“After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.’”
Between God and This World, Whom Do You Love the Most?
In the Book of Genesis chapter 6 there is an account of the sons of God who were delighted with the beauty of the daughters of men and took them as their wives. It is both really easy and difficult to live out our faith in this world. Therefore, we must at times compare God with humans and think whom we must love the most. If we live with just one understanding that we do not have sin after receiving the remission of our sins, our spiritual life will in time turn into a meaningless one being no different to the faith of the religions of this world. That is what happens when we just hold fast onto the fact that we do not have any sin. But those who know the righteousness of God properly and really revere this righteousness can carry out their genuine spiritual life before the presence of God.
People commonly say that there is no one who does not live under the power of the given environment. We who have received the remission of sins in our hearts through God’s righteousness by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit the Lord are all the same. This world is the nearest thing for us whilst living in here even after receiving the remission of our sins by believing in the righteousness of God in our hearts. Therefore, we can be fascinated with this world because we are consumed with it being so close to us. Then what kind of life is this genuine life of faith? And how can we live out such a faith? The Scriptures cast many questions onto us about these very issues.
Do we really know and believe in the righteousness of God? I am sure you do. If so let us then think about this: How can we live out our faith in such a sinful world after believing in the righteousness of God? Satan will not leave us who live by faith and who believe in the righteousness of God alone. Therefore, we might be living with tempting whispers of Satan even at this very moment. We might mistakenly think that we revere the righteousness of God while not being separated from this world.
We must be able to separate the people who love God and those who love the world. There are people who do not know the righteousness of God by the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and there are others who live the life of following after worldly greed and honor although all the while claiming to love and believe in the righteousness of God. God does not dwell in people who still have sins. God only dwells in people who have separated themselves from sin by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Therefore, between God and this world, which one should we follow in our spiritual life? We who have received salvation from our sins by the faith of believing in the righteousness of God must definitely live the life that follows after the righteousness of God.
However, we move forward based on what we think is more important between the world and the righteousness of God. This is the fork in the road that distinguishes true faith of believing in the righteousness of God and the faith that does not believe in it. It is impossible to believe in the righteousness of God while at the same time loving the things of this world. This is not living the life of revering God. Strictly speaking, someone who possesses such faith might not know the righteousness of God until the end. These types of people claim to believe in Jesus and have received salvation. But they are not really following after the righteousness of God and they are also not denying their fleshly thoughts although they claim to follow and live a spiritual life after believing in the righteousness of God.
It Is Very Natural for Us the Born-again to Love and Follow after the Righteousness of God More than This World
Actually, the truth is we who believe in the righteousness of God also love this world. There are times when we follow the world although we believe that God has saved us once and for all by the righteousness of God and has also become our eternal Shepherd. But we cannot live without this righteousness of God and we cannot live joyfully without it. We cannot dislike material things also because we are still the beings with flesh.
So the question is, what do we honestly like more while leading our spiritual life before the presence of God? We most certainly cannot love this world and God both at the same time. For example, here are two beautiful girls, and a young man cannot honestly tell me that he likes them both the same. He might say so in front of them because he does not want to disappoint either one. But the truth is he likes one of them more and he likes the other one less. It is like that in our spiritual lives: We cannot love God and this world in the same way. We will always lean towards one of these two while living in this world. Dear fellow believers, please remember this. We would be living this spiritual life incorrectly if we loved this world even 0.1% more than God. God tells us that it is very wrong to love this world more than we love Him.
Therefore, we must not desire to love this world more than we love God while leading our spiritual lives. Although we are very able to love the world while leading our spiritual life, but God does not love such people. Can we follow after God properly while loving this world? No, we cannot. In other words, if we do not have this ability, we would be an apostate.
God tells us that it is a wrong faith for us to love this world and to love God the same. The Holy Spirit in our hearts would be extremely uncomfortable if we loved this world and God in the same way. What must you and I do in order to live this spiritual life properly? We must admire and love God and the righteousness of God the most who is incomparably worthy to be loved when compared with this world. This is the correct and upright faith. We are loved and approved by God when we lead our spiritual life like this. We can receive blessings from God and maintain a comfortable spiritual life continually.
But it becomes a huge problem if our hearts are not like this. It becomes a very serious spiritual problem. Therefore, you must look deep into your hearts. Because we are humans who are still clothed with flesh, we can therefore like the world and also love everything in this world. But the important thing is that we must not at all costs love the world more than God no matter how much we love this world. We must lead our spiritual life with the understanding of how God is infinitely worthy to be praised and also how worthy He is to be loved. Such an attitude is an absolutely necessary mindset that is indispensable for you who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
If You Love Anything More than God, It Becomes Idolatry
Human beings like various things. Some people love the opposite sex, while others love material things and do not have much interest in the opposite sex. But there are others who just love alcohol rather than these mentioned things. Each individual likes different things like this.
But you will not be a child of God if you love any or all of such things more than God. A person who has received their salvation from God will be worshipping an idol if they like something in this world more than God. Whether a person likes material things or loves another person more than God, they are in fact worshipping an idol in the same way. An individual can like various things depending on that person’s personality, but they must not love anything more than God no matter what it is.
You must therefore look deep inside your heart if you are someone who has the tendency to like the things of the world. You must ponder on whether all such things are worthy to love more than God. You must contemplate objectively, not subjectively, whether you have reached a conclusion that these worldly things are better than God. You cannot look at yourself properly with shallow thoughts. You must rather look at yourself objectively before the presence of the Law of God in order to understand yourself correctly. And when you really ponder for a long time on these comparisons that is, between God and the worldly things you like, you will come to the conclusion that there is nothing in this world that is worthy to love more than God and His righteousness. I want you to know that if you like some other things more than God, it is because your ability to think is narrow and limited.
Dear fellow believers the Scriptures tell us, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). This means that it is very difficult to turn back once our hearts go out into the world. It is easy for our hearts to go out into the world, but it is difficult to return. Once our hearts go out into the world like this, it is very difficult to come back to where it was before. Looking at it objectively, there really is nothing in this world that is more worthy for us to love more than God, but there are times when our hearts go out into the world and wander around in vain. The biggest problem is that many people go on living without realizing it to be wrong.
Only Those Who Demolish Arguments and Every Pretension and Believe in the Righteousness of God Can Live by Faith
The Scriptures tell us that those who demolish arguments and every pretension (2 Corinthians 10:5) and are the born again who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit should love God wholeheartedly. It is the right thing to do and there cannot be any reason to disobey it. People make arguments based on certain logic; but God simply tells us in the Scriptures, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). God tells us to love Him only and that is the right and wise thing to do. God tells us that it is upright and a happy thing to do. God tells us unilaterally like this. God tells us that it is right for us to love Him, to follow Him, and to admire Him if we have received the salvation from all our sins out of His grace. God speaks to us simply and firmly about this. Dear fellow believers, I believe the Word of the Lord is the only upright truth.
We follow this world without even being conscious of it. This is not a strange thing because it is natural for us to be under the dominion of the flesh since we have flesh. However, we the born-again are also the people who are under the dominion of the Holy Spirit. We are under the dominion of the flesh since we have flesh, and we are also under the dominion of the Spirit since we have spirit. Then what should we really follow? There is only one correct answer to this. And it is, “The heart of loving God must be greater than the heart of loving this world. I must not love the world. Rather, I must love God.” The people of this world give many reasons, respond to rejection, and are full of excuses, but regardless of what they do or think or insist on, the correct answer before the presence of God is to love God and not to love this world. Actually, we are not even qualified to ask God, “Why must we do that?” We are beings that do not even have any right to argue with God, and therefore that in itself can be a sin. Dear fellow believers, I want you to remember this: Nothing good can come out from preferring this world more than God. However, the problem is that we can like the world more than God although we know it is not good for us because we are insufficient human beings.
We are all weak and foolish beings. Not only us, but also all those famous ministers of those worldly churches are the same. However, whether we lead our spiritual life faithfully or not depends on whether or not we are able to demolish arguments and every pretension that stand up against God and only love Him. If you love the world more than God or love the world and God the same, then you are not someone who pursues after the genuine spiritual life. Someone might say, “I do not love the world more than the Lord. And I do not love the world as much as I love God, but I like the world in the same way as I love God. Therefore, I am also a person that believes in the Lord and leads a proper spiritual life.” But what did our God say about such a person? God clearly told us that such a person who loves God in the way they love the world is not leading a proper spiritual life. God said that a person cannot love two things in the same way and cannot but lean towards one of the two.
Dear fellow believers, we really cannot love two things in the same way. If there are two people before us, we come to love one of the two more than the other, and even if one loves two people in the same way, there will definitely be a difference of the degree and quality of love for each person in their heart. We are like this because we are humans and not gods. If we think we are leading our spiritual life very well while loving the world and God in the same way, it will just be our own misconception and not really a proper life of faith before the presence of God. To love the world and God in the same way is not even loving God or even revering God.
Then what shall we do? The answer is very clear. We must demolish our arguments and every pretension and forsake our greed and covetousness and love God only. We must oppose and defeat all the things of this world and love God more than this world. That is true faith and the genuine spiritual life of a saint.
We Must Remove the Filthy Dross in Order to Love God and His Righteousness More than This World
We must first remove the greed of the flesh in order to lead a proper spiritual life before the presence of God. We must remove the fleshly dross from our hearts. We must remove the covetousness and greed from within our hearts. Only then can we follow the righteousness of God. These are very prevalent in the world and can devour even the born-again. We must love the righteousness of God more than this world. Only then can the love of God the Father be inside of us, and the light and the truth of our Lord will dwell within us and lead us forward properly. The Lord is telling us this truth today.
We are able to love this world and God in the same way because we are humans. Furthermore, we can actually have this desire to live like that. However, God does not want us to live like this. Therefore, you and I must defeat these fleshly thoughts and fleshly desires that continually stream into our hearts. It is all because we are able to love God more than this world that we can defeat such thoughts and desires.
People commonly illustrate the heart of humans as a bowl. As you know, there is a limit as to how much can be poured into a bowl. So for example, one can become a person who reveres God or just someone who follows after the world depending on whether the things of the world are being poured into their heart, that is, into this bowl, more than the Word of God. If there are more things of the world in this bowl (heart), then that person is not really believing in God or even following Him although that person claims to believe and love God with their lips.
If we illustrate our heart with this bowl, then God must take hold of our heart more in order for our spiritual life to be genuine. Therefore, we must defeat the things of this world that come streaming into our hearts in order to lead a spiritual life properly. We can maintain our faith only if we evacuate the things of the world from our hearts and have the Lord in our hearts more.
Dear fellow believers, think about it once again. Have so many things really come into our hearts as we live in this world? Do we have a guard in our hearts? No, there is none. And so a human cannot but turn into a slave of their circumstance when they fall into some troubles. A person becomes immersed in that circumstance when they meet similar likeminded people and for example, become absorbed in a TV program when they watch it. A human is so lacking like this. The important thing however is what we continually encounter. The heart of a person naturally leans towards the world and flows towards it if they encounter the world more and accept the things of this world more. If this should happen, what would be the consequences? Such a person will no doubt become distant from the Lord. However, one can have a heart that leans towards the Lord and lead a proper spiritual life if they accept the Lord more in their heart and reject the things of this world because the Lord has dominion over their heart.
We are not beings that can go and live outside in the world just because we have received the remission of our sins. Some people think that they do not commit any sins if they have at one time received the remission of their sins by believing in the righteousness of God, but this is not really the case. Of course, it is true that only a person who knows and believes in the righteousness of God is able to lead a proper spiritual life, and conversely someone who does not know or believe in it cannot do so no matter how ardently they believe in Jesus. However, no matter how a person has received the remission of their sins, they are no different from a sinner if their heart is in the world more, instead of being in the righteousness of God. No one can possess this true faith if they love the things of this world more.
Ministers, brothers and sisters are all the same children of God before His presence. There is no exception before this truth. Then what kind of things have actually come into your hearts? Let’s put all the worldly things to the left side and the spiritual things to the right side. Because the bowl of everyone’s heart is different, certain brothers and sisters might have more things on the left hand side while the others might have more on the right hand side, and these hearts can change tomorrow. The heart of a human constantly changes like this. Therefore God has requested us to keep our hearts properly. I don’t know exactly where your hearts are attached to, but we can discern whether someone is spiritual or fleshly depending on whether the things of God have come into their hearts more or whether the things of this world have come into that bowl. Whether or not we can live out our life now is dependent on the state of our hearts. One’s faith is not decided on whether or not they know much more on spiritual topics. You are leading a proper spiritual life if you have accepted the things of God more and rejected the things of this world; but if the things of this world have come into your heart more, you cannot lead a proper spiritual life at all. Everyone is the same; there is no exception to this principle.
There are times when I lean towards the left more and at the other times lean towards the right more. Of course, we can also live this spiritual life insincerely. It means that we can have a formalistic faith. However, the thing is that you come to live in a fleshly way unconsciously even if you really want to live spiritually if your heart is placed more on the things of this world. The Scriptures tell us that a tree is known by its fruit. You will for sure bear the fruit of this world if your heart is in the world. Dear fellow believers, look deep into your hearts once more. And if you are living a life that is drifting towards the world, I want you to know that it is because the things of the world have filled your heart much more.
The question is why are we constantly drifting towards the world when we desire to lead a spiritual life? It is because the things of this world have streamed into our hearts. Therefore, we must acknowledge this and confess, “I have many things of this world inside of me,” and discern quickly what things we must cast away and then cast them away quickly. And we must look towards God again with a cleansed heart.
This is so true. As we experience sunny days and rainy days, our hearts are also fickle like this just as the weather changes day by day. So leading a spiritual life in this secular world is very easy and is also very difficult at times. Our spiritual life becomes like hell when the worldly things have come into our capricious hearts more than the things of God. It becomes really distressing. If your heart is distressed now and your spiritual life has become a mess, then you must realize that it is because the things of the world have taken control of your heart.
The more time passes the more difficult it becomes to lead a spiritual life without the righteousness of God. We must renew our hearts with the righteousness of God as frequently as possible, because we who live in this secular world cannot but be immersed in the secularism of this world. So we must sweep away the desires of our hearts as if we were sweeping our front yard with a broom in the early morning. We must wash away the wrong things in our hearts as frequently as possible. The longer we have believed the more we must do this. When a person first comes to know the righteousness of God and receives the remission of their sins, 99% of their heart is filled with the love of the Lord. Their heart does not waver no matter what kind of temptation comes to them because the love of the Lord is in the center of their heart. The heart that confesses, as one of our hymns goes, “Fear disappears when I dwell with the Lord for the Lord always protects me” is the 100 points of faith.
But how does this heart change when a little time has passed? It changes so much that one would rather sing something other than this graceful hymn because their conscience cannot bear it. The spiritual life is filled with joy and happiness immediately after receiving the remission of sins, but it becomes difficult to keep this heart steady when much time has passed. Like this, spiritual life really is not that easy. Don’t you also think that it is more difficult to follow God, follow the Lord, and keep your faith now than when you first received the remission of your sins? I am also like that. Our faith should become stronger with the passing time, but our heart instead becomes more distressed as time passes.
Let’s Keep Our Hearts with Faith in the Righteousness of God
The heart of a human can change and waver easily like this when circumstances change. Therefore, you and I must keep our hearts that is fundamental to our spiritual life. We must acknowledge that loving God more in our heart is upright and live following this correct answer. There is no other way. There is no other way but to believe and follow this correct answer God has bestowed upon us. I am saying that we are compelled to occasionally clean our hearts and push out the things of this world
For us who are to lead a proper spiritual life, we cannot but live encountering this secular world continually and it becomes a difficult problem. It is extremely difficult to follow the Lord and serve the Lord while encountering this world. It is not easy to keep our faith properly while working for a company or going to school. What do you think the reason for this is? It is because many things of this secular world come into our hearts. Therefore, we must drive these things out.
The things of this world seem to be beautiful at times because we are watching them from a distance. Even a foul-smelling lake looks beautiful when seen from afar. But if we should go out into this world completely, we can reject the world and get closer to the Lord because we have come to realize that the world is so filthy. Only then will we be able to live in the Lord completely. But we cannot defeat these worldly things that sneak inside us unknowingly while we think, “I will not live in the world. I live only for the Lord.” We can realize just how filthy the world is, reject the world, and come out of it if we have fallen deep inside of it. Otherwise our hearts can become immersed in the things of this world that stream inside of us unconsciously. What does this all mean? This means that it becomes more difficult for you and me who dwell and live in the Lord to reject these worldly things than those who live in it.
Therefore, we must open our heart before God and find the answer in the light of His truth to this question: “Am I really believing in God or am I following this world?” If we do not know properly what to throw out, the worldly things will constantly flood our hearts even though we reject it. If this happens then we will not be able to defeat the world. The tide of this world is coming in and it will eventually sneak into our hearts. It will be useless even trying to block it off with our weak wills. No matter how much we reject the things of this world, they come into our hearts continuously with the strong currents of this world that is flowing continuously. How can we block this off? The only way is to love only the Lord much more.
God said to Abraham the ancestor of our faith, “Do not be afraid, Abraham. I am your shield.” Dear fellow believers, is this world worthy to love more than God? No, it is not. Then loving God more than this world is clearly the correct answer. We must live like this. As I have said before, we cannot stop the tide that is invading our hearts constantly even if we try to keep water from overflowing. However, I believe God will work in our hearts if we realize that it is not right for us to live absorbed in the things of this world, except for the righteousness of the Lord, and love Him more. I believe that we will live a balanced life as these spiritual things are poured into the bowl of our hearts and it is filled with 70% spiritual things and 30% worldly things.
We cannot stop all the things of the world coming into our hearts. However, we must fill our hearts with the things of God up to at least 70% and reject worldly things with this spiritual power. No matter how a person is filled with the Holy Spirit, they cannot reject all these worldly things. However, the things of this world cannot become more than 40% of our hearts. As time passes, the more we fill our hearts with the things of God the more we can maintain this difficult spiritual life properly.
Our Hearts Must Lean towards God’s Side
Is 50% of your heart filled with God and 50% filled with this world? If it is like this, you do not have proper faith. You must quickly throw away at least 10% of those worldly things. And you must maintain the things of the Lord at least 60% in your heart. In order to do this, you must lean your heart towards the inside of the Church, towards God and towards saving souls. Then you can lie down on the side of the Lord if you go in just a little more in the things of God. The things of God must be at least 60% of your heart. You are leading your spiritual life quite well if 70% of your heart is filled with the things of God. You would be someone like the Apostle Paul’s younger brother or sister if it were about 80%. You would be like Jesus’ younger brother or sister if it were about 90% and you would be Jesus’ classmate if it were 100%. I believe we will also be like this if God allows it. However, let us not be greedy from the beginning. We can be satisfied with at least 60%. If that is impossible at this point, it must be at least 55%. It must not be 50% - 50%. If there is anyone here who is like this, please repent immediately. Our Lord does not allow this. We begin to have conflict when the things of this world take up 50% of our heart. The worldly things have taken up over 50% of your heart if you think, “It is difficult to even look at the face of that leader. Brothers and sisters? What brothers and sisters? My friends in this world are better. I am weary of this kind of spiritual life.” The worldly things have taken up 60% now if you think you want to quit leading your spiritual life. Such a person can reject the gospel of the Lord and leave the Lord at any moment. We must know this fact very well. And we must control our hearts.
Dear fellow believers, you and I must keep these basic points well. We must at least get 60 points out of a total of 100 points and that at least is a passing grade. Of course, it is not easy to get 60 points. They give 20 basic points in schools also, so they will not be held back, but there are people who still cannot get to 60 points when they take the test. Thus, it is both easy and difficult to obtain 60 points.
A person who has been saved through the Lord has already obtained 50 points. One just has to get 10 more points, but there are some people who leave the Lord because they cannot obtain these extra points. Dear fellow believers, our Lord has given us 50 points already. We can obtain these 10 points if our heart leans towards the Lord, but we will lose 10 points if we lean towards the world just a little. I want you to keep your hearts properly. As the tide ebbs and flows, our hearts also come and go as well.
What Is Our Point of Faith?
A person obtains 90 points in their level of faith if they do not fall no matter what kind of temptation shakes them up because the love of the Lord lies in the center of their heart. Such a person can keep their spiritual life faithfully. However, a person who has 59 points must repent. Everyone who is below 60 points must repent.
Therefore, let us at least maintain our 60 points. It should at least be 70 points. I am saying that our grade of faith should be at least a C grade. Most of the born-again who are living in this end period have barely passed the 60 point mark. There are not many people who have 70 points or even 80 points. Because this is such a lewd period, even us who have been born again go back and forth from 60 points to 70 points. We must maintain at least 70 points. If that is difficult, we must maintain at least 60 points. Both you and I must do this.
Our Lord spoke to Abraham, “I am your shield. I will protect you. I will take responsibility for all your things. I am your reward. I have blessed you and I will continue to bless you.” The Lord who has so much love has manifested Himself to us who believe in Him. God has become our Shepherd and dwells with us now as God who blesses us. Shall we then who lead a spiritual life in this world love the world more? Shall we love the world and God in the same way? No, never! We must love God much more. We must definitely live like this.
There are many times when our hearts drift towards a wrong place. I know well that our hearts are prone to drift towards the world. It is the scheme of Satan who has power in this world. Let us therefore keep our minds clear. There must be nothing in this world that we like more than God. We must love God more than anything else. We obviously like the world, but we must love God much more. That is the upright and proper thing to do. We must always live like this.
I do not want to tell you to love God 100%. It is because we cannot expect that from humans who are so weak. Even if we talk about the higher dimension of faith, we cannot do it in reality. In conclusion, I am saying that you and I must love God more than this world. Do you believe this to be right? Do you believe this is the right way to live? Moreover, do you believe that you can live like this? You can live like this. You can live like this because God has given us these basic points. It is simple. This is the grace of our Lord. And so, we just have to lean just a little towards the side of God’s Word, towards God’s side, and towards the side of the Church. We will naturally fall towards God if we lean just a little towards God. I am saying that we should willfully lean just a little towards God. Then our Lord will guide us with the rest. This is what a proper spiritual life is all about.
Leaning towards the Righteousness of the Lord Is True Spiritual Life
We must lean our hearts towards the Lord more. We must live with this clear understanding. If we do not know this truth, we cannot but live more for the things of this world in our hearts. We must throw away worldly things quickly from our hearts. And we must fill up our hearts more with the things of the Lord quickly. If there is anything to clean up, we must clean it up quickly. Of course, we cannot clean away all these things, but when these worldly things come streaming into our hearts, we must clean them away quickly and cast them out.
Dear fellow believers, we must lean our hearts more towards God especially in these end times. This is the era in which we must remember these truths. Our Lord will return in just a short while. There will be chaos in this world after just a few more years. All this information is shared from a computer communication network. The best chess player on this planet had a chess match against a computer program, and that person won the match by the score of three wins and one loss. That chess master said, “I am not afraid of the computer because it does not have any emotion. I was able to win because of this.” What does this mean? It means that humans would lose to computers if they strengthened the power of that computer just a little more. And humans would be under their rule. And so he said there will come a time soon when humans will be under the rule of computers.
Computers and internet systems have become so advanced now that the entire world is connected to each other like one nation. Even children and older folk are learning to use a computer. This is the era where computers are receiving the spotlight more than humans. Thus, the Lord will come soon. So I admonish you all to keep faith in these trying end times. I am saying that we should love God more than this world.