PART 8 PERSONAL ASSOCIATIONS Knowing When to Maintain Them and Knowing When to Avoid Them ●Keeping Company ●Maintaining or Avoiding Personal Associations CHAPTER 14 Keeping Company How can I identify those fellow believers who desire to be a witness for Christ? Not only is it important for us to find a Spirit-filled church, but also to be able to identify those believers, who desire to be a witness for Christ. Every believer is at a different place in their walk with God. Some are babies, others are teen-agers, some are young adults, and then there are the mature adults, those who have reached spiritual maturity. While it could be true that many believers, no matter what level of spiritual growth, might desire to be a witness for Christ, those who have attained spiritual adulthood have learned how to think according to God’s word on a consistent basis concerning themselves, others, and the circumstances of life whether in prosperity or adversity in the power of the Spirit. If we want to grow to spiritual maturity, then we need to be able to identify those believers, who have reached this level of maturity and attempt to befriend them. One person who I thought of in this respect is King David. And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years. And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. (Acts 13:21-22) In his younger years, during his time as a shepherd, he learned to listen to God’s voice and obey him. This cultivated in him a reliance on God asking Him for guidance and responding to His instruction whether it pertained to the slaying of the giant Goliath or not touching God’s anointed, King Saul. Yes, he sinned. In some cases, he committed egregious sins, when he engaged in adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband Uriah killed in battle. Yet, he eventually repented. "And thou [Jeroboam] hast not been as my servant David, who kept my commnandments, and who followed me with all his heart, to do that only which was right in mine eyes," etc., (1 Kings 15:3 ,5) When God’s promise to him was that he would be the next king of Israel after King Saul, which took place many years after this declaration, he ruled the people according to the divine will. He did not allow of idolatry; he did not set up for absolute power. He was guided in the government of the nation by the law of Moses, as the standing rule of government, and by the prophet, or the Divine oracle, whereby God gave directions upon particular emergencies. Despite his indiscretions, he got up, dusted himself off, and continued to follow God all the days of his life. Every one of us needs an example of Christ to follow. Caleb and Joshua followed Moses. The apostles followed Christ. Timothy followed the apostle Paul. Who should we seek after? It is essential that we first find a Spirit-filled church to attend where we will learn: foundational doctrines; how to address areas of human weakness and strength; how to walk in the Spirit; to recognize and reject the teachings of religion, the deception of the evil one. Now that you are in the right place, there should be some believers who: consistently attend to the intake of the word; hide the word in their heart; rely on the ministry of the Holy Spirit. These believers will evidence a testimony of Christlikeness as declared in the following scriptural declarations. ●Suggested Reading: Acts 1:4-5, 8 8 … and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. They will testify (give testimony) of Christ’s life, instructions, death, and resurrection to others in the midst of persecution and impending death. ●Suggested Reading: Acts 2:42-47 47…and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. They will obtain favor (to be liked) by those in their community, because of their humble, serious, and devoted lives. ●Suggested Reading: Acts 16:12-34 23 And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: 25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. They will pray and rejoice (sing songs) while in the midst of being persecuted (physical suffering) for Christ’s sake. ●Suggested Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:10-11 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you;… For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. They will express the same mind (have the same understanding in their thoughts, counsels, and plans in relationship to an issue) and the same judgment (as to the practical decisions as to how things ought to be done) concerning things pertaining to the ministry. ●Suggested Reading: 1 Corinthians 4:1-8 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God. And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another. (1 Corinthians 4:3-6) They will choose not to measure different preachers according to their own personal preferences and prejudices, tearing down the ones they dislike, and building up those they like. ●Suggested Reading:1 Corinthians 4:9-11 For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; They will be a spectacle (one whose trials are made public in the theatre of this world: being gazed upon) to an immense host of angels and men. ●Suggested Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:1-13:1 21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. They will not exalt one person above the other, because of the gifts given them by the Holy Spirit.. ●Suggested Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. They will not be turned aside or shaken by others as pertaining to an assault from temptation or persecution. ●Suggested Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:5, 7, 10 5 For we preach not ourselves,… They will not preach in their own power. ●Suggested Reading: 2 Corinthians 6:1-12 1-2 We then, as workers together with him (Christ), beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) They will continue to walk in the Spirit, in whom they began anew. ●Suggested Reading: Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called. They will exhibit behavior in a manner suitable to their calling (the divine invitation to embrace salvation), and to their subsequent union in one body with other believers. ●Suggested Reading: Ephesians 4:25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. They will speak the truth in respect to honest dealings with their fellow believers. ●Suggested Reading: Colossians 3:10 And have put on the new man… They will choose to daily put on the new man whom they have become at salvation. ●Suggested Reading: Philippians 1:27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; They will exhibit in their manner of life (speech, plans of living, dealings with others, conduct) a correspondence to the gospel, which they preached along with the yearning for the unity of spirit (of the disposition or influence which fills and governs the soul of anyone) among their fellow believers. ●Suggested Reading: Philippians 2:12-16 14-15 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; They will strive to be: “without murmurings” (of those who confer secretly, of those who discontentedly complain; secret murmurings against your fellowmen arising from selfishness); without “disputings” (may refer, at least in part, to the practice of going to civil courts to settle their differences); “blameless” (to live so that those outside of Christ could not rightfully point an accusing finger at); “harmless” (pure; a word that was used of wine which had not been diluted and of metal which had not been weakened in any way); “without rebuke” (unblemished in reputation and reality in the midst of a morally corrupt and perverse nation). ●Suggested Reading: Philippians 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings,… They will: have personal communion with Christ; experience the same power that raised Him from the dead; become a joint participant in His sufferings for righteousness sake. ●Suggested Reading: Colossians 1:9-11 9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will… They will be fully equipped with the knowledge of God’s design, purpose, plan, and intention for their life. ●Suggested Reading: Colossians 1:26-28 28 …that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: They will have become a spiritual adult (one who is full grown in faith and patience) in Christ. ●Suggested Reading: Colossians 3:12-14 13 …if any man have a quarrel against any:… They will try to resolve any issue that they might encounter concerning another believer. ●Suggested Reading: Colossians 4:5-6 5 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. They will evidence to an unbeliever conduct, which is upright and honest, so that when the opportunity arises, they will be able to answer everyone in a true way, seizing the opportunity to win a soul to Christ. ●Suggested Reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 12 That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing. They will choose to walk honestly in their financial transactions toward those outside the Christian church, i.e. unbelievers. ●Suggested Reading: 1 Timothy 4:1,12-13 12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers… They will be an example or model that fellow believers would want to imitate. ●Suggested Reading: Titus 2:7-12 7 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: They will exhibit a model of good conduct in their actions. ●Suggested Reading: 1 Peter 2:11-3:1 11-12 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: They will choose not to indulge in bodily passions of any kind that dominates their life, but rather exhibit a manner of life which is praiseworthy before men. If you make the choices to abide in a Spirit-filled church, to appropriate the teachings which are espoused, and walk with those who are wise, you will be recognized by God as being a man or woman after God’s heart. Maintaining or Avoiding Personal Associations Hopefully this book has helped you in being able to sort out in a scriptural way whether you should maintain your relationship with others or whether you should avoid your relationship with others. Without receiving instruction concerning this topic and other biblical topics, we are devoid of the scriptural knowledge that we need to make informed decisions. The question that I will leave you with is this. Is the church you are attending focusing on two things: the indwelling Holy Spirit and the filling of the Holy Spirit? The declaration of the gospel of Christ and the subsequent repentance and belief by those who hear it is the basis for salvation, one of the benefits of which is the receiving of the Holy Spirit. Being taught about the new man that we have become, appropriating these truths, and confessing to God the Father those thoughts and actions which are contrary to such, will cause us to be filled with the Holy Spirit, meaning that His spiritual qualities (e.g. love, joy, peace, etc.) will become operational within us and be manifest to others. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14) But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. (1 John 2:27) When God the Holy Spirit is indwelling within and infilling us, we will have someone who can lead and guide us into all truth. Without the Spirit we can’t receive or know the things of Him. So, set your mind on things above, heavenly thoughts, and if there comes a time when a topic is confusing, then ask God the Father to provide for you wisdom in this area by means of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, who will unveil to you his insight according to his timing and manner. Follow this series: on-line at Weekly Messages: Author Page: Website:

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How can I identify those fellow believers who desire to be a witness for Christ?