Category Archives: Spiritual Warfare

These posts concentrate on Spiritual Disciplines essential to the Spiritual Warfare that we conduct as part of God’s kingdom.

Declare to Jacob his Transgression

Micah 3:8 “I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the LORD, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin.”

The last thing I want to do is inspire someone who is not called of God to start rebuking the Church. God calls the humble, not the prideful, and empowers them by His grace and the Holy Spirit to preach His living word to the stubborn, obstinate, and self-righteous. But rather, I want to expose a deception that claims God does not send His servants to expose transgression.

Ezekiel 3:18-19 “When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die’, and you do not warn him, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet if you warn the wicked and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your soul.'”

God does raise up servants, whom He charges with His word to preach against the wicked. He gives them an anointing and a responsibility to carry the message that He gives them. These preachers are not to speak where God has not spoken, nor are they to be silent when God has spoken!

I believe cowardice on the one hand, and presumption on the other, are the primary reasons the Western Church is in such decline – cowardice on the part of those who were entrusted with God’s message to rebuke and warn but didn’t, and presumption on the part of those who were not call to preach but did!

Isaiah 66:2 “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.”

God does not look upon the proud, the contentious, the arrogant and boastful; He will not call them to be His preachers. God looks upon the humble and contrite of spirit, and upon the one who trembles at His word! He does not call those who are ready to “call fire down from heaven” (Luke 9:55) to preach for Him without first reforming them, rather, He calls those who say “we are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done” (Luke 17:10); neither does God call those who use His word for their own purposes, but He calls those who quake within at the sound of His Word!

The Church is not purifying herself through the blood of Christ and the washing of the water of the Word like she is called to; so many continue practicing sin and are not mournful for it, but instead, many even boast in this! The Church must open her ears and begin listening to the truth being preached by God’s true servants.

Ephesians 4:17-18 “From now on you must not walk as the Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their minds, having their understanding darkened, excluded from the life of God through the ignorance that is within them due to the hardness of their hearts.”

In closing I wish to encourage those who are called by God to preach His word: if you preach God’s word, you will be surrounded by enemies and those closest to you will turn on you, but do not fear!  For “the LORD is your light and your salvation; whom shall you fear?  The LORD is the strength of your life; of whom should you be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)  You will not be without trials and tribulation, but Christ is your portion and the hope of your soul; delight yourself in Him and you will not be disappointed!

The Cross

Are you struggling with addictive sins?

“If anyone will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” ~Luke 9:23

Self-denial in response to Jesus is how we pick up the cross to follow Him. The cross is the Truth of the Spirit by which our flesh is put to death.

As remarkably simple as this is to understand, it remains a gruesome and painful discipline to practice!

These two elements of self-denial and truth are necessary to Christian living; “if you love your life”, as Jesus said, “you shall die, but if you lose your life for My sake, then you shall live” (Lk 9:24). You must forsake your life- denying yourself, in response to Christ, of those things that are so desperately craved by the flesh.

IF YOU HAVE ADDICTIVE SIN: when you feel the impulse of sin in your flesh, reach for the Bible and mark those words whereby you are called by Christ to forsake the flesh and read them; kneel yourself in prayer and do not rise until the Holy Spirit has accomplished His work and you are free again in Christ! Persevere in this and you will find that the flesh will die and you will be free!

WARNING: beware of self-righteousness being masked as the cross. You may recognize the tell tale signs of this when you begin preemptively denying yourself things that Christ has not called you to forsake and then binding them on others. The wisdom here speaks this way: let that which Christ has spoken in the Word be for all, and keep that which is spoken in your conscience be for yourself.

“For many are walking in such a way that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ. I have told you of them often and tell you again, even weeping. Their destination is destruction, their god is their appetite, their glory is in their shame, their minds are set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, from where also we await for our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our body of humiliation, so that we may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working of His power even to subdue all things to Himself” ~Philippians 3:18-21

The Devil’s U.N. Arms Resolution

Some of you might be thinking that I am getting ready to write about Obama’s recent endorsement of the United Nation’s “Small Arms resolution”, but those of you who know me know that I’m not. I’m going to talk about something far more sinister: the Devil’s agenda to disarm the Church of the Sword of the Spirit.

How many times have you heard someone say “theology isn’t going to save anyone, they just need to be loved”? If you’ve believed this lie, then Satan has just taken his first step in disarming you of your most effective and divinely-powerful weapon: the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

Technically “theology” means “the study of God”, but to most people they simply equate it with the Bible period.

There’s an idea that people “are just hurt and needing love”, and I don’t disagree that people are hurt, but, this is not an accurate depiction of their condition as a whole. See, there are plenty of people who would not self-identify themselves as “hurt” people; they enjoy reasonably healthy relationships, love their jobs, and have lives full of healthy hobbies, but they are utterly and completely damned to condemnation. That is right: you can be a healthy, happy, reasonable citizen of this world and be condemned by God. Nurturing people’s emotional wounds is not the Church’s job; we were not called to be nurse-maid to the world. Don’t get me wrong, we tenderly care to the suffering- especially those of the Church Body- and we are eager to care for the wounds of those who have been cast aside by society. But the Church has traditionally understood that all this was a bi-product of our greater calling: to preach the gospel to a lost and dying world so that they can be truly and wholly healed by Jesus Christ and saved from their sins and the death thereby produced.

When we hear the idea expressed that we need to “set aside the preaching of God’s word” so that we can focus on “loving on the hurt”, we are hearing Satan’s attempt to persuade the Church to lay down our sword and stop fighting.

Certainly this approach will temporarily draw larger numbers, but, what will the end of this be? What will happen to those people once they are healed? They didn’t want God before they were hurt, and God wasn’t shown to them while they were hurt. What makes us think that they will want God once they are “back to normal” and doing well? God was not what drew them in the first place. And if they stick around, it will not be because of God, but it will be for the relationships that they have formed during their difficult times. While strong relationships in the body are vital, these relationships alone count for nothing if God is not their substance and life-source.

Yet the Church has shown a perplexing propensity to ashamedly throw down our swords the moment anyone cries “offense!”

Church leadership everywhere is scrambling to draw up “more effective plans” to reach the world without any offense; without exposing ourselves as being followers of Christ! But what this has produced is a generation of Christians who do not know the foundations of our faith- they do not know what they believe, or why they believe it- and they are unable to contend for the faith in a world composed of many very hostile world-views!
But as for me? I believe in God’s Word and trust in the Truth that is enlightened thereby. I believe that even when it appears that the Word only ever offends the world, it is accomplishing things that I cannot yet perceive and I will see the fruits of this work one day- whether in this world or the one to come. I will continue to preach the Word and live thereby until the end; I will walk in the light provided for my feet by God’s word, and beckon to my brothers and sisters to join me in walking the narrow path together.

Some argue that we cannot live by the Word because it is too divisive.

Yes, the Word is divisive; Jesus never concealed the fact that He “didn’t come to bring peace on the earth, but a sword”, as He said “for I came to set a man at odds against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” (Matthew 10:34-35). But, Christ also prayed “Sanctify them in Your truth. Your word is truth… that they may all be one” (John 17:17, 21), and again it is written, “be eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). Many divisions in the Body today occur not because Christ has divided, but because we demand our own ways and are unwilling to relent according to the heavenly wisdom that descends from above (James 3:17). Though these divisions are unnecessary, they nonetheless succeed in dividing the stubborn and divisive brother or sister from the body.

So I must ask, will you throw down the Word because you are ashamed of Christ and do not want to be set apart from this world as holy to God? Or will you take up the sword of the Spirit- the Word of God- and engage a relentless and vicious enemy?

It’s your decision. You decide.

Is Porn Sin?

If it came out that your pastor was addicted to pornography, would you ask him to step down?

If it came out that you were addicted to pornography, would you understand if your spouse left you for marital unfaithfulness?

Pornography is not talked about even though reports estimate that over 70% of the Church, and 30% of pastors, are addicted to it.  But it is more than that, pornography (which is adultery) is killing the Church faster than divorce and homosexuality combined because almost no one views it as even in the same league as adultery!  Pornography is right up there along with covetousness (which is idolatry) as one of the most tolerated deadly sins in the Church!

Listen up brethren.  Do you know why so many people in the Church remain addicted to pornography?

Because we do not have this:

“The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverted mouth, I hate.” Proverbs 8:13

“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28

Do you know that God hates your pornography? Or do you believe that He will simply scold you at the pearly gates and then welcome you in as a beautiful sinner that He simply couldn’t stand to live without?

Here’s what you need to understand about pornography; porn is not something outside you, like some external element of your life like food and drink, porn is the condition of your heart. That is right. Pornography is the condition of your heart. It’s not just a “reflection” of your heart, it is the condition of your heart. You lust after those who commit shameful acts with each another because your heart covets the things of the flesh.

I’m willing to wager that there are very few of you out there that understand pornography better than I do.  My corpse that hangs on Christ’s cross was addicted to pornography for more than 15 years of my life.

For far too long I would not acknowledge what I just said above because I did not understand it, and was far too prideful to admit the level of depravity that my heart still embraced. But even more than that, I would not admit the severity of God’s judgment upon my sin!

If you do not have the fear of God, you will never wholly depart from pornography, you will simply take it under control to the degree that is acceptable in your life. And if you come to God on judgment day with that heart, you will not enter His Kingdom.

Brethren, with all the love of Christ I urge you today, REPENT!

You cannot overcome this sin with the gospel of accommodation.  Neither can you overcome this sin with the gospel of legalism.  The only way for your heart to be transformed is the true and authentic gospel of Jesus Christ, full of both grace and truth- embracing both the fear of God and the mercy of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.

You must repent of this sin in light of the gospel.

Important Questions: Should the Church Name & Oppose False Teachers?

There’s a new kind of wisdom being preached that says it’s fruitless to name and oppose false teachers, and that, instead, we should apply ourselves to other more fruitful endeavors.

So that is the question we will be address.

Should the Church bother itself with naming and opposing false teachers?

LIMITTING THE BODY

Double standards are something that I try to keep an eye out for when considering what I’m hearing, and I both see and experience a double standard when I encounter this kind of wisdom; namely, that those who say that it is fruitless to oppose false teachers because we should be applying ourselves to more fruitful endeavors then apply themselves to opposing anyone who names and opposes false teachers.

So, while it may not be every member’s place in the body to name and oppose false teachers, we have to ask ourselves if there is a place for that function anywhere in the body, and, if so, does this new wisdom limit those parts of the body in which this work has a place?

GOD’S STANDARD

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… If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.

~1 Timothy 4:12-6

Among those things that Paul exhorted Timothy to be a good minister of Jesus Christ in instructing the brethren in was the dangers of deceiving spirits and demonic doctrines that false teachers speak in hyposcirsy.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. ~1 John 4:1

John follows Paul’s exhortation by encouraging the brethren to test every spirit to see whether or not they are from God because of the multitude of false prophets that have gone out into the world.

The Bereans were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of the mind, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. ~Acts 17:11

In God’s standard, no one was exempt from being tested; not even an apostle! Far from being criticized for testing all things that were said, the Bereans were praised for their diligence.

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. ~Jude 3-4

Jude found it necessary to exhort the brethren to contend earnestly for the faith because of the false teachers who had crept in unnoticed.

When we tell members of the body that they are fruitless for opposing those false teachers and false prophets who sneak in bringing destructive heresies into the body, we do not uphold God’s standard, we oppose it.

It is just to answer today’s question by asking another question: should the Church bother itself with opposing those members who feel led to name and oppose false teachers? Invariably most people who do not feel comfortable with one will engage in the other.

OPPOSING BY NAME?

This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good concsience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. ~1 Timothy 1:18-20

One function of naming a false teacher or prophet is that it makes it more difficult for them to sneak into an assembly unnoticed and introduce their destructive heresies elsewhere. Paul did not shy away from naming people who were in error;

And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some. 2 Timothy 2:17-18

The message of false teachers was viewed as a cancer not to be ignored; both the message and the messenger were named and opposed.

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctring that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve. ~Romans 16:17-18

The unity and liberty of the body was of such importance that Paul instructed the brethren in Rome to keep watch for individuals who bring division and bondage and avoid them because they do not serve the Lord Christ, but their own appetites. The duty to keep watch is not reserved for an apostle only, but for the brethren as a whole.

LETTING THE BODY WORK

A city that shames its watchmen will be overthrown when the enemy invades. I believe we need to acknowledge individuals who know God’s word and heed their warnings when they sound the alarm against the wolves they spot trying to sneak into the assembly.

Our shepherds need to keep watch over the flock; let us not reject their tending.

When I hear the new wisdom that discourages watchmen from sounding the alarm, I look at the state of the Western Church and I find little reason to trust this new wisdom. But what really dismays me is that those who don’t want to put their fingers on the name of false teachers will so readily apply themselves to shaming anyone who does.

This is the real travesty; our watchmen have become the hunted!

The Kingdom Sword

Do I want peace with the kingdom of darkness so much that I am afraid to pick up the Kingdom Sword?

We know that we will be at war with this world the moment we pick up the Kingdom Sword.  The Kingdom Sword not only threatens those who in the world, but it also threatens the way of life of any Christian who picks it up!

Jesus said,

Don’t think that I came to send peace on the earth. I didn’t come to send peace, but a sword.” ~Matthew 10:34

While many Christians have been sheathing their Kingdom Sword to make peace with the enemies of God, the spirit of this age knows that it is at war and has been busy trying to take as many captives as possible!

THE KINGDOM SWORD

What is the Kingdom Sword?

“And take… the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” ~Ephesians 6:17

The Kingdom Sword is the Sword of the Spirit; it is a living double edged sword that divides the righteous from the unrighteous.

There are whole families still accommodating devils because they would not take up the Sword of the Spirit to fight the enemy in their own home!

But Jesus said,

Don’t think that I came to send peace on the earth. I didn’t come to send peace, but a sword.  For I came to set a man at odds against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.  A man’s foes will be those of his own household.  He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me isn’t worthy of me.  He who doesn’t take his cross and follow after me, isn’t worthy of me.  He who seeks his life will lose it; and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.” ~Matthew 10:34-39

The Kingdom Sword will set you at odds with those around you who are still capitulating to the kingdom of darkness.  The Sword of Christ divides families!  That is why the “family focused” gospel in America is so false!

Have you signed a truce with the devil?

The kingdom of darkness never honors its treaties; it seeks a backdoor into your life and will come at you through your family, your friendships, or your employment.  But it never honors its treaties.  The kingdom of darkness wages relentless war until it accomplishes its goal to “steal, kill, and destroy”.

If you pick up the Kingdom Sword, you will be at war with the kingdom of darkness, and trust me, the kingdom of darkness is relentless.  But, if you set down the Sword to make peace with those who are hostile to the Kingdom of Light, then you will be found weak and defenseless when the kingdom of darkness breaks its treaty with you and attacks.

Let me exhort you, my brethren, to take up the Kingdom Sword against the kingdom of darkness; do not be ashamed of the gospel of God, for it is His power for salvation to all men- proclaim it in life, proclaim it in power, proclaim it with your lips- take the gospel of God to those who are bound in the kingdom of darkness and set the captives free!

 

 

A Terrible Thing

I’ve seen a terrible thing happening in the Church today; men and women can no longer be rebuked.  Neither the donkeys on the road, the preachers on the streets, nor dear brothers and sisters in the Church have a voice that is heard in our ear today.  Somehow, someway, we have come to a point where we would rather cut off communication with a brother than hear their rebuke.  Why do we so prefer to look for “spiritual self-justification” to seeking peace with our brothers in lowliness of mind?

This is a terrible tragedy, a frightful woe and a catastrophic affliction!  No worse affliction can befall a soul than the curse of a hard heart that will not receive rebuke!

May God have mercy on us all!  Amen!

WOE

Brethren, let us be hasty and check our own hearts lest there be any refusal to hear rebuke!  Even if all around us, even our nearest brethren, refuse to acknowledge correction, let us have the mind of Christ and humble ourselves willingly that we might receive the end reward of God’s discipline!

Acts 7:51-53 “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.  Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.”

How dangerous it is to believe that because we have received the Word of God, that we have therefore kept it in a pleasing manner before Him!  Having heard His command, do we obey?  We do not experience the reality of scripture because we hear with dead faith that does not produce obedience!

Truly I am at a loss for words to express how surprised I am that God’s ministers face isolation, disfellowship, and spite from the body if they deliver His rebukes.

The scripture tells us that God will give His grace that we may be “strengthened with all power, according to the might of his glory, for all patience and perseverance with joy” (Colossians 1:11), yet where is this patience and perseverance with joy in the Church today between the brethren when disagreements arise?

May God have mercy on us all, amen!

Matthew 5:23-24 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

Jesus instructs us to leave the altar and be reconciled to our brethren if we remember that they have something against us.

However, if we severe fellowship with our brethren (except for Biblical reasons that have been given to us in God’s wisdom for our good) and refuse to ear with one another with long-suffering steadfastness for the purpose of seeking reconciliation and life, then we annul the altar of God and defile our offering!

This is what I am most troubled by in the body right now: I see such a willingness in the brethren to cut communication and go separate ways rather than resolve matters!  I can only diagnose this as the epitome of pride and kneel before God in reverence and fear to beg my Father in Heaven for forgiveness and ask that He would not allow such a fate to befall me!

We may not agree with our brothers on every matter, but the solution is not to divide, neither is it to “agree to disagree”.  The solution is to persevere in our pursuit of unity with love, seeking to be perfected together in the mind of Christ, always being quick to listen and bear with one another in love.  Matters do not have to be resolved over night, but we cannot offer our gifts to God upon the altar before God having not made every effort to be reconciled to our brothers!

Psalms 95:8 “Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, as in the day of trial in the wilderness.”

Hebrews 3:12-13 “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”

The anguish in our Father’s heart revealed here should be sufficient to drive us with all patience and long-suffering back together for unity!

I do not read this with the tone of a heartless judge, stamping down the gavel demanding that we not harden our hearts, though He certainly could make such a demand, rather, I read this with the tone of our perfect heavenly Father beseeching His children not to harden their hearts!  With wisdom, knowing the end of such things, being fully aware of the righteous and just judgment that is surely to come, God is pleading with His people not to harden their hearts in the deceitfulness of sin!

2nd Chronicles 36:15-16 “And the LORD God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, till there was no remedy.”

And it is precisely because of the deceitfulness of sin that God sends His messengers to us early to warn of our sins.

Will we listen?

I have the earnest brotherly concern for my fellow ministers in this regard; I believe it is hardest for ministers in today’s world to receive rebukes because they receive so many unrighteous rebukes!  The flood of rebukes from people of darkened understanding whom Satan works in to counter the works of God is astonishing.

But, to my fellow ministers who struggle with this difficulty, let me offer the following word of support: Satan’s meddling that brings unrighteous rebukes to you always seeks to hinder your faithfulness to God, His will, and His word.  Such rebukes will attempt to hinder you from going where God has sent you, talking to someone that He is sending you to, or from submitting yourself to the will and work of God in your life.  You may receive rebuke for preaching the Truth, for uprooting your family and going where God has sent you, or even for rebuking a brother that is sinning.  But unrighteous rebukes will not oppose sin or unworthy conduct in your life.

The reason why this can be so hard, my fellow ministers, is because there are times when we are seeking to be faithful to God in some work of His and our conduct begins to become unworthy of Him (see Eph 3:17- 4:3; Phil 1:27, 2:14-16; Col 3:12:17); then, because our intent is to follow God, but our actions have become unworthy of His calling, it can be very hard to distinguish between rebuke that God sends against our (sometimes unseen) conduct and an unrighteous rebuke of Satan that tries to discourage us from sincere obedience to God.

Indeed, I remember such times in my life when Satan sent many people to rebuke me for following God, and it made it very difficult for me to hear the one person that God send to correct my behavior.

May God grant us all mercy, wisdom, and discernment for such matters, amen!

Proverbs 1:24-33 “Because I have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, because you disdained all my counsel, and would have none of my rebuke, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes, when your terror comes like a storm, and your destruction comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.  Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently, but they will not find me.  Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD, they would have none of my counsel and despised my every rebuke.  Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, and be filled to the full with their own fancies.  For the turning away of the simple will slay them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil.”

Whether God chooses to speak to us by the Holy Spirit, in a dream, through the Word, or through a brother or sister that He sends our way, we must always be diligent that our hearts not become hardened and unapproachable.

Indeed, I see dearly beloved brothers who once confided such struggles of unapproachableness that have yielded considerable ground to the enemy in becoming unteachable.

The consequences of fully hardening our hearts against the rebuke of the Lord are complete.  For the work of God is to remove our hearts of stone and give us a living heart (Ezekiel 36:26ff), yet, we must be careful lest we deceive ourselves into thinking that because the Word says this it is therefore perfectly true of us; we can harden our own hearts against God, otherwise He would not have told us not to, and it is possible to resist Him and turn away, even to the point described in Hebrews 6:4-6.

Beware slapping the right hand of God away!

May God have abundant mercy on us all, amen!

A TRAP & A SNARE

I’ve touched on this briefly already, but I find my heart wanting to expose this matter further.

Satan has laid a very successful snare for us; the snare causes us to create “spiritual self-justifications” by which we can reject the rebukes God sends our way.  Israel rejected Jesus with such “justification”.  They even searched the scriptures diligently (John 5:39), but produced only the more convincing lies by which they rejected the chief cornerstone!

This happens when first we hear the rebuke and then begin to stew.  We gather hearsay from others and then turn the most critical eye against the one that God sent to warn us.  Sometimes we even begin to manipulate those who are closest to us to try and obtain a good report from them to nullify the counsel God sent to us in compassion for our own good!

Yet, even if all the things our critical eye finds are true, it does not necessarily negate the rebuke that has been given to us.  Like the prophet rebuked by a donkey, will we turn our eye against God’s messenger and say “behold, he is just an ass! I will not listen to him/her!”

We’re not called to humility only when we’re wrong, brethren, but even “he who thinks himself to be wise and understanding, let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom” (James 3:13).

I remember the testimony of John Wesley, an amazing man, who recounts his missionary trip to the Colony’s where he rigorously preached but was rejected.  He was rebuked for being harsh and unloving.  Those who heard him recounted how they did not disagree with what he was saying, but with his heart.  Wesley reflected on these rebukes and, later, they led to a change in him that was prerequisite of all the many great labors he would later accomplish.

CONCLUSION

In the end, we must never close the door to reconciliation.  I hope we can all determine within our innermost heart to persevere in the bond of unity; even when individual matters may take time to be fully resolved, let us make haste to resolve our hearts with love towards one another, proving the heavenly wisdom that speaks thus, “do not let the sun go down upon your anger”.

To my brothers who are leaders in the Church, remember that the Lord instructs us not to “lord it over” our flocks, nor to be “self-willed”, but that we must always be gentle in every manner.  Oh how desperately does the Church need men who are grounded in the truth with the wisdom of meekness and humility!

Resist the temptation to make a show of your authority by laying down commands and demands, always insisting on your own way.  This surely has the appearance of power, but it denies godliness entirely!

Brethren, I believe the Church has great need of two things: humility and holiness.  We are frayed at every corner because we lack these two virtues.  Our growth in knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love all rest on the foundation of “faith and virtue” (2nd Peter 1:5-7)!  With such wisdom, let “the fruits of righteousness be sown in peace by those who make peace”, and let the grace of God give the harvest!

May you all be blessed with the abundant forgiveness of Jesus Christ, who cried out on the cross “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”, and may this mercy be rich within us all, amen!

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!

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.

 

Faith in Infirmities

The fires of infirmity (illness) can feel like they engulf your life 24/7; there is no break.  You don’t get to take them off like you do a dirty pair of sneakers, or wake up from them like you do from a nightmare.  They can attack your ability to think, to walk, and to function in basic human functions.

I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis this year and have been learning to deal with its progressive effects.   Then, about a month after I was diagnosed with MS, we received the blessed news that we are having our first baby, a little baby girl, which brought a great deal of joy to our life, along with those thoughts about how I’m going to be able to provide for our family with MS.  Along with the new pain comes a very steep learning curve as you figure out how your body works and how to deal with it.

There are days when I feel as though I am drowning in “overwhelmingness”.

STRENGTH

I am a very independent person.  It has been very difficult for me to begin to realize that my strength is no longer sufficient for the work God has called me to (bless the LORD!!)

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

I have lived my life up until now relying on my own strength.

I think this passage in Philippians is most often relegated, as so many other powerful passages, to nothing more than beautiful words; something we jest at with our friends Sunday morning about how hard it was to get up for early service because we were out late on Saturday night with our friends.  But few Christians in the Western world have ever felt so pressed that they know what it means to utterly depend on Christ to be their strength for them; I’m not saying it’s not popular to lay claim to this passage in the West, and certainly for some it has become a daily reality (how blessed are those who have trusted in Christ for their strength and not flesh!) but more often than not, this passage is  not understood.

Christ is waiting to be your strength, but you have to let Him; He will not be your strength so long as you are clinging onto a little bit of your own strength- so long as you fear trusting Him to be all your strength, He will be none of your strength!

We so often want to lay hold of just a little bit of our own strength, just enough so that we can lay claim to part of the credit for what has been done.

I have no problem with modern day preachers telling their churches to look inward to find their inner strength, so long as it is understood that it is Christ Himself abiding within that is to be our inner strength.  No, but the problem is that so many preachers today do not mean that at all; they may pay lip-service to Christ as a crutch to come alongside you and fill in where your strength fails, but preachers today are not willing to preach that Christ is to be all your strength!

You might say that robs man of all his responsibility, that such a thing is a lazy faith.  No it is not.  You are not free to move about the Kingdom of God until you have laid aside the strength and will of the flesh and crucified them at the feet of the cross.  You will not overcome this world by merit of your own strength with just a little bit of help from Jesus.  And thank God that we are not asked to, either!  I don’t know a single man or woman yet with enough fortitude to overcome Satan and all his demons by means of his own strength.

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?  ~1st John 5:4–5

We can’t overcome this world by virtue of our own strength and God hasn’t asked us to either!

I’m going to address this point in another post, but so many Christians are being weighed down under heavy burdens of discouragement and defeat because they are trying to endure the fiery trials of infirmity in their own strength!

Let Jesus Christ be your strength, and your glory; stop trying to use Jesus as a crutch and trust wholly on Jesus name for all your strength!  He has never failed anyone who surrendered their strength to Him with hope fixed resolutely on Him!

CONSOLATION

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy… ~Philippians 2:1

It is written of Christ that “He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sickness” (Matthew 8:17).  Not only did Jesus heal the sick and relieved their suffering, but He took on flesh and was Himself burdened with them!  He is the mighty King who, for the love of His brethren, became stricken in the flesh and struck down at the hands of hateful men so that we, who were dying in our flesh, might be made fellow partakers of His inheritance and called by His name!

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

~Hebrews 4:14–16

Very few Christians today are entering boldly before the throne of grace to know the consolation of Christ.  Many Christians are looking for consolation from other people and have been sorely broken and feeling as though the fires of their trial have only been further fueled.

Now, don’t misunderstand me here, the Church is the Body of Christ and should be uniquely fitted to surrounding one another in the comfort of love, affection, and mercy.  But there is something missing, a connection as it were, when we look to people, even the Church, as our sole source of comfort; if we try to bypass the mighty and wonderful heavenly throne of grace and receive from men what we are to receive from our wonderful High Priest, then we will come away wanting, like a thirsty and weary traveler trying to draw water from a dusty old well.

The fact is that for most people the prayer closet is an alien environment.  They cannot draw from Christ’s deep well of consolation and love because they do  not know how to draw near to Him.  Sure, you may be well enough acquainted with tossing a few prayers up to God every now and again before you go to bed or at Church, or even as your are busy on your way somewhere, and all these are fine times to pray to God, but are you able to sit and rest under the cool shade at the well of Christ’s consolation?

It is a terrible tragedy for many Christians that prayer is a tiresome and laborious task that they would be altogether satisfied if it was in some way minimized and their labor relieved.  But this is only because they have not yet tasted that sweet fellowship of the Holy Spirit in prayer that has driven some of the greatest men of God to their knees night after night longing for more!  And no matter how hard they try, they cannot taste this sweet fellowship because they do not revere God as Holy.  The fact of the matter is that most Christians do not want to know God, neither do they love Him; sure we want His benefits, but we do not want the more “unseemly” things of God (as we have judged them).  Give me the comfort of His love, but keep the fear of the Lord, we sure don’t want anything to do with that!    He can fill in for me when I’m not strong enough, but we don’t want anything to do with crucifying our flesh!  Oh, how I will take His healing, but forbid it Lord that we should receive the fellowship of His sufferings!

PEACE

There is something about a spirit that is deeply distressed and broken that even dries up the bones (Proverbs 17:22); a man can bear with infirmity well enough if his spirit is not broken, but, once a man’s spirit is broken, sorrow fills the heart and he can no longer bear it!

The first symptom of MS that sent me to the hospital was blindness in my left eye.  Total darkness filled my eye, but there was something else that I felt rushing in me as well, with even greater force than the blindness that was progressively overtaking my eye, and that was peace.

I gratefully praise God for the peace He sent me that was not by my own making.  I cannot understand it.  People close to me were in shock and struggling with the rapid pace of events that were taking place, but a peace was filling me that I could not understand.  It did not come from the strength of my own heart, for that began to fade quickly once I realized that blindness was overtaking me, and it did not come from any word spoken to me by a close brother, though I thank God for my brothers that stayed near me.

The enemy will storm in through embittered comments that friends make, apocalyptic “woe is you” scenarios that family members bring up, and all kinds of doubts through which he hopes to find a breech in your wall and steal the blessed peace of Christ that has been given to you by our sympathetic Savior.  So you need to take up your shield of faith and overcome the mighty rush of the enemy so that you do not yield even an inch of ground in the Kingdom of God to the Devil.  We must learn to lay every doubt, every accusation, and every doomsday scenario at the feet of the cross!

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  ~Philippians 4:6–7

We have often not surrendered everything to God and counted it all as loss for the wonderful joy of knowing Christ.

Satan is a patient foe.  He waits until our resolve has waned and our determination dims, then he will try and sneak in to steal, kill, and destroy.  He seeks to find that one entrance that you have left open to him by your refusal to surrender it entirely to Christ.  He looks for that wall that you are defending by the strength of your flesh, and often he finds it decorated by the praise and acclamation of men and preachers alike who praise us for our valiant efforts!  No wall around your heart is safe, nor gate into your mind secure  until it is guarded by the peace of Christ!

There is actually very little that stands in our way of receiving this peace.  Often our greatest barrier is simply that we refuse to pray with supplication and thanksgiving in our heart.  We would rather entertain ourselves with thoughts of self-pity than lay down our perceived self-entitlement to health, wealth, and happiness.

Peace is the external work of Christ upon the heart that has trusted fully in Him and laid everything bare before Him for the joy of following after Him!

EXHORTATION

I am sure of one thing in this life, and that is the faithfulness of Christ!  “In Him I live and move and have  my being”; my strength is expired, my so-called talents of  no use to me anymore, I will look with hope to Him for life and strength and the sustaining of my soul!

Behold, can you hear Him saying, “little one, my grace is sufficient for thee!”

Part 2: Worship from the Fires of Suffering