The New Life Mission

Sermons

Subject 19 : The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the EPHESIANS

[Chapter 5-5] (Ephesians 5:15-21) Those Who Live with The Fullness of the Spirit

(Ephesians 5:15-21)
“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but 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, submitting to one another in the fear of God.”
 
 
This year’s discipleship training camp ended just recently. On this coming Wednesday, we will be holding a special worship service to pray for our literature ministry. We will then make a financial pledge on this coming Sunday to support our literature ministry for the latter half of this year. As you may know well, this ministry costs a lot of money. However, I am sure that our God will take care of everything if we pray to Him sincerely enough. That’s why we are holding a special prayer session this Wednesday, to ask God for financial resources in particular to fund our literature ministry. Anyone can get self-complacent or become idle over God’s work after doing the same work for a long time. So, it is appropriate for us to set a new goal to get out of monotony and renew our focus. For this reason, we set new mission goals and make a financial pledge twice a year to avoid falling into self-complacency.
We just read Ephesians chapter 5 for today’s Scripture passage. Lately I have been preaching about Ephesians so much that it seems as though every time I give a sermon, it’s always drawn from Ephesians. I keep preaching from this Epistle because I think I have not been able to plant its lessons firmly in your heart.
 
 
Definition of the Spirit-filled Life
 
There is one particular verse that stands out in today’s Scripture passage, and it is Ephesians 5:18: “Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.” How good is it for you to be filled with the Holy Spirit?
When people get drunk, they act differently from their normal behavior. Some people keep saying the same thing over and over again; others keep on singing; and still others try to pick a fight with just about anyone. Like this, when people get drunk, they all end up losing their normal inhibitions.
However, the Bible says clearly here in Ephesians 5:18, “Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.” That we ought to be filled with the Spirit means literally that our hearts ought to be led and ruled completely by the Spirit of God. This passage, in other words, admonishes us all to follow Christ’s life amid the joy, power, and blessings given by the Holy Spirit. Like this, to be filled with the Spirit is to be ruled by the Spirit. It means letting our minds and lives be guided by the providence of God rather than just by our own human rationality. Taking a step further, living with the fullness of the Spirit means living according to God’s good pleasure rather than our own fleshly desires.
Indeed, if we really want to live with the fullness of the Spirit, we must live in a way that’s pleasing to God. As the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God dwelling in the hearts of all of us who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we ought to submit ourselves to this Spirit and follow Him in obedience to His good pleasure.
How should you then lead your life before God to live a life that’s pleasing to Him? Jesus Christ, God Himself, blotted out all your sins and mine with the gospel of the water and the Spirit when He came to this earth. And now that you and I believe in this Truth, we ought to spread all over the world this faith of ours that has saved us all. That is what it really means to live with the fullness of the Spirit. When God told us to be filled with the Spirit, He was telling us to devote our whole lives to preaching His gospel and saving the lost souls.
It’s written in Romans 8:5-6: “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Two kinds of lives are described in this passage: One that’s led according to the flesh, and one that’s led according to the Spirit.
 
 
What Does It Mean to Follow the Flesh and Its Thoughts?
 
This refers to a life that’s led according to the lusts of one’s own flesh. Those who love their own flesh are drawn to their carnal thoughts and follow the lusts that spring forth from their hearts. They are steeped in their own carnal emotions. Such people think as follows: “I want to do whatever I like in my life. I want to make a lot of money, travel all over the world, and enjoy my life to my heart’s content. I want to live freely without anyone meddling in my affairs. I also want to try everything and anything. It’s my life, and so I want to do whatever I want. I don’t care what anyone says; I just wish I could do anything I want.” If you are living according to such fleshly thoughts, then your life is one that’s led according to the flesh.
However, my fellow believers, it’s a grave sin in God’s sight to follow one’s own fleshly thoughts like this. If you follow your carnal thoughts, you will then not be able to follow the thoughts of the Spirit, and therefore end up disobeying the will of God and ultimately garner His enmity. Like this, following the lusts of the flesh is to commit a grave sin before God. Anyone who follows his own flesh is breaking God’s Law.
Although we have received the remission of sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, it’s still possible for us to sometimes fall into our own fleshly thoughts or follow the flesh. However, there is a fail-safe mechanism that prevents us from falling too far into the flesh and leading such a carnal life. This is none other than the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. As the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts as our Master and Guardian, He convicts our hearts whenever we want to follow our flesh. As a result, we find it unbearable to continue to follow the flesh, and we are compelled to turn around and set our minds on the things of the Spirit.
 
 
We Have Two Masters
 
One of our two masters is the fleshly ego, while the other Master is the Holy Spirit—that is, the Spirit of God. These two masters inside us each demand different things from us. The Holy Spirit says to us, “Do this work that’s pleasing to God as I am commanding you. I will then give you joy, peace, and blessings, and I will also make sure that you bear the fruit of righteousness.” But your fleshly ego does not stay still. It also says to you, “Listen to me, and I will give you joy. Of course, this joy is followed by a certain sense of emptiness later on, but it’s not all that bad, since it’s felt by only those who actually had some joy to begin with. If you do as I say, you will be happy. So do as I command you.” We are then torn between these demands coming from our two masters, and we find ourselves not knowing what to do. We are confronted with the critical question of whom to obey.
All of us who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit should obviously follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The problem, however, is that there are some people among us who sometimes prefer to obey and follow the dictates of the flesh. But when such people actually follow their own fleshly ego, they just end up committing sin, their hearts are troubled, and they lose their joy. And they eventually realize that the joy that’s accrued from following their own fleshly ego is momentary, whereas the suffering that follows is long-lasting. That is why the Apostle Paul said, “Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). Whoever follows his own flesh will face nothing but suffering in the end, and therefore God admonished us all to live with the fullness of the Spirit.
 
 
Be Filled with the Spirit Rather than Drunk with Wine
 
Today at this hour, I would like to explain in detail what to do to attain the fullness of the Spirit. You and I are Christians. As you and I believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we have become God’s sinless children and His workers. As people like this, all of us need to know clearly what we must do to lead a worthy life filled with the Holy Spirit. To achieve this, we must realize first that we are all inclined to follow our flesh by nature. Only when we recognize that we ourselves often fall into fleshly thoughts can we focus our attention on living with the fullness of the Spirit.
Although you have received the remission of sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, do you not still follow your fleshly desires in one way or another? It’s absolutely indispensable for all of us to realize that we ourselves are prone to have many fleshly thoughts and fall into them, for it is only then that we can truly grasp just how precious the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit is and be faithful to it. Thanks to Jesus Christ our heavenly High Priest, we have been blessed to escape from all our curses on account of our faith, and as a result, we have now been spiritually restored. However, because our flesh still remains intact, we are still prone to be carnally minded, and therefore we sometimes find ourselves thinking in a way that’s completely opposite to the will of God. Hence, it’s absolutely crucial for all of us to admit that we can commit sin at any time.
What does this mean? It means that since we are all inclined to follow our flesh by nature, far from following God’s commandments, we may actually find ourselves disobeying and breaking them. However, as we have already accepted the God-given gospel of the water and the Spirit, we ruminate or meditate on this gospel whenever we commit sin. Since God Himself said that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), we know that we had to die for our sins, and therefore we can appreciate the gospel of the water and the Spirit even more.
It is written, “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:3). All of us had to admit and confess that we were destined to die for our sins. Moreover, to escape from the condemnation of our sins that we ourselves had to bear, we had to blot out all our sins first, but we could not achieve this no matter how hard we tried. The condemnation of sin was something that we could never avoid on our own. That is precisely why Jesus Christ the Son of God has blotted out all our sins once and for all with the Truth of the water and the Spirit. Jesus Christ had come to this earth for our sake, and He had borne all our sins by being baptized by John the Baptist. We must have this faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit all the time.
Jesus has saved us from all the sins of the world once and for all through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and therefore all of us who believe in this true gospel are now sinless. God has truly accomplished what we could not achieve. We believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit with all our hearts. The Lord is saying to us, “I am your God, and I have saved you from all your sins. I bore not only your sins but also all the sins of the entire human race. I took upon all your sins and all the sins of everyone in this world. So believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Why then do so many people still refuse to believe in the righteousness of Jesus, who bore all their sins by being baptized, died on the Cross in their place, and rose from the dead again? It’s because these people are following their own fleshly thoughts rather than the will of God.
Our God is calling everyone to seek spiritual restoration. In other words, God is admonishing us to restore our hearts by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that He has given to us. He is telling us to restore our hearts through our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and by this faith set our minds on the things of the Spirit. It is only by having faith in the Word of God that all of us can receive the remission of sins and attain the fullness of the Spirit.
The Lord has washed away not just our sins but all the sins of everyone in this whole wide world at once. All human beings can therefore see their hearts being completely washed whiter than snow by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. It’s by accepting the gospel of the water and the Spirit into our hearts and following this gospel that we can have our hearts filled with the Holy Spirit all the time. And the righteous can follow God’s commandments even more faithfully by ensuring that their hearts are filled with the Holy Spirit. Because the righteous themselves are no longer bound by their sins, they can be kind and tolerant toward others, and they can also preach the gospel to them. They are then filled with the Holy Spirit even more, they can live in this world with a joyful heart, and they can also receive God’s love throughout their entire lifetime. This is how we are compelled to carry out God’s precious work. And when we the righteous do so, our hearts are rejoiced and happy. Like this, it is far more joyous for us to live with the fullness of the Spirit than to follow our own flesh, and that is why we are obliged to follow the will of the Lord always, carry out His work day after day, obey God even more, and submit ourselves to Him at all times. None other than this is what it means to live with the fullness of the Spirit.
The Bible teaches us to set our minds on God’s work, saying, “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:6). If we set our minds on God’s work, then we can all live in God’s light. When we think about how God has blotted out not only our sins but also all the sins of everyone in this world, we are reminded of the righteousness of God to renew our faith in it, and therefore our hearts are rejoiced. I am so grateful to God that we can all receive His abundant blessings and enjoy His joy and peace by carrying out His work. Words cannot express just how thankful I am that God has blessed us to believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and always live with the fullness of the Spirit.
The Apostle Paul is saying to us that to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. He is saying that when we are spiritually minded, it brings new life and peace to whoever has faith in the true gospel and the will of God, who has called every saint to do His righteous work. Therefore, if you and I living in this present age really believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, then we ought to also follow the Lord by trusting in this gospel. That is how we can have the fullness of the Spirit at all times.
Is it better to have sin or not to have sin? Of course it’s better to have no sin. At one point in my past, because of my sins, I had been demon-possessed and placed under the rule of Satan, but thankfully, God made it possible for me to realize the gospel of the water and the Spirit and receive the remission of sins from Him. Words cannot express just how grateful I am for that.
I used to suffer a great deal in agony because of my sins in the past. Back in those days, Satan used to accuse me of my sins constantly and whisper into my ears, “You’ve sinned, haven’t you? You might as well just die rather than living like so miserably like this.” So, as my suffering was so great, I even came very closely to killing myself, thinking, “I should just jump off a cliff to death rather than living such a wretched life. It will all be over then. The pain of death is only momentary, and so why should I continue to live with so much suffering like this? I might as well put myself out of misery.”
Fortunately, another thought came into my mind: “If I die like this in my sinful state, would I not then end up in hell to suffer even more than now? I can’t afford to die like this.” So I could not bring myself to commit suicide.
My fellow believers, all of us are doomed to be cast into hell for our sins without any exception. Yet despite this, the Lord came to this earth personally for such wretched people like us, bore all our sins once and for all by being baptized by John the Baptist, died on the Cross, and rose up from the dead. As Jesus has thus saved us from all our sins through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, all of us who believe in this Truth have now been released from each and every sin of ours. How wonderful is it that we have been freed from all our sins? There is nothing more wonderful than this. Is there any faith that’s better than this faith of ours that has saved us from all our sins? No, there is no faith that’s better than ours anywhere in the world.
Therefore, we are absolutely convinced that there is no life that’s better than one that’s led to preach this gospel of salvation, the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Where would we ever find a better life than this? Such a life is found only in the Kingdom of Heaven. Given the fact that we are living with the fullness of the Spirit, what other life would we ever envy? Indeed, this life that’s filled with the Holy Spirit is the most wonderful life. How about you then? As you listen to today’s sermon, are you really living such a Spirit-filled life?
 
 
Although We Have Received the Remission of Sins into Our Hearts, We May Have Become Dull with Passing Time
 
You can imagine just how happy I must have been when I first believed in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and all my sins were consequently blotted out of my heart. In fact, when we first heard the gospel of the water and the Spirit and received the remission of sins by believing in this gospel, all of us were so grateful to God that our hearts overflowed with thanksgiving.
With passing time, however, we may have become too dull to appreciate what God has done for us. In some ways, we may even think that it’s only natural for our sins to disappear from our hearts since we believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and taking this for granted, we may be tempted to follow the flesh rather than rejecting carnal thoughts. As a result, we may sometimes try to make compromises with ourselves to live according to the thoughts of the flesh.
It is precisely to warn us of this that the Apostle Paul said, “Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). It’s only when we live with the fullness of the Spirit that we can obey the commandments of Jesus Christ and follow the guidance of our predecessors of faith when they admonish us. Since our predecessors of faith preach nothing but the Word of God that guides us to the right way, all who trust them and follow their guidance will no doubt attain the fullness of the Spirit. Only when our lives are filled with the Holy Spirit like this can we carry out God’s righteous work. And that is why the Apostle Paul is admonishing us to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
My fellow believers, you and I were indeed destined to be cast into hell for our sins. We were all once standing outside Jesus Christ. Just how miserable were we all in those days? However, the Lord has saved us all by coming to this earth and bearing all our sins on His own body through the baptism He received from John the Baptist. Had the Lord not saved us from all the sins of the world, we would have lived a wretched life in this world oppressed by our sins to the very end. How miserable would this life have been? We would indeed have lived the most wretched life.
Sadly, countless people living in this world are still trapped in such a miserable life. Even though their flesh is smiling, their hearts are filled with nothing but sorrow. In fact, it’s precisely because they are so sad that they are preoccupied with the things of the flesh even more obsessively. Put differently, they are living such a carnal life in a futile attempt to forget their sadness even for a short while. That is why so many people commit suicide in desperation. Such people who have not received the remission of sins yet are indeed all living an accursed life. Even at this very moment, countless people are beating their chests in suffering.
In contrast, you and I are now living amidst God’s blessings with the fullness of the Spirit. So the Apostle Paul told us to praise the Lord with spiritual songs and psalms. And just as he admonished us, we have written beautiful hymns and we are singing them now to praise the Lord. We are now serving the most wonderful gospel of the water and the Spirit by faith. We are preaching the gospel of the water and the Spirit all over the world in our lives, and these lives of ours are the truly righteous and worthy lives.
When people do something bad, at first they feel happy because they have done what they wanted to do. But soon, when the gravity of their sin sinks in, they feel guilty, and this is followed by the fear of judgment that continues to torment their hearts. Young people like our teenagers are particularly susceptible to suffer even more. Adolescence is a very difficult stage in life, as teenagers are particularly sensitive to their emotional feelings. Although many of them want to live virtuously without any shame under the heavens, in reality, they may actually end up committing countless sins. It’s very easy for adolescents to be swept up by the mistaken ideas of the world and set their minds on the wrong things.
Of course, our young brothers and sisters should never be drawn by such temptations, but given the peer pressure that they face constantly, it’s very difficult for them to live by faith amid so much pressure and not be influenced by their friends. Too many adolescents think that going astray is just a sign of boldness and courage. There is a pronounced tendency among today’s youths to think that it’s actually cool to commit sin. If you are a teenager, I admonish you to have the foresight to see that many people are actually full of regrets lamenting over their wasted youth. You are at a righteous place doing a righteous work, and you are a truly courageous youth.
All too often we forget about our first love with Jesus. But we can always turn around and once again be filled with the Holy Spirit. It’s by faith that we can live with the fullness of the Spirit.
Let’s read Ephesians 5:18 one more time here: “Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.” As you and I have received the remission of sins by believing in the Lord’s salvation, we are living with the fullness of the Spirit at all the time. That’s because we admit our mistakes and follow the Lord by trusting in His righteousness, always thanking Him for blotting out all our sins. Because we believe that the Lord has blotted out not only our sins but also all the sins of everyone else, we can live as sinless people always. It’s absolutely critical for all of us to realize in our minds and hearts that we have become sinless; that we have now come to carry out God’s righteous work in our lives; that we have been blessed to live in God’s Church doing His righteous work in unity with our sinless brothers and sisters; that we have become God’s own people and members of His Kingdom; that countless people are receiving the remission of sins thanks to our labor; that we are saving others by supporting the gospel ministry and sacrificing ourselves for the sake of the Lord’s righteous work; and that we are the truly blessed people.
 
 
Every Life That Is Led to Serve the Gospel of the Water and the Spirit Is the Very Life That’s Filled with the Holy Spirit
 
The Lord always fills us with the Holy Spirit so that we would all be able to live such a blessed life forever. Put differently, the Lord has blessed us all so that we may always abide in God’s Church and follow the Lord in our lives. However, if we follow our own carnal thoughts and stubbornly refuse to turn around from this mistaken direction, we will be excluded from this Spirit-filled life. On the other hand, if we admit our mistakes whenever we make them, once again ruminate on the gospel of the water and the Spirit with which the Lord has blotted out all our sins, and follow God thanking Him for what He has done for us, then our hearts will be filled with God’s work and His love. When our hearts are thus set firmly on this righteous work of God and follow it, we will always live with the fullness of the Spirit. None other than this life is what the Lord has granted to all of us. And that is why we are so happy and blessed.
My fellow believers, although we are the truly blessed people, we may still end up unhappy if we set our minds on the wrong standard. Even someone who has received the remission of sins may end up unhappy like Abraham’s nephew Lot if he follows his flesh according to his own carnal thoughts. If you let this happen to you, you will turn yourself into a selfish person living just for your own flesh like the servant in Jesus’ parable who received one talent.
Do you really want this to happen to you? Do you really want to forsake God like an old rag, stomp on His grace, and turn yourself into His opponent and enemy? Such people will just turn into the Devil’s henchmen and stand against God all their lives, only to be appointed their portion with the hypocrites and thrown into the pit of fire. Yet do you still want to live like this? Our Lord absolutely does not want any of us to end up like this. After all, this is not why the Lord has saved us. On the contrary, the Lord has not only saved us, but He has also blessed us so that we would all live every day with the fullness of the Spirit. That is why we are so thankful to the Lord.
We can all see just how intricate God’s purpose for us is.  We now know how much God loves us, how much He has blessed us, and how much He intervenes in our lives to ensure that we are on the right path. The Lord therefore told us to walk circumspectly in this world, not as fools but as wise, and He also told us to redeem the time, for the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-16).
Our lives on this earth are not everlasting. Our entire lifespan is at most 70-80 years (Psalm 90:10). Given the fact that our lives in this world are so short, how much time do we really have to carry out God’s work? It’s obviously much shorter than our lifespan. Some people may work for 30 or 40 years, but most people have less time to work. If we were born long ago in another generation, we might have been able to do God’s work for a longer period than now, but because we are living in an age when the day of the Lord’s return is not that far away, we have even less time to carry out God’s work. All of us must therefore work diligently now to fulfill our righteous calling to save others.
Many environmentalists all over the world are staunchly opposed to whaling. Some of them don’t just voice their opposition with words, but they actually go out into the sea on their own ship trying to obstruct whaling ships from hunting. These people risk their lives to uphold their conviction. As it’s their highest priority in life to prevent environmental destruction, they do everything possible to stop ecological degradation, even putting their own lives at risk in the process. Everyone dedicates his life on what he considers to be the most precious value. Committed environmentalists do everything possible to protect nature, unafraid to go anywhere and do whatever it takes to investigate the causes of environmental destruction and prevent ecological degradation, whether it’s the water, the soil, or the air that’s being polluted. Many people praise them for working so tirelessly for a worthy cause.
Recently, a massive oil spill near the west coast of Korea ruined the lives of countless people depending on the sea to make a living. The wholesale destruction of the coastline was so severe that some of them have even committed suicide out of desperation. These people have depended on the sea to earn the bread for their families and educate their children, but now they cannot do anything as their livelihood has disappeared. Their plight is so bad that it’s no wonder that some people have taken the drastic step of committing suicide. We can see from this disaster just how important it is to protect and guard the environment to sustain our livelihood. So, environmental protection is also a truly worthy cause.
However, there is another cause that’s even worthier than this. It is what God the Creator has entrusted to us, and this work is the most precious and important work of all. In other words, preaching the gospel of God is the most righteous work. We are now doing a truly righteous work, for we are laboring tirelessly to save everyone according to the will of God. We are preaching this gospel now because we are so thankful to the Lord for blotting out all our sins, and because we know that the Lord has blotted out not just our sins but also everyone else’s sins. How wonderful is it that we are living for such a worthy cause? We are so grateful to God that words cannot express all our thanks. And it’s by living like this that our hearts are filled with the Holy Spirit.
If we were to instead follow the flesh, we would never have this fullness of the Spirit in our lives. Sometimes, when we succumb to our own fleshly standards even for a short while, our hearts are turned upside down and our lives feel like a living hell. There are times when we feel as though following the Lord is to our own detriment. When we see how everyone else is just seeking their own interests, we feel like we are all alone following the Lord, and we feel hated and ostracized. Why do we have such feelings? It’s because we are actually following our own carnal thoughts.
In times like these, set your mind on the things of the Spirit and follow His work. Then what seemed like a living hell will turn heavenly right away. Let your mind dwell on spiritual things, remembering that the Lord has blotted out not only all your sins but also everyone else’s sins; that the Lord has commanded you to preach His gospel to everyone; that others can also receive the remission of sins when they hear the gospel preached by you; and that their salvation depends on you. Your heart will then be rejoiced and happy.
God used His written Word to save us from all our sins. Therefore, the Truth of the Word written in the Scripture will never change no matter how the times change. Because the Scripture is the Truth, it bears witness of the gospel of the water and the Spirit forever. God wrote His Word so that all who have received the remission of sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit would live with the fullness of the Spirit; while all who still have not received the remission of sins would know the gospel of the water and the Spirit through this Word of God.
It’s our hearts that must be upright in God’s sight. If our hearts are evil rather than upright, then when we read the Bible, we would just see evil things. That’s because the Word is the truth. Even though many people profess to believe in the Word of God, those who do so in their sinful state without understanding the gospel of the water and the Spirit can only see the blessings of the flesh from the Word, for their hearts remain wicked and they follow only the lust of the flesh. Because they call on the name of God just to satisfy their own lusts, when they read the Bible, God only shows them the way to follow the wicked lusts of the flesh.
To illustrate this, consider 3 John 1:2, which says, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” A careful examination of this passage reveals that the prosperity of our souls is the precondition to every other kind of prosperity. God wants our souls to prosper first of all, and then flourish in all things. Put differently, God is telling us that we must receive the remission of sins first of all, and then follow the righteousness of God. God will then help us in everything we do.
However, those whose hearts are wicked misinterpret this passage to their own liking, all because they are just following their own fleshly lusts. So when they read 3 John 1:2, they are far more interested in material prosperity than the prosperity of their souls, paying hardly any attention to the fact that they can actually go to Heaven only if they believe in Jesus and His gospel of the water and the Spirit. Since these people are solely interested in becoming wealthy, finding a cure to their physical illnesses, or attaining worldly fame, they cannot discover this true gospel even as they read the Bible hundreds of times. In fact, this is actually God’s doing.
The same principle applies to us the redeemed as well. If our hearts are upright in God’s sight, then we will be guided by the Holy Spirit. That’s how we realize that the Holy Spirit is leading us through the Word of God and how we are compelled to follow His guidance. However, if our hearts are not upright, then we will turn just into fleshly people, and unable to understand the Word of God, we will live in a way that’s far removed from a spiritual life.
All of us must set our minds on the gospel of the water and the Spirit and follow the work of the Spirit. We will then realize what is spiritual, and we will be able to do what is truly worthwhile. If we otherwise succumb to fleshly thoughts and read the Bible with a carnal mind, we will only see how we can ensure our own fleshly prosperity, and if we let this happen, our souls will be destroyed eventually.
During this discipleship training camp, I have preached on some of the most essential Word that all of you should understand clearly. Today’s sermon is no different; I have spoken on these things because they are absolutely indispensable to you. And I preached the Word of God only because He permits me; regardless of how many things I might have prepared to say in my sermon, unless God permits me I cannot preach even a single line of His Word. Although most Christians read the Bible every day, those who don’t believe in the Word of God, and who are therefore living according to the flesh with their hearts still remaining sinful, cannot get any correct understanding out of the Scriptures.
Countless Christians today remain unable to receive the remission of sins because they do not know the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Hence, it’s only a matter of course that they are also incapable of preaching this true gospel. Yet despite this, these Christian sinners still try to preach the Word of God, and they do this not because they really believe in the Word of God, but because they want to satisfy their own fleshly lusts.
In contrast, God has blessed you and me to live with the fullness of the Holy Spirit and follow the thoughts of the Spirit according to His Word. Now, by believing in the Word of God, all of us can live with fullness of the Spirit every day. So let us all live by trusting in God, giving all our thanks to Him for guiding us.