The Grace of God

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

Posts Tagged ‘hypocrisy’

The Apostate Church & How We Got Here

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 21, 2014

At one time I attended a church that seemed to me more conservative than most. In time, I realized the pastor was contradicting himself on the issue of obedience to Christ. He would say we must obey and that disobedience was unacceptable. But later he would say disobedience can never cancel grace. (False grace message refuted here.)

This pastor even taught that Samson had committed suicide; therefore we can be sure that some people who commit suicide die saved (a dangerous lie–Samson wanted to die, but left his fate in God’s hands). I confronted the pastor on this teaching, and was quickly labeled a Pharisee. Sadly, a couple years after I left this church, one of the young people committed suicide by purposely laying his head on train tracks.

There was a children’s Sunday School teacher brazenly teaching the children, including my son, that they were “once saved always saved.” When I asked the pastor why this teacher was allowed to teach contrary to official church doctrine, I never got an answer. As far as I know, the false grace teacher continued to teach long after I left. Perhaps he was a good tither.

Recently I saw pictures of the pastor’s daughter, who has grown to adulthood since I left the church. She and the assistant pastor’s daughter both have public pictures of themselves in the most revealing, immodest clothes, complete with pouty lips and seductive poses. How tragically sad, this road that they are on.

I was told by someone, “You can’t blame the church.”

Well, I know that free will plays a huge part in what our kids do. Not every parent or church is to blame for their choices. God Himself is a perfect parent whose children go astray.

Yet I think this is a fair question: What role did the church’s false doctrine play in these kids going astray? A friend of mine has written a good article on this subject entitled “Careless Doctrines Damn.” Read it here.

Did the young man who ended his life on a train track think he was about to be welcomed into heaven–even though he was not enduring to the end of his life in hope?

Could phrases from the pulpit like “You cannot out-sin the grace of God” cause young girls to think that playing with the sins of seduction and immorality will have no real consequences? I say they can.

Incidentally, shortly after I rebuked one of these young ladies for being a poor role-model for younger girls (among other things), another girl from the church–maybe 12 or 13 years old–expressed her approval of the picture. This child has found her Brittany Spears to follow, not on the world’s stage, but in her church. With church “family” like this, who needs the world to lead them astray? Now our kids can all go astray together, take communion on Sunday morning, and think all is well. After all, nobody is correcting their behavior because they are afraid of being called legalists and Pharisees. Keep yourself unspotted from the world?! That’s for religious people. We’re all about relationship here, baby.

But what does Scripture say?–

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. (Eph. 5:3)

There must not be even a hint!! Oh, that Apostle Paul; he was quite the legalist! If only we could throw HIM out of our church and get away with it.

Some say if America doesn’t turn around, America is doomed. They say this quite piously because they go to church and have conservative values like “I disagree with homosexual marriage.” Meanwhile their own kids–sometimes churched and homeschooled–are becoming prostitutes right before their eyes. And that’s just the tip of the noticeable iceberg. Under strong delusion, you don’t realize how big the problem is until your boat starts sinking, and the shock and horror of it all causes your heart to melt. Once the labor pains begin, the unrighteous harvest you’ve been sowing all along is brought forth, ready or not (Isa. 13:6-8). But for now, we are for the most part content to lament the good old days of America, and hope that our church attendance and/or voting records mean something.

Apostate Jerusalem pats herself on the back and says, “Thank God I am not like the Gentiles” even as she herself rejects God’s Word. But I do not speak of the Jews; I speak of the apostate New Testament church, who has followed her older sister down the same careless path. She does not see her paupery, her nakedness or her need for repentance. When her children are destroyed, she laments and asks, “Why?!” But she cannot receive the truthful answer that it is her fault for mishandling the Word and allowing leaven to spread unchecked. She can’t accept the truth–that she is drunk with the world and its ways, and the blood of the true saints who tried in vain to correct her.

Thus the necessity of continuing to blame those rotten liberals for all of her problems.

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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)

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What is Self-Righteousness?

Posted by israeliteindeed on September 12, 2013

I was reading a devotional book by Rod and Staff Publishers*, and came across a statement which concerns a subject I’ve wanted to write about for a long time. Here is the statement:

“To continue in our own way is an expression of self-righteousness.”

That statement has the ring of truth!

I readily admit this is not the definition of “self-righteousness” we generally hear. I have told family members that they need to stop doing their own thing and obey Jesus, and they accused me of being self-righteous!  Clearly, their definition of the word is the exact opposite of that which is written above. Self-righteousness is one of several words that seems to have been re-defined to fit popular cultural ideas.  In this post, I’d like to explore what self-righteousness looks like Biblically.

Speaking of the Jews who had rejected Jesus, Paul wrote, “They being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” (Rom. 10: 3)  There is much confusion about what this means, especially with all the sin-excusing, so called “Christian” doctrines abounding today. Many people think Paul was accusing the Jews of trying to obey God too much, whereas they would have found true salvation “resting” in an assurance that “Jesus did it all.” Their dangerous response to their false problem is being a lazy and compromising “Christian” with no standard, and refusing to judge any matter by the Word of God.

It is true that Jesus Himself made the only atonement that could wash our sins away, and it is by faith in Him that we are saved.  It is true that all the law and prophets pointed to the forgiveness offered and made possible by Jesus–and this is something many Jews were unwilling to accept.  But God has never been angry with people who obeyed Him from the heart, and in fact He earnestly desires this.  Obeying God from the heart is never self-righteousness. 

 
Psalm 50:23 declares that to him who orders his conduct aright, God will show His salvation. The man who orders his conduct aright does not save himself (atone for his own sins, or force God to forgive him)  by doing so. But his contrite heart is accepted by God, and because he has met God’s condition of repentance, he will be shown God’s salvation (Jesus), which he then can enter into by faith

The Jews that went about trying to establish their own righteousness were Christ-rejectors precisely because they first refused to order their conduct aright (repent). They had the writings of the law and prophets, which contained excoriating rebukes that applied to them and exposed their hypocrisy, but they did not humble themselves. It is no coincidence that both John the Baptist and Jesus began their ministries preaching that men must repent, and both preached against the religious hypocrisy that was so prevalent in their culture. These Jews were not called “self-righteous” because of their careful obedience, but because of their disobedience and hypocrisy. 

Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.  (Luke 12:1)

They failed to understand that all the law and prophets pointed to Jesus, the real sacrifice for sins. Why did they fail to understand? Again, I say it is because they refused to order their conduct aright, and so they stumbled over the Stumbling Stone. There were Jews who did come to understand these great spiritual truths, both in the Old Testament and the New. All of these were saved by their faith. The Pharisees and other Christ-rejecting Jews cherry-picked the Scriptures they had, so they could major on what profited them, and ignore what did not.  And as Jesus accused them in Mark 7:6-13, they outright rejected commandments of God in order to further traditions they had created to benefit themselves.

The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:  All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do;  but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. (Matt. 23:2-4)

In Matthew 23, Jesus detailed the many hypocrisies of Israel’s “blind guides.” But such hypocrisies were not limited to the spiritual leaders. There were many Jews who likewise went about trying to establish their own righteousness. They brought temple sacrifices and offerings, and claimed to be God’s people, while their hearts were far from God, and in fact in love with idols (Isa. 29:13).  They compared themselves to Gentiles and thought they were justified just because they were circumcised “children of Abraham,” and knew the one true God.  By insisting that they were already righteous as they were without a full submission to God, and while refusing to let God show them what would truly please Him, they traded in the righteousness of God for their own useless “righteousness.”  

What about those Jews who were doing their best to obey the law of God without hypocrisy? While such a life was pleasing to God, even one transgression must be atoned for. A return to obedience after disobedience, while commanded, cannot atone for transgressions. The law was never meant to forgive sins, but to bring the sinner to the One whose blood was shed for him!  Indeed, if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain (Gal. 2:21). If the law could make sinners righteous again, we could just preach the law to everyone, and once people returned to obedience, they would be saved. But Jesus was lifted up from the earth to draw all men unto Him. And He becomes righteousness to all who come to Him (I Cor. 1:30), not by imputation of His personal obedience to our account (as some teach), but by forgiving our sins and washing them from us in His own sinless blood.  Unless one comes to Christ, the only Way God has provided, one who has sinned can never be truly righteous, though he may have a form of fictitious, self-created “righteousness.”  

Therefore self-righteousness can rightly be charged against anyone (Jew or Gentile) who insists he can be acceptable to God any other way than by the Way God prescribes. 

  • The orthodox Jew that rejects Christ but practices Hebrew law-keeping, cannot, by these habits, appease Him; he has no faith in God’s Way of salvation, and without faith it is impossible to please God. 
  • The Gentile that goes to three church services per week, sings in the choir, and supports building funds and missionaries–while he still lives and thinks in his heart any way he chooses, is not accepted by God.  Oh, he may talk about the blood of Jesus, but that very blood he has been trampling by his willing disobedience will testify against him and prove him a denier of Christ (Heb. 10:26-29; Titus 1:16), and his righteousness a counterfeit. 
  • The Muslim meticulously praying  and washing according to man-made standards God has not commanded, will never find himself closer to God by these deeds. 
  • The atheist who thinks he is righteous by adhering to a standard of morals he has created for himself, has likewise created his own “way.” 
 
All of these ways, though they seem right to each man from his own perspective, will end in death (Prov. 14:12). 

There is only one Way that leads to life, and the Way is Jesus. To be a follower of The Way is more than acknowledging Jesus as a historical figure, or claiming to follow Him. It is  trusting in His merciful provision of atonement for our personal offences against God, and receiving His forgiveness; and then willingly walking in all His commands. Joining with Him in death (to self and the world), and joining with Him in a resurrected life that bears holy fruit unto God.

There are multitudes of self-righteous people that consider and call themselves real Christians.  Some don’t associate with the organized church, but many do. They judge themselves by standards that are man-made, or they judge themselves only by cherry-picked Scriptures to the exclusion of the whole counsel of God. Some are more moral than others. What connects them is that they will not submit to letting God Himself teach them what is right and wrong, and will not submit to His washing and regenerating influence. They insist they can decide for themselves what is right and how they will live, and resent anyone’s assertion that they should change. Some are masters at justifying their false way with little twistings of Scripture;  they know just enough of the Word to thoroughly damn themselves.

I will share a case in point:

I have an unsaved brother that hates homosexuality.  He is right to hate this sin, but he does not hate his own drunkenness, fornication, blasphemies, racism (he is a member of the KKK), and pervasive selfishness that continually hurts alot of people. He boldly told me he was a Christian.  He condemns the homosexual while claiming he is righteous. Jesus condemns all of the above, and calls both the homosexual and the heterosexual fornicator to acknowledge their own personal crimes against God. My brother will “preach” against homosexuality if the subject comes up, but if I preach against his own list of crimes, using the Word of God as the authority, then I am rejected. Why? He has not submitted to the righteousness of God, but is going about to establish his own. His life may be vastly different than the life of the orthodox Jew who carefully avoids fornication and drunkenness, but both are excluded from the kingdom of God together because neither is submitted to the Word of God.  When the Word is rejected, salvation is rejected. The Word of God is sent to heal us (Psa. 107:20), but disobedience to that Word leads to stumbling (I Pet. 2:8).  The wrath of God abides on all who continue in their own way.

A person like my brother can acknowledge that Jesus was a historical figure, and he might even say Jesus was a good man or a prophet, if he were pressed. A good Muslim would agree with these sentiments about Jesus, as would most Americans. But as long as men insist on deciding for themselves what righteousness looks like, they will never be saved, even if they live relatively moral lives, as do some Jews, Muslims, atheists, and professing Christians. Am I saying morality is inconsequential?–Absolutely not.  The law of God written on a person’s heart, and the Spirit of God directing a person’s steps, will produce a moral life because God is moral. But this will be a true morality borne out of a Spirit-led life, rather than a hypocritical, self-serving morality, such as the morality my brother walks in–or the morality some Jews, Muslims, or false Christians walk in. 

Returning to a point I touched on earlier, those who earnestly plead with sinners to abandon their self-led lives are not being “self-righteous.” It is the self-led sinner who assumes his own spiritual safety that is self-righteous.  But many sinners will hastily slap this label on the truthful witness that testifies against them and calls them to repentance.  Ear-tickling false doctrine streaming from too many pulpits facilitates this deception;  unfortunately many a false shepherd would agree with them and verbally crucify the witness!  Nevertheless, I think it helpful for the faithful witnesses to remember what self-righteousness really is, so that we are not intimidated by false accusations.

God bless you, readers!

Adult Bible Studies, Studies in Romans.  Crockett, Kentucky: Rod and Staff Publishers; January, February, March 2013.

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Are You a Pharisee?

Posted by israeliteindeed on October 31, 2011

If you are a faithful servant of Jesus, chances are you have been called a Pharisee once or twice. The assumption of many is that the Pharisees were people who practiced strict obedience to God and urged others to do the same, while the prostitutes and tax-collectors were accepted by Christ because they didn’t judge anyone.

Just as many misunderstand and misrepresent Jesus Christ Himself, many misunderstand and misrepresent the Pharisees. In fact, many people who mislabel the servants of Christ as “Pharisees” are themselves behaving as did the Pharisees in Jesus’ day.  It is my intention in this writing to encourage the hearts of God’s true servants by shedding light on the true nature of the Pharisees.

In Matthew 23, Jesus warned His disciples and the multitudes about the Pharisees:

The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.  Therefore whatever they tell you to observe,that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.  For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.  But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments.  They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues,  greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ (vs. 2-7)

We see here that the Pharisees would not do what they told others to do. They were hypocrites. When they did appear to do good works, it was only to be seen by men–that is, their motive was not love for God and men, but love for themselves. They wished to appear righteous, but they were not righteous. They wanted to be above other men, to be called “Rabbi,” and to have the best seats. They exalted themselves over other men, but God did not esteem them. God esteems the lowly, and the greatest of His true children are willing servants of their brethren, not brutal and hypocritical lords over them (Matt 23:11-12; Matt. 20:25-28).  Jesus Christ, the Lord of all, did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many. Everything He called us to, He first lived by example. His servants are not greater than He is, and will do the same.  Just like their Good Shepherd, they will lay down their lives for the sheep. This, the Pharisees would not do, for their motives were selfish. They were not shepherds, but hirelings.

The remainder of Matthew 23 contains the rest of Jesus’ passionate rebuke of the Pharisees. Here are some of His complaints against them:

1.  They not only refused to enter the kingdom of heaven, they also stopped others from entering. (13)  Luke 7:30 records that the Pharisees rejected the will of God for themselves by refusing to participate in the baptism of repentance.  They continually spoke against the ministry of Jesus and tried to dissuade others from following Him.  Their doctrine was dangerous leaven (Matt. 16:12).  They were motivated by jealousy, desiring to have power over men. If they had been right with God, God would have shown them the truth about who Jesus was, but they did not want to see. When John the Baptist neither ate bread nor drank wine, they said he had a demon; when Jesus ate bread and drank wine, they said He was a glutton and a winebibber. When Jesus healed men, they claimed He did it by satan’s power, or they claimed that healing a man broke the Sabbath law. (The truth is that the Spirit of the law was never broken by Christ. God allowed men to pull a wounded animal out of a ditch on the Sabbath. They should have seen that a man had greater value.)  Jesus summed up their refusal to enter the kingdom of heaven in his parable of a king whose servants declared, “We will not have this man to reign over us.”  In short, the Pharisees rejected the reign of the rightful King, and they would be destroyed (Luke 19:11-27).

2.  They devoured widows’ houses. (14) Perhaps they did this by taking too much money from poor widows, or denying money to widows who needed help so they could live high-on-the-hog themselves. God takes offense when widows and orphans are cheated, and considers Himself their chief Protector who will avenge them (Exo. 22:22-24).  The Pharisees were blatantly breaking God’s law!

3.  They made long prayers for pretense’ sake. (14)  Their prayers were detestable to God not only because God detests the prayers of the disobedient (Prov. 28:9, 15:8; Psa. 66:18; Isa. 59:2), but also because the prayers were done for show.  Pure hypocrisy!

4.  Those they discipled were “twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” (15) Their fruit was terrible! Their new converts were even more wicked than themselves.

5. They added ridiculous rules to the law of God, by which they could refrain from keeping their oaths while still appearing righteous. (16-22)  Jesus called them “fools and blind,” and explained why their loopholes were foolish to God.  In Mark 7:6-13, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for teaching traditions that actually violated God’s commands.

6.  They followed meticulous tithing laws, but neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. (23-24)  For He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?  (Mic. 6:8)  Jesus said the whole law of God can be summed up by loving God supremely, and loving your neighbor as yourself. The Pharisees loved themselves supremely, and merely used their positions of power to exact what they wanted from the people.  The fact that they did not love justice and mercy is evident by the fact that they not only pushed for the crucifixion of Jesus, but they also wanted to kill Lazarus, who had been raised from the dead (John 12:10-11).

7.  Though they maintained a clean exterior, inside they were full of extortion and self-indulgence, uncleanness, hypocrisy and lawlessness. (25-28)  Pay attention, dear Christian. The Pharisees were not obedient, but lawless. They were not followers of the self-less and loving God, but rather self-indulgent extortioners of others. They were not holy, but unclean. They were not truthful, but hypocritical.  God’s problem with the Pharisees was not that they were holy men who taught the people the difference between right and wrong. God’s problem with the Pharisees was that they were unholy men who practiced lawlessness while pretending to be holy.  John the Baptist warned the Pharisees that they must bear fruits worthy of repentance (Matt. 3:7-10). He threatened that they would be cut down unless they produced the right fruit, which they were not as yet producing.

8.  They pretended at honoring the prophets, claiming they would not have killed them as their forefathers did, even as murder was already brewing in their hearts toward Jesus–the greatest Prophet. (29-36) The truth was that the prophets rebuked hypocrisy in their day, and would have rebuked the Pharisees also; and the hearts of the Pharisees were just as blind and murderous as those of their predecessors.  Not only would they kill Jesus, but they would also abuse and kill other servants of the Lord to come (like Stephen), because they hated the truth those messengers would bring.

Unless this list describes you, you are not a Pharisee.

Have you have repented of your sins and trusted in Jesus Christ for salvation?–This the Pharisees would not do. 

Do you love the servants of the Lord who bring the truth, even if the truth reveals that you need to change?–The Pharisees did all they could to silence the truth, including conspiracies, lying, and murder. 

Do you deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Jesus daily?–The Pharisees were self-indulgent and made use of others to enrich themselves. 

Do you pray in secret so that your Father may reward you openly?–The Pharisees prayed pretentiously in public for show. 

Are you doing what you can to fulfill the great commission–making disciples of Jesus and teaching them to obey what He has commanded?–The Pharisees did just the opposite, turning men away from Jesus (whose burden is light) and insisting men obey their hard-to-bear traditions instead. 

Have you submitted to Christ and been cleansed on the inside, so that your exterior cleanness is an accurate reflection of your inward holiness to the Lord?–The Pharisees were only lawlessness and uncleanness wearing a disguise.

Here is an example of a true “Pharisee.” Let’s say you go out into the streets to hand out tracts and preach the gospel. You tell people they need to repent of their sins and follow Jesus. A man tells you he is already a Christian, and he lives in fornication and drunkenness–so what? He refuses to repent, and says that going to church makes him right with God. Furthermore, he doesn’t appreciate your preaching, and thinks your message is wrong. As a matter of fact, he would like you to take your preaching elsewhere.  As others try to listen to your message, he causes a disruption so they too are turned away from the truth.  Here you have a person refusing to repent and obey Jesus, trusting in tradition (church-going) to save him. He disdains the messenger of God, rejects the truth, and tries to stop others from accepting it. Sound familiar?

The irony is that this man just might call you a “Pharisee” when you point out that unless he repents of his willful sinning, he will perish. The truth is that the name describes him much more than it describes you.  Take heart, dear Christian.  If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household? (Matt. 10:25)  Know that you have been a faithful witness and carry on. The Lord who sees all things will bring all things to light.

God bless you.

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The Daily Walk at Home

Posted by israeliteindeed on July 22, 2011

Week after week, couples and families sit in their “Sunday best” in churches all across America. They seem like they have it all together. They listen politely to the preacher, act friendly toward each other, and keep their kids quiet enough.  Some even hold positions of leadership or are well-studied in theology and can win debates. But if walls could talk, they would tell us of the disconnect that exists between their public personae and who they really are in their daily walk.

Careless wives who disrespect their husbands by giving less than their best service in the home, or failing to manage household funds wisely.

Lazy husbands who embitter their wives by failing to come alongside them and help.

Peevish wives who nag their husbands and make them feel sorry for having come home from work.

Apathetic husbands who refuse to take their spiritual leadership mandate seriously.

Mothers or fathers who leave the child training to the “professionals”–or to video games and television–anything but truly embracing what it means to shepherd priceless souls into the arms of God, whatever the cost in dollars or headaches.

Families that allow the voices of the world to speak unrestrained into their lives via television and other media, but can’t understand why so much bad fruit is manifesting in their lives.  (Please see Feeding on Foolishness)

Parents whose personal goals come before the goal to raise the next generation in the ways of the Lord. Junior’s behavior goes uncorrected because mom or dad is absorbed in his or her work, social life, TV show, or ministry–yes, even ministry–for some ministries become excuses to focus on what is more pleasing to the flesh, to the neglect of first duties that are difficult for the flesh. It is sometimes easier to blog, run the nursery, give to missions, quote from the Bible, cry at the altar, pray wonderful prayers, give Biblical lectures, and prove false teachers are false; than it is to deal with a wife who is easily angered, a tired or demanding husband, a spoiled or neglected child who is out of control, or a teenager that can only be reached by the patient rebuilding of fallen bridges.

All kinds of  the “form of godliness” but no true power.  Please understand that I’m not saying every person who quotes from the Bible, sits in a pew, or proves false teachers false is a hypocrite. These are valid Christian duties, but practicing them does not exempt one from doing his Christian duty in the home. We must not deceive ourselves!  If we aren’t doers of the Word at home, then we can’t rightly call ourselves doers of the Word at all.

There are some who, in their own homes, allow their personal lusts to feed uninhibited, though they appear controlled in front of their Christian peers.  At home, their mouths spew venom and cursing, they are habitually unthankful  and unkind, but on Sunday morning they are whitewashed and silver-tongued.  At home, they are impatient with others and think it a small thing to neglect sacred duty, but in church, they are loathe to have a hair out of place.  Does God accept this? Indeed not. If we cannot maintain a consistent pattern of holy living that includes care for spouse, carefully appropriated love and discipline for children, and personal self-control & integrity in all of our relationships at home, how spiritual are we really?

These are harsh words, but they are not coming from harshness of spirit, rather from a pained heart that has seen enough hypocrisy. Hypocrisy weakens faith in others, and we dare not take it lightly. When others catch on to the disunity between our profession and our daily walk, they automatically discount our words, however true they may be. And so I urge anyone who reads this to consider carefully just how deep your spiritual life goes. Has your relationship with Jesus and His church body transformed your life from the inside out, or are you thinly cloaking your dead men’s bones with whitewash?  Do you need to make any changes?

Someone who has alot of Bible knowledge or a reputation for being a fine Christian may have a hard time self-evaluating honestly. But remember, the Lord sees what others do not see. Having knowledge alone cannot save, and it can serve to puff up and deceive those who become careless. We must OBEY the truth. We must cry out to God for a pure HEART, out of which will flow the correct actions, not just a sanitized image for others to see.

 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? (2 Cor. 13:5)

Are you producing the fruits of the Holy Spirit in your daily walk?–love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control?  Are you longsuffering toward your spouse? Is the law of kindness on your lips? Are you making your home a place of peace where the order and beauty of the Lord is obvious?  Are you faithfully executing the demands of the cross in whatever station you are in, no matter how difficult and thankless the work sometimes is? Are you gentle and deliberately self-controlled in your parenting? Do you love your children enough to put their training in godliness at the top of your list?  Do you love your family enough to weep before the Lord and beg for His wisdom so that tomorrow can be more fruitful than yesterday? He has promised forgiveness to those who repent, and wisdom to those who sincerely ask for it, in faith believing (James 1:5-6).   Let us be hypocrites no longer, but sincere disciples of Jesus walking in the true power of holiness every day.

God bless you.

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Carrie Prejean–an Exortation to Women and a Rebuke to the Church

Posted by israeliteindeed on November 28, 2009

(This was originally written in April, 2009, but in light of the newest scandal involving Carrie Prejean, I think it fitting to publish it again. Let the tree be judged by its fruit, and let the church learn to judge righteous judgment.)

A woman stands nearly naked before many spectators, so that a homosexual, among others, can judge her “beauty” by the world’s false standards. She then says homosexual marriage is wrong. My sister in Christ? Not necessarily—let’s judge righteous judgment.

Since when do Christians go to the world to parade their dying flesh about on a stage, encouraging men to lust, and young women to covet, admire, and imitate what is evil?

Since when do whorish women become the heroes of Christendom?

Since when do we applaud and congratulate women—who are presently and unashamedly disobeying God’s will for women—for “defending the faith,” rather than rebuking them in love, and showing them the things that please the Father?

Has the church of Jesus Christ sunk so low? Is there no discernible difference between what is good and evil anymore? “Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean…” (Ezekiel 2:26)

Is Carrie Prejean a defender of the faith? Well, that depends. Are we talking about the faith of Jesus? Or some other faith that is rooted in tradition and personal opinion? Here are Carrie’s words:

“Well, I think it’s *great* that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And you know what, in my country, in my family, I *think* that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anyone out there, but that’s how I was raised, and that’s how I think it should be between a man and a woman.”

So according to Carrie, it’s just wonderful that Americans get to choose if they want to marry the same sex or the opposite sex! And she means no offense, but she was RAISED to believe marriage is between a man and a woman.

Let me remind those who love God’s Word that homosexuality is not something we “can choose” or not choose without consequence. It is a judgment of insanity sent by God on those who worship the created being (women in beauty pageants, for example) more than the Creator (Romans 1). It is also a one way ticket to damnation (I Cor. 6:9-10) unless the homosexual repents and turns to Jesus Christ in obedient faith.

Any good Muslim, Jehovah’s Witness, or Catholic could have given the answer Carrie gave!

Carrie was apparently raised to believe in biblical marriage, but not raised to believe in biblical modesty. Her traditional Christianity allows her to cherry pick her truths according to her own desires. Her opinion is that marriage should be between a man and a woman. Her opinion is also (apparently) that women who profess to be Christ’s do not have to turn away from the sin of immorality, and cover their bodies modestly as befits a Christian. She has apparently decided to avoid these Scriptures:

“In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” (I Tim. 2:9-10)

Too bad the deceived are so busy giving this misguided woman applause, and not busy helping her to see the error of her ways. It’s pretty hard to stand up for Jesus with no clothes on, ladies. Spend some time with Jesus, and He will make this very plain to you.

A harlot is known by her dress, which is worn to purposely ensnare men (Proverbs 7:10). So please spare me the “people have differing views of what modesty is” line, which is an unacceptable excuse being used to justify the wicked. Please don’t write me and tell me that bikinis are acceptable public clothing for Christian women, unless you are willing to wear your underwear to church this Sunday or to your next Bible study. The presence of water does not baptize harlotry and make it acceptable! Even in cultures that instinctively wear more clothing than Americans, a harlot is known by her choice of clothing. Also, please notice in Proverbs chapter 7, that the harlot can be very religious and have a “form” of godliness; but by her dressing to entice unstable souls, she proves herself a spiritual murderer—”yea, many strong men have been slain by her.” If the strong men need beware, what will happen to the weak men?

As a Christian, our first commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Pretty hard to do while we are wowing the crowds with our flesh, isn’t it? My friends, NO FLESH should glory in His presence! (I Cor. 1:29) That’s pretty clear, isn’t it? We are either sowing to please our flesh, or sowing to please the Spirit. We are not doing both at the same time.

The second commandment is to love our neighbor as ourselves. Are we (ladies) loving men when we strut about half covered in front of them? Are we not concerned about their eternal souls? Are we not concerned about our own? Are we concerned about their wives and their daughters? Or are we only concerned with climbing some ladder of vain self-importance in the eyes of this idolatrous world? Do we think we can play the harlot and escape the wrath of God?

There is a reason God COVERED Adam and Eve’s nakedness when they became sinners. There is a reason we will not return to the “naked state” even in heaven. We will be fully clothed. There is a reason He threatened idolatrous Israel with “uncovering her nakedness.” There is a reason that many pagan tribes that turn to Christ suddenly decide to wear clothes. And there is a reason Americans, who run after idols—like “beauty” queens—have a love affair with nakedness. And there is a reason the professing church doesn’t rebuke this wickedness, but instead praises it, displaying its own hypocrisy for all the world to see. She knows not that she is “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked;” and that she needs to go to Jesus to receive “white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear.” (Rev. 3:17-18)

I can no more commend Carrie Prejean for standing by her opinion, than I can commend Perez Hilton for standing by his. To do so would be hypocritical. The only opinion that matters is God’s “opinion.” Woe is me if I train my children to reject homosexuality, but to at the same time embrace the immoral behavior of the religious prostitute!

Please hear me: I am not trying to hurt Carrie Prejean. IF she wants to follow Christ, let her “that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2 Tim. 2:19) Let her ask the LORD how she can make her body a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to Him. Let her seek out older women of faith who will show her a more excellent way. Let them teach her not to glory in her flesh, which is a fading flower, but to “let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” (I Pet. 3:4)

I lay the blame for this hypocrisy at the feet of the church, which has no discernment to see that this woman is hell-bound unless she repents of her idolatry and wanton, fleshly ways. Dare we make a hero out of a person who is so blindly leading others into sin? All this little charade between Carrie and Perez does is further blur the line between good and evil. Homosexuality=Bad, Promiscuity=OK? NO! Both ways lead to death!

Carrie Prejean has become a facebook hero for her stand against homosexuality. I have an unsaved close relative who also believes men should not marry men. Does this make him a hero? No, my friends. The unsaved judge unrighteous judgment. They have their OWN standard of right and wrong. They might think pornography is OK, but rape is wrong. They think drunkenness is OK, but getting high on drugs is wrong. And they think homosexuality is wrong, but immodesty and lifting oneself up as an idol to be worshiped by lust-driven crowds is OK.

If Carrie wants to be taken seriously as a Christian, she needs to obey Christ and his Word by turning from her OWN wickedness, dressing herself as befits a woman professing godliness, and standing up for what GOD thinks, ACROSS THE BOARD.

And if the church wants to be taken seriously by people like Perez Hilton, it needs to stop being so hypocritical and blind. It needs to go to Jesus for some eye medicine. It also needs to stop strengthening the hands of those who do evil, like Carrie Prejean, so that she will repent and follow after righteousness.

“I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness; they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.” Jeremiah 23:14

“But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother (or sister) be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” I Cor 5: 1-13

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