to Jesus Christ, died with Him, and was resurrected with Him. And these words of Paul admonish us to have the same faith. Paul said that those who now believe wholeheartedly in the gospel of the water and the Spirit are those who have received everlasting life by believing that they had already died with Christ and were resurrected with Him. Having given us the gospel of the water and the Spirit, our Lord was telling us to lead our lives of faith by trusting in this perfect gospel of Truth.
However, there were some people who did not believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit as the real Truth, and instead were causing trouble in God’s Church with their fallacious teachings of physical circumcision. Paul said to such people that he wanted them to cast away their mistaken beliefs by themselves. Indeed, those whose faith has gone astray from God must throw away their corrupted faith by themselves. If they themselves don’t realize their mistaken faith and cast it aside, who else could throw it away on their behalf? We have to grasp clearly that all other teachings apart from the gospel of the water and the Spirit are teachings that we ourselves should throw away.
Because the gospel of the water and the Spirit is the definitive Truth that has washed away all the sins of the world, we can preach it to people time after time. Even if we were to preach this true gospel of the water and the Spirit for tens of thousands of times, it still wouldn’t be too much. On the contrary, to preach anything other than the gospel of the water and the Spirit even just once is absolutely to be corrupted. People are not tired of listening to the pure, unleavened gospel Word of the water and the Spirit. However, those who do not believe in the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit with their hearts get tired of listening to this gospel repeatedly. They seek to hang onto their superstitious, mistaken faith even more tightly, while rejecting the gospel of the water and the Spirit. However, their faith and their knowledge are actually nothing more than evil leaven before God.
That is why I urge you all to know exactly what the biblical Truth stands for and means, and to believe innocently in the gospel of the water and the Spirit with your hearts. To awaken us to the gospel of the water and the Spirit, God had permitted many incidents in the Old Testament’s times. Actually, physical circumcision was also a shadow of the gospel of the water and the Spirit. When we teach those who are confused by the physical circumcisionists, we have to teach them that the law of circumcision was aimed toward letting them know the circumcision of the heart, that is, the remission of sin (Romans 2:29). Therefore, we must realize that adhering to physical circumcision legalistically has nothing to do with Jesus Christ. If the gospel preached by today’s Christians is different from the gospel of the water and the Spirit, they must realize that they have nothing to do with Jesus Christ. Now, herein also lies the reason why we must believe in and preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We must remember the Word of Truth preached by Paul.
The Desires of the Holy Spirit That the Apostle Paul Spoke Of
Now, the Apostle Paul spoke about the desires of the flesh and those of the Spirit. And then he concluded, “Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:24-26).
Now, you and I must live according to the desires of the Holy Spirit for the rest of our lives. We must crucify the basic passions and desires of our flesh. If you and I really believe in Jesus Christ, then we should crucify each and every desire and lust of the flesh with Jesus Christ, and we must then be resurrected with Him. Only then can we describe ourselves as the true servants of Christ.
If, on the other hand, your hearts are still filled with worldly lusts, and if you are still following your own desires, then you must realize that you do not really believe in Jesus Christ wholeheartedly, nor are you following Him. Just as many Christians faced spiritual destruction in the days of the Apostle Paul because of the circumcisionists, in this age also, some people still follow the lusts of their flesh even after believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. In the end, they will bear the brunt of God’s terrifying punishment because they are hindering the spread of the gospel.
Those who don’t cast aside the lust of their flesh even after being born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit are the same as the advocates of physical circumcision. What is common to both of them is that they work to ruin God’s Church and obstruct the gospel of the water and the Spirit from being proclaimed. In fact, they are actually God’s enemies.
The Apostle Paul confessed his faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit repeatedly: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27). “Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24).
Paul continued to state that he was crucified to death with Christ and resurrected with Him, all through his faith in the gospel. Why did he do this? That’s because you and I need to reaffirm our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, for even after receiving the remission of our sins by believing in this genuine gospel, we are still bound by our insufficient flesh. Although our flesh is still insufficient, we have already received the remission of our sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
However, if we were to continue to follow the desires of the flesh even after being born again, it would be the same as following our old master. You need to grasp that if we the born-again follow our flesh, it is akin to saying that we no longer have anything to do with the Lord, after we have been saved from all our sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. This is the same as serving the old master Pharaoh.
Some of you may have two kings in your hearts. One may be God, and the other king may be your own selves—that is, the lust of the flesh. Before we were born again, our own desires had reigned over us as our king, but once we were born again, it is God who is our king. If, in spite of this, you were to follow your flesh even after being born again, then you will turn into God’s enemies in the end. This is the point that I’d like to make clear to you today.
You and I Have Become New Creatures
In Korea, there are many poplar trees planted along the riverbank or the village entrance. Let’s assume here that the village elders decided to cut down an old, huge poplar tree, saying that it wasn’t necessary. If they don’t pull out the tree to its roots and leave its stump, the next year, they would see new buds sprouting and new branches growing. I am using this example to illustrate that our desires of the flesh are just like this.
The Apostle Paul is saying that as we believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit in our hearts, the new life of Jesus Christ has now been grafted in us. In Romans chapter 11, Paul explains that true life called the gospel of the water and the Spirit has been added unto us, who had nothing but evil attributes of the flesh. When a tree is grafted, its branches are sawed off leaving the base of the tree, the rootstock is cut at an angle, and then the scion is grafted onto the rootstock. The graft is then wrapped around with tapes. Eventually, the scion will begin to grow, absorbing nutrients from the rootstock that it’s been grafted to. If a cultivated pear tree is grafted into a wild pear tree, even though its roots are from the wild pear tree, its branches are from the cultivated tree, and so it will bear cultivated pears. That’s because the commercial pear tree was grafted into the wild tree.
Like this, the Bible tells us that our Lord Jesus Christ came into our evil hearts filled with the wicked attributes of our flesh, removed all our sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and then planted His life in our hearts. Put differently, the Spirit of God has come into our hearts that used to be filled only with evil. Paul said, “You were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree” (Romans 11:24). In other words, God cut off the desires of our flesh, which is akin to the wild olive tree, and grafted us with the desires of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, who is the true olive tree. That is how we can now bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit, the true olive tree.
However, although we have been grafted with new life, if our rootstock remains stronger than the scion, then the old branches will continue to grow from below, and when these wild olive branches outgrow the cultivated olive scion that’s been grafted into us, this cultivated olive scion will be overwhelmed by the wild olive branches and wither away. That is why the Apostle Paul is admonishing us, who have now been grafted as new creatures, to cut off the desires of the wild olive tree that arise in our flesh, and to nurture and grow the cultivated olive tree by faith.
If you and I follow only the lust of our own flesh, then we will turn into the same people as the physical circumcisionists, despite believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. It is absolutely indispensable for us to realize and admit that our Master is Jesus Christ, not the desires of our flesh. We must become God’s true servants who follow the Master by faith, realizing and believing that our Master is God Himself. And we must grasp that as the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, the seed of new life has now been planted in our hearts. Indeed, it is precisely because Jesus Christ has been planted in our hearts that we are now living new lives. We should all take into our hearts what God has told us: “Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Now, our old selves have died in Jesus Christ. By taking upon your sins and mine, being crucified to death in our place, and rising from the dead again, Jesus Christ has become our everlasting Savior. The death that Jesus Christ suffered at that time is your death and my death. The resurrection of Jesus Christ at that time is your resurrection and my resurrection. If we really believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and if we indeed believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior, then we must also know and believe that our old selves have died and we have now been resurrected as new creatures with Him.
Although you and I have received the remission of our sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, the lusts of our flesh continue to arise endlessly. In each and every time like this, we must remember that our old selves have died with Jesus Christ, and declare in our hearts that we have been resurrected with Jesus Christ by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Through our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we must defeat the desires of the flesh, and live by this spiritual faith. Unless you cut off your carnal desires everyday by faith, these lusts of the flesh will overwhelm your new lives to perish away forever. That is why the Apostle Paul said, “I die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31).
We also need to discern everything that arises in our thoughts to see if it is right or wrong. If we find out that our thoughts are not right when reflected upon the gospel light of the water and the Spirit, we have to cast them aside. Through our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, all of us must discern fallacious beliefs from the right faith and defend this true faith, for otherwise we would fall into spiritual death.
I am sure that none of you wants to turn into someone who, despite having joined God’s people by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, still stands against the will of God and spreads falsehoods on this earth against His wish. Nonetheless, if you do not vanquish your carnal desires even after believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, then you will become like Jeroboam in the end. None of you would want to become like King Jeroboam. Jeroboam was not a legitimate king, as he had established the northern kingdom of Israel and crowned himself as its king. Fearing that his people might turn toward to the king of Judah, he committed a great sin by changing the Day of Atonement and the institution of priesthood all on his own.
King Jeroboam arbitrarily changed the date for the Day of Atonement, which was set for the tenth day of the seventh month, to the fifteenth day of the eighth month, offering the sacrifice of the Day of Atonement on this new date of his own choice (Leviticus 16:29; 1 Kings 12:3-32). Countless people of the South Kingdom of Judah fell into Jeroboam’s fallacious teachings, and as a result, they faced not only spiritual destruction but also physical ruins, ultimately being enslaved by Babylon for 70 years. It’s precisely because Jeroboam had committed a great sin against God asking for His wrath that the people of Israel ended up losing their country to be enslaved for 70 years. By corrupting the truth of the sacrifice of the Day of Atonement established by God, Jeroboam committed a grave sin that drove all his people to death. Because he corrupted the law of the washing away of sin, through which the people of Israel could receive the remission of their sins, all those who sided with him perished away spiritually. In other words, this man Jeroboam did not just sin by himself and face spiritual death alone, but he brought spiritual death to countless people.
The Apostle Paul said, “I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off!” (Galatians 5:12) If we were in Paul’s shoes, we probably wouldn’t have put it like this. Instead, we would have said, “Those who trouble you with their false teaching, I want you to cut them off!” However, Paul still had a compassionate heart for them, and said, “Beware of those who trouble the Church and torment you. Such people should cut themselves off. They themselves should cast aside their false teachings.”
While some people go astray after believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, others follow the Lord consistently for a long time from the very moment they were born again by believing in this gospel. My fellow believers, it’s not so easy to follow the Lord after receiving the remission of sin. You should have some respect for those who believed in the gospel of the water and the Spirit prior to you because these people have lived their lives always trusting in the true gospel, and serving the Lord for a long time. It’s not so easy to live such a life of faith. They had long believed in Jesus Christ, and served and followed Him in obedience as their King. And they have struggled against their lusts all this time and overcome them by faith. They are truly worthy of our respect precisely because despite their insufficient selves, they have defended the gospel of the water and the Spirit, overcome their lusts by faith, and followed the Lord faithfully to this day.
There are predecessors of faith in God’s Church. Who are these predecessors? We shouldn’t think that just because someone received the remission of his sins long ago, he is somehow a predecessor of faith. We call someone as a predecessor of faith not only because he was remitted from his sins before us, but also because he has the faith and heart of a predecessor. Such predecessors of faith have fought and overcome so many temptations of their lusts. They have defeated their desires and continued to serve and follow the Lord despite their insufficiencies, and this alone means that they deserve our respect. You should respect your predecessors of faith in the Church, abide by its order, and follow God in obedience to them.
Some newly born-again saints might say, “I am leading my life of faith rather well. But what about the so-called predecessors of faith? It seems to me that they are not such a big deal.” But the Church order established by God does not change no matter how gifted or faithful the spiritually young might be. Since the predecessors of faith have followed the Lord all this time, enduring countless trials and cutting off their many desires by faith, despite their insufficiencies and weaknesses, they all deserve the respect of those who are following in their footsteps.
By faith, you and I must also remove the lust of the flesh aroused in our hearts. We will surely die if we follow our carnal desires. While it’s possible for us to follow the lust of the flesh for a short while, since we are all insufficient, we must nevertheless follow Jesus Christ, placing our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The things of this world are actually nothing. What is in this world is not everlasting. Sooner or later, everything in this world will change and disappear (1 John 2:17). Take a look at the Mongols, the descendants of Genghis Khan who had once ruled over the largest empire in the history of mankind. They are now living in a small, weak country, shadowed by China. Like this, everything in this world inevitably declines once it reaches its apex. The glory of the world evaporates in the blink of an eye. In fact, far many more people do not even reach the summit, but are stuck at the bottom only to disappear anonymously.
My fellow believers, are there many desires of your flesh arising in you? Even though everyday you swear and resolve to never be swept away by such lusts, don’t they inevitably arise again the very next day? While carnal desires continue to surface, you must nonetheless cut them off time after time with your faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Paul said, “Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24). This means that the righteous who have received the remission of their sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit have already crucified their passions and desires. Unless we ourselves have this faith, it’s impossible for us to follow the Lord. We cannot follow the Lord unless we deny ourselves everyday.
I have a personal story to share with you, despite my reluctance. I once had an older brother, but he passed away leaving his wife and young children behind. My heart sank whenever I thought about my nephews and sister-in-law. It hurt my heart so much because I couldn’t take better care of them. However, whenever my heart felt sorry and ached for my family of the flesh, I pondered as the following: “It really hurts my heart when I think of them in carnal terms. But how much could I help even if I were to try? While I may be able to help them for a while, could I guarantee their future forever? If they don’t believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, they will be destroyed and cast into hell in the end, and so what is it that I should really do for them? If I devote myself only to my own family, I’ll neglect my duty to spread the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and if this happens, it will not only be impossible to preach the gospel throughout the world, but my faith itself will also be put at risk. Wouldn’t it then be a tragedy for my family, and more broadly, a loss for the whole world? This is a choice that’s good for no one.”
Wouldn’t I also have carnal emotions and desires? I, too, have the desires of the flesh, just like everyone else. But even so, if I were to follow only my desires and passions, how could I preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit throughout the whole world? How could I possibly work to save so many people all over the world if I were to follow my own carnal emotions? Even though I myself also have selfish passions and desires, the right thing to do is to leave everything carnal behind and live for the Lord. That is why there are so many times when I crucify my desires and passions, all in order to obey the commandment of Jesus Christ, who is my King and your King. I crucify my carnal desires by faith. This is how I can follow the Lord despite my insufficiencies.
The same principle applies to you as well. You are no exception, as you are not devoid of carnal desires either. Do you have no desire of the flesh? No, everyone has it. But if you resign yourselves to follow your carnal desire, could you follow the Lord? No, you cannot follow the Lord in this way. And if you can’t follow the Lord by faith, then you will be ruined spiritually. We will all be ruined. Following the lust of the flesh does not just end there. What are the consequences if we follow the desires of our flesh? If we fail to follow the Lord by faith despite having been saved from sin by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, then we will end up as beings being in spiritual failure. To fail in our lives of faith is to be ruined in both body and spirit. If this happens, we will not be able to receive God’s blessings.
That is why we must follow the Lord placing our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Through our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, our carnal desires must die with Christ, and our spirits must be resurrected with Christ. You and I must follow the Lord trusting in Him and His true gospel, and to do so, we have to defeat our desires and passions. In short, you and I must live by our faith in the Lord under all circumstances. This is what the Apostle Paul is saying to us now.
We ourselves must live by faith like this. If this is how the Apostle Paul taught, then the circumcisionists should have also realized their mistakes and cast aside their false teachings themselves. The same goes for us as well. Rather than reluctantly throwing away our mistaken faith only because someone else is constantly criticizing it, we ourselves should realize its fallacy, and cast aside every useless teaching out of our own volition.
The Apostle Paul said, “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). And he went on to say, “But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!” (Galatians 5:15) We have indeed been saved by God, liberated from our sins, and become God’s people. However, we shouldn’t take this liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but instead, we should serve one another through love. The Apostle Paul admonished us not to quarrel amongst ourselves trying to be higher than the rest.
Now, you should no longer seek vain glory. If we believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, then we must now follow the Truth, and only then can we live forever; if we otherwise seek vain glory, we will perish away spiritually. Just as one can ruin his life if he follows a bad friend, if you adhere to mistaken beliefs, your souls will be forever destroyed.
Before, I used to have many friends also. One time, when I was a teenager, I came very close to going astray, but one of my friends kept me out of trouble. So thanks to him, I was fortunate enough to overcome the difficult times of adolescence and make it through the growing pains. If my friend had not held me back in those days, I would have surely gone astray. I realized at that time just how important it was to have good friends, and I also decided to become such a good friend to everyone.
Now, in this wicked age, it is particularly indispensable for the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit to have those who believe in the same Truth as their friends. Don’t you have some friends who are close to you even though they have not received the remission of their sins? Of course, since even the born-again righteous have emotion, they can also be emotionally drawn to someone who has not been saved. However, if you make friends with someone whose faith is different from yours, then you will end up perishing away spiritually. That is why we have to beware of falling into worldly relationships. Even the righteous may be led by their emotion, since they are all too human, but if they are indeed dedicated to the Lord, it is wise for them to take the righteous as their friends.
That is why the Apostle Paul told us to live according to the desires of the Holy Spirit. We, too, confess to the Lord that we will follow the desires of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Hallelujah!