The first epistle of John was written when John was
about 95 years old. He was the only living apostle at that time.
All the others had been killed. John had seen the day of Pentecost
and the tremendous revival with which the Church of Jesus Christ
had started. He also saw in his time the decline of many of the
churches that had started in revival.
Perhaps the other
apostles who had died earlier had not seen this decline to the
same extent as John. But John saw that many churches that had once
begun with tremendous power, great fervency and the Spiritís
fullness, had declined to the place where they had lost their
first love and backslidden in other ways too (as we read in
Revelation 2 and 3).
But the elders (messengers) in those
backslidden churches were still sitting on their thrones. One of
the elders only had a name that he was alive, when he was actually
dead. Another was so lukewarm that the Lord warned him that He
would spit him out of His mouth. Yet another was allowing the
false prophetess Jezebel, to lead people astray. All these
terrible things were happening in their churches and yet those
elders just sat back and did nothing about it. Both churches and
elders had lost their zeal. This was the condition of those
churches at the end of the first century.
grieved John must have been and how he must have sorrowed. With
this burden in his heart, he writes his first epistle. Thatís the
background of this letter.
It is important to see what
John emphasizes in his letter and what he doesnít - because
Christendomís condition today is very similar to what I have just
There were great spiritual movements in the
18th, 19th and 20th centuries, in different parts of the world Ė
mighty movements that God started through men who knew Him. These
movements were born in revival, but they have all descended to the
same level as the churches in Johnís time. Compromise and
corruption are rampant among them. Elders have gone the way of
Balaam, seeking after money. They permit immoral standards among
people in their churches. That too is part of the way of Balaam,
for he led Israel astray by making them sin with the daughters of
We see so much similarity in whatís happening in
Christian churches today with what happened at the end of the
first century. The problem is not with doctrine primarily, but
with life. Evangelical churches and charismatic churches have all
gone the way of the world. The spiritual power they once had is
Bearing the burden of the backslidden churches on his
heart, John writes much in 1 John 3 about loving one another. "By
this, the children of God, and the children of the devil are
obvious." (1 John 3:10). John divides all people in the world into
two categories here - "children of God" and "children of the
devil". And he says that the way to find out the difference is
this: "Anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God.
Nor the one who does not love his brother." This is a very clear
distinction. One who does not love his brother is not of God. He
may perhaps have many reasons why he cannot love his brother, but
he is not of God.
In verses 11 and 12, we read, "For this
is the message, which you have heard from the beginning, that we
should love one another. And not be as Cain, who was of the evil
one, and slew his brother Abel."
When Jesus spoke about
righteous people, he began with Abel. He said, "From the blood of
righteous Abel, to the blood of ZechariahÖÖ"
So Abel was righteous. But Cain, as we saw,
belonged to the evil one, because he killed his brother. 1 John
3:12 goes on to say, "And for what reason did he slay him? Because
his deeds were evil, and his brothers were righteous."
I want you to read that verse carefully. It does not say that
Cainís deeds were evil after he slew Abel. No. It says that his
deeds were evil even before he slew Abel.
Why did Cain
slay his brother? Because he was an evil man. We have often heard
it said that God accepted Abel because he offered a
blood-sacrifice, and that God rejected Cain because he didnít
offer a blood-sacrifice. But there is more to it than that. See
what it says here about Cain. "His deeds were evil; his brotherís
deeds were righteous."
And John goes on to say in verse
13, "Donít marvel brethren if the world hates you." Heís talking
about Cain hating Abel. Donít marvel if the world hates you.
Hatred is the mark of the sons of Cain, and all who follow "the
way of Cain" (as Jude calls it in verse 11 of his letter).
In verse 14 John says, "We know we have passed out of
death into life" - not because we were baptized and not because we
partake of the bread and the wine, no, but "because we love the
brethren. He who does not love abides in death." John is still
thinking of Cain as he writes this.
We are to love
everyone. It doesnít matter which church those others belong to.
"He who hates his brother is a murderer." Everyone who hates
someone else is a murderer. "And you know that no murderer has
eternal life abiding in him." The way of Cain, is the way of
In contrast, in verse 16 John says that the proof
of love is this that instead of slaying your brother, you slay
yourself! You lay down your life. "We know love by this, that He
laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for
Notice that in both cases there is a death.
In one we kill our brothers and in the other, we die
Cain killed his brother. Thatís the way of
evil. The children of the devil manifest themselves by slaying
their brothers and sisters. The children of God are revealed by
their putting their own self-life to death.
Abelís head in with a rock. But today people are gentler - they
donít use rocks, they use their tongues! When you tear down your
brothers and sisters with your tongue, speaking evil of them and
making them look bad and small in the eyes of others, youíre
actually slaying them.
In this the children of the devil
are made manifest - because the devil is a murderer.
Revelation 12, verses 9 and 10 say that the devil accuses
the brothers day and night. And just as God looks for co-workers,
the devil also looks for co-workers, all over the world. What does
the devil do day and night? Revelation 12, "He accuses the
brethren, day and night."
And I want to remind you that
the devil doesnít lie to God. He doesnít tell God false things
about the brethren, because he knows that God knows everything! He
tells God the truth. And the Devil is looking for co-workers
across the world Ė who will speak the truth in the spirit of the
accuser. An accuser need not tell false stories. The devil tells
God the absolute truth, but heís still the accuser.
too can speak the absolute truth, and still be an accuser of the
Hereby the children of the devil made manifest.
Thatís the way of Cain - and no murderer has eternal life abiding
He who has ears to hear, let him hear this: "No
murderer has eternal life abiding in him." Whatever doctrine you
may believe, whichever way you were baptized, whether you speak in
tongues or not, whether you break bread or not, however long your
skirts may be, "no murderer has eternal life abiding in him."
Do you slay your brother or sister?
When Ham told
Shem and Japheth that their father Noah was lying down drunk and ,
he spoke the absolute truth. He never spoke one falsehood. He said
"Dad is lying , after he got drunk."
And for saying that,
God not only cursed Ham, but cursed his children too. For what did
God curse Ham? For speaking the truth in the spirit of the
accuser. And that curse remains on all who accuse their brethren
From Genesis 9 onwards, all the way to Revelation
12, we read about many accusers who spoke only the truth. So
remember that we donít escape by saying that we only spoke the
truth about someone. Ham spoke the truth too. The devil also tells
God, "Iím only speaking the truthÖĒ. But he is still the
But Jesus also does something for us day and
night. It says in Hebrews 7:25, "He ever liveth to make
intercession for themÖ."
Consider a brother or a sister
here who has some fault. Maybe heís drunk, maybe heís. But heís
still our brother.
Most Christians begin their accusations
long before they see what Ham saw. Drunkenness are serious
matters. But long before a brother goes that far, we may see some
small fault in him - something that irritates us. Jesus sees it.
Satan sees it. And we see it. Satan is quick to accuse. Jesus is
quick to intercede. What do we do?
Both Satan and Jesus are
looking for co-workers. We can take our pick as to which of the
two we want to work with. Whenever you see a weakness or a sin in
a brother, in that moment, you come to a fork in the road. There
are only two ways at that fork - the way of intercession and the
way of accusation. Jesus goes one way and Satan takes the other
road. Now you have to decide which of these two ways you are going
We all come to this fork often. And we donít
usually stand there. We move forward. Some people think theyíre
spiritual because they stand there without either accusing or
interceding. They donít take either road. But thatís not
spirituality because Jesus has taken one road and Heís not
When we accuse, we get into fellowship
with Satan. But when we intercede, we enter into fellowship with
By this the children of God, and the children of the
devil are made obvious. The distinction between them is made
crystal clear. There is no hiding it.
Why did Cain slay
his brother? Letís turn to Genesis 4. Verse 3 says, "Cain brought
an offering to the Lord. Abel also brought an offering to the
Lord." Cain was not an atheist. Cain was a deeply religious man.
The children of the devil are not all atheists. Most of them, like
the Pharisees, are deeply religious. The way of Cain is not the
way of atheism; itís the way of religion. Itís also the way
bringing offerings to God. Cain brought an offering. Abel also
brought an offering. But notice something here. We may have
thought that it was Abelís offering that the Lord accepted first.
But read carefully. It says in the last part of verse 4: "The Lord
had regard for Abel, and for his offering." It was Abel whom the
Lord accepted first, and that was why He accepted Abelís offering.
Donít read it the other way around ó that the Lord
accepted Abelís offering first and therefore accepted Abel. Thatís
how you may have been taught, but thatís not what the Bible says.
We can believe many false teachings if we are careless in reading
"The Lord had regard for Abel and for his
offering. But for Cain and His offering He had no regard."
It was the same with Cain. God didnít disregard his
offering but him. Therefore He rejected Cainís offering.
may think, "If I bring the blood of Christ before God, Iíll be all
right". No, you wonít, if your heart is not right with your
brother. When you come to Godís altar with the blood of Jesus, and
there remember that your brother has something against you, your
offering will not be accepted. "Leave your offering there," Jesus
said, "Go and settle things with your brother first. Then come and
bring your offering to God." (Matt.5:23, 24).
under the deception that because you have trusted in the blood of
Christ, youíre all right. If you have slain your brother with your
tongue, you must go and settle that matter with him first. Only
then will the Lord have regard for you and therefore for your
offerings. It is only the prayer of a righteous man that has great
effect (James 5:16). If your heart is not right, God will not
accept your prayers or your offerings. Thatís clear.
read in verse 5 that "Cain became very angry, and his countenance
fell." One mark of those who are not right with God is that there
is no cheerfulness in their countenance. Their face is fallen. The
psalmist said, "The Lord is my glory, and the lifter of my head."
When our face is fallen, we can be sure that something is wrong.
The very first words that God ever asked a human being, outside
the Garden of Eden were, "Why is your face fallen? Why are you
angry?" Donít ever forget that. He will ask you the same
Why is your face clouded? You just came from a
prayer meeting where you offered prayers to God! You are a deeply
religious person! Then why is your face fallen? Cain too had just
come from a meeting where He had offered something to God! Should
your face be fallen after youíve gone to a meeting or after youíve
read the Bible? Why then is your face fallen?
suspicious of people who cannot look me straight in the eye. Iíll
give you all a simple bit of advice. When a person does not look
you straight in the face, when he cannot make eye contact with
you, it indicates that something is wrong somewhere. Thatís what
the Lord was asking Cain, "Why canít you make eye contact with me,
Cain? Whatís wrong? Why is your face fallen? Why do you have such
a long face?"
Then the Lord said to Cain (and let me
paraphrase the Lordís words here), "If you intend well in your
heart wonít your face be lifted up? You will certainly be
accepted! I have no partiality, Cain. All are the same to me." If
your heart is clean and the intention of your heart towards all
your brothers and sisters is good, your face will always be lifted
When your face is fallen, something is wrong. And
thatís not because of the way the other person treated you. No.
Itís because of your attitude towards that person Ė whether that
be your husband, your wife, your parents, a brother, an elder
brother or anyone. Something is wrong there.
"But if you
donít intend well in your heart, then, (God says to Cain), sin is
crouching at the door of your heart."
Donít ever think
that sin is far away from any of us. Jesus taught us to pray
saying, "Our Father who art in heaven, lead us not into
temptation, but deliver us from evilÖ" That means, "Oh God, please
keep me far away from temptation. Donít allow me to go along that
way. Deliver me from evil." But if you donít intend well, sin is
not far away, but crouching at the door - like a lion or a tiger,
waiting outside your door, waiting for a slight opening so that he
can get his foot in. Soon, he will come right in.
desire is for you!", God warned Cain. Sinís desire - like a
tigerís or a lionís - is to eat us up.
But God told Cain,
"You must master it." (Gen.4:7). Notice in the in the very first
message that God ever gave man outside the Garden of Eden He told
him, "You must have victory over sin." That is Godís message to
man, not just in Romans 6:14, but in the very beginning of human
You must master sin! You must master that sin
that is crouching at your door! The message of victory over sin
was not an afterthought with God. On the contrary, it is there at
the very beginning of the Bible, one of the very first things that
God ever proclaimed to man.
Inside the garden of Eden, God
killed an animal and shed its blood (symbolizing the death of
Christ on Calvary), threw away the fig leaves Adam and Eve were
wearing (which symbolized human righteousness and religious
coverings) and clothed Adam and Eve with the animalís skin
(symbolizing Christís righteousness).
Fig leaves will
wither up in time Ė and so will human righteousness and religious
rituals. You canít wear fig leaves forever! Thatís why Jesus
cursed the fig tree, when he saw only leaves on it. That was a
picture of human righteousness! Human righteousness has been
cursed from the day of Adam. They are like filthy rags in Godís
Instead, God gave Adam and Eve something
that would last forever Ė animal skins. That is how He clothes us
today - with the righteousness of Christ.
So, these are
the very first things we need to do to find our way back to God.
Accept the shed blood of a substitute, get rid of the fig leaves
of our own human righteousness and accept the righteousness of
Christ to clothe us.
But after that, the next message we
need to hear is this: "You must have victory over sin."
Itís all there, way back in Genesis 4! You must master
sin! This wrong attitude towards your brother - you must overcome
it! You mustnít allow it to remain.
I believe the Lord is
saying that to many of us right now. Do you intend well? Is your
attitude right? If it is wrong, then sin is crouching at your
door, and you must master it! A voice of love from heaven pleads
with you right now.
Why should God plead with man? He
could very well have said, "Cain has enough understanding and he
shouldnít have a wrong attitude towards his brother", and rejected
him without even giving him a chance. But God pleaded with Cain
and He pleads with us. The father of the prodigal son, went out
and pleaded with his elder son, saying, "Why do you have a wrong
attitude toward your younger brother? Why are you jealous of the
fact that I have honored him and made him sit with me at my
tableÖCome in!" But the elder brother wouldnít listen.
was the same with Cain. He didnít listen to God either, for he had
no fear of God.
Cain went from there and met Abel and
called him out for a walk. Abel innocently went out with him, and
Cain smashed his head in and killed him. Then the Lord asked Cain,
"Where is Abel, your brother?" Cain replied, "I donít know."
When your conscience is hardened, you can tell a lie even
to God? Itís a terrible thing not to listen even when God pleads
with you. Has your conscience become so hard that you can lie, not
only to men but even to God.
Cain said, "I donít know. Am
I my brotherís keeper?" And God replied saying, "What have you
done? The voice of your brotherís blood is crying to me from the
ground. Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its
mouth to receive your brotherís blood from your hand."
When Adam and Eve sinned, God never cursed them. Read
Genesis 3 carefully. He never cursed them. He cursed the ground,
but not Adam and Eve.
Here however, we see the first time
that God cursed a man ó when the man harmed his brother.
Please remember this, my brothers and sisters. The first
time God ever cursed a man was when a man harmed his brother. Have
you harmed your brother or your sister? Do you fear God?
In this the children of God and the children of devil are
One mark of Godís curse is described in
verse 12. God said to Cain, "When you cultivate the ground, it
shall not yield its strength to you. You shall be a vagrant and a
wanderer on the earth."
You may preach, but there will be
no blessing or fruit in your labors. You will go somewhere and try
to build a church but it will not be built as the Body of Christ.
Whatever you build will collapse. You may even preach the very
same messages that you heard on all these tapes and that you read
in many books. But they will still not produce fruit. You will
cultivate the ground and you will work hard, but there will be no
eternal fruit. You will be alone. You will be a vagrant, and a
wanderer. You will gather people and you will lose them one by
one. You will be alone. You will wander from one church to
another. Youíll be a wanderer, a vagrant and a tramp! You will try
one church and find something wrong there. Youíll go to another
church and there will be something wrong there too. Youíll be a
wanderer all your life. I have seen many people like this in my
lifetime. They allowed the tiger to enter the door and swallow
them up and they imagined that they could still serve God. Thatís
not just sad, itís tragic!
In this, is obvious the children
of God, and the children of the devil.
Such people have a
wrong attitude towards someone in their hearts. God speaks to
them, but they will not allow God to break them. They have plenty
of knowledge and their doctrines are all correct! But something is
wrong in their hearts. So when they cultivate the ground, it does
not yield any lasting fruit.
Are you like that? Fruitless?
Jesus said, "Iíve chosen you and ordained you that you
should go and bring forth fruit. Herein is my Father glorified,
that you bear much fruit." (John 15:16).
It is impossible
for a branch to remain in a good vine, and for it to be fruitless.
That is impossible when Jesus is the Vine. It may happen with some
other false vine. But if youíre grafted into Jesus, it is
impossible to be fruitless. If the sap, from the vine (the Holy
Spirit) is flowing into the branches, it is impossible to be
fruitless! You will bear fruit. But if youíre a wanderer then of
course you will be fruitless.
To be a wanderer does not
necessarily mean being without a church-fellowship. Iíve seen many
people who have come to our conferences in India and who think
that the secret of Godís blessing being upon our work is found in
the doctrines we preach. So they get our books and our tapes and
preach those very same messages. Some imagine that the secret is
in the pattern of our meetings. So they go and duplicate that
pattern where they live. But still there is spiritual death. Why?
Because the secret is not in any of these things.
secret of fruitfulness still lies in falling into the ground, and
dying to your self-life - as Jesus taught in John 12:24. We must
be cut off from the old vine and be grafted into the new, and
allow the sap (the fullness of the Holy Spirit) to bring forth
eternal fruit in us. The secret is not in a doctrine, itís not in
a pattern; itís in a life, the life of Jesus.
"My punishment is too great to bear. Thou hast driven me from the
face of the ground and I shall be a vagrant and wanderer." Iím
amazed at the Lordís tremendous compassion, even toward someone
like Cain. He told Cain, "` I wonít allow anybody to kill you.í
And the Lord appointed a sign for Cain lest anyone finding him
should slay him" (verse 15).
Cain could have repented and
cried out saying, "Oh God, be merciful to me." But he didnít. He
went out from the presence of the Lord. One of the first things he
did thereafter was to build a city (verse 17). Do you know where
city-life originated? With Cain - after he left the presence of
In Gen.4:17, we read that Cain, "named the city
after his son.". His attitude was, "Let the name of my son be
honoredÖ" He couldnít care less about the name of the Lord.
The other thing we read is that after Cain left the Lordís
presence, his descendants began to produce various types of
musical instruments (verse 21). Jubal was the father of those who
play the lyre, and the pipe. They sat in the nights in those
cities and spent their time playing music. The origin of rock
music is right there, in Gen.4:21.
A lot of evil things
begin to happen when you go away from the presence of the Lord.
You lose your sense of direction, you become a wanderer, you long
for the attractions of city life and music becomes your god. You
lose all sense of God and you begin to live by your human
understanding of right and wrong.
But where did all this
start? We must identify the origin of these evils, so that we can
nip them in the bud before they are full-grown. It all started
when the fire of God fell on Abelís offering, and no fire fell on
Cainís offering and Cain became jealous.
Have you got
something of that in you? Then beware.
If Abel had been an
older brother, Cain could have possibly borne it. But Abel was
younger! He thought, "How can God anoint someone younger than me?
How can God put a fire on someone younger than me?" That bothered
him. And thereafter, he was determined to harm Abel.
that sound familiar? Perhaps God has blessed somebodyís ministry
and you canít bear it and you are determined to find some fault
with him or his ministry. But if the fire of God is upon that man,
you should be humble enough to acknowledge that even though you
may not approve of him, God must be approving of him - because God
has regard for that man and his offering. That would be the right
What I have said to my co-workers and
fellow-elders in India is this: "Itís good that you have
understood the doctrines of victory over sin, building the body of
Christ, coming out of Babylon and building Jerusalem etc., but I
still want you to see whether God sends His fire on your
sacrifices. If God doesnít send His fire from heaven, it means He
is not supporting you. In that case, Iím not going to try and prop
you up either. I want to follow after God. If God supports you, it
will become manifest. He will bear witness to your life, to your
family life and to your ministry. Then, Iíll back you - even if I
donít agree with you!! But if God doesnít bear witness to you or
to your family life or to your ministry, then Iím sorry I canít
support you. I want to follow after God, not go ahead of Him. I
donít care if your doctrines are right. I donít care if youíre
following the same pattern that we have and do things the way we
do them. All of that is no use, if Godís fire is not there. Even
if you are a close friend of mine, you wonít get me to back you if
God Himself doesnít back you."
I want to approve of those
whom God approves of. And I will not approve of those whom God
does not approve of. I donít want to know anyone after the flesh.
I want to see if God is bearing witness to a man.
you quite honestly, many doctrines are, in a sense, secondary to
me. I donít care whether a man believes in the baptism in the
Spirit or not, whether he speaks in tongues or not, whether he has
the gift of healing or not, or whether he belongs to this
denomination or that. Some doctrinal disagreements, Iíve
discovered are because our minds are limited in understanding the
truth of God. We are often unable to explain matters clearly. But
if the fire of God is there, God is there! And if the fire of God
is not there, God is not there Ė whatever else a man may claim to
have and however much noise he may make in his meetings. If a man
is a wanderer who has not been able to build a fellowship, then
God is obviously not with him.
You can be a wanderer, even
while sitting in a large church like this one! You may say, "How
can that be?" "By not having fellowship with others around
You can have a thousand people sitting in a movie
theatre. But one person doesnít know anything about the person
sitting next to him. Thereís no fellowship in a movie-theatre. In
the same way, 1,000 people may sit together in a church-building
and they could all be lonely people. A husband and wife can live
under the same roof and still be lonely, because they donít have
fellowship with each other. There are parents and children, living
under the same roof, who are "wanderers", without any fellowship
with each other. They are lonely, even though they live together
day after day. There are husbands and wives who glory in the fact
that they havenít divorced each other - like others in the world.
But they are still lonely. They have no fellowship with each
other. They are vagrants and wanderers.
You can sit in the
best church in the world and be a vagrant and a wanderer. And God
doesnít bear witness to your life either, because you have
something in your heart against your brother Ė jealousy. You
cannot bear to see God bearing witness to your brother.
see (here in Genesis 4) that the first sin, described in detail
outside the Garden of Eden was jealousy. That is what led Cain to
And it is significant to note that the apostle
John wrote about this when writing to the brothers and sisters in
the churches in his time (1 John 3:12). When Jude wrote his
letter, he also decided to write about "the way of Cain" (Jude
11). So the apostles must have considered this matter important.
So there we see that Cain is mentioned at the beginning of
the Bible and at the end of the Bible. So there must be something
that the Holy Spirit wants us to learn from his story.
is "the way of Cain"?
It is the way of jealousy, and it
leads to loneliness and wandering. It destroys fellowship. The way
of Cain is a way in which you cannot bear to see God blessing
someone else Ė especially if he is your peer or younger than you.
It is a way where you cannot humble yourself and say, "Lord, I
acknowledge that You have borne witness to this brother. I have a
wrong attitude towards him. Please forgive me, Lord. Help me to
love him and respect him."
I want to ask you quite
honestly, my brothers and sisters: Do you think it is possible
that God has a different opinion about a brother whom you donít
like too much? Is it possible, sisters, that God has a different
opinion about that sister whom you canít get along with? God seems
to get along with her quite well, but you canít. Who then is
likely to be at fault Ė you or God??
Thereís so much of
jealousy in Christian work today. It seems to get in so easily. If
there is jealousy in your heart, it certainly proves one thing:
That you havenít seen the body of Jesus Christ.
my physical body. There is no jealousy among its members. My left
hand, for example, is never jealous that all the checks are signed
by my right hand. It is not jealous that it doesnít get a single
chance to sign a check! It doesnít say, "Itís always him! Always
him! Heís always up there doing the important things and getting
the honor!" No. Suppose the right hand gets hurt one day. Does the
left hand then rejoice and say, "Ah! Now at last Iíll have a
chance to sign the checks"? If the left hand did sign a check, the
bank wouldnít accept it, because it wouldnít recognize the
signature!! There is no jealousy in the body! The left hand
rejoices when the right hand signs the check and even when the
right hand collects the money from the bank. What the left hand
says is, "Thatís my money too, for we are all part of one body."
If a soul is saved through another brotherís ministry,
praise the Lord, for we are all part of the same Body - the Body
of Jesus Christ! Have you seen that?
When we see Godís
blessing upon another brotherís ministry somewhere, and churches
being established through his labors, let us rejoice and say,
"Praise the Lord! Thatís for my Lordís kingdom! Iím excited! I had
nothing to do with it, but praise God that one part of my body
went there and established the church." Can you rejoice like that?
If youíre humble, you will be able to. Ask yourself honestly
whether you can rejoice when God doesnít use you to do a task, but
uses somebody else.
Even the toes in our feet are happy if
the body is honored. Those little toes could easily complain and
say, "I never get a chance to be seen publicly. Iím always covered
up in socks and shoes. Nobody ever sees me. I wish I could move a
little higher up in the body, get a little promotion, and become
like the hands or the tongue some day!" Those toes never think
like that! On the contrary, they say, "If God keeps me covered up
with socks and shoes for the rest of my life, thatís quite all
right with me. Iím perfectly happy. I can rejoice with the other
members of my body in their ministry!"
So jealousy comes
in only where people havenít seen that it was God Who placed them
in a particular place in Christís Body. 1 Corinthians 12:18 says,
"God has placed the members, each one of them in the body, just as
He desired." That is what many Christians have not
God chose the right place for you in Christís Body!
And God chose the right place for me. So if you have a complaint
about that, your complaints are actually against God.
Donít ever say, "That brother does not give me a chance to
preach." Thatís a lot of nonsense! How can any brother hinder you
from fulfilling the ministry God has appointed for you in Christís
Body? If Almighty God Himself has decided to give you a particular
task in the Body, who can ever hinder you? No-one.
younger days, when I was just 23, I was in an assembly where it
was plain to me (and to others) that the elders were jealous of my
ministry. They wouldnít let me preach in the church-meetings. So I
preached on the streets. Nobody could stop me there! And thatís
where I learned to preach - on the streets. I stood in almost
every street corner of the town where I lived, and preached the
gospel. None of the elders were interested in preaching on the
streets. And when I came to the church-meetings, the Lord would
tell me to humble myself, submit to the elders, love them, keep a
good relationship with them and keep my mouth shut!! And thatís
what I did. Even today, after nearly forty years, when I see those
men, I have a good relationship with them. God broke me and
crushed me through such experiences.
Those elders made me
sit in the back of the assembly because they were jealous. But it
was obviously not Godís time for me to have a ministry then. So
they just fulfilled Godís will for y life by what they did! And I
I have often thought of Jesus sitting in the
synagogue in Nazareth, listening to all the boring sermons that
the Pharisees preached there, year after year. He knew the
Scriptures and He knew His Father when He was 12! Yet He sat in
the synagogue, listening to the trash dished out Saturday after
Saturday!! He kept quiet when He was 23 years old. He kept quiet
when he was 29 years old Ė perfectly quiet. Can you imagine all
the boring sermons Jesus heard there? He went to the synagogue
regularly - 52 Saturdays every year - from childhood to the age of
30. So He must have listened to more than 1000 boring sermons in
His life! Yet He sat through them all, waiting - for He knew that
His hour had not yet come. The Fatherís time for Him to preach had
not yet come.
But today I see young people who are
impatient. They think theyíre ready to preach, but they are not!
They havenít been broken! Theyíve never submitted to authority.
They are jealous! And God can never bear witness to them.
God allowed this to happen to me not just once, but again
and again - first in one assembly, then in another and years
later, in yet another. And He always told me to keep my mouth shut
and to wait for His time. So I kept my mouth shut. He always told
me to keep a good relationship with the elders in those churches
and to submit to them. And I did that. Thus God crushed my
self-life again and again - and set me free!
commit spiritual authority to a man who has not been broken. That
would be dangerous. It would be like having open electric wires
running through our house, without any insulation. That would kill
us. Electricity is a very useful thing, but every wire must be
insulated. Itís not enough to have power; we must have insulation
Itís not enough to have the power of the Holy Spirit,
we need brokenness too. Then we wonít kill anyone through our
ministry. Brokenness is the insulation. And that can come only as
we allow God to crush us and humble us through different
God has a plan for you, my brother, my sister!
Not a single human being in the world can frustrate that plan - no
matter how hard they try to push you down. People may have tried
to keep Jesus down for many years. But one day, when His Father
told Him to GO, He went. And then the Father said, "I am well
pleased with my Son!" The Father was well pleased with Jesusí
humility, seeing Him sit quietly for 30 years in the synagogue!
There is a time and a season for everything in Godís plans and
purposes. And no-one can hinder Godís plan.
And in the next
3Ĺ years, Jesus had such an anointed ministry, such as the world
has never seen. In those 3Ĺ years, He did what others canít do in
3000 years. Let us learn humility from Jesus. He would not move
until His Father told him to. He submitted to imperfect Joseph and
Mary at home. He submitted to listening to boring sermons in the
synagogue. We see His humility in these actions.
in Isaiah 53:10, "It pleased the Lord to crush Him." Has it
pleased the Lord to crush you? Have you allowed the Lord to crush
you? Thatís how we can have authority. God cannot use a man or a
woman who has not been broken.
Sisters, God may use a
difficult husband to crush you. But perhaps, you rebel and fight
back. You may not have joined the "Womenís Liberation" movement.
But if people saw you at home, theyíd think you have! You donít
wear a badge with "Womenís Lib" on you. But perhaps it can be seen
in your attitude! What is the result of that attitude? You havenít
changed your husband. And you yourself are a wanderer, without any
fellowship and without any spiritual authority. You could have
probably become a woman of God long ago, if you had learned
submission to authority.
I see many young people today Ė
even in the church - who think they know more than their parents,
and who will not submit to the authority of their parents. But
what is their spiritual condition? They are vagrants and
Young people, donít waste your life. Learn to
submit! Donít expose the nakedness of your parents, like Ham did.
That will bring a curse upon you and your children. Maybe your
parentís naked, maybe theyíre drunk! Let God deal with them. You
cover them. Love covers a multitude of sins. Be like Shem and
Japheth who walked backwards and covered the nakedness of their
parents. That is submission to authority.
unfortunately, we have a "smart" young generation today, who
imagine that they know so much. They think they know more than
their parents, because theyíre smart and educated, whereas their
parents are not. But whatís the use of all that smartness and
knowledge, if God isnít bearing witness to you? Where is the fire?
You may have plenty of knowledge, but whereís the fire?
is easy to imitate something. For example, the pattern of the
tabernacle is given us in great detail in the book of Exodus. It
is easy for anyone to make one exactly like that today. You can
follow the instructions given there, and make one of the same
sizes with the correct material. But one thing will still be
missing from it - the fire that rested on the tabernacle. You
canít reproduce that. The glory of God can never be reproduced by
anything you ever do.
That glory is the mark of Godís
presence. Itís not the pattern of the tabernacle that is most
important. When Israel backslid, the pattern remained but the
glory departed. Donít ever imagine that the pattern of a church is
the main thing. Iíve never believed that. Iíve seen a lot of
churches that donít follow exactly what I understand to be the New
Testament pattern for the local church. But if I see the fire of
God there, I say thatís the main thing. The other things are
I donít go looking for ramís skins dyed red. I
look for the fire. What are you looking for? Are you checking
whether the ramís skin are dyed with the right color of red or
perhaps whether the right number of boards are present in the
tabernacle - or are you looking for the fire? I donít look for the
pattern when I go to a church. I only want to see if the fire is
there? Not the fire of human emotion but the genuine fire of God.
If that is there, I know God is there.
Is the fire of God
present in your church? Is the fire of God in your ministry? Does
God bear witness to you? Thatís the most important thing. Thatís
what made Abelís sacrifice stand apart from Cainís.
there jealousy in your heart because God is blessing somebody
else? Perhaps God is blessing someoneís ministry and you are
saying, "How can God bear witness to that person when heís got
this particular doctrine wrong." Perhaps God doesnít consider that
doctrine as important as you do. He values humility and sincerity
Iíve had to learn many lessons in my life. A lot
of things that I once thought were important, I now realize God
doesnít consider so important. And a lot of other things, that I
considered unimportant, I saw that God considers as important.
God considers humility to be very important. That is
fundamental. He also considers freedom from the love of money as
very important. These are some of the doctrines that God considers
as important Ė humility and freedom from the love of
But have you ever seen any denominationís doctrinal
statement having, "Freedom from the love of money" as one of its
doctrines? Or "freedom from jealousy"? Those are the things that
God looks for first, before He can send His fire upon us! We can
glory in our being correct in Biblical facts and ignore these
important issues related to our character.
Let me show you
another example of jealousy in the Old Testament. Turn with me to
Numbers, chapter 16. I want you to notice something here in verse
1. Please read very carefully and notice that four people are
mentioned here - Korah, Dathan, Abiram and On. These were the four
people who rose up against Moses. They were jealous of Moses. They
just couldnít bear seeing God bearing witness to Moses time after
time after time. They couldnít bear it. And so they began walking
"the way of Cain". Thatís why Jude combines the rebellion of Korah
with the way of Cain in his letter (Jude 11).
men couldnít bear to see that Moses always had an anointed word
from God, each time He spoke! Finally their jealousy overflowed
from their hearts through their mouths and they told Moses,
"Youíve gone too far. Everyone is holy. We believe in the
priesthood of all believers! The Lord is in the midst of all of
us! Why do you exalt yourself?"
In actual fact, Moses had
never exalted himself. God had called him out of the wilderness
when he was keeping Jethroís sheep. And even then Moses had asked
the Lord to send somebody else, saying he felt himself unfit for
the task. He didnít exalt himself. It was God Who had seen Mosesí
faithfulness and exalted him!
So what does Moses do now?
Number 16:4 says he fell on his face. Thatís the best thing to do
when people accuse us. Donít defend yourself. Let God do your
defending. Fall on your face. If people question your authority,
fall on your face. If God doesnít defend you, itís no use you
trying to defend yourself. God can deal with all the Korahs, the
Dathans and the Abirams better than you can.
ago, God said to me, "When people accuse you or question your
ministry, fall on your face." Thatís what Iíve done for more than
30 years now. I know that God can do a better job than I can of
defending myself Ė and He has.
Moses said to them,
"Tomorrow, the Lord will show who is holy." So they came along the
next day. Who were the four men who had risen against Moses?
Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and On.
But the next morning,
notice what the Lord says to the congregation, "Get back from
around the dwellings of Korah, Dathan and Abiram." (Verse
Notice that only three of the original four are now
standing against Moses. What happened to the fourth one - On? He
obviously got some sense the previous night, and pulled out. He
must have gone to Korah and said, "Brother, Iím not joining you in
this. Count me out." Thus On saved his life and saved his family
as well - because he pulled away from the spirit of rebellion that
he sensed in the other three leaders.
On, the son of
Peleth, was a sensible man!
What about you? Are you
sensible? Do you join with others who have a spirit of rebellion?
Are you jealous of someone whom God has anointed? I say to you,
"Pull Back! Pull back before it is too late. Save yourself and
your children." Learn a lesson from On, the son of Peleth.
The other Israelites also repented of joining Korah,
Dathan and Abiram in their rebellious spirit and pulled back from
their tents. And the earth opened its mouth, and swallowed up
these three rebels and their households (verse 32).
suffered - and their families suffered. How sad it is when a
fatherís rebellious attitude affects his children too! When a
father rebels, his children suffer!
We read of heaven
opening twice and God taking two people alive into Heaven - Enoch
and Elijah. But this is the only place in the Bible where we read
that Hell opened up and that people went alive into Hell. Verse 33
says, "They went alive into hell."
Letís never forget that
the only time when God sent people alive into hell was when He saw
them being jealous of a ministry that He had endorsed! That should
When the fire fell on Abelís sacrifice, Cain was
jealous. So God cursed him. When Godís anointing was on Moses,
those three rebels were jealous. So God commanded the earth to
swallow them alive into hell.
But 3,500 years later,
today, many Christians still havenít learned to recognize those
whom God endorses.
Godís endorsement of a man is not seen
in the large number of people he can gather. No. Iíve never been
impressed by numbers. False cults have large numbers. And false
religions have large numbers too. Statistics can be deceptive.
Jesus had only eleven disciples. The anointing of God is not seen
in large numbers. When I talk of Godís endorsement and the fire of
heaven, Iím talking about the quality of our work.
know whether the anointing of God is on my life not by the number
of people who join my church, but by the quality of the people who
join it. I have often felt that if, by the end of my life, I could
produce 11 people in India, of the quality of those first
apostles, I would say like Simeon, "Lord, Thy servant can now
depart in peace". But thatís not easy.
What encourages me
most in the years of our ministry in India is not the number of
churches that we have planted or the thousands of believers in
them, but rather the quality of some of our elders whom God has
raised up to lead the churches. I consider them to be some of the
godliest people in the land of India. Thatís what encourages me
the most Ė the quality of those men and women - sacrificial and
devoted to the Lord.
Perhaps you are a sister who has to
spend most of your time at home. But God can make even you a
blessing to many. He can use you to lead other sisters to a godly,
Christ-like life. But youíll never make anyone godly, if you are
going to gossip and backbite and slay others with your tongue.
So the earth opened up and swallowed those rebels. But now
I want you to notice something interesting in Numbers chapter 26,
verses 10 and 11. In verse 10, we read about "Dathan and Abiram
who contended against Moses, in the company of Korah, and the
earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up along with Korah".
But then it goes on to say in verse 11 that "The sons of Korah,
however, did not die."
That is amazing! How did that
happen? The sons of Korah also were standing there with their
father outside their tent that morning. But when Moses gave them
all a final warning, they obviously said, "Dad, weíre pulling out
of this", and ran away from their father and mother and stood with
Moses. They escaped Godís judgment at the last minute! And so the
sons of Korah did not die. Praise the Lord!
Now I want you
to look at Psalm 46. It says at the top of this psalm that this is
"A psalm of the sons of Korah". The sons of Korah write here about
their deliverance. What do they write?
Letís read from
verse 1: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in
trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should
change, though the earth should open up and the mountains slip
Then see verse 8, "Come behold the works of the
Lord. What desolations he has wrought in the earth."
then verse 10, "Be still, (let go, cease striving, relax) and know
that I am God."
There are some other wonderful psalms that
the sons of Korah wrote - Psalm 42, Psalm 44, Psalm 45 (the bridal
psalm of Jesus and His bride), Psalm 47, Psalm 48 and Psalm 49.
Read these sometime. Youíll find more meaning in them when you
understand the background of these men who wrote them.
these psalms were written by later descendants of the original
sons of Korah, then we can understand how they would have realized
that they would never have been born, if their fathers had not
pulled out of the rebellion against Moses.
I want you to
look at another example of jealousy in the Old Testament, in 2
Samuel 15. Here we read of Absalom, the son of David. David had
been very good to Absalom. He had forgiven him for murdering his
brother Amnon and recalled him from exile. I donít want to go into
all that now. We read here in the last part of verse 33 of Second
Samuel 14 that "The king kissed Absalom." David obviously loved
him very much.
But in the next chapter, we read of how
Absalom took advantage of Davidís goodness. We read in verse 2
that "Absalom used to rise up early in the morning and stand
beside the way of the gate, and it happened that whenever a man
who had a suit to come to the king for judgment, Absalom would
call that man, put his arms around him and say, "What city are you
from? And he would say, `Your servant is from one of the tribes of
Israelí, and Absalom would say, `See, your claims are good and
What Absalom continued to say to such people was
(in verses 4 to 6), "I really appreciate your problem. I think you
really need justice. But unfortunately, there is no one to listen
to you. King David hasnít appointed anyone to take care of your
needs." And then Absalom would go on to say, "You know, I really
wish somebody would appoint me as the judge. I tell you I would
sort out these problems in no time at all. If anyone had a
problem, I would ensure that he gets justice."
whenever anyone tried to prostrate himself before Absalom, he
would lift him up and tell him, "Donít do that! I am only your
brother! Donít humble yourself before me!" And then Absalom would
kiss him. Thus (we read in verse 6) that Absalom stole the hearts
of the men of Israel, from the man whom God had
That story has been repeated many times in these
3,000 years since then. Evil men have stolen the hearts of people
away from many Godís anointed man. Absalom couldnít bear to see
Godís blessing upon his father. Imagine a son being jealous of his
own father! But I have seen this happen in my lifetime too. I have
seen godly men, as spiritual fathers, nurturing and bringing up
young men and leading them into a ministry. But after those young
men, who were once nobodies, grew up and received a ministry, I
have seen them despise and ignore their spiritual fathers and
stealing the hearts of people away from their spiritual fathers.
Do you think God doesnít see all this? He does.
little while, Absalom had such a following that his father David
had to flee! The man after Godís own heart had to flee for his
life! And the usurper Absalom sat on the throne. But whatís the
use of sitting on the throne if God doesnít back you up? It was
just a matter of time, before God destroyed him. Iíve seen that
too happen, time and again.
The apostle Paul told the
elders in Ephesus, in Acts chapter 20 and verses 29 and 30: "I
know whatís going to happen here after I leave. From among
yourselves, men will arise, who will (like Absalom) draw away
disciples after themselves - men who speak perverse things."
What were those perverse things Paul referred to? Those
perverse things were not wrong doctrines. They were the words by
which some of those elders would draw people to themselves. They
would have a private agenda in the church, their own program - to
promote themselves. They would quickly forget the example of Paul
from whom they received everything they knew of the Christian
faith. How soon Absalom forgot his fatherís goodness to him.
Iíve seen many such people Ė who easily forget the
goodness they have received from godly, older brothers. They even
forget how they received their ministry. Now they are jealous of
their spiritual fathers and seek to exalt themselves in the eyes
of their congregations. And God sees all of this.
the final end of Absalom? His head got caught in the branches of
an oak tree while he was riding on a mule, and he was stabbed to
death while he was hanging there. How terrible.
Scriptures, we find many stories like that of people who were
jealous of men whom God had anointed.
Let us look at
Matthew, chapter 27 and verse 18. Pilate was a heathen man who
didnít know anything about the Bible or about the true God. But
when Jesus stood before him, he could see clearly that Jesus was
an innocent man and that "it was because of jealousy that the
Pharisees had delivered Jesus up."
The Pharisees were
jealous because the people appreciated Jesus more than them.
Annaias and Caiaphas were more than 60 years old, but Jesus was
only 33. And the people were admiring and following this young
man! The fire of God was on someone half their age. They couldnít
bear to see that and they were jealous! And so they decided to get
rid of Jesus, and planned to get Him killed! That plan didnít
originate with atheists, but with the most religious people of
that time Ė the Pharisees. They too walked the way of Cain!
But the atheist Pilate could see through the whole thing!
Even atheists are often able to see through the jealousy that
Christians have of each other today?
I want to ask you one
more question, brothers and sisters: Are you jealous because God
has blessed somebody materially?
I think Jobís three
preacher friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, were jealous of
Job, because, they couldnít stand the fact that a man could be
both spiritual and wealthy! If Job had been poor and spiritual,
that would have been all right with them. Or if he had been rich,
but not spiritual, that too would have been all right with them.
But what they couldnít bear was the fact that he was spiritual and
also prospering materially at the same time! And they burned with
jealousy. They had no doubt, visited Job now and then in the past.
But their jealousy was never revealed until calamity hit Jobís
When they heard that Jobís children had died and
that his business had suffered a grievous loss, they must have
felt a secret joy in their hearts at the news. Even though they
said, "Letís go and comfort him", they didnít really come to
comfort him. They came to preach to him. Initially, they pretended
to share his sorrow and threw mud on their heads and wept as if to
show their grief. But then they started preaching to him and kept
telling him that there must have been sin in his life for God to
judge him in this way.
But what did God think of all this?
In Job 42:7, we read that God told them, "My wrath is kindled
against the three of you. And Iíll destroy you unless Job prays
for you." And Job, good man that he was, must have prayed for them
saying: "Forgive them Lord, for they didnít know what they were
saying." Those three preachers too were walking the way of
They never said one wrong thing about God. But
jealousy burned in their hearts and because of that, despite all
their doctrinal correctness, God was ready to destroy them.
So we see how this green thread of jealousy runs all the
way through the Bible, in the lives of many religious people. It
started with Cain. Jobís 3 friends had it. It was found in Korah,
in King Saul, in Absalom, in the Pharisees (in Jesusí time) and in
the Jews (in the time of Paul). Unfortunately it continues to run
in the lives of many believers today.
When God blesses
another brother materially can you rejoice in it? Or does his
wealth bother you? If it bothers you, it may be a good thing to
ask yourself why? It must be because money means so much to you!
You consider money to be a big thing! Thatís why! Otherwise, youíd
be happy that your brother is prospering! Youíd be happy even if
he has a house ten times as big as yours! Youíd be happy that heís
got a good car (or even if he has five cars), when youíve got only
one broken-down, old one. You will be perfectly happy, when you
see that God is the One Who determines what each personís
financial boundaries should be.
I thank God that I
discovered that it was God Who drew my financial circle around me.
And it was He Ė and not any man or circumstance Ė Who determined
what the size of that circle should be. For the last 37 years, I
have mostly driven a two-wheeled scooter in India - because the
price of gas was too much for me to afford to drive a car Ė and
Iíve been supremely happy! Around me I have seen other preachers
driving grand cars - and I have rejoiced. Iíve not been jealous of
them at all. Iím happy - because God determined the size of my
When you get into glory, you will
discover that money has no value at all. "Godliness with
contentment" you will discover, was the greatest thing of all -
not godliness with prosperity, but godliness with contentment.
Have you got that contentment? Or are you jealous of
someone who has more than you?
Are you happy when someone
prospers both spiritually and materially?
Let me ask you
my brothers and sisters: Can you truly rejoice when another
brotherís children are spiritual, even if your own children are
carnal? Or do you have some jealousy there and secretly wish that
his children will fall in some way?
Perhaps Iím speaking
of what dwells in your heart today. If so, then God exposes you in
love, like he exposed Cain, and says, "If you intend well, your
face will be lifted up! You will also be accepted! My fire will
come upon your life too!"
But perhaps you still donít
intend well. Maybe you still want to show that you are better than
someone else. Perhaps youíre still waiting for some calamity to
hit that other brother or his family. Like Jobís preacher friends,
you may act as though you are very happy, but you know youíre not!
Youíre jealous. Then youíre walking the way of Cain.
you jealous because somebody elseís ministry prospers, his church
prospers and you donít think it should be that way, because heís
wrong in this thing and that thing and the other thing. But God
obviously doesnít share your opinion about him. What must we do,
when we find that God doesnít agree with our opinion of someone
else! We must humble ourselves, acknowledge our error and agree
with God Let God be true, and every man a liar.
are you jealous of some other sister for whom everything seems to
be going so smoothly? And for you, it has been just pressure upon
pressure upon pressure. Do you find yourself hoping that some
misfortune will hit that sister?
"In this the children of
God and the children of the devil become obvious."
called to lay down our lives for our brothers. But O how far most
Christians have drifted from the Spirit of Christ and still
imagine that God is with them, just because their doctrines are
right, or they speak in tongues, or their praise and worship is so
No, my friends, these are not the marks of
Jesus never said, "All men will know you are my
disciples, when your doctrines are right." He never said, "All men
will know you are my disciples, when you break bread every week or
when you speak in tongues or when your praise and worship is
He said, "All men will know you are my
disciples, WHEN YOU LOVE ONE ANOTHER! Thatís all!
to invite you today to repent. If God has shown you something in
your heart of the spirit of Cain or of the spirit of Korah or of
the spirit of AbsalomÖ. REPENT!
If you have the spirit of
Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar or of the
There is forgiveness with God, that He
may be feared. God is Almighty. We are nobodies. Let us humble
ourselves under His mighty hand.
Letís bow before God in
"Heavenly Father. Help us. We are a needy people.
Our flesh is so corrupt and evil. We donít even realize how easily
it leads us to the sin of jealousy that we cannot rejoice over Thy
blessing on anotherís life. Please help us that we shall see our
need and repent. We know that if we intend well, our face, too,
can be lifted up, and Thy fire can fall upon our lives too. Save
us from spending our days as vagrants and wanderers on this earth.
Help us to build fellowship with one another. Lord help us to set
things right quickly, lest it be forever too late. Have mercy upon
us. We ask in Jesusí name. Amen."