Examine Yourself before Passover

By COGwriter

The Passover is a memorial of the death of Jesus Christ who is the Savior of the world. Partaking of the symbols of His broken body and shed blood mean that YOU have been selected to know and understand God's purpose. Being chosen as one of the ELECT to know God's truth carries sobering responsibilities. We cannot approach this event lightly. (Related sermons include: Really examine yourself before Passover, Passover Examination, and Passover Examination. Here is a link to this article in the Spanish language: Examínese antes de la Pascua.)

The Passover is the first event beginning again God's annual season of Holy Days. His Holy Days reveal God's plan of salvation for the whole world (see also the free online booklet Should You Observe God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays?). That plan, hidden from the world in general, helps reveal why YOU cannot take this event lightly. That plan reveals that YOU have been called to know and understand God's purpose -- AHEAD of the majority of humankind. (Several points and statements in this article also came from a Passover Examination sermon given by Herbert W. Armstrong on March 4, 1982.)

WE MUST EXAMINE OURSELVES before Passover as the Apostle Paul wrote:

23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me." 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."

26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes.

27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:23-32; NKJV throughout unless otherwise noted)

So, notice that we are talking about the annual Passover. Oddly, many think the statement "as often as you drink it," means they can take it daily (even though the Church of Rome does not normally allow its lay members to drink at all) or weekly.

Yet, also notice that the only way to insure that you are not eating of the bread or drinking of the cup unworthily is to have first gone through personal examination. Most who think they are taking the Passover symbols weekly (or daily or monthly or quarterly) are not doing that.

Those who take Passover without examination are not properly discerning that their sins contributed Jesus' suffering for us.

Anyway, what does it mean to be worthy?

What is your attitude? Is it like that of all your neighbors?

The Apostle John wrote:

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17)

As long as we live in this evil, Satan-ruled society, there will be tests and temptations to break God's law.

The Apostle John wrote that real Christians keep God's commands:

1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (1 John 2:1-6)

If you do not strive to keep the commandments, you are not a real Christian. To learn more about them, check out the free online book: The Ten Commandments: The Decalogue, Christianity, and the Beast.

This does not mean we never sin:

8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. ... 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. (1 John 1:8,10)

We sin when we are tempted through our own lusts (James 1:14) to cheat, to lie in business, to boast, to swear, to gossip, to possibly commit adultery (Matthew 5:28), and to put other things before God.

And we as Christians — yes, as truly called and redeemed Christians — will slip occasionally and sin! But, as long as we are repentant, striving to overcome sin, God accepts us, applying Jesus' sacrifice (1 John 1:9). God continues to lead us. We live under grace (Ephesians 2:8).

No one is worthy of Christ's sacrifice, but not to take the Passover is to also deny Christ.

To take the Passover in a worthy manner, we must repent of our evil desires and ways, come to hate the sin that Jesus had to suffer and die for and work to set our will not to compromise God's law.

Jesus said our goal is to become perfect, and not operate like the world does:

43 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)

You have to go beyond whatever cultural politeness in your particular society.

You even are to strive to bring every thought under control:

3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. (2 Corinthians 10:3-6)

You cannot, of yourself, make yourself perfect, but God can:

32 It is God who arms me with strength, And makes my way perfect. (Psalm 18:32)

Keeping the Passover and understanding all it pictures, as well as striving to keep all of God's other laws, is vital to attaining that perfection Jesus spoke of.

Notice something that the Apostle Paul wrote:

6 Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:6-8)

Notice that we are to purge out the old leaven. Leaven is a symbol of sin and hypocrisy and we are to remove it. Physically, we are to remove leaven from our houses prior to the start of the first day of unleavened bread as the Bible teaches (Exodus 12:19).

Do not think that you are so spiritual that you do not have any problems to overcome. Do not think you are so spiritual that you do not remove the physical leaven from your homes and vehicles each year.

The Apostle Paul also wrote:

5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you are disqualified. (2 Corinthians 13:5)

Now is the time, just before the Passover to examine ourselves to see whether we are truly right with God and in harmony with Him and His plan.

Do you realize that at this coming Passover you could eat and drink CONDEMNATION? Do you realize how high are the stakes?

To prevent condemnation, we are told to examine ourselves this time of year.

Satan does not want you to do that.

Some are Being Called Now and are to Overcome!

Only some are being called and given proper spiritual knowledge now:

10 And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?"

11 He answered and said to them, "Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 13 Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:

'Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.' (Matthew 13:10-15)

The world is not being called now!

Only the Elect are being called now (see also our free online booklet: Is God Calling You?).

And within the calling, only a small number of endtime Christians are Philadelphian--the bulk are Laodicean and they reject many things, including proper church governance (see also The Bible, Peter, Paul, John, Polycarp, Herbert W. Armstrong, Roderick C. Meredith, and Bob Thiel on Church Government).

God's Holy Days, revolving around the harvest seasons in Palestine, show that WE who are true Christians are part of the early harvest — representing the Elect. The rest of the world will not be given their opportunity until after Jesus returns -- the late or Fall harvest -- (see Leviticus 23).

The sobering truth is that we have been called in a special calling or time to qualify ahead of the world so we can be used by God and Christ to help bring knowledge and salvation to the rest of humankind. God is vitally concerned with us as we approach this Passover, because of our important part in His plan. He is deeply concerned with our attitude. He wants to KNOW if we are totally surrendered to Him. God

Brethren, this warning from the Apostle Paul to examine ourselves wouldn't be in God's Word if there were not mortal danger for YOU. This coming Passover is a vital time, whether you have taken the Passover many times or if this is your FIRST time.

If this is not your first Passover, have you overcome anything since the last one?

Have you tried?

You may wonder what does it mean to discern the Lord's body?

How can we eat and drink unworthily?

How can we eat and drink condemnation to ourselves?

Consider that God wants us to isolate a very basic and elementary perspective each year at the Passover. He wants us to focus on that elementary concept as we begin again to relive His plan of salvation for humankind. That elementary concept IS His loving salvation. That's what His plan is all about whether it relates to us or the world. Therefore, brethren, the Passover is a time for us to once again get down to the elementary precepts of our OWN salvation -- our OWN relationship to God AND His Work.

It is a time to examine OURSELVES. A time to look at YOU. We can get so absorbed in our work or in various of life's distractions, that we can forget WE have to get OURSELVES and keep ourselves right with God. It's not the time to focus on the sins of others--though you may have to deal with those--it is the time to examine YOURSELF and for me, MYSELF.

That's what the Passover preparation is all about. There is never a time we can allow ourselves to get so busy or so important in our own eyes that we no longer need to get deadly serious about the elementary concepts of salvation that are so intimately associated with the Passover.

This may be why Satan seems to stir up various trials and tests prior to Passover--to try to distract you from doing what you should be doing in examining yourself.

The Christian life is not to be static.

Christians are those that are to overcome:

5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:5)

To overcome takes effort. But notice that those who overcome that are Christian will be rewarded:

7 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God."' (Revelation 2:7)

11 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death."' (Revelation 2:11)

17 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it."' (Revelation 2:17)

26 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations —

27 'He shall rule them with a rod of iron;
They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels' —

as I also have received from My Father; 28 and I will give him the morning star. (Revelation 2:26-28)

5 He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. (Revelation 3:5)

12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name. (Revelation 3:12)

21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. (Revelation 3:21)

Examine yourself so you can overcome.

If you are not making much progress, or even if you think you are, consider the following:

18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear. (Psalm 66:18)

Basically you need to overcome Satan, his society and your own lusts. Notice the reward for doing so and the contrast for not doing so:

7 He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. 8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. (Revelation 21:7-8)

The unbelieving are those that will not properly act on their faith. The Bible teaches that Satan is the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4) who deceives the world (Revelation 12:9). As Christians we really need to love the truth, and not fall for Satan's deceptions. Jesus taught:

16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. (John 17:16-19)

Do you really love the truth?

If so, are you really doing what Jesus said:

33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness . . . (Matthew 6:33)

Do you really seek first the kingdom of God? (See also our free online booklet The Gospel of the Kingdom of God.)

No matter how long we have been in God's Church or how spiritual we have become we are still human beings with carnal nature. Not one of us will ever come to a place in this life when we can afford to forget what we are. Just before the Passover we are to take another look — a long, good look!

And this is the time of year to especially remember that fact God made us mortal humans, subject to vanity:

20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; (Romans 8:20, NKJV)

20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,

21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?

25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (Romans 8:20-26, KJV)

We need to recognize as being made flesh, we are subject to futility, vanity. Satan succumbed to his vanity and deceived himself, but we are not to succumb to our own vanity and tendency towards self-deception. Taking the time to examine ourselves helps.

God wants us to be better!

And for change, we have hope. And that hope includes God's Spirit working with us to help to perfect us. We are not to give up and say we cannot make further progress or go forward. Remember the Apostle Paul wrote:

13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

Do you think that is just for the Apostle Paul?

No, it includes you as Jesus said about things that appear impossible:

27 "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible." (Mark 10:27)

Consider also what the Apostle Paul wrote:

6 He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; (Philippians 1:6)

But you are to do YOUR part. Forgiveness is part of what you need to do. Jesus taught:

14 For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15)

23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23-24)

Notice what the Apostle John wrote:

1 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (1 John 3:1-3)

We are called God's children and are to be pure. The process of examination is a process of purification.

Consider also what James was inspired to write:

1:21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

26 If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

2:1 My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. 2 For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, 3 and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, "You sit here in a good place," and say to the poor man, "You stand there," or, "Sit here at my footstool," 4 have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?

5 Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? 7 Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?

8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well; 9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For He who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe — and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?

26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. (James 1:21-2:26)

Do not deceive yourself. Practice mercy, keep God's royal law, and remember that faith without works is dead!

This is also a time to rehearse and reaffirm what you have done with the knowledge that you have that kind of nature that is subject to vanity.

Most humans do not have the slightest awareness of the dangers of vanity and self deception.

Lucifer, who became the adversary Satan, fell to vanity and self-deception (cf. Ezekiel 28:12-13;17).

Humankind, even most who claim Christianity, do not know that this world is not GOD'S world — yet. God is allowing Satan to rule this world for a time. He is allowing Satan to seduce human through through their own lusts to imbibe in all the evil things of this world.

Satan is the ruler of this world at present and he is blinding human minds to the truth that you have been given the privilege to understand.

3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)

So, in our examination, let's realize what kind of a nature we have and what kind of a age we live in.

But, brethren, for us who are the Elect, light and understanding has come by the calling of God's Holy Spirit. Through God's infinite mercy YOU were called as one of His Elect to see yourself and your environment as THEY REALLY ARE! You realized that you were a sinner and cannot save yourself. This was a miracle in your life!

Do you still realize it? God sent His Holy Spirit to open your mind to real knowledge. The first thing God opened your mind to see was YOURSELF! You were led to see what human nature was like — what YOU were like. You didn't like what you everything you saw! You wanted to be different. So you came to repentance — a change in yourself — because that's what repentance is.

If you are a real Christian, you came to repentance and you were baptized. You went through an outward SYMBOL of death. Baptism is a picture of death, burial and resurrection. You were immersed in a watery grave and brought up in a type of a resurrection. You then received the gift of God's Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).

Of course, you are not to continue in sin because you receive God's grace:

1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:1-4)

Yet, you were not perfect--but Jesus died for you anyway.

Not The End

But that isn't the end of the story! Now began perhaps the hardest part of all. Having crucified, in a sense, the "old nature," we soon found that the old nature wasn't dead.

So, when you made mistakes since, the words of the apostle Paul should have became your words:

15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.

21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. (Romans 7:15-25)

Though we wished for it to be destroyed, we found sin still had life and vigor. AND THAT'S JUST THE POINT! God wants us to comprehend the REAL DEPTH OF EVIL, WICKEDNESS AND DECEITFULNESS that is in us.

So, what are we supposed to do about it?

Well, the Apostle John wrote:

9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

We've sinned, but we have not disagreed with Him. We don't mean to sin, but we slip up.

We forgot, or maybe we got careless. Maybe we hadn't continued in prayer as often as we should. Maybe we slipped up a little while. Maybe you've sinned since you were converted. But if we confess those sins, He's faithful and just to forgive us our sins.

We are to examine ourselves, see what sins we have, confess them to God, and ask Him to forgive us. Do not think God will not forgive you if you truly confess your sins and repent (see also What is the Unpardonable Sin?).

Sadly, for many of our sins, we truly have not repented enough and have to do it again and again.

So, as we approach the Passover, we have had one more year to live with ourselves. God IS now asking us once again to partake of the broken body and shed blood of Christ. Has this past year convinced you that you have come to the place that you no longer need the sacrifice of Christ? Or rather has it convinced you that you need it EVEN MORE PROFOUNDLY than ever before? THIS IS PART OF WHAT DISCERNING THE LORD'S BODY MEANS.

Hopefully, you have grown in personal overcoming of sin. Hopefully you have grown in Bible understanding and spiritual knowledge--the sermons and literature you study along with the Bible should help that. But have you grown in personally knowing YOU need Jesus Christ more than ever before?

Seen More Deeply?

When we are first baptized we are called "babes" in Christ (1 Corinthians 3:1). Notwithstanding we have come to miraculous and profound knowledge at baptism, we still are just beginning a life of overcoming. We need to grow and mature in understanding and perspective:

1 Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, 2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

4 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture,

"Behold, I lay in Zion
A chief cornerstone, elect, precious,
And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame. (1 Peter 2:1-6)

Are you ashamed of Jesus or His church? Have you cast "aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking"? Do you realize that that you are 'living stones' being built as a spiritual house? Are you are stronger 'stone' (spiritually) than you were last year?

Furthermore notice something else the Apostle Peter wrote:

14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation -- as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.

17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. (2 Peter 3:14-18)

Do you understand better?

Many in the Church of God fell away in the 1980s and 1990s as they allowed themselves to be affected by people who twisted the Apostle Paul's writings, as well as other scriptures (see also The Falling Away: The Bible and WCG Teachings).

Yet, beyond that, as we grow in a deeper and more profound knowledge of spiritual things our ability to see ourselves becomes more acute. We see things about ourselves and our natures that we never saw at baptism.

This is right!

It is progress!

It is what God intended.

When Paul received God's Holy Spirit and began to grow he found that his more profound knowledge of God's spiritual law made sin appear to become exceeding sinful (Romans 7:13).

And so it is with us.

The longer we live with ourselves in this flesh the more our knowledge of God's perfect spiritual law, that we are privileged to understand, convicts us of the exceeding sinfulness of the carnal human nature.

Each year God commands us to live through again His Holy Days which picture His plan of salvation for the world. Each year we begin again with the primary beginning — the Passover — the acceptance of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Each year we should be observing God's Holy Days with greater desire for the fulfillment of His plan because we should have seen the need for it more profoundly than ever before — for ourselves and for the world.

As we start the Holy Days again it should be with a renewed eagerness. It should be with a more fervent desire to take those precious symbols because we know far more deeply their meaning to us and to the world.

It should not be with a hum-drum routine approach that we begin each year.

If we are truly faithful, we should not come up to these days in a halfhearted apathetic approach. If we do we may eat and drink "unworthily" — eat and drink judgment unto ourselves.

No one is "worthy." All fall short (cf. Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:10).

Totally understanding how unworthy of Christ's great sacrifice we are, makes us ready to partake of the Passover with full understanding! God wants His people to approach the Passover with the most earnest and heartfelt desire for the forgiveness of Christ — individually and ultimately for the world. No other attitude demonstrates a true Christian who has grown as he should through the year. ARE YOU READY TO TAKE THE PASSOVER?

We begin again, with the Passover, picturing God's plan of salvation for the world. It's not just a personal salvation for you alone. There are a lot of human lives going down the drain all around us. The utter hopelessness of a dying civilization sends its groanings up into our consciousness every day. We who have been given the knowledge of the ONLY way out for the world ought to groan within ourselves for the time they too can be delivered from the bondage of corruption of which we have been made so acutely aware.

Each new year of Holy Day observances should be from a higher level of awareness, with a greater sense of earnestness for their fulfillment. God has a work He is doing--are you truly supporting it?

Or do you have an attitude like some of the ancient children of Israel:

2 "Thus speaks the Lord of hosts, saying: 'This people says, "The time has not come, the time that the Lord's house should be built."'"

3 Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, 4 "Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?" 5 Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: "Consider your ways!

6 "You have sown much, and bring in little;
You eat, but do not have enough;
You drink, but you are not filled with drink;
You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm;
And he who earns wages,
Earns wages to put into a bag with holes."

7 Thus says the Lord of hosts: "Consider your ways! 8 Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified," says the Lord. 9 "You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?" says the Lord of hosts. "Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house. 10 Therefore the heavens above you withhold the dew, and the earth withholds its fruit. 11 For I called for a drought on the land and the mountains, on the grain and the new wine and the oil, on whatever the ground brings forth, on men and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands." (Haggai 1:2-11)

They did not think that doing God's work should be a priority for them.

They felt that they had to take care of themselves and God would understand and get His work done some other way. And while God's work will be done whether or not you participate, He expects you to and will judge you for thinking you are fine as you are.

Notice the warning Jesus gave to the end time Christians we commonly call Laodiceans:

14 "And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,

'These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' — and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked — 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

22 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."'" (Revelation 3:14-22)

Are you like that? Most Christians in the end times are Laodiceans who apparently are not willing to properly examine themselves before Passover--for if they did, Jesus would not have to condemn them as He did.


Brethren, there is still time to examine yourself and make this Passover a personal thing between you and God. Look deeply into your life. Have you been just coasting?

What About Complaining, Worrying, or Talebearing?

Now many focus too much on removing physical leaven, and not enough on spiritual leaven when they are examining themselves, prior to Passover.

Furthermore, while newer ones to the faith have trouble with a lot of the basics of living as a Christian (which we cover in our free online book Christians: Ambassadors for the Kingdom of God, Biblical instructions on living as a Christian), people part of the faith for a long period of time sometimes act like they are fine.

You might think that you have been a Christian for a long time and do not have obvious sins.

But, for example, are you a complainer?

Now, let's see something from the Book of Lamentations:

31 For the Lord will not cast off forever.
32 Though He causes grief,
Yet He will show compassion
According to the multitude of His mercies.
33 For He does not afflict willingly,
Nor grieve the children of men. (Lamentations 3:31-33)

So God does not want to have us afflicted.

Yet, it happens and people complain:

39 Why should a living man complain,
A man for the punishment of his sins?

40 Let us search out and examine our ways,
And turn back to the Lord; (Lamentations 3:39-40)

Do you have the faith to believe God and truly examine yourself?

If so, you should ultimately--it normally takes a while--find you have less complaints!

Understand that judgment is on Christians now and the people of the world later. The Apostle Peter wrote:

17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 Now

"If the righteous one is scarcely saved,
Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?"

19 Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator. (1 Peter 4:17-19)

So, as Christians we face correcting judgments now more than others.

That seems consistent with something that the Apostle Paul wrote:

19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. (1 Corinthians 15:19)

Now let's look something else that the Apostle Paul wrote:

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

If you have doubts this is the case, please read our free online booklet: Faith for Those God has Called and Chosen.

Jude warned of those who "are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts" (Jude 16)--whiile this was a reference to those who try to ACT like they are real Christians--these are ones who intentionally are difficult.

Notice also something else that, the Apostle Paul wrote:

1 Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, 2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

6 Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. 7 And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play." 8 Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; 9 nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. (1 Corinthians 10:1-13)

Many types of complaints point to a lack of faith. It is not that you can never complain about anything, but be careful.

One way is to watch what you say. Notice something about Job:

7 So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 8 And he took for himself a potsherd with which to scrape himself while he sat in the midst of the ashes.

9 Then his wife said to him, "Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!"

10 But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips. (Job 2:7-10)

Now notice something that Jesus taught:

35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matthew 12:35-37)

Every idle word!

And for Christians, that means judgment in this age.

The Apostle Paul also wrote:

26 "Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil. 28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. 29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. (Ephesians 4:26-29)

Yes, you also need to control your anger and wrath, not give the devil a place to stay, but also need to do good--including with your mouth.

The same principle applies with what you might write or even text.

The Bible teaches:

15 … In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor. 16 You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people … (Leviticus 19:15-16)

20 Where there is no wood, the fire goes out;
And where there is no talebearer, strife ceases.
21 As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire,
So is a contentious man to kindle strife.
22 The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles,
And they go down into the inmost body. (Proverbs 26:20-22)

So, be careful before you pass unverified gossip over the internet or through texting.

The Apostle James wrote:

26 If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless. (James 1:26)

1 My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. 2 For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. 3 Indeed, we put bits in horses' mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. 4 Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.

See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. 8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. (James 3:1-13)

Yes, we need to strive to control our tongues, be wise, and be meek enough to be Philadelphian Christians.

Furthermore, related to complaints, consider something that Jesus taught:

25 "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

28 "So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

31 "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:25-34)

Yes, you will have troubles. Try not worry, try not to complain.

Notice what Jesus said:

33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

Satan likes to use lies and inuendo like he did with Eve as well as he did with the Pharisees related to Jesus.

Notice also that the New Testament shows that some called 'believers' actually accused Jesus of having a demon:

31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

33 They answered Him, "We are Abraham's descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, 'You will be made free'?"

34 Jesus answered them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

37 "I know that you are Abraham's descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. 38 I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father."

39 They answered and said to Him, "Abraham is our father."

Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham. 40 But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. 41 You do the deeds of your father."

Then they said to Him, "We were not born of fornication; we have one Father — God." (John 8:31-41)

Notice they were casting aspersions on Jesus. They apparently concluded that since His mother got pregnant before she was married, that the only conclusion was that she had been a fornicator--they, like many today, did not consider how God sometimes works.

Anyway, then Jesus told them they were following Satan and then they got worse:

42 Jesus said to them,

"If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. 43 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 He who is of God hears God's words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God."

Before Abraham Was, I AM

48 Then the Jews answered and said to Him, "Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?"

49 Jesus answered,

"I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. 50 And I do not seek My own glory; there is One who seeks and judges. 51 Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death."

52 Then the Jews said to Him,

"Now we know that You have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and You say, 'If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death.' 53 Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. ... (John 8:42-53)

After Jesus' arrest, "many false witnesses came forward" (Matthew 26:60). Sadly, many wanted to believe falsehoods about Jesus.

Do not be caught up in lies that many are spreading about the true church and faithful leadership.

Notice what Paul wrote:

15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18)

Take comfort in the word of God.

Now, yes, I realize that Jesus is not returning before 2030. So, in the meantime, there is something else you can do:

8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9)

Are you doing that?

Don't just examine your life for your sins of commission, consider also that you may be sinning via omission. Do good, think on what God wants you to think.

Three Questions

While working on this article in 2016, I happened across an article from BBC that has some points to consider:

By Sydney Finkelstein

7 April 2016

I’m a big fan of simplicity, whether it’s about strategy and innovation or personal productivity. In a complex world, there’s no use making things more difficult than they need to be.

It’s just so easy to complicate things — even I am guilty. But in reality, there are three questions I’ve used in consulting with executives that have much wider applicability to all sorts of problems people encounter in business and in life.

At the risk of severe hyperbole, I believe these three questions can help solve any problem. ...

Are you really willing to change what you’ve been doing?

Nothing gets done until you say “YES” to this question. Otherwise, it’s all just talk. ...

Can you think of a better strategy or idea than the status quo?

Even if you are willing to change, you’ve got to come up with a solution to your problem. In some cases, it’s quite easy. Becoming healthier by improving your diet and doing more exercise is not exactly a secret or a revolutionary solution.

Other times, however, it is more difficult. ...

Can you execute on your chosen solution?

This is where the proverbial rubber meets the road. No matter how great your strategic idea, if you can’t execute on it you’re doomed. ...

All of it is hard work. ...

I don’t want to underestimate the difficulty of answering, with actions, these questions. Every step of the way is challenging, from having the courage to change, to creatively developing a new way of doing things, to actually making it happen. But these three questions will always be at the heart of any solution. Getting to a much better place as an individual, or for a company, really is possible. It need not be so confusing and overwhelming.

When you really think about it, you’ve got everything you need to solve your problem. http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20160406-why-these-three-questions-can-solve-any-problem

Carnally speaking, he is wrong on that last point. But if you are a Christian, you do have access to God's help, and yes, you have what you need to solve the problem.

Remember we "can do all things through Christ who strengthens: us. (Philippians 4:13)

The real problem is that we do not really do follow what the Bible teaches?

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and depart from evil.
8 It will be health to your flesh,
And strength to your bones. (Proverbs 3:5-8)

But aren't we often 'wise' in our own eyes? Do we often reason around fully trusting God?

Humility is not the pretence of lack of vanity.

Humility is understanding that you are limited, you do not know all, but that God really does.

Vanity, in the form of self-justification, is a very common form of sin.

What About the Blood of Christ?

The Bible teaches:

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23)

But what about the blood of Christ?

24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:24-26)

Let's look at another translation of this:

24 and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Him as an atoning sacrifice through faith in His blood, in order to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance He had passed over the sins committed beforehand. 26 He did this to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and to justify the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:24-26, Berean Study Bible)

Does the blood of Christ alone save you? Does that get you into the Kingdom of God? Now, Greco-Roman Catholics and Protestants believe that, if you are "saved," that you go to heaven when you die.

Now, according to their teachings, Catholics who were not quite good enough to be saved, because they committed what they call venial sins, are believed to go to a place called purgatory; and after that someone is there long enough--which I was told could be for millions of years--supposedly they will go to heaven (see Did the Early Church Teach Purgatory?). If they committed what they call 'mortal sins' since their last confession, Catholics believe one goes straight to Gehenna fire or Hades (unless, oddly, they wear something called the "brown scapular," which is supposed to protect them: see Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Apparitions).

Protestants believe that if someone is not saved, they go straight to Gehenna--a fire that is burning, burning, burning; and you keep burning forever and ever, but you never burn up. The Catholics basically believe the same thing. Both teach that one will have to go through that torture continuously forever. But they believe that all one has to do is accept Jesus Christ, and the blood of Christ saves you.

Now, notice what the Apostle Paul wrote:

6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. (Romans 5:6-11)

In his March 4, 1982 sermon, titled Passover Examination, the late Herbert W. Armstrong said:

Now, the blood of Christ does not save anybody! You read of that in the fifth chapter of the book of Romans, I don't want to take time to go into that this afternoon. But you will find there that we'll be saved by Christ, but not by His shed blood. And we're not saved by the death of Christ. We are reconciled to God the Father by the death of Christ. But we are to be SAVED by His resurrection—and through our own resurrection, made possible by His resurrection.

Now again, a lot of people think if they're baptized they're saved. And I'm afraid too many of us in this Church have believed that; and that's one thing I hope to correct now, today.

"O yes, I'm a baptized member."

Well, if you're baptized, that means you're a Christian—you're in the Church?


I don't care how many times you've been soused in water (and I don't mean to ridicule the very sacred ordinance of baptism); but for many that's all it is—just a sousing in water. I'd like to read just a few scriptures along that line right now, before we pass on. Mark, the seventh chapter, verses 6 on to 9. Jesus said: Mark 7:6-9

This people honoureth me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. (7) Howbeit in vain do they worship me [They not only accept Christ, they not only BELIEVE in Christ; but they WORSHIP Him, and they do it in vain. "In vain do they worship Me…"], teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. {1} [Let's see.] (8) For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold to the tradition of men… (9) And he said unto them, Full well do you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition. I was thinking of another scripture right along that line. WE MUST REPENT:

Notice in Luke 13 now. Luke 13 and verses 3 and 5, Jesus said: Luke 13:3 I tell you, Nay: but, except you REPENT, you shall all likewise perish. Now, He repeated that for emphasis in verse 5. Luke 13:5 I tell you NAY: but, except you REPENT, you shall all likewise perish. Regardless of how many times you've been baptized, if you have not REPENTED, you shall also likewise perish.

I was thinking of, and I'd like to turn to that just a moment, it's in John. Let's see. In the eight chapter of John, I just happened to turn to it. John 8:30-31 As [Jesus] spake these words, many believed on him. [Now here are people that believed on Christ.] (31)Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If you continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed. And they began to dispute Him right away. They didn't believe what He said. And so later Jesus said: John 8:43-45 Why do you not understand my speech? [That is, what I'm saying: "My speech."] Even because ye cannot hear my word. (44)Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there was no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. (45) And because I tell you the truth, you believe me not.

They believed ON Christ, but they did not BELIEVE Christ. They did not believe what He said. So just accepting Christ, just believing on Christ, doesn't save you. You have to believe what He says, and YOU HAVE TO REPENT. There are the two conditions:

One is repentance, and the other is faith. Now, Jesus came into Galilee preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God.

Notice that this is consistent with what Jesus and the Apostle Peter preached as well:

15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. (Mark 1:15, KJV)

36 "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."

37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?"

38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call." (Acts 2:36-39)

You need not only to believe in Jesus, but believe what He taught, and that teaching includes repentance.

Many lot of people don't fully know what that means. They say, "Oh, I've repented. Yes, I know I've sinned."

But, they haven't really repented, because we often do not understand what we mean by the word REPENT. Very few seem to understand it.

You are not Christ's until you have the Holy Spirit of God, and you cannot have the Holy Spirit of God until you have repented.


The old Worldwide Church of God taught the following:

[A]ll leaven and leavened foods are to be put out of your home and off your property (Ex. 12:15, 13:7). This includes yeast, baking soda, baking powder — all leavening agents, substances that produce fermentation and cause dough to rise. The products of leaven are bread, cake, some crackers, certain cookies and some prepared cereals and pies. A few candies and other foods also use leavening agents. Of course, there is nothing sinful about these products themselves. Removing them from our homes is merely a symbolic enactment of removing sin from our lives.

Instead of eating these leavened foods, replace them with unleavened products (Ex. 12:15, 19-20, Lev. 23:6). These include matzos, hardtack and a number of flatbreads. But beware: Some foods that are sold as "kosher for Passover" contain leavening agents.

If you are in doubt about whether a product is leavened, check the list of ingredients on the wrapper. If you are still unsure, ask someone experienced or don't eat it. Remember: "Whatever is not from faith is sin" (Rom. 14:23).

Whenever you eat bread during these days, it should be unleavened. Far beyond the physical uses of leaven are the significant spiritual meanings. After being jeered at and tempted by the hypocritical Pharisees and Sadducees, Jesus said to His own disciples, "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees" (Matt. 16:6). The disciples didn't know what He meant. Do you? The disciples thought Jesus was talking about physical bread, but He wasn't. He was talking about the doctrine of the religious authorities, which led people into sin (Matt. 16:11-12, 23:13). By way of analogy, this leaven of false doctrine has spread through the whole world as a tool of Satan's deception (Rev. 12:9)!

The apostle Paul also used leaven as a symbol for sin. A certain Church member was committing a serious sin and making no progress toward repentance. Paul said this person was like a little leaven that would affect the whole lump — other Church members — with his sinful way of life. The person was put out of the Church. Since Paul wrote to the brethren during the Days of Unleavened Bread, they would have already put out the physical leavening from their homes. Now he encouraged them to put out the leaven of malice and wickedness — sin. He told them to eat the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth — righteousness (I Cor. 5:1-8).

Sin versus righteousness

When you consider the nature of both leavened and unleavened bread, you can see several spiritual comparisons with sin and righteousness. Let's notice them: • Living in sin is easy; being righteous is hard. Because of its soft texture, leavened bread is easier to eat than unleavened bread. Likewise, going the way of sin is easier than living righteously (Matt. 7:13-14). Obeying God is difficult even for a Christian, because you still have a carnal nature that wants to sin (Rom. 7:14-25).

• Sin exalts the self; righteousness builds humility. Leaven puffs bread up. The same is true of sin. It puffs up the sinner — his desire is to exalt himself rather than allow God to rule him (Ps. 10:3). When you choose to live God's righteous way of life, you abase selfish desires. God is showing, through the analogy of leaven, that He wants us to escape the clutches of sin and lead righteous lives.

• Sin's pleasures are temporary; the benefits of righteousness endure. Leavened bread left out soon becomes hard and moldy. Unleavened bread lasts much longer. Spiritually, the pleasures of sin soon pass away (Job 20:12-16). The end result is eternal death (Rom. 6:23). Righteousness, in contrast, brings both temporal and eternal blessings (Deut. 28:1-13, Ps. 15)

• Sin spreads easily; righteousness is built slowly. It doesn't take long for leaven to spread throughout a loaf of bread. This is the way sin is — it spreads rapidly (Gal. 5:9), whereas building right character takes a lifetime.

• Sin is based on deceit; truth is the basis for righteousness. What you see is not what you get with a loaf of leavened bread. Air pockets give the impression that there's more in the loaf than there really is. Sin also appears to be something it isn't, deceiving the sinner into thinking he is getting something worthwhile when he is only earning the death penalty (Heb. 3:13). With righteousness there is no deceit, only truth (Ps. 119:151, 172).

• Sin is more prevalent than righteousness. Most people prefer leavened bread because they find its taste more desirable. Is it really better? Not necessarily — just more common. People are accustomed to it. Spiritually, the same is true. Most people prefer to live in sin. But you must reject sin, and choose to live a righteous life (Deut. 30:19).

• Sin builds a false image; righteousness builds true character. As you have seen, leavened bread gives a false impression. So does the sinner. He may appear impressive on the outside, but is he? Read Matthew 23:27.

True character is based on much more than outward appearance. It involves righteous living based on obedience to God's Word (I John 2:5). Grow in righteousness

What God is showing us through the analogy of leaven and sin, particularly at this time of the Days of Unleavened Bread, is clear: He wants you to escape the clutches of sin and lead a righteous life. But how can you eliminate sin and grow in righteousness? The following "three Rs" — recognize, resist and repent — can help.

1) Recognize sin. Can you recognize sin? Many cannot. Why? Most people overlook God's simple, clear definition for sin: "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law" (I John 3:4, Authorized Version).

Discerning sin is a matter of applying God's law. At the basis of God's law are the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:1-17, Deut. 5:6-21). Do you know what the Ten Commandments are? If not, how can you possibly expect to overcome and put sin — spiritual leaven — out of your life?

God's laws are real, working forces that guarantee good results when you are in harmony with them. They were given to be lived and acted upon, not ignored or outrightly rejected! Beyond the basic commandments, God requires obedience to biblical principles referring to one's conduct. While some things are not written in the form of a direct command, the underlying principle or spirit of the law is nonetheless just as binding (Matt. 5:17-48, Rom. 13:9)! Under this category fall aspects of God's civil laws and statements made by His apostles and patriarchs.

Examine yourself, as II Corinthians 13:5 commands, and see how God's laws expose the "leaven" in your character. Are you REALLY putting God first in EVERYTHING? Are you humbly submitting to His authority? Can you admit when you're wrong? For a thorough study of God's basic law and how it applies in your life, read our free booklet The Ten Commandments.

2) Resist sin. We have already seen through the analogy of leaven that sin spreads quickly and easily. Therefore you must resist temptation before it turns into sin (Jas.1:13-15). Doing this requires self-control — actively resisting wrong thoughts and replacing them with right thoughts (II Cor. 10:4-5).

In struggling against sin you may reach a point when you grow so battle weary that darts of self-pity and injustice pierce you. At such times it's easy to think you've done all you can.

Don't be fooled. You can do more (Heb. 12:4).

Throughout the Bible we see the number 7 used as a symbol of completeness (Gen. 2:2, Josh. 6:16, Rev. 16:17). In relationship to the Days of Unleavened Bread, the number 7 pictures the complete elimination of sin. You should earnestly strive to eliminate sin from your life (II Tim. 2:19).

3) Repent of sin. Even when you recognize sin and resist it, you will still find yourself falling into sin (I John 1:8). When this happens, what should you do? Strive not to sin, but when you do, seek God's forgiveness.

Upon real repentance — abandoning the wrong way and beginning to live the right way — God promises to cleanse you from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9). Some would say not to try so hard — to just rely on grace. But what does God say? "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not!

How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" (Rom. 6:1-2). Will you overcome all sins all at once? Absolutely not! Some sins are so deeply and habitually rooted that they may take years to totally overcome. Don't use that as an excuse to continue, but don't dismay either. Ask yourself, Am I sinning as often as I once did? Does this sin have as much control over me as it once did? If the answer is no, you're growing — making progress. Today the world is in misery because of sin.

Yet humanity rejects the very Festival — the Days of Unleavened Bread — that pictures the process that would lead them out of their sins.

What about you? Are you going to keep these special days as God has instructed His people to? Will you be learning the many important lessons that the Days of Unleavened Bread are meant to teach you? If you do work at ridding your life of sin, you will be greatly blessed, now and in the future as a member of God's Family: "In the way of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death" (Prov. 12:28). (Kackkos G. An Important Reminder - How Leaven Pictures Sin. Good News, March 1984)

If you will not examine yourself and deleaven, you are not keeping the Days of Unleavened Bread as a Christian should.

Symbolically, leaven pictures hypocrisy and sin.

Now, one of the ways we show we have repented this time of year is the process of deleavening. The Bible says to have no leaven in our houses during the seven days of unleavened bread:

19 For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses, since whoever eats what is leavened, that same person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger or a native of the land. (Exodus 12:19)

Not only did the children of Israel do this, early Christians also observed the same time. Notice something that Polycrates of Ephesus wrote in the late second century:

And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, do according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have closely followed. For seven of my relatives were bishops; and I am the eighth. And my relatives always observed the day when the people put away the leaven. (Eusebius. The History of the Church, Book V, Chapter XXIV. Translated by A. Cushman McGiffert. Digireads.com Publishing, Stilwell (KS), 2005, p. 114).

One way we examine ourselves this time of year is to stop and deleaven our homes and vehicles. This gets us to pause and consider that just like leaven is all around us, so is sin. And just like leaven needs diligence to remove, so does sin. It also shows us that because we may find leaven in places that we did not think could have it, we may have sins in places we think are not possible.

Generally, in most societies these days, it is good to start early--like a few weeks before Passover. This helps you to a better and more thorough job and also gives you more time to reflect and examine yourself. Plus, it will be less stressful starting early--and don't you want to do a good job?

Remember the Bible teaches:

10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might ... (Ecclesiastes 9:10)

That does not mean to kill yourself while you are deleavening, but at least do not be lukewarm about it and remember to properly examine yourself.

Also, if you start early, you have time to sometimes recheck things.

One year, after my wife Joyce and I had deleavened pretty much the whole house, we thought we did an extremely good job. Then, I inadvertently looked under something in our then four-year old son's room. And there I found a package with some type of leavened product in it. Now, we had thoroughly cleaned his room, and we still are not sure how or where he got what we found, but it was right there. So, we got rid of it.

We did not say, well there is no way we have a problem in that part of the house, once we saw it. When we saw it, we took immediate action to remove it. And that is what we should have done. You very well may have problems you do not see--but if you pray to God for wisdom, He may well help you see what you need to see, so you can change.

Note: As far as deleavening goes, it is not acceptable to remove leavening from your property if you just bring it back once the Days of Unleavened Bread are over. The lesson is to remove leavening entirely from our lives, which represents that which promotes corruption. We are not just to temporarily avoid sin, but are not to return to it or bring it back in our lives.

Let's look at something else the Apostle Paul wrote:

5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:5-8)

Why mention that here?

Well, some people focus on the physical deleavening a lot more than they do in examining themselves and working to repent of sins, known and unknown.

As Christians we are not to have the wrong focus:

9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:9-11)

Now does this mean we should not deleaven our homes?

No, we still should.

Notice this:

23 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. 24 Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!

25 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.

27 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matthew 23:23-28)

We are to do the physical, but not neglect the bigger picture. The Pharisees did the physical, but neglected the bigger picture. They did a lot for show. We are not to imitate them, we are to imitate Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:1), and do the physical and spiritual as He did.

And although He did not sin (Hebrews 4:15), we have (1 John 1:9-10). And we need to repent, and this time of year should persuade us to spend more time doing so. Hence, the admonitions from the Apostle Paul to examine ourselves.

And that means to change when we find something. That is what repentance is all about.

Now, we used to go through our pockets and every little thing we owned to deleaven. When one is relatively new (and this would probably the first 7 or so years after baptism), there are more areas that need to be changed. In time some should have changed. In time, however, we were more careful about having leaven, where we ate it, how we cleaned up, etc., to make that type of cleaning less necessary. Instead, after time, we spent more time on the focus of where we knew leaven would be--it is not that we did not look elsewhere, but our focus became where we knew leaven would be. In time, from a spiritual perspective, we should get a better understanding of where we have problems that we need to change and repent of.

Repentance is NOT just about one time confessing our sins, claiming to believe that Jesus is our Lord, so we can be baptized and no longer repent.

What are leavening agents?Here is some information from the old Worldwide Church of God:

Just what is leaven? Which foods are to be avoided during the Days of Unleavened Bread?

God uses leaven to typify sin (I Cor. 5:1-8). Sin puffs up just as physical leaven puffs up (verse 2). Unleavened bread is a type of an unleavened life.

To understand exactly what is included in the leaven we are to avoid during the Days of Unleavened Bread, let's first notice some of the Hebrew words translated "leaven" in the Old Testament. Mechametz refers to leavening agents — substances used to puff up or produce fermentation, causing dough to rise. Yeast, bicarbonate •of soda (baking soda) and baking powder are such substances.

Another Hebrew word rendered "leaven" is seh-ohd. This literally means "sourdough," a naturally fermenting yeasty batter that was the most common leaven of the Israelites, and which is still often used to cause baked goods to rise and become light in texture.

These leavening agents cause foods to become chametz. This Hebrew word is translated "that which is leavened" in Exodus 12:19. It is also translated "leavened bread" in a number of places. It refers to all foods that leaven has caused to rise, including bread, cake, some crackers, certain cookies, some prepared cereals and pies. A few candies and other foods also make use of leavening agents. If you are in doubt about any product, check the list of ingredients on the wrapper.

Instead of eating leavened bread, we have the positive command to eat unleavened bread (Ex. 13:6). We may also eat unleavened pies and cereals together with all the meats, drinks, fruits and vegetables we normally consume.

Most stores carry a variety of unleavened breads. Always check the ingredients on the label to be sure. Or, you may enjoy making your own.

Some have asked about using egg whites in baking. Egg whites should not be used as a substitute for leaven, in a deliberate attempt to circumvent the spirit-of the law. On the other hand, beaten egg whites used in meringue on pies and other desserts do not constitute a leavening agent. They have not been used to puff up any product baked of flour or meal.

Others have noticed the term "yeast extracts" on the labels of certain foods and have wondered if they should be avoided. These are derivatives of yeast that cannot be used as leavening agents. It would therefore be permissible to use a product containing yeast extracts provided, of course, that it does not contain any actual leavening agent. Some people also buy brewer's yeast from health food stores. This form of yeast is totally dead and should not therefore be considered as leaven. It should also be mentioned that cream of tartar, by itself, is not a leavening agent either.

Occasionally a question comes up about beer or other fermented drinks. There is nothing in the entirety of Scripture to indicate any restriction on the kind of beverages we consume during the Days of Unleavened Bread — no mention of these being the "Days of Unleavened Beverages." The fact is that in all cases where the Days of Unleavened Bread are mentioned, the reference is always to the example set by the children of Israel when they came out of Egypt without any leaven in their dough (see Exodus 12:39). There is no reference to the invisible yeast or result of it in either beer, wine or other beverages.

Naturally fermented wine was customarily consumed by the Israelites at God's festivals. If God had intended a ban on fermented beverages during the Days of Unleavened Bread, it would undoubtedly have been mentioned. In fact, such mention would have been necessary. Yet the command adds no more than is found in Exodus 13:6-7: "Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread... and there shall no leavened bread be seen with thee, neither shall there be leaven seen with thee in all thy quarters."

If you are unsure about any particular food and unable to find the answer, you should refrain from eating it, "for whatsoever is not of faith is sin" (Rom. 14:23).

If partway through the Feast you find some leavened product that somehow escaped your scrutiny, put it off your property immediately. This is a type of those hidden sins that we don't always discover upon conversion. We must keep on putting out sin (leaven) until the process is complete, as is signified by the very fact that there are seven — the complete number — Days of Unleavened Bread.

God intended the Days of Unleavened Bread to be a type to remind us that we are to be unleavening our lives spiritually by putting out the spiritual leaven of sin — not for seven days only, but throughout our entire lives! "Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (I Cor. 5:8). (Questions & Answers. Good News, March 1981)

Also, here is a list some may find to be helpful:

The Following is a List of Leavening Agents

Active Dried Yeast
Ammonium Carbonate - also known as "Hartshorn"
Ammonium Bicarbonate
Baker's Ammonia
Baker's Yeast
Baking Powder
Baking Soda
Bicarbonate of Soda
Dipotassium Carbonate
Monocalcium Phosphates (Ca(H2PO4)2)
Potassium Bicarbonate - also known as "Potash" or "Pearlash")
Potassium Carbonate
Sodium Aluminum Phosphate
Sodium Bicarbonate - also known as "Saleratus"
Sourdough Starter Yeast

What are not leavening agents?

The Following Are "Not" Leavening Agents

Autolyzed Yeast
Brewer's Yeast
Corn Starch
Egg Whites
Polysorbate 60
Potassium Bitartrate (Cream of Tartar)
Sorbitan Monosterate
Tartrate powder
Torula Yeast
Yeast Extract

Hopefully, this will help those who have questions about which items should be gone prior to the first Day of Unleavened Bread each year.

Note: Historically, beverages such as beer and wine were NOT discarded by the children of Israel. There are not bread and they do not have leavening abilities as commonly sold. The removal is for the days of Unleavened Bread, so that is a reference to mainly grain-containing leavened items and leavening agents themselves.

Change Should be the Result of Examination

In his March 4, 1982 sermon, titled Passover Examination, the late Herbert W. Armstrong also said:

Turn now to Acts, the second chapter. On the day of Pentecost, after Christ had ascended to heaven, He had been crucified. He had lived without sin. He never sinned. He did not have to repent because He had never sinned. But He paid the price of sin, even though He didn't pay it for Himself. He paid it for you and me. And He took your sins and mine on Himself, and paid the penalty for us. It's just like God is a great banker, and you owe the bank a lot of money. And Christ is the banker's son. And you can't pay what you owe the bank. But His Son, the son of the banker, pays it for you and says, "Well, I paid that off for you. So you don't have to worry anymore about it. It's all paid."

That is, you don't have to worry about the past sin.

But you'd better worry about whether you sin anymore in the future, from now on; because then, then you bring the penalty right back on yourself again, IF you do go on sinning any more. Well, on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came on those that been taught by Christ, and on a total of 120 people (more than just the original Twelve). There were about ten times that many, a total of 120. And Peter preached the first really Spirit-inspired sermon by a human man on that day. And there were thousands there who heard him. And after Peter had finished his speech, it says in verse 37 of Acts the second chapter:

Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart. It touched their hearts, emotions. They were really hit. It wasn't just any old common ordinary thing. It was something that really hit them emotionally. They were touched in their hearts. Acts 2:37-38 And said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? [What are we going to do now, now that we've heard what we did and heard how Christ had been crucified.] (38) Then Peter said unto them, REPENT [But so many people don't know what he meant when he said repent. "Repent…] and be baptized [Now, that follows repentance.] every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy [Spirit].

SOME HAVE NOT CHANGED DIRECTION: Now, there is no promise in the Bible that anyone will receive the Holy Spirit until after he has repented and been baptized. And being baptized is only an outward physical form (or ceremony) typifying, picturing, representing your real repentance and belief. You go down into the water. It's a picture of death—the death of the old self and, as a type, of the death of Christ. Coming back up out of the water is a picture of the resurrection of Christ and your coming up to live a new and a different, a much-changed type of life, a different life-style. You're going a different direction from this time on. You're not going to be like the same person any longer.

But some people haven't ever undergone any change. They're still just the same. They've just accepted a few additional instructions, or teachings, or doctrines that they've heard. And they're so, they're really so 'good' that they said, "Well, you know, I want to be good. I want to do what's right; and that, I see that's true and that's right. So I'm so good I'm just going to accept it."

HOW MANY OF YOU ARE LIKE THAT, BRETHREN? You've just heard the truth. And you're so 'good' that you say, "Yes I—I, in my goodness—I'm certainly going to accept that, because I'm so 'good' I want to believe what's right. I don't want to do what's wrong." THAT WON'T SAVE YOU AND WON'T GET YOU THE HOLY SPIRIT!

WHAT 'TO REPENT' MEANS: I don't think that many of us have ever quite understood that yet, and we need to before we take the Passover. I sometimes have to wonder, and I've had to all through these years, if many of us understand just what it really means to repent. I read (about fifty, fifty-five years ago back—about that time, about the time of my conversion. It might have been shortly after.) of a story of a Methodist preacher.

In fact, he was the bishop that visited a church. He was a bishop, you see; and he was quite a celebrity, coming to this small church. He'd come from a bigger city and was over a good many churches. And he was preaching on repentance; but, somehow, the people couldn't understand. He wasn't able to make them understand what he meant. (And I think many of us perhaps do not understand just what we mean by repentance.)

So there was a black gentleman in the back of the church building, and he finally raised up his hand. "If you please, sir," he said, "I believe I can explain what you all mean, if I might."

Well the bishop said, "Certainly, certainly. Go ahead, if you can make it more plain or clear to the people."

"Well sir," he said, "I, this is what I think you all mean." And he started walking right down the aisle, down towards the platform. ... And he got down to just in front of the platform, and then he turned around. And he started and he walked rapidly back, even a little faster now. ... And when he got back up there; he said, "I think what you all meant, sir, is we must TURN AROUND AND GO THE OTHER WAY."

And some of them began to understand it. It meant you have to ADMIT you've been going in the WRONG DIRECTION. You have to ADMIT YOU'VE BEEN WRONG. YOU'VE BELIEVED WRONG! YOU'VE LIVED WRONG! YOU'VE DONE WRONG! YOU ARE WRONG, THROUGH AND THROUGH. And many of you have NEVER admitted that! EVEN SOME EVANGELISTS DON'T GET IT!

I've come to KNOW even MEN THAT HAVE RISEN UP IN THIS CHURCH to the rank of apostle—well, not apostle but of EVANGELIST. And [they] apparently have NEVER ADMITTED THEY HAD BEEN WRONG. THEY ARE JUST SO 'GOOD.' THEY ACCEPTED THE TRUTH, and they've BEEN ACCEPTING it. They BELIEVE and ACCEPT the DOCTRINE, in THEIR OWN 'goodness' and THEIR OWN 'righteousness'—SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS! And they haven't got any more real salvation than a cat, a dog, or a cow.

A lot of people have come into this Church, and a lot have become ministers and have gone through Ambassador College. They've been taught. But they never had the Spirit of God, and they NEVER REALLY COMPREHENDED THE SPIRITUAL TRUTH. THE HOLY SPIRIT ENABLES: Now, the Holy Spirit doesn't teach you spiritual truth. (It must be taught you.) But the Holy Spirit enables your mind to understand it WHEN YOU ARE TAUGHT. And I'm afraid some have not received the Holy Spirit even. Well, you'd better be sure, brethren, before you take the Passover. I want to speak on it this afternoon, because I won't be here (I'm sorry.) this year for the Passover. I'm going to have to be in Jerusalem. I've been there before on the Passover. ...

Now, we are commanded to repent and believe before we are baptized because baptism is only the outward ceremony picturing your belief and picturing the fact that you have repented—that the old life is gone, you've admitted how wrong you are, and now you're starting a totally new type of life. EVEN SIMON MAGUS WAS BAPTIZED: ... That's in the eighth chapter of the book of Acts.

So, let's look at that:

9 But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great, 10 to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, "This man is the great power of God." 11 And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. 13 Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done. (Acts 8:9-13)

So, we see that Simon believed and was baptized. Did that save him? No.


Because he did not really repent.

He was baptized, but still was carnally minded. Notice:

14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, 15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

18 And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, 19 saying, "Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit."

20 But Peter said to him, "Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! 21 You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. 22 Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity."

24 Then Simon answered and said, "Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me." (Acts 8:14-24)

Even though one or more of the apostles apparently laid hands upon him, Simon Magus did not receive God's Holy Spirit, or if he did, he nearly immediately rejected it.

And according to certain historical accounts, Simon instead of being a real Christian, was the leader of a false group. And in time, many of his non-Christian doctrines and practiced became accepted by groups claiming Christ which were not part of the Church of God. And multiple millions accept many of Simon's anti-biblical teachings and practices today (for some details, check out the article Simon Magus, What Did He Teach?).

But the point is not church history, but your own destiny.

You cannot just believe and be baptized, you must truly repent.

While you, unlike Simon Magus, may have done that when you were baptized, you can think because you repented of something before that you have no further need of repentance.

And God's Holy Day plan, which includes Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread, encourages you to more closely look at your life so you can repent and go forward.

In his March 4, 1982 sermon, titled Passover Examination, the late Herbert W. Armstrong also said:


Brethren, how about YOU?


DO YOU KNOW WHAT REPENTANCE REALLY MEANS? Too many say, "Yeah, yeah I guess I was a sinner. So I'm just gonna believe now."

And, in your own goodness, you do. …I don't believe that is repentance brethren. I know it wasn't for me. I didn't get it that way. I didn't receive God's Spirit that way. I had to go through something that meant the DEATH of this old self. It was already dead, and I didn't know it. But I had to let it DIE, and let Christ put LIFE in me through His Holy Spirit. ...

You repent of your old way of life and turn to GOD'S WAY OF LIFE. And what is God's Way of Life? It's the way God has always lived.

But God's way is not always easy. Jesus said:

33 In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

And as shown earlier in this article, you to have to overcome.

The Apostle Paul taught:

1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. (1 1 Corinthians 11:1)

So, what happened to him?

God allowed :

1 Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. 4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?"

5 And he said, "Who are You, Lord?"

Then the Lord said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads."

6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, "Lord, what do You want me to do?"

Then the Lord said to him, "Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."

7 And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. 8 Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, "Ananias."

And he said, "Here I am, Lord."

11 So the Lord said to him, "Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. 12 And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight."

13 Then Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name."

15 But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake." (Acts 9:1-16)

Paul suffered a lot:

23 Are they ministers of Christ? — I speak as a fool — I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. 24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness — 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation? (2 Corinthians 11:23-29)

Now, you probably did not go around being part of killing Christians and rounding them up like Saul, who became Paul did. Thus, God likely has not allowed you to be shipwrecked, stoned, or most of those things Paul listed. But, have you become weary?

Paul said he was weak. You are weak.

But we need to change.

Now, it's good to have this Passover season come once a year. And it's good to have us CHECK UP once and a while, and to remember that whenever we do make a mistake (maybe it was thoughtlessness, maybe it was deliberate even, but you've come to yourself and you come to realize it), REPENT and repent quick!

Don't say, "I'm not worthy to repent." You're never too unworthy to go to God and ask for forgiveness, and ask Him to get you back on the track.

Maybe you've gotten off the track a little bit. You can get back on. And get back quick, and don't delay! Don't wait for tomorrow. Don't let the sun go down until you're back on. Examine yourselves before the Passover.

God's redeemed people are commanded to observe the Passover annually, in its New Testament symbolism, as a memorial of Jesus' death and to picture what God has done in our lives (Matthew 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:14-20, John 13:2-5).

And we are to do so in a "worthy" manner, as we have seen from 1 Corinthians 11:26-27.

One fails the Passover examination by either not doing it or not doing anything about it.

Related sermons include: Really examine yourself before Passover, Passover Examination, and Passover Examination.

Thiel B. Examine Yourself before Passover. COGwriter (c) 2016 http://www.cogwriter.com/passover-examination.htm 2016/2018/2019/2020 /2021 /2023 /2024 0320

Back to home page