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Clothed in Salvation

I recently wrote a post exhorting my brethren to lay down the white flag of surrender that they have raised to the enemy, but I have taken part of that post and split it into this post because I want to address this issue separately.

Christians are called to abide in the victory of Christ by walking in the Holy Spirit, by whom we are regenerated and renewed. However, several successive generations of Christians in the West have, unfortunately, been raised without understanding what it means to be regenerated  and renewed by the Holy Spirit.  And, because we overcome by faith (1 John 5:4), when Christians either do not know that we have been given victory in Christ to come out from this world and be holy, or have been led to believe that we will remain as sanctified corpses, still dead in our transgressions, then our faith becomes fatally flawed and many even suffer shipwreck of their faith.

CLOTHED IN SALVATION

King Solomon prophesied in the Song of Ascents when dedicating the temple of the priests of God being clothed with salvation and rejoicing in goodness:

“Now therefore,
Arise, O LORD God, to Your resting place,
You and the ark of Your strength.
Let Your priests, O LORD God, be clothed with salvation,
And let Your saints rejoice in goodness.

~2 Chronicles 6:41; cf Psalm 132:8-9

Again, Isaiah prophesies of the gospel, saying;

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD,
My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

~Isaiah 61:10

Oh the white linen raiment’s of the righteous salvation of Christ!

You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

~Revelation 3:4–5

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying:

“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom,
Thanksgiving and honor and power and might,
Be to our God forever and ever.
Amen.”

So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple.

~Revelation 7:9–12, 14

And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thundering’s, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!   Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.”  And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

~Revelation 19:6–8

Christ has clothed us Himself by His sinless life, death, and resurrection:

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

~Galatians 3:26–27

Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.  Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

~Romans 13:12–14

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

~Ephesians 6:10–11

The Lamb of God was slain to make provision that we might be clothed in Salvation!

This new creation is not only the regeneration of our heart, conformation of the mind to Christ, and the receiving of the Holy Spirit, but it is also the removal of our filthy rags and the putting on of Christ!  When we are baptized into Christ we receive all of Christ, praise be to God!  We are clothed in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, humility, lowliness, mercy and grace, selflessness, righteousness, holiness, truth, and all the good things of Christ so that we may be found ready for the marriage feast!

DISROBING

However, there are some who are disrobing themselves of Christ so that they can partake of the passing pleasures of this adulterous age.

By putting off the righteousness of Christ and putting on the wicked deeds of this world, Christians are laying aside the fine garments given to us by Christ and submitting themselves again to the yoke of bondage that comes with this world’s raiment’s (garments).

But why does it matter?

Read Jesus’ parable of the Wedding Feast in Matthew 22:1-14.

Many were called and came to the wedding feast, but the King saw a man who was not clothing in wedding garments, and cast him out into the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

I am very concerned because I see many brothers and sisters that are clothing themselves in the deeds of this world, little by little they are disrobing themselves of Christ; I fear that they will, one day, be found miserable, poor, blind, and naked!

We read above, in Revelation, where Jesus told the Church in Sardis that those who overcome this world and do not defile their garments will have their names written in the Lambs book of life.  Indeed, the first three chapters of Revelation have Jesus sternly rebuking 5 of the 7 churches who were defiling themselves in one way or another, and, who were not overcoming this world in their faith.

But how can we keep from defiling our garments with the deeds that are so native to the flesh?

I say then: walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

~Galatians 5:16

CONCLUSION

In view of the great salvation that Christ has clothed us in, which holds promise not only for this life, but also for the one to come, why should we so easily cast aside our inheritance for a few passing pleasures in this world, as Cain sold his birthright to Abel?

Brethren, we all have need of endurance and to stand strong, so that we do not draw back to perdition but press on by faith unto salvation!

Be strong in the LORD, take up the full armor, and walk in the Spirit that you not gratify the lusts of your flesh!

Grace, mercy, and peace be with you from the Lord Jesus Christ, amen!

white-flag-surrender-2

Put Down the White Flag!

Brethren let me come to you humbly to speak to you a word: it is time to put down the white flag of surrender that you’ve raised to the enemy!

Jesus appeared to destroy the works of the devil, and He has disarmed the principalities and powers of darkness, and made a public spectacle of them, there is no reason for you to surrender to the enemy!

Do not join the fallen who will say,

And look!  The tears of the oppressed, but they have no comforter- on the side of their oppressors there is power, but they have no comforter.  Therefore I praised the dead who were already dead, more than the living who are still alive.  Yet better than both is he who has never existed, who has not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 4:1-3)

If you are born of Christ, you do not need to surrender to the Devil, you can overcome this world by faith through the blood of Christ!

You are being deceived by those who would convince you that you are doomed to sin, and thus your faith has been weakened.  Do not be deceived brethren, neither let your faith become dead, for it is by faith that we overcome this world.

Will you walk in the promises of God?  You have but to trust Him and obey.

 

Not Meant For Emptiness

As human beings we are not meant to be empty; this is not a new-age idea, but a very real spiritual reality that affects you more than you might think.

Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? ~1 Cor. 6:19

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen. ~2 Cor. 13:14

We are vessels meant to be filled; our carnal life was spent filling itself with an insatiable desire for all the things of the world: wealth, food, sex, prestige, and power. But, when we are pierced with the word of Truth, and the Holy Spirit cuts deep unto the division of bone and marrow, we are sanctified by the blood of the Lamb according to the the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit and the old man with his old ways is done away with by the cross and, “behold”, we are made a new man by the resurrection of Christ!  Thus we are made into vessels of honor.

We are still meant to be filled, but whereas we once filled ourselves with the things of this world, now we are to be filled with the things of our heavenly Kingdom: all goodness and love, righteousness and holiness, grace and truth, faith and hope, and all the gifts of the Spirit.

Jesus said,

The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!   No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.  Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?

Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. ~Matthew 6:22–25, 31-33

The spiritual reality that you are not meant to be empty, but to be filled has profound spiritual impact upon your life.

I find that many brethren have tried to answer the beckoning call of the Lord to come out of Babylon, but in coming out they have lingered in the wilderness, wandering in dry and thirsty places of desolation.  They have tried to empty themselves of the world through the cross, but they have resisted being filled with the Kingdom things of God!

How have we resisted?  Well, namely, some brethren may have made decisions to “cut off” certain worldly things like their TV (and this is good), but no many can remain empty for long, so, because some brethren fail to fill themselves with Christ through prayer, the word, and the exercise of good work, they find alternative “distractions” to replace that which they have tried to cut off.

I hope you were able to follow me on that.

In the above passage from Matthew 6, Jesus gives several things that cause us to be filled with darkness; in short they are the cares of this world such as wealth, clothing, and food.   He said “do not worry about these things, but rather, seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness”.

Coming home from a day of work and immersing yourself in “sanitized distractions” leaves you feeling empty, and emptiness is a desolate wilderness that you were not meant to tarry long in!

Rather, be filled with the things of God’s kingdom: worship the Lord your God in private and in public, pray to Him and seek His face.  Learn the disciplines of the Spirit and so exercise yourself unto godliness!

Brethren, be filled in Christ, amen!

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.  But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.  And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

~Col 3:12–17

The Internet as an Evangelism Tool?

The scripture gives us the great commission by which the Church strives as a whole to fulfill the call to extend the gospel of God to every corner of the world; each Christian under-girds the Church’s answer to the great commission according to the gift of Christ’s grace that abides within them.

What I wanted to do was to briefly address the option of the “internet” as a tool by which we can reach out to the world and some of the weaknesses when it is misused.

THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD

God has equipped some brethren to be able to convey the truth that accords with godliness in written form: their work pierces and convicts the soul and strengthens the body of Christ.  This work is, indeed, a pivotal part of our great commission now.

One of the greatest modern examples of our time came before the advent of the internet: A.W. Tozer spent years in prayer and careful personal study of God’s Word, and his writing are the kind of writings that are rich and full of the graces of God.

The key here is that Tozer’s writings were the overflow of his personal fellowship with Christ.  He was not trying to publish 5 posts a week to attract more readers.  He wrote of what he received from a lifetime spent drawing from the deep Wellspring.

Any brother or sister who feels called to write online needs to take this lesson to heart: write what you’ve received from having come near to God yourself, not what you took from various places and pieced together.

FOR WORSHIP AND PRAISE

Christian history is rich with the hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs of Christians that lifted up glory to God with worship.   The creative arts are a wonderful way in which the glory of God can be exalted by men and women who have spent time in the presence of God.

We have no less a great opportunity today with such a dynamic tool for evangelism as the internet; however, like writing of the knowledge of God, bring worship and glory to God through hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs takes time meditating with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength upon the glory of God.  It requires honing your ability to compose and create.

It is interesting that very few Christians, however, opt for this ministry; I sometimes wonder if it is because it is easier to write out a public rant-and-rave that will attract 500 footprints a day, but bring no acceptable honor to God, than it is to labor in the composition of “bringing a new song to God” (Psalm 96:1)?

EVANGELISM?

We see evangelism in a very narrow perspective today: unfortunately the body of Christ appears to be very dysfunctional right now as each member wants everyone to be like them.  Evangelists want everyone to be evangelists, and preachers want everyone to be preachers.  The list goes on and on.

While we are not all evangelists, we all under-gird that commission according to the gift of Christ’s grace that we’ve each been given.

Don’t let anyone try and mold you into their image; seek the face of God and learn from Him how He wants you to use the internet.

People worry that if we encourage people to stop trying to fashion themselves in the image of other great men of God that the body will run into heresy; but it is heresy to fashion ourselves in the image of anyone but God!

If you have truly come before the glory of God and spent time in His presence, then your actions will be true to sound doctrine that accords with godliness; your actions will be true to the true grace and holiness that God has called us in and to.

Seek the face of God and be faithful with what you have received: evangelize!

PREACHING AND TEACHING

This problem of body-image jealousy in the Church is very severe: what I mean by that is that we see video sermons from men like Leonard Ravenhill or David Wilkerson and immediately want to copy their work.  So we have young preachers who try to produce 4 or 5 sermons a week so they can have “an impact”, but what they mean is that they want to be like these men.

I’ve been prompted by people to produce more video-sermons, and by the grace of God I will record what He wills, but let me encourage my brothers to be careful about posting any content because you’ve been asked to post; dig into your quiet prayer closets, brothers, it is the only way that we will have a fighting chance at accomplishing what we want to accomplish!

ENCOURAGEMENTS AND EXHORTATIONS

It’s important for us as Christians to know the gift of Christ’s grace that abides in us so that we can minister according to the equipping of the Holy Spirit; far too often I witness people trying to go out and be what they are not called to be, or people letting other men or women dictate to them how they ought to function in the Body of Christ.  It is God alone who places the body.

I know that I have been placed as a preacher and teacher of God’s Word, and have served in various ways as an evangelist; but I also know that the way I might work as an evangelist or preacher is different than other wonderfully gifted evangelists and preachers would work.

Let me encourage you not to spend your time measuring yourself according to how other people work; they may be fulfilling God’s work as He called them, but He may have called you in a different capacity.

I’ve met a number of Christians who feel gifted in the graces of hospitality, but yet still feel guilty because they are not preaching on a street corner.  What it is high-time for the Church to understand is that the body needs the supply of every joint; we are suffering because people are not fulfilling the vocation God has given them!

I hope you don’t hear me giving an excuse for you not to reach out to your neighbor with the gospel just because you don’t feel called as an “evangelist”: every Christian has the calling and gifting to reach out to those who are in their immediate sphere of influence (work, family, friends, and residence), but  not every Christian has the gift to travel to a foreign country to reach the lost souls abroad, or to stand before a rebellious Church and rebuke their sins; yet every function is necessary.

That is why I wanted to address this in a way that brought the included the internet because I believer there are vast ways we can be using the internet, not as a replacement, but as a supplement to our ministry in various ways.

CONCLUSION

Brethren, may you all be blessed in the grace and peace of Christ, and do not grow weary in fulfilling your call.

Fight the good fight.

An Exhortation unto the New Creation

It is impossible to deny the new creation that we become when we are born of the Seed of Christ; it is the greatest miracle, sign, and wonder of the work of God that was prophesied about by the prophets of old (Ezekiel 26:20ff), witnessed of by Christ Himself (John 3:3ff), and revealed in the knowledge of God by the Holy Spirit through the apostles (Romans 8:1-16; Galatians 5:16-26 & 6:15; Ephesians 4:17-24; 5:1-14; Colossians 1:19-23).

It is not possible for Christ to abide in us without affecting this change because Christ came to “take captivity captive and give gifts to men”; if Christ abides in you, then so do both the crucifixion of the flesh, and the resurrection of the Spirit.

Therefore it says, “For we are unto God a sweet smelling aroma of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: to the one we are the aroma of death unto death; and to the other the aroma of life unto life” (2 Cor. 2:15-16). Indeed, to those who are perishing in this world, we are the aroma of death, the mortification of the flesh with all its desires; to such as these, we are the witness of death, and on the day of Visitation, the witness of faith unto life! But to those who are saved, we are the aroma of life in the Spirit of God by faith; on our day of visitation, we shall be an inheritance for Christ unto His glory!

Brethren, do not neglect such a great salvation as what we have received from Christ, neither let yourself be found like the unfaithful and unprofitable stewards Christ told us about; are you will to count the cost, do you see the glory of knowing Christ, or is He the love and desire that fills your heart so that you long to get away into that quiet place for prayer and fellowship with Him?

No matter what the world tells you (or, for that matter, the Sunday pulpit), no child of God must remain a slave to sin, for you are set free in Christ unto righteousness and communion of the Holy Spirit.

Grace, mercy, and peace to the children of God everywhere, Amen!

Magic & Sorcery- Part 2

I took quite a bit of heat over a series of posts that I wrote on my then-default-blogging-platform Xanga back when movies like Harry Potter were coming out because I tried to warn Christians about the ensuing flood of darkness that was overtaking my generation; I asked Christians to stand by God’s command to have nothing to do with magic.  Our Father in Heaven is all wise and knew that these kinds of things would usher in a generation of increasingly dark movies to feed my generation’s increasingly dark appetite.

However, on WordPress, I have only written one post on Magic and Sorcery, which addresses this topic on a more basic level, so I would encourage you to take a moment to go read that short post to help get a grasp on some of the fundamental issues that pertain to this topic.

But today my intent is to address this topic from atop a more targeted and precise vantage point.

CONFUSION:

I want to clear up some confusion first: I don’t think most people can see clearly when it comes to this particular topic because they narrow their perspective to only one element of what composes “magic”.  For example, some people only address the topic from the perspective of drugs (taking advantage of a portion of insight that is given to us by the Greek word Pharmakia), while others only understand it from the Hollywood perspective of wand-waving, potion-conjuring, broom-riding, figures of pop-culture.  And because of this last perspective, there are many people that dismiss the subject entirely as nothing more than fantasy and imagination.  Indeed, I might even go so far as to say that Hollywood’s portrayal of magic is actually working to Satan’s advantage by blinding us to how extensive sorcery actually is in the world today.

So it’s very important that we understand how extensive this topic really is and take the time to understand the many different aspects of this topic.

A WORK OF THE FLESH

Galatians 5:20

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,  idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

 

Sorcery should not be viewed as a matter of nothing more than fantasy and imagination.  It is a very real work of the flesh.  The Babylonians used a particular form of sorcery known as “divination” that was viewed in their society to be a very sophisticated and advanced science to guide their internal policies and foreign affairs (Myers, A. C. (1987).

Sorcery is very much a work of the flesh driven by the sin of rebellion (1st Samuel 15:23).  We sometimes want to make sorcery sound very mystical and elusive, but we must not forget that it is worked by the flesh.

In many occult circles, sorcery is also referred to as “manipulation”; physical elements can be used for various purposes and to various ends.

This should bring in two important dimensions of this topic that we need to consider: first, although sorcery seeks to tap into unusual power, forces, and influences, it does so as a work of the flesh, and is, therefore, not divine- this is why it is often referred to as manipulation, and, although it can offer power that we may otherwise think of as “miraculous”, it is not the power of the Almighty Creator God.  Sorcery is portrayed in Hollywood in “flashy” Harry Potter style, but we shouldn’t be deceived into thinking that it doesn’t also come disguised in modern and sophisticated wonders, just as it was in the days of the Babylonians and Assyrians.  Secondly, another dimension of this practice is drug-use.  Drugs are used world-wide to manipulate our natural physical state, and enhance various aspects of our flesh.  In fact, millions of people worldwide are “held under the sway of drugs” in a perpetually altered mental state that often times renders them “safely out of the reach of the gospel”.   In other words, millions and millions of people worldwide are in a mental state that has little hope so long as they remain under the control of an unnatural “drug”.

PRESENT IN THE END-TIMES

Another dimension of this topic that we need to be aware of is that God tells us that sorcery will be prevalent world-wide in the end times.   We condescendingly believe ourselves to be too enlightened for sorcery in our developed 1st-world countries because we have accepted Hollywood’s veiled picture of sorcery.  But God sees the world differently:

Revelation 9:21

The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.

God sends great plagues to punish the world and wipe out vast multitudes of people because of their great sins; at this time the earth is full of demonic worship, idols of wealth, murder, various immoralities, thefts, and… sorcery.   After God’s punishment is enacted upon the world, He sends out the call to repent for these sins and the world still refuses to acknowledge God and repent!

Sorcery is very widespread according to God’s Word, and deeply ingrained in the peoples of the world.  This alone should tell us that our modern definition of “sorcery” is fatally flawed.

We need to understand that sorcery is a work of our flesh and includes (but is not limited to) much of modern-day pharmaceutical practices.

For example, modern pharmaceutics have the following attributes:

  • the pharmacy industry boasts that they have extended human life expectancy beyond 100 years of age, the specific limit God put on mankind (here the sin of rebellion to God manifests itself)
  • pharmaceuticals try to make ourselves immune to diseases and viruses that were put here as part of the curse (again, defying God’s punishment).
  • many athletes look to illegal pharmaceutical concoctions to enhance their physical performance (which is an example of how drugs are connected to the works of the flesh).
  • And in many foreign cultures (and more discreetly in the American culture), pharmaceuticals are used in various religious and sexual practices (again, connecting itself to the works of the flesh and immorality).

Inevitably this discussion will incur the wrath of many who will rush to defend our use of modern medicinal pharmaceutics.  With outrage many people’s first reaction is to force an extreme position upon anyone that begins to consider what I’m talking about here in order to paint the whole concept as extreme.

I’m not condemning with a broad stroke all medicinal practices; there are many natural remedies that have proven themselves in study after study to be more effective than many modern drugs (although many of these natural applications are quickly dismissed by the big pharmaceutical companies).  And I’m aware that there are many medications that can help alleviate pain and save lives.

What I think is important is that Christians broaden their perspective on this subject and begin exercising discernment, because, as many beneficial medications that there may be, there are that many and more that we should have very serious concerns over.  An example can be found in a recent analysis of modern medication that found over 88% of modern medication is psychotropic in nature, and we know that various sources are now indicating that these drugs are having devastating effects on people’s mental faculties.

So I hope my purpose in writing this is not lost; my intent is to encourage us to broaden our perspective, not to apply blind prohibitions on all medications period.  That would not help us because there are elements of sorcery that go beyond the pharmaceutical realm as well.

ALL THE NATIONS DECEIVED

The book of Revelation contains the word “sorcery” 4x more than any other book in the Bible, 30% of all references to the word in the Bible: whereas we view sorcery as a thing of the past because of our warped understanding of it, God reveals it as very much a thing of our time!

In the Revelation of God’s judgment upon Babylon, we find the following scripture:

Revelation 18:20-21, 23-24

“Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, because God has pronounced judgment for you against her.” Then a strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “So will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer.

And the light of a lamp will not shine in you any longer; and the voice of the bridegroom and bride will not be heard in you any longer; for your merchants were the great men of the earth, because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery.  And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth.”

 

The Bible makes reference to Babylon as the “Great City” in which all the various wealth, immoralities, idolatry, and spiritual harlotry come from; her archetype is the ancient nation of Babylon who was the seat of the deceiving spirit of Babylon that Revelation talks about.  Babylon claimed “I AM, and of my increase there shall be no end”.

The scripture tells us that Babylon deceives all the nations by her sorcery; it is important to understand that one element of sorcery is that it deceives people to give worship to demons, and, ultimately, to the anti-Christ.

The following article written by Russ Wise takes an in-depth look at the rapidly growing occultism among the American youth.  He looks at everything from the cult and occult practices of white and black magic, to Satanism; Russ Wise looks at various ways in which openly overt forms of sorcery have already taken root in American society.

Jeff Harshbarger, who wrote “Dancing With The Devil”, is an occult member who was saved by the Lord; he wrote that “Our society is submerged in the occult; Harry Potter has filled the minds of our children for a decade and vampirism meets our teens with the illusions of grandeur. Witchcraft went mainstream decades ago, and Wicca is its offspring”.

I am very grieved because we can see our children being openly led captive by these abominable sins and our parents are the ones that have abandoned them to it!  It seems’ Satan has run an extensive TV, movies, video games, and music PR and recruiting campaign; even some of the most popular musicians, like Jay-Z, and other actors are unabashedly involved in the occult, and are actively promoting these things with their music.

One of the most in-depth articles to address this issue is written by Jason Barker.  I encourage you to read it.

LYING SIGNS AND WONDERS

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

~2 Thessalonians 2:9–10

For your merchants were the great men of the earth, for by your sorcery all the nations were deceived. 24 And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth.”

~Revelation 18:23–24

 Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name.  Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion.  The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority.  I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed.  And all the world marveled and followed the beast.  So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?’.

~Revelation 13:1-4

 

The culmination of sorcery will be in the coming of the anti-Christ; his rise from the midst of the people will be surrounded with many great and powerful signs and wonders.

Unlike Jesus who would not accept Satan’s offer to give Him his throne and authority over the nations of the world, the anti-Christ will receive from Satan power, a throne with dominion, and great authority.  He will strike fear in the hearts of the people so that they will say “who can make war with the Beast”, and when he receives a fatal wound, he will be healed.  This is the culmination of his sorcery, and it is the deceiving sign and wonder that causes all people (except those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life) to worship Satan and the Beast.

This is one of the problems that I have with today’s teaching regarding the power of the anti-Christ.  We often diminish the signs that he performs: many teachers latch onto the word “lying” signs and wonders and change that word to mean “counterfeit” signs and wonders.  I disagree.  I believe they are deceiving signs and wonders that will cause the world to worship the beast and Satan, and that is exactly what the Bible tells us here.

The end result of sorcery is rebellion against God and worship of Satan.  And that is the end result of the Anti-Christ’s lying signs and wonders.

THE LAKE OF FIRE

Revelation 21:8 & 22:15

But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

“Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.”

 

God saw fit to include those who practice sorcery in the list of people that will have their part in the lake of fire that burns forever.  He has reserved a kind of special judgment that we cannot speculate on in any other way right now than to say that they have been named for eternal punishment.

SUMMARY

The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.

~Revelation 9:21

 We have an extremely narrow view of sorcery in the modern era, thanks in part to Hollywood.

It is important that we understand that God called them to repent for their “sorceries“.  There are many forms of sorcery.  And when we look at scripture we see that sorcery is quite extensive in the end times.

My exhortation is to encourage you to carefully consider what the scripture teaches about sorcery because it is important that we know and understand what these things are.

 

4th-Of-July

July 4th: Liberty?

We’re approaching July 4th, a time when many “conservative” Christians will get together and read the Declaration of Independence, talk about how thankful they are to live in a free country that can pray and worship God, and longingly talk about how if only our country would return to the Constitution, our woes would be over.

HYPOCRISY

My soul burns in me this time of year as I hear Christians offer prayers of thanksgiving to God declaring how thankful they are to live in a country where they can pray and are free to worship God.

Why, then, do prayer meetings empty the church assembly?  Why, then, is it a stretch to meet more than once or twice a week to worship God?  Why, if you are so thankful for your supposed liberties in America, do you not pray unceasingly?

I cannot stand the hypocrisy that offers thanksgivings to God for a liberty that we do not exercise!

It is nothing more than self-condemnation to get around and talk about how we “take for granted our liberties”, and never change!

Indeed, be thankful that we experienced a season in world-history that allotted unusual advantages to the Church, but repent because the Church used that season to acquire great wealth and grow fat!  Repent that the Church did not seek to draw near to God and extol Him with the glory and honor He is due on every street corner in a society that is supposedly so free to “worship God”.

If you are hearing this kind of conversation, my brethren, let me admonish you to carefully consider your words before they leave your tongue; God will indeed hear what you say– if you reminiscently talk about how you should not take advantage of these liberties, but bear no fruits of repentance for having neglected your liberty to pray and worship God, then you are heaping on yourself greater condemnation!

DECEPTION

This kind of talk is rooted in a grand lie about liberty; it is the abominable idea that we get our liberty from the Constitution, or any governing body that presides over the land.

The Constitution affords us carnal liberties; the liberty to pursue life and happiness,  protection of private property, and a concept of just governance that did, indeed, benefit generations of Christians.  But, more often than not, those carnal liberties were abused by Christians who sought greed and selfish ambition instead of crucifying them!

Christians in our generation have confused these carnal liberties with liberty in Christ!

Your liberty to pray does not come from any governing body or ruling law; take Daniel as an example- when prayer was banned for one month throughout the whole land, the first thing Daniel did was to pray, and that according to the same exact custom he had practiced as before.  Nothing changed.  And that liberty was upheld by God who saved him from the mouth of the lions!

TRUE LIBERTY

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.  He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

~Colossians 1:9-14

 

You have been transferred out of the kingdom of darkness and into the Kingdom of Christ by the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ.

In fact, it is the Father that qualifies you for this, and this fact itself should inspire worship.  The carnal liberties of men’s constitutions are irrelevant to our worship.

HOLD THAT THOUGHT

Before you lambaste me as “never having lived in an oppressed country”, I have.  My primary mission field is China.  And although China has opened up significantly, I have been taken by police and interrogated for hours on end; it was God who upheld me.

I have spoken to men from around the world, some of which lived homeless on the streets of their home countries for the sake of the gospel, and they each know that it is God who upholds His children, and it is Him by whom we offer up the sacrifices of praise, and in His Spirit that we pray.

OUR REALITY

Christians in America, particularly during this time of year, are living in denial of their spiritual reality!

Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.

~1 Peter 1:11-12

We are to be as sojourners and pilgrims in this world, and this is not to be just a beautiful expression, it must be a physical reality!  The righteousness of God is foreign to the sons of this abominable generation, and it is through their observation of God’s foreign righteousness in us, His Children, that He will receive glory on the day of visitation from those who are the sons of disobedience.

The great tragedy in all of this is because Christians view themselves as “American Christians”, as if we are some kind of brand of Christianity, with our own unique variance, we are walking as strangers to the Kingdom of God and are well at home as American Citizens!

The truth is that to many people Peter’s petition is nothing more than a beautiful expression of words with absolutely no meaningful reality in their own personal life.  They are citizens of this world, more at home in a football stadium full of 50,000 liars, adulterers, fornicators, thieves, sex-traffickers, murderers, and blasphemers, than they are in a small assembly of 5 righteous saints!

If this insults your patriotic sensitivities then I am glad.  It is a grievous offense that Christians have made themselves more at home in this world than in the presence and glory of God; even more unbearable that too many do not even know by experience, by revelation, and by truth what that expression “in the presence and glory of God” even means!

No, I am not rebuking anyone for offering sincere thanks to God for the advantages that have been afforded to the Church by our civil-liberties if they do so without the leaven of hypocrisy; if they have met often for prayer and proclaimed the liberty of Christ in the open square- if they have used their advantages to serve the poor and proclaim His true liberty to those oppressed by sin and held in bondage by the chains of darkness- yes, if you have used the advantages of this nation so as not abusing them, then offer thanksgiving to God!  Extol Him with praise and honor Him with the unadulterated, undefiled fruit of lips; thank God with deep sincerity that He afforded you the privilege of knowing Him through Jesus Christ His everlasting Son!

But if you are going to gather together to read the Declaration of Independence and give God’s honor to men who neither wanted such honor, nor intended that men should receive such honor, then with all my heart I beg you to hear the rebuke of the LORD!

Most of all I admonish you to look forward as unto Christ, the author and finisher of our faith; remember that it is in His coming that all the sanctified hope of the saints rests.  Keep yourself from those that will talk about keeping their rights to worship God by force of guns, and keep yourself from the seductive patriotic lie that would make you think that your liberties in Christ are afforded to you by a document written and signed by men!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OVERCOMING PORNOGRAPHY- Part 4: Stumbling Blocks

There are many stumbling blocks Satan has laid to try to keep you in bondage to sin, and porn is no exception: even after you have made your home a true “house of prayer”, pure and undefiled before the Lord, you will still see images that will tempt you every day as you go about your life, whether at the supermarket or on the road driving, you are going to face these images.

But I want to address a different stumbling block: deception.

God’s word is very clear that faith  is our victory (1st John 5:4).  That is why deception is one of the biggest stumbling blocks there is.  And this deception comes in innumerable forms of false doctrine; they are the lies that Satan tells you through culture, friends, and even false teachers that twist God’s word so that the cross of Christ is weakened and made to be of no affect.

A DECEPTION

I was reading some blogs on WordPress from Christians that are struggling to overcome sin, and my heart was touched as I have been in all of their shoes throughout the course of my 15 year addiction to pornography.

Deception causes us to misplace our faith, which has devastating effects upon the Church since we overcome the world by faith.

And one of these deceptions is the idea that God would never tell you that He abhors your sin: He would not make you feel guilty or disgusting because He “understands” your sin (the idea that He understands your sin is only a lie because of how it is presented).  But this kind of lie comes in a variety of theological packages: sometimes it comes wrapped in facades of so-called “hyper-grace” (what I would rather call “counterfeit grace” or “short-grace”), other times it comes packaged as a form of eternal-security, but regardless, it is that whisper in the back of your head that gives you an excuse to sin.

HOW GOD VIEWS MY PORN ADDICTION

It is very important that we understand how God views you and your porn addiction:

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?  If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him.  For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are!

~1st Corinthians 3:16-17

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.

Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

~1st Corinthians 6:14-20

 

You are the temple of God; not only is God aware of your sin, it hurts and angers Him.

Sexual sin of every kind is distinguished from other sins in these scriptures as being a sin against the temple of God.

God sees your sexual sin, including pornography, as a desecration of His holy temple, which He sanctified by the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ!

I hope we will consider this for ourselves and understand the gravity of this sin and stop treating it as normal.

OUR CONSCIENCES

Another stumbling block that occurs through deception is the searing of our conscience.

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron.

~1 Timothy 4:1–2

This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

~Ephesians 4:17–19

 

We’re forewarned that the world would suffer the branding of their consciences, which would be seared, causing them to become past feeling and darkened in their understanding.

These deceptions cause your heart to gradually become dull so that you no longer feel the sting of conviction and the weight of shame when you look at pornography; it becomes a foregone conclusion that you have already given into.

We should be very careful that we do not allow our consciences to be seared and branded by the devil through continual exposure to porn and the resulting self-justification that follows through the doctrines of demons.

LEARN FROM CHRIST

Let me encourage you with all my heart to consider this passage:

But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

~Ephesians 4:20–24

 

Jesus teaches us to put off our old person and to be renewed in the spirit of our mind and to put on the new man created in the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Let Jesus be your Shepherd, let Him be your Teacher!

 

Awake, Awake!

AWAKE!  Awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.  Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.  For thus saith the LORD, Ye have sold yourselves for nothing; and ye shall be redeemed without money! ~Isaiah 52:1-3

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.  ~Isaiah 61:1-3

 

Do not remain bound!  Awake and rise, while it is still called Today!

Repent before the Lord, forgive even as your Father in Heaven has forgiven you!  Turn from iniquity by faith in His name to save you!

Brethren, put on strength: be clothed in Christ, the beautiful white raiment’s of the Lamb!

Will you not arise?  Look, there remains nothing to bind you, for it is written “that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”  For in Christ’s death, sin too was put to death, so that those who would live by faith in Christ shall be alive to God!

“But I can’t stop”, protests the unbelieving heart!

The Spirit of God is upon Christ to proclaim liberty to the captives!  He came to set you free.  Believe on Him and trust in His name.

Put on strength, my brothers, and “be strong in the Lord and the power of His might!  Gird up your waist with the belt of truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; take up the shield of faith with which you can quench the fiery darts of the devil.  Put on the helmet of salvation, and take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God!”

Put off the old man, which grows corrupt, and all the weights that bind you!  Put on Christ, for He has come with good news for the meek and lowly- in Him are the brokenhearted healed.

For Christ comes with word of the acceptable year of the LORD and the Day of His Vengeance.

Hear the LORD: “why will you die?  Why will you refuse to turn?  Why will you sin and die?”

You cannot be crucified on the cross of Christ while your hands clutch the world; you must willingly open your hands, that you may die to the world and be made alive to God!  The bonds that remain around your neck are them that are forged in your love for the world, because you struggle against God to hold onto the things of this world.

There soon is a day of Judgment in which the whole earth will be consumed; but we are like brands plucked from the fire, that we should serve the Living God!

May the grace of the Lord abound in you with all wisdom and prudence; peace and mercy to you all, amen!

 

OVERCOMING PORNOGRAPHY- Part 3: First Steps

I’ve been writing about pornography so much lately because it weighs so heavily on my heart; I’ve written about how it is a beast of the valley, and a defiler of the mind.  But it is also a horrific grief to the Holy Spirit.  I could write about how pornography sears the conscience, just as Paul forewarns would happen in the end times (1st Timothy 4:2), and I could write about how necessary it is that our conscience be restored through the washing and regeneration of the Word, and perhaps I will address these more in depth at a later time if the Lord permits, but right now I want to address some all critical and necessary first-steps in overcoming pornography.

 

THE FIRST STEP

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

When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was turned into the drought of summer. I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden.  I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and You forgave the iniquity of my sin. ~Psalm 32:3-5

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. ~James 5:16

 

Freedom from this beast of the valley begins with confession.  If you read my previous post on overcoming pornography you’ll be familiar with this phrase and remember that pornography is likened to the seductive harlot in Proverbs; she is a nocturnal creature.

Pornography stalks you in the dark and secret places.  That is why it is necessary to get everything out into the open.

Your confession begins with confessing your sins to God through your one and only Mediator, Jesus Christ; it is only through His blood that you will find the remission (which means forgiveness & removal) of your sins.  But your confession does not end with confessing to God; He has appointed the Church to nourish and build one another up by “what every joint supplies”- there is discipline and church order, encouragement and admonishment, preaching and teaching, prayer, prophetic utterance (without which many cast off restraint), and a whole host of various ministries of the Spirit that you need to be strengthened by.

If you are married it is beyond my ability to communicate how important it is for you to confess your struggles to your spouse and allow forgiveness and reconciliation to be worked in your life.

 

GETTING EVERYTHING OUT INTO THE LIGHT

I do not promote “strategies” or “programs” for overcoming addiction to pornography, however, I do believe there are certain physical realities that must become real, or your “victory” is certain to be only temporary.

One of those physical realities is that your sins are no longer hidden: this is accomplished through confession, which requires the full disclosure of, and accountability for, your sins.  Your spouse and/or a mature elder of the Church needs to be made aware of the full working of this sin in your life so that you will there will no longer be any hidden venue for this sin to grow unnoticed.

Obviously your spouse is going to have greater access and reach into your life than an elder of the Church (since it is unlikely that you’ll be closing down your email account and sharing one with your elder), however, sincerity of heart and honesty in how you deal with an elder of your Church will still leave this area of your life exposed in the light, contended with in prayer by a righteous man, and accountable.

God’s forgiveness will work itself into your life as you bring every aspect of your life into the light and leave no place “hidden in darkness”.

 

CUT OFF EVERY OPPORTUNITY OF THE DEVIL

One day while doing mission work abroad I was at home alone, sick, and struggling to resist looking at pornography; the Lord told me to pour water on my MacBook Pro.  I did.

Jesus said,

“And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out , and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish , and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” (Matthew 5:29)

It should not surprise us that this is the Lord’s answer to pornography because He has already commanded us to cut off every opportunity for sin, “lest you should be cast whole into hell”.

Now, let me warn you that unless you have brought your sin out into the light, you will not be free to combat this sin: it would be very hard to explain this action to my wife if I had not yet made her aware of this struggle.

In my life I have not only destroyed my computer, I have also disconnected internet access entirely from our home and learned to live without the internet during different periods of time according to the leading of the Lord.

The point is this: you need to cut off temptations access from your life, whether it be by effectively cutting out your alone-time access to the internet, sharing email accounts with your spouse, putting the computer in a public space of the house, or totally destroying your computer/internet access altogether.

You will need time to rest from temptation and have your mind washed and renewed by the Word of God.

TV, movies, video games, and internet browsing, are all ways that Satan puts sexually charged images in front of you to tempt you, and those things need to be effectively cut off from your life.

 

CONCLUSION

This is not a battle that you will fight in the flesh, however, don’t let anyone deceive you into thinking that your resisting the enemy will have no physical effects upon your life: it will.

Those who overcome this sin through Christ are those who immerse themselves into the word of God, into prayer, and walk in the Light.

May you be full of the grace of God, and may the forgiveness of our Lord Jesus Christ bring reconciliation to your soul, amen!  Brethren, do not give up the fight.

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