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What Principles Shape Your Life?

The importance of the foundation of a building cannot be over-emphasized. For, even though it is the part of the building that is not visible to the eye, being laid inside the ground, it is nonetheless that part of the building which determines whether or not any building would stand the devastating effects of natural disasters like, earthquakes, hurricanes, torrential rains, and flooding. Also, if a building goes up in flames, it can easily be rebuilt, provided its foundation was not adversely affected by the fire; otherwise, the entire building will have to be pulled down. So, once you detect a faulty foundation, it is in your interest to destroy it and rebuild another, otherwise, you would end up with buildings that will collapse at every turn.

As a foundation is extremely important to a building, though not visible to the eye, but under the ground, so are the principles upon which a persons life is built! The principles which form the basis for our conduct in life are acquired from childhood, when we were children on our mothers laps, when we were growing up in our neighbourhood or community, and, when we were in school as children. They are also acquired as we were exposed to various people, ideologies and civilizations, while growing up. For instance, there are those whose lives have been built on the traditions of the village elders. For these people, a visit to the village is always paramount, just as are advice that comes from the village elders. Their lives are guided by the principles set forth by the elders of their village. They see nothing wrong in fortifying themselves with charms prepared by the village herbalist, who may in fact be the chief priest of the village shrine. They may even go as far as using esoteric means supplied by the village herbalist, in order to eliminate someone whom they perceive as an impediment to their progress in their place of work or in life as a whole. Another example, are those whose lives have been built upon the principles of education, science, and research. For this group of people, what the scientists say about life holds sway. These people generally believe that a formal education, i.e., secondary education, tertiary education, and indeed, a post-graduate education is the basis for success in life. The people whose lives are built on the principles of education, science and research, are more likely to believe that all forms of life began from planktons, and that the planets and the galaxies are the result of a Big Bang which occurred several million years ago. Such people depend heavily on medicine to deal with the challenges emanating from health issues. For example, they are most likely to ascribe the inability of a woman to conceive to some scientific explanation like infertility, low sperm count, etc.

Sometimes, a person may be living his life based on a combination of principles accumulated throughout his life. Thus, an individual who had been brought up on the principles of the elders and tradition, may have added to this first principles, the principles of science, and to that, the principles of cultism, and to that the principles of politics, and so on. It is therefore possible to find people who were educated in some Ivy League school like, Cambridge, Oxford, or Harvard, who still go back to the village for charms, to help in their pursuits in life. In this instance, we see a man whose principles for living are an admixture or a cocktail of conflicting principles. So, when he wants to get something done, if one set of principles fails, he will then quickly activate and apply another set of principles, in order to achieve the results that he wants. These people have no qualms whatsoever about the admixture of tradition and science provided it can achieve their goalwhatever that may be.

The truth about the principles for living is that, like the foundation of a building, it is best that they are connected, and, from only one source. It is therefore best practices that a person adheres strictly to one set of principles, rather than experiment with a mixture of opposing principles. What this means in practice is that once you discover that the principles by which you once lived your life was wrong, you should not add to it a new set of principles, rather, you ought to uproot the faulty principles and lay and establish a new set of principles. This is what we are saying: if you grew up on the principles of tradition, for example, and later discover that it is not right for your life, then the proper thing to do, is uproot the principles of tradition, and lay a new set of principles, say, of education, science and research; otherwise, you may become dysfunctional, doing things that are at variance with the very same principles you claim to stand for! For instance, it will be strange to find a well-educated person (that is, someone who should be living by the principles of education, science and research), to also live by the principles of tradition which encourage the use of charms, or the principles which enshrine the assassination of political opponents, or, the principles which promote prostitution for career advancement. Some years ago, there was the absurd story about the Chairman of a Federal Institutiona well-educated manwho was found in a cemetery naked; taking his bath with water which was mixed with ashes of millions of Naira which he burnt, so that he could retain his position as Chairman. There was also the case of an ex-governor, a supposed devout Christian, who went to a shrine where human sacrifices were made, and swore allegiance, and obligation to making monthly payments from government coffers to a political godfather, who was nothing more than a tout and a thug.

This dangerous trend of living by a cocktail of principles, has unfortunately, found its way into the church of God. We find people operating by different principles and mixing them up with the word of God, and in the process, claiming that this is being wise and acting out of the expediency of the situation life has brought his way! Whatever you may want to call this admixture of principles, it has only one name, Syncretism! Syncretism is the attempted reconciliation or union of different or opposing principles, practices, parties, or religious beliefs. If you are a Christian, your principles for living are based on the word of God, and nothing else! You therefore, cannot be a Christian and live by Islamic standards, the principles of the traditions of the elders in your village, or the principles of science at the same time!

The Lord Jesus addressed this matter of syncretism in Matthew 9:16-17, when He said, No man puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse. Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskin, and both are preserved. You cannot mix Christianity with any other form of religion, or principle for living! Once you become a Christian, through the free gift of the salvation of God, you must begin to dismantle every other belief system that you may have acquired during your days of ignorance about God, and adhere strictly to the word of God. The bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. The old principles of life you once had must be uprooted when you become a Christian, and replaced with new principles of life based on the word of God, as contained in the bible.

When God brings salvation to a man, He saves that man completely. The salvation of God, through Christ is total and complete. However, there is need for teachings which will then provide the newly born again individual with the knowledge that is needed for him to remain free. And when we talk of freedom, we are talking about freedom from entanglement with the lure of sin, the desires of the flesh, and the influence of the world system. The bible says in Proverbs 11:9, by knowledge shall the righteous be delivered. The righteous are those who have already received the salvation of God. And as they are taught of the word of God, and live by it, they are delivered and freed from things that may want to hold and keep them in bondage. They are not delivered by the laying on of hands! Also, in John 8:31-32, the Lord Jesus said, If you continue in My words, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. Please note that a disciple is one who adheres to the teachings of Christ; hence, every true Christian is a disciple of Christ! The basis of Christianity is not church attendance; rather, it is in the constant and consistent adherence to, and practice of, the teachings of Christ, and, its application in everyday living. As a person lives out the word of God in every area of endeavor, he enters into the intimate knowledge of truth; it is this intimate knowledge of truth that makes him to free, and keeps him separated from the influence of sin, the flesh and the world. Making the word of God the basis for living your life, rather than living by a mixture of the traditions of the elders, or, the ideas of men, or, any other principle for that matter, is the very essence of Christianity; and this is the basis of true freedom or liberty in Christ. In Matthew 15:1-3, the bible says, Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, Why do Your disciples transgress the traditions of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread. He answered and said to them, Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? The Lord was addressing religious leaders who were more interested in the propagation of the traditions of the elders and of men, rather than in the teaching of the word of God. In fact, the Lord called it a transgression against God! Off hand, there are many transgressions against God, presently occurring in many churches today, which have been introduced by church leaders. One of them is the institution of Christmas as a Christian celebration. In case you dont know, Christmas is a Nordic (Northern European) tradition/celebration; hence, you have Father Christmas or Santa Claus! It is not a Christian celebration! It is thus, very strange indeed, to find Christians and whole churches celebrating a festival that has nothing to do with Christ! Another transgression is the introduction of cultural dances into the worship of God! Please let us be clear on this matter: our cultural dances were dances made to the village deities during the worship of these idols. Then there is our singing, which should really be about the worship of God, but it turns out that it is soulish, and just for our own entertainment and pleasure! There is also the matter of our prayers which seek for all our enemies (perceived and unknown) to fall down and die; when we ought to be interceding on their behalf before God! We have thus, introduced the practice of going to the village herbalist to make charms to kill our enemies, and mingled it into prayer. The village herbalist has merely been replaced by the pastor, and in some cases, transmuted into a pastor, just by putting on a suit! One such church leader asked his congregants to bring sand from their village so that certain yokes can be broken in their lives. Another one asked his people to pay for special prayers, after which a concoction is given, which when ingested, he claimed will give them deliverance. There is the practice of people who claim to be ministers of the gospel going to live in peoples homes and entering into prayer and fasting as they say, to appease God on their behalf, for a fee. Please note that God can never be appeased by whatever we do; we can only please God, by yielding to His Spirit and doing His will. No amount of prayer and fasting will help a man who is unwilling to turn away from his wicked ways on to God.

It is indeed sad that we have to be talking about these things; no wonder the bible says in Hebrews 5:12-14, For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles [or sayings] of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Many Christians, who should by now be teaching the unadulterated word of God, are unable to, because they do not even know the very first principles of the word of God. And because of this defect, many so-called Christians are living their lives on syncretic principles and practices.

This is why it is our intention over the next several weeks to assist as many as are willing, to begin to lay again the foundation of the true principles of the Christian faith, while dismantling every form of syncretism that has crept into their lives. In Hebrews 6:1-2, the bible says, Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrines of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith towards God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. We need to move on to maturity in our knowledge of God. Before we do that though, we ought to make certain that the first principles of the Christian faith are well established in our lives. But, we cannot begin to lay the foundational principles of Christ in the life of someone who is yet to accept the salvation of God. So, wed like to give an opportunity to such people at this time: very simply, the saving grace of God through Jesus Christ is Gods gift to all men, who are willing to admit their sinfulness before God, forsake their sinful past, turn to God in faith, and live righteously thereafter. If you have reached this point in your life, then, the gift of Gods salvation is yours once you confess with your mouth, and in your own words, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Saviour of mankind!

Let us pray!