I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. -- III John 1: 4

What is truth?

Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. Ė John 17: 17

Godís Word is truth so we must study the Word of God to know the truth. And, in turn, this gives God great joy. Isnít that what we all really want to do?

This teaching is as much for myself as it is for you. I had many real life experiences, where, even though I studied much of Godís Word, at times, I argued with God. Later we will cover a subject that may shock you pertaining to the Apostle Paul. So often when we think that we missed out on a great opportunity or were greatly hindered, or else our life did not turn out as planned, did you ever stop and think?! Maybe, just maybe, God has protected us from a miserable existence or from some type of great danger? This subject matter also greatly entails and involves the great law of believing Ė positive or negative. Our vote determines the election.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Ė Matthew 6: 33

When I studied this verse, I learned that if you keep God first and foremost in your life, then everything else in your life will fall into its proper place. Then why are we so unhappy so much of the time even as strong Christians? A great deal of the reason lies in the old man. If you got involved and learned Godís Word when you were seven years old and another person learned Godís Word when he or she was thirty-seven years old, who is going to have the more difficult time renewing his or her mind? The answer is obvious. One person has seven years of old man ways and habits to overcome. The other believer has thirty-seven years of old man ways and habits to overcome. Myself, Iíve had twenty-four years of old man ways and habits to overcome by renewing my mind to Godís Word. And the degree of Ďbadnessí of the old man plays a factor. I was as bad as you can get. My spouse had a mild old man Ė very few, if any, bad habits, good upbringing etc. I spent about ten years of my life in boarding homes just to get away from my broken and somewhat very dysfunctional family Ė if you can call it that. I chose to live in a one-room hotel than in a brand new beautiful home. Iíve been to hell and back so I know what Iím talking about. Iím sure some of you can identify with what Iím saying.

Before using the best example I know of in the Bible regarding ĎDonít Argue With Godí, let Godís Word set the stage even more so by taking a good look at the following Scriptures and letís compare ourselves honestly with what God is saying.

Therefore we are [were] buried with him by baptism into death [his burial]: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Ė Romans 6: 4

Figuratively, when Christ died, we died with him and when he was raised from the dead, we were raised with him. Because Christ then had newness of life, we should have newness of life. If Jesus Christ overcame everything that could captivate us mentally and physically and he did, then how can we have any doubt, worry, or fear in our lives? We shouldnít. The more we renew our mind to Godís Word, the less of an influence the old man ways have upon our thinking. Itís really that simple. Easy to say Ė harder to do. It takes a constant effort everyday to renew the mind and it is a difficult process, BUT itís a million times better than living by the worldís way where your life is controlled, manipulated, and influenced every which way you turn. On your own, take a look at Romans 12: 1 and 2. "BE NOT CONFORMED" . . . . . Do not conform to this world is a commandment of God. We all have free will to listen or to argue with God. When we listen, we have life and peace Ė when we argue, we have death. Tough choice!? . . . . . . Before moving on, let me give you a literal translation of Romans 6: 4 according to usage:

Therefore we are buried with him by his baptism unto death and raised again from the dead, that like as Christ was buried and raised again from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Ė Romans 6: 4

I have often heard it put that we as believers, walking by the spirit, in fellowship, and enjoying our newness of life Ė NOT ARGUING WITH GOD Ė should have no sweat, no stress, and no strain in our lives. Sounds like a dream, doesnít it? Well, itís true. You should be well aware of John 10: 10b and that is what the more than abundant life guarantees you. It has come to my realization lately that I myself, often argue with God. The great Apostle Paul argued with God and it altered his life drastically. Do you really think it was Godís Will for Paul to spend time in prison and under house arrest in the later years of his life? Paul made one choice that had serious implications and God tried time and time again to stop him, but Paul would not listen. Weíre going to cover that record in detail soon. And the Apostle Paul was a great man of God Ė but he was human.

God likes to set the stage for a teaching just perfectly so we will cover one more Scripture that has always fascinated and intrigued me.

For the Word of God isquick, and powerful [living, energetic, alive], and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and isa discerner [a critic, a judge] of the thoughts [emotions] and intents [ideas] of the heart [the innermost part of the being]. Ė Hebrews 4: 12

This verse says so much, it is truly fascinating Ė something to hold on to dearly. Let me have the privilege of opening up this verse to you so that you too can take joy in understanding Godís matchless Word.

God tells us in I John 5: 3 that his commandments are not oppressive.

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. Ė I John 5: 3

When God says His Word is quick and powerful, He is saying that the Word of God is alive. This is a figure of speech meaning that walking by the spirit as opposed to the five senses is exciting Ė it is life in the fast lane. People are taught to believe that studying the Bible is the opposite. Who teaches them this lie? The god of this world. His ministry is to steal, kill, and destroy. How can you expect him to do anything else? I have had more excitement in my life than maybe 10 or 20 or even 50 people have ever experienced. Why would I be doing this? I donít get paid for it. I want to share with you the secret of living Ė Godís blueprint for living.

The Word of God allows us to separate and distinguish the joints/bones from the marrow. This means we can see what is physically impossible to see with just the five senses alone. We can separate truth from error by operating the manifestation [NOT GIFT] of word of knowledge. We become spiritually sharp Ė sharper than a two-edged sword. Did you know that it is impossible from a medical standpoint to find the point of division between bone and marrow?! God is using this figure of speech to let us know that with an accurate knowledge of His Word, believed and applied, we can recognize points of division that, with the senses alone, is not possible.

Hebrews 4: 5 also states that His Word is Ďa discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.í More literally, it says the Word is a CRITIC of the EMOTIONS and IDEAS of the heart. The Word living in the renewed mind of a believer is a critic or a judge Ė it cuts out the old man thoughts. Once this takes place, the true emotions and ideas of the heart are made manifest. That is why we should not argue with God. Many believers are impatient when it comes to waiting on God.

The Word of God will show you what you should be doing with your life and also what will be most enjoyable to you. However, the old man will fight you. The following Scripture is dynamic and will clearly explain to you what takes place.

For the flesh [the five senses] lusteth against against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these [desires] are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. Ė Galatians 5: 17

Even after we learn to walk by the spirit, we still may have a tendency not to listen to God because our old man ways, the five senses, still interfere. We will always have an old man and he must be kept under control. If we continue to argue with God, we will eventually be defeated in many areas of our lives.

Letís now turn to a record in the Book of Acts concerning the Apostle Paul. When it comes to revelation, God will always tell you first. When we donít listen, He will tell another believer to tell us what God wants us to know. We ALWAYS have free will to obey God or not to obey God.

Now Iím going to share something with you that you probably were never aware of before. Yes, believe me, the Apostle Paul was a great man of God. God gave Paul more revelation than any believer at that time. God told Paul about the great mystery of ĎCHRIST IN YOUí. But you do know that Paul was a man and like all men, he was not perfect and he made mistakes. Being more specific:

It was NEVER Godís Will for the Apostle Paul to go to Jerusalem.

Letís examine this record closely beginning in Acts Chapter 20 and Chapter 21. There were actually SIX (6) different warnings given to Paul NOT to go to Jerusalem! Remember I said that God will always tell you first. God may do this in a number of ways, and one of them is to be bound in the spirit. Letís go over this phrase so that we completely understand it.

Were you ever about to do something and you felt that something was actually holding you back? Something was telling you "DONíT DO THAT!" We have all experienced this type of situation at some time in our lives, if not often, have we not? When this happens to a believer, it is referred to in Godís Word as Ďbound in the spirit.í This is not a difficult concept to understand.

And now, behold, I [Paul is speaking] go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there. Ė Acts 20: 22

God never told Paul to go to Jerusalem but maybe Paulís own mind told him. We need to be very careful of this type of mistake and we will make mistakes. I, myself, battle with this often. I wonít get into the Old Testament right now, but one of the keys to knowing you received proper revelation is that Godís voice is "a still small voice". Youíre personal adversary will do whatever he can to give you false revelation and you need to learn what is coming from where. Revelation also cannot be at cross-purposes with the Word of God, but it can go beyond Godís Word. There must also be profit in revelation Ė especially long term profit. If we as Christians could master the source of all revelation, we could walk a perfect walk. That is simply not available in this day and time. So we do our best. Often, true revelation will align with our heart. And finally, we must be in fellowship with God to ever receive revelation from Him.

Back to Acts 20: 22, Paul stated himself that he was "bound in the spirit". You will never be bound in the spirit when carrying out true revelation. Paul also states that he did not know what would happen to him there. What did happen to Paul when he arrived at Jerusalem? He was apprehended and bound in chains. He spent the rest of his days in prison and under house arrest. Would you worship a God that got you into this position? I wouldnít.

By being bound in the spirit, God was clearly telling Paul that it was not His Will for Paul to make this journey. Remember from before: God always tells you first. If we are not listening, God will tell someone else to tell you. Now watch how much trouble God went through to try and stop Paul from going to Jerusalem. God feels it is quite important to understand this record if He took the time to make sure it was recorded in the Book of Acts. Acts 20: 22 was the first time God tried to stop Paul from going to Jerusalem.

And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem. Ė Acts 21: 4

These disciples were hot on Godís Word and were operating the manifestations of Holy Spirit Ė namely speaking in tongues and interpretation of tongues. The interpretation was inspired by God who clearly said to Paul NOT to go to Jerusalem! Paul wasnít listening to Him so God had other disciples tell Paul. As we will see, Paul by his own free will, would not listen to the disciples. Again, Paul was human, and this time he argued with God adamantly. Why? I do not know. Thatís for God to know. The fact THAT he did not listen is whatís important in this lesson. Acts 21: 4 was the second time God tried to stop Paul from going to Jerusalem.

A great man taught me Godís Word, and at one time, wanted to go to Russia to teach the Word of God. However, God told him NOT TO GO! He listened to God and did not argue with Him. Do you know what would have happened if this man of God went to Russia? He would never have returned.

Remember that the Word of God, at times, interprets itself in the context. As we examine Godís third attempt to stop Paul, you need to remember context.

And the same man had four daughters, virgins [unmarried], which did prophesy. Ė Acts 21: 9

[You should read Acts Chapters 20 & 21, especially the first 15 verses in Chapter 21.]

In verse 8, we see that Philip was an evangelist and he had four unmarried daughters who were skilled in the operation of the manifestation of prophesy. Based on the context of this chapter, what do you think they prophesied about in verse nine? God worked through these four women, by their own free will, to WARN PAUL NOT TO GO TO JERUSALEM. Is God doing everything He can? Heís not done yet. Acts 21: 9 was the third time God tried to stop Paul from going to Jerusalem.

Do you see what a loving Father we have? He will do everything He can to help us Ė if only we will listen and not argue with Him.

Now letís look at the next two verses where God tried the fourth time to stop Paul.

And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judea a certain prophet, named Agabus. Ė Acts 21: 10

And when he was come unto us, he took Paulís girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver himinto the hands of the Gentiles. Ė Acts 21: 11

Can you imagine this?! God sends a prophet down from Judea and he gives a physical demonstration to the apostle Paul as to what awaits him if he goes to Jerusalem. How did this prophet Agabus know what to do? God gave him word of knowledge and word of wisdom Ė revelation. Thatís how Agabus knew what to do. Agabus did not argue with God Ė he simply did what God wanted done. Acts 21: 10 and 11 was the fourth time God tried to stop Paul from going to Jerusalem.

After all of this, Paul was still set to make his journey. You really have to wonder what Paul was thinking at this point. Wasnít he paying attention to these warnings? Did he think that the adversary was trying to stop him? Was it human pride? We will get a partial answer to this shortly from Godís Word.

Now, letís look at the next verse where the fifth, but not final, warning occurred. In this verse, we will see that a large group of believers warned Paul, but to no avail. Let me interject here for a moment. You have to be very careful in this life for ĎSatanís endless suggestionsí. Youíre always better off to do the opposite of what an unbeliever will suggest that you do. But this is not the case here. There were strong believers operating the manifestations of Holy Spirit such as Philipís daughters and Agabus. There were also many believing believers present. These were all men and women of the true God Ė in fellowship with God. Remember that God will tell someone else TO TELL YOU if you are not listening. In my own life, God often tells my wife something He has been trying to tell me. Iíve learned to listen.

And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go to Jerusalem. Ė Acts 21: 12

ĎWeí here could include a number of believers. When you look back at the context, you see that we could include the elders of the church from Acts 20: 17. It did include many of the believers mentioned in Chapter 21 such as Philip, his daughters, and Agabus. The Book of Acts was written by Luke and he is more than likely included. The point is that the believers present came together as a group and approached the Apostle Paul and BESOUGHT HIM NOT TO GO UP TO JERUSALEM. You think by now Paul would have begun to wonder, but not so. Watch what Paul says in the next verse. Summing up so far: Acts 21: 12 was the fifth time God tried to stop Paul from going to Jerusalem.

The following is Paulís human reaction to everything that has happened so far. I am not criticizing Paul, I am stating what Godís Word says about this important situation and record so that we can learn that any man can be tricked. We need to be careful that we at least, do not make major mistakes. Paul somehow was making and did make a major mistake here. God had it recorded for a reason. After all of this, Paul said the following:

Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. Ė Acts 21: 13

Can you understand that we are of no use to God once we are dead? Paulís love for God was possibly taken to an extreme. Extremes are not of the true God. He said to these believers: ĎWhy are you trying to make me feel bad and deter me? Why, I would not only be willing to be bound for the Lord Jesus Christ, but I would die for him!í This was not Godís Will. It was Paulís will. I have had things like this happen to me many times and I have suffered a great deal at times. Finally, I learned. God does not want you to be in trouble past the point of normal tribulations (mental pressures). Paulís short statement in verse 13 sounded quite heroic and very emotional, didnít it? Paul was making a mistake.

Letís go back to Chapter 20 and add some more light to this subject from Godís Word.

And now, behold, I [Paul is speaking] go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there. -- Acts 20: 22

Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying, that bonds and afflictions abide me. Ė Acts 20: 23

But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify of the gospel of the grace of God. Ė Acts 20: 24

Paul said that none of these things move him BUT they surely moved God, didnít they? God moved six (6) times to stop Paul from finishing his course and his ministry in this manner. Paul was acting upon either wrong revelation or his old man which is basically the same thing. His emotional comments were touching, werenít they? But remember, SINCERITY IS NO GUARANTEE FOR TRUTH.

Letís now examine the sixth and final attempt by the true God to stop Paul from his journey to Jerusalem. This verse is a very important lesson in the original God-breathed Word as compared to what we have available to us today. REMEMBER that the original God-breathed Word of God had NO PUNCTUATION! There are added commas in this verse that throws the whole Word of God to pieces. I will point this out to you. They were placed there by the scribes to make it appear like Paul was doing Godís Will and everyone else was wrong. There are many errors like this throughout our modern printed versions. This one is one of the most harmful. I will first present the verse to you as it is written in the King James Version.

And when he [Paul] would not be persuaded, we ceased [stopped], saying, The will of the Lord be done. Ė Acts 21: 14

If you leave most of the commas in, you have error. It is obvious by now that God did not want Paul to go to Jerusalem. Paul went and got into no end of trouble there. He almost lost his life. Paul, this great and mighty man of God who, under his ministry, Asia Minor heard the Word of God in two years and three months. In the following two years, AFTER he went to Jerusalem, he did not win one soul for the Lord Jesus Christ. The closest he came was "almost" in Acts 26: 28 when he witnessed to Agrippa, the king who said to Paul, "Ö.Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian."

Now letís take most of the commas out of Acts 21: 14 . . .

And when he [Paul] would not be persuaded, we ceased [stopped] saying The will of the Lord be done. Ė Acts 21: 14

Paul was determined, by his own free will to go to Jerusalem, so his Christian friends and believers stopped telling him not to go. Now the Word of God fits like a hand in a glove.

We must study and pray every day to be able to recognize the counterfeit from the genuine. Revelation from the true God will not necessarily line up with our senses. But it will line up with our heart. The enemy always has a new device to coincide with what man calls progress. I must have been listening to God years ago when I gave away an older sports car and sold the muscle car. Did God know that gas prices would rise so sharply? He surely did. Did He tell me and did I listen? I surely did. But yes, there are other areas of my life where I continued to argue with God and almost brought calamity to my own life. The importance of this teaching is that we donít make this mistake very often Ė but less and less. That is why I brought up such a striking example of this from Godís Word in the book of Acts Ė an example you will never forget.

To escape the lies and deception of this world, you must addict yourselves to God. God is His Word and remember: Commitment starts with obedience.

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation [wholeness] with fear and trembling [reverence and obedience]. Ė Philippians 2: 12

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of hisgood pleasure. Ė Philippians 2: 13