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By Elkanah Cheboi, PhD in Biblical & Theological Studies

The problem of cults (false or heretical teaching/ preaching and false prophecies) is an old problem. It confronted the community of faith in the Old Testament, the church in the New Testament and throughout history to date. How do we recognize cults or heretical movements, avoid them, and respond to them?

Below we address the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS) concerning cults/ heretical groups or movements.

  1. What is a cult?

A cult is a religious group that differs significantly from one or more fundamental biblical beliefs and practices of historical/traditional Christianity (considered normative). Yet, they still insist on being regarded as Christians.

2) Does the Bible address the issue of Cults/false teachings/false prophecies? (Yes, below are select references)


"If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder,  2 and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, 'Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,'  3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Deut 13:1-3 NAS


"For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will mislead many." (Matt. 24:5 NAS)

Jesus described the false teachers/preachers/prophets using strong terms, “ravenous wolves”: 

"Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. "You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they? "Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit." A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. (Matt. 7:15-18 NAS)

Apostle Paul:

"I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;  30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.  (Acts 20:29-30 NAS)

Apostle Peter:

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.  2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned;  3 and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (2 Pet. 2:1-3 NAS)

Apostle John:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 Jn. 4:1 NAS)

To be forewarned is to be forearmed-

3) What authority/ criteria/ basis determines which group is cultic?

  • First, the Bible is an authority in matters of faith/belief and practice/behaviour. Any deviation from the Scriptures is utter falsehood and deception.
  • Second, the ecumenical church councils (during the fourth and fifth century AD)  gave the universal church some creeds or statements of faith affirmation that summarize the fundamental Christian beliefs as taught in the Bible (i.e., the Nicene Creed on the nature of Jesus Christ). We also have the Apostles Creed that predates these councils. In these ecumenical councils, Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Protestants converge. (The Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 determined how one is saved). Anyone who differs from these Christian affirmations is definitely a heretic/cultic.

4) What are some of the characteristics of a cultic leader?

  • False messianism- some claim to be “messiah’s” or prominent biblical figures.
  • What the leader says or writes is final. No one is supposed to question his life, behaviour, or words.
  • The leader (as opposed to the Bible) and his interpretation is final.
  • Because their goal is materialistic, they distort biblical messages on health and wealth.
  • The leader claims to give “NEW revelation/new light/new truth” (other than what is taught in the Bible). And since they have this “new revelation,” they are also authoritative in their interpretation. Realize that the canon of the Scripture was closed (Rev. 22:18-19 warns against adding or subtracting from the canon).
  • The leaders are mostly illiterate. Hence they reject education, healthcare, and employment (thus isolating them further from family and society). They dictate what the followers wear, think, spend money on, eat, sleep, date/marry, how they act, etc. These are often dictated by the leader’s standards or convictions instead of what the Bible teaches.
  • They have syncretistic practices of mixing Christian teachings with cultural beliefs, in some cases with some philosophical beliefs. Many of these false preachers are more traditional witch doctors than pastors. They claim to have answers for anything and everything.
  • They have extreme views of culture and how it relates to Christianity.
  • They give false prophecies.

Additional Characteristics of false teachers according to 1 Peter 2:  They introduce destructive teachings, deny the Sovereign Lord, lead many to shameful ways, bring the way of truth into disrepute, are experts in greed, exploit people with made-up stories, are arrogant, slanderous, they blaspheme, are like brute beasts, immoral, they never stop sinning, they leave the straight way of the truth, they are springs without water and mist driven by a storm, they mouth empty and boastful words, controlled by the sinful human nature, and “they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error.”

5) According to the Bible, what is the fate of cultic leaders? (2 Peter 2; Jude 4-16

  • They bring swift destruction upon themselves.
  • Their condemnation is definite, and their destruction is sure.
  • “They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done” 2 Peter2: 13

6) What are some characteristics of cultic groups/ heretical movements?

  • It is a group gathered around a specific person.
  • The source of authority is the leader/founder (and his writings).
  • Their focus is not on winning souls to Christ.
  • They are self-appointed leaders, often with no credible theological education.
  • Some believe Christ is not God.
  • Scriptures are interpreted irrespective of their historical and social context.
  • They denounce other Christians and teach their members they are the only true ones. According to them, the rest of the Christians are “defiled/ corrupted” and “lost.” Their movement is the only way to heaven as they are the only “remnants.” This antagonistic and intolerant attitude isolates them further from the outside world.
  • Since they have no reference point, some cults keep changing their theologies.
  • They manipulate their followers by brainwashing, radicalizing and feeding them with false ideologies.
  • They have a keen focus on the life to come, life in Paradise (hence they resign from anything involving this life).

7) What strategies do cultic or heretical movements use?

  • Deception (empty promises, fake miracles, or use powers of the dark world to perform miracles that mislead- Exodus 7:8-13 shows that powers of sorcery and magic can do extra-ordinary things). Deception is of the enemy.
  • Threats (with curses, death, unproductive life)
  • Emotional control-Instilling fear, guilt and secrecy codes among its adherents.
  • Brainwashing- In the indoctrination process, they discourage reason, and critical thinking.
  • Manipulation- they distort information and claim to have other knowledge, i.e. through visions and dreams.

8) Are the less educated, underprivileged and poor the only victims of cults? NO. Everyone can fall victim to cultic beliefs and practices. These groups seek to fill the void in every human heart for divine connection. But they do it in the wrong way. Even well-trained theologians, if not careful in their belief, can fall victim to cultic movements.

9) How come cults can attract/deceive many people?

  • They capitalize on people’s needs, fears, and hopelessness and cunningly promise hopes (deception)
  • They use psychological games to manipulate their followers.
  • Some use the powers of the dark world to win and maintain their following

10) What is the nature of salvation offered in cultic movements?

Sometimes, they may talk about salvation by grace, but the practical emphasis is salvation by works. It is based on what you do or what you do not do. This amounts to a distortion of the true gospel.

11) What nature of interpretations do cultic leaders or movements use?

  • They have a bend toward apocalyptic or eschatological literature. You will find that they mostly base their teachings on prophetic literature, allowing them to generate their own interpretations that suit their selfish ends.
  • They employ much of allegorical interpretation even where the text should be interpreted literally.

12) What are some of the dangers of false teachings?

  • Loss of lives (i.e., through mass suicides)
  • Endangers people’s health
  • Loss of property in the name of generous living
  • Loss of employment in the name of the world is ending. Some also are told to discontinue their educational pursuits.
  • It leads to radicalization and brainwashing.
  • It leads to a mental breakdown.
  • It leads to family and relationship breakdown.

13) Is Jehova’s Witnesses a cultic movement? Yes, (Let’s pick one critical component of the Christian faith, the nature and Identity of Christ, and see how JW teachings render it)

They have a defective belief in Christ (Christology):

“The true Scriptures speak of God’s Son, the Word, as ‘a god.’ He is a ‘mighty god,’ but not the Almighty God who is Jehovah” (The Truth Shall Make you Free, 47).

Jesus is the first and direct creation of God (The Kingdom Is at Hand, 46-47, 49).

The founder, Charles Taze, describes Jesus as having been Michael the archangel prior to his leaving his angelic nature to appear in the world as a perfect man (Studies in Scriptures, 5:84)

14) Is the Church of the Latter-day Saints (Mormonism) a cult? YES ,(Let’s pick one critical component of the Christian faith, the nature and Identity of Christ, and see how the Mormon religion renders it)

Their god is one among many gods: “Each of these gods, including Jesus Christ, and his Father, being in possession of not merely an organized spirit, but a glorious body of flesh and bones.” (Parley P. Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology{1973, ed.}, 44); see also, Doctrine and Covenants, 130:22.

15) How can one avoid falling victim to cultic movements?

  • Seek to know the truth as taught in the Bible. This will enable one to discern truth from falsehood (John 10:10b, truth liberates)
  • Examine the Scriptures and be critical (Acts 17:11)
  • Persevere in the truth
  • “Test spirits” to see whether they are of or from God (1 John 4:1)
  • Recognize them by their fruit (Mathew 7:16). Their doctrinal, moral and ethical fruit… Are they like Christ? If not, they are not of God.
  • Be on your guard/ keep watch over yourself (Acts 20-31), build yourself in the holy faith, pray, and keep yourselves in God’s love (Jude 20-21). Watch your belief and conduct closely. Refuse to be led by people not adequately trained to lead the church or shepherd souls.

16)How can the church overcome cultic movements?

  • Teach the truth. Cults capitalize on the ignorance of the Bible’s teachings.
  • Show compassion and love to those who are enmeshed in the teachings of false prophets
  • Passionately oppose/refute their teachings. Point flaws in the cultic systems
  • Set Christ as Lord and be ready to give answer anyone to seekers for their hope in Christ.
  • Reach out (through evangelism and missions), and plant Bible-teaching churches. “…snatch others from the fire and save them” Jude 23.

17) How can I help someone out of a cultic movement?

  • Pray for them that God may change their hearts and open their eyes (2 Corinthians 4:4). Without God’s power, it is hard to convince a person imprisoned by cultic ideologies. In fact, those who are on suicide mission, would not even accept to be rescued.
  • Live the truth and be bold to share the gospel.

Have You Forsaken Your First Love?

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In Revelation 2 and 3, the risen and exalted Jesus speaks to the seven churches of Asia. In 2:1–7, the focus is on the church at Ephesus. 

Ephesus: At the time of Apostle John, Ephesus was a major city of Asia Minor with about a quarter of a million residents. It was a commercial and export center for Asia, with three trade routes passing through it. Politically, the city was led by a governor and had massive theatres, stadiums, and marketplace infrastructure. This city also had a rich religious history. In this city was the magnificent temple of the goddess Artemis/Diana (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world). The city also had a shrine and a great altar built for the imperial worship of the emperor Caesar Augustus. 

Apostle Paul, Priscilla, and Aquila first brought the gospel to this city (Acts 18:19-20). Paul also spent two years establishing the church in this city so that “all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord” (Act 19:10). Also, Paul sent Timothy to reign on false teachers in this church (1 Tim 1:3). Apostle John is credited as the one who strengthened the church in this region.

For clarity, in 1:20, the seven stars are the angels (= messengers=, ministers of the gospel) of the seven churches, while the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

In 2:1, Jesus is portrayed as the one who HOLDS the seven stars in his right hand. He controls, preserves, and protects the churches, including Ephesus, and is watchfully present among them (Lev 26:12). Jesus also WALKS  among the seven golden lampstands. He walks amidst the churches. He is near his people and watches over them.

Jesus expresses an understanding of the strengths and the weaknesses of the church in Ephesus. What Jesus KNEW about this church:

  • Their deeds– Faith is demonstrated by action (Eph 2:8-10; Jas 2:18-26). In the next letter to the church in Smyrna, the Lord understands their affliction and poverty. Jesus knew all men (Jn 2:24). Also see 2 Chronicles 16:9
  • Their hard work/love– “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you helped his people and continue to help them” Hebrews 6:10
  • Their perseverance/hope


1) They were intolerant of evil-doers (false apostles)- Because of their love for truth, they did not tolerate those who were counterfeit apostles. They closed their ears to harmful teaching. In verse 6, they hated the practices of the Nicolaitans. This was a group known for its false teachings and erroneous behavior like immorality and idolatry. They hated what God hated (Isa 61:8; Zech 8:17).

2) They tested those who claimed to be apostles– They examined those who self-proclaimed themselves as apostles and found them false (they did not have the behavior of the Lord). Jesus had warned his disciples of false prophets in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves (Matt 7:15); Paul warned the church at Ephesus to keep watch over themselves and the flock of God, and added, “I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock” Acts 28-31). We are exhorted to test spirits to see whether they are from God (1 John  4:1-6; 1Thess 5:21; 1 Cor 14:29).

In a world full of false teachers and prophets, the necessity of testing spirits cannot be underestimated. We should be able to discern/identify (like the church in Berea, Acts 17:11) these false messengers and have nothing to do with them.

3) They persevered and endured hardships (v3)- They endured hardship in Christ’s name and considered it blessedness (Matt 5:10). In their hardships, they did not grow weary. To Romans (5:3-5), several years before, Paul had these to say, “…but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us….” They persevered in the correct doctrine and were willing to endure difficulty (under hostile environments and teachings).

Despite the commendations, Christ offered some rebukes:

Disapprovals v4:

The Loss of the First Love– The church at Ephesus had forsaken (‘given up’) their initial love- This is a church that Paul, about 35 years earlier, had praised for their faith in the Lord Jesus and their love for their saints (Eph 1:15-23). Love is a great ingredient in the Christian life (it is one of the fruit of the Spirit), and it is vital for the church should be known for its love. It should have been nurtured to grow and mature. But now, their love had diminished! Now the church was no longer known for the things they were praised for!

Jeremiah had proclaimed to Israel, “I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me…” (Jer 2:2).

The greatest tragedy in Christian life is when your best days of devotion, service, and intimacy with the Lord are all in the past.

The greatest tragedy in Christian life is when your best days of devotion, service, and intimacy with the Lord are all in the past.

The loss of their first love entailed the loss of their identity, purpose, and destiny.

What really happened to this church? This was more than a loss of focus. What exactly happened?

Three Realities:

1) The Devil– Satan had stolen their love. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10). That’s his identity.

Can be likened to the seed that fell along the path, “as soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them” Mk 4:15

They had fallen into the enemy’s deceptive schemes.

2) The World– They must have fallen into the trap of the patterns of the world.

Can be liked to the seed sown among the thorns, they hear the word “but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful” (Mk 4:19). Other loves displaced the love of God. The love of the world, the allure of the world, and everything in it make our love grow cold.

3) The Flesh– It took over and produced its fruit. Galatians 5:16-18: “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. The sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other….” Also, the cravings of sinful man, lusting of the eyes, the boasting of what one has (1 Jn 2:16).

The loss of their first love entailed the loss of their identity, purpose, and destiny.

The exalted Christ gives three antidotes in imperative forms. First, love can be restored if we pay attention to the three imperatives:

1) Remember (v5): They were to remember the height from which they had fallen. They were to trace the path of decline and failure. They were now instructed on the things they were praised for in the past! “

All religion commences in serious thought” (the good, and the Gen 3 moment… and redemption). They were to remember their experience and conduct before the devil came and stole, killed, and destroyed their passion, before the world and its pressures got hold of them before the cravings of the sinful man.…

This is not something alien to us today.

Remember when you used to heed God’s voice, passionate about winning souls for Christ; you had an intimate relationship with God; you used your voice to praise God; you had the joy and assurance of salvation. But it is now all gone!

In these past times, you accomplished so much and transformed lives. During these times, you saw miracles and God at work… So how do you know that you’ve lost your first love?

You had time for God, but now you are busy and unavailable (haushikiki, haupatikani). You used to pray and fast; nowadays, you rarely even thank God for food or when retiring to bed is a problem. You used to read the Bible in a few months, but now you can’t complete a chapter even in half a year! This is serious! You used to go to church; nowadays, even the Christmas service that comes once a year, you don’t attend. You used to speak so boldly (even with little knowledge) but now? You used to lead churches, ministries, and Christian movements…You used to cross rivers and mountains to take the gospel, but now you can’t even go to the next-door neighbor. If Zaccheus was here, we would have asked him, where did you throw your confidence that you had to climb a tree without minding about your status/ what will people say…. Where did the hunger and thirst to meet Jesus go? Where did that heaven-mindedness go?

Little by little, this love waned, and the flame went off because of the devil, the world, and the flesh.

How is our love for God today?

Consider the state of grace in which you once stood but have fallen from. Recollection can positively lead us to know our true identity and know our enemy. It can lead to healing in relationships (the prodigal son, Lk15:17-18).

As we commit ourselves to remembering, I pray that God renews the old golden days and that he reignites your passion for him and his work.

2) Repent: Remembrance must lead to sorrow (mourning) for sin and the desire to change one’s heart and mind. It should cause us to think again. Repent for going astray; repent for losing what you shouldn’t have lost, for not loving the things God loves, and hating the things God hates.

3) Reproduce: Do the things you did at first; resume your former zeal, diligence, watchfulness, prayer, and hatred for sin. Recover all the lost ground. Go back to the cross of Christ…gaze at it and be renewed. The Ephesian church needed to return to the first love and do what they used to do for God. True repentance should lead to a changed life.

Warning: If you do not repent… or heed what the Spirit says,

JudgmentI will come and remove your lampstand (church)” v5d. This verb, “I am coming,” emphasizes immediacy, “I am coming quickly.’

In Genesis 4: 7, the Lord told Cain, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door, it desires to have you but you must master it.”

If you do not repent and thus do not shine your light, God will remove his lampstand on which you are anchored.

We mostly know God as a Giver and not a taker. It is dreadful when God removes anything from us. Moses feared the thought of moving forward without God’s glory and presence. The case of Saul when God removed his Spirit (1 Sam 16:14-23) when God removed his Spirit from Samson (Jdg 16:20), and the fear David had when he sinned (Ps 51:11,12). As a Vinedresser, God prunes the plant for cleanliness and fruitfulness, but he cuts off the unfruitful/useless branches.

The letter closes with a promise:To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God,” (v7b). “The one who is conquering., or continually overcomes.”

Eternal life is promised to the one who is steadfast and overcomes doctrinal errors, schemes of the enemy, and the allures of the world. Assurance is given to the one who remains faithful to the end.

To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God,” (v7b).

Perfecting our Love for One Another By Dealing with Bitterness

In Genesis 4:1-9, we are introduced to the lives of the two sons of Adam (4:1-2a): Cain and Abel.

These two sons had parallel interests:  Abel kept the flock, and Cain worked the soil (4:2b).

Two nature of offering they offered (vv.3-4a): On one occasion, they brought offerings before the Lord. Cain brought some of the fruit of the soil, while Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flocks.

Two Responses (vv.4a)-: The Lord looked with favor on Abel his offering; he did not look with favor on Cain and his offering.

Why? Is it because of the offering or the offerer? Certainly, this has to do with the heart condition of the worshipper.

We are later told that Abel was a righteous man (Heb. 11:4), and his heart was right with God therefore, his offering was readily accepted.

However, Cain’s heart wasn’t right with God. And this was something that could not be substituted with sacrifices or plenty of sacrifices.

How do we know this?

Bible records, in Samuel 15:22, “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” God wants us to obey Him rather than perform superficial religious rituals.

Also, God does not delight in the multitude of offerings (Cain may have been tempted to think this way); rather, he wants us to be righteous, shun evil, seek justice, and defend the cause of the vulnerable in society (Isa. 1). Prophet Micah (6:8) instructs, “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Therefore, the rejection of Cain’s offering was due to a lack of faith and obedience. He was only fulfilling a religious duty, honoring God with his lips but not with a contrite heart (Ps. 51:17).

The nature of his heart was laid bare when God accepted Abel’s sacrifice. Cain was BURDENED WITH ANGER, and this became a source of conflict.

Manifestation of a Destructive Emotion (v.6): Cain became angry, jealous, and downcast; why? Simply because his brother’s offering was accepted and he was not. He basically had a problem with the declaration of his brother as righteous. His heart was full of hatred, resentment, jealousy, and covetousness.

This is not something utterly new; this is the true reflection of the human heart. Bible teaches that the heart of man is hostile and deceitful above all things and is beyond cure (Jer. 17:9); “For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and makes a man ‘unclean’” (Mark 7:21-23; see also Rom. 3:10,13-18). This informs us why Cain was angry and bitter over his brother.

These attitudes of the heart are not strange today. There are people who, like Cain, silently in their hearts, cannot stand seeing their friends/colleagues get promoted, move to a new house, get a life partner, get married, or get a scholarship; when these good things happen, they wish that the world of their favored colleagues would collapse or shutdown. These destructive emotions (anger, resentment, jealousy, bitterness, envy) motivate people to pull others down, call people names and ensure by all means everyone is on ground zero (like them)

Realize that in this case, it wasn’t even a friend; it was a BROTHER (repeated three times for emphasis); having an ill motive against a brother. Cain burned with anger against his own brother. I see a similarity between Cain and the prodigal son’s brother, who felt so bad when his lost brother returned home. He was so angry, yet he was not footing the homecoming party bill!

If you have a problem with people becoming better, you will always have a problematic life because there are always people who can do things better and are smarter than you in one way or the other. Yes, you are a unique and special person, but that does not eclipse the fact that God has gifted others differently. In fact, God favors those who walk humbly before him.

God works in mysterious ways. Sometimes, just like in the case of Cain and Abel, the older is rejected in favor of the younger, turning the normative ancient Near East societal custom around. Cain was special, but because of his sin, Seth took over his place (4:25); Ishmael was Abraham’s firstborn, but God bypassed him and chose Isaac. Esau was Isaac’s firstborn son but was rejected, and Jacob was picked. Jacob’s firstborn son Reuben was replaced by Joseph’s sons (49:3-4; 1 Chron. 5:1-2). In fact, God even “rearranged” the birth order of Joseph’s sons (Gen. 48:8-22). God exercises his sovereignty in his choices of those who receive his blessing, for all we receive is because of God’s grace.

Envy is such a disastrous sin in any kind of relationship. Envy or covetousness is simply wanting right things or wrong things at a wrong amount, at the wrong time, and in a wrong manner.

What was God’s response? Two Action Points for Cain (v.7):

Do what is Right– If Cain does what is right, the Lord will graciously accept him because the Lord does not show favoritism. The Lord was telling Cain to get his heart right with him. Does the Lord reject a person who serves him wholeheartedly? Has the Lord ever rejected a repentant sinner? If Cain had humbled himself and listened to God’s voice, he would certainly have been accepted unconditionally. 

However, Cain needed to get things right and do them right. The Lord is more interested in the worshipper than the offering; the Lord is not interested in the multitude of offerings.

In other words, Cain was told to go back and redo the assignment, and the retake will be accepted. Go back and do what is right, and your anger and envy will GO AWAY. This was a great opportunity for repentance.

As believers, we need to ask God to examine our hearts and minds to rid us of any of these destructive emotions. We need to learn what is right from God’s word and do it in God’s way.

Here’s the warning Cain was given: If he does not do what is right, then sin was crouching at his door like an animal waiting to destroy him. Cain’s destructive anger, envy, and bitterness could potentially lead to more sin. Thus,

He Must Master His Sin– (Rule over it/subdue it)- Since sin was crouching at his door, Cain needed to rule over/ master it.  Otherwise, it would master him. God had seen a (pre) meditated crime in his anger.

Sin is not a powerless thing to wish away. No. It is a POWER; it is a MASTER. It has the capacity to control us. It is a power that must be subdued.

Further, sin has the capacity to grow and even multiply. Therefore, it was necessary to master/subdue sin at its early stages. It is easy to master our tendencies before it grows and masters us. Sin, in the beginning, might look harmless, but with it is the capacity to bring massive destruction. Like the Trojan Horse- The ancient Greek city of Troy was given a gift-a huge wooden horse. It looked harmless, but hidden inside were soldiers ready to destroy the city. Deal with your sin; deal with your destructive emotions against others at their early stages before it grows (Heb. 12:1).

A bitter, jealous and envious heart that is not controlled can soon wreak havoc in relationships. The unforgiving spirit that is not mastered is like a time bomb. The greatest excuse is “I got angry.” Anger is a cover-up for some other areas of disobedience in our lives. Sin is not a weakness but a power that should be defeated.

Lack of self-control is not a family problem; it is a personal heart problem that should be decisively mastered.

A foothold given to the devil soon becomes a stronghold. Let not sin find a lodging place in your heart. Deal with sin radically and quickly. Otherwise, if it moves in and takes over, it will make you its slave.

Thus, we need to master our thoughts, language, and tongues, for it can be disastrous when it gets out of control (like fire).

If one refuses to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at their door, eager to control them, but one must subdue it and be its master. Master it so you can be a good steward of the body, influence, resources, and talents God has given you. Bible reminds us that we are no longer slaves but free. We are not to be controlled by flesh desires.

We can truly celebrate the win of others when God has renewed our hearts; we can only be pacesetters for others when we have conquered the self; we can only hold the ladders for others to climb when we have mastered our self-centeredness.

Unrestrained Emotions (v.8):

In verse 8, we see Cain luring his ‘brother’ to his death. Realize that the seeds of murder were nurtured when he never mastered selfishness, anger, hatred, envy, and resentment. Sin matured and gave birth to death (physical, social, spiritual). What began in the heart and mind was now executed using the hands. Sin begins at heart… and, if not checked, moves into wrong emotions and actions.

Conflicts are matters of the heart; they can better be managed at the heart level. It can get out of hand if not managed at the heart level. One can kill not just with a weapon but also with words (killing other people’s dreams, reputations, etc.). That is why people can easily use a weapon, or words, to address a conflict.

Anger is a powerful emotion that can lead to violence and even murder. Jesus taught that anger in the heart is the moral equivalence of murder with the hands (Matt. 5:21-26. Angry drivers cause accidents; angry people hurt others. Had Cain heeded God’s warning and accepted His gracious invitation, he would never have become a murderer.

It begins with wrong thoughts, then wrong feelings, then wrong feelings translate to wrong words, wrong words to wrong actions, and wrong actions to wrong habits. God is saying, ‘Deal with your sin now. If you let it go on, it will grow and destroy you (not just others).

So how can we deal with our hearts? Two Ways:

The way of Cain: “The way of Cain” (Jude 11); which is a way of self-belief and unbelief. Out of a heart ruled by human nature come pride, murder, unwholesome talk, and falsehood. When we hate others, it is a sign that we are not walking in the light and don’t have God’s love in our hearts (1 John 2:9-11).

The Way of Jesus (1 Jn 3:11-20- of loving one another)– Follow the way of Jesus, the life-giver. If we love God, then we should be able to love. God commands a blessing when we love and are united. The heart that says, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ or ‘I don’t care needs transformation. Jesus is able to fill our hearts with love and life. Jesus teaches us to love truly and to celebrate the success of others. Christ gives us the power to rule over sin.

We equally have a responsibility to guard our hearts against becoming sinful (no longer desiring to please God), unbelieving hearts (loss of faith and trust in God), turning away and being hardened. This is a daily work, asking God to search us try us, and consume our darkness.

Deal with temptation in the first instance. Temptations start small. At first, it may seem inconsequential, but once we yield to it, sin gains strength in our lives, and thereby our ability to subdue it diminishes.

In conclusion, we need to perfect our love for one another by conquering the self and dealing with destructive emotions.

God pictures sin as a wild animal ready to attack. It has a desire for you, it thirsts for your blood, it is your enemy… but you must master it. Deal with your sin. Don’t assume that it will go away, don’t underrate it, or else you will soon find yourself in the grip of a monster you can’t control. Samson fooled himself that God was always with him, and never realized that the Spirit of the Lord had long left him (Judg. 16:20).

Has your sin overtaken you, mastered you, or has become a  deep-rooted habit? You need God’s grace and Jesus to transform you and give you a contrite heart.

You need Jesus the chain breaker to break these negative emotions and strongholds of the enemy.


As the news of Jesus’ teachings and works spread far and wide, John the Baptist in prison received these reports and decided to send his disciples to ask him: “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matt. 11:2-6).

John the Baptist had heard reports about the blind receiving sight, the lame walking, the sick getting healed, the deaf hearing, the dead are raised, demons cast, and the good news being preached to the poor. All these indicators pointed to the prophetic description of the identity and work of the coming Messiah. However, he needed confirmation.

He wanted to find out whether this was the long-awaited kairos/divine moment and whether this was the person to bring good news to the world. He must have pondered, is this the Christ who will usher in a new period, a kingdom of justice and righteousness? Is he the light that is come to shine on all living in darkness? Is he the merciful one who brings true peace and salvation to God’s people? Is he the one sent by God to heal the broken-hearted, bring redemption, release the oppressed and proclaim true freedom?

For John to make his informed conclusion, Jesus’ response pointed to the prophetic utterances and signs characterizing his ministry.

More relevantly, since 1963 independence, Kenya has struggled through four regimes. Admittedly, although there have been some gains here and there in the last 59 years, Kenya still struggles with injustices, brutalities, corruption, mismanagement of resources, abject poverty, politics of exclusion, tribalism, and nepotism, among other threats.

In 2013, the Jubilee government came in with great promises. Their coming in after fifty years of independence and their use of the biblical analogy of “Jubilee” brought some renewed optimism among the populace. Biblically, the word “Jubilee” (Lev. 25) signifies a year of freedom, abundance, redemption, and rest. It is a year of restitution and releasing people from debts and slavery. It is a year that presented an opportunity to start off anew. But, strictly speaking, the Jubilee government has fallen short of this expectation.

John’s question remains critical as the new government is announced and inaugurated. Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”

Kenyans are full of expectations. Do the newly elected leaders comprise a breed of servant leaders who will revive the economy, ensure food security, fight corruption, provide (affordable) healthcare and housing, alleviate the suffering of the Wananchi, increase opportunities for young people, and build a cohesive nation through good governance and the rule of law? Will they be the ones we’ve been waiting for to fix the nation socially, politically, and economically? Or are they the kawaida greedy leaders we’ve known who can’t wait to first adjust their pay and allowances upwards…

Will the new 2022 government be what Kenya has been waiting for since independence?

Kenya Kwanza government, are you the ones we’ve been waiting for, or should the wait continue? We desperately HOPE so. But TIME will tell.


We are glad to release the poll results of the recent research titled, The Church & Politics in Kenya 2022.

The survey sought to determine the attitudes of Christians in Kenya across church denominations on politics, elections, and the extent of their involvement in the political process. It also looked into other matters touching on pulpit ministry.

The online poll was open to Christians from all church denominations in Kenya. It reveals opinions and practices on the specific areas covered by the survey. We hope these findings will create and inform conversations on how the Church in Kenya can better play its crucial role during the General Election period.

We are grateful to all the participants for sharing their views, thus enabling ShahidiHub Research to produce these findings.

The Kind of People Who Inherit God’s Promises 

PhotoCredit: Supercoloring

Joshua 14:6-15

God has laid out an inheritance before his people but not all will possess that possession. Many are called but few are chosen. What kind of people eventually qualify for God’s inheritance/blessings? This topic will be briefly handled within the context of ancient Israel inheriting the Promised Land; specifically looking at the life of Caleb. It is only Caleb and Joshua who left Egypt and transitioned to the Promised Land, the rest of his generation perished in the wilderness and a new generation had come up. What kinds of people “eat the best of the land” (Isa 1:19). What kind of people do we ought to be, for us to inherit God’s promises?

The kind of people who inherit the blessings of God /people to put on the watch list:

People who Firmly Trust the Word of God (v6)- Caleb remembers the word that the Lord spoke through his servant Moses forty years earlier. For all these years, Caleb hid God’s word in his heart, waiting for its revelation, like Simon patiently waiting for the consolation of Israel (Lk. 2:25).

In his short speech, he repeatedly refers to the word that the Lord spoke. God’s promise for his life was never weakened by age or delay. Caleb longed for its fulfillment. He lived with hope for the great day of fulfillment of the word spoken by the Lord. They that hope/ trust upon the Lord shall have their strength renewed. Caleb treasured God’s word for over 40 years; it God’s word that made him stand out in his generation.

  • People who have Personal Convictions (v7)- Caleb and Joshua had a solid conviction based on God’s word. Caleb speaks of his conviction in this verse. Conviction is a firm believe/strong persuasion; it is the feeling of being sure that what you believe or say is true. Caleb had a strong conviction on God’s promises. He is like Joseph (Gen. 39:9), and Daniel (Dan. 3:17,18), Paul (2 Tim. 1:12) in the Bible. You can only overcome the world, peer pressure and temptations by developing conviction based on the word of God. We need people who believe that they can be patient and get rewarded in the end; people who believe they can build wealth through hard work, and not gambling.
  • People who Wholeheartedly Follow God (v8)- Caleb was committed and consistent. When the ten spies brought reports that “made the hearts of the people melt with fear,” Caleb and Joshua chose to give an encouraging report based on the word of God.
  • Caleb wholly followed God. When the assembly of God’s people feared to walk according to God’s plan, Caleb stood firm. He followed God despite opposition. He endured threats, insults, and prejudices. In fact, he was almost stoned by the people (Num 14:10). It is possible to follow God but not wholeheartedly. King Amaziah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord but not wholeheartedly, 2 Chronicles 25:2.

What does to “wholly follow God” mean?

  • Submissive to the will of the Lord. He kept his heart pure.
  • Resting upon the word of God as clear and authoritative in matters of belief and practice.
  • Laying hold of the promises of God as certain.

Caleb followed God with determination. Clearly, that was not easy; especially when the people were complaining against their leaders and the people turning to idolatry in Mt. Sinai.

As a result of wholeheartedly following God, he was rewarded. Hebron, therefore, became an inheritance for Caleb. God rewards his faithful followers and honors those who honor him. He rewards obedience.

People who are courageous and strong- (v10-15)

In verse 2, Caleb demands to be given the inheritance according to the promise. He claims still able to dislodge the Anakites in their large and fortified cities. He is still able to task. He does not request the conquered regions, but a piece of the fight will be alright with him. He requested not the easy deal but the harder one! Today, we need people who know and have the courage to claim their possessions.

Be courageous to hold on to your convictions. Be courageous to swim upstream in the contemporary world. Be courageous to stand by the truth even when you are the minority.

Caleb was a man of courage. It is him who led the opposition against the ten (bad news) reporters. When the people of Israel wanted to pack and go back to Egypt, Caleb and Joshua had a rough time reminding them of God’s promises. Courage is not being insensitive/unaware of pending dangers. It is not the absence of fear, rather a deliberate strength and determination to move forward no matter what.

Caleb braved himself out when others proved to be traitors. This courage sprang from the faith he had in God. God wants Joshua to be strong and courageous to be able to lead the people into the Promised Land, Joshua 1:6. Joshua’s strength and courage came from meditating on the word of God, believing its promises, and obeying its precepts. This was the counsel Moses had given to all the people (Deut.11:1-9).

It is never enough to have convictions in life; it should be coupled with courage.

We need the courage to confess Christ in every place we go, and in every situation we find ourselves. Doing God’s will requires courage.

Courage has been summed up in the following words: “I must obey God’’

Our greatest enemy today is cowardice, life’s battle needs courageous people. Always be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. The kingdom of God as we know shall be taken over by the violent; it is for those who take it by force.

In Conclusion, Ephesians 1, we are instructed that we have an inheritance in God; ensure you are positioned to inherit this promise. The first inheritance is salvation.


In Deuteronomy 7:1-14; 8, the nation of Israel was on the verge of entering the promised land after many years of wandering. God, through Moses, gave them some instructions as they planned to settle in the land. But before giving these admonitions, the Lord reminded them about their past journey. God had severally rescued them from their enemies, delivered them miraculously, taught them, nurtured them through their challenges, and miraculously provided for their needs. As a result, they were now a people destined for an inheritance. God’s past dealings with them gave them some obligations as people. This is a timeless truth.

Therefore, when the Lord blesses you, remember to:

  1. Maintain your Identity in Him (7:2-8)- The people of ancient Israel were to set themselves apart as a special people to God. They had to jealously safeguard their (special) covenant relationship with God. Here, to be set apart means to be holy and blameless.

They were reminded that they were the chosen ones of God on the face of the earth. What a privileged position and favor! They were God’s treasured possession, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, called to declare God’s praises among the nations.

Also, they were reminded that God’s choice over them was not meritorious. Rather, it was a gracious act. There was nothing special to them that could attract God to them. In fact, they were not numerous than other people (people power), also, they were the fewest of all the people (insignificant). But God only exercised his love toward them because he was fulfilling the promise made with their patriarch, Abraham.

However, setting themselves apart was not going to come easy; they were to take radical steps against sin to remain holy to their God. For their safety, they were not to intermarry with those with opposing belief system (not to be yoke with unbelievers/friendship with the world is enmity with God), they were also required to break down their altars. Simply, they were not to adopt a lifestyle that was alien to their cultural, ethical, and spiritual foundations.

Holiness does not come easy; it involves constant, deliberate, and decisive moves against apostasy, sin, and wickedness.

Today, has the Lord God done so much to/for you (or blessed you) that you wonder how to thank Him? maintain your identity by living a godly life. Offer your body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God- as your spiritual act of worship (Rom 12:1-2). Thank Him by living a godly life. It is what pleases him. When you live a holy life in thankfulness for what God has done, you glorify Him (Matt. 5:16). In other words, you cannot thank God if you are deliberately living in sin

  1. Seek to Know the Lord- (7:9-10)
  • Increase in the knowledge of God– Seek to know what he cherishes, his will, what pleases him, and what makes him angry. Seek him, his kingdom, and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33). We often want to increase in knowledge of our professions, that is good, but we need to extend the same spirit in seeking God’s knowledge.

In this knowledge, realize that the Lord is your God is faithful (hesed), keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. Seek him as your greatest treasure (Matt. 13:43-45); make him your all in all; and, involve him in your life.

  • Do not forget the Lord (8:2)- It is interesting that we remember what we want to forget and forget what we should remember. The people of ancient Israel were instructed to remember the Lord and what he done in the past.

How can one FORGET the Lord and what the Lord has done in the past? Well, this is a common temptation to all of us. When the Lord blesses us, it is very easy to end up focusing on the blessings than the source/One blessing us.

Moses noted that the people will unsurprisingly forget the past miracles through the vast dreadful desert, thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions, military victories, the water out of the rock, and the manna in the desert. Sadly, this is one of the problems of the human heart: forgetting God.

When we forget the Lord and his workings in our lives, we give room for our hearts to be occupied by pride (8:14). We soon allow other gods and idols to take a center stage of our lives.

Pride (the spirit of independence) is something that crawls in silently and grows gradually without our realization; Moses warned that if they do not guard their hearts, they might end up saying, “’My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth…” (8:16-18). Therefore, for us today, it is paramount to stay humble and understand that everything we have has been received, because of God’s graciousness.

  • Love Him, serve Him, and fear Him– (6:5,13) “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

It is not enough that we are consecrated to the Lord and that we know him, we need to love him and serve him wholeheartedly with all that we are and have.

In Exodus 10:26, Moses adamantly told Pharaoh that the people will have to leave Egypt with their possessions because they will need it in their worship of God; “Our livestock too must go with us; not a hoof is to be left behind. We have to use some of them in worshipping the Lord our God…” We need to present not just ourselves to the Lord but also our possessions. God needs our possessions. We should serve the Lord with our wealth, don’t waste it on worthless things.

Giving is one of the ways we can serve the Lord and promote his kingdom; giving generously is one way of declaring that everything we have has been received and we are only stewards of God’s resources. A grateful heart gives; and by giving you make what you have received a tool for service rather than an idol of worship.

III. Follow the word of God (7:11-26)- God had revealed his word to Israel; and this was to be the basis for their belief and living. Torah contained God’s expectation, and God’s past dealings with them in regard to salvation. They were to read it, interpret it, and apply it. It contained guidance for their living, food for their nourishment, warnings for their good and promises for their success.

Obedience to God’s word ensured their continued blessings. Also, obedience to the word of God demonstrates our commitment to God; Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching” (Jn. 14:23).

This is what happens when you observe the word of God and revere him: God will keep his commandment of love with you, he will love you, he will bless you and increase you, he will bless your families, bless your jobs/crops of your field and herds of your flock. He will lift you up above others, he will keep you free from diseases, he will ensure that no one will stand against you, he will give you victory, and accomplish the impossible for you (7:17-24).

Walking in God’s ways radicality in regard to sin. Walking in obedience to God and his word means taking deliberate actions against falling into the snare of idolatry, destroying any form of idolatry, not to coveting the treasures of the wicked (7:16).

It is foolish and evil when some people use God or his name (as a bridge) for their ends; and quickly abandon him when they have secured their desired end.

IV. Praise/Bless him (8:10-)– When the Lord blesses you and have eaten and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, when your property increases, and when your money multiplies, remember to praise the Lord.

Praising/blessing the Lord involves declaring him as the source of the power of your success.

In Psalm 116:12, the psalmist communes with his own heart on how to respond to God’s grace and providence. He writes, “How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me?

First, the Psalmist says that he will call upon the name of the Lord. He will declare God’s name and deeds among his people. Having tasted of the goodness of the Lord the Psalmist will invite others to come to the living waters where they can eat and drink without money and without cost (Isa. 55:1-2). He will make the world know that the source of his help, joy, peace and salvation. He will let the world know that in Jesus there is a healer, provider, sanctifier, deliverer, redeemer, savior, hope and eternal life. He will lift up the name of the Lord, he will decrease as he increases (Jn. 3:30).

Second, the psalmist will fulfill his vows to God. Perhaps in his dark moments, he had made a vow to the Lord; and since the Lord had acted in his goodness, he will fulfill his vows.

As a person, you may have made a vow when you were sick, desperate, unemployed, in distress, or needed a sort of deliverance, breakthrough or promotion. Then the unbelievable happened through God’s intervention. You got healed, you got a job/promotion, or your business started picking up; or simply put, you became delivered from your ‘enemies’ and fears. The best thing to do is to remember to fulfill the verbal commitments you made to the Lord. The Lord commands, “When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said” (Num. 30:2).

Concluding Thoughts: When the Lord blesses us, let us: Set ourselves apart for the Lord and his purposes; Seek to know the Lord; Follow the word of God; Praise Him.

God Our Refuge

refuge God

When in distress, where do you run to?

When Israel finally conquered the promised land, God commanded Joshua to set aside six cities of refuge (Joshua 20). These cities were to be set strategically in the promised Land.

What was the purpose of these cities?

The cities were to be safe havens to those who unintentionally find themselves in trouble. For instance, anyone who killed a person accidentally/unintentionally fled to any of these places for protection from the avenger of blood. By running into these cities, the offender received a lifeline. In these cities, a victim was granted asylum until the trial of his case was held in the presence of the community. In short, a city of refuge was a place of safety in times of danger.

Over time, theologically, the idea of finding refuge in geographical places was replaced by the idea of finding refuge in the Person of God. A shift from a PLACE to a PERSON!

In 2 Samuel 22:1-4, David proclaimed, THE LORD IS MY REFUGE. He referred to God as his rock, fortress, stronghold and shield. The idea of a place being a refuge place began to remotely disappear in their theology, and the idea of God as refuge took a center stage.

Now, instead of a geographical location, the Lord is a stronghold to the oppressed, poor, and those who are in trouble (Ps. 9:9; Isa 25:3).

Bible mentions some benefits that come from having God as our refuge. Those who take refuge in God (even today) receive:

Blessings– Those who take refuge in him are blessed, are filled with joy and gladness (Ps. 2:12; 5:12). Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him (Ps. 34:8).

Protection– They that run to Him receive protection (Ps. 5:11). The Lord is a shield to those who shelter under his wings (2 Sam. 22:31; Ps. 18:30). Those who trust in God are kept safe (Ps. 16:1-2). The Lord guards them; “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge” (Ps. 91:4).

Deliverance– Those who shelter in the Almighty receive deliverance from enemies and from the traps of enemies. The Lord delivers his own from the wicked. He is the strong tower against our enemies (Ps. 61:3-4), therefore worthy to be trusted at all times. David confessed, “O Lord my God, I take refuge in you, save me and deliver me from all who pursue me” (Ps. 7:1ff; 11:1; 31:4). Also, David expressed his confidence in God, the trustworthy deliverer; for those who trust in God as their refuge are also rescued from shame (Ps. 25:20) and are redeemed (Ps. 34:22). If we want to receive honor instead of shame, then we need to hide under His wings.

Love and Goodness of the Lord– Those who take refuge in God are shown the wonder of God’s great love (Ps. 17:7-9) and enjoy the goodness of God (Ps. 31:19-20).


Where do you seek your refuge today? Is it in places, people, family, beauty, knowledge, material things, relationships? Ultimately, these options disappoint. Realize that even people who have sought refuge places in schools and in church buildings, in the past, were disappointed when those ‘safe’ places were razed.

If God is your refuge, you will not fear (Ps. 46). You will not be moved.

The safest place to be in the times of storm is to be under the shadow of His wings. The Lord is the strong shelter from the wind, a shade from the heat of the day, a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.

Like the Psalmist, the Lord is and has been our refuge, we tell him what concerns us and he delivers us. Also, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble,” (Ps 46:1); “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).

Jesus Christ is the refuge’ to those who run to him; even the vilest sinner who runs to him finds life. He is a safe refuge we can run to from the sinful world and turbulence of life.

Life has eventualities, just as the Mosaic law anticipated and made some legal provisions. But more importantly, we need to have a PERSON we can run into and be safe. The Lord is that sure refuge; not places or human beings.

Today, make the sovereign Lord your refuge. The psalmist exhorts us to choose God as our refuge for it is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man or in princes (Ps. 118:8). What does this mean to you?

A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it” (Prov. 22:3).

Over time, theologically, the idea of finding refuge in geographical places was replaced by the idea of finding refuge in the Person of God. A shift from a PLACE to a PERSON!



Life presents us with tough situations that make us question our foundational beliefs; especially on God’s character. Asaph, one of the singers in the OT temple, wrestled to relate what he believed (about God) with what he observed in life. In his struggle, he challenged the notion that God always blesses the righteous and punishes the wicked. He could not piece it together why the ungodly seem to prosper and why the godly to suffer. His reflections on God’s goodness to his people at the backdrop of the prosperity of the wicked are penned down in Psalm 73, for us today.

Epilogue: Affirmation of God’s Character (v. 1-2)

Asaph begins by affirming God’s character, “Surely, God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.” The God he worshipped was good. Historically, He had been good to the nation of Israel. (Realize that, even with his questions, he had a good theology; that God’s goodness is with those who are committed to him). Though, seemingly, he struggled to see the goodness of this God (manifested at the national life of Israel), at an individual level.

The paradox of Life as Asaph perceived (v. 2-3)

Apart from knowing that the Lord is good to his people, Asaph struggled in his heart to reconcile this fact with his observations concerning the prosperity of the wicked and the suffering of the godly. As he considered this mismatch, he not only increased in DOUBT but also developed in his heart ENVY of the shalom/prosperity of the arrogant. Sure enough, as he trod this path, he admits that he nearly lost his foothold.

Ways and Prosperity of the Ungodly Considered (v. 4-12)

He observed that the ungodly have no struggles. Their bodies are healthy and strong. Asaph thought to himself, who does not want such a life? In his skewed observation, he noted that the ungodly are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills. Like today, such people, even when they fall sick, their ill-gotten wealth assures them of stable insurance covers that would guarantee them better medical packages abroad. To Asaph, it looked like these people have it all. He could only envy them.

He also notes that these people are full of pride and violence. They use violence to acquire it what they want; and surely, they get it. Courts of law would not scare them. They are the types who switch jobs and get promotions anytime they want because of their evil maneuvers.

Their hearts and minds are totally corrupt. They have no limits of evil in their imaginations; they speak arrogantly and threaten oppression. But still, Asaph observed, everything seemed to work well for them!

They are popular, (they have the likes and following!) and everyone talks about them; and would want to stick around them.

They even mock God. In their iniquities, they say “’How would God know?’ Does the Most High know anything?’” (v. 11). Unlike Asaph, these people care less about knowing God or pleasing him. Yet, everything seemed is perfectly well with them!

These people don’t have church, Bible, or prayer and fasting in their vocabularies. They mock the very idea of prayer, God, and the Bible, and care less about God’s existence. Yet, again, they sound okay!

These wicked people are always free of care, and they go on amassing wealth, committing atrocities and injustices, taking everything under their own names. Yet, they go free.

These people seem to be enjoying everything about life, and having the best time of their lives; they are people who need not be concerned with tax compliance, they corrupt their way and hire the best lawyers to argue their cases, and bribe their way out in courts of law; they inflate tender figures, manipulate/cook accounts; they do evil and get away with it. They are a phone call away from a multimillion tender deal, money that will take you many years to get. They seem to have much fun and generally enjoy life.

So, why keep the rules when those who bend them always get ahead?

At least, in these verses, you can feel the struggles that Asaph went through. It certainly makes one sick.

How could God in his goodness allow these wicked people prosper and permit the righteous to suffer?

Certainly, Asaph may not have approved every detail of their prideful behavior but “it worked for them!”; they were prosperous in everyone’s eyes. And who does not want to be prosperous?

What then has been the value of my Godliness (v. 13-15)

Then the psalmist pondered about the value of his salvation. “Surely, in vain I have kept my heart pure and washed my hands in innocence.” He questioned the value of his godliness at the backdrop of the prosperity of the ungodly. Yes, as a godly man, Asaph had suffered many afflictions (Ps. 34:19); but in his envy, admittedly, he’d also become blind to the fact that even the ungodly undergo through many afflictions.

Asaph felt he had cleansed himself in vain. In his puzzle, the Lord seemed to prosper the wicked and punish the righteous.

Today, like Asaph, we are tempted to ask, ‘how has my salvation helped me when those who are not saved seem to be doing so well in every area of life?’

Have I maintained a clean heart in vain?

Asaph is sure that if he had spoken out his heart-deliberations he would have betrayed God’s people who looked up to him. Nevertheless, he kept these questions alive within him.

These things continued to trouble and confuse him deeply. Has it all been in vain?

Today, similarly, a pastor can ask himself, ‘is it in vain that I have faithfully preached yet the panda mbegu preachers are making a kill each Sunday?’ A businessman can ask, ‘is it in vain that I have conducted my business in an ethical way and as a result downsizing my staff, yet my unethical neighbor who relies on many things including witchcraft keeps on expanding? A young person might be thinking, is it in vain that I have kept my purity yet those who care less about purity or God are ‘moving on well’? These are weighty issues.

One thing is for sure, it can never be in vain.

Take a close look at Asaph’s mistakes:

  • He defined success, greatness, life, fun, pleasure, and prosperity through the eyes of the world/men.
  • His human perspective made him see things in terms of HERE and NOW. If God is good, why do I lack this and that now?
  • Envy and covetous (against the law of God: Ps. 37:1; Prov. 3:31). In this case, wanting the right things at the wrong time, in a wrong manner, and in the wrong amount.

This led him to:

  • Question God’s goodness.
  • Feel discouraged, embittered, and depressed.
  • Waver in his confidence in God.

Asaph’s Paradigm Shift: (v. 17-22)

The psalmist went out to the sanctuary to worship, hear the word of the Lord, and commune with the Lord.

The solution to our problems lies not in complaining but in communing with God.

When he entered the holy place of God (the presence of God), something happened! Verse 17 marks the turning point of this psalm. Behold! His eyes were opened! Asaph received a revelation!

He received God’s perspective of reality. He received new lenses (God-view lenses). He started to see things from God’s perspective; In this new perspective, he received a deeper revelation concerning the ungodly and the godly. Let have a look at each.

The Ungodly

As he embraced the God-perspective, he got to understand the FINAL DESTINY of the ungodly (v17). He started to realize that God has placed them on a slippery ground where they eventually stumble and fall. In due time, they will surely be cast down to ruin.

In his justice, God will arise and give them what they deserve. The end of the ungodly isn’t desirable at all; for they are on a pathway to destruction. The wicked are like a dream when one awakes; they are like fantasies (a dream), counterfeits of reality.

At this, point Asaph realized that his initial conclusion was wrong. His spirit was embittered/grieved noting that he had been senseless and ignorant before God (v. 21-22). His human perspective had led him along the same slippery path. He now started to overcome his doubts by considering the destiny of the wicked. The final destiny of the wicked is definitely miserable and NO ONE would not want to go that direction or walk along that path.

The Godly (v.23-26)

In this new God-perspective, the psalmist realized his glorious destiny. But he also acknowledged God’s help in the present time.

He acknowledged that:

  • God has been with him always (v.23)– God’s right hand, has always sustained and upheld him and supplied his needs. The ungodly look all good, but they do not have God’s presence. To him, God has been his portion (Lam. 3:23-24). In the words of Psalm 103, Asaph realized that in fact, he should be grateful for God’s blessings upon his life: God had forgiven him his sins, healed him, crowned him with love and compassion, satisfied his desires with good things, and redeemed his life from the pit. Simply, God has been good to him.
  • God has been his guide/counsel (v.24)– He had walked in God’s counsel. God had made known his ways to him. And he hasn’t allowed his feet to slip. He realized God guides his own through the puzzles and turbulence of life. He realized that he is standing because God had planted his feet upon a rock, to keep him from sliding.
  • Finally, God will receive him in/with glory (v. 24)- The godly will finally receive honor and glory.

The psalmist realized that he was indeed blessed. In fact, the ungodly should envy him, not vice versa. He affirmed that God was his only possession and desire in heaven and or on earth. The wicked people prosper materially but only the spiritual possessions of the righteous will last.

He recognized that the one who is truly prosperous or blessed is the one who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers but the one whose delight is in the law of the Lord (Ps. 1:1-2)

He came to a realization that those who trust in God have their feet on a firm foundation and have a glorious ending. But the wicked and those who envy them are on a slippery ground and they will soon stumble, fall, and will be destroyed.

Epilogue (v. 27-28)

Asaph concludes that those who are far from God and are unfaithful will perish. But those who are NEAR to Him find joy and safety.

Although he had slipped in his confidence in God (v2), he was now reassured that God was keeping him secure and had planned a good ending for him. God was his refuge, and shelter from danger.

Nearness to God always helps believers maintain a balanced perspective on material things and on the wicked

Concluding Thoughts

Envying the prosperity of the wicked is a common temptation even for us today. This becomes more real when we look at the world around us using human or world perspectives. It only leads us to despair and faithlessness. Asaph could agree that what he saw in the lives of the ‘prosperous’ ungodly was not the real thing; it was a sham, fantasies, and things transient (1Jn. 2:17).

We need not take pleasure in the fact that sinners seem to be prosperous. We need not admire the ungodly, for they are on a slippery slope.

The prosperity of the ungodly should not be envied but despised. Their prosperity is short and uncertain; their destruction is sure and sudden. Soon, they shall be no more.

God intends to bless us (give us shallom/all-round wellness/prosperity) but he gives us success, wealth and prosperity that is true and enduring; therefore, we need to begin seeing fun success, prosperity, wealth and fame through God’s eyes.

God-perspective brought Asaph to where he began; that the Lord is good to his people. He now came to the conclusion that the Lord is not just good to the nation of Israel but also to individual lives of his people.

Such a transformed attitude, today, will lead us to behold God’s goodness to those who are pure in heart even when we see the ‘prosperity’ of the wicked.

The God-perspective he received helped him understand the puzzles and regain his spiritual balance, draw near to God, and to declare God’s works.