Jude: A Serious Warning From Jesus’ Half Brother

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“For certain persons have crept in unnoticed…ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jude v4 NASB)

The Book of Jude in the Bible was written by the Lord Jesus’ half-brother Jude (Judas in the Greek), who is named among the Lord’s brethren in Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3. He is also the full brother of James, the head of the early Church in Jerusalem. Jude warns that certain people in the early church were perverting the grace of God. His message is needed today because the grace of God has been and continues to be perverted.

In verse 3, Jude says he set out to write about our common salvation, when the Holy Spirit burdened him to exhort true believers to earnestly contend for The Faith, once delivered to the saints. The term “faith” does not refer to individual faith, but to The Faith, Christianity itself, in its historic doctrines and life-giving salvation. There is only one Faith and another will not be given. Understanding this, highlights the serious danger these people presented.

In Part One, we will look at the two things the false teachers were deceitfully propagating.

In verse 4 he writes:

“For certain persons have crept in unnoticed….ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

  1. They turned the grace of God into licentiousness (NASB).

We first need to look at what the “grace of God” is to understand what the false teachers corrupted.

God called us in the sphere of grace. That is when He effectually summoned us to a participation in the salvation procured by His Son on the Cross. It was on a basis, not of works, but of a salvation unmerited by us and freely bestowed with no strings tied to it, offered as a free gift to be accepted by the outstretched hand of faith. God’s ultimate purpose in offering this grace is to conform a group of people to the derived image of His Dear Son, Jesus. God said this through Paul in Romans:

“And we know with absolute knowledge that those who are loving God, all things are working together resulting in good, for those who are divinely-summoned ones according to HIS PURPOSE. Because, those whom He foreordained He also marked out beforehand as those who were to be CONFORMED TO THE DERIVED IMAGE OF HIS SON, with the result that He is firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8: 28-30 Wuest ET Emphasis mine)

Wuest explains this beautifully:

“…in the process of sanctification, the saint is transformed in his inner heart life to resemble the Lord Jesus, which inner change results in a change of outward expression that reflects the beauty of the Lord Jesus. The word “image” is eikon, a derived likeness. The image of the Lord Jesus in the saint is not accidental but derived, as the likeness of a child is derived from its parents. Through the new birth we become children of Jesus Christ (Hebrew 2:13) and thus inherit his image. This image, indistinct in the new convert, becomes progressively clearer and distinct as that believer grows in the Christian life.”

By exercising our faith to receive this “grace of God” we become partakers of the promises of God (II Peter 1: 3-4); whereby, we can walk in agape love for our Father,  Christ Jesus and our neighbor (kingdom duties) which will mature us in agape love (I John 4) making the image of Jesus more distinct in us. Paul’s instructions to the Philippians talks about our “duties”:

“Only [since my only reason for remaining on earth is for your pioneer advance in the Christian life], see to it that you recognize YOUR RESPONSIBILITY AS CITIZENS [OF HEAVEN] and put yourselves to the ABSOLUTE NECESSITY OF PERFORMING THE DUTIES DEVOLVING UPON YOU IN THAT POSITION, doing this in a manner which weighs as much as the good news concerning the Christ… ” (Phil.1: 27 Wuest Emphasis Mine)

Therefore, I believe, the term “grace of God”, as used by Jude, is another way of saying The Faith or Christian system of belief (which is what Jude wants us to earnestly contend for) and all that it entails, including the change in our character/behavior, that results in this image of Jesus being developed.

In the place of His holy grace, these false teachers, through their deception, convinced some of the Lord’s bond servants that they could be their own lord and do what they wished including being immoral. Wuest says that the best English word to translate aselgeia (licentiousness) is wantonness” which is “being without check or limitation” and “the meaning of the word partakes of the spirit of anarchy….which refuses to acknowledge the authority of God’s Word, and itself sits in judgement upon it.” This brings us to the second point.

2. They denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

In the original language of the NT, “deny” was “used of those who deny God and Christ, who by cherishing and disseminating pernicious opinions and immorality, are judged to have apostatized from The Father God and Christ (Thayer).” When someone is apostatized they have chosen to refuse to continue to follow or obey God’s commands. As redeemed people in God’s kingdom, we have to obey the authority of the Kingdom. The false teachers did just the opposite by leading those that they seduced in the visible church to do things directly opposite to what God The Father and the Lord Jesus commanded by His apostles. To them there was no need to seperate from the things of the world and sin, but instead they encouraged a “if it feels good, do it” attitude. Some scholars believe this may have been the forerunner of the Gnostics that believed that the spiritual was good and matter evil; therefore, what you did with the human body was not important; hence, immorality was rampant.

Therefore, in conclusion, God saved us for a purpose and it is our responsibility to be conformed to the image of Jesus in our inner being. The false teachers taught no restraints, no Father or Lord, no commandments, you could do what you wanted including immorality; thereby, changing the grace of God into wantonness or licentiousness. As we shall see, our Lord did not tolerate this. If this is not clear to you now, it will be abundantly clear as our study progresses.

Did they come into the early church and preach this openly? No, they did not because the leadership would have put them out immediately. As we look at the false teacher’s character in the next post, we will see how they manipulated Jesus’ bond servants.

Please join us as we continue our study. Thank you and let us thank Him for all the blessings He has blessed us with! Comments and questions welcome.

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lust which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY FOR I AM HOLY.”” (I Peter 1: 15-16 NASB)

Carl

Doctrines To Deceive You

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“But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.” (I Timothy 4:1)

In this verse Paul is warning Timothy and us that in the last days, many would fall away paying attention to deceitful or seducing evil spirits and doctrines of demons. In verse 2, Paul tells us that the source of false doctrine is the demons, satan’s servants, who actuate the false teachers in society and in the church.  In 2 Corinthians 11 he warns us about another Jesus, another spirit instead of the Holy Spirit and another gospel. This why we are told to examine everything in light of the word of God (Bible) and hold to that which is true.  Today, as it was in Paul’s day, there is much deception leading people to eternal destruction.

Here are some doctrines of demons that characterize the days we live in. Thank you to The Kingdom of the Occult (Walter Martin) for points 1-5.

1. Jesus is a way to salvation but not the way.

All roads, or all religions, lead to God. We hear this lie frequently.  Sometimes from leaders of world-wide religions, Hollywood personalities, wolves in sheep clothing, and others, but there is only one way to God.   Jesus said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me. 

2. Deny that Jesus Christ is truly God in human flesh.

The Apostle John told us how to judge the spirits. “By this you know the Spirit of God, every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that is coming, and now it is already in the world.  (I John 4: 2-3)

3. A person can obtain information from sources other than God and that this secret knowledge is reliable.

This is why God drove out the Canaanite nations before Israel, in the Old Testament.  He gave His people strict instructions concerning these “other sources” which are actually demons.  He feels the same today as He did then. He has not changed His mind.

When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord; and because of these detestable things the Lord your God will drive them out before you….For those nations, which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do so.  (Deut 18: 9-12, 14) (emphasis mine)

4. Okay to explore or play with supernatural powers other than God.

One of the most successful demonic strategies is absorption —- playing with something you cannot control (Martin). Paul warns us not to give place to the devil, from which he can advance in our life.

“…and do not give the devil an opportunity…” (Ephesians 4: 27) 

5. Equates mythology with the truth.

At the beginning of the church, mythology was weaved into every aspect of life. As I understand it, mythology is making a come back today, even in the visible church.  One of the early church defenders of the Faith was a Greek known as Justin Martyr, who was a student of philosophy (wisdom).  He knew all about the pagan gods associated with Greek mythology.  After becoming a Christian in 132 AD, he wrote The Discourse To The Greeks upbraiding the Greeks concerning their customs and false gods,  challenging them to come to the true God.  If you are interested in what a person who was raised under such demonic deception has to say about mythology, his discourse can be found here.

6. You are a God, can become a God or that everyone, including the lost man, has God dwelling in them.

Anytime you hear this kind of teaching, know that it originated with the demons.  According to the Bible, the only people with God in them today is the born again believers who have the indwelling Holy Spirit “who is given as a pledge of our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:14).   The born again believer is not God and never will become God. There is only One True God.  The other night one of the travel channels was talking about a famous far eastern poet who looked for God in the synagogue, then the mosque, and then the church. Only to find out that he was already in his heart.  That is deception.  Until a man comes to Christ as Lord and Saviour, he is ruled by forces of darkness and the  vanity of his mind.  God is not in him.  Another example of this lie would be Mormonism, which teaches that the Mormon man will become a god on his own planet.

7. All supernatural entities and visions are good and from God.

Billions of sincere people have been deceived by demons masquerading as deceased loved ones, deceased Christians, and other individuals.  Demons impersonating dead people is one reason God forbids His people to have any communication with the dead, even supposedly Christian dead.  The saved people are in heaven and can not leave. The lost people are in the place of torment and can not leave.  See Luke 16: 19 – 31. The dead are not ghosts wandering around in the atmosphere. The scripture says,  “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,…” (Hebrew 9: 27) When you die you go to either heaven or hell and that is where you stay until the Judgement Seat of Christ (Romans 14: 10 – 12) which is for believers or the Great White Throne Judgement (Revelation 20:11-15), which is for those who have rejected Christ. There is no middle ground.

8. You shall surely not die.

God told Adam that the day He ate from the tree in the garden he would surely die.  The serpent told Eve that “you will surely not die”.  He beguiled her into believing that God was a liar and could not be trusted.  She and Adam did die. They died spiritually RIGHT THEN and later died physically. And the creation has been engulfed in misery and darkness every since.  That is why King Jesus told the Jewish teacher that he MUST be born again (spiritually) in John 3 to see and enter the Kingdom of God.

Demonic teachings cast doubt on the character of the Living God. They make God out to be a liar and the word of God unreliable.  Their judgement comes and will not delay.

9. To connect with God make your mind passive.

We are told to renew our minds in Romans 12: 1-2. An unrenewed mind dwells in ignorance and darkness and is still controlled by the lies and deceptions that have been admitted to the mind. That is why a new Christian’s mind needs to be renewed by God’s truth. A passive or blank mind is an open door to the powers of darkness. NEVER EVER do this, even if it is for a “Christian” exercise such as contemplative prayer. Not in yoga, even Christian yoga, or transcendental mediation. Couple a passive mind with number 7 above and that is where you’ll be deceived. More on this later.

2 Corinthians 11: 3-4 tells us that demons try to lead us away from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ using ANOTHER JESUS, a DIFFERENT SPIRIT than the Holy Spirit, and a DIFFERENT GOSPEL, a different way to God. They were there in Paul’s day and they are here today.

Do not be deceived Brethren. Renew your mind, be led by His Holy Spirit and His Word. Walk humbly before your God, walk in His light and lean not on your own understanding.

If the demons are trying to put fear on you even now after reading this, remember that “…Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (I John 4:4) And that Jesus prayed to the Father for you in John 17: 15 “I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.” “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4: 7).

May He richly illuminate the eyes of our hearts so that we walk in a manner worthy of Him, pleasing Him in all respects. Thank you for your time.

Carl

The Occult: A Trap For Those Who Turn Away From The True Living God

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“Today, a terrible spiritual vacuum exists in which people are forced to live because they turned from the living God and tried to fill the resulting emptiness with physical pleasure. Man crowds into this vacuum all the moral and ethical values attached to the material world. Again and again people protest, “There’s got to be something more than this, because we’re not satisfied.”  Satisfaction has not come through the dollar sign. Satisfaction has not come through the pill. Satisfaction has not come through economic aggrandizement or political conquests or military supremacy. Lost in a spiritual void, the human heart searches for some kind of reality apart from God and His Word, and discovers the occult reality from another dimension.”

“For the first time in history, the doorway to the occult has been left permanently ajar on a global scale, luring the unsuspecting — twenty-four hours a day — to the dimension of darkness. The kids who play with Ouija boards and think it is fun; the teenagers who try to levitate tables and read tarot cards, tea leaves, and their palms; and the parents who identify themselves as Virgo or Scorpio and believe what today’s paper says about tomorrow are people flirting with the kingdom of the occult, and it is perilous, because it reaches out to another dimension and endangers the soul.”

“God recognized what men had failed to recognize: knowledge of the future is in His hand, and any attempt to obtain from the hand of demons what has been denied by the will of the Divine is an experiment fraught with peril and dangers undreamed of by the human soul.”  (emphasis mine)

The Kingdom of the Occult   —Walter Martin, Jill Martin Rische, Kurt Van Gorden

God makes Himself very clear in Deuteronomy 18: 9-14 how He feels about occult practices and the people who do them:

“When you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you. You shall be blameless before the LORD your God. For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the LORD your God has not appointed such for you.”

God considered the Canaanite occult practices “abominations” worthy of capital punishment. We do not want to be an abomination to God by consulting the powers of darkness, demons, for knowledge that He never intended us to have, opening our souls up to demonic powers.  We want to be holy and blameless before Him.  As Christian parents, it is vitally important that we protect our children  from any involvement or exposure to these abominations. Teach them that they are wrong.

If you are a born-again believer and have been involved in any of these abominations in the past or are now, repent (change your mind about them), ask God to forgive you and let the blood of the Lamb wash away this sin.  Then destroy any occult materials or objects you have in your possession.  Forsake any involvement in the future.  Then walk in peace with your Father God.

More on this later.

Walk in discernment. May God richly bless you!

Carl

 

Blinding the “Eyes of The Heart”

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“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.  (2 Corinthians 4: 3-4) (Emphasis mine)

In the original language of the New Testament, the writers express the human understanding as the “eyes of the heart”. In this scripture Apostle Paul pulls back the curtain between the spiritual and physical dimensions and explains why people do not receive the gospel. I would like to share some thoughts on what Satan, the god of this world, uses to blind the eyes of the heart, the understanding of the unbelieving.

The word “Blinded” is tuphloo in the Greek language, whose root tuph means “to burn, smoke” and is used metaphorically, of dulling of the intellect”  (Vines).

Hence, the “blinding” that Satan does is a dulling of the intellect.  The intellect is defined as the “faculty of reasoning and understanding objectively” (Oxford Dictionary). To be objective is to keep your decision from being influenced by your personal feelings or opinions.

I would like to humbly suggest that  a person’s pride, Satan’s original sin, is what dulls the person’s intellect.  Scripture says that “Haughty eyes and  a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, is sin.  (Proverb 21:4 emphasis mine) In other words, they see all truth that is shared with them in the light or understanding of their prideful feelings and opinions.  And when that truth does not submit to or compliment their  pride, they reject it.   Through demons manipulating their thoughts, circumstances and their own indwelling sin nature, Satan dulls their understanding  by creating a false evaluation of their self-worth in their mind.

Psalms 119: 105 says that God’s word is a lamp to our feet and our path so that we do not stumble in our daily living.  Their pride is a false light, actually darkness, to their feet and path and they stumble (perish) because of it.  They can not see Satan’s traps, the consequences of sin and the need for a Savior.  And in the end “The lamp of the wicked will be put out” (Proverb 24:20).  They will be humbled but it may be too late to change.

James, Jesus’ half brother, exhorted us to humility by writing “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands sinners; purify your hearts, you double minded.”  (James 4:6-8)

As we go about our daily lives, we encounter two types of people.  One type is willfully ignorant of the life of God. Paul adds further revelation about the lost when he says they are “excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart.” (Ephesians 4:18)  They know there is a God but, because of the “hardness of their heart”,  they do not want to know about Him because they think practicing sin will make them happy and bring satisfaction in life.  This is the deceitfulness of sin.   Job said “to depart from sin is understanding” (Job 28:28), therefore, they choose not to understand Him, to keep the light of the gospel out.  Job describes them:

“And they say to God, “Depart from us! We do not even desire the knowledge of Thy ways. Who is the Almighty, that we should serve Him, and what would we gain if we entreat Him?” (Job 21:14)

“They have been with those who rebel against the light; They do not want to know its ways, nor abide in its paths.” (Job 24: 13)

I once read a true story about a Christian who took a lost acquaintance to hear a famous Christian apologist speak. After the presentation, he asked his lost guest his opinion.  The lost guy said that everything the apologist said made sense but he would not accept it because he did not want to give up his lifestyle.  He willfully kept the light of the  gospel out, choosing to walk in the light of his pride.

The other type of person is just like the one above except for the fact that the Holy Spirit of God is dealing with him . If you are a born again believer this was you (and me). Someone shared the gospel with us and through the Holy Spirit’s conviction of sin and righteousness the pride was torn down, the eyes of our hearts where illuminated by His truth and we understood we were sinners in need of a Saviour. God even gave us the faith to believe, repent of our sins, and obey the gospel message and now we are His adopted children walking humbly before our Father and Jesus Christ, our Lord. Praise His Name Forever.

So as you go about your life, do not prevent people from being able to access Jesus through you.  In love, open your mouth and share His truth. Be a Holy Spirit led witness of the grace of God in your life. Be willing to address the pride that is blinding people so the truth can shine in on their understanding.  The Holy Spirit is working everyday to bring people to the Cross and glorify Jesus.  Let us work with Him and He will work with us.

Thank you for your time. May God bless you and your family.

Carl

 

 

 

 

 

Do Not Be Deceived

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How careful should we be not to put the cheat upon our own souls! Doubtless there are many in hell that once thought themselves to be in the way to heaven. Let us daily beg of God that we may not be left to flatter and deceive ourselves in the concerns of our souls.”  


Matthew Henry, 1721 (Emphasis mine)

How we need to live in constant apprehension of the deceitfulness of our hearts, and of the insidiousness and power of our utterly corrupt sinful nature. In Galatians 5: 17 Paul tells us that it is always warring against the Holy Spirit in us to bring our soul back under the control of our evil passionate cravings.  In respect to this constant battle, the writers of the New Testament are continually warning us not to be deceived.

Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” (I Cor. 6: 9 -10 ) (Emphasis added)

“Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals.” (I Cor. 15: 33 ) (Emphasis added)

Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.”  (James 1:16 ) (Emphasis added)

“Little children, let no one deceive you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil;”  (I John 3:7-8) (Emphasis mine)

We can and do deceive our own selves, according to scripture.  Our pride is the root of the deception.

“The arrogance of your heart has deceived you…” (Ob 1:3 )

Stop leading yourselves astray. God is not being outwitted and evaded. For whatever a man is in the habit of sowing, this also will he reap.; because the one who sows with a view to his own evil nature, from his evil nature as a source shall reap corruption. (Gal. 6: 7-8 Wuest Expanded Translation)  (Emphasis added)

“If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. (James 1:26) (Emphasis mine)

“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (I John 1:8) (Emphasis mine)

“Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become foolish that he may become wise” (I Cor. 3:18) (Emphasis mine)

Satan uses fellow human beings to deceive us and they are in the visible church according to the word of God:

“And they” (false prophets) “will not put on a hairy robe in order to deceive;” (Zechariah 13:4b) (addition mine)

“These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you.”  (I John 2:26) (emphasis mine)

“They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, having eyes full of adultery and that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls,..” “For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption;”  (2 Peter 2:13-14, 18-19)

“I say this in order that no one may delude you with persuasive argument,” (Col. 2:4) (Emphasis mine)

“See to it that no one take you captive through philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men…” (Col. 2:8) (Emphasis mine)

“But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”  (2 Timothy 3:13) (Emphasis mine)

“…for this you know absolutely and experientially, that every whoremonger or unclean person or covetous person, who is an idolater, does not have an inheritance in the kingdom of the Christ and of God. Let no one keep on deceiving you by means of empty words, for because of these things there comes the wrath of God upon the sons of the disobedience. Stop therefore becoming joint-participants with them;…” (Ephesians 5: 5-7 Wuest ET) (Emphasis mine)

Satan has deceived the whole world.  His has blinded the minds of those who are not in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He has placed false preachers, pastors and teachers in the body of Christ.  Some are obvious and some are not.  NEVER be lulled into deception by a “hairy robe” or some acknowledgement of supposed “learning”.  He can have a wall full of diplomas or years of experience but if his message does not line up with the word of God, he is a wolf in sheep clothing. It is our responsibility to know what the Bible says and to be led by the Holy Spirit so we can discern false teaching and not be deceived. In Revelation 2: 2, Jesus commended the Ephesus church for exposing the false apostles that came to them.

Did you notice above that false teachers entice through our passionate desires? We need to guard our hearts against the desire to be someone important, be recognized or we believe we have some special revelation or some other prideful desire, which opens ourselves up to Satan’s manipulation and deception.  Our goal as Christians should be to serve our brothers and sisters and be a living witness of the goodness of God.

Now may the Lord cause us to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.  Bless His Holy Name for giving us instruction and warnings.

Carl

(All scripture is from the NASB unless otherwise noted.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Insight Into Christian Persecution

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Not many years ago our knowledge of Christian persecution was based on what the Roman Empire did to Christians and random acts of violence that happened in some far off land. ISIS changed all of that. Their videos showed the killing of Christians in the Middle East.  With that in mind, I wanted to share the findings of Nik Ripken who has researched persecution in over 60 countries by talking to those who have survived persecution.  Following are his thoughts.

“Persecution is a negative reaction to the incarnate presence of Jesus among His people. The negative reaction can take many forms and it can come from many different sources. Persecution can come from society as a whole, from the government, from an ideological entity, or from families and individuals. Persecution may be overt (open) or covert (hidden). It can be physical or psychological. Persecution can be actual or merely threatened. Regardless of its form, however, THE ULTIMATE GOAL OF PERSECUTION IS TO SILENCE WITNESS. AT ITS WORST, PERSECUTION DENIES PEOPLE ACCESS TO JESUS.”

“As strange (and as horrifying) as it sounds, we came to realize that believers could be unwittingly complicity with the persecutors by simply refusing to share their faith.  Just like persecution, the refusal to share the faith denies people access to Jesus. It was a startling thought to realize that the persecutor’s use of violence to inhibit the faith and the believer’s refusal to speak openly of Jesus yield the same result. In both cases, people are denied access to Jesus. How tragic that the silence of believers could yield the same result as the violence of persecutors! On the other hand, when we share our faith boldly and refuse to silence our witness, we are powerfully identifying with believers in persecution.”

When we witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we identify with those in chains. When we refuse to witness, we identify with those who place the chains on followers of Jesus.”

–Nik Ripken – The Insanity of Obedience (Emphasis mine)

These quotes are some of Mr. Ripken’s insights from his extensive research on the persecuted church. It is startling to realize that when we don’t share our faith, we are having the effect Satan desires, by persecuting the believers in Jesus Christ. We are preventing access to Jesus.  

Reflect on that today.

May you walk in Holy Spirit power today to be a living witness for Jesus Christ.

Carl

God’s Rescue of Man (Part 5)

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“Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.  And the world is passing away and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever.” (I John 2: 15-17 NASB)

(To access the first four parts of this study scroll down at end of this blog.)

Welcome back. Man has created some lovely cities in the world. The aerial view above of Jakarta is beautiful. Many things in the world are pleasing to the senses of man but are  traps of the devil. Today we are continuing our study on Jesus rescuing us from this evil present age.  In this post we are looking at I John 2: 15-17 where God warns us about the world (kosmos).

In our last post we discussed the Apostle John’s command that said “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world.” (verse 15a)

John next writes “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him”.  This is a description of an unsaved person because the Greek experts tell us it is saying more than he just doesn’t love God but that the love of God does not dwell in him as the ruling principle of his life.  He is saying that in this person the love of God does not exist.  This love (agape) is the love for the Father that the Holy Spirit generates in the heart of the yielded believer.  Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 5:5:

“…because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” 

This “love of God” is one of the characteristics of a born again believer and is expressed by obedience to Him.

Philo (20 B.C. – 50 A.D.) said “It is impossible for love of the world to coexist with love to God, as it is impossible for light and darkness to coexist.” This person is habitually and continually loving the world and the things in it. This is an unsaved person.

In II Peter 1: 4 the Apostle Peter tells us this corruption from the world comes by lust which here means evil cravings. Today we think of lust as immorality but it just means cravings in the NT and can be good or evil depending on the context.   In James 1:14 He tells us “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own craving.”

John continues in I John 2: 16 writing “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father but is from the world.”

The “lust of the flesh” is the passionate desires or cravings of the indwelling sinful nature (the flesh) which govern an individual’s reason, will, and emotions.  A Christian’s evil nature died on the Cross with Jesus but still exist within him.  It was not eradicated as some teach. Writing to believers, the Apostle John said : “If we say that we have not sinned and are now in a state where we do not sin, a liar we are making Him, and His word is not in us.” (I John 1:9).  Therefore, if not reckoned dead by the believer, his old indwelling sinful nature will continue to dominate his life.

One of the manifestations of the evil nature is the “lust of the eyes”. The evil, passionate  cravings of the sinful nature that satisfy itself through a person’s eyes.  Peter, speaking of false teachers, says they have “eyes full of adultery and that never cease from sin…”. In our day we have seen the rise of pornography and the increase in immoral TV shows and commercials that corrupts the person thru the lust of the eyes”.  This is also a portal for the sin of covetousness.  We see something someone has and we lust after it.

Another manifestation of the evil nature is the “boastful pride of life” which could be translated “vainglory of life”. This is an insolent and vain assurance in one’s own resources, or in the stability of earthly things, which issues in a contempt for divine law. Thayer defines it as “an insolent and empty assurance which trusts in its own power and resources and shamefully desires and violates divine laws and human rights”. Insolent means “showing a rude and arrogant lack of respect”.  If you find your prayer life waning or non-existent, check yourself for this misplaced assurance. If we really in our hearts are operating in the “boastful pride of life”, we order our lives in a way that we see no need to request God’s help thru prayer. If this is you, stop right now and repent and ask God to forgive you.

The word “life” (bios) refers to that which sustains life, such as, food, clothing, and shelter.

To pull this together for us, the Wuest Expanded Translation of I John 2: 15-17 says:

“Stop considering the world precious with the result that you love it, and the things in the world. If anyone as a habit of life is considering the world precious and is therefore loving it, there does not exist the love possessed by the Father in him. Because everything which is in the world, the passionate desire of the flesh and the passionate desire of the eyes, and the insolent and empty assurance which trusts in the things that serve the creature life, is not from the Father as a source but is from the world as a source. And the world is being caused to pass away, and its passionate desire. But the one who keeps on habitually doing the will of God abides forever.”

This completes part 4 of this blog. Part 6 will summarize this subject. I hope you will join me for it.

The “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life” are from the world and not from God. Let each of us ask the Holy Spirit to examine our hearts and show us where we are ordering our conduct in these characteristics of the world so we can stop doing the will of the world ruler, Satan, and do the will of God.  He will do it and bless our obedience to Him!

“…if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been captive by him to do his will.”  (II Timothy 2:25 -26)

Thank you,

Carl