Is Perming Of The Hair Or The Attachment Of Artificial Hair A Sin?

Quite a number of ultra-conservative Christians in Africa view the perming of the hair and the attachment of artificial hair like weave-ons, braids, wigs etc, as unnatural and sinful. What does the Bible say about perming of the hair and the attachment of artificial things to the hair for adornment and beautification? Let us turn to Scripture for illumination on these issues.

1 Timothy 2:9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,

1 Timothy 2:10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.

The Apostle Paul, in his pastoral letter to Timothy, addressed the issue of women’s adornment. In dealing with this issue, Paul focused on three areas: clothing, hairdo and use of jewelry. In all three areas, he advised modesty and self-control. The Apostle did not condemn the wearing of clothes, the making of the hair or the wearing of jewelries by women. Rather, he admonished women to be modest and temperate in their adornment, and to focus more on the beautification of the inner man. The same approach to dressing and adornment was adopted by Apostle Peter in his first general epistle.

1 Peter 3:3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing—

1 Peter 3:4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

1 Peter 3:5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their husbands,

1 Peter 3:6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

It is instructive to note that neither Apostle condemned the braiding of hair by women. The word translated as “braiding” refers to elaborate plaiting of the hair, sometimes in locks or tresses. Ancient women were known to have special headgears with artificial attachments added to the hair for beautification. Such hair patterns included “bonnets” or fancy head dresses, headbands (ornamental girdles), well set hair (curl of tresses), etc (Isaiah 3:20, 24). Some of these hair patterns involved the addition of extraneous materials to the natural hair in the weaving and setting process, as well as in the support of the dressed hair.

Scripture does not promote any particular pattern of hairstyles for women. This is not surprising, as the Bible is not expected to be bothered with such mundane matters of personal taste. Apart from the injunction forbidding women to cut their hair (which is the natural covering for their head), little attention is paid to women’s hair. That makes the handling of women’s hair something that shouldn’t bother us much, other than emphasis on the modesty and temperance required in their hairdo and other adornment.

As a broad rule, whatever is not expressly condemned by the Gospels and the Apostolic writings is not a sin for New Testament believers, as sin is a transgression of an extant law. If there is no specific existing law to violate, then there is no sin.

Romans 4:15 For the law brings wrath, but
where there is no law there is no transgression.

Romans 5:13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.

1 John 3:4 Whoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

So, if you cannot point out a specific relevant law that has been violated, you cannot prove a practice to be sinful. What can we say then about the perming of the hair as well as the fixing of weave-ons and attachments by African women? African women in particular have tough hairs that are thick and difficult to manage. Some form of treatment (mechanical or chemical) is required to relax these tough hairs to make them easier to manage. Whatever will make the hair of a woman longer and easier to manage should be encouraged, as it actually works to achieve the Scriptural demand of long hair for women.

1 Corinthians 11:6 For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head.

1 Corinthians 11:14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him,

1 Corinthians 11:15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering.

A favourite argument of those who insist the fixing of any attachments to the hair is sinful is that weave-ons and attachments are from the marine kingdom and attaching them attracts evil spirits. However, they can’t prove that from Scripture, not even from the Old Testament. Since the source of this information is not the Bible, it is not worth considering further, as anything outside of the Bible is of no value in judging a Christian’s conduct or practice. However, I will just state here that it is dangerous and unbiblical to bring forth “personal revelations” and traditions into the Church that are not based on Scripture, for Scripture alone is the believer’s guide and basis of faith. To add to Scripture or subtract from it is a serious offence with severe consequences.

Revelation 22:18 For I testify to every man that hears the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add to these things, God shall add to him the plagues that are written in this book:

Revelation 22:19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

As a reassurance to those who use wigs, attachments or weave-ons, we know that they are not underwater products of the marine kingdom. These fashion accessories for women are manufactured in known human industries from non-human raw materials, the same way our clothes and other fashion accessories are produced.

Finally, even if there are concerns about the possible contamination or dedication of these items to evil spirits, they can be sanctified by prayer and the blood of Jesus! Christians have power over Satan and his agents, to bind and cast them out wherever we encounter them. We don’t live in fear of evil spirits, simply because he that is in us is greater than he that is in the world!

1 John 4:4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

Luke 10:19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.

Mark 16:17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues;

Mark 16:18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.

On matters of personal likes and dislikes that are not expressly forbidden by Scripture, our attitude to other Christians who believe and act differently from us should be that of non-judgmental acceptance and tolerance, as advised by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans.

Romans 14:1 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.

Romans 14:2 One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables.

Romans 14:3 Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.

Romans 14:4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

Romans 14:5 One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.

Romans 14:6 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.

Romans 14:7 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself.

Romans 14:8 If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.

Romans 14:9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

Romans 14:10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God;

Romans 14:11 for it is written, As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

Romans 14:12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Romans 14:13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.

In conclusion, there is no law or injunction in Scripture forbidding the perming of the hair or the attachment of weave-ons by women. Whatever is not expressly forbidden by any relevant scriptural injunction cannot be sinful, for sin is a transgression of a specific, extant law of God. Human traditions or personal likes and dislikes cannot be used to discredit an act or make laws for God’s people. Any such addition to Scripture is null and void and actually sinful! Whatever will allow a woman to grow her hair long should be encouraged, as it helps to promote obedience to the scriptural injunction that requires women to wear their hair long, as that is their glory and the lawful covering for their head.

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It’s A Disgrace For A Man To Wear Long Hair, As It Is For A Woman To Cut Her Hair!

God, in the creation of men and women, gave both sexes unique anatomical, physiological and psychological features, to distinguish the two sexes at a glance. The unique features of each sex is to complement those of the other, inorder to achieve wholeness and oneness when the two come together in marriage.

Genesis 2:21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.

Genesis 2:22 And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.

Genesis 2:23 Then the man said, This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

Genesis 2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

By divine design, each sex is easily identified at a glance. The God of nature made it such that there should be no confusion or ambiguity in the identification and distinction of the sexes. God is not an author of confusion. Therefore, there is normally no confusion in gender identity from early childhood.

Nowhere is the distinction between the sexes more striking than in the natural characteristics of the hair. By nature, the female has long hair covering the head, significantly more lengthy than that of the male. In every tribe and in every race, this is the rule: the female hair is always longer than that of the male. The longer the hair, the more graceful and feminine a woman looks. The woman’s long hair is her glory, for it dignifies her and accentuates her femininity. It is therefore a shame and a disgrace for a woman to cut her hair! This is what Scripture says!

1 Corinthians 11:6 For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head.

1 Corinthians 11:15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering.

On the other hand, nature teaches us that it’s a shame and a disgrace for a man to wear long hair. It’s unnatural and effeminate for a man to grow his hair as long as that of a woman. It is a blurring of the natural distinction of the sexes. It is forbidden by both God and nature.

1 Corinthians 11:14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him?

Apart from the natural and cultural need to distinguish between the sexes at a glance, there is a spiritual purpose to the difference in the length of the hair between the sexes. A woman is to cover her head in worship (whether praying or prophesying), while a man is to keep his head uncovered. The reason is that, a man dishonours his head if he prays or prophesies with a covering on it, while a woman dishonours her head if she prays or prophesies without a covering on her head.

1 Corinthians 11:4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head,

1 Corinthians 11:5 but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as if her head were shaven.

We need to understand the head of the woman and that of the man, and the reasons why they need to honour their respective heads in prayer and worship. The head of the man is Christ, while the head of the woman is the man, her husband. This is what Scripture teaches.

1 Corinthians 11:3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

Ephesians 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.

Ephesians 5:24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

The Scripture is very explicit about the relationship of the sexes: the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the man. The woman is to submit to the man as the man is to submit to Christ. It is these various headships (Christ and man) that are to be honoured in prayer and prophesying.

1 Corinthians 11:7 For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man.

A man is the image and glory of God. He reflects God’s glory directly, and should not cover this glory, but should display it for all to see. Christ is the head of the man, and should not be covered. He should be openly displayed and honoured. That is why the man should not cover his head during prayer and while prophesying.

1 Corinthians 11:8 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man.

1 Corinthians 11:9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.

1 Corinthians 11:10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.

A woman is the image and glory of the man, who is her head. She should not display her head in the presence of the angels, during spiritual worship. By uncovering and displaying her head, her husband, she dishonours him. She should therefore have her head covered symbolically, to show her subjection to her husband.

Now, how is the woman to symbolically cover her head? And how is the man to uncover his head? Surely, God should factor this into the nature of both sexes such that each, in his/her natural state, will honour his/her respective head? Of course, God makes it such that by obeying nature, we obey his word. Let’s examine Scripture to see the natural covering for the woman. By extension, we will see how the man is naturally without a covering for his head.

1 Corinthians 11:13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered?

1 Corinthians 11:14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him,

1 Corinthians 11:15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering.

There it is, friends! The woman’s long hair is given to her by nature as a covering for her head! No wonder it’s a dishonour for a woman to cut her hair, for her long hair is her God-given covering for her head. Without her long hair, the woman’s head is shamefully uncovered! Without her long hair, the woman dishonours her head.

Conversely, a man who wears long hair not only violates the law of nature, he also dishonours his head (Christ) by having his head covered, for the long hair is the covering for the head for both men and women. Thus, without the need for an artificial covering, a woman who maintains her naturally long hair covers and honours her head. In the same vein, a man who maintains his naturally short hair uncovers and honours his head.

How beautifully nature works to honour God and his Word! God, working in tandem with the laws of nature that he created, puts no unnatural burden on people to obey his laws. Thus, women can prophesy and pray 24/7 (even in the shower) without the need for an artificial head covering, because their hair, as long as it’s maintained in its naturally long state, is the God-given covering for their head, not a hat or a scarf! Hallelujah!

Sisters, your long hair is not only your glory, it’s the natural covering for your head, and not your scarf, which is a man-made tradition. God forbids you to cut your hair, for that is not only cutting off your glory, it’s also uncovering and dishonouring your head. Use your long hair, like other parts of your body, to glorify God, for your body belongs to God and is for his glory!

1 Corinthians 6:20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

And that’s how a woman glorified Jesus with her long hair, using it to wipe his feet dry after washing them with her tears. She used her glory to wipe the Lord’s feet, and the Lord acknowledged her worship and blessed her!

Luke 7:37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment,

Luke 7:38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.

Luke 7:44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.

Luke 7:45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet.

Luke 7:46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.

Luke 7:47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.

Luke 7:48 And he said to her, Your sins are forgiven.

I wonder how the short-haired sisters who delight in bobbing their glory can muster enough hair, like the lady above, with which to wipe the Lord’s feet, if given the opportunity? Not only is it instructive that the lady wiped Jesus’ feet with her long hair, she had no hat or scarf on her head in the presence of Jesus! Her long hair, given to her naturally by God, was her glory and her God-given covering. She used it to glorify God and God received the worship and blessed her. You don’t need to cover your head with a scarf in the presence of Jesus, once you keep your hair long, for that is the covering for your head.

For those who argue fervently for the hat/scarf as the woman’s covering for the head, rather than the long hair, I want to pose a few questions. If the women in Apostolic times had their heads veiled with scarves at all times, how come the Apostles were able to notice their elaborate hairdos, which made them plead for moderation in the making of their hair? If the women were veiled with scarves in the assemblies, would there be any need to worry about their hairdos, seeing the scarves would cover whatever hairstyles they had on?

1 Timothy 2:9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,

1 Timothy 2:10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.

1 Peter 3:3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing—

1 Peter 3:4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

In conclusion, it is a shame and a disgrace for a man to grow his hair long, as this covers and dishonours his head, who is Christ. In the same vein, it is unnatural and unscriptural for a woman to wear her hair short, for she uncovers and dishonours her head (her husband). The long hair is the covering God has given the woman for her head. As long as she keeps her hair long, her head is covered and honoured. Conversely, the man ought to keep his hair short, as wearing it long is not only unnatural and a disgrace, it also dishonours Christ. May we use our members to glorify God, as well as present our bodies a living sacrifice to God.

Romans 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Thank you so much for visiting this blog. We appreciate you and the precious time you spared to read through this lengthy post. If you were blessed by this message, kindly like, comment and share to others (with due acknowledgement of the source). You can also follow us to have subsequent posts sent directly to you through your email. God bless you abundantly in Jesus name! Amen!

Who Is The Greatest In The Kingdom of God?

Mark 9:33 And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, What were you discussing on the way?

Mark 9:34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest.

Mark 9:35 And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.

The apostles of Christ at one time disputed fervently among themselves as to which of them would be the greatest in the Kingdom of God. Each of them desired and wanted to be the second-in-command to Jesus in the Kingdom Age. They all loved and desired the honour and adulation that would come from being venerated by others as they sit closest to King Jesus on his throne. The tussle for positions of power and glory among God’s people hasn’t diminished over the centuries. If anything, the desire of men of God to be revered and held in high esteem has only grown by leaps and bounds over the years.

Jesus’ response to his apostles’ hassle for power revealed God’s perspective on greatness. Jesus wasn’t averse to their desire to be great. He didn’t rebuke them for wanting to be great. However, he set out the conditions for greatness before them. To be great required great service, not scheming. The one aspiring to be the greatest of all should be the servant of all! The measure of one’s service to God and to his people will determine the level of one’s greatness in God’s kingdom. How radically different that must be from the apostles’ perception of greatness!

Once upon a time, Jesus was invited by a Pharisee to dinner. While reclining at table, he observed intently the way the invited guests scrambled for positions of honour at the high table. The Lord was inspired by what he observed to give one of his greatest sermons on honour.

Luke 14:7 Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them,

Luke 14:8 When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him,

Luke 14:9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, Give your place to this person, and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place.

Luke 14:10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, Friend, move up higher. Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you.

Luke 14:11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

The lesson the Lord Jesus taught here was not only for the men of his day, it was for all people of all times: we should abase ourselves if we want to be exalted. You don’t get honour by seeking for it. It is more praise-worthy to be promoted to honour from obscurity, to rise from grass to grace, than to be demoted and disgraced while fighting to occupy positions of honour. Truly, we learn a great lesson here: the way up is down! To be exalted, you must humble yourself.

Even in the Church, people go to great lengths to lobby for leadership positions. They can manipulate, scheme and bribe their way to positions of power and authority.The same thing happened at a point in Jesus’ ministry, when the apostles James and John used their mother to lobby Jesus in their bid to secure juicy positions of power for themselves in God’s kingdom.

Matthew 20:20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something.

Matthew 20:21 And he said to her, What do you want? She said to him, Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.

Matthew 20:22 Jesus answered, You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink? They said to him, We are able.

Matthew 20:23 He said to them, You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.

Matthew 20:24 And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers.

This was the height of sleight cunningness! It was a devious backhand move by the two brothers to outsmart the other apostles. James and John, like most of us today, believed in the manipulative power game. They were trying to use devilish worldly wisdom to outwit the other apostles and secure for themselves wonderful cabinet positions in God’s kingdom! How so much like some of us today in the Church, who will lie, and bribe and manipulate our way to positions of authority, without giving any qualms about what it takes or who we trample upon to get to our destination. That’s why we see ministers of the Gospel fighting openly for overseership of the church, or for juicy parishes. That’s why we see litigations among God’s servants in the courts of the world, as brothers set upon brothers in the quest to dominate and rule with inordinate ambition. The world has entered the Church and infused her with its ideology and philosophy, as believers freely and unashamedly copy from the world’s dirty politicking. But, how did Jesus respond to this brazen and blatant display of naked quest for power by the sons of Zebedee?

Matthew 20:25 But Jesus called them to him and said, You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.

Matthew 20:26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,

Matthew 20:27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave,

Matthew 20:28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Jesus used the opportunity to teach the disciples a great power lesson. He set a sharp contrast between the power structure/dynamics in the world and that in God’s kingdom. In the world, those who lead do so by exercising authority and lordship. A leader in the world is marked out by the number of servants he has, by the number of people that attend and wait on him. A leader in the world is a lord exercising authority over others. However, in God’s kingdom, things are different. A leader in the spiritual realm is judged by how many people he serves, not by how many people serving him. To aspire to be the greatest in God’s Kingdom means to aspire to be the greatest servant of men! Now, I’m sure the positions James and John were scheming for didn’t look quite as attractive again, after hearing the requirements for occupying those offices. Serving others and humbling ourselves before all is not really attractive. It’s mean and lowly and devoid of fanfare and acclaim, but, it’s the way to greatness in God’s kingdom. Jesus set the example of greatness for us by coming down from heaven to serve all, to the point of giving his life as a ransom for the redemption of lost humanity. That’s the epitome of leadership which all his disciples are enjoined to emulate.

John 13:4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist.

John 13:5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

John 13:13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am.

John 13:14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.

John 13:15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.

John 13:16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.

John 13:17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Feet-washing was the basest of tasks in a Jewish household during Jesus’ time, a task reserved for the lowliest slaves. They would meet guests at the door of the house, stoop to remove their footwear and take time to wash and dry their dirt-coated feet. That was a menial job meant for lowly servants. Yet, our Lord stooped to do that dirty, lowly task for his disciples. Their Lord and Master became their servant in washing their dirty feet! Here was the perfect example of the servant-leader, showing leadership through service. And he left us a command to do as he had done: to stoop as low as he had done to serve one another. That’s God’s prescription for greatness in his kingdom.

Leaders in God’s Church are not to be lords over the people that God has placed under them. Rather, they are to be worthy examples to the flock. As true shepherds, pastors are to feed the flock, not fleece them. The needs of the sheep should come first, not the pastors’. True shepherds should be ready to lay down their lives for their flocks.

1 Peter 5:1 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed:

1 Peter 5:2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly;

1 Peter 5:3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.

John 10:11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

John 10:12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.

John 10:13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

It is selfless service to the flocks that makes pastors great, not service by the flocks. A great pastor is not one who is served by all, who has many servants attending to him, who flies in a private jet or drives fleets of exotic cars accompanied by police escorts. A great pastor is not one who dresses the most dandily, not one who changes his wardrobe every week or who has a special seat that resembles a throne in the church. The greatness of a pastor is measured by his meekness, his humility and his lowliness in service. The greatest pastor is the greatest servant in the church, not a lord over the church. Unfortunately, many church leaders think of their greatness in ministry only in terms of the material prosperity acquired, the number of those under them that serve them and the privileges accruing to them. They have become worldly-minded in their concept of leadership and greatness .

Greatness in kingdom terms has to do with how much we can empty ourselves for others, not how much we fill ourselves with our egos and pride and the inordinate ambition to conquer and subdue others. Greatness is not measured by how much people sow into our lives, but by how much we sow into people’s lives. True greatness is in living for others and in serving others with humility. To be promoted to the highest heavens, we must first abase ourselves to the lowest earth. That was the example Jesus set for us on earth. He came from the highest heaven to lowly earth, leaving his glory behind in the process. While on earth, he let go of his Godhead, assumed the form of a servant and served faithfully unto death. That’s why he has the name above all names today!

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Philippians 2:4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Philippians 2:5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,

Philippians 2:6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,

Philippians 2:7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

Philippians 2:8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,

Philippians 2:10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

Philippians 2:11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Humility is the key to greatness in God’s kingdom. God will always elevate the humble, as surely as he will bring down the proud. To be lifted up by God, we must resist Satan’s temptation to promote and flaunt self in arrogance, and submit to God and others. Pride was at the heart of Lucifer’s catastrophic fall from a covering cherub in heaven to a Satan who will be destroyed in the lake of fire! And it was man’s prideful desire to be like God that led to his downfall.

Isaiah 14:12 How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low!

Isaiah 14:13 You said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north;

Isaiah 14:14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.

Isaiah 14:15 But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit.

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

Proverbs 16:19 It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud.

1 Peter 5:5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.

Let us then learn from Jesus, not from the world, as we seek greatness. Let’s learn to follow the Master on the path to true greatness. Let’s learn to deny ourselves, take up our crosses daily and follow him faithfully. Let us learn from his meek and lowly heart that we may find rest unto our souls.

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus told his disciples, If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Matthew 16:25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Matthew 16:26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

It is the meek and the lowly (not proud, arrogant and ambitious schemers) that will inherit the earth in the Kingdom Age:

Psalms 37:11 But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.

Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

In conclusion, true greatness comes from humble and selfless service to others, and not from arrogant scheming propelled by inordinate ambition. To be the greatest in God’s Kingdom, we must abase ourselves and be the servant of all. The truly great do not seek greatness for themselves. They just seek to serve God and God’s people as humbly and as selflessly as they can. And then greatness finds them!

Jeremiah 45:5 (a) And do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not.

Romans 12:16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be conceited.

Thank you so much for visiting this blog. We appreciate you and the precious time you spared to read through this lengthy post. If you were blessed by this message, kindly like, comment and share to others (with due acknowledgement of the source). You can also follow us to have subsequent posts sent directly to you through your email. God bless you abundantly in Jesus name! Amen!

Christian Women Wearing Trousers Isn’t A Problem: Indecent Dressing Is The Problem!

A lot of conservative Christian groups in Africa frown upon the wearing of trousers by women, and consider the act a direct violation of Scripture and therefore a sin. More liberal Christians however don’t see anything wrong with women wearing trousers. The wearing of trousers by Christian women has thus become a sharp wedge that has created a deep division among Christians. What exactly is the position of Scripture on this divisive issue? This article seeks to explore Scripture to answer this question.

The singular verse of Scripture quoted by those who consider the wearing of trousers by women a sin is found in the 22nd Chapter of the book of Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy 22:5 The woman shall not wear that which pertains to a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination to the LORD your God.

A cursory look at this verse reveals that the Mosaic Law was against women and men exchanging items of clothing. There were obviously garments meant for men and those meant for women among the Jews. The exchange of garments between the sexes was considered an abomination. This law was alright for Jews who lived under the Old Covenant. The question is, how does this portion of the Mosaic Law affect Gentiles in the New Testament?

From various portions of the Apostolic writings, we understand the Gentile believers are not under the Law of Moses. The Covenant God made on Mount Sinai was with Israel, not Gentiles, and it has been abolished and replaced by the New Covenant ratified on Mount Calvary by the blood of Jesus Christ. The abolishing of the Old Covenant made with Israel on Mount Sinai means that all the terms and conditions of that contract are of no effect on believers of the New Covenant. Kindly refer to my teaching on “The Relationship Of The Gentiles To The Law of Moses” published earlier on this blog, for a detailed explanation on this issue. The summary of this teaching is that, the Gentile believers in Christ are not subject to the Law of Moses. Their conduct and behaviour should therefore not be judged by any portion of the expired and abolished Mosaic Law, including the commandment of Deuteronomy 22:5.

It’s rather comical to observe that those who use Deuteronomy 22:5 to condemn the wearing of trousers by females (as a garment meant for males) conveniently ignore other commandments given in the same chapter of Deuteronomy. Let us look at other verses in this Chapter of Deuteronomy that has been used to divide Christians.

Deuteronomy 22:9 You shall not sow your vineyard with divers seeds: lest the fruit of your seed which you have sown, and the fruit of your vineyard, be defiled.

Deuteronomy 22:10 You shall not plow with an ox and an ass together.

Deuteronomy 22:11 You shall not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woolen and linen together.

In the same Chapter of Deuteronomy where women are forbidden to wear garments meant for men (and vice versa), the Mosaic Law forbids farmers from planting different types of crops in the same farm. The Chapter also forbids plowing with different types of animals yoked together. More glaringly, this portion of Scripture equally forbids people from wearing clothes made from different materials or fibres (eg mixtures of cotton, linen, nylon, wool, polyesters etc).

Now, why do those who insist on keeping the fifth verse of Deuteronomy Chapter 22 conveniently ignore verses nine, ten and eleven of the same Chapter? Why do they not condemn the planting of different crops in the same farm? Why do they allow the use of different farm animals ploughing a farm? And most importantly, why do they wear clothes made from a mixture of different materials? These were all abominations under the Mosaic Law. Why do those who single out one verse of Deuteronomy for observance consider these other practices no longer abominations, but retain the interchange of garments between the sexes still as an abomination? Where is the Scriptural authority to decide on which portion of the expired and abolished Mosaic Law to keep and which portion to discard?

The Apostolic writings are very clear about those who seek to obtain right standing with God by keeping any part the Mosaic Law. Such people are expected to go back and keep the entire Law of Moses, for unless you keep the entire Law, you are under a curse!

Galatians 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

Galatians 3:11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

Galatians 3:12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that does them shall live in them.

To keep a part of the Law, while ignoring other parts, automatically puts one under a curse and out of God’s grace! To go back to any part of the expired and abolished Mosaic Law (containing over 600 commandments and ordinances) for justification and right standing with God is a clear sign that one has fallen away from God’s favour!

Galatians 5:2 Behold, I Paul say to you, that if you be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.

Galatians 5:3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.

Galatians 5:4 Christ is become of no effect to you, whoever of you are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace.

The purpose of the Law was clear: it was a stopgap measure brought in to keep God’s people in check until the coming of Christ.The Law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. Christ having come, we’re no longer under a school master and we’re not subject to any of its ordinances anymore!

Galatians 3:24 Why the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

Galatians 3:25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

To attempt to go back to any portion of the Law while in Christ is to abandon liberty and return to bondage. How crazy that is! How can some people deliberately want to take themselves back to slavery, having been delivered by Christ from the bondage of the Law? But that’s exactly what those who seek to be made right with God by keeping any part of the Mosaic Law are doing! They are taking themselves back to slavery!

Galatians 4:21 Tell me, you that desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law?

Galatians 4:22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a female slave, the other by a free woman.

Galatians 4:23 But he who was of the female slave was born after the flesh; but he of the free woman was by promise.

Galatians 4:24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which engenders to bondage, which is Agar.

Galatians 4:25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answers to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.

Galatians 4:26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.

Galatians 4:28 Now we, brothers, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.

Galatians 4:29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.

Galatians 4:30 Nevertheless what said the scripture? Cast out the female slave and her son: for the son of the female slave shall not be heir with the son of the free woman.

Galatians 4:31 So then, brothers, we are not children of the female slave, but of the free.

Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty with which Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

The Law of Moses is a yoke of bondage. It can only bring death, not life. To attempt to keep any portion of it only brings curses, not blessings, for then we would be expected to go and keep it in its entirety! But we are dead to the Law, and it has no authority or jurisdiction over us! Let no man judge you by any portion of the Mosaic Law!

Romans 7:1 Know you not, brothers, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives?

Romans 7:2 For the woman which has an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he lives; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.

Romans 7:3 So then if, while her husband lives, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.

Romans 7:4 Why, my brothers, you also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that you should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit to God.

Romans 7:5 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit to death.

Romans 7:6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

So, if believers in Christ are dead to the Law of Moses and are not subject to it, where should we look for guidance in matters of faith and conduct? To the Gospels and to the Apostolic writings! The Gospels and Apostolic writings provide the laws governing the conduct and lifestyle of the New Testament believers. Let us then go to the Apostolic writings to see how Christian sisters (and indeed all believers) ought to dress.

1 Timothy 2:9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with modesty and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;

1 Timothy 2:10 But (which becomes women professing godliness) with good works.

1 Peter 3:1 Likewise, you wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;

1 Peter 3:2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.

1 Peter 3:3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;

1 Peter 3:4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

1 Peter 3:5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection to their own husbands:

The Apostolic writings make clear the goal in dressing: modesty, decency and sobriety! The purpose of clothing is to cover our nakedness and shame. We must therefore be modest, decent and sober in the way we use clothes to cover our bodies.

Genesis 3:7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

Genesis 3:8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

Genesis 3:9 And the LORD God called to Adam, and said to him, Where are you?

Genesis 3:10 And he said, I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

Genesis 3:21 To Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

When Adam and Eve found themselves naked after sinning, they made a feeble attempt to cover up their nakedness with fig leaves. That wasn’t good enough for God who had to make clothes of lambskin and cover them properly. Since the fall of man, God has always wanted his people properly and decently clothed. The only people we find in Scripture who roamed about naked were demon-possessed lunatics. And once the demons were cast out and they came back to their right minds, we find them taking great pains to be properly clothed.

Mark 5:15 And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.

So, it’s actually an act of insanity for one to be indecently exposed in public. It’s a great lack of shamefacedness and sobriety to dress scantily and indecently in public. Jesus always enjoins those who are naked to come to him for proper clothing, because he hates and detests nakedness, both physical and spiritual.

Revelation 3:17 Because you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.

Revelation 3:18 I counsel you to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; and white raiment, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness do not appear; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.

The sin in dressing is not therefore the wearing of trousers by women. The sin is in the indecency and immodesty of a woman’s dressing, whether she’s wearing skirts, gowns, wrappers or trousers. The type of dress a Christian woman wears is immaterial. What matters is the way the dress covers her private parts while she’s in public. If she’s properly covered, then there’s no problem. If she’s not properly and decently covered, even if she’s wearing a flowing gown, then she has violated the Christian code of dressing. She has sinned. A woman may wear a flowing gown that touches the ground, but it could be transparent or slit and thus exposing her private parts.That certainly isn’t modest, decent or sober dressing.

The problem with the dressings of most Christians today is that they try to copy the trend-setters of the time, as they seek conformity with the world. Most Christian ladies look up to Hollywood/Nollywood (and all the other “woods”) for fashion inspiration. Rather than look to the Holy Spirit and the Word of God for guidance in all matters (including dressing), we seek to copy the world. For, how else can we justify dressings in public that expose the breasts, armpits, abdomen, buttocks and tighs? How does one justify the wearing of clothes that reveal the underwears? Unless the goal is to seduce and entice, there is absolutely no justification for a professed Christian to do that! Certain attires are designed for harlots only!

Proverbs 7:8 Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house,

Proverbs 7:9 In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:

Proverbs 7:10 And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtle of heart.

Proverbs 7:11 (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house:

Proverbs 7:12 Now is she without, now in the streets, and lies in wait at every corner.)

Only prostitutes dress to entice, seduce and “kill”! For if you dress indecently and expose yourself for men to lust after you, you are an accomplice to sexual immorality in the sight of God, though you may be a virgin!

Matthew 5:27 You have heard that it was said by them of old time, You shall not commit adultery:

Matthew 5:28 But I say to you, That whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Christians are not to copy the world in its fashion. Rather, we are to copy and follow the Word of God and be a shining light to a corrupt and depraved world. We are to help the lost find their way back to God, and not allow the spiritually blind to influence and lead us into sin.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

In conclusion, no where does the New Testament forbid the wearing of trousers by women. The portion of Scripture quoted in Deuteronomy to condemn the wearing of trousers by Christian women is obsolete, expired and of no effect whatsoever upon the New Testament Gentile believers, since it is a part of the expired and abolished Law of Moses that does not have jurisdiction over Christians. The Gospels and Apostolic writings that provide the rule of faith for New Testament believers admonish decency, modesty and sobriety in dressing, whatever type of clothing one chooses to wear. Believers should dress to cover their nakedness, and should not expose their private parts in public. Neither are we to dress to entice and seduce, for that makes us accomplices to sexual immorality. We should seek, at all times, to glorify God in our bodies (with our dressings, among other things), which belong to God.

1 Corinthians 6:19 What? know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own?

1 Corinthians 6:20 For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Thank you so much for visiting this blog. We appreciate you and the precious time you spared to read through this lengthy post. If you were blessed by this message, kindly like, comment and share to others (with due acknowledgement of the source). You can also follow us to have subsequent posts sent directly to you through your email. God bless you abundantly in Jesus name! Amen!

Must We Scream And Repeat Ourselves Before God Hears Our Prayers?

Prayer meetings in a lot of Christian assemblies have become more like madhouses, with people shouting, screaming, vibrating and convulsing during prayers, all to draw God’s attention. It’s as if God’s ability to hear and answer prayers now depends on how loud people can scream and shout, and how much frenzy they can display. Praying has become a circus show and a public nuisance. Is that what biblical praying is supposed to be? What does the Scripture teach us about prayer, especially the prayer that moves the hands of an omnipotent God? Let us examine relevant portions of Scripture to find out the biblical views on prayer.

Matthew 6:5 And when you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Truly I say to you, They have their reward.

Matthew 6:6 But you, when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father which is in secret; and your Father which sees in secret shall reward you openly.

Matthew 6:7 But when you pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

There are some important things the Lord teaches us about prayer in the passage above. Let us examine them closely. First, praying should not be a hypocritical show off. We shouldn’t do any thing in prayer to impress people. Prayer is not a religious ritual to impress or please men. It is supplication to God! Any act in prayer meant to affect others and show off our skills and abilities is vain and counterproductive, and will not receive any reward from God.

Second, prayer is a secret communion with God. It is communication with God alone, not with men. God knows and hears the secret whispers of our hearts. Since genuine prayer is the outpouring of the heart to God, it does not need to be raucous or noisy. In prayer, rather than call attention to self and the world, we are to shut out the world and connect to God. Prayer is a secret business with God, not a public display of oratory and knowledge of Scripture, or a garrulous contest to determine who can shout or scream the loudest at God!

Third, we are not to use vain repetitions in prayer, like the heathens do. Vain repetition means to mechanically regurgitate a particular phrase, request or thing over and over, believing God hears us better the more we scream at him or repeat ourselves! It’s as though we’re praying to a God who is hard of hearing, or one that sleeps off occasionally and needs to be awakened with loud, vociferous jolts! The posture and attitude of most Christians in prayer reminds one of the prophets of Baal in their contest with Elijah on Mount Carmel.

1 Kings 18:26 And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped on the altar which was made.

1 Kings 18:27 And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleeps, and must be awaked.

1 Kings 18:28 And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out on them.

1 Kings 18:29 And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.

Here, we see Elijah mocking the prophets of Baal to pray the same way a lot of Christians pray today: to scream and shout inorder to catch the attention of a sleeping god or one who’s switched off because he’s busy doing some other things. The picture of the prophets of Baal screaming, shouting, leaping and performing all forms of gymnastics can be mistaken for Pentecostal and Charismatic prayer meetings of today. There is absolutely no difference between our prayer warriors of today, who believe God can only be moved by raucous rowdiness in prayer, and those prophets of Baal jumping up and down and tearing themselves apart to draw the attention of a dead, deaf, dumb and blind god! What a rebuke to our brand of Christianity, that it should find such striking similarity with the worst of paganism!

Matthew 6:8 Be not you therefore like to them: for your Father knows what things you have need of, before you ask him.

Isn’t it wonderful and reassuring to know that true Christianity worships the living, omniscient God who knows our deepest secret thoughts and desires? God knows the things we have need of before we even pray about them. Prayer is not the bringing of our desires to the awareness of an ignorant God. If it were so, then all our vain jangling and delirious hyperactivity might be justified. But, Jehovah is not deaf, and he neither sleeps nor slumbers. God sees, hears and knows every secret thing.

Psalms 121:4 Behold, he that keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

Psalms 94:9 He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see?

Ecclesiastes 12:14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

If Jehovah is the living God who sees in the dark, hears our silent whispers and knows the secret thoughts of every heart (and he is!), why do some people expend so much physical energies in prayer and turn praying into a physical combat with demons and other imagined enemies? Does it mean God cannot hear and respond to a silent whisper?

1 Samuel 1:9 So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat on a seat by a post of the temple of the LORD.

1 Samuel 1:10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the LORD, and wept sore.

1 Samuel 1:11 And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your handmaid, and remember me, and not forget your handmaid, but will give to your handmaid a man child, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come on his head.

1 Samuel 1:12 And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli marked her mouth.

1 Samuel 1:13 Now Hannah, she spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken.

1 Samuel 1:14 And Eli said to her, How long will you be drunken? put away your wine from you.

1 Samuel 1:15 And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD.

1 Samuel 1:16 Count not your handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken till now.

1 Samuel 1:17 Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant you your petition that you have asked of him.

1 Samuel 1:18 And she said, Let your handmaid find grace in your sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.

The passage above is a remarkable record of the desperate prayer of Hannah, when she was crying to God for a child. It is instructive to note that she neither shouted nor screamed at God in her desperation. Heart broken and contrite, she couldn’t even open her mouth to voice any words. Only her lips moved wordlessly as she poured out her heart to the Lord, to the extent that the high priest watching her thought she was in some drunken stupor! However, not only was her voiceless and wordless prayer heard in heaven, she received a swift response as she conceived immediately thereafter, and gave birth to Samuel some nine months later. Hannah didn’t have to roll on the floor, trip chairs and benches, tear herself to pieces or shout herself hoarse before God could hear her. She spoke in her heart to God, and the God who sees every heart heard her silent whisper and responded swiftly from heaven!

Isaiah 59:1 Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:

Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

The Prophet Isaiah, in the portion of Scripture cited above, explains why God does not answer some prayers of his people. The problem is not that God is hard of hearing and needs supplicants to shout louder for him to grasp what is being said. It is not also that God has lost his power to save and deliver. The problem lies, not with God, but with the people! The problem is that most people come to God with impure hearts and unclean hands. Approaching God in that condition will not get God’s attention, however much we scream and shout! God cannot be bullied into capitulating to our demands if we don’t meet the conditions for admittance into his court.

Psalms 24:3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?

Psalms 24:4 He that has clean hands, and a pure heart; who has not lifted up his soul to vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

Psalms 24:5 He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

The psalmist clearly spells out the condition for approaching God here. Whoever comes to God must come with clean hands and a pure heart. God is holy and cannot behold iniquity. For us to be given a hearing in heaven’s court, we must approach God’s holy hill with purified hands and sanctified hearts. Thank God for the blood of Jesus Christ which can cleanse us from all unrighteousness. However, we must confess and forsake all known sins and apply that blood to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:7-10). Only then can we confidently approach God with the hope of receiving from him. This is exactly what the Apostle Paul admonished.

1 Timothy 2:8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

The petitioner must approach God’s holy hill with holy hands and without wrath or doubting.The hands must be clean and the heart pure and devoid of doubt, for unless prayer is said in faith, nothing should be expected from God! That’s exactly what the rest of Scripture teaches.

James 1:6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavers is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

James 1:7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

James 1:8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

James 4:8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded.

Mark 11:24 Therefore I say to you, What things soever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them.

In addition to praying in faith from sincere and purified hearts, we must ask according to God’s will, for God will only respond to prayers made in obedience to his will. If we ask for things that are in harmony with God’s will, he will grant our requests, all things being equal. However, if we ask amiss, in opposition to his will, we can be sure that however long and hard we scream concerning it, God will not answer us. We can shout like the prophets of Baal, and roll and convulse like possessed heathens, yet will he not hear, for he is only obligated to perform his word and do only those things that please him.

James 4:2 You lust, and have not: you kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: you fight and war, yet you have not, because you ask not.

James 4:3 You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it on your lusts.

1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he hears us:

1 John 5:15 And if we know that he hear us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

In conclusion, prayer is not the bombardment of an unwilling God to give ground to persistent and raucous suppliants! It is not the arm-twisting of an unyielding God through bluster and noisy babbling! Prayer does not depend on the volume of things said or the length of time spent in reciting them. The prayer that God respects and honours can be just a whisper or a mute cry, but it must come from sanctified and faithful hearts, pass through cleansed lips and be directed towards heaven by holy hands. Above all, such prayers must be grounded in the will of God. Heaven respects and honours such prayers as much as hell fears and detests them. Such is the prayer that avails much, though short and silent it may be. May we be properly guided to pray aright that we may prevail with God and man!

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Christians, Bless Those That Curse You! Bless And Don’t Curse!

Not a few Christian denominations teach their followers to pray “dangerous” prayers aimed at neutralising enemies, by unleashing curses and “Holy Ghost fire” upon those who oppose them. How valid are such prayers in the light of the Gospel? What did Christ and his Apostles teach about the treatment of enemies and people that hate us? How should we respond to curses, revilings and persecution in general? We shall revert to the Apostolic writings to understand what is expected of New Testament believers in the face of opposition.

Matthew 5:43 You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.

Matthew 5:44 But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you.

From our Lord’s sermon on the mount, we observe some seismic changes on relationships with enemies vis-a-vis the Mosaic Law. Under the Law of Moses, one was expected to love one’s neighbours and hate one’s enemies. Now, the Lord is radically altering the relationship with enemies: we are no longer to hate our enemies! In addition to loving those who love us, we are also to love those who hate us! Christianity’s radical departure from Judaism is in Christ’s demand to extend God’s love to all men, irrespective of their feelings towards us. As born again children of God, we are to reflect God’s love to all people, even as God shows love to all, including those who hate him. Christianity commands that we be like our Father in heaven!

Matthew 5:45 That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Matthew 5:46 For if you love them which love you, what reward have you? do not even the publicans the same?

Matthew 5:47 And if you salute your brothers only, what do you more than others? do not even the publicans so?

Matthew 5:48 Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

A Christian has been called unto blessings, and he/she is to bless at all times and never curse.

1 Peter 3:9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that you are thereunto called, that you should inherit a blessing.

Romans 12:14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.

Even when others curse us, we are not to curse back. The “back-to-sender” prayers we hear in a lot of churches, whereby Christians decree evil to people who wish them evil, are not Christ-like prayers. They may be alright for Judaism, where tit-for-tat and eye-for-eye apply. Judaism teaches immediate retaliation and avenging of oneself. However, Christianity teaches unreserved forgiveness, as well as allowing God to judge and avenge all wrongdoings.

Romans 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place to wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, said the Lord.

Romans 12:20 Therefore if your enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing you shall heap coals of fire on his head.

Romans 12:21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

The doctrine of retaliation or “fire-for-fire” is what the natural unregenerated soul practises by default. It is a natural human instinct to want to hurt those who have hurt us, and seek the down fall of those who don’t wish us well. However, for the regenerated believer in Christ whose heart has been conquered by the love of God, a new law governs his impulses and actions. The believer in Christ is controlled, not by the Law of Moses, but by Christ’s Law of love. True love does not only love those who love us, it inspires us not to think evil of others, and to even love those who hate us.

1 Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

1 Corinthians 13:5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

1 Corinthians 13:6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

Jesus Christ amply demonstrated God’s love to mankind by dying for people that hated him, inorder to redeem them back to God. He loved us even while we were his enemies!

Romans 5:8 But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

Colossians 1:21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now has he reconciled

Colossians 1:22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and blameless and unreproveable in his sight:

While he hung on Calvary’s tree, nailed to the cross and in excruciating pains, Jesus neither railed at those who nailed him unjustly to the cross, nor did he curse or threaten them. Rather, he prayed and asked God to forgive them!

Luke 23:33 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.

Luke 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

Jesus lived and died to set an example for us his followers on how we should live and comport ourselves in this present world. He came to show us an example of how we should manifest God’s love to men on earth. We, as his disciples, are to take up our own cross and follow him daily.

Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus to his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Matthew 16:25 For whoever will save his life shall lose it: and whoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

1 Peter 2:21 For even hereunto were you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps:

1 Peter 2:22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:

1 Peter 2:23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judges righteously:

Our Lord did no evil. He was unjustly accused and crucified. Yet on the cross, when they reviled him, he did not revile back. He didn’t return cursing for cursing. He blessed those who cursed him instead. He prayed for mercy for his murderers. Rather than lash out at them in hateful vengeance, he committed himself to God the righteous Judge, to whom vengeance belongs. That’s the example Christ set for us his disciples to follow!

Someone might say, ” well, that’s Jesus. He’s God, so he can forgive all wrongs. But I’m not God, so don’t expect me to act like Jesus”. I don’t want to prove here that Jesus acted purely as a man while on earth, not making use of his Godhead for once. However, let me show us a man like ourselves who behaved the same way Jesus did, when he was being unjustly stoned to death for preaching righteousness.

The Acts 7:54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him.

The Acts 7:55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

The Acts 7:56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

The Acts 7:57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him,

The Acts 7:58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.

The Acts 7:59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

The Acts 7:60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

While Stephen was being being stoned to death simply because he believed and preached Jesus as the Messiah, he cried to God to have mercy on his murderers! He didn’t pray for curses and judgement on the people who were dashing his skull to pieces. He didn’t pray for those wicked and evil men to die by fire. Rather, he prayed that God would forgive them and not hold their sin against them! This was a man 100% like us, with like passions as we have. What made the difference was that Stephen possessed the same Spirit that was in Christ. He was filled with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love. He could, by the power of the Holy Spirit, bless those who cursed him. He was enabled by the Holy Spirit to love his enemies! Only the grace of God can enable one to love the unlovely, and that grace is available to all in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit fills us with the love of God, to enable us live and behave like Jesus did on earth. That’s God’s goal for us: to be like Jesus!

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

Ephesians 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Ephesians 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:

Ephesians 4:14 That we from now on be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

Ephesians 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.

Let’s examine the reactions of the Apostles when they were threatened and beaten for preaching salvation through the name of Jesus Christ. They had a right to be angry and vengeful, to call for divine punishment on their persecutors. But, what did they do? Let’s look at Scripture to find their reactions.

The Acts 4:18 And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

The Acts 4:19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, judge you.

The Acts 4:20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

The Acts 4:21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done.

The Acts 4:22 For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was showed.

The Acts 4:23 And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.

The Acts 4:24 And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, you are God, which have made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:

The Acts 4:25 Who by the mouth of your servant David have said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?

The Acts 4:26 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.

The Acts 4:27 For of a truth against your holy child Jesus, whom you have anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,

The Acts 4:28 For to do whatever your hand and your counsel determined before to be done.

The Acts 4:29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant to your servants, that with all boldness they may speak your word,

The Acts 4:30 By stretching forth your hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of your holy child Jesus.

The Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

Rather than call down the fire of God to pursue and destroy those threatening them, they prayed for God to give them more boldness to preach his word, and for God to vindicate the word they preached with signs and wonders. They didn’t call for “Holy Ghost fire” to consume their enemies. They didn’t pray for their enemies to fall and die! Rather, they prayed for more grace to be able to witness the power of God to the people, that the people may be saved! That’s the Spirit of Christ in action! God does not want any man to perish, but for all to come to repentance. He gives men space to repent, and so should we. The sinner today who persecutes us may become a saint tommorow by the grace of God. Saul (who later became Apostle Paul) was among those who killed Stephen.

The Acts 22:17 And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance;

The Acts 22:18 And saw him saying to me, Make haste, and get you quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive your testimony concerning me.

The Acts 22:19 And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on you:

The Acts 22:20 And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting to his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.

If Stephen had prayed for the death of his persecutors, and if God had granted his prayers, imagine what Christianity would have lost by not having Apostle Paul, the chief of the Apostles! Those of us who are believers today were all sinners saved by grace. Before we experienced the grace of God, we too had persecuted and abused and spoken evil of those who were Christians before us. Imagine if they had prayed for our destruction! We need to show others mercy because others showed us mercy too! We persecuted them in ignorance, and so do those who now persecute us. Let’s pray for mercy for our persecutors, so they too will come to the saving knowledge of Christ.

1 Timothy 1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;

1 Timothy 1:13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.

What should be our attitude when we are persecuted for righteousness sake? What should be our response when we are attacked and reviled by unbelievers? Let’s see what our Lord said about this.

Luke 6:22 Blessed are you, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.

Luke 6:23 Rejoice you in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers to the prophets.

In the face of unjustified persecution and reproach by evil men, Christians are to rejoice and leap for joy, at the opportunity to suffer for the sake of their Lord. We’re not to lash out in anger and vindictiveness, seeking the judgement of God upon our enemies. Rather, we are to praise and bless the name of God for the opportunity to identify with Him and all righteous men who had gone before us, in the defence of the kingdom of God. This was exactly what the Apostles did when they were beaten for preaching Christ to the people.

The Acts 5:40 And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

The Acts 5:41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.

The Acts 5:42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.

The Acts 16:22 And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.

The Acts 16:23 And when they had laid many stripes on them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:

The Acts 16:24 Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.

The Acts 16:25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises to God: and the prisoners heard them.

Rather than stew and curse for being unjustly treated and humiliated, the apostles rejoiced at being treated like their Lord. They considered it an honor to suffer reproach for the sake of their Lord. That was what their Lord and Master had told them: whatever he had passed through and experienced, they would and should expect to experience the same.

John 15:20 Remember the word that I said to you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

John 15:21 But all these things will they do to you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.

There was a time during Jesus’ ministry when the apostles still had the mentality of some of us today. When faced with opposition and resistance to the preaching of the Gospel, they sought to invoke judgement on those who opposed them:

Luke 9:51 And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,

Luke 9:52 And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.

Luke 9:53 And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.

Luke 9:54 And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, will you that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?

Luke 9:55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, You know not what manner of spirit you are of.

Luke 9:56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.

The apostles James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven, like Elijah did, to destroy those Samaritans who did not receive Jesus. However, the Lord rebuked them sharply and made them understand they were under a different dispensation from Elijah: Elijah operated under the law, with its instant judgement and lack of mercy, while Christ came to bring God’s grace to men. Jesus did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them. And, his disciples today have the same mission: to save men’s lives by all means possible. We are not to revert to the Old Testament ministry of Elijah when confronted by opposition, rather, we are to implore the mercy of God upon our opposers! We are called to be saviours who are to bring the Gospel of peace to all men, not to destroy their lives!

A fovourite passage of Scripture often quoted by those who pray destructive prayers for their enemies is the portion of the law that commands witches to be put to death:

Exodus 22:18 You shall not suffer a witch to live.

This portion of Scripture is used to justify praying for the death of those who possess the spirit of witchcraft. However, let us remember that this was part of the expired Mosaic Law which is no longer applicable to the New Testament Church. The same way we are no longer required to stone to death those who commit adultery or blaspheme God, the New Covenant in Christ does not mandate us to kill anybody to enforce God’s Word, including witches! Rather, the Gospel of Christ empowers us to deliver people from the powers of darkness, including the spirit of witchcraft, and liberate them from the bondage of Satan, so that they can come to the knowledge of God. If witches oppose the preaching of the Word or attempt to attack us, we are to bind and render their powers useless (for those who refuse to be delivered). We have the power to trample on all the powers of Satan, without praying for people to die!

Mark 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

Mark 16:18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

Luke 10:17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject to us through your name.

Luke 10:18 And he said to them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.

Luke 10:19 Behold, I give to you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.

It is important to realise the enemy we are fighting is not the flesh and blood of man. The real enemy of God and of the Gospel is Satan and other evil spirits that work under him, which blind people to spiritual truth, and possess, manipulate and use them for diabolical means.

2 Corinthians 4:3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:

2 Corinthians 4:4 In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine to them.

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brothers, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Ephesians 6:13 Why take to you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

By understanding the real enemy, we see that neutralising Satan and his subordinate spirits is what we need to do to silence their human agents. We don’t have to pray for the human agents of satan to die for us to put down their opposition to the Gospel. We just need to take authority over the evil spirits controlling rebellious people and cast them out, by the power of God!

Finally, let us understand one important fact about curses: no one can curse the person whom God has blessed. The ultimate authority to effect blessings and curses is God. If God has not cursed you, no amount of curses laid on you by people will stand!

Proverbs 26:2 As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.

Lamentations 3:37 Who is he that said, and it comes to pass, when the Lord commands it not?

Numbers 23:7 And he took up his parable, and said, Balak the king of Moab has brought me from Aram, out of the mountains of the east, saying, Come, curse me Jacob, and come, defy Israel.

Numbers 23:8 How shall I curse, whom God has not cursed? or how shall I defy, whom the LORD has not defied?

Numbers 23:20 Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he has blessed; and I cannot reverse it.

Because no curse can stick on a child of God and prosper, Christians should not be bothered about the curses and revilings of men. We should be confident that God has blessed us and no power can reverse it. We are called unto blessings, therefore let us bless and never curse. It is an aberration to use the same mouth we bless God with to curse people made in God’s image:

James 3:8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

James 3:9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.

James 3:10 Out of the same mouth proceeds blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not so to be.

James 3:11 Does a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?

James 3:12 Can the fig tree, my brothers, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.

May God help us to tame our tongues so that only blessings can proceed from us always, towards all men and women, that we may be like our Father in heaven.

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Comparing Our Modern-Day Speaking In Tongues With Those of Biblical Times

The gift of speaking in an unknown language or tongue was the initial manifestation of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. It caused so much amazement among those who witnessed it, resulting in Peter’s inspired sermon that led to the conversion of thousands. It was a sign that opened the door of the Gospel to the Jews, and launched the Gospel age in a powerful way.

However, there are problems with the manifestation of this gift of the Spirit in the Church today. Rather than inspire awe and wonder among unbelievers, speaking in tongues among Pentecostals and Charismatics has only provoked ridicule and scorn among the uninitiated, leading to disdain for believers and turning people away from the Gospel. What is the problem with the unknown tongues spoken in our churches today? Why is speaking in tongues causing the opposite effects of what the original gift did at Pentecost? We shall closely examine Scripture for a proper understanding of the gift of speaking in unknown tongues. This will help prevent abuse and counterfeiting of this gift, as well as regulate its proper use in the Church.

Speaking in unknown tongues (languages) is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit to the Church. This gift is the supernatural ability to speak in foreign languages one did not learn and cannot ordinarily speak or comprehend. For those who have this gift of the Holy Spirit, when the Spirit comes upon them, He gives them the utterance (or the ability) to speak fluently in these languages that are foreign to them. These are languages that are known and spoken among men. If anyone from the country where those languages are naturally spoken happens to be around, he or she would hear and understand the languages being spoken. The person would wonder in amazement at hearing his native language being spoken by a foreigner who has neither travelled to his country, nor learnt his language. That was what happened on the day of Pentecost!

The Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

The Acts 2:2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

The Acts 2:3 And there appeared to them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat on each of them.

The Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The Acts 2:5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

The Acts 2:6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

The Acts 2:7 And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?

The Acts 2:8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?

The Acts 2:9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,

The Acts 2:10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,

The Acts 2:11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.

The Acts 2:12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What means this?

From the account above, we understand that the tongues spoken by the disciples on the day of Pentecost, following the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, were languages spoken in various parts of the world. The disciples, being Jews who were all from Galilee and had not travelled out of Israel, were heard speaking languages of many different countries, by people who were natives of those countries. The languages the disciples spoke, though unknown and unlearned by them, were known languages spoken in other parts of the world. The disciples weren’t just babbling some gibberish stuff! They weren’t just reciting some incomprehensible nonsense! They were speaking other people’s languages, and people from those regions heard and understood clearly what they spoke, even if they themselves speaking the languages didn’t understand what they were speaking. Can we see the contrast between the unknown tongues that were spoken by the disciples at Pentecost and the ones spoken in our Churches today? I’m sure it’s obvious!

Another remarkable thing about the speaking in unknown tongues among the disciples on the day of Pentecost was that the utterance to speak in unknown tongues was given to them by the Holy Spirit. They spoke in tongues, not by their own will or by the prompting of men, but by the prompting of the Holy Spirit! They spoke as the Holy Spirit gave them utterance!

The Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

What this means is that, speaking in tongues, like all other gifts of the Holy Spirit, is not under human control. The gift is controlled by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit decides when to give the utterance to speak in a foreign language, not man. Just as a prophet prophesies only as he is inspired, one speaks in a foreign tongue only as he is inspired by the Holy Spirit to do so! You don’t speak in tongues on and off at will. You don’t control the gift, nor do you determine when, where and how to speak in tongue. No man, not even your pastor, can tell you to start speaking in tongues! Only the Holy Spirit can inspire and give you the utterance to speak in an unknown tongue. You can speak in a known or learned language at will. You can utter some gibberish or make noise at will, but you cannot speak in genuine unknown tongues at will. This is because every gift of the Spirit is controlled by the Holy Spirit, and is not under the wilful control of man!

2 Peter 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

That’s it! Every gift of the Spirit is activated as the Holy Spirit moves us or inspires us, not as we move ourselves. It is as the Holy Spirit gives us utterance, not as we give ourselves utterance! We do not control the Holy Spirit or the gifts he has given us. He controls and directs how his gifts are used.

1 Corinthians 12:4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.

1 Corinthians 12:6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which works all in all.

Note some important points from the passage above: the Holy Spirit gives out all the different gifts, he administers all the gifts and he operates all the them! All the gifts of the Spirit come from Holy Spirit, and he administers and operates them all! The Holy Spirit decides when, how, and where to manifest any of his gifts, including the gift of speaking in an unknown tongue! Just like a prophet cannot prophesy at will until he is commanded by the Holy Spirit to do so, you cannot begin to speak in an unknown tongue at will until the Holy Spirit inspires you to do so, if you have the gift! It’s therefore unscriptural and crazy to hear pastors order their congregation to begin to speak or pray in tongues! Unless it’s a tongue you learned and were taught, you cannot begin to speak in an unknown and unlearned tongue on your own or at your pastor’s prompting! Only the Holy Spirit can give you the utterance to speak in an unknown and unlearned tongue!

The Acts 10:44 While Peter yet spoke these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

The Acts 10:45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

The Acts 10:46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,

The Acts 10:47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

The Acts 10:48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

From the account above of the conversion of the first Gentiles to the Christian faith, we see again the manifestation of the gift of speaking in unknown tongues upon receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Again, we see the unknown tongue spoken as the gift of the Holy Spirit being a language known and understood by other people whose language it is. To the one inspired by the Holy Spirit to speak in an unknown tongue, the language is unknown. However, the language spoken is known and understood by people whose native tongue it is. Here, we see the Gentiles (probably Romans) who did not know the Hebrew language, being inspired by the Holy Spirit to praise God in Hebrew, a language they neither knew nor had been taught before. The Jewish believers heard the Gentiles who didn’t know the Hebrew language speaking and praising God in Hebrew, and they recalled and remembered their own experience on the day of Pentecost. On that day, they spoke in Gentile languages they had never learned or known, under the influence and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. And, Jews who lived in those Gentile nations heard and understood them as they praised God in their native languages. Now, the reverse was taking place here in the house of Cornelius: Gentiles were speaking an unknown Hebrew tongue under the influence of the Holy Spirit, and Jews present heard and understood what they were saying! Imagine the wonder and amazement of those Jewish believers present! They knew this had to be God! That’s what speaking in unknown tongue is supposed to do: inspire holy amazement and awe, and draw people to God! It is not the stupid repetition of some unintelligent babblings not known or understood anywhere in the world! It is not ranting like a toddler and jabbering some confused jargons. When speaking in an unknown tongue under the influence of the Holy Spirit, people speak known and recognized foreign languages that are known and spoken by people in other parts of the world, though unknown and unlearned by the speaker.

The Acts 19:1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,

The Acts 19:2 He said to them, Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed? And they said to him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.

The Acts 19:3 And he said to them, To what then were you baptized? And they said, To John’s baptism.

The Acts 19:4 Then said Paul, John truly baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.

The Acts 19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

The Acts 19:6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spoke with tongues, and prophesied.

The Acts 19:7 And all the men were about twelve.

The next recorded instance of speaking in tongues was as shown above in the 19th chapter of the book of Acts. Here again, after the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the people spoke in tongues, and also prophesied. We see speaking in tongues consistently linked with the Holy Spirit who gives the utterance. When the Spirit anoints people, he activates his gifts as he wills. No where in Scripture do we see people jumping up on their own to speak in tongues, or being commanded by Pastors to do so. It is always when the Holy Spirit comes upon people that the utterance to speak in unknown tongues is given. To speak in an unknown tongue is not under the willful control of man!

Pentecostals and Charismatics are of the opinion that every believer who is baptised with the Holy Spirit must speak in an unknown tongue as the evidence of the baptism with the Holy Spirit. They thus judge Christians who don’t speak in unknown tongues as destitute of the Spirit. Now, what’s the position of Scripture on this matter? Does every believer have to speak in unknown tongues after they have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit? From the scriptures above, we learnt that we do not control the gifts of the Spirit. We have also seen that it is the Holy Spirit that gives the utterance to speak in an unknown tongue, not man. Who speaks in an unknown tongue is therefore up to the Holy Spirit and not dependent on any man. The Spirit gives his gifts as he chooses! If he inspires everyone to speak in unknown tongues, fine. However, let’s look at Scripture to see if every believer is endowed with the gift of speaking in unknown tongues.

1 Corinthians 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

1 Corinthians 12:28 And God has set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

1 Corinthians 12:29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?

1 Corinthians 12:30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?

It is obvious from the Scriptures above that not all believers are expected to have the gift of speaking in unknown tongues, just as not all believers are apostles, prophets, teachers, workers of miracles, etc. Not everyone is expected to speak in unknown tongues! The Holy Spirit decides who to give what gift. If he hasn’t given you the gift of speaking in an unknown tongue, don’t force yourself or allow others to force you to speak some nonsense in the name of unknown tongues. Don’t impersonate speaking in tongues or any of the gifts of the Spirit! God gives his gifts as he wills.

1 Corinthians 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit with.

1 Corinthians 12:8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

1 Corinthians 12:9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

1 Corinthians 12:10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

1 Corinthians 12:11 But all these works that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

God alone determines who gets what gift of the Spirit. To one he gives the gift of prophecy, to another he gives the gift of speaking in tongues, to another the gift of interpretation of tongues, etc. Not every member of the body of Christ has the gift of speaking in unknown tongues, just like not all believers are apostles, prophets, teachers, miracle workers, etc. The Holy Spirit divides his gifts among believers as he wills. So, don’t expect every believer that is Spirit-filled to speak in unknown tongues, because not all believers have the gift of speaking in tongues!

Some people claim that speaking in tongues is the prayer language of the Spirit, and that to pray in the Spirit, one must pray in tongues. This group of people also believe that prayers said in tongues are more effective than those prayed with our understanding, as speaking in tongues confuses the devil and makes him unaware of our prayer points so that he can’t block or interfere with them. Let us look at Scripture to understand what praying in the Spirit is, since not all believers have the gift of speaking in tongues.

Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

Romans 8:27 And he that searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because he makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

From the passage above, we see that the Holy Spirit prays within the believer with groans that cannot be uttered in words. The Holy Spirit does not pray in languages of men. He is God. He speaks to the Father on our behalf without communicating in words. Deep calls unto deep. The Father who searches the heart knows what the mind of the Holy Spirit is saying, without verbal communication. So, if the Holy Spirit does not need to speak in words in his intercession for us, what then is praying in the Holy Spirit? And why do we need to pray in the Holy Spirit?

To pray in the Holy Spirit, just like to walk or live in the Spirit, is to be united in prayer with the Spirit. It means to be led and guided by the Spirit in prayer. It means not to pray in the energies of the flesh, but to rely on the strength and power of the Holy Spirit in prayer. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit as we pray, he ignites the fire of prayer in us, strengthens us as we pray and leads us to pray according to the will of God. As we pray in the Spirit, he helps our infirmities, and groans within us wordlessly. But the Father understands his groans.

The purpose of praying in the Holy Spirit is not to confuse Satan with an unknown tongue, for Satan understands all the tongues of men and of angels. There is no prayer said in any language that Satan does not understand. Rather, praying in the Holy Spirit enables us to pray according to the will of God, for the Holy Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And, only prayers that are in accordance with the will of God will receive answers from God. That’s the advantage of praying in the Holy Spirit. Praying in the Holy Spirit simply enables us to pray in the power and strength of the Holy Spirit, rather than praying carnally, without the leadership and help of the Holy Spirit. We get built up and strengthened thereby.

Jude 1:20 But you, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,

Praying in the Holy Spirit also ensures that we pray prayers that are guaranteed to be answered since the Holy Spirit intercedes for us according to the will of God:

1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he hears us:

1 John 5:15 And if we know that he hear us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

Next, we come to the issue of coordinating the speaking of unknown tongues during Church meetings. How should unknown tongues be spoken in the Church when believers gather together? Let us turn to the Apostolic writings to find out how speaking in unknown tongues is to be done in the Church.

1 Corinthians 14:2 For he that speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not to men, but to God: for no man understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.

1 Corinthians 14:4 He that speaks in an unknown tongue edifies himself; but he that prophesies edifies the church.

1 Corinthians 14:5 I would that you all spoke with tongues but rather that you prophesied: for greater is he that prophesies than he that speaks with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.

From the passage above, we understand that speaking in a tongue that no one else understands is as good as speaking to God who alone understands all languages. One can pray and praise God in a foreign unknown language, when inspired by the Holy Spirit to do so, as it happened on the day of Pentecost and at Cornelius’ house (Acts 2:11; Acts 10:46). However, unless the foreign tongue is interpreted so that others can understand what the Holy Spirit is inspiring the speaker to say, the listeners will not benefit. Whatever the speaker of an unknown tongue speaks remains a mystery, unless interpreted. In such a case, only the speaker will be edified or strengthened. The rest of the church, not understanding what was said, will not benefit.

1 Corinthians 14:13 Why let him that speaks in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.

1 Corinthians 14:14 For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.

1 Corinthians 14:15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.

1 Corinthians 14:16 Else when you shall bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupies the room of the unlearned say Amen at your giving of thanks, seeing he understands not what you say?

1 Corinthians 14:17 For you truly give thanks well, but the other is not edified.

When you are inspired by the Holy Spirit to pray in an unknown language, your spirit is praying but your understanding is unfruitful. You are praying alright, but you do not understand what you’re praying about, because you’re speaking a language you don’t understand. Praying in an unknown tongue is equivalent to praying with your spirit. However, it is not the same as praying in the Holy Spirit, which is praying as led, energised and supported by the Holy Spirit, and does not have to be in an unknown tongue. Every believer filled with the Holy Spirit can pray in the Holy Spirit, even without the gift of speaking in an unknown tongue. Because praying in an unknown tongue bypasses the human understanding, the understanding does not benefit from such prayers. The Apostle Paul enjoins those who speak and pray in unknown tongues to also pray in their understanding, for the participation of the human mind in prayer helps to strengthen faith. If you don’t know what you’re praying about, how will you know when you’ve received the answer? And how will your faith grow? Receiving definite answers to specific prayers helps faith to grow.

Now, we come to the crux of the matter: how to coordinate the gift of speaking in unknown tongues in the Church. Let us look at what Scripture has to be say about this matter.

1 Corinthians 14:26 How is it then, brothers? when you come together, every one of you has a psalm, has a doctrine, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done to edifying.

1 Corinthians 14:27 If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.

1 Corinthians 14:28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.

Speaking in unknown tongues is to be done in an orderly fashion in the Church, for those who have this gift of the Spirit. Not more than three people should speak in unknown tongues during a Church meeting, and they should do that one after the other. Every message spoken in a foreign language should be interpreted for everyone to hear and be edified. If no one has the gift of interpretation of tongues, then the speakers in unknown tongues should keep silent. This is to prevent disorderliness in the Church meetings. Despite this Apostolic rule to prevent confusion and disorder during Church meetings, we find entire Pentecostal and Charismatic churches babbling in confused tongues all at once during meetings. It is as though they are out-competing themselves to rebuild the tower of Babel. The confusion and embarrassment such scenes create are enough to discourage intelligent unbelievers from attending such meetings, because the believers present a picture of mad people in various stages of mental derangement and hysteria.

1 Corinthians 14:23 If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that you are mad?

1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

In conclusion, speaking in unknown tongues is a gift of the Holy Spirit that imbues one with the supernatural ability to speak a foreign language without prior learning. It is the gift that launched the Church on the day of Pentecost and still has the potential to awe and amaze unbelievers, and open them up for the preaching of the Gospel. However, corruption and misuse of this gift has only inspired disdain and contempt for the Church from unbelievers. Only a return to the Apostolic understanding and use of this great gift of the Spirit will clear the great mess and confusion occasioned by its abuse and misuse today.

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Understanding Prophecy (Part2)

In the first part of this study, we took an in-depth look at Scripture to examine the calling of prophets, how God speaks to them and uses them, the operation of the prophetic gift, as well as the different categories of prophecies recorded in the Bible. To conclude this study, we will now look at ways of authenticating prophets and prophecies, and also examine the various spirits that inspire and influence false prophets.

How do we differentiate between true and false prophets? Or between true and false prophecies? Kindly refer to the teaching on “How To Identify False Prophets” published earlier on this blog for details on this issue. However, let me summarise the salient facts on this issue thus: a true unconditional prophecy must come to pass if it came from God! There is no other explanation for the failure of an unconditional prophecy than that it didn’t come from God. This makes the prophecy false and the prophet’s calling questionable. No one should tell you an unconditional prophecy failed to come to pass because people failed to pray for its fulfilment, or people prayed against it. That is a big lie! An unconditional prophecy does not require any human act for its fulfilment! Whether people believed it or not, whether people prayed about it or not, it must come to pass if it came from the Almighty God! If a supposedly unconditional prophecy failed to materialise, it simply means the prophet who gave the prophecy is false and should not be feared!

Deuteronomy 18:20 But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.

Deuteronomy 18:21 And if you say in your heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?

Deuteronomy 18:22 When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken, but the prophet has spoken it presumptuously: you shall not be afraid of him.

Also, a true prophet points people towards the only true God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, rather than away from him and towards themselves and other gods. This means that a true prophet must honour and align with the written Word of God, which is the judge of the spoken Word.

Deuteronomy 13:1 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and gives you a sign or a wonder,

Deuteronomy 13:2 And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spoke to you, saying, Let us go after other gods, which you have not known, and let us serve them;

Deuteronomy 13:3 You shall not listen to the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proves you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

Deuteronomy 13:4 You shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and you shall serve him, and join to him.

Deuteronomy 13:5 And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he has spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust you out of the way which the LORD your God commanded you to walk in. So shall you put the evil away from the middle of you.

A true prophet of the New Testament must not lead people into acts and practices that are contrary to the Apostolic teachings and writings, which are the foundations of the New Testament Church. Any deviations from the Apostolic teachings and writings and a leading of people away from the original Gospel of Jesus Christ makes a prophet false! A true prophet of the New Testament must acknowledge that the original Apostolic teachings are commandments of the Lord which must not be controverted!

1 Corinthians 14:36 What? came the word of God out from you? or came it to you only?

1 Corinthians 14:37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.

1 Corinthians 14:38 But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.

In summary, the mandatory fulfilment of an unconditional prophecy and the alignment of the teachings of a prophet with the written Word and Apostolic doctrines make a prophet true, and his prophecy divinely inspired. The reverse is the case for a false prophet and for false prophecies: an unconditional prophecy fails to come to pass for whatever reasons, and the prophet has no regard or respect for the written Word of God or the Apostolic doctrines.

What we have been saying all along is that, true prophecy is inspired by the Holy Spirit. What then inspires false prophecy? What motivates people to prophesy lies and falsehood in the name of the Lord? Let us examine Scripture to look at the spirits that inspire false prophets.

1 Kings 22:19 And he said, Hear you therefore the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left.

1 Kings 22:20 And the LORD said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner.

1 Kings 22:21 And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will persuade him.

1 Kings 22:22 And the LORD said to him, With which? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, You shall persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so.

1 Kings 22:23 Now therefore, behold, the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets, and the LORD has spoken evil concerning you.

False prophets are inspired by lying or seducing spirits to speak lies in the name of the Lord. By speaking lies, they mislead and seduce people into falsehood and ultimately destruction. That was how those false prophets, inspired by lying spirits, lured King Ahab with false hope to his untimely death! Beware of false prophets who are inspired by lying spirits!

Next, false prophets may prophesy from their mind or their human spirit. They get excited in their spirits and stand up to proclaim “Thus saith the Lord”, or “I prophesy”, when the Lord has not said so. Such human inspired prophecies are usually vague, nonspecific and not directed to anyone in particular, making it difficult to hold these false prophets accountable, when the prophecies fail to materialise. Of course, because God did not speak, such “Thus saith the Lord” or “I prophesy” will not come to pass, for only what God has commanded will come to pass!

Lamentations 3:37 Who is he that said, and it comes to pass, when the Lord commands it not?

Let’s see examples of false prophets who prophesy from their human spirit in Scripture. We will see that they are usually induced by greed and covetousness to give people pleasant prophecies to satisfy their itching ears and lusts. Financial and material gains dictate their prophecies. They are motivated by the rewards of unrighteousness!

Ezekiel 13:1 And the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

Ezekiel 13:2 Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel that prophesy, and say you to them that prophesy out of their own hearts, Hear you the word of the LORD;

Ezekiel 13:3 Thus said the Lord GOD; Woe to the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!

Ezekiel 13:4 O Israel, your prophets are like the foxes in the deserts.

Ezekiel 13:5 You have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the LORD.

Ezekiel 13:6 They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The LORD said: and the LORD has not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word.

Ezekiel 13:7 Have you not seen a vain vision, and have you not spoken a lying divination, whereas you say, The LORD said it; albeit I have not spoken?

Ezekiel 13:8 Therefore thus said the Lord GOD; Because you have spoken vanity, and seen lies, therefore, behold, I am against you, said the Lord GOD.

Ezekiel 13:9 And my hand shall be on the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies: they shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel; and you shall know that I am the Lord GOD.

Ezekiel 13:10 Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and, see, others daubed it with untempered mortar:

Ezekiel 13:11 Say to them which daub it with untempered mortar, that it shall fall: there shall be an overflowing shower; and you, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall rend it.

Ezekiel 13:12 See, when the wall is fallen, shall it not be said to you, Where is the daubing with which you have daubed it?

Ezekiel 13:13 Therefore thus said the Lord GOD; I will even rend it with a stormy wind in my fury; and there shall be an overflowing shower in my anger, and great hailstones in my fury to consume it.

Ezekiel 13:14 So will I break down the wall that you have daubed with untempered mortar, and bring it down to the ground, so that the foundation thereof shall be discovered, and it shall fall, and you shall be consumed in the middle thereof: and you shall know that I am the LORD.

Ezekiel 13:15 Thus will I accomplish my wrath on the wall, and on them that have daubed it with untempered mortar, and will say to you, The wall is no more, neither they that daubed it;

Ezekiel 13:16 To wit, the prophets of Israel which prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and which see visions of peace for her, and there is no peace, said the Lord GOD.

Ezekiel 13:17 Likewise, you son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people, which prophesy out of their own heart; and prophesy you against them,

Ezekiel 13:18 And say, Thus said the Lord GOD; Woe to the women that sew pillows to all armholes, and make kerchiefs on the head of every stature to hunt souls! Will you hunt the souls of my people, and will you save the souls alive that come to you?

Ezekiel 13:19 And will you pollute me among my people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, to slay the souls that should not die, and to save the souls alive that should not live, by your lying to my people that hear your lies?

Ezekiel 13:20 Why thus said the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against your pillows, with which you there hunt the souls to make them fly, and I will tear them from your arms, and will let the souls go, even the souls that you hunt to make them fly.

Ezekiel 13:21 Your kerchiefs also will I tear, and deliver my people out of your hand, and they shall be no more in your hand to be hunted; and you shall know that I am the LORD.

Ezekiel 13:22 Because with lies you have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life:

Ezekiel 13:23 Therefore you shall see no more vanity, nor divine divinations: for I will deliver my people out of your hand: and you shall know that I am the LORD.

Nowadays, behind almost all Pentecostal pulpits, it has become fashionable to hear preachers “prophesying” blessings and prosperity to everybody, and enjoining all to scream a loud “Amen!” to claim the “prophesied” blessings. The words “I prophesy” are used to precede declarations of blessings to the congregations, who will all jump to receive such prophetic declarations. Now, what these preachers are doing is not prophesying! They are wishing blessings upon the people. It would have been fine if they had either just prayed for these blessings upon the people or wished the people well. It is scriptural to wish above all things that your congregation prosper and be in health as their souls prosper (3 John 1:2). However, to presume to prophesy in the name of the Lord over the people just to please them, when the Lord has not specifically mandated you to do so, is not only deceitful and unscriptural, it is a great display of ignorance of how the Spirit of prophecy works. It amounts to speaking for God when God has not spoken! It is presumption of the highest order, claiming to bring forth a “Thus saith the Lord” when the Lord has not said anything. That’s being a false prophet!

Finally, let us look at an important safeguard for believers against false prophecy and false prophets: the need to judge all prophets and prophecies before believing and accepting them. Scripture warns us to try all spirits because many false prophets are in the world. Unless we try and test them diligently, we risk being deceived, duped and devoured. Don’t believe any prophetic message to be from God until you have judged both the message and the messenger to be of the Lord!

1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

1 John 4:2 Hereby know you the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:

1 John 4:3 And every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof you have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

1 Corinthians 14:29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.

1 Corinthians 14:30 If any thing be revealed to another that sits by, let the first hold his peace.

1 Corinthians 14:31 For you may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.

There are many false prophets out there in the world today. For this reason, we should not accept prophets without trying or testing them first. How do you test a prophet or any man of God for that matter? First, compare the words they preach or prophesy with the written Word. Does their teaching or prophecy agree with the general principles of the written Word or do they violate or go contrary to the written Word? Is what they are saying in agreement with the Apostolic teachings or against them? If such teachings or prophecies are contrary to the written Word and Apostolic teachings, then they are not of God and should be disregarded. They are false. Next, observe the fruits of their lives and ministries. Do their character, behaviour and lifestyles align with the fruits of the Spirit or do they align with the works of the flesh? By their fruits you should know whether they are Holy Spirit filled and inspired or just carnal men inspired by lying spirits and motivated by greed and covetousness.

Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

Matthew 7:16 You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

Matthew 7:17 Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit.

Matthew 7:18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

Matthew 7:19 Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Matthew 7:20 Why by their fruits you shall know them.

Matthew 7:21 Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works?

Matthew 7:23 And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.

In conclusion, the prophetic gift is still operational in the Church today, as promised in Scripture. It is however full of counterfeit and must be carefully assessed and evaluated before it is believed, so that we don’t get deceived or led astray. True prophecy emanates from the Holy Spirit, and and not from the human mind, and therefore does not fail, for God cannot fail or lie. The word of God released from God’s mouth will not return back to him void without accomplishing what it was intended to accomplish.

Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: has he said, and shall he not do it? or has he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

Isaiah 55:10 For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and returns not thither, but waters the earth, and makes it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:

Isaiah 55:11 So shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth: it shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

To stay safe from false prophets and the havoc they cause, be guided by the Holy Spirit and be grounded in the Written Word of God!

Thank you so much for visiting this blog. We appreciate you and the precious time you spared to read through this lengthy post. If you were blessed by this message, kindly like, leave a comment and share with others (with due acknowledgement of the source). You can also follow us to have subsequent posts sent directly to you through your email. God bless you abundantly in Jesus name! Amen!

Understanding Prophecy (Part1)

Prophecy is one of the means by which God speaks to mankind. It is the unveiling of the divine mind to humanity in direct and specific ways. The prophetic spirit is the Spirit of God coming upon anointed men and women for the purpose of making known the mind of God, and helping God’s people understand the divine will and purpose. It is a special gift of God to his people, which is promised in abundance in the last days.

Matthew 23:34 Why, behold, I send to you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them you shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall you whip in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:

The Acts 2:17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, said God, I will pour out of my Spirit on all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

The Acts 2:18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:

1 Corinthians 12:28 And God has set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

There is also a divine warning concerning the preponderance of false prophets in the last days. We will do well to take heed to the warnings of Scripture concerning these wolves in sheep’s clothing, to avoid being devoured and deceived.

Mark 13:22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.

Mark 13:23 But take you heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.

1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

Because we live in an age where the prophetic gift is in abundance and where false prophets predominate, it is important to understand clearly the workings of this gift of the Spirit which has the greatest potential for abuse and corruption. Understanding the principles guiding the use of the prophetic gift will enhance its proper use and minimise misuse among those genuinely called and gifted into this sacred ministry. We shall examine relevant Scriptures in this study, in order to fully discern the operations of the prophetic gift.

Man has always sought to divine the future, understand the purpose of God for his life, as well as find answers to troubling questions of the present as well as the past. Heathens resort to consultations of mediums, soothsayers, prognosticators and other diabolic means to answer these questions. However, God warns against the patronage of men and women of the occult, with severe penalties for those who resort to satanism for inspiration.

Deuteronomy 18:9 When you are come into the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.

Deuteronomy 18:10 There shall not be found among you any one that makes his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that uses divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch.

Deuteronomy 18:11 Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.

Deuteronomy 18:12 For all that do these things are an abomination to the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD your God does drive them out from before you.

Deuteronomy 18:13 You shall be perfect with the LORD your God.

Deuteronomy 18:14 For these nations, which you shall possess, listened to observers of times, and to diviners: but as for you, the LORD your God has not suffered you so to do.

1 Chronicles 10:13 So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to inquire of it;

1 Chronicles 10:14 And inquired not of the LORD: therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom to David the son of Jesse.

Rather than resort to mediums and familiar spirits, God has made provision through which to speak specifically to his children, in addition to the written word. He speaks through the prophetic ministry in making known his specific will and purpose to his people.

Deuteronomy 18:15 The LORD your God will raise up to you a Prophet from the middle of you, of your brothers, like to me; to him you shall listen;

Deuteronomy 18:18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brothers, like to you, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak to them all that I shall command him.

Deuteronomy 18:19 And it shall come to pass, that whoever will not listen to my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.

Numbers 12:6 And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known to him in a vision, and will speak to him in a dream.

Numbers 12:7 My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all my house.

Numbers 12:8 With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?

We shall examine in depth how the true prophetic gift works, for a clear understanding of the gift of prophecy is the greatest safeguard against deceit by false prophets. First, true prophecy is a gift of the Spirit, and God determines on whom he bestows this gift, and how it is operated.

Ephesians 4:8 Why he said, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

Ephesians 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Ephesians 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:

Ephesians 4:14 That we from now on be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

We see that God decides how he shares the gifts of the Spirit to men. He decides who will be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Who gets what gift in the body of Christ is entirely up to God to decide. It has nothing to do with human desire and scheming.

Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith.

Romans 12:4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:

Romans 12:5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

Romans 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;

Romans 12:7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teaches, on teaching;

Romans 12:8 Or he that exhorts, on exhortation: he that gives, let him do it with simplicity; he that rules, with diligence; he that shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

It is important to note that God deals to every child of his a measure of faith, and that we operate various gifts according to the grace that is given to us. We all get some gifts, some measure of faith and of grace. However, what we do not determine is the specific gift we get or the measure of faith or grace that comes with it. Who gets what and the measure of it, depends on the predeterminate counsel of God.

1 Corinthians 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit with.

1 Corinthians 12:8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

1 Corinthians 12:9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

1 Corinthians 12:10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

1 Corinthians 12:11 But all these works that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

1 Corinthians 12:12 For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:18 But now has God set the members every one of them in the body, as it has pleased him.

With respect to the prophetic gift, let us see how prophets were called and gifted in Scripture. This will help clarify the origin as well as the use of the gift.

Jeremiah 1:4 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed you in the belly I knew you; and before you came forth out of the womb I sanctified you, and I ordained you a prophet to the nations.

As we can see, a prophet is called and gifted from birth. One does not learn to be a prophet. Schools of prophecy we saw in Scripture were not to teach people on how to become prophets, but to train people already possessing the prophetic gift on how to use the gifts properly in the service of God.

Galatians 1:15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,

Galatians 1:16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood.

So, as we can see, people are gifted and called into the prophetic ministry even before they were born. God determines who receives what gift, and he also supervises the use of the gift. The prophetic gift is controlled by the Holy Spirit, to ensure the gift is not abused or misused in ways that will bring dishonour to God. God determines how to reveal himself to prophets, and how to use them.

Numbers 12:6 And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known to him in a vision, and will speak to him in a dream.

Numbers 12:7 My servant Moses is so, who is faithful in all my house.

Numbers 12:8 With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?

Now, let’s see how the prophetic gift operates. Let us examine relevant portions of Scripture to understand the dynamics of operation of this important gift that has been so corrupted in our day and time.

2 Peter 1:19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto you do well that you take heed, as to a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

2 Peter 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

2 Peter 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Let us note an important fact in prophecy: the prophet does not control the prophetic Spirit, rather, the prophet is under the control of the Spirit of prophecy, who is the Holy Spirit. The Spirit moves the prophet to speak, not the prophet commanding the Spirit to speak! The prophet is just an empty vessel on his own; the brain and intelligence that determines how this vessel is used is the Holy Spirit!

Ezekiel 33:7 So you, O son of man, I have set you a watchman to the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.

Ezekiel 37:4 Again he said to me, Prophesy on these bones, and say to them, O you dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.

Ezekiel 37:5 Thus said the Lord GOD to these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live:

Ezekiel 37:6 And I will lay sinews on you, and will bring up flesh on you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the LORD.

Ezekiel 37:7 So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.

A prophet hears the word from God and then faithfully delivers it. If he hears no word, he speaks no word. The true prophet is just a messenger of God, he is just God’s mouthpiece. He speaks only when he has been given a message to deliver. He prophesies only as he is commanded. He is not the originator of the message, neither does he have the capacity to do beyond what he has been asked to do. He cannot bless when God has cursed, neither can he curse what God has blessed!

Numbers 22:35 And the angel of the LORD said to Balaam, Go with the men: but only the word that I shall speak to you, that you shall speak. So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.

Numbers 23:20 Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he has blessed; and I cannot reverse it.

The prophet is just a messenger. He cannot initiate blessings or curses on his own. He cannot bless or curse outside the divine mandate. He is not the owner of the gift, nor is he the brain behind the gift! How I wish we can see that! The prophet is only a servant. He doesn’t count much. What counts is his Master, the intelligence blowing the trumpet, not the trumpet itself! If we understood that, we would not be worshipping servants! We would understand they are just men like us, appointed and sent forth by God, to show us more clearly the way of the Almighty!!

The Acts 14:11 And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.

The Acts 14:12 And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker.

The Acts 14:13 Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people.

The Acts 14:14 Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out,

The Acts 14:15 And saying, Sirs, why do you these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach to you that you should turn from these vanities to the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:

Revelation 22:8 And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which showed me these things.

Revelation 22:9 Then said he to me, See you do it not: for I am your fellow servant, and of your brothers the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.

That’s it friends! A true prophet will deflect all glory back to God, and make the people see that he’s just a mere channel, just an unworthy servant! He directs people to the Almighty whose servant he is!

The true prophet seeks only to glorify God, the One who sent him. That’s the crux of his ministry: to do the will of God and bring all the honour he can muster from the people back to God. He points men upwards to God! Let’s see the example from the Supreme Prophet, Jesus Christ:

John 4:34 Jesus said to them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

John 17:4 I have glorified you on the earth: I have finished the work which you gave me to do.

So, we see a true prophet is a messenger of God, sent with God’s message and given a specific work to do. His work is basically to deliver people from error and bring them to the saving knowledge of God, so that God may be glorified and the people blessed. Any prophet who deviates from this pattern is false and dangerous!

Now, let us look at the nature of prophecy. Prophecy can reveal what has been or what is present but hidden (forth-telling), or it can reveal what is to come (fore-telling). In both cases, the omniscient Holy Spirit who sees and knows all, before whom nothing is hidden, and who knows the end from the beginning, reveals to man what is hidden and beyond him, through a medium or an agent called a prophet. Let us see an example of each.

1 Samuel 9:15 Now the LORD had told Samuel in his ear a day before Saul came, saying,

1 Samuel 9:16 To morrow about this time I will send you a man out of the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be captain over my people Israel, that he may save my people out of the hand of the Philistines: for I have looked on my people, because their cry is come to me.

1 Samuel 9:17 And when Samuel saw Saul, the LORD said to him, Behold the man whom I spoke to you of! this same shall reign over my people.

1 Samuel 9:18 Then Saul drew near to Samuel in the gate, and said, Tell me, I pray you, where the seer’s house is.

1 Samuel 9:19 And Samuel answered Saul, and said, I am the seer: go up before me to the high place; for you shall eat with me to day, and to morrow I will let you go, and will tell you all that is in your heart.

1 Samuel 9:20 And as for your asses that were lost three days ago, set not your mind on them; for they are found. And on whom is all the desire of Israel? Is it not on you, and on all your father’s house?

From the account above, Saul was looking for the lost asses of his father. Having searched for them for days in vain, he decided to consult a prophet. God revealed to the Prophet Samuel that the lost asses had been found, unknown to Saul who had been away from home for days. That’s how the prophetic gift can expose hidden secrets of the past or present. It is the omniscient and omnipresent Holy Spirit who made known to his servant what had happened.

From the same encounter between Saul and the Prophet Samuel, let us see an example of fore-telling of events that had not yet happened. Let us see the omniscient Holy Spirit at work in the ministry of his servants the prophets.

1 Samuel 10:1 Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it on his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the LORD has anointed you to be captain over his inheritance?

1 Samuel 10:2 When you are departed from me to day, then you shall find two men by Rachel’s sepulcher in the border of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say to you, The asses which you went to seek are found: and, see, your father has left the care of the asses, and sorrows for you, saying, What shall I do for my son?

1 Samuel 10:3 Then shall you go on forward from there, and you shall come to the plain of Tabor, and there shall meet you three men going up to God to Bethel, one carrying three kids, and another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a bottle of wine:

1 Samuel 10:4 And they will salute you, and give you two loaves of bread; which you shall receive of their hands.

1 Samuel 10:5 After that you shall come to the hill of God, where is the garrison of the Philistines: and it shall come to pass, when you are come thither to the city, that you shall meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they shall prophesy:

1 Samuel 10:6 And the Spirit of the LORD will come on you, and you shall prophesy with them, and shall be turned into another man.
1 Samuel 10:7 And let it be, when these signs are come to you, that you do as occasion serve you; for God is with you.

1 Samuel 10:8 And you shall go down before me to Gilgal; and, behold, I will come down to you, to offer burnt offerings, and to sacrifice sacrifices of peace offerings: seven days shall you tarry, till I come to you, and show you what you shall do.

1 Samuel 10:9 And it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart: and all those signs came to pass that day.

1 Samuel 10:10 And when they came thither to the hill, behold, a company of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came on him, and he prophesied among them.

1 Samuel 10:11 And it came to pass, when all that knew him beforetime saw that, behold, he prophesied among the prophets, then the people said one to another, What is this that is come to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?

1 Samuel 10:12 And one of the same place answered and said, But who is their father? Therefore it became a proverb, Is Saul also among the prophets?

1 Samuel 10:13 And when he had made an end of prophesying, he came to the high place.

1 Samuel 10:14 And Saul’s uncle said to him and to his servant, Where went you? And he said, To seek the asses: and when we saw that they were no where, we came to Samuel.

Again, we see the Holy Spirit, who knows the future, revealing a glimpse of the immediate future through his prophet to Saul, the first king of Israel. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning. God knows the end from the beginning, and can reveal specific aspects of the future to his children. This is the fore-telling part of the prophetic ministry.

The Acts 15:18 Known to God are all his works from the beginning of the world.

Isaiah 46:9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,

Isaiah 46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.

In his written Word, God has outlined the origin and future of mankind and of our present world, showing in details the end of the righteous in glory with him, as well as the end of the wicked in eternal destruction. These are clearly depicted in the written Word, the Bible, which was written by men upon whom the prophetic Spirit came: that’s how they could write about events that occured thousands of years before they were born, as well as events that will be fulfilled thousands of years after their death.

2 Peter 1:19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto you do well that you take heed, as to a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

2 Peter 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

2 Peter 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

2 Timothy 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to all good works.

In the Church, the prophetic gift has the main function of edification, exhortation and comfort, through divinely inspired forth-telling and fore-telling.

1 Corinthians 14:3 But he that prophesies speaks to men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.

Nothing significant happens in the land without a forewarning to God’s people through the prophetic ministry. God, foreseeing danger coming, warns his children and makes a way of escape for them.

Amos 3:7 Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he reveals his secret to his servants the prophets.

The Acts 11:27 And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem to Antioch.

The Acts 11:28 And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.

The Acts 11:29 Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brothers which dwelled in Judaea:

The Acts 11:30 Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

Now, let us consider the various types of prophecy available. Using the conditions that must be met before a prophecy is fulfilled, prophecies can be classified as either conditional or unconditional. A conditional prophecy is contingent on the fulfilment of attached conditions. Once the determining conditions are met, the blessings prophesied will be experienced. Conditional prophecies usually concern the issues of blessings and curses. Let us consider some examples of conditional prophecies in Scripture, for a clearer understanding of the subject.

Exodus 15:26 And said, If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and will do that which is right in his sight, and will give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases on you, which I have brought on the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that heals you.

1 Samuel 12:14 If you will fear the LORD, and serve him, and obey his voice, and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then shall both you and also the king that reigns over you continue following the LORD your God:

1 Samuel 12:15 But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then shall the hand of the LORD be against you, as it was against your fathers.

Zechariah 6:9 And the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

Zechariah 6:10 Take of them of the captivity, even of Heldai, of Tobijah, and of Jedaiah, which are come from Babylon, and come you the same day, and go into the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah;

Zechariah 6:11 Then take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them on the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest;

Zechariah 6:12 And speak to him, saying, Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD:

Zechariah 6:13 Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule on his throne; and he shall be a priest on his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.

Zechariah 6:14 And the crowns shall be to Helem, and to Tobijah, and to Jedaiah, and to Hen the son of Zephaniah, for a memorial in the temple of the LORD.

Zechariah 6:15 And they that are far off shall come and build in the temple of the LORD, and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. And this shall come to pass, if you will diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God.

From the above cited scripture, a conditional prophecy may or may not come to pass, depending on whether the required conditions were met or not. The fulfilment of such prophecies or declaration of blessings lies both with the person(s) to whom the prophecy was given, as well as with God. Once the target of prophecy meets the conditions, God will unfailingly fulfill his promise and release the blessings. For a conditional prophecy, the conditions to be fulfilled are always contained within the prophecy itself, and are clearly understood by all.

An unconditional prophecy on the other hand does not depend on any act of obedience from man. Its fulfilment does not require any human contributions whatsoever. Even when the targets of such prophecy do not believe it and even doubt or scorn it, it will still come to pass. Its coming to pass is entirely up to God. Let us look at some examples of unconditional prophecies from scriptures to buttress this point.

2 Kings 7:1 Then Elisha said, Hear you the word of the LORD; Thus said the LORD, To morrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria.

2 Kings 7:2 Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if the LORD would make windows in heaven, might this thing be? And he said, Behold, you shall see it with your eyes, but shall not eat thereof.

2 Kings 7:16 And the people went out, and spoiled the tents of the Syrians. So a measure of fine flour was sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, according to the word of the LORD.

2 Kings 7:17 And the king appointed the lord on whose hand he leaned to have the charge of the gate: and the people stepped on him in the gate, and he died, as the man of God had said, who spoke when the king came down to him.

2 Kings 7:18 And it came to pass as the man of God had spoken to the king, saying, Two measures of barley for a shekel, and a measure of fine flour for a shekel, shall be to morrow about this time in the gate of Samaria:

2 Kings 7:19 And that lord answered the man of God, and said, Now, behold, if the LORD should make windows in heaven, might such a thing be? And he said, Behold, you shall see it with your eyes, but shall not eat thereof.

2 Kings 7:20 And so it fell out to him: for the people stepped on him in the gate, and he died.

Luke 1:11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.

Luke 1:12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell on him.

Luke 1:13 But the angel said to him, Fear not, Zacharias: for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elisabeth shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.

Luke 1:14 And you shall have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.

Luke 1:15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.

Luke 1:16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.

Luke 1:17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

Luke 1:18 And Zacharias said to the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.

Luke 1:19 And the angel answering said to him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak to you, and to show you these glad tidings.

Luke 1:20 And, behold, you shall be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because you believe not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.

From these examples of unconditional prophecies, we see no conditions attached to the prophecies. Unbelief and doubts of some did not prevent the prophecies from being fulfilled, even if the doubters suffered for their unbelief. Whether you doubt an unconditional prophecy or refuse to pray for it to come to pass, it must come to pass, simply because it’s God’s perfect will which must be accomplished in its season. No one therefore should be blamed for the failure of an unconditional prophecy other the prophet who gave it: his prophecy didn’t come from God, otherwise it would have come to pass!

Watch out for the concluding part of this teaching on this blog tomorrow!

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How Were Marriages Conducted In The Bible? What Roles Did The Clergy Play In The Conduct Of Marriages In The Scripture?

Some Christian denominations (especially in Africa) recognise only those marriages contracted in the church and officiated by the clergy as ordained of God. All other forms of marriages contracted outside the church are viewed with suspicion and are considered incomplete, until church wedding is conducted. Thus, people who marry according to accepted traditional rites or via the marriage registry, and who have not conducted a church wedding, are considered by some Christians as living in fornication, if they are to have sexual relations. Because of this, some people who have been married traditionally still live apart, and cannot consummate their union, until they have been wedded in the church. And, should pregnancy occur while they’re waiting for the church wedding, the church will not wed them. Are church weddings necessary before couples who have been married traditionally can lawfully consummate their union? Are church weddings even valid on their own, without a traditional or court marriage? We shall examine the Scriptures to answer these questions.

Genesis 2:21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

Genesis 2:22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her to the man.

Genesis 2:23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

Genesis 2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall join to his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

In the first marriage in human history, we see God making Eve and then handing her to Adam, as her Father, Maker and Owner. God handed over Eve in marriage to Adam, and that became the standard and pattern for all marriages: the father deciding the condition for giving his daughter in marriage, and once those conditions are met, he hands her over to the man, and from that very moment, they become husband and wife.

The important point here is that, a woman has to be handed over to a man for marriage. The person to hand her over is her father, or the father figure in her life. God was Eve’s Father, since she didn’t have an earthly father. Therefore, God handed her over to Adam himself. Sisters, don’t hand yourself over to a man in marriage without your parents’ consent. Your glory and respect in marriage come from your being handed over by your parents to your husband, who will then become your new caretaker. Honour and respect your parents by allowing them to hand you over with blessings, so that your marriage will be blessed!

Ephesians 6:2 Honor your father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise;

Ephesians 6:3 That it may be well with you, and you may live long on the earth.

Let’s look at the next record of marriage in the Bible and see how it was conducted. We will turn to the marriage between Isaac and Rebekah.

Genesis 24:48 And I bowed down my head, and worshipped the LORD, and blessed the LORD God of my master Abraham, which had led me in the right way to take my master’s brother’s daughter to his son.

Genesis 24:49 And now if you will deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me: and if not, tell me; that I may turn to the right hand, or to the left.

Genesis 24:50 Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, The thing proceeds from the LORD: we cannot speak to you bad or good.

Genesis 24:51 Behold, Rebekah is before you, take her, and go, and let her be your master’s son’s wife, as the LORD has spoken.

Genesis 24:52 And it came to pass, that, when Abraham’s servant heard their words, he worshipped the LORD, bowing himself to the earth.

Genesis 24:53 And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment, and gave them to Rebekah: he gave also to her brother and to her mother precious things.

Genesis 24:54 And they did eat and drink, he and the men that were with him, and tarried all night; and they rose up in the morning, and he said, Send me away to my master.

Genesis 24:55 And her brother and her mother said, Let the damsel abide with us a few days, at the least ten; after that she shall go.

Genesis 24:56 And he said to them, Hinder me not, seeing the LORD has prospered my way; send me away that I may go to my master.

Genesis 24:57 And they said, We will call the damsel, and inquire at her mouth.

Genesis 24:58 And they called Rebekah, and said to her, Will you go with this man? And she said, I will go.

Genesis 24:59 And they sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse, and Abraham’s servant, and his men.

Genesis 24:60 And they blessed Rebekah, and said to her, You are our sister, be you the mother of thousands of millions, and let your seed possess the gate of those which hate them.

Genesis 24:61 And Rebekah arose, and her damsels, and they rode on the camels, and followed the man: and the servant took Rebekah, and went his way.

Genesis 24:62 And Isaac came from the way of the well Lahairoi; for he dwelled in the south country.

Genesis 24:63 And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming.

Genesis 24:64 And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel.

Genesis 24:65 For she had said to the servant, What man is this that walks in the field to meet us? And the servant had said, It is my master: therefore she took a veil, and covered herself.

Genesis 24:66 And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done.

Genesis 24:67 And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

In the account of the marriage between Isaac and Rebekah, we see some startling truths. The marriage was contracted in Rebekah’s house. Rebekah’s father and brother had to give their consent, as well as Rebekah herself. Gifts were given to the family of the bride from the family of the groom. Once the family of the bride and the bride had given consent and the dowry had been paid, the marriage was concluded. Feasting followed, to celebrate the concluded marriage. Thereafter, the bride was taken to her husband’s house and the marriage consummated without delay. We did not see any priest joining the couple on behalf of God. Does this mean that because no priest joined them before an altar, the marriage was not approved or blessed of God? Of course not! We know God approved and blessed the marriage because it was legitimately contracted! When parents hand over their daughter in marriage, following extant traditions, the marriage is approved of God. The people who represent God in joining a couple in marriage are the parents, not priests or pastors! Children belong to the parents who are their God-given care takers. The parents represent God and once their approval has been given, God’s approval is implied. Like God handed over Eve to Adam, it is the father or father figure that hands over a bride to her husband.

The next recorded marriage in Scripture was between Jacob and his two wives. Let’s see how those marriages were solemnised.

Genesis 29:15 And Laban said to Jacob, Because you are my brother, should you therefore serve me for nothing? tell me, what shall your wages be?

Genesis 29:16 And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel.

Genesis 29:17 Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favored.

Genesis 29:18 And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve you seven years for Rachel your younger daughter.

Genesis 29:19 And Laban said, It is better that I give her to you, than that I should give her to another man: abide with me.

Genesis 29:20 And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed to him but a few days, for the love he had to her.

Genesis 29:21 And Jacob said to Laban, Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in to her.

Genesis 29:22 And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast.

Genesis 29:23 And it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him; and he went in to her.

Genesis 29:24 And Laban gave to his daughter Leah Zilpah his maid for an handmaid.

Genesis 29:25 And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this you have done to me? did not I serve with you for Rachel? why then have you beguiled me?

Genesis 29:26 And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn.

Genesis 29:27 Fulfill her week, and we will give you this also for the service which you shall serve with me yet seven other years.

Genesis 29:28 And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week: and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also.

Genesis 29:29 And Laban gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah his handmaid to be her maid.

Genesis 29:30 And he went in also to Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years.

Here again, we see how marriages were contracted among God’s people in the Bible. The father of the bride was in charge of the proceedings from beginning to end. Jacob declared his interest in Rachel, Laban’s daughter. Laban set a bride price which Jacob met. As soon as Jacob had met the bride price (seven years of unpaid labour in Laban’s enterprise), Laban, the bride’s father, made a wedding feast inviting all his people to come and celebrate the marriage of his daughter in his house. Again, we see no priest taking charge to solemnise the marriage. We only see the father and care-taker, God’s representative, taking charge and handing over his daughter in marriage. After the feast, Jacob took his wife and consummated the marriage. God was in it because it was done according to locally approved traditions, with the parents handing over their daughter properly. The marriage was blessed by God and produced the twelve tribes of Israel, from whom Christ came!

Another point of interest in this passage cited above is that, marriage was conducted according to local traditions. Laban told Jacob it was against their tradition to give out the younger daughter in marriage before the elder one, hence Jacob was given Leah instead of Rachel. Though he was deceived and the act itself was despicable, it is important to note that tradition was held in high esteem among the patriarchs in issues of marriage. That’s how God intended it to be. Any marriage conducted lawfully according to tradition is considered honourable, even if it’s among heathens who do not know God. That’s why such marriages conducted before people became born again Christians are honoured by all. It is for this reason that heathens who become converted to Christianity are not to abandon the partners they married as heathens, as the Apostle Paul admonished:

1 Corinthians 7:12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother has a wife that believes not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.

1 Corinthians 7:13 And the woman which has an husband that believes not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.

Whether or not people knew God before marriage, as long as the laws of marriage in a culture were met, God joined those people together! This is the same way every child comes from God, even if illegitimately conceived. God will give children to people once they fulfil his laws of reproduction, even if they don’t know him. That is why Christians honour all marriages, whether it’s among pagans or idol worshippers.

Hebrews 13:4 Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

A record of a failed attempt at marriage in scripture reveals some interesting features among the ancients with regards to marriage. Let us look at that portion of scripture carefully to extract some important lessons.

Genesis 34:1 And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bore to Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land.

Genesis 34:2 And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her.

Genesis 34:3 And his soul joined to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the damsel, and spoke kindly to the damsel.

Genesis 34:4 And Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, Get me this damsel to wife.

Genesis 34:5 And Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter: now his sons were with his cattle in the field: and Jacob held his peace until they were come.

Genesis 34:6 And Hamor the father of Shechem went out to Jacob to commune with him.

Genesis 34:7 And the sons of Jacob came out of the field when they heard it: and the men were grieved, and they were very wroth, because he had worked folly in Israel in lying with Jacob’s daughter: which thing ought not to be done.

Genesis 34:8 And Hamor communed with them, saying, The soul of my son Shechem longs for your daughter: I pray you give her him to wife.

Genesis 34:9 And make you marriages with us, and give your daughters to us, and take our daughters to you.

Genesis 34:10 And you shall dwell with us: and the land shall be before you; dwell and trade you therein, and get you possessions therein.

Genesis 34:11 And Shechem said to her father and to her brothers, Let me find grace in your eyes, and what you shall say to me I will give.

Genesis 34:12 Ask me never so much dowry and gift, and I will give according as you shall say to me: but give me the damsel to wife.

Here, we read of a sad and tragic encounter. Dinah, Jacob’s daughter, was raped by Shechem, a prince of the Hivites, who later came officially for her hand in marriage. Shechem approached his father to get Dinah for him as wife. His father approached Jacob and his family and asked for Dinah’s hand in marriage. They promised to pay whatever dowry that would be required of them. If the sons of Jacob had not acted treacherously and murdered the people for defiling their sister, the marriage would have been concluded by Jacob’s acceptance and Shechem paying the dowry. A feast would have been organised to celebrate it and the couple would have consummated the marriage immediately after the feast. Again, we see marriage as a business entirely between families, with no place for priests as mediators needed to join people on behalf of God. Parents were God’s representatives in joining their children in marriage, not priests. Parental consent and agreement were needed to legalise the contract.

Marriage among the ancients in the bible was a process that was not cumbersome, expensive, time consuming or frustrating, as it is today in certain parts of Africa. What was required was just parental or family consent, with payment of a dowry (which could be in kind as in the case of Jacob and Moses), with an accompanying feast to celebrate the union.

Exodus 2:15 Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelled in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well.

Exodus 2:16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock.

Exodus 2:17 And the shepherds came and drove them away: but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock.

Exodus 2:18 And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is it that you are come so soon to day?

Exodus 2:19 And they said, An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and also drew water enough for us, and watered the flock.

Exodus 2:20 And he said to his daughters, And where is he? why is it that you have left the man? call him, that he may eat bread.

Exodus 2:21 And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter.

Exodus 2:22 And she bore him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.

There was no record of Moses paying dowry in cash. However, like Jacob, he worked for his father-in-law and paid his dowry in kind. The most important thing here was that, as soon as parental consent was given and the bride handed over to Moses, the marriage was completed and it was immediately consummated. No priests were involved, and no ceremony was conducted in the temple. Reuel, the father of the bride and her God-ordained caretaker, handed Zipporah his daughter to Moses, like God handed over Eve to Adam.

The next phase in the evolution of marriage in Scripture was under the Law. Here, we see marriage brought under the Mosaic Law and regulated by it. The Israelites were enjoined to marry only within themselves, to avoid being led into idolatory by their heathen spouses. But, even under the Law with an established and revered priesthood that acted as mediator between God and the people in spiritual matters, fathers still retained the power and authority to hand over their daughters in marriage. The priests had absolutely no say in marriage ceremonies, which were conducted in the brides’ fathers’ houses, and never in the Tabernacle or the Temple. Under the Law, the people who joined couples in marriage, on God’s behalf, were parents, not priests!

Deuteronomy 22:28 If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;

Deuteronomy 22:29 Then the man that lay with her shall give to the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he has humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.

Exodus 22:16 And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife.

Exodus 22:17 If her father utterly refuse to give her to him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins.

A father had a right to approve or reject a suitor for his daughter, and the law respected and honoured that. A father was the final authority in deciding on marriage matters involving his children, not the priests. The Law about the rape of an unbetrothed virgin was clear as to parental authority: the rapist must pay the dowry for a raped virgin and marry her, subject to her father’s approval.

Also, if a virgin made any kind of vow, including the vow to marry someone, the father had a right to nullify it, and God upheld his parental rights over her to disallow any rash vow she may have made.

Numbers 30:3 If a woman also vow a vow to the LORD, and bind herself by a bond, being in her father’s house in her youth;

Numbers 30:4 And her father hear her vow, and her bond with which she has bound her soul, and her father shall hold his peace at her; then all her vows shall stand, and every bond with which she has bound her soul shall stand.

Numbers 30:5 But if her father disallow her in the day that he hears; not any of her vows, or of her bonds with which she has bound her soul, shall stand: and the LORD shall forgive her, because her father disallowed her.

As we can see above, parental authority over an unmarried woman was powerful and honoured by God. Your parents are your care takers acting on behalf of God! When they hand you in marriage after lawful traditions have been observed, your marriage has God’s blessings, since God’s legitimate authority in domestic matters had acted on God’s behalf. For domestic matters, the final authority is the father, not the priest or pastor!

Under the Law of Moses, marriage was decided and concluded by the family elders, not the priests! Once the elders approved and gave their blessings, the marriage was ratified. The couple so joined by the elders were considered joined by God.

Ruth 4:1 Then went Boaz up to the gate, and sat him down there: and, behold, the kinsman of whom Boaz spoke came by; to whom he said, Ho, such a one! turn aside, sit down here. And he turned aside, and sat down.

Ruth 4:2 And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, Sit you down here. And they sat down.

Ruth 4:3 And he said to the kinsman, Naomi, that is come again out of the country of Moab, sells a parcel of land, which was our brother Elimelech’s:

Ruth 4:4 And I thought to advertise you, saying, Buy it before the inhabitants, and before the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, redeem it: but if you will not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know: for there is none to redeem it beside you; and I am after you. And he said, I will redeem it.

Ruth 4:5 Then said Boaz, What day you buy the field of the hand of Naomi, you must buy it also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead on his inheritance.

Ruth 4:6 And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar my own inheritance: redeem you my right to yourself; for I cannot redeem it.

Ruth 4:7 Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbor: and this was a testimony in Israel.

Ruth 4:8 Therefore the kinsman said to Boaz, Buy it for you. So he drew off his shoe.

Ruth 4:9 And Boaz said to the elders, and to all the people, You are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, of the hand of Naomi.

Ruth 4:10 Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead on his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brothers, and from the gate of his place: you are witnesses this day.

Ruth 4:11 And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, We are witnesses. The LORD make the woman that is come into your house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do you worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Bethlehem:

Ruth 4:12 And let your house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, of the seed which the LORD shall give you of this young woman.

Ruth 4:13 So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in to her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son.

The marriage between Boaz and Ruth was concluded in the presence of the city elders, after Boaz had fulfilled the necessary rights to possess Ruth. The elders witnessed and gave their blessings to the marriage. No priest was involved and the ceremony took place, not in the temple, but at the city gate. The priests, God’s representatives in spiritual matters, had no business with marriages under the Law. Yet, all such marriages were recognised as being joined by God, because God’s representatives in domestic matters, the parents and elders, handled them! The final arbiters in the joining of people in marriage under the Law were parents and family elders, not priests!

Let us carefully examine the marriage of Samson, to further buttress the point that in the Old Testament, marriages were conducted according to local traditions, and were superintended by parents and family elders.

Judges 14:1 And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines.

Judges 14:2 And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife.

Judges 14:3 Then his father and his mother said to him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of your brothers, or among all my people, that you go to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said to his father, Get her for me; for she pleases me well.

Judges 14:4 But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the LORD, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines: for at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.

Judges 14:5 Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath: and, behold, a young lion roared against him.

Judges 14:6 And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily on him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done.

Judges 14:7 And he went down, and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well.

Samson saw a woman he liked and wanted her as wife. What did he do? He went to his parents and told them about his desire. It is instructive that he told his parents, not the priests, about his desire to get married. He told his parents to get the woman for him as wife. It was the biblical tradition for parents to get wives for their sons, and for parents to give their daughters away in marriage, as we’ve consistently shown. Parents, as heads over their children and responsible for them, were the final arbiters on the issue of marriages of their children, not the priests. So, having accompanied Samson to his prospective in-laws’ house and concluded the initial negotiations, it was now time for Samson to go and get his wife. Let’s see how it was done then.

Judges 14:8 And after a time he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcass of the lion.

Judges 14:10 So his father went down to the woman: and Samson made there a feast; for so used the young men to do.

Judges 14:11 And it came to pass, when they saw him, that they brought thirty companions to be with him.

Having concluded the initial negotiations and settled on the issue of bride price, Samson now went back to take his wife, accompanied by his parents. According to the marriage tradition then, a wedding feast, lasting for seven days, was organised at the house of the parents of Samson’s wife, to send her off to her husband’s house. It was the final wedding act, at the end of which the new wife officially left her father’s house to the husband’s house. It is instructive to note that this wedding feast was conducted at the bride’s house, not in a temple. There was no record of any priest there who joined them in holy matrimony! The priests had no jurisdiction in joining people in marriage! It was purely a family issue!

Next, let us examine the marriage of David to his first wife, Michal, the daughter of King Saul. We will quickly look at the relevant portions of Scripture to draw some pertinent conclusions.

1 Samuel 18:20 And Michal Saul’s daughter loved David: and they told Saul, and the thing pleased him.

1 Samuel 18:21 And Saul said, I will give him her, that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him. Why Saul said to David, You shall this day be my son in law in the one of the two.

1 Samuel 18:22 And Saul commanded his servants, saying, Commune with David secretly, and say, Behold, the king has delight in you, and all his servants love you: now therefore be the king’s son in law.

1 Samuel 18:23 And Saul’s servants spoke those words in the ears of David. And David said, Seems it to you a light thing to be a king’s son in law, seeing that I am a poor man, and lightly esteemed?

1 Samuel 18:24 And the servants of Saul told him, saying, On this manner spoke David.

1 Samuel 18:25 And Saul said, Thus shall you say to David, The king desires not any dowry, but an hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to be avenged of the king’s enemies. But Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines.

1 Samuel 18:26 And when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to be the king’s son in law: and the days were not expired.

1 Samuel 18:27 Why David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full tale to the king, that he might be the king’s son in law. And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife.

Saul’s daughter indicated interest in David, and David too loved her, but he felt he was unqualified to be the king’s son-in-law. However, because King Saul was trying to get David killed, he demanded for 100 foreskins of his perennial enemies, the Philistines, as dowry. David, motivated by his love for Saul’s daughter, slew double the number of Philistines required, and brought 200 foreskins to King Saul. Having reneged on his promise to make David his son-in-law once, Saul was obliged to hand over his daughter Michal to David as wife. King Saul used his parental authority to join David and Michal as husband and wife. No priests officiated and no temple ceremony was done. It all started and ended in the Palace, with King Saul as the joiner-in-chief, being the father of the bride.

Having examined the conduct of marriages in the Old Testament, let us now turn our attention to the New Testament, where we’re most concerned. Let us consider the role New Testament ministers are expected to play in the solemnisation of holy matrimony.

John 2:1 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there:

John 2:2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.

John 2:3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus said to him, They have no wine.

John 2:4 Jesus said to her, Woman, what have I to do with you? my hour is not yet come.

John 2:5 His mother said to the servants, Whatever he said to you, do it.

John 2:6 And there were set there six water pots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.

John 2:7 Jesus said to them, Fill the water pots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.

John 2:8 And he said to them, Draw out now, and bear to the governor of the feast. And they bore it.

John 2:9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not from where it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,

John 2:10 And said to him, Every man at the beginning does set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but you have kept the good wine until now.

John 2:11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

In the passage above, we see Jesus and his disciples attending a marriage feast that they were invited to, not as officiating ministers, but as guests. The wedding feast was not in the Temple but in a home. Jesus went there to celebrate and rejoice with the celebrants who were probably friends or acquaintances. Not only did he rejoice with them at the feast, he even ensured there was enough wine for all to drink, by performing the first miracle of his ministry, turning water into wine! Jesus obviously didn’t have a problem with people drinking wine at a wedding. He was a socializer, not a hermit! You can’t evangelise the world by separating yourself from the people!

The wedding feast we saw Jesus attend was the final act in the marriage process for the Jews, the celebration of a concluded marriage which was contracted between families, with priests having nothing to do with it. The prominent person in charge was the governor of the feast or the master of ceremony. Jesus and his disciples attended as guests, not as officiating ministers! Jesus did not go to join the people in holy matrimony or read out some vows for them to recite. He and his disciples went to rejoice and celebrate with the couple that just wedded traditionally, and to eat and drink with them!

Matthew 22:1 And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables, and said,

Matthew 22:2 The kingdom of heaven is like to a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,

Matthew 22:3 And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.

Matthew 22:4 Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatted calves are killed, and all things are ready: come to the marriage.

Matthew 22:5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise:

Matthew 22:6 And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.

Matthew 22:7 But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.

Matthew 22:8 Then said he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.

Matthew 22:9 Go you therefore into the highways, and as many as you shall find, bid to the marriage.

Matthew 22:10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.

Matthew 22:11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:

Matthew 22:12 And he said to him, Friend, how came you in here not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.

Matthew 22:13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

In the passage above, we get a glimpse into how weddings were conducted in Jesus’ day. A king organised a wedding for his son. The key things to note here are the facts that the wedding was organised by the father, not the priest, and that the wedding took place in the King’s house, not the Temple. The feast was a wedding reception for a marriage that had been concluded traditionally. It was to receive the new wife into the husband’s house.

Matthew 25:1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened to ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.

Matthew 25:2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.

Matthew 25:3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:

Matthew 25:4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

Matthew 25:5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

Matthew 25:6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him.

Matthew 25:7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.

Matthew 25:8 And the foolish said to the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.

Matthew 25:9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go you rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.

Matthew 25:10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.

The passage above illustrates how the final wedding feast was conducted in most Oriental countries, at the time of Jesus. The feast was conducted at the bride’s house, and usually at night. The maids of the bride (usually virgins like herself) would go out to meet the bridegroom and his entourage, once their coming was announced. The bride’s maids of honour would then escort the groom and his people to the wedding hall, where the final feast was organised. After this feast, the bride (now the wife) would follow her husband home. All the marriage ceremonies were done and concluded at the bride’s house, never in the Temple. The people in charge were the bride’s family, not the priests. Marriage was essentially traditional in Jesus’ time, not religious!

Now, let’s look at the Apostolic perception on whose right it was to give a girl away in marriage. We should consult the Apostolic writings for their view on this issue.

1 Corinthians 7:36 But if any man think that he behaves himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sins not: let them marry.

1 Corinthians 7:37 Nevertheless he that stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, does well.

1 Corinthians 7:38 So then he that gives her in marriage does well; but he that gives her not in marriage does better.

The passage above described the authority and power a father had over his virgin daughter in the Apostolic period. Because of the intense persecution the Church was undergoing at the time, making it difficult for people to settle in one place and fend for a family, Paul advised people to avoid marrying during the distress. He told fathers who had earlier made up their minds not to hand over their virgin daughters in marriage but changed their minds later, that they were not sinning by their change of mind. However, the Apostle reassured those who resolved to keep their virgin daughters unmarried, because of the distress at the time, of their better judgement. In either case, the authority rested with the fathers to either give their daughters in marriage, or refrain from doing so. The Apostle saw fathers as the final authority over their daughters in matters of marriage, not the Church and not the Apostles! The Apostles did not intrude into the domestic rights of parents in the matter of marriage. They followed the understanding that marriage was a traditional institution that was regulated by the customs of each people, with parents in charge of deciding the matter for their children.

So, if both the priests in the Old Testament and our Lord Jesus and his Apostles did not participate in joining people in marriages, where did the Church get the idea that only marriages conducted by the clergy are blessed of God? Certainly, there is no biblical support for this teaching. As we showed conclusively from Scripture, marriage is a traditional thing, and marriages all over the world, as long as they involve the union of a man and a woman for the purpose of companionship and procreation, are approved and blessed of God, and should be considered honourable by all. The involvement of the clergy does not make the marriage any holier than the one done without the clergy. Infact, from the conclusive evidence of Scripture alone, there is no authority for the clergy acting on behalf of God in the solemnisation of marriage. The clergy have usurped the position and authority of parents and the traditions of each people concerning marriage, and they have absolutely no scriptural backing for this! Not one scripture can they quote to justify their dabbling into the role they have taken upon themselves in conducting marriages, and in disdaining every other form of marriage conducted outside their supervision as not being blessed of God! Infact, Jesus recognised all the marriages contracted traditionally by the Jews (without the involvement of the priests) as being joined by God:

Mark 10:6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.

Mark 10:7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and join to his wife;

Mark 10:8 And they two shall be one flesh: so then they are no more two, but one flesh.

Mark 10:9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.

The issue of the clergy hijacking the traditional institution of marriage has only made marrying more expensive, more tedious, more time consuming and more frustrating for a lot of people. To meet the demands of Church or Christian marriage (which cannot be found in Scripture), Christians are expected to marry traditionally and still marry in the Church. The most annoying part is that, after a traditional marriage in which all the traditional rites have been met and the couple have been joined and blessed by the parents and elders, the Church still does not recognise them as husband and wife, until after the Church marriage has been done! Any sexual relations between such couples is viewed by the Church as fornication! Can you imagine this?! How can people who have been married the only way the Bible recognises (traditionally) be considered fornicators, just because they have not done a wedding that does not have a basis in Scripture? How can the Church delight in putting stumbling blocks in the way of people, making the commandment of God void by their traditions that have no basis in Scripture?

Matthew 15:4 For God commanded, saying, Honor your father and mother: and, He that curses father or mother, let him die the death.

Matthew 15:5 But you say, Whoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatever you might be profited by me;

Matthew 15:6 And honor not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have you made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.

Matthew 15:7 You hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,

Matthew 15:8 This people draws near to me with their mouth, and honors me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

Matthew 15:9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

The Church is making marriage more difficult and rather discouraging, by the exorbitant costs of conducting two marriages (traditional and Church). It is also infusing unnecessary guilt and confusion into people, by not regarding people who have been married traditionally as husband and wife who can legitimately have sexual intercourse. They are also encouraging abortion among married people, by insisting people who have been married traditionally must not have sex and must not be pregnant before a Church wedding, otherwise the Church wedding would be called off! Some of these people have sexual relations (which is legitimate, because they are now husband and wife, having been married traditionally), get pregnant, and are forced to abort the pregnancy because they want a Church wedding and want to avoid the disgrace of being denied a Church wedding. The Church is aiding and abetting sin in this regard!

Finally, let us look at the legitimacy of Church wedding on its own. A Church wedding cannot be conducted without a prior traditional wedding in most places in Africa, meaning a Church wedding without a prior traditional wedding is useless! Also, the marriage certificate Churches issue is useless! Only a marriage certificate from a marriage registry can be used for official purposes. So, the Church requires one to do a traditional wedding first, followed by a Court wedding (to obtain a valid marriage certificate), before undergoing a Church wedding. This shows just how useless the Church wedding is on its own. It is not recognised traditionally and it doesn’t offer a valid certificate in law. So, what then is the purpose of the Church wedding? It is simply a tradition of men imported into the Church to make marriages more difficult and more expensive. It has no basis in Scripture!

In conclusion, we have shown exhaustively from Scripture that marriage is a traditional institution which depends on local customs and has nothing to do with spiritual leaders. Both in the Old and the New Testaments, we proved conclusively that marriage proceedings started and ended in the home of the bride, with her parents and other elders in charge. Once all traditional rites have been met and the couple joined and blessed by their parents, they become husband and wife from that moment, and sexual relations between them become lawful and blessed of God. There is therefore no place for a Church wedding, and no place for pastors to join people in marriage. They have no such authority from Scripture and should therefore desist from putting stumbling blocks in people’s way when it comes to marriage. Pastors can counsel, advise and pray for people who are planning to marry. They can also pray for such people and bless their union after the traditional or registry marriage. To insist that only marriages conducted in the church and officiated by the clergy are recognised and blessed of God is not supported by Scripture.

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