The Grace of God

That Brings Salvation Has Appeared to All Men (Titus 2:11)

Archive for the ‘Repentance’ Category

Striving Against Sin

Posted by israeliteindeed on July 26, 2016

30217You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. Heb. 12:4

My family knew a man who told us he was “struggling against the sin of pornography.”

It turned out he kept a big box of porn under his bed. He opened it when the urge hit, and then he felt some guilt afterward because he knew it was wrong, but his guilty feelings never drove him to change. When challenged with Scripture, he justified his sins by saying we all sin.

My friends, this is not striving against sin. This is making provision for the flesh and living after the flesh. He provided for his flesh by keeping the box beneath the bed when he already knew it was wrong. And he lived after the flesh by repeatedly obeying the urge to open the box. This man deceived himself that he was a Christian involved in the “struggle against sin.” He was actually a repeat-sinner in ongoing rebellion against God, experiencing worldly sorrow–a sorrow that does not lead to repentance and salvation (I Cor. 7:9-11).

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. (Rom. 13:14)

For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Rom. 8:13)

Can it get any clearer? Unless we put on the LORD Jesus Christ, and put to death and mortify the deeds of the body, we will die. Period.

I could post the whole chapter of Romans 6 here. But here are some highlights–

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? (1-2)

For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. (5-7)

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? (12-16)

Either we are dead to sin and no longer living in it, or we are still obeying sin and headed to an eternal DEATH. We have a choice to make. To whom will we present the members of our bodies?–Sin or God? To truly be under grace is to be freed from the dominion of sin. If you are under the dominion of sin, you are separated from grace and need to die with Christ that you may also live with Him.

Jesus depicted the struggle against sin very graphically–

If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. (Matt. 5:29-30)

If you are offering your eye, your hand, your mouth, or your mind to sin, dare you believe that Jesus will accept your excuses after this stern warning about the peril of sin and its consequences?

“We all sin…”
“If my spouse/parents/children/problems were different, then I’d be different…”
“People hurt me, so I can’t help…”

Jesus won’t accept these excuses. He said cut off the hand or pluck out the eye. Do whatever you have to do to escape being cast into hell. Because you WILL be cast into hell unless you get the victory over sin. And the victory over sin comes through Him, but He doesn’t hand you victory on a silver platter while that wicked box is still under your bed, friend. Until you truly sorrow over your sin to the point that you are ready to fight to the death, the victory will not come.

Do you want to strive against sin and win? Here’s what that looks like–

March into your bedroom and pull that wretched box out. Take it outside and set it on fire. Confess to the Lord that you have done wicked things He hates. Confess that you deserve His judgment and there is no excuse. Ask Him to break your heart as His is broken over sin. Ask Him to show you how your sin exploits and hurts others (He will). Call up a strong Christian and tell him what you just did. Ask him to check up on you regularly and hold your feet to the fire. Give him access to your future internet searches. Search out and find every verse that exposes and condemns that sin, and post them around the house. Memorize verses about holiness, obedience, and victory in Jesus. Make a covenant with your eyes that you will not look lustfully at women (Job 31:1), and daily walk out that covenant. When you want to stop at the convenience store that sells dirty magazines, REFUSE to stop. In fact, don’t go to those stores. Don’t hang around people who look at porn. When you drive past a seductive billboard or half-dressed woman, train your eyes to look away, refusing to offer your eyes to unrighteousness. When you accidentally see an image that tempts you, immediately replace the image with Scripture or a remembrance of what Jesus did for you on the cross. Pray and take the way out by obeying Jesus no matter how strong the temptation is. Teach others that porn will take them to hell. If the internet is a problem, GET IT SHUT OFF. This is not too harsh, friend. This is not yet resisting to blood, and you have to be serious in the fight if you want to overcome.

When’s the last time you fasted from food and meditated on Scripture all day, so as to bring your body completely under subjection and get the victory over that evil thing you keep doing? It may take that. Do whatever it takes.

When you’re engaged in this kind of struggle, you can be sure that the Lord will come down and fight for you. He will not let you be tempted beyond your endurance, but will provide a way out. But too many are offered a way out and don’t take it. You must train yourself to take the way out. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Sin crouches at the door and desires to rule over you, but YOU MUST RULE OVER IT. You must! And you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you, but if you ignore the way out provided and make provision for your flesh, you will fail of the grace of God.

I was delivered from cigarettes many years ago, when I cried out to the Lord and He told me to crush my cigarettes to bits and discard them. I had been praying for deliverance for a couple months, while asking my spouse to leave me a few cigarettes per day. As long as I made that provision for my flesh, I couldn’t quit.  But when I acted on the Lord’s command and crushed them up, told my spouse not to leave me any more, and also refused to ever buy a pack ever again, that was it. I never smoked again.

Of course the tempter tried to get me to return to my vomit. A few months later, I woke up on a summer night. The first thought that popped into my mind was, “There’s a pack of cigarettes on the counter (my spouse still smoked.) If you get up and smoke one on the porch, no one will ever know.” At that point, I had a choice to make. I could smoke it and blame my spouse for tempting me. Or I could resist the devil and REFUSE to even get out of bed. I chose the latter. Staying in bed was the way out. And I’m happy to say the tempter fled and the urge passed. God’s Word is true.

A dog  feeling a bit sad about devouring his vomit, and a washed pig “sorry” to have fallen in the mud again, is not a struggling Christian. Such a person was better off before knowing the truth–

For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. 2 Pet. 2:20-21

Now maybe you don’t drink, smoke or chew, or go with girls who do. Maybe you pride yourself in that porn is not a problem for you. My question to you is this:  How is your character? Is it like the character of Jesus Christ? Are you rude to your coworkers? Do you steal time from your employer by being lazy? Are you impatient with your spouse or children? Do you let ungodliness come out of your mouth when you’re irritated? Do you have road rage? Do you harbor unforgiveness toward others? Do you threaten others, rather than entreat them? It’s easy to judge ourselves by a few externals and think we are doing ok compared to others. But comparing ourselves to others is not wise. Let us compare ourselves to Jesus, and the standards given to New Testament believers. Let us not be happy with external changes if our hearts are still darkened. White washed tombs are still filled with death. Let us pray that God will show us any wicked way in ourselves, and then begin to earnestly strive against sin.

If you are lustful, angry, violent, unthankful, lazy, greedy, impatient, unkind, etc., it’s time to crucify your flesh with its passions and desires. It’s time to fight like you’ve never fought before. It’s time to cry out to Jesus like you never have before. It’s time to flush your deceitful excuses and make humble confession to those you’ve been hurting. It’s time to stop hiding in the shadows and step into the light; God is not fooled, and those close to you are probably not fooled either. It’s time to fill your mind with all the Scriptures that apply TO YOU, not to your neighbor. It’s time to meditate on the Word day and night, and stop letting your mind fill with thoughts that lead to sin. It’s time to figure out what the way out looks like, and start taking it. It’s time to cut off the hand, pluck out the eye, memorize Scripture, become accountable to strong believers, fast, agonize, make it right with all those you’ve offended, and learn to do good.

If you continue in sin,

Your professed faith in Christ won’t save you.
Your excuses won’t save you (ie “The woman you gave me…”)
Your church attendance won’t save you.
Your exposure of false churches won’t save you.
Your doctrinal knowledge won’t save you.
Your Christian friendships won’t save you.
Your good reputation before others won’t save you.
Your exposure of OTHER people’s sins won’t save you.
Your “balancing the scale” with some good works won’t save you.

You might even have a blog like this one, and work hard to expose all sorts of things. You might witness on the streets or give money to missionaries. But if you don’t deal with that sin that you know about, and if you don’t change your behavior, Jesus’ stern warning about hell applies to you.

Sin desires to have you, but YOU MUST RULE OVER IT (Genesis 4:7). It is not those who hear the Word of God, but those who do it, who will be saved.

Posted in Backslider, Once Saved Always Saved, Repentance | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Necessity of Change, Part 2

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 22, 2016

My last post was about the necessity of change (repentance) in order to be saved. This post will focus on why we need to continue to be open to changing after we are born again.

When we are first born again, we are essentially blank slates, ready to be written on by God. Our past is forgiven, and we have turned from our old ways, and readied ourselves to learn how to do good as little children (Isa. 1:16-17). God’s law is written upon our hearts, and we now commit to cleansing ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, so as to perfect holiness in the fear of God (2 Cor. 7:1).

Before I go on, it is necessary for me to qualify what God does NOT mean by “perfecting holiness.

He does not mean that after your conversion, you can still be living in open rebellion against God and yet “blameless in His sight.” That idea is deception. I’ve met fornicators, drunks, etc. who have no intention of giving up their sins, who claim they are saved yet “being sanctified gradually,” as if you can gradually give up these willful sins over the space of decades. “God’s not finished with me yet,” they may say. Well, they haven’t even been born into His family unless they’ve ceased from the obvious sins which they know He hates.

For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment and fiery indignation, which will devour the adversaries. (Heb. 10:26-27)

Or, they may have had an honest conversion followed by a return to their old sins, in which case they are worse off now than before they believed–

For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.” (2 Pet. 2:21-22)

So, we have established that “perfecting holiness” is not remaining in or returning to old sins. A person who does this is headed for judgment despite his excuses and religious pretenses.

However there is a “perfecting of holiness” that needs to happen in the believer’s life, and this does require constantly being willing to change as God reveals His will. Just as little children do not know everything, but learn gradually as they mature, we need to mature as Christian saints. (Note: little children may not know everything, but they are required to obey those things they do know and are capable of obeying.) Maturing spiritually requires washing our minds with the Word of God and consistently seeking God’s will in every matter of life. It also requires being willing to change our understanding of who God is, what pleases Him, and how we should behave, as we search out His Word and grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18). It requires being humble and teachable at all times, never assuming that we have arrived and have nothing more to learn.

When I was a newborn believer, I immediately gave up fornication and drunkenness, knowing God was displeased with these sins and required my repentance. I also began to cry out to be delivered from cigarettes, which I overcame by the time I was baptized. I began to study the Bible in order to learn more fully what would please God. I went to church and started putting money in the offering plate, as an act of obedience to what I thought would please Him. At this time, I had no idea the prosperity message was evil, how many false teachers were ruining God’s flock, how much false doctrine I actually believed (having grown up in various churches), that nationalism didn’t please God, that I should dress more modestly (the women in my church were less modest than I was), etc. God fully accepted me in this rough state, because I was a child ready and willing to learn all that He had to teach. He didn’t download everything I needed to learn at once, just like we don’t teach a 3 year old the same things we teach a 17 year old. What God required was ears that hear, and willingness to change old beliefs and patterns of behavior.

Eventually I had figured out alot of true vs. false doctrine, was much more selective in fellowship, dressed more modestly, turned away from things I now recognized as idolatry, made sure my money went to help the poor and evangelize rather than to finance a bigger church building, etc. Even though I was born again and walking with God, I had to repent of many things as I learned they were against God’s will. I was much more mature, but certainly hadn’t arrived.

At this time, I fell in with a certain group of Christians who stressed the need to be holy, but often overlooked carnality among themselves. They were very particular about doctrine, and zealous to evangelize, which is what first attracted me.  But eventually I realized they were no longer willing to examine themselves or find fault with themselves, or…change. They could not hear reproof from anyone. Because of this, they began to give teachings that justified their carnality, instead of repenting.   And I was troubled, seeing that we can be so easily deceived by our past changes and our knowledge.  I began to ask the Father for wisdom concerning this, as I wondered if I was as blind as they seemed to be.

The Lord began to address some issues in my heart that no man could see. He showed me that although this holiness group would accept me based on my dress and my core beliefs, there were things He wanted to change in my heart to make me acceptable to Him. He showed me how these heart issues sometimes spilled over at home with my closest family members, and if I did not change, I could not think I was holy. This was a deep and painful experience that lasted a long time. I had to continually hearken to the Lord’s voice and agree with Him about what He was finding in me. He was also showing me some pitfalls I could avoid if I would be careful to listen to Him rather than following the crowd (not even the holiness crowd should be followed blindly; they too can err.) I had already separated from so many people, I did not want to experience any more separation, yet here it was. I could follow them or follow Him. And I chose to follow Him. These changes were not totally comfortable, but they were necessary. If I had allowed myself to think I’d arrived at the pinnacle of Christianity, I would have deafened myself to the Lord’s instruction.

Have you stagnated in your Christian life because you feel you’ve arrived at all knowledge and cleaned up your flesh? Are you judging yourself by others instead of judging yourself by Christ? Are you patterning yourself after some group you belong to instead of after Christ? Comfortable in their acceptance, and no longer asking Jesus if He is pleased with your direction? Certainly we can learn from others, but we must not let the camaraderie lead us away from Jesus, and it can ever so easily. Not everyone who comes in His Name also comes in His Spirit.

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Cor. 7:1)

Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (I John 3:2-3)

It can be very convenient for us to stop at cleansing ourselves of the filthiness of the flesh, while leaving our spirit contaminated, especially if our fellowship group is also neglecting this. Their spirits can easily contaminate ours (Prov. 13:20). Some have become haughty in their condemnation of those with filthy flesh, while their own spirits remain in need of tremendous changes. The Pharisee who thanked God he wasn’t like other men comes to mind; with such an attitude, how can God show us where we still need to change?

Some men’s sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some men follow later. (I Tim. 5:24)

All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirits. (Prov. 16:2)

We do well to remember that God weighs the spirits of men. While we may have been held up as a Christian example by others, and perhaps even developed a large following; God knows our motives, our thoughts, and any contamination of spirit. (Very often our families at home know some of this also, and they are not impressed with our reputation among other people! If we can’t consistently walk in kindness and mercy toward our family members, we should not deceive ourselves that we are holy.)

David knew God, but didn’t content himself with what he had already accomplished through God. He knew there could be a wicked way in him that he could not yet see–

Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psa. 139:23-24)

Dear friends, to walk with God requires ongoing submission to His Word, a teachable spirit, and a readiness to change. Let’s not assume we are more than what we are. Without constant connection to the Vine, our life would dry up and we would be twigs destined for fire just like others. We are the sheep of His pasture, and must follow His leading (sometimes changing direction). We are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12), not arrogance and pride. It will take consistent diligence in adding good things to our character to make our calling and election sure–

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.  Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Pet. 1:5-11)

But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day. (Prov. 4:18)

God bless you as you continually gaze upon Jesus and are changed into His image!

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. (2 Cor. 3:18)

Posted in Christian Leadership, Christian Life, Repentance | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Necessity of Change, Part 1

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 8, 2016

I recently heard a song in a public place which repeated these words, “Don’t try to change me.” It struck me that this is the attitude of many people toward God.  They do what they want, following their own darkened hearts, and they run into trouble after trouble. But they never blame themselves for their troubles or acknowledge that they need to change. In fact, they defy anyone who would try to change them, and they demand that everyone accept them “just as they are.” But what does God think about this refusal to change?

Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead. (Acts 17:30-31)

The essence of this repentance–which God requires of all men everywhere–is CHANGE. We must change our thoughts and our actions from rebellion and self-will to obedience and self-denial.

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. (Luke 9:23)

Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do good. (Isa. 1:16)

To those who repent, God gives a new heart and spirit, out of which flows a whole new (changed) life.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Cor. 5:17)

The prodigal is a great example of the change that is required by God (Luke 15:11-24). He came to himself, reasoning about the suffering his rebellion against a good father had brought him (he changed his mind). Then he returned to the father, acknowledged he was a sinner who deserved nothing, and offered to be a servant (he changed his behavior from riotous rebellion to humble service.)

This is repentance– the change that is required for a man, dead in his sins, to be made alive again.  Without it, there can be no salvation.

Unless you repent you will all likewise perish. (Luke 13:3)

A refusal to change is a refusal of salvation.

Posted in Preach the Gospel, Repentance | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »


Posted by israeliteindeed on September 4, 2014

Many times I have read through God’s prophecies of judgment on other nations, and trembled as I recognized how applicable they are to my own people! Haven’t we been given much, and haven’t we squandered it? As current events grow ever more alarming, how many in the church are responding with real repentance? As you read this post, I pray that you will know the seriousness of God’s Word. When disregarded, this Word brings tremendous severity upon the rebellious. May we humble our hearts to both receive and obey the Word, that He might have mercy on us once again. With Hoshi’ana, I pray it is not “too late.”


Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed
howl for her; take balm for her pain,
if so be she may be healed.
We would have healed Babylon,
but she is not healed: forsake her,
and let us go every one into his own country:
for her judgment reacheth unto heaven,
and is lifted up even to the skies.

The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.

Judgment is not “at the shore,” or “at the door,” it is HERE.  ISIS is here. Are we surprised? Does not God’s Word claim that He will set enemies against us if we remain in willful disobedience to Him?

America, keep slaying your children, and keep spitting in the face of the One who created and prospered you. Keep creating laws that are abominations in the sight of God. Do you think God doesn’t see it?


Do we weep when…

View original post 2,947 more words

Posted in Judgment of God, Repentance | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Dispensational Zionism Prooftexts Examined Part 1: Ezekiel 34 & 36

Posted by israeliteindeed on September 2, 2014

I will be examining some Old Testament prooftexts often used to undergird blanket Christian support for the modern state of Israel today (regardless of the nation’s obedience or disobedience to God). If you haven’t read the introduction, you can read it here.

Ezekiel prophesied to Israel (and its surrounding nations) from about 593-571 BC while he himself was already captive in Babylon. Two of his contemporaries were Daniel and Jeremiah. The capture of Jerusalem occurred at Eze. 33:21. Prior to this point, Ezekiel primarily prophesied of destruction and judgment to his people (with some exceptions), but after this point (in chapter 34), he began to prophesy of hope and restoration.

Before we get into Eze. 34 & 36, I would like to note a previous passage which directly follows the capture of Jerusalem:

Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: “Son of man, they who inhabit those ruins in the land of Israel are saying, ‘Abraham was only one, and he inherited the land. But we are many; the land has been given to us as a possession.’ “Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “You eat meat with blood, you lift up your eyes toward your idols, and shed blood. Should you then possess the land? You rely on your sword, you commit abominations, and you defile one another’s wives. Should you then possess the land?”’ (33:23-26)

The inhabitants of Israel felt that the land was owed them due to their connection with Abraham, and the fact that it had been given to them by God in time past. (Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? The same idea persisted in New Testament times, and still persists today.) They trusted in their heritage, their numbers and their swords. But God rebuked them for this, and pointed out their sin as the reason they should NOT NOW possess the land. They would need to repent of their sins first, as outlined in the conditions of the covenant outlined in Deut. 30! Even though God was about to begin prophesying hope to the Israelites who would repent during exile, their present day condition kept them from being in covenant with God. This is important because God always deals with people in the present tense. God does not reward sinners who are now in sin, or covenant-breakers who have not repented, even if He knows they will repent in the future.

Now let’s look at some of the promises of Israel’s restoration after judgment, written by Ezekiel, to see if they refer to what we are seeing in the Middle East today. For the sake of space, I will insert links to the passages.

Ezekiel 34:11-31

Here God promises that He will seek for His sheep and gather them out of the countries to feed them on the mountains of Israel. He will establish one Shepherd over them, whom He calls “My Servant David.” This prophecy was historically fulfilled in the natural. First, God brought many humbled exiles back from Babylon during the times of Ezra and Nehemiah (approx. 458-445 BC), and reestablished His relationship with them. This enabled Jesus to arrive on the scene in Bethlehem at a later time in history (when the Jews were once again occupied and largely apostate). Jesus then announced Himself as the “Good Shepherd” and became the fulfillment of “My Servant David.” As the son of David, He assumed David’s throne (where He sits forever), and manifested Himself as the Shepherd/King of Israel. His earthly ministry was primarily to the House of natural Israel, with some notable exceptions (as it pleased the Lord to give the New Covenant gospel to the Jew first, then to the Gentiles who would be grafted in), and Acts 2 records a great influx of Jewish converts who were gathered into the “sheepfold” of Jesus, from all nations, on the Day of Pentecost. So this prophecy has nothing to do with the modern state of Israel. It was fulfilled!

Ezekiel 36

Here God promises that the nations that plundered Israel during her captivity will bear their shame, and Israel will once again be fruitful. He reminds the prophet that it was Israel’s sin that induced Him to scatter them throughout the nations, and that He was not bringing them back because they deserved it (even the repentant do not deserve blessing), but for His Name’s sake. Again, this was fulfilled historically during the times of Ezra and Nehemiah! The exiles came back repentant, and Neh. 9 records their repentance while wearing sackcloth. Neh. 13 details how the people listened to the law and obeyed it, Nehemiah rebuking their sins and cleansing them of “everything pagan.”

Ezra 6:21-22 states:

Then the children of Israel who had returned from the captivity ate together with all who had separated themselves from the filth of the nations of the land in order to seek the Lord God of Israel. And they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy; for the Lord made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria toward them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.

Please note that the repentant Israelites at this time were succeeding because the Lord Himself was fighting for them. He was turning the heart of the pagan king to favor and help them. They were not trusting in military might. Their repentance was real, as they had “separated themselves from the filth of the nations in order to seek the Lord.” They were a meek (and weak) people inheriting the land not by might or power, but by God’s Spirit.

Later, when the prophet Ezra was bringing some families back from Babylon, he was ashamed to ask the pagan king for military protection on the way, for he had testified to him, “The hand of our God is upon all those for good who seek Him, but His power and His wrath are against all those who forsake Him.” (8:22) Obviously, Ezra understood the promise of Israel’s restoration to be conditional! The people humbled themselves and fasted and prayed for God to protect them, and He did so. (When God is truly on your side, you don’t need an “iron dome”!)

Returning to Ezek. 36, let us look at some specific verses which are often misapplied to the modern state of Israel today:

‘Thus says the Lord God: “On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will also enable you to dwell in the cities, and the ruins shall be rebuilt. The desolate land shall be tilled instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass by. So they will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the wasted, desolate, and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.’ Then the nations which are left all around you shall know that I, the Lord, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted what was desolate. I, the Lord, have spoken it, and I will do it.” (36:33-36)

The misapplication generally sounds something like this: “The land of Israel was a desert while under the control of the Palestinians. Then once (modern) Israel came, it became like the garden of Eden again.” There is just one problem. This prophecy was already fulfilled in the days of Nehemiah and Ezra! It has nothing to do with the modern nation of Israel, which has been founded through theft and bloodshed (as most, if not all, modern nations are.)

Notice that God stated as a prerequisite to the desolate land becoming fruitful again, that He would “cleanse you from all your iniquities”! We have lots of evidence that in Ezra and Nehemiah’s day, the people were repentant and open to hearing/obeying the Word of the Lord. Thus God forgave their sins and blessed them in the land once again under the Old Covenant. We have absolutely no evidence at all that modern day Israel is in this repentant state which precedes being cleansed from iniquities.  In fact, many citizens of modern Israel are atheists, and most of those who believe in God deny Jesus Christ (so they do not have the Father either–I Jn. 2:23.) There are certainly individuals within her borders who know and love Messiah Jesus. This is in keeping with New Testament Scripture that confirms there will be a remnant of Jews saved, and Paul named himself as a prime example. But we have no New Testament Scripture saying the entire earthly nation or ethnic group will be saved. (In Romans 9 – 11 and elsewhere, Paul makes clear that there are 2 Israels, one after the flesh and one after the Spirit. Only the spiritual Israel, made up of Jews and grafted-in Gentiles, will be entirely saved by grace through faith. See here.)

In summary, when dispensational zionists offer proof-texts like these to claim that the modern state of Israel is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy (a claim that almost always leads to disobedience to the New Testament through fellowship with darkness, military involvement, etc.), we need to remember the following:

1. Deut. 30 outlines the conditions of re-inhabiting the land. Modern Israel has not met the conditions, so the promise cannot apply to them (even if the Old Covenant was still in effect.)

2. The prophecies of Ezekiel 34 & 36 were fulfilled in the natural during the times of Ezra and Nehemiah. The exiles of this time period met the conditions required to re-inhabit the land under the Old Covenant (repentance/obedience/faith in God).

3. The prophecies were fulfilled notwithstanding Israel, at that time, had no organized army!

4. Since that time, the Old Covenant has been replaced by the New Covenant (Heb. 8:13), which has better promises. There will never be a return to the Old Covenant, and those who attempt to return to it are under a curse. It is those who have faith in Jesus Christ who will be blessed with Abraham (Gal. 3:9-11) and counted as his children (Rom. 9:7-8; Jn. 8:39; Gal. 3:29).

God bless you as you study the Word and seek after God’s heart!

Posted in "Christian" Zionism, Apostasy, End Times, Repentance | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Who Is My Neighbor?

Posted by israeliteindeed on July 13, 2014

A Palestinian man carries a wounded child in GazaThe Good Samaritan

Click here to read Luke 10:25-37.

The lawyer who asked Jesus the question already knew the law–love God, and love your neighbor as yourself. But he sought to justify himself, and therefore he asked the question, “Who is my neighbor?” Obviously, this man did not wish to love certain people. Feeling convicted by God’s command to love his neighbor, perhaps he was hoping Jesus would relieve him of responsibility thusly–“Not the Romans, nor the Samaritans, or any other Gentiles. Only the Jews are your neighbor. Love them and you will live.”

But that’s not what Jesus answered. Instead, He turned the question on its head, and presented a man, wounded and stripped of his clothes and likely unconscious. Two Jews of the highest religious orders saw him and pretended not to see. A Samaritan had compassion and went completely out of his way to heal the suffering man. It’s interesting that Jesus never revealed whether the victim was Jewish or Gentile. It was probably impossible to tell. The victim is simply presented as a suffering human being. Then Jesus asked that wonderful, probing question–“Which of these three men was a neighbor?”

So the question is not “which human beings are my neighbor?” but “Am I going to be a neighbor to all human beings?” And the definition of a neighbor, as given by the lawyer and uncorrected by Jesus, is “one who shows mercy.”

The heart of God is not one that promotes racial or international segregation. The heart of God is love for all people, and He wants His love to be in the hearts of all people. The final picture of redemption is one of people from all nations worshiping Him together. Paul taught the equality of Jew and Gentile in Christ, a teaching for which he was hated by his Jewish contemporaries.

Jesus’ teaching on the Good Samaritan makes distinctions between races totally irrelevant to a disciple. Once you get this teaching deeply into your heart, the separations men have erected are seen for what they are–pride, a means to glorify themselves, an excuse for hatred, and a justification for oppression.

Disciples of Jesus, it no longer matters what other peoples have done to your people. It no longer matters what your people’s general opinion of other people is. It only matters that you are willing to help any person who needs help. This is the heart God approves.

Dehumanization and Prejudice in the Human Family

I have read testimonies of American soldiers who admit that they were taught to view the people of an invaded nation (often Arabs) as non-humans. This is no different than the propaganda Hitler used to turn the German people against Jews, calling them “rats” and “subhuman.” In the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, the Hutus called the Tutsis “cockroaches” to justify their slaughter. Blacks and Native Americans have been called animals and devils by Americans who wished to subjugate (and sometimes kill) them while still appearing righteous. And today, little unborn babies in the womb are called everything but human–“a blob of tissue” etc., in an effort to excuse their murders. Everywhere on earth that men seek to justify themselves for aggression against others, the de-humanization of “the enemy”–whoever that enemy is–is likely.

The Dehumanization of Arabs and Muslims

There is something in the western church that deeply disturbs me. Of course, the racist teachings of dispensationalism and zionism are false, and I’ve done my best to expose them. But added to these is the disgust amongst Christians for Arab people in general, and Muslims in particular. Zionism is one contributing reason for it. Another contributor is probably the idolatrous leaven of patriotism which is in most churches. It’s pretty hard to sing the praises of your own people without also adopting the self-righteous snobbery toward other people that goes along with it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard professing Christians describe Arab people as soulless animals, in so many words. They relish describing how vicious these people are, and how they rape, kill and torture everyone who is different from them, and how we simply MUST not let this scenario come to our streets (exposing their real problem–fear and love of self).

I know there have been, and continue to be, acts of satanic violence committed in the name of Allah. I have no problem with exposing that truth, provided we also expose other truths which are just as despicable. Every false religion on earth leaves a trail of tears, including the false form of Christianity which inspired the Crusades and the Inquisition, and I fear, is still inspiring violence today through the so-called “Christian right.”

I know that persecution of Christians in all the world is increasing, and Muslims are one of the chief persecutors of Christians. I am not blind to this, and my heart is for my brethren in Christ. But I also acknowledge that my duty is not to decide who among men is worthy of my compassion; my duty is to be compassionate to all. My duty is to remember the Good Samaritan, and “go and do likewise.” I have counted the cost of having mercy, and I deem it worth any risk because I know how God’s mercy has changed me. That the meek shall inherit the earth is no hollow pleasantry to me; it is an undeniable truth which I believe by faith. Whether I live or die, I know that meekness is my only option, and that my reward is sure.

Jesus sent us out as sheep among wolves, and told us to be wise as serpents and “harmless as doves.” I took in an injured dove once. The poor thing was obviously terrified of me, but I could handle her in any manner I wished, and she would do nothing in self-defense. My heart was stirred as I remembered Jesus’ words.

More Thoughts about Christian Attitude toward Muslims

In the patriotic, nationalistic “church” (which I refuse to be part of), it is often proudly said that if anyone takes our guns or our property, we must fight for “our rights.” That “Christians” would take up arms and inflict violence on others is deemed the only acceptable response to oppression. Any other response, they say, is a “lack of love” for our families, neighbors, etc. Obviously the Good Samaritan story, and God’s definition of “neighbor,” isn’t even considered. There are none so blind as those who nullify what is written in God’s Word, that they may keep their traditions.

But such selfish “Christians” expose their own hypocrisy. They, who are supposed to have a living hope in Christ, have no intention of reacting to oppression or occupation without violence. They even premeditate what they will do if they are ever threatened. Yet they expect oppressed Palestinians in occupied territories in Gaza to do nothing to free their people from the apartheid regime under which they have suffered for years. Am I saying Palestinians should rebel or do violence? Of course not; I am a follower of Jesus, and my heart is for all men to be harmless Christians pursuing peace even to their own hurt. But it is the height of hypocrisy to expect Muslims (who have no living hope) to be more charitable and longsuffering than Christians are willing to be!

Furthermore, the lack of compassion for these lost people is chilling to me.

A Christian recently shared, on a social site, a video of Palestinian children screaming at Israeli soldiers. When I put up another video of Israelis surrounding a Palestinian car and chanting, “Death to Arabs! Your mother is a whore!” to encourage her to consider that there was evil on both sides, the video was removed. When I asked if we weren’t all like those Palestinian children before we were saved, I was told by this woman that she never acted that way even before she was saved. “God, I thank you that I am not like other men.” (Lk. 18:9-14)

This little interaction serves as a snapshot of what is occurring in the wider American church due to its adoption of false doctrines and elitist attitudes. But I fear that America has a terrible humbling coming. Her pride will be brought down, and her false religious teachers will be exposed and judged for leading God’s people to worship the beast of human power. God will judge the American church for willingly taking part in the oppression of others, and refusing to see human beings everywhere as viable recipients of His mercy.

Hard Hearts and Repentance

Last night I spent some time looking at snapshots of the injured and killed Palestinian children in “Operation Protective Edge.” I think about the American church watching television, shopping, living life, maybe mentioning the Mideast conflict with a concern for Israel, but probably not so much for the Arabs. Does the church care about these people, or are they just a puzzle piece in their favorite end times belief?  I too have lived carelessly at times, too busy and too unaware.  It really doesn’t touch us here, does it, unless we go and grab hold of it, forcing ourselves to be touched. Surrounded by the good life and bolstered by the deception that we have a “manifest destiny” that sets us apart from others, we cannot feel the grief of a father whose child is in pieces. That is, we can’t feel it unless we are intentional.

When God convicted me of disobeying His call to minister outside abortion clinics, I knew what I had to do. I had to tenderize my hardened heart–a heart which had allowed me to live peacefully alongside the most heinous of crimes against the innocent, committed daily only 20 minutes from my house. We speak against abortion in this nation with words, but we rarely feel. The holocaust of humans is an idea that sparks a measure of passion, but until we see our own child in pieces, we don’t understand it. I spent a long time looking at the mutilated bodies of unborn children the night before I went to the street. I looked until I could cry. You might think that is pretty morbid, but I needed it, just like Germans needed to be shown the pictures of the Jews whose plight they had ignored.

I daresay that western Christians need to familiarize themselves with the sufferings of people all over the globe before they so foolishly say things like, “Of course God will rapture us before the tribulation. He wouldn’t allow His bride to suffer, would He?” Or “Arabs aren’t human. They need to be destroyed.” I’m sorry, but the true Bride has been suffering for centuries because of her love for her Lord. And the Gazans I saw weeping and injured in photos were very much human. The child that was missing the back of his head was human, and the father whose tears were falling on his dead face was human. The people crying for Allah to save them are human. Deceived, yes, but they are human!

Let us stop being so obtuse and so hard-hearted, and ask God for repentance, that we can go and be the compassionate Samaritans He is looking for. The world is full of the wounded. Yes, they are sinners. Will you self-righteously say, “Serves them right” and shut your eyes to their suffering, or will you get on your knees and begin pouring oil and wine into their wounds?

Posted in "Christian" Zionism, Apostasy, Repentance | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

If Your Eye is Good

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 22, 2014

Sandwiched between two of Jesus’ warnings against seeking after riches is this nugget of truth:

The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! (Matt. 6:22-23)

I woke up this morning considering the first part: If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.

In my life, I have focused on many things at different times. As a young unsaved person, I focused on romance, acquiring things, trying to get established in this world, and mostly–I focused on my SELF. I ran after everything that promised to make me feel happy.

I didn’t know it then, but my eye was bad. My focus was on the wrong things, and I completely ignored my Creator. My whole body was so full of darkness, even my best “light” was darkness. The things I thought I knew for sure were all wrong. My best advice to others was wrong. It is a very great darkness when a person trying to lead others doesn’t know she is blind too.

But this is the state of the world we live in. If you turn on the news, you will see people trying to make sense of the great evil that abounds, and trying to figure out how to fix the mounting chaos. They talk and talk, and they consult the experts. And after all the “wise men in the land” weigh in, still nobody has been enlightened. God waits patiently for them to notice Him, for them to notice His laws are being ignored, for them to notice that none of their cures ever work. He waits for them to admit that they know nothing, and that the focus of all their vain investigations has been wrong. He waits for them to confess they can’t see at all and need some help. But they rarely do. They are getting paid to pretend, and very few will ever leave the stage that keeps the world spellbound.

I was as blind as everyone else, but thankfully, the Son of God drew me to Himself and gave me the ability to see. I don’t claim to see everything, but I see well enough to know I must follow Christ or perish trying.

Everything here on this earth is dying, heavily weighed down by the curse of sin. It makes me sad when professing Christians around me seem to be as captivated by this vain world as unbelievers are. I have to warn them that they are, in fact, making themselves enemies of God (James 4:4). But I confess I have had my times, even since knowing Christ, that I let my focus drift away from Him. Sometimes the object of my attention was not a bad thing in itself. But it became the thing I cared about to the point that I left my first Love. This is the spirit of adultery. We must carefully guard against it if we are to wed the Bridegroom when He comes. Jesus wrote to those who were in this dangerous predicament:

Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. (Rev. 2:4-5)

Yes, it is possible to have your body filled with light, only to later lose that precious light. And so we are to remember “from where we have fallen” and examine ourselves to see if we have sailed off course. Consider what it was like when you first believed, how much you hated your sins, and how “single” your eye was–how captivated by Jesus you were. If we repent of leaving Christ, if we repent of having too much affection for things in this world, if we cast those idols aside again, and if we sincerely cry for Him to enlarge our hearts to love Him more–He will help us.

Very often He does this work in us by taking things away we thought we had to have. This is not a pleasant thing, but like a weaned child, we learn to be at peace without the thing we were counting on. We learn that He is our peace, and He is our life. We learn that the things that commanded our focus were unworthy of our focus. The form of this world is passing away (I Cor. 7:31), and every life–though precious in God’s sight–is a vapor. Our best “flourishing” on this earth is comparable to the short existence of a fragile flower which is so soon gone (Psa. 103:15-16).

So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom (Psa. 90:12). A heart that refuses to focus on anything but Jesus, reserving itself wholly for Him alone. A heart that lays its treasures in heaven, counting all things below as nothing compared to knowing Christ. A heart that carefully keeps a “good eye,” that the body can remain full of light.

May we be blameless and harmless children of God, without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom we shine as lights in the world, holding fast the Word of Life. (Phil. 2:15)

Posted in Christian Life, Repentance | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

We Need to Change

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 18, 2014

Not too long ago, I heard a secular song in a public place, and the repeated words were, “Don’t try to change me.” It struck me how this is the philosophy of the world and its citizens. The sin-corrupted man defies and resists change, insisting that doing what is “right in his own eyes” is the correct path. He doesn’t know he is changing all the time, but for the worse. Sinners have been taken captive by satan, through their own obedience to sin, to do his will. They do not realize they are obeying his will, and the will of his servants, and that their own will is being enslaved. “I will do what I want” is merely slavery dressed up in a costume pretending at freedom on a stage that is destined for destruction.

Even professing Christians resist change, but they should not. If they have truly been converted from rebels to children of God, surely they know they need to change? And not just change on the outside, but in the deeper inward parts from which motives unseen produce noticeable actions. I think those who are consistently resisting change have not been born again. Repentance is, at it’s core, change from rebellion to obedience, and without this fundamental change of heart and direction, one is still in satan’s kingdom.

After that fundamental change from self to God that heads one in the right direction, the life of sanctification that follows is more change and more change and more change. Newborns and toddlers and teenagers don’t know everything in their various stages of growth, and aren’t expected to do all that adults do. But as they learn and become capable of doing more, they are certainly expected to go on to perfection (Heb. 6:1). It is the same with the Christian. As the Spirit reveals what needs changing (something He does regularly if we have ears to hear), we must yield to Him. We must let Him prune our branch that we may bear more fruit. As He says, “I now expect more from you,” we say yes to Him from our hearts. Even if what He expects is difficult. Unless we embrace such a relationship with the Master of the Vineyard, we cannot expect to continue bearing the fruit without which we are destined for the fire.

Believers are commanded to be not 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. (Rom. 12:2) For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the world, have we not? (I Pet. 4:3) And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever (I Jn. 2:17). And whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Rom. 8:29) And you are His brethren if you do the will of God (Mark. 3:35). Therefore, seek to be changed–repeatedly and entirely–until you look like the Son–not just in the image others see, but in the heart and mind you and God see. We know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (I Jn. 3:2-3) This verse is speaking of believers. To purify yourself is to change.

Practically then, how can we “purify ourselves”?

It is Christ who purifies for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works (Titus 2:14), but we must submit to and engage in that purifying process, knowing it is for our good. Our minds need to be renewed (purified) by faith in the Word of God over our own imaginations or ideas. If the Word is not studied and adopted as Truth, and if thoughts are not brought into obedience to that Word, those renegade thoughts will lead the soul astray. Though we may have come to see things a certain way, we can begin to see things God’s way if we will trust what He says over what we’ve always believed, or how we feel.

God has also given the saints to tribulation for their perfecting (changing), and we must go through this purifying process to enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22). Did Jesus not say a cross and a life of self-denial was appointed to every disciple? He meant it. False doctrines have been created by which men hope to escape this suffering, but Truth is never changed by the manipulations of selfish men. Though they heap up teachers that tell them they can float to heaven on a silver cloud, by refusing the cross, they refuse Christ. By refusing to suffer with Christ, they keep themselves from being glorified with Him also (Rom. 8:17). They are like plants without roots that are blown over by a gust of wind. When tribulation or persecution comes because of the Word, they quickly give up the cross (Matt. 13:21), and eternal life with it, rather than seeking from God’s throne the strength to endure the pain and win the promise.

If Christ is to rule in His temple (our heart), we must be changed, and it isn’t going to feel good when our corruption is exposed, condemned, and killed (all of which must be endured if we are to be resurrected with Christ). “I” (the self) is a deceitful and terrible antichrist, the one we most need to fear. While people speculate on which world leader could be the antichrist, the “I” antichrist is often in their own hearts, enslaving them, and they do not see him or oppose him. When a brother or sister brings a word of correction, they say “Don’t judge me.” What they mean is that they refuse to change. And even if the word of correction is God’s very Word, they would rather silence the messenger than alter their course by a single degree. What can a Shepherd do with such “sheep”? Eventually He wearies of trying to correct them. Why should they be stricken again? They will revolt more and more, so corrupt have they become, and so sure that they don’t need guidance from another.

Some also have cleaned the outside of the cup (forsaking certain obvious sins like drunkenness, fornication, and swearing), but their eyes are closed to God’s desire to root out the unholy from their inner sanctuary. I know men who pride themselves on having a flawless “holiness doctrine” whose faults are obvious to everyone but themselves. While bragging that they never sin, they boldly accuse anyone who disagrees with their doctrine one hair of being children of the devil–not because they are sinful, but because they don’t flatter them by agreeing with every word they say.

While I agree that the believer must not live in willful sin, there is a damning deception at work in the proud man who sees himself as already perfected simply because he has embraced a theological construct and learned how to defend it. What of his character?–Is that too being changed??? Is it being conformed to the image of the Son of God? Does he weep before the Lord about those things the Lord is sure to show the humble man? Or is he not able to see the beam in his eye, so flattered is he by the thought that he is the great exposer of motes?! Is he learning how to be a better spouse, parent, child, neighbor, steward, witness, example of Christ, etc.? Is there no room to improve, no need to look again into that mirror that exposes, no need to be taught? Is the eye so full of its own insight that it despises the organs that try to keep it seeing properly? There is more to change than giving up wild parties and dirty movies. And there is more to change than learning to expose false teaching. These things are good and should be done while not forgetting to be changed in the other ways also. Or do we want to be clanging cymbals and sounding gongs, so delighted by our own “bold” sounds that we can’t tell we are becoming useless to God?

If we, like Peter, refuse to have our own feet washed at the table where innocent flesh and blood had to be broken and spilled to save us, we no longer have a part in Christ.

Paul said we must be careful when we think we stand, lest we fall. He took the careful view that he himself could still be cast away if he did not continually bring his flesh under subjection–this is a continual crucifixion, a life of dying, without which the weakness of our flesh will get the upper hand. And our “flesh” desires much more than the alcohol or drugs of days gone by. It desires glory, it desires to be elevated over others, it desires to be an unrebukable minister, it desires to be seen as gifted over others, it desires to force feed those who aren’t hungry–and more, to be thanked for it. It desires to feel it has reached a safe place where self-examination is no longer needed, and it desires the “fellowship” of only those who give it a constant chorus of amens no matter what or how it speaks. This more subtle “flesh” also must be crucified. If we pride ourselves in having defeated Jericho (which no man has ever done without the Spirit, so there is no room for pride), we may forget that there are still many more enemies to battle if the promise is to be fully realized. The victories over Goliath are great faith-builders, but let not the victor sleep in self-satisfaction while the little foxes spoil the vine.

So even if we have truly repented of willful sin, let us go on to that humility that invites more change, knowing we are still flawed at best. We see in part and prophesy in part. Let us not look into the Word of God merely to be puffed up in knowledge, and to say, “Thank God I’m not like other men,” but in order to be changed some more. Let us seek to be perfected in love–that love that obeys God in the hidden person of the heart where no one else can praise us but Him. Let us embrace the difficulties of life, the betrayals and rejections, the criticisms and loneliness, the pains of going under the Surgeon’s knife yet again–as necessary tribulations that will fit us through the door of the Kingdom. And let us do all this with the fragrant attitude of kindness and mercy and patience, for why should we complain of the very process which purifies us?

In short, let us deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow Him. This is God’s prescription for change, and change we must.

Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Heb. 13:20-21)

Posted in Christian Leadership, Christian Life, Repentance | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Religion of Morality

Posted by israeliteindeed on May 25, 2014

Before getting started, I want to make very clear that I believe the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ makes the most moral people on earth, and without holiness no man will see the Lord. Antinomianism (lawlessness) is the devil’s doctrine, and immoral people are not accepted in the family of God. We must be born again, and those who are born again will not live immoral lives.

The purpose of this paper is to expose a subtle deception satan offers to those who are willing to accept any particular moral code for their behavior. It is a religion of morality void of the born again experience, and void of a living relationship with the Living God. One of the signs that someone is walking in this false religion is that his morality is based on a system created by men, though it may include elements of true religion, and almost always cloaks hypocrisy of some sort.

Ask professing American Christians to define this false religion, and most likely they will refer to the Pharisees in the Bible, and say that Jesus was against them but loved to eat with sinners. There is some truth in this statement, yet not the whole truth, and therein lies the deception. I have written more about Phariseeism here: LINK

Unfortunately, many who profess Christ as Lord think that by refusing to judge between good and evil, they have sided with the sinner-loving Savior. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are commanded to judge between good and evil, and to choose the good and reject the evil.

However, the way of Christ is the way of the cross, and the cross requires a complete crucifixion of the self, not a mere moral tweaking of the old man. When Jesus told Nicodemus he had to be born again, He was not speaking to a male prostitute but to a devoutly religious man whose morality was not enough. And while many pride themselves in being far, far from Pharisaical due to their refusal to judge between good and evil, they are in fact Pharisaical because they think their particular form of morality has made them right with God while they do not know God or follow Him from the heart.

Buddhism offers man a moral code that forbids killing people, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, and intoxication. Hidden beneath that “moral” covering, however, is a heart that remains selfish because a man cannot be born again without the Spirit of God indwelling him when he repents of sin and turns to Jesus in obedient faith. The Buddhist may refrain from drinking alcohol, but he will meditate until he reaches a mental trance state that offers him the same “escape from reality” that alcohol or drugs would. Buddhism has also redefined “sexual misconduct” so that fornication is not classified as misconduct so long as there is “mutual love.” This is contrary to the commands of God, who has forever outlawed fornication. This is a good example of how men rewrite “morality” according to what they think is right. Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts. (Prov. 21:2)

Islam offers man another moral code by which to live. One site claims that “Islam…furnishes us with the means to determine good and evil conduct.” (LINK) Of course, this is a standard written by men and not God. So while condemning hypocrisy, for example, Islam forces people to convert against their own wills, perpetuating more hypocrisy. While strict dress codes at least appear more moral than the near nudity other societies accept, history is replete with examples of Islamic people who were not truly moral (including their revered prophet). Repetitive prayers give an appearance of godliness, but none of this gives the Muslim assurance that his sins are forgiven, and there are many testimonies of ex-Muslims on youtube that bear this out.

Even the Masons, satanic at core, practice a form of moralism. They deliberately draw into their lodges people who seem to be upstanding, morally responsible citizens. These highly visible to the public, low-level initiates are deliberately kept ignorant of what is going on at higher levels, where open Lucifer-worship is embraced without apology. Most people therefore see the Masons as a “do good” organization. Even satan will do good short-term, if it helps him perpetuate evil in the long term.

And now I must digress a little into less comfortable waters. The average professing American Christian has no problem picking out the problems in Buddhism or Islam. They might even concede that Masonry is suspect. They may agree that Catholicism or Mormonism or some other group is wrong. But rarely will the evangelical protestant look in the evangelical protestant camp and discern the difference between true religion and the religion of morality.

I attended a church for some time that had made up its own code of morality. This code wasn’t written out in their official doctrines; rather it was a sort of unspoken status-quo. Those who adhered to this status-quo were considered spiritual (and given awards!), and those who did not–for whatever reason–were seen as inferior Christians. This moral code included strict attendance to several services per week (where is that in Scripture?), being a cog in the machine of their “programs” no matter how unbiblical the programs were, and supporting the “building fund” monetarily (even though the present building was only sometimes at capacity by their bringing in as many unbelievers as possible, and it was not yet paid for. Adding on unnecessary debt and filling the church with tares are both unbiblical practices.)

In “Sunday School,” which people had to attend or be subjected to constant hounding, every person had to fill out a card designating “points” for reading the lesson, being on time, memorizing a verse, doing some sort of outreach that week, etc. Those who accumulated enough points got an award and their name called out in Church. Now, keep in mind that many people filling out their points cards were not even saved. They had been visited by someone from the church, pressured to come, subsequently pressured to attend Sunday School, and pressured to fill out the points card. Some of these people went on to be recognized in the church and to receive rewards before men, yet a quick look at their personal lives revealed a frank denial of true discipleship. Some real saints had jobs that required them to be away (not having perfect attendance), or sick children or spouses to tend to at home, and these saints were not recognized because they had not acquired enough points.

Now I ask you…is this not a religion of morality? Does this kind of churchianity really advance the Kingdom of God? Or does it fill a building with hypocrites who are learning to judge themselves by a false standard?

I recall one time a dear brother questioned the points system, and he was told that “at least we aren’t asking you if you are looking at pornography. We are just asking you if you did your lesson or got to church on time.” This brother responded by saying he WANTS to be asked, rather, if he is looking at pornography. How much does the leadership care about its people if it’s only concerned with externals?

You see, it is very easy to check some external boxes. Many churches that don’t utilize this blatant point system still have a series of boxes they expect their congregants to check, and once those are checked, the congregants are assumed holy. There is actually very little real accountability going on, sometimes because the congregants are not even saved, and sometimes because there isn’t time or energy–after jumping through all the moral boxes–to pursue a more intimate relationship with the Body of Christ. After “going to church” 3 times in a week and “doing the program” that doesn’t seem to be working, who wants to pursue more? The real believers are exhausted, and the unbelievers who–for whatever reason–submit to the church’s code are distracted from what they really need to do (be born again.) The gospel might be preached occasionally (usually a watered-down version), but these churched unbelievers instinctively realize that the church will accept them if they just fall in line with the man-made code.

This is happening all over America. The moral codes and levels of coercion vary, but the result is always the same. People have established for themselves ANOTHER JUDGE of their morality other than the Word of God. Add to this varying degrees of false doctrine, and apostasy is in full bloom. The pornography watcher no longer needs to fear that his sin will take him to hell, since he has perfect attendance and a doctrinal defense some of the “experts” agree with. And since he doesn’t look at pornography IN CHURCH (he knows that would be wrong), he is accepted by all. He may also have a habit of swearing when he gets angry, or cheating on his taxes, but his association with a supposed house of worship makes him feel supremely safe. No doubt he draws the line at certain sins (just like Buddhists, Muslims, etc. also do).

One specific way I see this false Christianity spreading is through the so-called “Religious Right.” Now no true Christian wants to see babies murdered by abortion or homosexuality being embraced. However, truly reforming society has never come by laws. True reformation begins at the grass-roots level where people embrace the gospel and are changed. Because they are changed (no longer wanting to kill babies or practice homosexuality), they stop asking for laws that permit them to do evil.

The Religious Right is made up of a conglomeration of people who are deceived into thinking that the “complete package morality” offered in the born again experience is of secondary importance to the forced specific morality imposed by laws–laws that are again subject to change at any time, according to the whims of the people. Millions of dollars are spent to fight laws that later give way to even worse laws. Let us be honest. How many babies have been saved by the Religious Right, with all of its money and unending rhetoric? How many homosexuals have been converted from the errors of their ways through this means? I am not saying a Christian should not abhor the gross wickedness of child-murder and perverted sexuality. I am saying we have been deceived into thinking God’s program for changing the world has changed. It hasn’t and it won’t.

What happens when Christian superstars rally people to fight on the hill of morality?

All of the efforts of Christians go to fighting those one or two moral evils. And it’s not too harsh to say that many of these Christians are hypocrites who defend other moral evils. But as long as they think they are “fighting evil,” they feel relieved of the responsibility to examine their own lives and see if they are really in the faith of Jesus Christ.

When did Jesus set up laws in the government by which to curb the evils of His day? When did His apostles take on this extraordinary work?–Never. It is not enough to chop the dead limbs of abortion and homosexuality off the tree of mankind; the axe must be laid to the root, and it can only be laid with the Gospel. The root is self-will. The root is not abortion, homosexuality, or the removal of prayer from schools. These are fruits that sprang from the root of self-will. The great commission is to teach people to obey Jesus rather than themselves. If the root is struck, a change in fruit will follow.

Yet today it is considered vogue for Christians to enter bitter political debates which they think somehow advances the cause of Christian morality on the earth. Dear Reader, do not be deceived. Though I hate child-murder with all of my being (and go to clinics to stand against it), outlawing child murder will not make us a Christian nation. The reason child murder is protected is because people have murder in their hearts. They need new hearts.

If a person decides not to murder, but never gives up the self-will to Jesus, how long will it be before murder is again on the table? It won’t be long. Sometimes a man who won’t murder his own child will go murder someone else’s child if only his “morally superior” country’s leaders tell him to.

Consider this: every nation on the earth, including America, has propagandized its own people to believe that its own ideals and interests are morally superior to those of other countries. Early in American history, the “religous right” (though not called that yet) justified the killing of Native Americans (and other crimes) in the name of “Manifest Destiny.” This was the belief that God had given an elite group of people the right and mandate to take the whole country from the east coast to the west coast, even if that goal could only be reached through violence. Oh, there were apologists even then who preached this message in the churches. And there were pew-warmers that were accepted because they checked their various boxes at the appropriate time. But none of this is the faith handed to us by Christ and His apostles and prophets. Yet this seriously bastardized version of Christianity is still being promoted by the notoriously war-hungry religious right. Many well-meaning Christians get caught up in their rhetoric, not understanding that this partisan group does not and cannot represent Christ, even if they do appear to give lip-service to a few of His morals.

Let us remember that when Puritans were putting to death “heretics” (who were sometimes real Christians) in Boston, they were at the same time enforcing a code of strict morality. But it wasn’t the faith of the Lord Jesus that drove them to murder their neighbors.

Early in Martin Luther’s ministry, he taught that Christians could not kill their enemies. Later his doctrine changed, and he began justifying killing in certain circumstances. What caused him to change his stance? Was it new illumination in the Scriptures?–No, his personal power base was threatened. And this is the same hypocrisy manifest in the Religious Right today. There are loud claims of moral superiority, but the reality is there is as much corruption on the right as there is on the left. Often, “conservatives” are more ready than “liberals” to kill complete strangers if there is something in it for them. I have recently done a great deal of research, and what I find in the government of this nation is sweeping corruption of the most vile kinds, including drug trafficking, people trafficking, prostitution, pornography production and promotion, and pedophilia. Do not be deceived into thinking that only the other party is participating.

And what is it that professing Christians are really after in America, I wonder, when they rail against how things are. Are they zealous for Jesus? If so, why aren’t they teaching people Jesus’ words rather than the words of Patrick Henry? Do they really care for their unborn neighbors?–Why aren’t they gathering outside abortion clinics to plead with mothers not to kill their children and offer help? Do they really want homosexuals to receive the new birth in Jesus Christ and be set free? How many are actively sharing the faith once delivered with such people? It can be so pleasing to the flesh to stand on a moral high ground and declare that all our trouble was caused by someone else. It’s alot less pleasing to the flesh to empty self, become a servant to all, and live Jesus’ words day by day among friends and enemies.

I believe that the average Joe Christian is not really that concerned with the spread of sin, except where it infringes on his own personal piece of the American Pie. We want the rewards of capitalism, and freedom to do what we want. Who doesn’t want these things? And these things aren’t inherently evil, but they become evil when we are willing to deny the teachings of Jesus to have them. And our hypocrisy is exposed when we “fight to get America back” to what it was before, and don’t acknowledge that what it was before was merely a more moral society that was still plunging headlong into hell, chasing the idols of materialism and freedom to do as one pleases.

Everywhere we hear the lament about the good old days. The good old days weren’t as good as we think. The unrighteousness had not fully bloomed and fruited yet, but it was surely being planted. Isn’t it telling that we cry when the harvest comes in, but we didn’t cry when we (as a nation) were having fun planting it?

My heart cries for there to be real repentance among those professing to be saved in this country. At some point we have to stop pointing out the other denominations and look at our own. We have to stop blaming one political party and excusing another. We must go beyond our propensity to view our country as superior to others, and realize we have all sinned grievously in myriad ways. We must look past our record of attendance at church, and look at how much we attend upon the Lord Jesus and obey His Words from the heart. We must stop sneering at the unchurched sinner while excusing the love of the world that has gripped most of our churched children (and adults!) The hypocrisy must stop. If there is to be any lasting moral change in this nation, it will begin with real born again believers who subject their lives to Jesus Christ and live according to His teachings in such a way that their holiness is indisputable.

But this–true religion–is not for the faint of heart. When you begin to chop at the root of things with a spiritual axe, and point out the hypocrisies of the various groups, you will burn bridges behind you. No longer will you fit in with them or find a semblance of rest in their numbers. If you don’t join their acceptable moral crusades, they will cast you out because you don’t further their agendas (and they do have agendas which are very different from God’s Kingdom agenda). Remember that any number of Jews would have been glad to have Jesus lead them physically against the Romans, and would have rallied behind Him. But who wants to follow someone who is leading His disciples to crucifixion and death and being the perpetual offscouring of the earth? (I Cor. 4:13) Who wants to, for the (future) joy set before him, endure the painful cross (right now)?

Yet this is the ONLY way to bring true moral change to mankind. All other religions are vain, and that includes nominal Christianity as it is known today in its compromised and impotent state. It may pick and choose a few moral hills to rally on, but it won’t deny the Self entirely and obey the Lord Jesus in all of His teaching. Such a morality can never save. It is just another road that leads to death.

Posted in apostasy, Christian Life, False Teachers, Preach the Gospel, Repentance | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Arise and Depart, For This is Not Your Rest

Posted by israeliteindeed on March 3, 2014

Arise and depart, for this is not your rest; because it is defiled, it shall destroy, Yes, with utter destruction. (Micah 2:10)

This earth is not our rest. This country is not our rest. The church building down the street is not our rest. The homes we live in or fellowship in are not our rest. The bodies that now clothe and encumber our souls are not our rest.

“Arise and depart, for this is not your rest.”

We are in the world, but not of the world (John 17:14-16.) We are living in a country, but we dwell in it as in a foreign country, looking for that city whose builder and maker is God (Heb. 11:9-10). We know that God’s temple is in His sanctified people, not in buildings made with hands (Acts 7:48; I Cor. 3:16; 6:19). And yet even these flesh and blood bodies that, by some miracle of God, house the Holy Spirit, are being sown in corruption. We must one day be clothed with an imperishable body (I Cor. 15:50-54). None of these earthly things can ever be our true Rest.

Samson, resting so comfortably in the arms of the one who will betray you, arise out the lap of Delilah, for there is not your rest but your destruction. When God commissions a man to rise up against His enemies, and instead he cavorts with them, will not the Lord eventually depart from him? (Judg. 16:20) Much of the called “Church” is like Samson, resting in the arms of the betrayer–the world. Called to confront the sin of the world, the judges refuse to judge, and it displeases God (Isa. 59:15). They instead partake of carnal pleasures in Delilah’s lap, and lead the people of God into further captivity. Will not such a church become “worthless salt” fit only to be trodden under foot by man unless there is repentance?

Christian wanting to be the friend of the world, this world is not your rest. For anyone who wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God, and God will destroy His enemies, including and especially all hypocrites. What looks like rest now will turn out for your destruction. Be crucified unto this world, and let this world be crucified unto you through the cross of Jesus Christ (Gal. 6:14), that your sufferings and labors for Jesus now may turn out for your deliverance later (Phil. 1:12-21). For whoever desires to save his life in this world will lose it, but whoever loses his life in this world for Jesus’ sake will find it (Matt. 16:25).

Doomsday prepper, what will you do when the food runs out? What will your silver and gold medallions buy? Will they deliver you from God’s wrath? They cannot deliver you from the wrath of God. (Ezek. 7:19) The only Savior is Jesus Christ, and the only way out of the death and corruption brought about by your sin is death with Christ–to sin and the world–by His cross. The sin of others (the government, Monsanto, etc.) is not your biggest problem. Your own sin is your biggest problem, and it must be dealt with at the cross. This alone leads to everlasting life. To walk this narrow path that leads to life, you must give up your obsession with this life, and this body. To remain carnally minded is death. Contrary to what some say, Jesus did not die to give you your best life now.

How many music/sport/movie idols have come and gone? They rise and fall, and finally succumb to the same weakness of all men, despite all their money and plastic surgery and opportunities. Their paid image consultants told them how to please men, but could not tell them how to please God. Finally they lie still, stripped of glory, unable to fight off the weakest worms that invade their graves. And people still worship them. Even people professing to love Christ follow every move of these lost servants of the devil. Is there no living, immortal God to worship?! Arise and depart! What agreement does the temple of God have with idols?…Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. (2 Cor. 6:16-17) Are there conditions to being received by God? There certainly are. You must arise and depart from what is evil.

Before God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, setting them forth as an example of suffering the vengeance of eternal fire (Jude 7), He sent messengers to warn the righteous to get out.

Then the men said to Lot, “Have you anyone else here? Son-in-law, your sons, your daughters, and whomever you have in the city—take them out of this place! For we will destroy this place, because the outcry against them has grown great before the face of the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it.” So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters, and said, “Get up, get out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city!” But to his sons-in-law he seemed to be joking. (Gen. 19:12-14)

It seems to me that many today also think God’s messengers are joking. They find the doomed “city” restful enough and refuse to heed God’s warnings. They say things like, “I believe God is a loving God. He doesn’t mind that I participate in x, y, and z.” They willfully forget that He is a holy God and a God who will not at all aquit the wicked (Nahum 1:3).

But today, if you can hear His voice telling you to flee from the wrath to come, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion (Heb. 3:15.) Flee to Christ and obey Him as Lord. There is a rest for the people of God, and it is only in Christ. To whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey Him? (Heb. 3:18) So, let us be diligent to enter that rest lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience (Heb. 4:11). Can God see your sin? And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.(Heb. 4:13) Forsake your sin and seek the Lord’s mercy (Prov. 28:13).

This world is increasingly wicked. Scripture says the earth as we know it sways to and fro like a drunkard, and shall totter like a hut. It’s transgression shall be heavy upon it. It will fall and not rise again. (Isa. 2:20)

Even in the sanctuaries that are supposed to be holy, there is all kinds of defilement. False teaching has so permeated what is called “the Church,” it’s hard to find someone teaching right things, much less a whole family of real believers with whom to fellowship. It seems the whole earth is coming under judgment. Most of the churches are just carnal institutions that have had their lampstands removed (Rev. 2:5). To whom can we go? Who has the words of life that bring rest to our souls?

But the dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot, and she returned into the ark to him, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her, and drew her into the ark to himself. (Gen. 8:9)

This Scripture is about Noah and his little dove during a time of world-wide judgment. We can see in it the beautiful picture of Christ, the real Ark of Salvation. There is no resting place here, but only utter destruction. We must go to Jesus–return into the Ark to Him. He will take us and draw us into the Ark of Salvation to Himself. He alone has the words of life, and He is the rest we seek.

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matt. 11:28-29)

Posted in Christian Life, Repentance | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

%d bloggers like this: