The seal of God is the character of the Holy Spirit working in the very human life of the Believer. The seal of God will produce Likeness to Jesus Christ. He perfectly displayed the Life of God in man by perfectly obeying the will of the Father. Don't rely on what someone else has told you about Jesus. Look in the Bible for yourself. Read the Gospels over and over again, until you get rid of all the religious ideas you have believed. Then you will begin to see the real Jesus. We don't know Jesus as He is, because we have been given a substitute and told that it was the real thing.
Whatever or whoever controls our lives is our idol. It may be an idea or a philosophy. It may be a person, or an image of the kind of person we want to be. This image controls our behavior and molds us one way or another. The extreme fanatics, those with total dedication to a leader, religion, rock music, rebellion against the established order, or the perpetuation of the established order, have a distinct life-style. They dress a certain way. They adopt certain words and expressions that those outside the group cannot understand. They cling to one another and shun relationships with "outsiders" because they cannot play the same game with them. They don't know the rules of their particular group. There are some in every group who are driven to be leaders, and who must have control of other peoples lives. These leaders must display more loyalty to, and knowledge about their idol than others. They must outgive, outdo, and outstrip the common ones in extreme behavior which proves how faithful they are to the ideals of the group. The greater the sacrifice, the more devoted they appear to be. It is as true of all religious groups as it is of rock music freaks. They become 1ike what is most important to them. The mark, or seal, of what they admire most (worship) begins to be indelibly fixed in their character. God knows that we are like that soft wax. We wi1l take the imprint of what we desire and crave the most. That is why God forbade His people to worship idols of silver, gold, wood or stone. He knew that their character would be stamped with whatever they called "God."
There are some who come into the group just to have fellowship with the people in the group. They only conform outwardly to the minimum they can. We call them hypocrites because they pretend to be one thing with the group, and can still live a different life-style with others. These are not in as much danger spiritually as the real fanatic. These fanatics are determined to give their "all" to the cause, and will go to extremes to prove their loyalty and devotion. It is these that are the real victims of the false shepherds. Look at what happened in Guyana. One man ordered the deaths of nine hundred people. You think it couldn't happen to you, but many have been ordered into spiritual suicide because they had to obey man, and conform to the standards of some group.
Every religion has its own standards and rules which are different from those of every other group. Some speak in tongues, some do not. Some preach salvation through acceptance of theology and baptism. Some require rigid diets, meditation and separation from all those who do not believe as they do. All require that you continue with them, or you are considered "back-slidden" or "in error." They hold the keys to Eternity's Door. If you lose favor with them, you lose your chance to please God and go to Heaven.
God told me that no man can give or withold His blessings to another. Those who tell you that if you give to their ministry, or join their crowd, that God will bless you...are false shepherds. God will bless you if you obey and fo1low His will for your life. Some of those blessings look like curses until the Lord has accomplished His purpose in you. The Lord gives...the Lord takes away...Blessed be the Name of the Lord! It is His prerogative. When any man or woman tells you that they have the power to give God's blessing to you, or to take them away... Beware! They are serving a different god, and you must not have anything to do with spiritual voo-doo and fortune telling. God will be God, and His glory will He not give to another (Isa. 42: 8). Do you remember what caused the nation of Israel to run before the enemy at Ai? (Joshua 7.) It was one man's coveting and taking what God had set aside for Himself. The whole nation suffered because of one man's sin. When we try to do or be what God has reserved for Himself alone, we cause our brothers to stumble, and to look to us instead of directly to Jesus.
Hebrews, Chapter 10, describes the difference between the sacrifices under the old covenant, the Law, and the "new and living way" opened up for us by Jesus offering Himself to God, without spot or wrinkle. Because He became our Great High Priest, we do not need, indeed cannot have, any other mediator between us and the Father.
Let us right now, renounce everyone and everything that we have put between us and the True and Living God, the Creator of all things...our God and King forever. This will include all sacrifices, all good works that we have done trying to earn our salvation. It will also include all the religious services we have attended to please God and insure our place in Heaven, all the money we have given (supposedly to God) to pay our way in, any preacher, teacher, church, group, or spiritual leader that we look to instead of Jesus. Let us turn away from these things, and return to our First Love. Let us recover what we had when we first, came to the Lord - that wonderful, child-like dependence and joy of fellowship with Jesus. Let us once more experience the awareness of His presence and direction each day, in simple terms that we could understand and obey, without anyone else interpreting God to us.
Break off all other yokes, and take the yoke of Jesus. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light (Matt. 11: 28-30). You will have to choose His will for your life, and realize that it is best. You will have to obey Him at all costs. But what He requires, He furnishes. If He tells you to stand up against lies and oppression, He will give you the courage to act and the words to say. You will have to choose to obey, each step of the way. God will not force you or use you like a mindless robot. All domination and manipulation of one person by another is Satanic and demonic. You must not do this to anyone else, even your own children. God will establish your authority where it is proper, as you get right with Him, and do right by others. You cannot pick and choose the ones to whom you want to be nice and tell the truth. God requires truth and right treatment to ALL. When you have allowed God to deal with what is not right in you, then He will use you as an instrument to deal with what is not right in others in their relationship to you. God's judgment begins at the altar. Those closest to Him must go through the fire first. His judgment is His mercy, since what He judges and deals with, you need to be rid of. The greatest thing we can do at this time is to ask for a New Birth of Jesus in us. He came to do the will of the Father, and if we have the life of Christ in us, we will have the desire and ability to become true, obedient sons of God.
Which do you choose? Will you choose the seal of God (the character of Jesus formed in you by the Holy Spirit, as you obey God's word to you), or the mark of the Anti-Christ (the surrender of your will to anyone, to anything: persons, creeds, doctrines, philosophies, organizations, your own idea of good and evil, etc., other than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself). You will have to choose. Will it be reality or religion? Truth or lies? Freedom in Christ, or bondage to man and doctrines? Do not delay your choice. The Anti-Christ is already sitting in the temple - declaring himself to be God. Jesus said, "Not one stone shall be left upon another" Matt. 24:2. The temple of religious ritual and all the sacrifices we think we have made for God must be counted as dung - if we would see Jesus - and walk in His light - the Truth. There are hidden works of darkness in every religious exercise. We hide behind our own good works (service to the temple) rather than have our darkness brought out in the open, where we can see it, confess it, be cleansed and turn from it. We have misunderstood what the New Birth is. What many have experienced is merely conception. You are not born until you come out of the womb and the cord is cut. You are not born-again until you can come out of your dependence on the church and religious exercises, and learn to walk and choose and grow. You cannot see God as long as you have to be fed by someone else. It is a stage of babyhood, but it is not a full grown son. We must be weaned from the mothers breast, so that we can have a chance to know the Father.
You were living in the house with your father until you were fully grown and responsible for your own behavior. Many hard things you hated as a child, you understood when you became a parent. You see your father in a different light when you feel the responsibility for the safety, provision, training and discipline of your own children. In the same way, we misunderstand the workings of God in our own lives when we are "babes." We want blessings and attention. We would even steal them from our brothers and sisters in the Lord if we could. We often resent it when they are blessed and we are not. We despise the chastening and correction which is so necessary if we are ever to be counted worthy to stand before the Lord in His Kingdom as full grown sons.
We must learn what is of God, and what is a counterfeit of the enemy. There is a false repentance - lots of apologies and promises, but no change in behavior. There is a false confession - we think that by admitting that we did wrong, God wipes it out. There is a false cleansing - the blood of Jesus wipes out my sins, even though I go on sinning. There is a false surrender - this is not to God, but to someone or something that is supposed to be God's representative. Everywhere, we encounter the false love - this is manifested by covering up the truth of how I really feel about what is going on, and pretending to approve and accept what I actually hate. Only the grossest behavior will arouse us out of our lethargy. We close our eyes to the evil in them because we don't want it judged in ourselves. This pretense of brotherly love is just like Judas. We draw nigh with our lips, but our hearts are far from one another. True love demands the truth in our relationships, so that we can be cleansed and transformed by the power of God.
Try taking seriously the commandment of Jesus that you love one another as He loved us. This love is cleansing and transforming, not an "I'm O.K., your O.K." acceptance of the status-quo. God cannot change what we do not ask Him to change. We don't ask because we don't see. We don't see because we refuse to hear and act on the truth when it is pointed out. We defend our righteousness, confirming the fact that we have not submitted ourselves to God's righteousness (Rom. 10:3). We refuse to rebuke and admonish one another in the name of Christian love. Our idea of love is corrupt and must be changed by obedience to the whole word of God. God hates sin and injustice. He hates lying, stealing, oppressing others, and exalting ourselves above others. This kind of activity characterizes every church or group I have had opportunity to worship in. The strong oppresses the weak, and rob and use them. Envy and strife is the normal condition, yet they call themselves the Body of Christ. God forgive us, and help us to come out of lies, so that we might be able to walk in the truth.