The Lord has often guided me with numbers and their meanings, and in recent years I’ve seen 424 come up to help me guide a young Christian, just coming to be a legal adult. God was giving this person nudges and reminders to be a good Christian and know what that really is, because like many in the church, he found it difficult to leave behind some things and commit to being a more righteous example for God.
The 424 refers to Mark 4:24, John 4:24, and related scripture that go together to speak about what true worship for God is and to warn about letting good teaching, truth, and righteousness fall away and accepting what is false or bad. This guidance is something for the greater church, as well, so I share it now to help all continue towards the measure of a mature person in Christ, fuller in the knowledge of the Son of God (Ephesians 4:13).
The fuller context of all the scripture is:
- Mark 4:24 - “And [Jesus] was saying to them, 'Take care what you listen to. By your standard of measure it will be measured to you; and more will be given you besides. For whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.'” (Mark 4:24-25; also Luke 8:18) - "Whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him" refers to God giving more to people who did well with what they got, especially their spiritual guidance, Godly wisdom, or truth, but for the "one who does not have," even their wisdom or truth from God will be taken, so failing to use the truth and Godly wisdom you learn can make you forget or leave it behind.
Taking care of or being careful of what you listen to also goes with discerning good teaching and truth from what is false and bad. Good discernment is important because there is so much bad and completely false teaching in the church and world. We cannot simply give blind trust to everything the church, ministers, or anybody else says, but instead examine all things carefully and keep what is good and true (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
- John 4:24 - Jesus said, "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:23-4:24).
Apostle Paul said about what is worship for God, "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable spiritual service of worship [a reasonably righteous life]. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12:1-2).
The Parable of the Sower just before Mark 4:24 goes with it:
Jesus said, "Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God. Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away. The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance" (Mark 4:11-15).
All this goes together to remind us to be careful about what we listen to and accept – keep good and true teaching from God and walk a reasonably righteous life, but resist and reject darkness, lies, and the ways of error and the world that pressure us to leave the truth and righteousness – because God wants worship (our lives walked in righteousness) to be done in spirit and truth.
The spirit part of that is to have a true heart for God, and the truth part is to know what is truly right and wrong (what sin actually is), and what is true and what is false, and then walk out a new life away from sin and darkness. God wants us to walk in real righteousness and not false versions created by man or the church.
This also notes that going to church regularly and worshipping in song is not what the Lord really counts as most important, though, our worship and praise in song can be an important expression of our spirit of worship that shows a true heart for Christ. It is an actual walk in true righteousness that is much more important than participating in regular worship services.
Also note that I said it is a reasonably righteous life
that is true worship for God, which comes from the Greek word, λογικός (logikos), in Romans 12:1, meaning “pertaining to reason or logic”[2.900.5.0]
. Why would God put that word in that verse? It’s because we have a light yoke under Christ (Matthew 11:28-30)
, not to be slaves to law, and there are false versions of righteousness that are taught by demons and used by the church to enslave believers into heavy yokes, such as mandating tithes and attendance at church.
Works of sanctification are a required pursuit for a Christian living in true worship and spirit to God, though. So “as obedient children do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior, because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:14-16; Leviticus 11:44-45, 19:2, 20:6-7; also Leviticus 20:26).
And like the young Christian who had trouble leaving things of the world, such as popular media and music that help support bad morals and behavior, we should leave those things and end our support for them and their creation, because supporting the people and companies who create and distribute them, helps them to continue in providing more bad and immoral content.
However, because of much false teaching in the world, we need to discern what true sanctification is and how much sanctification we apply to our lives. This varies greatly from individual to individual and it is a work of the Spirit and God’s guidance in our lives that we will attain greater sanctification in this life, so it is important to pray on these things and not be given to excessive, false sanctification.
Remember, too, that works of sanctification are not required to be saved into God’s kingdom. Our salvation in Christ is a true gift of God given of grace, not mandating anything but our faith in Christ and public loyalty to Him. Sin in general or the level of sanctification we’ve achieved does not take our names out of the Book of Life (see The True Gospel and Imposters for details)
. And so Paul warned and rebuked believers about trying to be saved through works, saying, "Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh [works of righteousness or sanctification]?
" (Galatians 3:2-3)
So remember, we are not slaves in God’s kingdom, but slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:18-19) in that we ought to pursue it whole-heartedly in a life of true spirit and worship to God. Be blessed in that pursuit, through Mashiach Yehoshua – Christ Jesus. Amen.