Saturday, March 29, 2014

Ephesians 4:30 comments: eternal security

30  And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

This is one evidence of what is called by many, “eternal security.” It is the doctrine that when you trust Christ as your Saviour that you are given the Holy Spirit and are permanently sealed by this interaction, saved from Hell and the Lake of Fire for eternity, as in forever and ever.

The gift of the Holy Spirit is our earnest money, our deposit, on eternal life. Christ has purchased us with His own blood and the Holy Spirit is the deposit.

1Corinthians 6:20  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

1Corinthians 7:23  Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.

We are then sealed.

2Corinthians 1:22  Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.

Ephesians 1:13  In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14  Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

We are a part of Christ’s body on earth with the head in Heaven.

Colossians 2:18  Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19  And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.

Consider what Christ said;

Joh 10:28  And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29  My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

And how can we be plucked out of His hand when we are a part of it?

We grieve the Holy Spirit, clearly, when we ignore these admonitions of how to live a Godly life in the context of these surrounding verses and refuse to allow the Holy Spirit to change us through God’s words speaking to our spiritual heart. We are also told, in the same regard, not to quench the Spirit in us.

1Thessalonians 5:19  Quench not the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is gentle with us and does not command us if we are not submitting, in honor preferring it over our old man. When you feed the old man we talked about in earlier verses you are, in a sense, throwing water on the fire for the things of God that He has placed in your heart.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Ephesians 4:29 comments: the words you say

29  Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

Colossians 4:5 ¶  Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. 6  Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

I don’t need to go into vulgar speech here or even “Christian cussin’”. You can easily go overboard banning, “Golly,” because it stands for God and we all know what common, vulgar names are for body parts. It’s common sense.

Your speech should be uplifting, encouraging, edifying, and glorifying to God, ministering grace to the hearer. It should not be vulgar, violent, selfish, or frivolous.

Matthew 12:36  But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

Select your words carefully, Christian. Understand that a word can make a huge difference in a hurting person’s life or in the life of a child. If you have to say, “I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but…” then you probably shouldn’t say what comes next. If you have to say, “I don’t mean to hurt your feelings, but…” then you probably should keep quiet.

I would add to be careful of speech that can be taken different ways, in a good way and a not so good way. Say exactly what you mean and mean exactly what you say. Be kind. Be thoughtful.

Corrupt communication can be flattery and it can be blasphemous.

Psalm 5:9  For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulchre; they flatter with their tongue.

Psalm 52:2  Thy tongue deviseth mischiefs; like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.

Psalm 73:8  They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily.

9  They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth.

It is very common to hear the word of God preached in a corrupt manner, either being watered down like wine that is sold diluted and made of little value.

2Corinthians 2:17  For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.

It can be twisted in a manner to deceive.

2Corinthians 4:2  But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

Our tongue is a hard thing to control at times.

James 3:1 ¶  My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. 2  For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. 3  Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. 4  Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. 5  Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! 6  And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. 7  For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: 8  But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9  Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 10  Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. 11  Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? 12  Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.

Essentially, we must guard our speech for as the universe was created by a spoken word so nations are brought down and raised up, people are encouraged or destroyed, and God is exalted or treated with contempt by words.
What effect on the hearer will be the next thing out of your mouth?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ephesians 4:28 comments: to give to him that needeth

28  Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

Remember God’s commandment to the Hebrews in Exodus 20:15, Thou shalt not steal.

There are sub-cultures around the world and in America where stealing is not looked down upon very much.  There is no shame in it. The very fact that Paul mentions this shows us the nature of the common culture of the time. Theft was common in spite of very strict and harsh punishments under Roman law which included being placed under the authority of the victim or execution even as well as compensation. (Ivana Jaramaz Reskušić, abstract of “Theft in  Roman law: delictum publicum and delictum privatum,” Collected Papers of Zagreb Law Faculty, Vol.57 No.2 April 2007, 313-352. ).

We have here the Biblically sound Christian principle for working hard, to have an abundance with which to help others. If a Christian acquires wealth, if he or she is blessed with more than they need, the purpose is so that they help those in need. It is not for a bigger home, a swimming pool, a luxury car, or vacations on the Mediterranean. If you have more than you need and you  are more concerned about being able to tour the country in an RV after your retirement than you are the lost or the poor, especially in the church and in your family, then you are not in God’s will for your life.

The selfishness of Christians comes from not taking the eternal perspective and thinking only of the temporal and, particularly, their own belly and social position. If you have met your needs and met your obligations of a non-frivolous nature the right place to invest your money is in the care of God’s people and in reaching the lost. Period.

You take care of your basic needs and you prudently prepare for your upkeep when you are no longer able to work and you invest in God’s work. God wants you to have a good testimony before the world as in maintaining your monetary obligations, of course not making commitments you shouldn’t, and He wants you to give joyously out of your abundance to those who are truly less fortunate than yourself.

While the word, “tithe,” and the command to give a specific amount are not in the part of the New Testament written directly to Christians this statement, in the context of helping poorer Christians, is;

2Corinthians 9:6 ¶  But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 7  Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

Our savings account is in heaven and we are to lay up treasures there, not here. Jesus, in a talk on covetousness, says;

Luke 12:33  Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. 34  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

While the great body of Christians are not called to live as itinerant preachers traveling around and living on the kindness of churches and are called to work hard so that others can be helped the principle of where your heart is there your treasure will be applies.

We are called to work with our own hands, to make something useful, so that we are not lacking in what we need.

1Thessalonians 4:11  And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; 12  That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.

To sum up, from these passages, we have three reasons for working. One is to have an honest testimony before the unsaved, two is to have the things we need, and three is to help others in need. There are two things that give away a Christian's lack of faith. One is how they handle death when its their death that is imminent and two is how they view money when its their money.

“The thing which is good,” would preclude illegal or immoral vocations like a drug dealer or working in a casino. Contrary to liberal Christian thought, God does not NEED Christian BlackJack Dealers or Strippers.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Ephesians 4:25-27 comments: lying and anger that won't quit

25  Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

Zechariah 8:16  These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates:

Recall the verse in Colossians regarding putting off the old man.

Colossians 3:9  Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;

There are many reasons why people lie to each other; to hide a misdeed or gain an advantage, because they are insecure, or because the truth doesn’t seem good enough.

Jesus said in John 14:6 that He is the truth. There is no room for lies and deceptions in the Christian walk. This doesn’t mean we have to be cruel and thoughtless but it does mean that we must always be truthful with each other.

 26  Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:

In the Colossians verses about the contest between the old man and the new man we are told to discard both of these emotional conditions.

Colossians 3:8 ¶  But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. 9  Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; 10  And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

Anger is a quick flashpoint of temper or indignation. Wrath is a continual expression of anger that doesn’t abate.

Genesis 49:7  Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.

Proverbs 27:4  Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?

Isaiah 13:9  Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.

Like vengeance, they are justifiable expressions of God the Father’s wrath not suitable for the believer who is to humble himself before Christ. Anger is an expression of God’s outrage at sin and rebellion while wrath is an expression of God’s judgment on both.

Psalm 7:11  God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.

2Chronicles  24:18  And they left the house of the LORD God of their fathers, and served groves and idols: and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their trespass.

While anger and wrath are so close together that their traits are often indistinguishable in Scripture the point is that they are to be eschewed by the Christian. When you are angry and the feeling comes on you, you will sin by dwelling on it and letting it build and stew. Don’t focus on your anger. Don’t harbor the ill feelings. Let go of the anger before it becomes wrath.

I’ve known people whose lives were lived in a state of wrath. Some of them are full of a seething rage at their own circumstances, failures, and shortcomings that they wind up thinking of or actually committing suicide either by direct actions or by alcohol or drugs over time. Others live a life of wrath because other people and circumstances don’t bend to their will at all times. These things are sin and a sign of their willful rebellion against God, even if they are saved by believing. They do not show a trust in God or display the Fruit of having the Spirit of God dwelling in them.

One clear sign that you, Christian, have a problem in your walk with Christ, a barrier to the blessings He wants to rain down on you, is how quickly you become angry and how long it lasts when you do. Repent and pray for mercy. No matter how you feel God has blessed you in other respects you are missing something vital in your faith. Wrath will destroy your family relationships and wreck your health.

27  Neither give place to the devil.                    

As well as an additional thing not to do or think,” neither,” is used a couple of times as if Paul is saying, “don’t even,” or, “not even.”

In Paul’s long opinion about how the rule of the Corinthian church that their women keep their hair long was justified (we know now from history that there were a thousand short-haired prostitutes at the nearby Temple of Aphrodite in Acro-Corinth) he says that if anyone doesn’t agree it wasn’t an issue in churches elsewhere. Here, “neither,” seems to be meaning, “not even.”

1Corinthians 11:16  But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

Again, when speaking of not requiring Titus to be circumcised he seems to mean, “not even.”

Galatians 2:3  But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:

In this verse in Ephesians 4:27 Paul is making a definitive statement that our wrath and our lying to each other (and presumably to ourselves) work for Satan’s ends and not God’s. When you permit either one you are not submitting to the Holy Spirit. Next he will go on to name other sins that glorify Satan and not God in us…..

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Ephesians 4:24 comments: the new man (or woman)

24  And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Here is the new man as opposed to the old man. This is the new creature who is going to be made in Christ’s image.

2Corinthians 5:17  Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Galatians 6:15  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

What is the nature of the new man?

Galatians 2:20  I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

The new man is the result of having the very Spirit of God, of Christ, coming to live inside of a believer.

John 14:23  Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

Romans 8:9  But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

The new man’s character is in sharp contrast to the old.

Colossians 3: 8 ¶  But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. 9  Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; 10  And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: 11  Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

Paul speaks of a struggle so difficult that believers would feel more comfortable putting themselves back under the Law given to Moses.

Galatians 4:19 ¶  My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, 20  I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you.

The human and carnal desire to be placed back under rules and ordinances is a fleshy opposition to being ruled by the Spirit, substituting our own will working superficially for God’s will working inside of us. Paul asked the Galatians as we can ask ourselves when we try to judge others by our own convictions;

Galatians 3:3  Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

 Part of the struggle between the new and the old man is the fight over whether  obedience is superficial based on a humanistic attempt to obey commandments or whether the Spirit of God is yielded to in order to make the lasting change that God wants. It’s a matter of appearances or the Spirit. Do you simply will yourself to be Holy or do you submit to God’s changing of you inside?                                                                            

In his letters John contrasted the two people warring within the believer until Christ has the preeminence. Only this time it is not about how we are changed. It is about our reaction to sin. In the same letter, speaking of our natural man, the old man, John says;

1 John 1:8 ¶  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10  If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

…and regarding the new man;

1 John 3: 9  Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

Righteousness and holiness are the results of letting the Holy Spirit lead a believer through the words of God found in the Bible daily and thereby feeding the new man and helping him to mature. Following Paul’s statements regarding how you are to treat others is also a vital part of that growth. Acknowledging at all times that your old man is still present and that he must be opposed is essential.

Don’t feed the old man with your bitterness, your abiding wrath, your paranoid delusions that make you the center of the world, or your selfishness. Don’t feed the old man with pornography, violent fantasies in movies and television living a life of wickedness vicariously through characters portrayed on a flickering screen, or excess in food and drink.

Feed the new man by uniting with other believers in worship weekly with the church. Deny the old man by avoiding your old haunts of the barroom and places where people congregate under the pretext of a wholesome activity but in reality just to gossip and rip up those not present with your words.

The new man is constantly seeking to please God. The old man is constantly seeking to please him or herself. The BBC produced a documentary called, “A Century of Self” which explained how the abiding spirit of the 20th century was one of devotion to pleasing oneself.

The old man expresses him or herself in the works of the flesh versus the new man who expresses him or herself in the Spirit.

Galatians 5:13 ¶  For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 14  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 15  But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. 16  This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17  For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18  But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 19  Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20  Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21  Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24  And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26  Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

Let God speak to your heart through His Bible and nourish the new man.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ephesians 4:23 comments: renew your mind

23  And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;

Paul also calls for the renewing of your mind, Christian, in Romans 12:2.

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

We are then given instructions after that for how we are to live our lives as the explanation of God’s will for us. Here, Paul uses the word translated as “reasonable service” in Greek from which we get our word, “logical.” What is the nature of this transformation? What is God’s will for us that we are called to test or prove, to put the plan into play, not just talking the talk but walking the walk. What Paul says in the following verses will explain what it means to submit to each other later in Ephesians.

3  For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.[no rankings or social distinctions in the church – Galatians 3:28; Col. 3:11; Philippians 2:3] 4  For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5  So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. 6  Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7  Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8  Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. 9  Let love be without dissimulation [which is deceitful and untrue, not genuine]. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10  Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; [the essence of submission] 11  Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12  Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;[ see pray without ceasing in 1Thessalonians 5:17 as in a constant communication with God] 13  Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.[the church that does not see to the unmet physical needs of its members for which they have no way of meeting and no family to help them is not a New Testament church] 14  Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15  Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.[once again Paul is defining what it means to submit to each other here] 17  Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18  If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19  Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20  Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21  Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Again, in 1Thessalonians 5 reveals the Christian’s marching orders in their response to each other.

14  Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. 15  See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.

    16 ¶  Rejoice evermore. 17  Pray without ceasing. 18  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 19  Quench not the Spirit. 20  Despise not prophesyings. 21  Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 22  Abstain from all appearance of evil.[not just sin, but any appearance of malice or bad intent in speech as evidenced by verse 31 coming up]

    23 ¶  And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly [see how that is accomplished in John 17:17]; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24  Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.

You cannot renew your mind while harboring lies, paranoia, and abiding wrath. You cannot renew your mind while viewing your brothers and sisters with mistrust and suspicion. You cannot renew your mind by being fearful and full of contempt for the lost. Renewing your mind is a positive thing, it is moving away from the world’s values and toward Christ’s. Repent, do a 180 degree turn and head in the opposite direction.

Renewing your mind begins with how you interact, how you treat other members of the household, the house, the family of God.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Ephesians 4:22 comments: your religion

22  That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;

Conversation refers to our behavior and not just our manner of speaking. It encompasses who we are and what we think.

Galatians 1:13  For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:

1Timothy 4:12  Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

And this one makes it very clear that conversation is behavior.

1Peter 2:12  Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.

The “old man” is who you were before you believed in Christ and began to be taught by Him. He is still present and it is he whose influence must grow weaker as the Holy Spirit’s influence in you grows stronger.

Romans 6:6  Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

Colossians 3:8 ¶  But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. 9  Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; 10  And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: 11  Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

Our old man, our natural man, is still a part of us. We have to deal with him or her until we experience biological death. That person is wholly incapable of understanding the things of God.

1Co 2:14  But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

The old man leans heavily on his or her feelings and the yearnings of their heart.

Jeremiah 17:9  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Examples of speech that come directly from the old man begin with, “That’s the way I was raised…I was born this way….I think….In my humble opinion…I want…I don’t see anything wrong with…I’m not hurting anyone…Hey, it’s a free country…That’s just the way I am…I have a right to....etc. etc.”

Even the natural man’s religious impulses are determined by his flesh, his hatred, and his paranoia.

John 16:2  They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.

(Just remember as Oliver Cromwell put it so clearly in the Putney Debates that much of what we call faith is just human reasoning and imagination.)

The man or woman of the Spirit relies on God’s word to form the dictates of his or her conscience, opinions, and desires. He or she is willing to be ruled by Christ from inside. Christianity was never meant to be a self-help organization or a political action committee. It was never meant to be a movement or a religion, as defined by human terms. It was to be an individual relationship with a risen Saviour and a church was meant to be a small group of believers uniting together for worship and accountability and reflection on God’s word on a regular basis.

In fact, the Bible defines religion very clearly as the acts of mercy a Christian performs and their commitment not to adopt the values of the world.

James 1:27  Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

The values of the world are clearly listed in God’s word.

1 John 2:15  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.16  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

Loving pleasure, regarding appearances, and holding temporal things as supreme are not to be a Christian’s way. Jesus made a definitive statement about His opinion concerning what man holds in high regard.

Luke 16:15  And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.

The corruption of deceitful lusts is clearly exemplified in behavior.

Galatians 5:19  Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20  Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21  Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

In the brief summation of human history’s spiritual impulses that Paul gives in Romans the corruption of deceitful lusts is evident;

Romans 1:29  Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30  Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31  Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

Even in the institution of the church these deceitful lusts become apparent in religious doctrines;

1 Timothy 4:1 ¶  Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2  Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 3  Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

And in the behavior of the apostate church.

2 Timothy 2:1 ¶  This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3  Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4  Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5  Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

But, the evidence that you do indeed have Christ’s Spirit in you is clear.

Galatians 5:22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24  And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

The corruption of deceitful lusts is a natural to humanity. It is, unfortunately, also common among modern Christians. A recent study entitled, “The Bible in American Life,” revealed that a very small minority of Americans read the Bible daily. The Bible is the principal way God speaks to His people. It is the surest means by which His people are changed and live a life victorious over sin. Without God’s word in your heart your, “good intentions,” are just humanistic wishful thinking, the changes you desire are temporary, and defeat and bitterness are your earthly rewards.

Psalm 119:11  Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Come to God’s word believing it is literally true and being willing to be changed by it….

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Ephesians 4:20, 21 comments: taught by Christ?

20  But ye have not so learned Christ; 21  If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:

The Christian must ask him or herself if they have been taught by humanistic reasoning or if they have been taught by Christ through the Holy Spirit. I have had discussions with fundamentalist Christians where they denied the Bible upon which their convictions are supposed to be based.

For instance, one Baptist argued with me that Adam wasn’t with Eve when she was tempted by Satan because no man would have allowed that to take place. However, the Bible says;

Genesis 3:6  And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

He literally refused to accept it because, one, he had not been taught that was true, and, two, he could not conceive of it being possible. Had he learned this from Christ or a person, to deny the Bible?

Another Baptist argued with me that although the phrase, “taken out of the way,” most likely meant killed in Job 24:24;

Job 24:24  They are exalted for a little while, but are gone and brought low; they are taken out of the way as all other, and cut off as the tops of the ears of corn.

It couldn’t mean that the only other time it is used.

2Thessalonians 2:7  For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.

What he had always been taught that this was a reference to the Holy Spirit. And yet, this same person would insist that cross referencing verses, phrases, and words is the way to let the Bible define itself and could not explain why God would remove His Holy Spirit from a world He was about to judge when David himself said,

Psalm 139:8  If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

There is a popular preacher on television today who has said that Jesus did not come to be the messiah neither claimed to be in spite of this verse.

John 4:25  The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26  Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.

People like this celebrity preacher will say that Jesus did not claim to be God in spite of these verses;

John 14:9  Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?

John 10:30  I and my Father are one.

They will claim that Jesus never said that he was the Son of God, God in the flesh, having the same authority as God in spite of;

John 9:35 ¶  Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? 36  He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? 37  And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.

So, how do you know you are being taught by Christ or if what you are learning is from the spirit of man?

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

John 5:39  Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

We know that Jesus is truth, and by extension His word with which He speaks to us is truth.

John 14:6  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Christians have a difficult time following the truth of Jesus. We tend to follow the world more than Christ and be taught by the world more than the Holy Spirit. We respect and support the things of the world that Christ specifically said were not of Him, for example, the economic system.

Luke 16:13  No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon [Syriac word for the personification of riches, the god of riches and wealth].

Paul tells Christians about the love of money or greed.

1Timothy 6:10  For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

And yet, Christians in America lust for the very things that God has condemned in us. This is the reason why the Anglican Church’s, “Society for the Propagation of the Gospel,” or SPG, owned more slaves in the 1700’s than they had missionaries in the field, a lust for money and wealth. It’s also the reason why so many preachers in the 1800’s tried to use the Bible to justify racial slavery, as long as they treated their kidnap victims and their descendants bred like livestock as the Hebrews in the tenth century BC were supposed to treat their prisoners of war. Why do you think the Baptists were so against slavery in the 1700’s but justified it from the pulpit in the 1800’s? Money was to be made and approval of the rich and powerful garnered.

Who taught Christians this? It wasn’t Christ. Christ’s Bible removes all distinctions of ethnicity, social standing, and gender from the church.

Galatians 3:28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Who teaches the brethren to be racist, to look down their noses at the poor, and to hate women? It’s not Christ. Christ didn’t teach that.

Paul said several times in Romans and Galatians that Christians are not under the Law given to Moses. So, who teaches Christians that they must follow the Law given to Moses or they aren’t saved? It wasn’t Christ.

Are you taught by Christ, or is it someone else you’ve been listening to? Is it Satan, your own flesh and fears, bigotry, paranoia, and prejudice? Come to God’s word and swim in it, read it and hear it, and hear it preached faithfully. Reject what it doesn’t say and relish what it does say, to whom it says it, when it is said, and under what conditions. Learn the context not just the verse. Be a faithful ambassador of Christ and not a corrupter. The word of God not only teaches you but it judges your heart.

Hebrews 4:12  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Will you be taught by Him? We hear preachers say that when a man or woman gets saved they must put everything on the table, that if they hold anything back they won’t get saved. They usually mean that about people who engage in homosexual behavior or smoke cigarettes or something like those things. But, what about them? Did they put the errors with which they were raised, the fear, paranoia, and bigotry of their parents’ generation, their slavish devotion to human government, war, and cultural chauvinism on the table? If not, are they truly saved?

Are you willing to give up everything you believe outside of the Bible if Christ teaches you that it is not of Him or are you so sure that you’re right in all particulars of politics and society that you refuse to be taught by Christ if He teaches something contrary to what you now think?

Are you really taught by Christ?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Ephesians 4:17-19 comments: the vanity of our minds

17 ¶  This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18  Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19  Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

Gentiles are non-Jews. Many times, in the Bible, they are referred to as Greek as it was the  predominant culture of the time. Clearly, Paul is talking to a church that, unlike many in the early history of the church, was predominantly non-Jewish. The first Christians were almost all Jews but as time progressed the Christian faith went out into the world at large.

Our heathen ancestors walked in the vanity, or emptiness, of their minds, devoid of truth. Notice the following complaint about the Hebrews’ faithlessness.

2Kings 17:15  And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them, that they should not do like them.

The Gentiles created gods in their own minds out of the wind, out of fire, thunder, and any other natural occurrence. They worshipped gods thy made with their own hands out of wood or stone. This, the Israelites copied, to their shame.

Isaiah 2:6 ¶  Therefore thou hast forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they please themselves in the children of strangers. 7  Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots: 8  Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made: 9  And the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself: therefore forgive them not.

You and I were darkened by the vanity of our mind before we trusted Christ. We worshipped a lifestyle, perhaps, of drugs, alcohol, rocknroll libertinism, and self-abuse in a world controlled only by money and our baser impulses.

Perhaps, though, the vanity of our mind included a worship of celebrity, education, pleasure, or material possessions. Maybe even we worshipped youth. Our gods are no different. Our vanity is no less disgusting to God.

Our understanding was darkened and we were willfully ignorant, because our spiritual hearts were blind. I can remember in the 1970’s the oft-repeated mantra, “follow your heart.” Yet, God has said through the prophet;

Jeremiah 17:9  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

We were told to trust ourselves and yet;

Proverbs 3:5  Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

We placed ourselves in opposition to the God who created us by our love of the world’s values and aspirations.

1 John 2:15  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world .

After Adam and Eve were convinced to doubt God’s word in Genesis 3, these were the three things with which she was tempted.

Genesis 3:6 ¶  And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food [lust of the flesh - Deut. 12:15], and that it was pleasant to the eyes [lust of the eyes – 2 Sam. 11:2] ,and a tree to be desired to make one wise [the pride of life – Dan. 4:30], she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

These are still our gods.

A long time ago we deadened our senses to God’s standard. We are, “past feeling.”

Lasciviousness and uncleanness with greediness are the world’s passions. Lasciviousness is wantonness and lewdness; the proverbial dirty, old man making inappropriate comments to a young woman, the young woman who dresses immodestly and acts in a flirtatious manner, the young man who is always thinking of how he might exploit a young woman’s weakness for attention, flattery, and approval, or the middle-aged woman addicted to romance novels and sexual fantasy all are examples of lasciviousness of thought and manner.

Lasciviousness has other companions;

1 Peter 4:3   For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:

Uncleanness has many definitions but particularly in Leviticus it is a reference to being defiled in some manner. It, too, has a strong sexual connotation but here the words, “with greediness,” are part of it. We know that Paul warned us that,

1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

It is easy here to think of how money mixed with sexual uncleanness is a great corrupter of our age. From pornography to ordinary advertisements in magazines and billboards sex is sold and products are sold with sex. In the world it is not just the joyful bond between a man and a woman who are committed to each other for life, it is a product, a means of moving an advertising message, and instructional in how to exploit, manipulate, and abuse others.

This is nothing new. Ancient religions were filled with sexual implications and acts. In Daniel Snell’s book Life in the Ancient Near East he revealed how every woman, when she came of age, was expected to go into a temple of Ishtar and wait until a stranger tossed a coin in her lap and then engage in sex for Ishtar. Some even insist that coins themselves developed partly as a need resulting from this religious practice.

Historians give us the reason why the Corinthian Christians were so insistent about long hair on their women, something that Paul says is founded in good reasons but was not an issue in the other Christian churches. It seems there was a temple to Aphrodite, the Greek version of Ishtar, at nearby Acro-Corinth, with a thousand temple prostitutes with short hair or shaved bald. The men of Corinth were very religious. Christian women needed to be distinguished from these temple prostitutes.

God had to warn the Israelites not to permit temple prostitutes of either sex in His temple. Keep in mind that a dog is still a slang term for a male prostitute.

Deuteronomy 23:18 Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination unto the LORD thy God.

Whore is not just a rough word for a woman of low morals but is often used for a female prostitute in the religions of Canaan just as a sodomite is a word referring to a male temple prostitute.

Deuteronomy 23:17  There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.

Even some Hindu temples are adorned with depictions of perverse sexual practices performed in conjunction with religion. The Gentile world was twisted and perverse in God’s eyes and still is with money being inextricably intertwined with the perversion.

Our Gentile ancestors had long ago deadened their senses to perversion and greed. We are called out of that evil world where a girl’s virtue is sold for a coin and a boy’s honor for money just as the Hebrews were called out. There are quite a few sermons to be preached about not buying products advertised with models in sexually suggestive poses due to the damage those ads do to young women’s self-esteem and morals, and how they deaden our senses so that we are less and less shocked and shamed at what we see, as they exploit our most basic desires and take something that is good and to be enjoyed in its proper context and make merchandise of it.