More Glorious than the Ministry of Death? Part III

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (NKJV) Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

In part II of this series, we discussed how there is a veil over the human heart, concerning the word of God. This veil makes understanding the word of God impossible, until removed. When one turns to the Lord Jesus Christ in absolute surrender, the veil is removed. We understand there are three definitive experiences which take place when one turns to the Lord and that veil is removed.

I. HIS WORD BECOMES ALIVE & ACTIVE IN OUR UNDERSTANDIN

II. BEHOLDING THE MESSIAH WE ARE TRANSFORMED

In these first two we see how our beholding Christ, transforms our lives, by the formation of Christ’s character in us. This takes a continual attitude of humility and desire to know Christ more. We are beholding the Person of the Word of God in the scriptures, not Bible facts. These first two are clearly revealed as the ministry of the Spirit “Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day” (II Corinthians 4:16).

Yet there is a third aspect of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, which is more glorious than the ministry of death, as seen through Moses.

III. AS WE ARE TRANSFORMED, WHAT IS INSIDE SHINES FORTH

2 Corinthians 3:18 – 4:2 (NKJV) But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

I have highlighted the word “Therefore” because it is the beginning of chapter 4. Interestingly many have memorized II Corinthians 3:18 (concerning the ministry of the Spirit), in beholding the Living Word of God and being transformed into what we behold yet have no clue what Chapter 4 verse one declares. You may be asking why this is important. The reason it is important is because the truth communicated in chapter 3, continues and is expanded upon throughout chapter 4.

We must remember that scripture was not written with chapter numbers, verse numbers, or paragraph headings, as study aids. In fact, the New Testament, originally written in Greek, has no punctuation. Our desire for modern aids of study, often makes unnatural breaks in the context of the scripture and fragments our understanding of what God is communicating. This is not the only place this occurs in the New Testament.

When considering the word “Therefore” (4:1), we must understand that it connects what is about to be said with what was previously stated. In our case, we read, “Therefore, since we have this ministry”. What ministry is being referred too? The more glorious ministry of beholding, which begins when a person turns to the Lord, in absolute surrender and beholds Christ in His written and spoken word; from II Corinthians 3:18.

Therefore” then communicates what has been transformed inside us, must come out and in a powerful way.

“Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God

This is seen in a twofold ministry of…

  1. Not losing heart in trial and continuing in fellowship together.
  2. Shining forth Christ in us, as we minister the Gospel concerning Him.

The second point is seen in three aspects of character.

  1. We renounce the hidden things of shame; meaning we are walking in sanctification and righteousness, rather than practicing sin.
  2. We speak Christ crucified and His word in truth, not for personal gain or to place ourselves above anyone (consider verse 5).
  3. Not only do we preach the truth, but we live the truth in such a way that our lives are a sword manifesting the truth of Christ we preach into their very conscience.

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This is where we see a very powerful illustration of the veil, its creator, and what it produces.

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 (NKJV) But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.

Even though the world around us is blinded by this satanic veil, which pulls at the sinful self-will of man, God gives us a command.

2 Corinthians 4:6 (NKJV) For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Remember that Jesus calls us “the light of the world, a city set on a hill that cannot be hidden”, in Matthew 5:13-16. This is where we see the more glorious ministry of the Spirit, over the ministry of death, through Moses. The glory that radiated from Moses was unable to remove the veil over Israel’s heart. Christ, the hope of glory shining forth from us, will not perish and can remove the veil on the heart of the lost, and bring spiritual sight to the blind.

This is only possible by our beholding Christ (in His word) and being transformed inwardly. What God has formed in us, of the Christ life, must shine forth.

Sadly, this is not the case for far too many Christians, who appear to either be natural men without understanding concerning the word of God—or those who have ceased beholding the image of Christ, as they engage the word of God.

Why are so many Christians, all of whom are to walk in the ministry of the Spirit, not commending themselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God? Why are so many not shining forth?

The answer is simple. All Christians have this potential through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, yet it is limited until the individual is baptized in the Spirit, receiving the fullness of the Holy Spirit. This is the gift of the Father ministered by Christ Himself, upon those who have absolutely surrendered (Luke 11:13Acts 1:4, 8).

To understand the one who has committed to Christ in absolute surrender let us look at two passages, which reveals this state of being.

Philippians 1:19-21 (NKJV) For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Revelation 12:11 (NKJV) And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.

Both passages are true of those who were the first to be baptized in the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. It was true of those who were filled again with the Holy Spirit in Acts 4:23-31, it was true of Cornelius house in Acts 10:34-46 and the Ephesians believers in Acts 19:1-10. It will be the state of all who receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit, which begins their life in the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

Since I mentioned the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and many of my readers attend Pentecostal churches, let me briefly handle tongues. Although unknown tongues are the normative initial evidence of being baptized in the Holy Spirit (in Acts of the Apostles), they are not the ongoing evidence, nor are they the purpose of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

The purpose of the baptism in the Holy Spirit is “power” to be Christ’s witnesses (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4, 8). It is true this at times includes wonderful and miraculous sign gifts, which testify to the truth of the gospel, but our passage from II Corinthians 4:7-11 reveal what power to be His witnesses means.

2 Corinthians 4:7-12 (NKJV) But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyedalways carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you.

Wow! It does not get any clearer than that. When considering what the ministry of beholding Christ in the mirror of God’s word produces, it is easy to understand our need for the power of the Holy Spirit, to PERSEVERE in escalating temptations, trials and tribulations.

When we shine forth for Christ, commending ourselves in the conscience of every man in the sight of God, we can be certain, that the one who has blinded the minds of the unbelieving takes notice; and seeks to destroy our ability to shine.

This is the reason Paul and the apostles were hard pressed on every side, as will anyone who absolutely surrenders and lays hold of the fulness of the Spirit. The more we shine, the more pressed we are with perplexing and prospective blows. It is the fulness of the Holy Spirit in the one being hard pressed, which steady’s them with power and hope by His inward fulness of Spirit.

The ministry of the Spirit must ultimately take place in circumstances, which lead through the valley of the shadow of death. This means we will be led, by the Lord into situations beyond our ability to contend with, which catalyzes our shining forth.

Therefore, we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our moral flesh.

Soon all Christians, in every land will feel what this means. Let me encourage you to seek absolute surrender now, be transformed inwardly, shine forth and when trouble comes, rejoice and glory in your infirmities; for when you are weak, He is strong through you.

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More Glorious than the Ministry of Death? Part II

God's Mirror

2 Corinthians 3:7-8 (NKJV) But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?

2 Corinthians 3:11 (NKJV) For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious.

 2 Corinthians 3:13-16 (NKJV) unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.

(* link too More Glorious than the Ministry of Death #1)

As discussed in part I of this series, when one turns to the Lord fully, the veil is taken away from the heart; that person can now by faith experience the ministry of the Spirit of God. As verse 11 proclaims, this ministry of the Spirit is more glorious in its effect on the follower of Jesus Christ, than what Moses experienced by being in the presence of God.

The reason for this is that the ministry of the Spirit works from within the Christian, rather than merely affecting us temporarily from the outside. Let us consider just one chapter ahead of our text.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NKJV) Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

It is extremely important to remember that, in Christ’s atonement on our behalf, not only is the sin account made completely clean, but we are also given a deposit of the Holy Spirit inwardly (Ephesians 1:13-15). Therefore, we understand we are holy in His sight and can boldly come into His presence, as well as having Him seated in our humanity, by the Spirit.

This means, not only can we overcome the old man patterns of sin in our life, but we also can obey His commands and walk in submission to Christ, as He leads by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 2:20). This is what is being referred to as “the inward man being renewed day by day”. This is where we begin to see the exceedingly more glorious of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, as it extends to our entire triparate being.

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (NKJV) Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.

Interestingly, this truth is communicated in the clearest atonement passage, from the Old Testament.

Isaiah 53:5 (NKJV) But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.

The glory of God’s presence in the ministry of death, produced power results in Moses’ physical, mental and emotional life, even though it was only outward and perishing. How much more a glorious shine on the lives of every sincere follower of Christ, when the ministry of the Spirit of God will not pass away and is inward in us?

Let us consider one example of many in Acts of the Apostles: the man Stephen. Stephen was a normal, faithful Christian man. His love for Jesus Christ was apparent by what was observed concerning his life. Filled with faith and the Holy Spirit, as well as sings and wonders (Acts 6:5, 8), he was dragged into a dispute, which led to him being brought before the Jewish Sanhedrin (religious congress) to testify concerning accusations against him. This led to him being the first martyr of the Church.

Consider how the ministry of the Spirit affected him further. In Acts 6:10 it is revealed that his detractors “were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke”. As he was brought before the council, we find the more glorious ministry of the Spirit affected even his outward appearance, “And all who sat in the council looking steadfastly at, saw his face as the face of an angel” (Acts 6:15).

We also observe the more glorious ministry of the Spirit, in how Stephen died manifesting the life of Christ (more on that in part III). Let us consider again, how we lay hold of the ministry of the Spirit: by turning toward the Lord (II Corinthians 3:16).

As we discovered in part one, there was a veil on Israel’s heart collectively, when the word of the LORD was read. This veil is a symbol of self-will. This veil is removed, when one turns to the Lord Jesus Christ in repentance and faith. This two-fold action is one of absolute surrender, as Romans 10:9 reveals “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your hear that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved”.

Unveiling the Veil by Joey Asher Tan

Although some ministers would like to create two categories of Christians, those who are saved and those who are saved who have taken Him as Lord, this is gross exegetical error. If Christ is not Lord of your life, through repentant absolute surrender to trusting and obeying Him, He cannot be your Savior.

By that understanding, “when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away”, we must understand that all men, in addition to Israel, have a veil on their heart. II Corinthians 4:3 reveals this truth. So what occurs in us when the veil is taken away? How does the ministry of the Spirit begin in us?

I. HIS WORD BECOMES ALIVE & ACTIVE IN OUR UNDERSTANDING

It is no secret that the symbol of having a veil on their heart meant they could not understand the word of God, therefore it was not living and active to them or anyone, in whom their heart is still veiled. Therefore, when the veil is removed, as a person turns to the Lord, their human spirit is enlivened by God’s Spirit, for the purpose of understanding the word of God, His gospel.

I Corinthians 2:14 gives us insight into this truth. “But the natural man cannot understand the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned”. This can be seen in the lives of Christ’s disciples themselves. Consider how clueless they often were, when Christ would give them scriptural truth, how often he had to admonish them for little faith or a lack of understanding.

It was not until Christ had appeared to them in the upper room, the day of His resurrection and rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart (Mark 16:14), breathed on them saying “receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22-23), that they were able to understand the word of God (Luke 24:45). This is when the ministry of the Spirit began in them. It was magnified when they were baptized in the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, as they began to walk in the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

The ministry of the Spirit begins when one turns to the Lord in absolute surrender and can understand the spoken and written word. This is where we begin to behold the Lord Himself.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (NKJV) Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Let me state, we must hold the word of God, the Bible, as no mere earthly book. Inspired by the Holy Spirit it is not a Christian textbook, but a doorway we step into to meet with Christ, who is the WORD (John 1:1-5). Therefore, understanding God’s word is not about knowing facts, figures, or biblical information, but about KNOWING HE WHO IS THE WORD, in relationship. When we understand this, the ministry of the Spirit can then begin to be more glorious in our triparate being.

God's Mirror

II. BEHOLDING THE MESSIAH WE ARE TRANSFORMED

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 

Interestingly, we are reminded that this is for all believers with “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding, as in a mirror”. It is very interesting that the Holy Spirit chooses to use the allusion of a mirror.

In James 1:22-23 we are commanded to be doers of the word of God and not hearers only, for a man who hears God’s word and does not do God’s word, is like a natural man that looks at himself in a mirror and forgets what he looks like, as soon as he walks away. This is analogous to our “beholding as in a mirror” concerning the more glorious ministry of the Spirit.

As we behold Christ, as in the mirror of the written or spoken word of God, should we commit to doing what we see and seek to walk it out, we will be “transformed” into what we are beholding. This does not mean we become Christ, but that His character begins to be seen through our lives. This is seen in many places in the New Testament (Matthew 5:6; II Corinthians 4:7-11, 5:17; Colossians 1:27; Galatians 2:20; 5:22).

In this beholding we see His glory and that in us which is still unchanged. In this revelation, we long for transformation, that Christ may be seen in us. This conviction must be at the foundation of our beholding, with great humility, or we may leave beholding, in carnality. This is a real danger because the transformation is to come forth in shining forth, that is more glorious than that of Moses.

In our Part III we will look to the ultimate glorious goal of the ministry of the Spirit.

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More Glorious than the Ministry of Death?

The Veil of Moses – Misunderstandings regarding 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 |  Bible things in Bible ways

2 Corinthians 3:7-9 (NKJV) But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory.

 In the passage above, we face a profound rhetorical question. Let me summarize.

If the ministry of death, engraved on stones was glorious, so that the Children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of His countenance, …, How will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?

This is rhetorical because the answer is in verse nine “For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds in glory”.

For Paul, the answer was obvious, but the question needs to be asked of the Corinthian believers, who had fumbled away the more glorious nature of the ministry of the Spirit of God. When we consider the contents of both letters to the Corinthians believers, we find many unbiblical practices, some of which are listed below.

  1. Contentions, factions, and divisions
  2. Spiritual immaturity
  3. Undealt with sexual immorality
  4. Problems among husbands and wives
  5. Gluttons and offenders ruining communion
  6. Spiritual gifts out of order and in spiritual pride
  7. False doctrine concerning the resurrection

All the above are contained in I Corinthians. It is enough to say that most of these issues had not been dealt with to the degree they should have been, by the time of the writing of the second letter to the Corinthians. Although these issues of carnality and sin, diminished the glorious nature of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, something else was more foundational as a hindrance.

Before we examine that hindrance, let us examine the ministry of death/condemnation and the glory therein, that we may understand more fully the ministry of the Spirit.

THE MINSTRY OF DEATH/CONDEMNATION

The ministry of death came out of the time and events of the giving of the law of God to Israel, through Moses, who was known as the law giver. Now we know that the law is good and had a manifold and powerful purpose.

  1. To reveal man’s sin
  2. To reveal man’s inability to atone for his sin
  3. To provide a type or foreshadowing, in bloody animal sacrifice, of the Lamb of God (Messiah) who would not cover their sin but remove their sin, through His shed blood.
  4. To reiterate that the just live by faith
  5. To glorify God

The ministry of death gave rise to the fear of the Lord, which could lead to faith, should the Israelite walking in obedience to God’s commands, place their trust in the One who was to come to remove their sin. The fear was to be the fear of the Lord, but for most, it produced a fear of death.

Romans illustrates this well, as we understand that by the works of the law shall no one be justified in His sight, and the all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (fallen short of the sinless perfection needed to gain access to His presence; Romans 3:20-23, 6:23).

This fear of death arose from the nearness of God’s presence, as God had called all Israel to meet with Him on the mountain, yet they refused for fear.

Exodus 20:18-21 (NKJV) Now all the people witnessed the thundering, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” And Moses said to the people, “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.” So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was.

Deuteronomy 5:4-5 (NKJV) The LORD talked with you face to face on the mountain from the midst of the fire. I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to declare to you the word of the LORD; for you were afraid because of the fire, and you did not go up the mountain.

The fear of coming into God’s presence was because of their sinful and unbelieving hearts. To be in His presence they needed to repent and commit to walking out the covenant He made with them. Because they did not, they feared His presence, which would bring death.

This ministry of death is also seen as the ministry of condemnation, not because God did not want to give them mercy, but because they held onto their sin and died in condemnation in the wilderness. So how was this ministry of death glorious?

It was glorious for what it produced in Moses, which was opposite of the general rank and file. How God’s glorious presence effected Moses, was to be how it effected all Israel.

Remember that the glory of God’s presence did not cause Moses to run, but to fall face down in humility and reverence; in fact, Moses would run to God’s presence in times of trouble.

Being in God’s presence softened Moses to being the meekest man on earth, at the time of the writing of scripture. This means that Moses learned how to exercise self-control, denying his passions and desires for the good of God and his countrymen.

Moses’ physical health was supercharged, that when he was close to death the light of his eye was not dimmed nor his natural strength diminished (Deuteronomy 34:7). This area of his physical appearance is where we see the glory of the ministry of death, in relation to our passage, as the chief example.

2 Corinthians 3:7 (NKJV) But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away,

 Verses 13-14 further reveals…

2 Corinthians 3:13-15 (NKJV) unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart.

 We understand that when Moses would leave the glorious presence of the Lord, his face and skin would shine so much it would hurt them to look. Perhaps like a bush that is full of the fire of God, but does not burn, Moses would radiate the glory of God from his outward frame. As time would pass from being in the glorious presence of God, the shine would diminish. This is what it means in reference to “which glory was passing away”.

The glory of God was on the outside in the ministry of death, and it affected the outside of the man Moses framed in very positive and powerful ways, but that glory was passing away, for God had His plan to bring His glory into the heart of man. It was the ministry of death that was to catalyze a hunger in Israel for the, the ministry of the Spirit. We see this foreshadowed by the prophets.

Jeremiah 31:33-34 (NKJV) But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Lev Basar - Mission Bend United Methodist Church

Ezekiel 11:19-20 (NKJV) Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God

Ezekiel 36:26-27 (NKJV) I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

The problem with Israel and God’s desire for them, is that there was a veil over their heart. Moses’ veil, would allude to this carnality that existed, as a barrier, between Israel and God. I Corinthians reveals the one way that veil can be removed.

2 Corinthians 3:14-16 NKJV But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.

What removes the veil over the heart? When a person turns from self will and sin, and turns unto the Lord. This is what opens up the ministry of the Spirit, but this turning unto the Lord must be absolute. What that means is a repenting towards God and placing one’s faith in Christ, exhibited by obedience for the sake of love (John 14:15-23).

Remember, turning to the Lord is not half measure, three quarter measure or quarter measure, it is 100% or nothing. The outcome of that turning is more glorious than even Moses experienced.

The ministry of death, was glorious and would have been so much more so, had Israel trusted God, but it was a glory passing away, because the ministry of the Spirit, which is more glorious was to come; and has come. But what does that mean?

In the ministry of death, God’s glory was unable to reside inside, yet consider the glorious result in Moses. In the ministry of the Spirit, what diminished on the outside of Moses, is to grow in its fullness from the inside out. We will look into this in our next blog.

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Is Your Head Prodigiously Empty or Filled with the Mind of Christ? #2

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(Philippians 2:1-5) Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,

In my last post we began to explore the biblical meaning of having “the mind of Christ” (I Corinthians 2:14-16; Philippians 2:1-10). Towards the end of that post, we discovered, that laying hold of the mind of Christ is a simultaneous work, where in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, we assimilate God’s word into the function of our mind.

We discovered having the mind of Christ, moves us progressively into greater selflessness and dedication to God, where we discern life and our responses to life, by God’s word, as it is illuminated by the Holy Spirit. In this action of thought, we take an active role in avoiding sin and walking in obedience. We also trust and receive His provision being thoroughly equipped for every good work. 

This work is simultaneous, in building the mind of Christ, as our minds are gutted of our old patterns of thinking, which are contrary to God. This is often where our trouble begins, because not only is attaining the mind of Christ disciplined and prayerful work, so is the difficult work of demolishing patterns of thought from our old man. The New Testament is thorough in calling us to this work.

(2 Corinthians 10:3-6) For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.

I Peter uses another metaphor to illuminate the need for us to complete the work of attaining the mind of Christ, by dealing with ungodly ways of thinking that may be dangling around our lives as a trip hazard.

These steps are required to gird up your loins illustration.

(1 Peter 1:13-16) Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

If we are to attain the mind of Christ to any degree, we must not only identify wrong patterns of thought, but understand where they arise from.

Below are three detrimental characters of mind, which can damage our faith and practice in relation to Christ’s call upon our lives. All three are diametrically opposed to the mind of Christ, and every believer has a proclivity towards at least one.

THE NATURAL MIND

(1 Corinthians 2:14-16) But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For “who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

The natural man has a mind, untouched by God’s Spirit. Sadly, this can be a person who has called themselves a Christian but has a heart like the hardened path in the parable of the Sower.

God’s word cannot penetrate, because they exclusively trust their old rational patterns of thought, based on the things they have always been told. They are generally dismissive of buying into religion and religious practice, although they may sit through church meetings for decades. Going deeper in the word of God is not needed in their view.

THE CARNAL MIND

(Romans 8:5-8) For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

This lines up with the shallow soil and thorny soil of the parable of the Sower. Remember in both there is penetration, but the life began is killed, by remaining shallow or overgrown with the cares of life, deceitfulness of riches, and other things (Matthew 13:1–23, Mark 4:1–20, Luke 8:4–15).

The person who’s thinking is dominated by the carnal is driven by emotions, affections, and desires; all of which we are to exercise dominion over by self-denial and obedience to the word of God.

These thinkers can appear to be very spiritual and religious, like solid Christians, but they are deceptively self-centered. They take God’s word and fit it into their carnal mind framework and seek to remain in control, rather than the LORD being in control “not subject to the law of God”: God’s word.

We must be very careful with this mode of thinking, because it dominates many “Christian” minds and invariably leads to the worst conditions of the mind, apart from the mind of Christ.

A MIND FALLING AWAY IN UNBELIEF

(Hebrews 3:12-15) 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. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

The first two will end up here, but even those who truly desire to have the mind of Christ and limit how much our Father must “put up with” us (Acts 13:18). Those with an “evil heart of unbelief” are “departing”, which means they are “withdrawing” from and “falling away” from the Lord, even though they believe themselves to be right with God.

The reason for this is that falling away is as imperceptible, at first, as jumping off a building. Think about it, when a person falls back, it almost feels as if you are floating as you slowly pick up momentum. When one falls backward, this is the case, until the tipping point. Then you realize you are picking up speed until terminal velocity.

Remember, our God and Father will not let anyone take us out of His hand, but He never promised to keep us there against our own will. Remember that “withdrawing” and “falling away” happens imperceptibly (like the drifting of Hebrews 2:1-4), when we may see ourselves as in good standing. Consider the good church atmosphere of the Ephesian Church in Revelation 2:1-8, where Christ commended them doctrinally and practically, but warned them to repent, because they had “left their first love”. To leave Him, as their first Love, is to withdraw to a degree, no?

How does this occur?

Because God is patient with us and gives us the opportunity to right the ship or continue in “the deceitfulness of sin”. In this context the deceitfulness of sin is very specific to what Israel did to exhaust His mercy… “Today if you will hear His voice, do not harden your heart as in the rebellion”.

We can understand this easily considering Pharaoh. God spoke a command to Pharaoh that was easy to follow, “Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to Me in the wilderness”. This was God’s word, Pharaoh heard, but did not do. This hardened his heart and refusing to obey the next time was easier.

Put that in the context of Israel. They heard the word of God in the commandments and the law, understood, and even professed they would do what the Lord said, but did not. Quite simply, an evil heart of unbelief, departing from God, means even while declaring He is your Savior, and hearing His word and affirming it, we do not put it into practice (James 1:22-23).

Every time we hear His command, precept, or direction and do not commit to doing it NOW, we risk hardening our heart. Should this happen repeatedly, we believe the lie of profession, and are not trusting in, nor obeying the LORD. This tries His awesome character, and although He “will put up with our ways” there is a time when we cross a threshold. At this point we may be in the state of “departing from His grace and “falling away”.

Yes, falling begins almost imperceptibly, when we may even believe we are flying high with Christ, but soon speeds up and continues until terminal velocity or the point of no return unto death. We are warned against this, often in the New Testament.

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Do you hear God calling you to do what His word says?

Do you obey immediately, or put it off “hardening your heart“, making Him “put up with your ways”?

If you put Him off, confess it as the deceitfulness of sin, “Today”, don’t harden your heart further.

 

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Is Your Head Prodigiously Empty or Filled with the Mind of Christ?

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In the very successful 2014 animated LEGO Movie, we are given a peek into a mind that is prodigiously empty. The lead character, a LEGO person named Emmit, has been chosen as “The Special”, a person who will save the LEGO universe. I know, it is silly, but I have three children under 10, so humor me. “The Special” is thought to be a hero like person with the greatest abilities a LEGO person can have. When Emmit is found by the good guys, who are all really talented, they are overwhelmed at how common and lacking in any special talent he is.

In one particular scene, they look into his mind (yes, I know that is problematic, from a biblical perspective), and one of the most powerful good guy’s comments that Emmit’s mind is prodigiously empty, except for one really bad idea. Of course, this scene is played for laughs; and is laughable.

Why do I bring this up? Because Christians are not to have prodigiously empty or even slightly empty minds. Our minds are to be filled with the most special minds ever to live.

Philippians 2:1-5 (NKJV) Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus

Yes, we are to have the mind of Christ, which is contrary to our minds before we experience His grace in regeneration. Our minds before we begin to be drawn to Christ, by the Holy Spirit, are prodigiously empty of what constitutes the mind of Christ: TRUTH in thought and in governance our actions.

In fact, our minds work in opposition to what it means to have the mind of Christ, which if not understood, will be a hindrance to our attaining any consistent function in that which Philippians calls us to.

So, what constitutes the mind of Christ and how do we come by it?

THE MIND OF CHRIST

Like many of the promises of God concerning the character and operation of our Christian life, the call to “have the mind of Christ” is not automatic to the follower of Jesus Christ, but is untapped potential, until we lay hold of it. This means that any Christian can grow in and develop further the mind of Christ.; but what is the mind of Christ?

Quite simply, having the mind of Christ is to think like Christ and to process what we see and interact with as He did. From Philippians 2:1-5 we see the mind of Christ as being SELFLESS, in the example of His death on the cross on our behalf. Therefore, we can declare the mind of Christ to be focused on loving God and neighbor, before it looks to itself.

The reason for the exhortation to look on the needs of others, is that humanity, based on its fallen nature, is first and foremost selfish in nature. Which is why we must choose the mind of Christ and learn how to attain it.

Our entry into the mind of Christ begins before we actually enter into salvation, knowing the Holy Spirit is drawing us through conviction, based on the word of God concerning our sinful nature and what befalls, should we repent of or remain as we are (Read John 3:1-20). In this understanding, as we repent and begin our walk of faith, we experience the miracle of salvation.

(1 Peter 1:22-23) Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever

The written word of God reveals the Living Word, the Lord Jesus Messiah, who is sharper than any two-edged sword, dividing us to the division of soul and spirit. As we engage in discourse with Christ, through the written word, the Holy Spirit reveals what is right and wrong in our practice of faith and gives us the opportunity to grow in sanctification. You’ll note sanctification is a partnership, where we obey the truth, and God, Himself, empowers us in that and transforms us accordingly.

In this revelation we understand the importance of the word of God. A person who will attain the mind of Christ will meditate on it day and night, as it is the seed of the Christ life, and that which satisfies the soul (Psalm 1:1-3). In this, the follower of Christ understands the power of the word of God to bring their thinking into line with God’s, concerning sin and righteousness; bringing a desire to walk in the former and avoid the latter.

(Psalms 119:9-11) How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.

Because we see this truth in our lives, we begin to experience the power of the word of God in the mind and life of those who believe it is the word of God.

(1 Thessalonians 2:13) For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.

In the one who is seeking the mind of Christ, they find the word of God “effectively works“, meaning, in great power and force to change and impact. Not only is this illumination found in the power of God’s word to transform the way we think and desire to operate, but also in how it opens us to the provision of the Holy Spirit to accomplish the mind of Christ and His character in our lives.

(2 Timothy 3:16-17) All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Although this is a wonderful work we choose, it must take place as another difficult process is advancing. This is where many Christians fail, because to have the mind of Christ, we must be renovating our head space, ripping out the old ways of thinking, as revealed by God and the Holy Spirit.

(Romans 12:1-2) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service (spiritual service of worship from NASB). And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

We discover above that having the mind of Christ is an action of worship (noting that worship is not confined to singing in a congregational sense. In fact, that aspect of worship, corporate and private praise, are only a fraction of a life that is a “living sacrifice“). Worship is our everyday, all-day service to Christ, where by we live for Him, everywhere, with all our heart. This is founded on the renewing of the mind, where we are no longer conformed to the thinking of the world.

Herein lies the difficulty, when dealing with the meaning of the phrase the “renewing of your mind“, which means a complete renovation of the grey matter between our two ears.

I used to love watching the PBS show “This Old House” where they would renovate a really old house, where the superstructure was solid, but everything else need to be gutted and pulled out for the purpose of putting in the new. If you have ever experienced a renovation, the hard work is tearing out the old. The same is true in the reformation of our mind in that of Christ’s.

In renovating an old house where the foundation and most of the hidden structure is solid, and where  most of everything else is aged and deteriorated beyond use or functionality, we must commit to gutting everything else.

To do this is hard and disciplined physical work. One must check their emotions, and sense of nostalgia, or they may not do the work sufficiently enough. What also must be considered is the ease at which we functioned in that old environment, even if it was dilapidated and run down, because operating in the new will not be so familiar. Operating in the new will often be uncomfortable, where we must discipline ourselves to not going back to what is familiar.

This must be considered in the reformation of our mind, into the mind of Christ. Although salvation gives us the blueprint of the Christ life, the power of the Christ life and the potential of the mind of Christ to be a living sacrifice; we must do the hard work of discovering the old ways of thinking and ripping them out. Next time we will discover three areas of our mind before Christ, that must be dealt with, or we risk never attaining the mind of Christ.

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Satanic Diversions (Ephesians 5:13-21)

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On June 6th, 1944, the Allies by the United States, landed on five separate beaches of Normandy France. The D-Day invasion, although hard fought with high casualties among both Allied and German forces, was considered a success, The success was not without significant pre-military planning and one of the older military tricks in the books. Without these tactics, the D-Day invasion would certainly have been disastrous.

The tactics to which I am referring are the use of distraction and diversion.

Prior to the invasion, the Allied forces flooded German spy networks and eavesdroppers with information on an invasion force landing somewhere other than Normandy in the North and Calais in the South. Genuine Allied radio messages and media gave the impression that most of the invasion forces being stationed in Kent, gave the impression that the Allied invasion would occur at Calias.

In fact, the night before the D-Day invasion special forces dropped thousands of dummies, like paratroopers, to further the diversion of a Calias invasion point diverting attention from Allied warships massing in the North. Planes also dropped sheets of window foil to confuse German radar, as to another possible invasion location. By diverting the German’s attention, the distracted Germans were caught off guard and unprepared.

Why am I writing about WWII military tactics? Because Satan has been using DIVERSION to distract the Church for 2000 years and he has done it again, very effectively over the last two years.

While Christians worldwide have been agonizing over the risk of the Covid-19 virus and its variants, the potential for further Covid-19 restrictions, the safety of vaccines and possible mandates, and the massive amounts of true and false political and scientific information; we were distracted from an abominable massacre. Satan create a huge diversion to distract us so that our time, attention, ministry effort and prayer, would be devoted to what we considered an “existential threat” to personal civil liberties.

To be clear, those who truly follow the Lord Jesus Christ do not find “existential threats” all that distracting. When we live by faith in the promises of God afforded Christian… “absent from the body is present with the Lord” and “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” and “For to you if has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake“; we do not allow ourselves to be panic attacked into distracted thinking (II Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:21, 29).

What is it that we missed? What is the abomination which took place over the last two years? Abortion is the leading cause of death for the second straight year and rising.

In a recent Christian Post article we read that while the world was worried about the death toll of Covid-19 and still is, over 42,600,000 children were butchered in the womb in 2020 (the 2021 total is not yet compiled). During that time Christians have been consumed in political fights concerning the virus, being called to prayer (at least in America) for protection from the virus, a return to civil liberties, and the election of political leaders more akin to our outlook. How many prayer rallies have been called for almost 1.5 million murdered babies in that same time period?

Consider how deceptive the delusion. In the United States alone there is a yearly average of 800,000 abortions. Even if we drop that number to the 2019 Calander year total of approximately 625,000, we arrive. By contrast Covid-19 has been reported to have taken over 845,000 lives in two years.

Recently the Centers for Disease Control admitted that 75% of the United States Covid deaths are among people who have four or more comorbidities. A comorbidity is the simultaneous presence of a serious diseases, which impacting the daily life of a person in adverse ways and exponentially increases the risk of early death.  This means that 75% of the 845,000 who died, did not die from covid; they died from having multiple pre-existing conditions that made them wildly unhealthy and more prone to death by diseases most others would survive.

When factoring out those who had 4 comorbidities or more, the 2-year death total in the U.S. is 211,250. When factoring that 75% in among world statistics it reduces the 5,500,000 number of deaths from Covid to 1,100,000. By way of comparison, if death aby abortion continues as it has the last two years (42.6 million in 2020 and 42.3 million in 2019), means upwards of 80,000,000 children will be wickedly and barbarously killed, in the same period.

What cause of death, ought to have a Christian appropriate Christian response?

Yes, all the death from Covid-19 is tragic and unnecessary, being it was intentionally released, but Covid-19 is satanic diversion, turning our attention to exploring worldly options to save our bacon. Satan has done with regard to how real or not abortion is too Christians over the years.

When is the last time you wept with burden over the exponentially outrageous death toll of abortion, in the last two years?

Consider this:

42,600,000 abortions world-wide in 2020 equates too…

  1. 116,712 dead unborn babies per day
  2. 4,863 dead unborn children per hour
  3. 81 dead unborn babies who fell pain per minute

A yearly average of 800,000 abortions in the United States equates too…

  1. 2191 murdered unborn babies per day
  2. 91 murdered unborn children per hour
  3. More than 1 unborn child slain per minute

Should we no weep, when regardless of what we are doing, every minute of our lives as many as 81 mothers choose to take the life of a child growing in their womb? Should we not grieve in repentance, at how easily we are distracted by silly diversions, which monopolize our attention and praying, when every minute of the day, the free-will choice given by God to live, is denied by cultures and societies of death? When is the last time you wept over the death of these little ones, or prayed for direction to reduce its massiveness where you live?

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The problem of abortion is not just a last year problem. Abortion is a satanic middle finger at God, as men and woman in worship of Lucifer’s religion of “do what thou will”, destroy the image of God in those who cannot fight back or defend themselves.

Some will gloss over the sheer magnitude of the statistics, declaring we are living in the days before Christ’s return, which lends toward more wickedness and sexual immorality, therefore more abortions, as people believe “the lie” rather than the TRUTH. One may readily offer, we need to get more laws passed, but abortion, like Covid-19 restrictions and mandates, will never be taken care of through litigation.

The reason for this is the world system, controlled by Satan is about SELF. The teaching of this system is man is autonomous of God. Therefore, to a majority of men and woman, being made in the image of God is irrelevant. Being under a Darwinian notion, the world is a culture of the strong dominating the weak and anything infringing on “my truth” must be silenced, shut down or killed.

This is true of those who seek to kill and persecute Christians, suppress the truth in unrighteousness and those commit abortion. They have no love for God or life, because they do not know the Truth.

To abort a child for the purpose of getting rid of a “problem” infringing on the personal life plan the of mother and father, is to hold to “the lie”, which also keeps the wicked in high places; This is because abortion is a sacrifice to Satan and his plan of “Do what thou will”, which also makes billions for the butchers who perform these abominable acts.

Legislation will not fix abortion or the distraction of Covid-19, nor will violence against those who practice murder of the unborn or those who seek to suppress the truth in unrighteousness, through campaigns of false science or draconian restrictions.

Only bringing people to Christ will change the heart, where the heart and will are opened to the sacredness of life to the God who alone gives life. Being active in His Great Commandment and Great Commission will not end abortion or any other wickedness in the world (which will wax worse as we near Christ’s return), but it may bring more than a few to forgiveness and reconciliation with God.

How can we turn the tide, when Christian’s are so afraid of losing their right to go where they want and do what they want to do, that they can barely pray for their lost neighbors, let alone engage in giving the word of God to those who need their conscience awakened to God? The simple answer is we cannot, unless we turn our eyes away from satanic diversions, intended to stop the work of making disciples for Christ.

We had better wake up, because while we are looking at the diversion, Satan is busy making more hearts and minds calloused to life and intolerable towards those who live with resurrection life. To live without an awareness of or care concerning the death of 42,600,000 babies, will only grow the intolerability of the lost toward those who live in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Let us pray and speak up for the little ones, calling mothers and fathers to choose life and freedom in Christ. Let stop worrying about what we are losing in the way of rights and live free in Christ, regardless of who is against us, or what they can concoct to silence us. Then we will discern satanic distractions, and then empowered by the Holy Spirit we will make an eternal difference.

(Ephesians 5:13-21) But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says:

“Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.”

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.

May God grant us wisdom and discernment, that we would never again fall to satanic diversions and that we may continually be attuned to the Holy Spirit, for the purpose of calling others out of darkness and into His marvelous light.

Abortion is leading cause of death worldwide for third year in a row

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Appropriate Attire Required! (Matthew 22:1-14)

Have you ever been invited to a wedding that was a “Black Tie” only? If you are not aware, a “Black Tie” invitation means a tuxedo must be worn, with a black tie. If you are like me, a mere common man, who’s friends and acquaintances are also common folk, then you have not had too many “Black Tie” wedding invitations. Don’t sweat not being invited to many of these swanky events, because for most of them, you have to provide your own attire, which can be quite expensive.

For a guy who seldom wears a suit and tie anymore, a wedding wearing a tuxedo I have to rent, would be personally torturous, and prohibitive if I had to rent a tux with my own money. What sort of family requires a dress code to celebrate their marriage? As it turns out, historically, much of the world, especially in the Hebrew culture.

In Matthew 22:1-14, we find a king inviting his family friends and acquaintances to his son’s wedding. The only problem is that those invited were not willing to come. The king tried again, by letting them know this wedding would be spectacular. Of course, he reported it would be a massive meat party, being he killed oxen and fat cattle for the feast.

If I’d been invited, the king could have counted on me to be the first one there. You don’t have to beg me to come to a BBQ with meat everywhere. But alas, the king’s invitees responded so shamefully, that he sent his armies to destroy them. The king then pulls a bold move, he sends out his servants to invite anyone they could get to come in. His inviting whomever meant rich and poor, bad and good people, many who would never be able to afford a wedding garment.

Yes, requiring a specific garment for a wedding feast was customary in Christ’s culture. In fact, In Matthew 22:11-12 we read…

(Matthew 22:11-12) “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.

Although the wedding garment was not a “Black Tie” kind of outfit, it did require  more money than some could afford, and many would find stretching, concerning their lack of expendable income; especially among the crowd the king’s servants brought in.

In order to deal with this reality, those responsible for putting on the wedding, usually provided the wedding garment. The purpose was two-fold. In the first place, no one would be prohibited from attending if they wanted, due to a lack of proper attire, for whatever reason. Secondly, everyone would look similar, where the focus and attention would be on the bride and groom, usually dressed differently, rather than people desiring to dress in a manner that made them standout.

It is for this reason we witness the king react so strongly in Matthew 22.

(Matthew 22:13-14) Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

In considering the man who is not clothed in the proper wedding garment, we must understand that he had refused to put it on, because all who are invited receive a wedding garment either with their invitation or at the door. Not only was he refusing to honor the king’s son, by drawing attention to himself, he refused the rule of his king.

We understand this is a parable concerning the kingdom of God and how we are to relate to God, as He commands us to relate to Him.

We are grateful that the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is love. He expresses His love in longsuffering and desires to forgive man, through the blood of Christ, as He is “not willing that any would perish, but all would come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9-10). In the gospel we are given an invitation to a wedding we do not desire to be at. This invitation has 3 requirements for admission and one guarantee if we enter in.

  1. Repent (by turning from our old life and turning towards God)
  2. Walk in faith (our faith is in Christ’s cross and resurrection to save, not our works)
  3. Put on the wedding garment we are given.

What is this wedding put on? The righteousness of Christ.

Revelation 6:11, 7:9 refers to it as white robe. They are white having been washed in the blood of the Lamb of God. Revelation 19:7-8 gives us even more clarity.

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(Revelation 19:7-8) 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.

The epistle to the Romans gives still more clarity on why these robes are white and clean and bright.

(Romans 13:13-14) 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.

Scripture is clear, WE ARE TO PUT ON OUR WEDDING GARMENT, just as the man without one on in Matthew 22 was to put on the wedding garment given to him.

As we read above in Romans 13:14, we are to “put on Jesus Christ [His righteous actions and life] and make no provision for the flesh. This does not mean we are saving ourselves, but that because we have received the invitation to come into the kingdom, we will abide in the commands of the king of the kingdom.

To follow a mode of theology that declares we are justified to walk around His kingdom, in real time, unclothed with the very acts that Christ ordained we walk in in salvation, is as asinine as the man in Matthew 22 refusing the garment given to him to remain in the wedding.

In order for us to put on Christ Jesus, as a garment of righteousness, we must first take off the behavior of the old man. Colossians 3 reveals this.

(Colossians 3:8-9) But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds

Colossians 3:10-11 and Ephesians 4:  reveals the acts and attitude of Christ which we are to put on.

(Colossians 3:10-11) and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

(Ephesians 4:20-24) 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.

And there it is, that beautiful word, that has almost become extinct in the Church in America, seldom spoken, unless in hushed and apologetic tones… “true righteousness and holiness”.

Wearing the wedding garment provided for by our God and Father is a life of holiness, whereby when people see us, they see Christ’s actions and life, which are HOLY. Remember this is what is repeatedly commanded in the New Testament (please read I Peter 1:13-16).

Herein lies the problem for us. We have been told in error so many times that we are sinners saved by grace and no different than the lost–that we’re not perfect and sin all the time– and that focusing on holiness will only leave people to think that they can save themselves; that we have fellowships filled with people, who are still clothed in their old lives, even though they profess to know Christ.

Let us be clear, in order to put on the wedding garment of God, we must first take off the old man garment we wear, which only reveals selfishness and sin. This means we are to deny the old patterns of sin, which any sincere follower of Christ has the power in Christ to do (Romans 6:6-14).

We also must choose to put on the wedding garment and practice the appropriate washing when we sully it up through our weakness and stupidity… If you confess your sins, He is faithful and just to forgive you and cleanse you from unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). This cleansing is twofold. In the first place, it keeps your account clean with the Lord, as if you never sinned. Secondly, it cleanses you from unrighteousness, meaning that it cleanses you of the pattern of unrighteous behavior practically. In this we find a better fit with this heavenly wedding garment.

Sadly, there are too many “Christians” who have never taken off their “old man” garment–or refuse to believe they need to put on the garment of Christ’s righteousness. This one walks around with little conviction concerning their attitude and actions and like some wedding guests expect royal service, when they have done nothing to deserve it. Still others, tried to put the garment of Christ’s righteousness overtop of the tattered and stained garment of their old life.

In both cases they will hear the words of the king, of Christ on judgment day, unless they repent “Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ “For many are called, but few are chosen.”. 

Remember, accepting the invitation is not enough. We must be properly clothed. For those who in humility put on Christ’s righteousness, what blessing now and when He comes life eternal.

Remember, we are to put it on, not when we arrive at the wedding supper of the Lamb, but RIGHT NOW!

What is it that you are wearing?

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“Back Door Revival” and Its Curious Catalyst

Leonard Ravenhill quote: You never have to advertise a fire. Everyone comes  running...

The church in America is in the middle of revival! Hallelujah!

The revival we are experiencing is not what most would typically expect, when considering what a revival is. The revival we are in the middle of, is a “back door revival” and not many Christians know what that means; not many would desire such move of God, if they understood its implications.

So, what is a “back door revival”? A “back door revival” is when many who call themselves Christians leave the church for various and sundry reasons; none of which are biblical. I first heard the phrase “back door revival” while counseling with mentors and leaders within the denominations that I ministered in, when people would leave churches that I pastored.

In “back door revival” a pastor or group of leaders, begins to preach and teach God’s word as intended, after a long period where God’s word and biblical practice were exchanged for the religious ideas of men. In this setting, people who had been accustomed too little to no conviction chafe under a resurgence of anointed preaching and a renewed commitment to biblical accountability.

Those irritated as such a resurgence, will challenge the leadership, until they realize their complaints will not change path forward. Because they were married to a location and its ministry modes and methods, rather than in fellowship with God and His children, they leave out the “back door”; often leaving wreckage in their wake. Although the church is smaller numerically, it is actually better off, hence “back door revival”.

For this reason, “back door revival” is also associated with the phrase “addition through subtraction”. Yes, it sounds harsh, but a person who is sinning and will not repent damages a fellowship’s relationship to God; therefore, we are to practice Matthew 18:15-20 for proper church discipline.

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In similar fashion, a person, or people, who desire to be spiritually selfish or spiritually immature, are walking in unbelief, which also hinders the fellowship’s relationship to God and His manifest presence.

Recently, I have seen several articles about how the church in America has shrunk in the last two years and with great how we can recover the lost numbers. Many church leaders are very concerned and attempting all kinds of methods to recover those who have not returned. Why has the church shrunk?

COVID-19!

Simply put, Churches stopped meeting together, because the government told them not to, or suggested we stop meeting. Let me be clear: there is no biblical text which justifies the church of Jesus Christ ceasing to meet for any length of time. As I have stated, many times, Hebrews 10:25-26 commands we do not cease gathering together (physically) or we risk partaking in willful sin.

Many declared at the beginning of the lockdown measures “we’ll meet online, that fulfills the scriptural command.” If so, why have those participating in “online church”, not returned in numbers that are now affecting the finances of churches?

Because meeting online is not biblical (and a poor substitute) and now American Christians have an alternative they never should have been given. Looking honestly at the ten years prior to the rise of COVID-19, many Christian leaders knew online services have been hurting attendance and participation in fellowship for years. But none of that mattered at the time.

Truth told, if the those not returning continued to give as well as they did when meeting in person, I don’t think most churches would have cared; but the dwindling money has caused panic in many leaders. In my biblically informed opinion, I believe we are in a necessary “back door revival”, with a very curious catalyst of COVID-19.

Let’s review some facts before we discuss what is occurring as a necessary “back door revival”.

From the beginning of the outbreak in Wuhan China, COVID-19 has been a jointly and intentionally released bioweapon, by China and the United States. American Scientists used U.S. taxpayer money to fund the research which led to this mess.

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Our leaders and their leaders knew and planned for the outcomes, as did the other governments of the world, for the removal of personal freedom for the purpose of global governance. This this truth is seen in how most world governments did the exact same things to “flatten the curve”, which only made COVID-19 grow like the Battle of the Bulge.

These measures were planned and practiced for decades, as the world moved closer to the characteristics of the last days, one world government, and religion. In 2017 they showed their hand in have a simulated global response to, you guessed an outbreak of Corona virus

The “flatten the curve measures” of masking, social distancing, and quarantining the healthy, did nothing but make the spread worse. The lock down mandates have changed the world economy so that it will never recover. All these measures were made with nefarious purpose.

The lockdowns were also to train the world’s population to submit through fear. Therefore, for many, it changed the way people think, and relate to one another. In nations the world over, people gave up their rights because it was in the best interest of them staying alive, or so they were told.

For churches in America, whether mandated by local and state governments or pressured through shaming in states where there were no mandates to cease gathering, shutting down fast became the “right” and “Christlike thing to do”, even though it was not Christ-like or biblical.

There were voices crying out to obey God rather than man and take the consequences as the blessing of partaking in the sufferings of Christ (I was one of them). There were churches that refused to be bullied and obeying God and remained open to fellowship. Those individuals were often shamed by their own denominational leaders and ignored as ignorant hicks who do not understand “science”.

On Resurrection Sunday 2020, the vast majority of Christian fellowships did not gather together. It was soon after that the financial hurt of not gathering in fellowship took its toll on pastoral salaries and churches ability to pay bills.  This led churches desiring to re-open and quickly.

By that time, most of those with a spiritual heartbeat understood that the science did not justify the methods used to flatten the curve.

Although the reporting on COVID-19 was meant to induce irrational fear, there is no excuse for falling to that fear. There are 3 unbiblical reasons churches shut down and stayed shut down.

  1. By citing history. Many Christian leaders were duped into justifying shut down measures because of how the church is said to have responded to the flu pandemic of 1918. It was reported that in an effort to show the love of Christ, churches shut down to do their part. The problem is few asked, if is there a biblical justification for ceasing to gather together for any extended period? The answer is no.
  2. Giving in to the fear of man. Where does the above justification come from? Being in fear of man, which means we are not walking in the fear of God. When Covid hit and the prospect of potential lockdowns and restrictions were spoken to the public, Christian’s became concerned. In Ohio, pastors were instructed before any restrictions were made public, to shut down services for the greater good. When the restrictions came, none of which limited normal practice of our faith, more pressure and shaming were brought to bear on churches by denominational leaders and the governor. A majority of the over 90 percent of churches which shutdown, complied because of the fear of man (Proverbs 29:25). Part of this fear of man is Christians being fearful of looking their community seeing them in a poor light.
  3. Giving into the fear of death. There were more than a few Christians, who were afraid of catching this virus and dying from it; being we were told it would kill 10’s of millions world-wide. This of course was not the case, but Christians gave into these three justifications.

As I said before, it is understandable that the church of Jesus Christ would stumble, as if sucker punched, at the outset of these circumstances; but we must bear the cost of the outcome, understanding how our unbelieving actions brought about this “back door revival”.  Although some may consider my words harsh, they are simply true, because we possess great and precious promises in Christ, which ought to have counteracted the three justifications.

  1. If we dwell in the secret place of the Most High, abiding under the shadow of the Almighty, we will find His divine protection from any and all that comes against us, so long as our time on this earth (to minister in His name) is not up. In Psalm 91, one of those protections is “Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge,
    Even the Most High, your dwelling place, No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling
    (Psalm 91:9-10)
  2. Should we become infected with the virus we have His promise of divine healing as earlier stated (Exodus 15:26; Psalm 103:1-3; Isaiah 53:5; James 5:16-17).
  3. Should the virus kill us, then “absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (II Corinthians 5:8) and “To live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

None of what I just wrote is a declaration of not using common sense when a person is symptomatic, which means stay home and call for prayer (James 5:16-17), until well; but giving into the fear of man and the fear of death created an untenable pattern.

That untenable pattern: We can fellowship online and fulfill our call in Christ. Sadly, that pattern is false. Let us consider the book of Hebrews, where persecution was on the rise. This meant loss of home, job, family, personal freedom, and potentially the forfeiture of their lives.

Did the Lord give them an excuse because persecution would cause discomfort or possible death? No!

Despite the outcome of choosing to obey God rather than man, it catalyzed the “back door revival” we are in; and the church is better off for it.

For those who remained faithful in meeting and those who after a month or two returned, dealing with the error made, God has blessed us to see that we ought to obey God rather than man. Though many of that number, who remained in fellowship and returned have been touched by Covid-19, they have grown in wisdom and spiritual strength, being harassed by the world and a good portion of misguided “Christians”.

For those who have not returned, they need to return immediately, or they were never really a part of the fellowship…

 1 John 2:19-21 (NKJV) They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth.

 Be encouraged not to be down concerning those who have not returned, pray for them to have the fear of the Lord and to be convicted of their willful sin; but rejoice in God’s work in the last two years in all who remained in fellowship.

For those of you who face fines or imprisonment, do not fear, obey God and begin fellowshipping again. We can endure fines, imprisonment, and yes even death for the sake of Christ, but we cannot endure the judgment against those who willfully disobey the command of the Lord to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together as is the manner of some.

That warning to avoid willful sin, is for the purpose of avoiding the consequence of remaining in willful sin, where there is an “expectation of fiery judgment and indignation which will devour the adversaries… Of how much worse punishment do you suppose he will be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing and insulted the Spirit of Grace?” (Hebrews 10:25-30).

The Church may be growing smaller numerically but remember, it is Christ Himself who declared that this is the word God. Every branch in Him bearing fruit is pruned, this diminishes the branch for a season. Every branch in Him not bearing fruit is cut off and cast into the fire (John 15:1-8).

This is “back door revival”, which may just lead to the Lord truly and powerfully reviving His church before His return. Even so, let it be and may Jesus Christ come soon.

The Shallow Dwellers of the Modern Church - SafeGuardYourSoul

 

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CONVERTED AS A CHILD

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Matthew 18:1-5 (NKJV) ​ At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.

As I have indicated many times before, we can be so familiar with a passage of scripture that we take for granted we understand its meaning. We also can take for granted that we are living it out as God intended.

The above passage is one of many, where familiarity can produce a lack of consideration of the scripture’s meaning and impact, in how we relate to God. In this familiarity we limit the passage’s scope, by relegating them to poetic metaphor.

When the Lord Jesus declared “Assuredly, I say unto you, unless you are converted and become as little children”, we understand He was not commanding we regress to the physicality or mental acuity of a child. So, in that understanding it is a metaphor.

Despite this reality the Lord is communicating we choose to give up something very adult about ourselves… Our independence and personal sovereignty.

How this relates to our being “converted” and becoming as “little children”, means to completely turn from one disposition (that of an adult) to another (that of a child). When considering conversion, we understand it means to turn oneself from their course.

This idea lines up with the reality of the need for repentance in a person’s life. To choose to be “converted” means a person has godly sorrow, which leads to repentance, which is a turn or change of mind, leading to a change in behavior. We may hold that conversion to becoming as “little children” is a fruit of repentance.

It is important we get to the bottom of what our Lord Jesus means when He declares we be converted and become as “little children”.

In the first place, “little children” refers to those who are infant well before teen age, with the caveat, that we pass through stages of spiritual development (I John 2:12-14); although always having the disposition of a little child to their father.

What is the disposition of “little children”?

In my home, my wife and I have been blessed to have children at all stages of growth and development, for most of our 23-year marriage. At currant hour our six children range from 22 months old to almost 23 years old. Considering their differing personalities and individual natural tendencies, we can agree there are similarities in their childhood dispositions.

These dispositions are generally true of children

In the first place, “little children” are completely dependent on their parents. This means they know who to go to when they are in need, which is almost all day, every day. Any attentive parent understands that children need supervision and provision. This means limits need to be set, as well as a means for them to petition when they feel a need. Children are naturally inclined, as well as socialized from first breath to let someone know when they are in need (dependent).

Interestingly this works differently in different children. My son Elijah, at six years old, is constantly asking Mommy and Daddy for food, things to play with, permission to watch a video, and many other things. He knows that he is not allowed to get what he wants but needs to ask.

Our 22-month-old is dependent, but in a way needed to become aware of that. She is very independent minded and for a while would take what she thought she needed, and do what she wanted to do, until we began to influence her toward dependance, through discipline, because what she wants often is unnecessary for her or dangerous.

Through setting up boundaries and protocols for her, she has begun to ask permission and seek us out when she feels she need something. Little Elena Grace is just as dependent as Elijah but needed to understand that. She has always been dependent but needed to learn to walk that out. We are not only to acknowledge our dependence upon God but embrace it moment by moment.

As I have been a substitute teacher, I have had many rude awakenings to how poor parenting has become, with its accompanying result of disrespectful and confused children. What I have learned among the children of all ages is that if they receive a steady, consistent boundary, with a person who is in authority, they’ll respond with humility.

The second dispositional trait of a child is to humble themselves to authority. To be humble is to place oneself beneath another, bowing low.

Often, a “little child” with hyper tendencies or poor attitude toward authority, will become pliable and obedient, when they receive good consistent boundaries and appropriate discipline. Why is this the case? Because children desire to be close to authority figures (especially parents), feeling love and safety.

This is the reason police officers are often revered by children. Good, loving, authority by a father brings out this “little children” dispositional element.

In the raising of our 6 children, we have had little difficulty fostering humility among our children. This arises from the reality that children are smaller than their parents and have appetites which they cannot meet. When little children ought to be humble in their dependency, but react selfishly, it is the parent who teaches them appropriate protocols, gaining humility through appropriate discipline.

This correction could be a stern voice, a swat on the rear, or other appropriate measures. The whole point is to teach them the right approach to life. When these measures are consistent, the child exhibits a willful and loving humility, feeling their dependance upon their parents and embracing that. Knowing our dependence upon God for what is needed for life and godliness, we are to seek to remain humble under God’s leading.

A third element of a “little children” disposition is that if they trust you, “little children” take their father’s word as true, without cynicism or doubt. Some would consider this a poor trait for a child, in a culture where they are taught to question everything that is absolute and objective truth. In short, little children simply believe without cynicism.

Truth be told, even in my older children, they inherently trust that their father will always tell them the truth. It is for this reason, they believe the truth of the Gospel, whether they walk in it as they grow up, is a matter of how they are “converted and become as little children” in relation to God. Do we struggle to take God’s word and His promises as they are in truth, or do we trust it inherently, without cynicism?

The final trait of “little children” in their natural disposition is their innate sense of empathy and compassion for those who are hurting or in need around them. This is less visible at times among those who are only children, but, when a child notices another child in tears, fears or anxieties, they will seek a way to comfort.

Like all these traits, compassionate empathy toward those who are hurting, is marred by the fall in our humanity, but it is still visible in most children. I can recall many times where my children, at a very early age, move to comfort their mother, or father, or siblings when they sense a change in the demeanor of that person. We are to be as “little children” in how we hurt for those all around us.

IS THIS HOW WE RELATE TO OUR GOD AND FATHER?

It is important to remember that we are children of God in the Lord Jesus Christ, but also to understand that our natural old man, is contrary to everything that is in the disposition of “little children”. When we consider how our culture teaches us to be all we can be for ourselves and to do as we will, which is the whole of the law of the world, we begin to understand the uphill battle faced in converting and becoming as “little children” in our disposition.

How much is enough of these qualities?

This can simply be answered by asking another question… How much of ourselves are we required to love God with? Quite simply, we must choose to take on this disposition of absolute dependency, absolute humility, absolute faith, and absolute commitment to aid others in knowing Him.

Remember that this disposition is not a burden of our proving it practically, but one of commitment in the heart and mind. To know ones dependance on God for salvation, sanctification, provision, and protection, brings humility toward God and His will, which produces loving submission—This humility and loving submission to His will (found in the word of God) transforms how we see life and brings unfettered trust of God—This unfettered trust of His word transforms how we see and interact with those around us, engendering Christ’s supernatural compassion through us.

All these “little children” elements of disposition can be seen in the Lord Jesus Christ.

  1. We see Christ’s complete dependence on the Father in His baptism at the Jordon River. Recall that when the Lord Jesus Christ came out of the water, He was Baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit, whereby He was then led into the wilderness, where in 40 days of fasting He overcame the tempter through God’s word and the power of the Holy Spirit. Afterward He returns in the power of the Spirit to preach the gospel and do miracles (Luke 4:1-14). It is important to remember that the only person filled with the Holy Spirit from birth was John the Baptist. Our Lord Jesus Christ was not, and did no ministry, until after His messianic announcement to John the Baptist, when the Holy Spirit, then filled Christ. He was dependent on the Father to start, sustain, and finish His ministry.
  2. We see Christ’s “little children” humility in how he deferred to God’s will rather than even feed himself when he was hungry. In John 4 our Lord Jesus humbles Himself to a Samaritan woman at a well, asking for water, when He could have produced water from a rock. Later in that chapter, when He could have eaten, as the disciples even attested, He declared, “I have food you know nothing about… My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish His work” (John 4:32-34).
  3. Consider that Christ’s trust of His Father was so great, that even in the terror of going to the cross, where His humanity cried out for escape, He believed inherently His Father would raise Him from the dead. Therefore, He humbled himself to His Father’s will and endured the cross, despising the shame, as He laid hold of the joy set before Him concerning His resurrection, prophesied in the word of God (Hebrews 12:1-3).
  4. In Christ’s perfect dependency on the Father, where He was perfectly humble to the will of God, trusting His will, He had perfect vision and compassion on those He encountered. In Mark 9:36 we experience Christ seeing the multitude as weary and scattered, like sheep without a shepherd, and moving in compassion to meet their needs supernaturally.

We must remember that Christ’s “little child” disposition, in relationship to our Father, was lived out throughout His life. Our Lord Jesus Christ did only what He was led to do, by the Holy Spirit—He humbled Himself for the will of God culminating In His vicarious death on our behalf (Philippians 2:5-10)—He always obeyed the word of God despite painful personal circumstances—Therefore He was always ego-effacing.

How much of this “little children” conversion should we have? Perhaps a few scriptures will aid us in answering that finally.

(1 John 4:17) Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.

(Romans 8:14) For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

*take a look at Proverbs 3:5-7

(Philippians 2:5-10) Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore, God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

How important is it we can affirmatively answer if we have chosen the disposition of a “little child”? Jesus let us know in our passage.

Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

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Get Out of the City Doomed for Destruction Part II (I Peter 2:4-9)

Art from the movie "God's Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah"

2 Peter 2:4-9 (NKJV) For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)— then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment,

Last time we examined what it means that Lot was considered “righteous”, even though his life ended up very ungodly. Today we examine how Lot fell away through his choice to live facing the city of Sodom. If you have not read Part I of this blog, click the following link to read    Get Out of the City Doomed for Destruction (I Peter 2:4-9) Part 1

DEVOLUTION FROM FAITH TO UNRIGTEOUSNESS

If God places us in a trial, it is for our good and his glory (I Peter 1:6-7). Should we choose to be in a place that He has not called us to, it may lead to our being “oppressed”. If we remain, we may be tormenting ourselves, leading to spiritual harm. Lot is a perfect example of this truth.

In Genesis 13:5-13. We find that Abraham and Lot’s families, had grown in wealth and size. Strife had arisen between the two relatives’ herdsmen, over resources. Abraham gave Lot first choice, as to where he wanted to settle his family.   Genesis 13:10-11 records…

Genesis 13:10-11 (NKJV) And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar. Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other.

This is important, because the Eve, the mother of the living chose to eat of the forbidden fruit, based upon how pleasant and good it looked, regardless of the instruction of the LORD. It is also important to remember that Lot knew of the reputation of Sodom in its rejection of God. Despite knowing this Lot chose not only to dwell in the cities on the plains facing Sodom, but eventually lived right outside the gate.

The cities of the plain were like suburbs to Sodom. Sodom was a sprawling city that by even modern standards was a large city of millions. Why would Lot choose to live so closely related to such a wicked place, even advancing to right outside its limits? Because he naively thought it would not affect him or his family. He believed he could prosper from its commerce and culture, without its commerce, culture, religion, and social immorality affecting him. This was certainly the opposite of godly wisdom.

By the time Genesis 14:12 occurs, where Lot and his family are captured along with the king of Sodom, we find Lot and his family now living in the city of Sodom itself. The fact that Lot was taken with the king of Sodom is very unsettling, because the king of Sodom is considered a type of antichrist in the scriptures, so wicked in fact, that Abraham would take nothing from him. Lot may not have been participating in the wickedness of the city, but he was so worn down by what he saw by this time, that he was in league with its wicked king.

What began with Lot using the wealth and trade of Sodom for personal prosperity, drew him in to where he was now dependent on its wealth, culture, and prosperity. Although we see no active sin, we understand what he saw and heard “oppressed” him at first, but by the time of Genesis 14:12 he was “tormenting” his own soul, by choosing to stay.

Even though by the end of Genesis 14, where God delivered Lot and his family from captivity, where he saw Abraham treat the king of Sodom with scorn, dependent on for provision upon the city and its leaders.

Because he chose this path, his family’s heart was growing further apart from God’s heart and holiness. We see how far these progress by the time we get to Genesis 19:1-3, where Lot is now living in the middle of the city.

The angels sent to deliver Lot and his family would have stay in the square, which was always at the center of the city, for access and important meetings and events. Lot protested their decision and invited them to come under the protection of his home, which ought to have been sufficient, because of his relationship to the king of Sodom. Yet, the men of the city, desiring to have homosexual relations with the angels (whom they thought were men), call Lot to give them up.

Lot does the unthinkable, as he offers his daughters for the men to rape. The rest is history.

Can this type of devolution occur in us, to where we would behave so ungodly? Yes! The scriptures are replete with warning after warning, in the New Testament, that we do not fall away.

  1. II Corinthians 13:5
  2. Philippians 2:12
  3. Hebrews 3:12-15
  4. Hebrews 6:4-6
  5. Hebrews 10:25-31

Hebrews 2 reveals how this process of devolving from relationship to God in Christ.

Hebrews 2:1-4 (NKJV) ​ Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?

We see it all begins with drifting. When one is in a raft on a creek, if not paying attention, they may drift quite a way, before knowing they have moved at all. By the time the creek runs into the river, the drifting person may believe they can paddle out, until they begin to weary themselves in the faster moving water. By the time they are in the rapids, there is little hope.

Remember that falling away, is much like being in a raft on a creek. Drifting begins with a slow and imperceptible floating, that picks up speed as you get further away from the beginning of the drift and closer to death. Lot’s slide away from a life that mirrored the outcome of faith in YHWH, his being deemed “righteous” in II Peter 2:7-8, began for him imperceptibly and slow, but progressed faster and faster, until it was too late.

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