The Antithesis Of God’s Moral Character

•07/19/2015 • 2 Comments

Recently at one of our house meetings, a sister in the Lord shared with us a situation that really provoked my spirit. Without going into great deal, she asked us to pray for a family she knows who is currently on the receiving end of that ever abusive system otherwise commonly known as health and human services.

Again, without going into the finer points, right now, this family has had their children taken away while the state investigates a false claim made against them by a neighbor.

This is not the first time I’ve heard such things. Some of these cases have even recently made national headlines in the news. And I can’t say why this hit so hard for me, as I don’t personally know the family in question; all I can say is that the Holy Spirit quickened in me, rising up to declare God’s utter indignation against injustice, in all its forms.

Throughout the Holy Scriptures, the Lord God is repeatedly declared to be righteous.[1] However, what may not be known to most is that, in both Hebrew and Greek, to be righteous means to be morally just, thus morally innocent.

Therefore, when something or someone is not righteous, i.e. when that something or someone (like a social worker operating with impunity against innocent families) is unrighteous, by default they are to be considered unjust. And let’s face it. In case it wasn’t obvious, unjust things and unjust persons (like a social worker operating with impunity against innocent families) perpetuate the very injustice(s) upon which their own immoral nature depends.

We know and declare most assuredly that God is the Rock. His work is perfect. All His ways are judgment. He is a God of truth. He is without iniquity. Just and right is God.[2]

We also know and declare most assuredly that He is YHVH. He does not change.[3]

Therefore, we conclude and declare most assuredly that God is eternally “just and right“. God cannot not be just and right. It is inherent to His nature, and that nature cannot change. God will ever be just and right. He will never not be anything other.

And so, whenever and wherever there is injustice in the world, you can rest assured that both the acts of injustice and the unjust perpetrators of the acts of injustice draw God’s ire. While we have no doubt in God’s desire to be reconciled to humanity through the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son (See 2 Corinthians 5:19), we must also admit that all things which have ever offended God continue to do so, time immemorial, even from the foundation of His created order.

Yes, God may postpone judgment. He may indeed “not be slack concerning His promises“. He may indeed not desire that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). But know this: many are going to perish eternally under the mighty hand of God, when the Son of Man returns upon the clouds in great power and glory (Matthew 24:30 and Mark 13:26). And it won’t be just because they are unregenerate sinners, though that is bad enough, but because the law of sin in their members has made them antithetical to God’s holy, just nature.

Of Christ Jesus, the Son of God, we read in the Apocalypse (19:15) that a “sharp sword” proceeds from His mouth in order that, with it, He may smite the nations. Indeed, His bishopric over the nations shall be one directed with and by a “rod of iron“. There will be no place for injustice in the Kingdom of God on earth, not under the Messiah’s watchful eye.

And why such vehemence on the part of the Son in behalf of the Father? What is the cause of God Almighty’s undiluted fierceness and wrath?

All of humanity was created, through Adam, to be God’s representatives. We were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). The serpent deceived Eve, but Adam ate freely, from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3). And now, in Adam all die (1 Corinthians 15:22).

Sinful humanity no longer bears the image of God. All unregenerated people, who have not been born from above (John 3:1-8), are now, through their sins, children of disobedience, following hard after the Enemy of God, Satan himself (Ephesians 2:2).

When God looks upon the righteous, He sees the faithfulness of His Son, Jesus Christ, through whom He imparted righteousness to everyone who believed and still believes (Romans 5:1).

But to those who believe not, upon them the wrath of God abides (John 3:36). Their deeds are evil, wrought in darkness (John 3:17). God is so vehemently opposed to injustice because all injustice in the world smacks of the work of Satan upon the human soul. Wherever injustice dwells, be sure that the taint of demonic influence is present. God’s fallen, corrupting creation left their first estate in rebellion (Jude 1:6). These did not love Him. These forfeited their rightful place and purpose in the eternal plans of HaShem.

And many millions if not billions of people make the same mistake, stalling, procrastinating, or even actively resisting God’s offer at redemption. God sent His Son, whom the Holy Scriptures call the “Just One” (Acts 3:4, 7:52, and 22:14), to die in the stead of the unjust (1 Peter 3:18), and sadly, too many “unjust” ones simply don’t care.

They continue on intentionally denying God’s right to recreate them in the image of His Son (Colossians 3:10), to impart His righteousness to them, and so, save them from death and hell. This refusal, this stubborn willingness to snub God’s gracious gift, i.e. the death of His beloved Son, in the end, will be the chief factor in His wrath boiling over and out upon the wicked, i.e. upon the unjust (See Jude 1:4, 1 John 2:23, and Revelation 14:10)[4], [5]

The greatest injustice in the history of the world was that the morally good and innocent man, Christ Jesus, the Son of the Father, took the place of all humans everywhere, to taste death for all (Hebrews 2:9). He did so willingly, and out of love (See John 10:10-18), to save us from our sins and the eternal punishment our sins incur against us. And while God can save daily to the uttermost all who come to Him through His Son (Acts 2:47 with Hebrews 7:25), let there be no confusion. A day of reckoning is coming, when all unjust acts will be judged, when all unjust people will be condemned, and when all injustice everywhere will be stamped out by the fury and zeal of the LORD of hosts.

Injustice is the antithesis of God’s moral character.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

[1] I am intentionally not giving a list or even some examples. The Bible, especially the writings of the Old Covenant, especially the Psalms, is replete with examples. I trust my average reader knows this, or at least knows his or her way around a Bible or Bible software well enough to see it for themselves.

[2] See the Song of Moses, Deuteronomy 32:4.

[3] Malachi 3:6. Note that the Hebrew word for change is shanah. It means to transmute, which means to change in form, substance, or nature.

[4] In 1 John 2:23, to deny the Son means to reject Him (from the Greek word arneomai).

[5] In Revelation 14:10, note how the damned are tormented before the Lamb, that is, the One who had been slain for them in order that they might be saved. Their rejection of Him results in their eternal torment before Him, in His wrath.

These Six Things Doth The LORD Love???

•07/13/2015 • Leave a Comment

Sometimes, as a purely speculative, illustrative enterprise, I find it good to make assumptions about how the Holy Scriptures would read if they read the very opposite of what they actually say. A good case in point is Proverbs 6:16-19. The inspired text reads:

16. These six things doth the LORD hate; yea, seven are an abomination unto him:

17. A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

18. An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,

19. A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

Now, for just a moment, consider the possibility that it stands to reason that if there are six things which the LORD hates, yea, seven that are an abomination unto Him, could there also not be six things which the LORD loves, yea, seven that are a delight unto Him?

Therefore, for illustrative purposes only (i.e. I am not trying to add or take away from the inspired text), let us consider what six, yea seven things—things which are the exact opposites of the listed items given in Proverbs 6:16-19—that the Father loves and delights in, in order to (hopefully!) help us understand our God better.

To do so, I will be going through the list one by one, verse by verse, posting first the actual text, then second, a few opening comments, with an exegesis of each item on the list, and then finally, a speculation as to the opposites.

So without any further ado:

Proverbs 6:16,

16. These six things doth the LORD hate; yea, seven are an abomination unto him:

It stands to reason that if there are six things which God hates, there might also be six things the LORD loves. If the seventh thing on the original list is an abomination to God, i.e. it’s something He detests, might not there be a seventh thing in which God enjoys and/or delights?

Note that the Hebrew word for “hate” is sane. It simply means to hate. But it suggests something a little bit deeper. It’s not merely a general hatred. It’s a hatred that one feels personally. These six/seven things in Proverbs are a cause of personal offense to God; they actually inspire hatred in Him!

Abomination, or to’ebah,[1] is a continuation of God’s personal hatred for these six/seven things. In fact, the seventh thing is a consummation of the LORD’s personal hatred. It is the capstone of His disgust. While God may abhor any one of these things on an individual basis, when all are present, they culminate into something God absolutely despises. It would be a terrible thing to be found guilty of any of these. To be guilty of them all is a surefire way of getting on God’s bad side.

Proverbs 6:17a,

17. A proud look…

This phrase is a translation of a Hebrew idiom. Most literally, it means a “high or raised eye”. The idiomatic expression refers to someone who dares look up in defiance and insolence toward God and His ordained “powers that be” (See Romans 13:1-2) in an attempt to look down the nose, i.e. condescend to God, as if He were the lower or more menial.

Proverbs 6:17b,

17. …a lying tongue…

This too, is something of an idiom. Here the word “lying”, or sheker, means an untruth, i.e. a sham intended to deceive. Tongue here refers to the organ of the mouth. As such, it lends itself to the idea of a person who intentionally crafts lies, deceptions, and mis-directions, usually without cause, i.e. simply for the pleasure of tricking his or her audience into believing something that isn’t true.[2]

Proverbs 6:17c,

17. … and hands that shed innocent blood…

Unlike the first two items, this is no idiom. It literally means what it means. God hates people who murder the innocent. Be mindful, however, in just how far God goes to explain what it means to murder someone. It may not be only the taking of physical life. It may also be the ruination of someone’s reputation, done out of hatred (See, for example 1 John 3:15).

Cain and Abel come to mind. Abel’s sacrifice was pure, accepted by the Father. It wasn’t his fault God refused Cain’s offering. So why did Cain murder his brother? Out of spite and anger. He couldn’t direct his rage at God, so he took it out on the next closest person, his innocent brother.[3]

Proverbs 18a,

18. An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations…

This phrase, in Hebrew, suggests the idea of a person who goes about contriving base and useless fabrications intended to cause trouble and difficulty for others. Worse, these base and useless fabrications are created “out of the air”, as it were, i.e. they are concocted solely in the imagination of their creator. That is to say, they have no basis in reality. This kind of thing is often the stuff of red herrings, or things that are fabricated in order to distract and mislead, so the root of an issue can’t be discovered properly. It is the tool of propagandists and war-mongers, of spies and those interested in court intrigues. But also, sadly, of the every day person who is willing to make stuff up in order to take the heat away from themselves so that others may look bad.

Proverbs 18b,

18. … feet that be swift in running to mischief…

This phrase, while not exactly idiomatic, is nonetheless a word picture. To “be swift in running” gives the idea of a liquid, perhaps water, which easily flows and rushes to a destination. Mischief is the Hebrew word ra’ah, and it means evil in the sense of something morally bad or iniquitous. Therefore, it is readily understood that God hates it when people are easily drawn to evil, or, in keeping with the word picture, when people rush off and flow into acts of evil like water finding its own level.[4]

Proverbs 19a,

19. A false witness that speaketh lies…

This phrase is a a tautology (a needless repetition of an idea, which doesn’t impart additional force or understanding). What is meant then, is that, by default, a “false witness” is one who automatically “speaketh lies“. It’s a bit redundant, or circular in scope. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes in order to get His point across, God has to be redundant. Its His way of letting us know just how hand in hand some concepts are. In Latin, the phrase is sine qua non, or “without which not”, meaning you can’t have or be something without some other thing being present. Therefore, you can’t have a false witness if he or she isn’t speaking lies. Additionally, you can’t have someone speaking lies without them being a false witness against the truth.

Hence why God, in His inspiration of the text, uses a tautology in order to make it abundantly clear to us just how much being a false witness and speaking lies go together. It’s His way of letting us know that if you’re one, you’re automatically the other. Let us not, therefore, be deceived.

Proverbs 19b,

19. … and he that soweth discord among brethren.

Here now, at the end, we come to the abhorrence which God detests. The six items on this list all lead into and are causes of this final item. Proud looks, lying tongues, hands that shed innocent blood, hearts that devise wicked imagination, feet which are swift in running to mischief, and false witnesses who speak lies all result in the sowing of discord, or more literally the “sending out of contestation and strife” between brothers. We must remember that Israel was a collective agrarian society. The people were to all be unified under God as King. God thought of all Israel as His children, making all subjects and citizens of this holy nation brothers and sisters with each other. Just as any parent doesn’t want haughty, unruly children (because such children are contentious and cause problems for the other siblings), neither does God desire for His children to be at each other in such ways.

Think about it: to be proud or defiant against God and His established order requires pride and defiance against His people as part and parcel of His established order.[5] To be or become a liar requires that one of God’s holy family be subjected to the lie and all its unholy consequences. If I as a child of God, tell a lie, and that lie is believed, it will cause untold damage to the recipient, not the least of which is the recipient’s future ability to believe me when the lie is found out. This ruins trust and loyalty between people. No lie is without an aftermath.

Hands that shed innocent blood obviously cause discord. Whether it’s a literal murder or the slaying of a man in the public sphere by hatefully destroying his reputation, much strife and disunity unfolds among God’s people. Someone is going to be hurt by, and take umbrage with the shedding of innocent blood. It might be a family or friend, or merely one of God’s ministers, given a sword as a means of exacting justice upon the guilty. As much as justice needs must be serve, it serves no one well when an innocent party is first condemned, ruined, or even murdered. Such evil only perpetuates ungodliness among His people.

It is interesting to note how the first three items on the list inform, but also, are a result of, the last three items on the list. Pride, deception, and murder are always the result of wicked imaginations, mischief, and liars who bear false witness[6].

These six things, then, when brought together, are the root causes of the last. More than any other possible reason for discord, strife, contest, debate, and disunity among those whom God would rather see walk in peaceful agreement with each other, pride, deception, murder, wickedness, mischief, and the falsification of facts regarding some event or occurrence and the people involved, destroy the bonds that are supposed to hold us together.

Jesus Christ, more than anything, prayed fervently that we all would be one in Him, just as He was and is one in the Father (John 17:21). But we can’t be “one” in Christ Jesus if defiance against God and His established order is present. We can’t be “one” in Christ Jesus if intentionally deception and a desire to trick others into believing things that aren’t true, is present. We can’t be “one” in Christ Jesus if jealousy/hatred is present.[7] We can’t be “one” in Christ Jesus if brothers and/or sisters in the Lord go around fabricating baseless accusations against each other in order to deflect the truth about themselves, is present. We can’t be “one” in Christ Jesus if a natural inclination toward evil and the harm evil causes, is present. We can’t be “one” in Christ Jesus if a willingness to lie and so, bear false witness, that is, falsify the official testimony and record of some fact, event, or occurrence in our midst, is present.

When we sow discord among the brethren, let it be forever understood that God detests our actions. Our actions become an abhorrence to the Father when we quarrel and debate to the disunity of the Body of believers in Christ Jesus. God is disgusted with us when we break faith with the Lord Jesus’ desire for us to be one in Him, and in the Father.

And so, now dear reader, with the commentary and exegesis complete, let us turn our attention to a speculation, to things that God may love, even delight in, as an expression of opposites. I therefore give you, for illustrative purposes only, the six things the LORD doth love, yea, seven that are a delight unto Him:

  • A humble look, or eyes which are down-cast so as not to arrogantly presume against Him or His established order
  • A truth-filled tongue, i.e. a person who intentionally, consistently tells the truth and is honest with God, their neighbors, and themselves
  • Hands that protect and defend innocent blood, or those who intentionally seek to keep from harm and vindicate those who have done no wrong, when they are condemned of others
  • Hearts that devise useful ways of helping, not hindering, their brothers and sisters in the Lord, especially when such ways alleviate the troubles of others
  • Feet that are swift to run from evil, or when the people of God find themselves no longer naturally inclined toward committing moral infractions against the laws of their Creator
  • A true witness who accurately reflects the facts of any event or occurrence when called upon to testify in any given situation
  • He that sows peace and harmony between brothers, bringing the family of God closer together in love

There you have it, my brothers and sisters. It’s quite simple, really. The choice is yours. Which do you want to be? A recipient of God’s hate and disgust, or a recipient of God’s love and enjoyment? You can be either, but not both. Not that there’s really a choice, but nevertheless, choose wisely.

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[1] This word means something morally disgusting or reprehensible. It can refer to something abhorred, for example an idol or idolatry in general. It stems from a verb that means “to loathe” or “morally detest”.

[2] Note the following verses, which give strong indications of just how much God hates lying: Jeremiah 50:36, John 8:44, Revelation 21:8, 27, and Revelation 22:15.

[3] Abel was innocent in the sense that he did nothing to provoke Cain. Cain’s murder of Abel wasn’t justice, vengeance, or even retaliation for anything Abel did or didn’t do. Abel was the victim of his brother’s own unwarranted aggression against God.

[4] Water finding its own level is a natural occurrence, due to the forces of gravity and the nature of water itself. This lends to the idea that some people are naturally inclined to evil as a habit.

[5] Remember the Torah command to not “curse the ruler of thy people” (Exodus 22:28).

[6] Understanding that a witness, in Hebrew, is a testimony or record of some fact, event, or occurrence (from the word ayd).

[7] Jealousy and hatred are the motives behind murder, literal or otherwise.

Watchman, What Of The Night?

•06/26/2015 • Leave a Comment

Isaiah 21:1-11,

1. The burden of the desert of the sea. As whirlwinds in the south pass through; so it cometh from the desert, from a terrible land.

2. A grievous vision is declared unto me; the treacherous dealer dealeth treacherously, and the spoiler spoileth. Go up, O Elam: besiege, O Media; all the sighing thereof have I made to cease.

3. Therefore are my loins filled with pain: pangs have taken hold upon me, as the pangs of a woman that travaileth: I was bowed down at the hearing of it; I was dismayed at the seeing of it.

4. My heart panted, fearfulness affrighted me: the night of my pleasure hath he turned into fear unto me.

5. Prepare the table, watch in the watchtower, eat, drink: arise, ye princes, and anoint the shield.

6. For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.

7. And he saw a chariot with a couple of horsemen, a chariot of asses, and a chariot of camels; and he hearkened diligently with much heed:

8. And he cried, A lion: My lord, I stand continually upon the watchtower in the daytime, and I am set in my ward whole nights:

9. And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground.

10. O my threshing, and the corn of my floor: that which I have heard of the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, have I declared unto you.

11. The burden of Dumah. He calleth to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?

John 9:4-5,

4. I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.

5. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

A few years ago, while talking about the Church and the coming great tribulation, a brother in the Lord asked, “At what point do we go from ‘revival’ to ‘survival'”?

At the time, it was a very though-provoking, if not completely rhetorical question. The topic at hand was the so-called “End-Time Revival” that Apostolic preachers everywhere have been hyping for years, even decades, a revival, I’m sure we all can admit, which has never come. And at the time, there wasn’t any real way to give an answer.

But I believe the Lord has recently spoken to me, a watchman on the walls. And while I do not say that I have THE answer, I believe I have AN answer.

Current events have, I believe, revealed the devil’s hand. For nearly a century, the field of psychology has been attempting to unlock the secrets of the human soul.[1] However, this 100 year old quest has been tainted from the beginning, as it has not sought out the counsel of the Heavenly Father, but rather, has all too often relied upon the insights of the father of lies, or the devil.

Satan has much intimate knowledge of the human condition, having been, after God, the number one influence upon it since the Fall.[2] Throughout human civilization, we have been obsessed with what comes down to just a handful of soul-searching, inspiring questions. Examples include:

  • Who are we?
  • Why are we here?
  • How did we get here?
  • What is the meaning of life?
  • Do we have a purpose?
  • Is there a God/god?

Such fundamental questions, and indeed the asking of them, are not inherently evil. They are important questions that have for eons propelled the human narrative forward to this very present day. While we may never know the answer, there is a reason Paleolithic humans painted stars and constellations of stars on cave walls. There is a reason ancient man told stories and created myths on the origin and purpose of our species. Why did the Egyptians build the pyramids at Giza? What propelled the Phoenicians across the seas? Who decided to carve small, apparently fertility related cult fetishes and deposit them all over Europe, and why?

And while paleontologists, anthropologists, and archaeologists dig through the piles of eroded rubble for answers, many modern psychologists and the philosophers who predate them have attempted to offer an answer of their own.

Nearly 2,400 years ago, Plato wrote “Knowledge is nothing but perception”.[3] Much more recently, and perhaps more famously, humanist and philosophical mystic Aldous Huxley wrote, “There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception”.[4]

Even more recently, American Jewish spiritualist and metaphysicist Marianne Williamson said, “Old Newtonian physics claimed that things have an objective reality separate from our perception of them. Quantum physics, and particularly Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, reveal that, as our perception of an object changes, the object itself literally changes”.[5]

What’s the bottom-line? Simply this, the axiom of the modern day and world is “Perception is Reality”. What this means is that, however one perceives a thing, that perception, and not the innate defining qualities of the thing, are the reality in, of, and about that thing, without limitation.

For example, if I were to perceive the colors of the petals of a rose as turquoise regardless of its actual redness, to me, the reality of the colors of the petals of the rose is turquoise. It matters not. My perception is my reality. I have the right to perceive as I wish, meaning I can and will create my reality—as I perceive it—anyway I want. And, if what Marianne Williamson says is true, over time, I can bend reality to suit my desires and cause a complete redefinition of what it means for the petals of a rose to be red instead of any other color.[6]

Does this sound silly? Is it ridiculous? Ludicrous? It should seem so, but it’s not. One very recent, popular example comes to mind. One very famous, once world renowned person has once again come to the attention of the nation and world simply because his self-identifying perception of reality has caused him to think of himself as something he isn’t, even to the point of undertaking drastic measures to change his physical appearance to suit his own perceived understanding of reality.

And while some perceptional variation between people in regards to reality is acceptable, even normal and healthy, when God’s created order and actions are called into question, undermined, rejected, and mutated[7] into something He never intended, then something is seriously, and I mean SERIOUSLY wrong with the culture that accepts such actions. And let’s be honest, the actions of the person mentioned above have been celebrated and rejoiced over since first announced. Granted, some are merely indifferent, and many are merely tolerating them but few, if any, are actually denouncing them, that is, the actions of the person in question, as abominable.[8]

What is happening? What led up to this change in the culture, and what does it mean for the Church in the United States?

Isaiah 5:20-23,

20. Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

21. Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!

22. Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink:

23. Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!

The devil has been working overtime against the people of the United States in particular, and the West in general for a long time. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.[9] We have been quite prosperous as a nation since World War II. In fact, not an economy anywhere in the world comes even close to matching us.[10] And with such prosperity has come an easiness of life, what the Bible calls “a fullness of bread and abundance of idleness” (See Ezekiel 16:49).[11]

Granted, there is “no new thing under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Sin and wickedness have been in the world a long time, but let’s be honest. The United States of America has been the devil’s playground since at least the 1960’s. And he’s been quietly, under the cover of moral relativism, pushing his agenda on the American people for decades.

My friends, there can be no doubt, the tide has turned. The cultural collective consciousness of the United States of America has reached critical mass. Demonic entropy has reached its zenith. There is nothing left but continued degradation and then the final annihilation of all that is right and godly with our once beloved nation.

Now before you write this off as just another doom and gloom prediction, please continue reading, as I would like to share very specifically what I believe the Lord imparted to me. If, after reading, you judge it an unwarranted alarm, then to your own Master you rise or fall. Do as you please. But at least pray about it first!

Ephesians 6:10-13 (New Living Translation),

10. A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. 13. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.

In a time of spiritual meditation, after the news broke world wide about this once and now again famous man who is no longer a man, God reminded me of the above passage of Scripture. What He showed to me is that the “evil authorities and rulers of the unseen world” have taken hold on the moral fabric of our nation, and torn it asunder. The culture is fully poisoned. We are in the death throes of the United States of America. The “evil spirits” in heavenly places, while not perhaps triumphing over the true Church of the Living God, have nonetheless won the war for the soul of this nation. It’s not about presidents and lawmakers, or governors and supreme court judges. They are but flesh and blood pawns, against whom we do not wrestle. They are not the enemy. The “mighty powers in this dark world” operating behind the scenes are the ones pulling all the strings. And they’ve succeeded in blinding the church, obscuring her vision, while at the same time, happily introducing her to one of the worst sins of all: complacency.

And because these evil spirits have gained control over the heavenly realm in these here United States, an invisible but all too real force is coming against the Church, such as we’ve not realized.

It’s simple, really. It’s not some deep revelation (and frankly, it seldom is). Since these rulers have gained control of the culture, and since the Church is neck deep into the culture, an unsettling reality is about the befall us.

What is an evil spirit? What is wickedness, when it comes down to it? An evil or wicked spirit is simply a spirit that refuses to be governed by the laws of God. And what God showed me is this:

As these ungovernable, wild spirits continue to reign over the heavenly realms and unseen world of the United States, they will instigate lawlessness in the Church. But not as one may first assume. The lawlessness will not be a temptation to give oneself over to outright sinful indecencies. That is too obvious. No, the lawlessness that’s about to hit the church is simply a lack of personal discipline.

Proverbs 25:28,

28. He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.

When a saint can’t control himself because he lacks the fruit of temperance, it’s because he’s lacking in self-discipline. An undisciplined saint is, in effect, a lawless saint. He will not be governed by the laws of God, but rather, by the whims and fancies of his own reality. The undisciplined saint will eventually succumb to the law of “whatever is convenient”, or “whatever feels good”.[12]

You might think this is too simple, too easy. You might think that if the devil really wanted to destroy the Church, he’d do something more drastic, something more menacing, something much more hurtful than inciting a saint to become unable to “rule over his own spirit“.

But I would ask you to reread the Proverb. Once a city is broken down and without walls, it can be taken easily. The gates of hell will never win a face to face match against the Church. Christ has prophetically promised it.

So the operation has to be on the sly. It has to be at a slow pace. It’s got to be almost imperceptible, like a hidden piece of cartilage that’s taken over ten years to slowly rip and tear in your knee before one day, when you needed it most, it gave way and you hit the floor in agony.

It’s coming, Church. The imps and familiar spirits of the demonic realm have done a good job keeping us distracted and bored while the kosmokratorasi.e. the “mighty powers” do the real damage against the world, against this country, and against us, the Church.

How long until it’s survival instead of revival time? Like I said, I don’t have THE answer, but I do have AN answer.

The moral tide in this country has turned. Good is now accepted only as evil. Evil is now only accepted as good, collectively speaking. No one can do wrong. The cultural perception of reality has changed.

When Satan comes against truth, he’s not merely attacking Jesus as “the truth“, or against the Bible as the “Word of Truth“, rather his attack is an attempt to completely undermine the fabric of reality. When God speaks of truth, it’s not merely doctrinal truth, or moral truth, or scientific truth, or any such thing. When God speaks of truth, He is speaking of the WAY THINGS ACTUALLY ARE, i.e. reality, from His point of view.

This reality of God’s has a distinct order and administration to it. There are rules, laws, which govern all aspects of what God has created. Satan is working against this divine order and rule of law to thrust the universe into complete chaos, the exact opposite of cosmos. In Hebrew, the phrase is tohu va bohu, famously translated “formless and void” in Genesis 1:2.

To get to that point, (and thank God, it’s not going to, as the Holy One of Israel will eventually vanquish Satan and his evil works before it happens), the devil has to try to chip away at all aspects of God’s created, or, in the case of this blog, God’s recreated order, as in the laws that govern the Church, i.e. the New Creation in Christ.

So don’t expect some big right cross from the devil. He’s not going to throw one. He can’t ever successfully attack the Church head on. But what he can do he will do. And since he has successfully overthrown the moral compass in this country, it’s only a matter of time until the Church in the United States falls.[13]

The criminalization of American Christianity has begun.

The Spirit of Antichrist is ascending.

Expect no quarter.

Prepare yourself.

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[1] Understand that literally, psychology is the study of the human soul, from the Greek word psuche, meaning “soul”.

[2] Ask yourself, how did the serpent know exactly what to say to Eve in order to deceive her and coax her into eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? It was a perfectly constructed, perfectly timed question. Beware the source of the questions you entertain!

[3] From The Theaetetus, circa 369 B.C.E.

[4] From The Doors of Perception, published in 1954. The very famous 70’s era rock band The Doors took their name from this book. Huxley wrote the text after intentionally experiencing a psychedelic “trip” induced by ingesting a drug called mescaline, the principal agent of the San Pedro Cactus, otherwise commonly known as peyote.

[5] From A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles, published in 1992. A Course in Miracles was a tome written by a woman named Helen Schucman, first published in 1976. At the publisher’s website, any curious investigator can read that Helen Schucman believed an “inner voice” she claimed was Jesus was dictating the text to her and that she was merely the “scribe” who wrote the words down, pen to paper. See http://www.acim.org/Scribing/about_scribes.html for proof.

[6] I highly suggest reading the following blog: http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/psychology-marketers-revealing-principles-human-behavior. Apply these marketing tactics to understand how the devil operates on the human psyche to sell sin to the average person. Note especially item #3, or Social Proof. Imagine I was an important enough person and my words carried enough weight to convince others that roses are turquoise. How long before a large scale, mass redefinition of what it means to be a rose happens?

[7] And in this case, surgically altered.

[8] While it may be noted that some preachers and Facebook folks have raised a cry against what this man has done to himself, no one in the public sphere, whose voice carries any moral weight, has said a word.

[9] 1 Timothy 6:10, English Standard Version.

[10] See Economic Overview, United States of America, CIA World Factbook. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/us.html

[11] This phrase is a Hebrew idiom referring to “secure carelessness of ease” (See James, Fausset, and Brown A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible).

[12] Imagine the oppressive forces evil at work just to keep you undisciplined enough to stop praying. This is what’s coming, on a massive, unprecedented scale.

[13] Note I didn’t say “fails”. There will be a true Church of the Living God here in America, no matter what. But it will be persecuted and nearly decimated before Christ comes for her.

The Truth About Heresy

•06/22/2015 • Leave a Comment

Introduction:

When I was in college, I made a friend named Peter. I began to share the Gospel with him and taught him the doctrines of the New Birth. He was very interested. There was just one problem:

Peter had a friend named Tim, and Tim was teaching Peter differently than I was, regarding salvation.

I didn’t want there to be a tug of war over a human soul; Peter would have to decide for himself whose teaching was accurate, and whose was spurious. But before that happened, Tim wanted to meet with me and talk. So we did.

It was cordial enough at first. But as time continued on, and it became apparent that we weren’t going to agree, Tim became more and more hostile. It seemed like he didn’t like the idea of me sticking to my guns. I had brought my Bible only. He brought Wayne Grudem’s gigantic tome Systematic Theology.[1]

Every time I quoted a Scripture and explained it, instead of turning to the Word and giving his own understanding, he would flip through Grudem’s book and read from it in an effort to, quid pro quo, disagree with me.

When I challenged him on his dependence upon the commentary instead of turning to the Bible, Tim became defensive (and offensive, too).

It was at that point he brought out the label heretic. His exact words are “You’re a heretic!”

I took it calmly. I looked him in the eye and said, “Well, if you really believe that, that I’m a heretic, then, as Paul wrote in Titus, since you’ve admonished me more than once, and since I’m not changing what I believe, why don’t we just end the conversation and call it a day? No anger, no bad feelings?”

This really got him mad. He continued his attack. I ended the conversation by saying that we could take our respective beliefs to the Judgment Seat and see how it turns out for us then. He went from upset to livid. I just walked away.

(By the way, this anecdote is being told from an approximately ten year old memory. I may not have every exact word or nuance just right, but the gist of the above is complete and true.)

This story then, brings me to my first point about heresy.

Part One:

Titus 3:9-11,

9. …avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.

10. A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;

11. Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.

Often times, when someone decides to throw the pejorative “heretic” at someone, they only do so after a debate has sprung up over a “foolish” question. A lot of headache and heartache in the Body of Messiah can be avoided, and brothers in Christ can learn to not so quickly turn on each other, if we’d all just not care so much about the foolish questions some people ask.

A man approached Jesus one day. He begged the Lord to arbitrate an inheritance his father had left him and his brother. Christ remained uninvolved, stating quite clearly that He had no desire to be a “judge” in such matters (Luke 12:13-15). Now, we might honestly say that a question of financial inheritance is not a foolish question. Many important decisions have to be made when an estate is left to a family.

But Jesus wouldn’t get involved. So why do we involve ourselves in questions and contentions that have no real value to the Body? Why do we all too often and willingly strain at at gnat while swallowing a camel (Matthew 23:24)?[2]

Consider what we all agree on. Why aren’t these fundamental truths of the Word of God enough to hold brethren together? Why do secondary, tertiary, and even lower items on the rungs of the spiritual ladder constantly take precedence over the BIG picture? Why do we let them separate us? Are we bored and indifferent? Are we too focused on self and the problems we perceive that we can’t set aside differences long enough to lift our hands together and worship the King of kings?

Sadly, the answer seems to be “No”. Differences are rarely if ever set aside. Everyone wants to have some final say, like they’re the Lawgiver (James 4:12) who gets to decide truth for everyone else, while denouncing all sincere brethren who disagree as rebellious heretics and dissidents to their established order.

I have not so learned Christ (Ephesians 4:20-21)[3]. Have you?

After avoiding foolish questions and contentions, we are instructed to also avoid strivings about the law. What does this mean? Well, first, understand that “strivings” is the Greek word mache and it means a battle or controversy. Secondly, understand that “about the law” comes from the Greek word nomikos, or things that pertain to the legal aspects of Old Testament Torah.

Paul very clearly indicates we aren’t supposed to do battle with each other over any of the various commandments that govern our ceremonial or ritualistic aspects of worship (Note, I’m not talking moral commandments, such as “love thy neighbor as thyself“). Fights over things like Sabbath observance, head coverings, facial hair, days of worship, holiday/festival traditions, vows, and etc. have no place in the Body of Christ.[4]

And while there may be a correct understanding to be found, these strivings about the law are to also be avoided.

So let’s sum up what we’ve learned so far:

1.) Foolish questions and contentions are a waste of time and should never be used to divide the Body.

2.) Battling over various legal traditions as found in the Torah have no place in the Body of Christ.

3.) We don’t do a very good job of following 1 and 2 above, so we constantly debate and quarrel with each other, even to the breaking of the bonds of fellowship, while haphazardly and callously throwing the term “heretic” around like it’s our sovereign right to do so.[5]

Titus 3:10-11,

10. A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;

11. Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.

What does the word “heretic” mean? Chiefly, it refers to someone who has made a choice to believe (and possibly teach) something which differs from the Body at large.

Is this so wrong, automatically speaking? The answer is “No”. Sometimes we are supposed to stand apart and stand for truth, even if it means separation from the “Body at large”. After all, the Body at large is sometimes wrong. But Paul isn’t talking about someone who is making a choice to stand for truth for righteous reasons. The context proves it.

Rather, Paul is writing about someone who has made a choice to believe and possibly teach something that is not congruent with the Holy Scriptures. Further, by believing and possibly teaching such a thing (or things) a heretic will often end up causing division in the Body as he rallies people to his side to convince them his belief and teaching is true (More on this later in Part Two).

What Paul is NOT saying is that when a person in the Body holds to a different belief than the rest of his brothers, that he’s automatically a subverted heretic who “sinneth, being condemned of himself“.

What Paul IS saying is that when a person in the Body holds to a different erroneous belief than the rest of his brothers, and begins to teach it in order to divide the Body by forming a sect around himself, then he IS automatically a heretic who “sinneth, being condemned of himself“.

Now, note something VERY IMPORTANT. Paul wrote this verse to Titus, to a man he had sent to Crete in order to ordain bishops and elders in the various churches on the island (Titus 1:9) according to the qualifications inspired by the Holy Spirit. So, when Paul instructs Titus in 3:10 to reject a heretic, he is not writing to tell Titus to cast out of the church anyone who happens to be a true heretic, but rather, Paul is telling Titus to reject from the bishopric and eldership anyone who happens to be a heretic (or, possibly, to not let such a man be promoted to such positions in the first place).

What does this mean?

First it means that all these saints in our churches who have gotten the boot (i.e. ex-communicated) over accusations of heresy have been mistreated. That is not what Paul is instructing here. He is only indicating that if a man is found to truly be a heretic, he either has to be demoted from his oversight or role as an elder, or he must not be promoted to such a position until he repents of his schism-inducing, sect/party creating erroneous views and beliefs (i.e. he must be rejected).

Second, there must be at least two separate, formal warnings made to the heretic by an apostle or his representative. Titus was not a local pastor or bishop in charge of one church. He was the modern day equivalent of a district or regional superintendent. So the rejection must come from above, not from within the local assembly. Too often, at the local level, one man makes all such decisions to reject on these grounds. This is part of the nature of our broken system. Elders are to be appointed by apostles or their representatives, Scripturally speaking. Instead, we home-grow them and appoint them from within the ranks of the local assembly under the auspices of “the pastor”. Sorry, but this isn’t the Biblical model.

Third, in order to properly affirm that one in the midst is a heretic (i.e. a schism causing embracer of false doctrine), and so, in order to be able to admonish him properly at least two different times, a thorough/complete investigation of the accused man’s beliefs must be made, lest a true brother in the Lord be accused of something he isn’t. Just because it’s easy to call someone a heretic doesn’t make it so.

In the case of Tim and me, we spent nearly four hours going over what we both believed, in fine detail, and while I still think my understanding of the Gospel and New Birth is correct, at least Tim did a thorough investigation of what I believe before he (mistakenly) denounced me.

Is this how we operate in the Apostolic Church today? Not usually. Usually, someone “gets a word” or has a dream and denounces a man, a brother in Christ, without so much as a face to face conversation to determine if what the so-called “heretic” actually believes is Biblical or not.[6] No questions are asked, the church or at least the other elders aren’t consulted (until perhaps after the fact—and then they are merely dictated to, and expected to uphold the decision), and so, a man, a brother in Christ is accused and sent packing without Titus 3:10 ever entering the equation.[7]

Part Two:

2 Peter 2:1,

1. But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

In trying to understand the truth about heresy, we must eventually come to this verse in 2 Peter 2. Even trying to understand heresy from Titus 3:9-11 isn’t enough. We need greater context. So with that, please allow me to exegete, from this passage, the truth about heresy.

The easiest way to make sense of this verse, and so, allow the reader to gain the quickest, deepest understanding, is to break the verse down into successive bullet points, as seen here:

  • Just as the nation of Israel suffered false prophets, the Body of Christ will have to suffer false teachers
  • These false teachers will spread their various heresies in secret, not openly, lest they get caught
  • The heresies in question are to be considered “damnable“, i.e. soul-destroying to the point of losing one’s salvation for eternity
  • The heresies in question will cause the false teachers and those who follow them to deny “the Lord that bought them
  • This means these false teachers were, at one point, true members of the Body of Christ
  • When this denial of the Lord who bought them takes place, they bring upon themselves “swift destruction

Now, with these bullet points highlighted, the exegesis can begin.

1.) False teachers: this speaks to the nature and content of the man’s character. He isn’t simply wrong on a matter of doctrinal importance, but otherwise sincere in his faith, he is blatantly a deceiver at heart, and he knows it.

Apollos wasn’t a false teacher, even though he was wrong about a few things (Acts 18:24-28). Elymas, however, was false in every way (See Acts 13:6-12). It is important to note this distinction.

If we are going to label a person a false teacher and a heretic, it can’t simply be because they are wrong about something in their understanding of the Bible (after all, who isn’t wrong about at least ONE thing, or even many things?). It is their attitude, their demeanor, the way they speak, act, and treat others, and the type of fruit they bear that must be weighed in order to determine whether or not one is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

2.) If a man is going to be labeled a heretic, then chances are he first must have tried to secretly divide the Body of Christ, even at the local level, by causing some to rally around him, privately so, in order to avoid the watchful eyes of the other church elders. This is a subversion tactic, and speaks to the duplicitous nature of the heretic. If any brother publicly teaches what he believes, shares it with other elders in council, doesn’t fracture the Body in any way, and is willing to answer any questions posed to him, while he may be wrong about some, most, or even all that he believes, he’s not a heretic or false teacher. Heretics/false teachers don’t do such things. They aren’t “above board”, if you understand my meaning.

3.) Only those privately held views which actually destroy the soul of the one holding them should be considered heresy. Making a choice and believing something different than the Body at large on non-fundamentals isn’t heresy, even if everyone else disagrees with the choice/belief. When a man chooses to go against the grain and believe something that has no bearing on his salvation, it is HIS RIGHT under the headship of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1-3). If he is wrong about these not-salvation-based views, his own Master will be able to help him get back up and on the right track (Romans 14:4). It’s not our place to judge the man, say he’s backslidden, is a rebel, or that he’s a heretic. If his views aren’t damaging his soul, and he isn’t using his views as a stumbling-block against other believers, it doesn’t make a bit of difference, as he’s not only not harming himself, he’s also not harming anyone else.[8]

4.) A choice to believe something against the grain will not damn a soul if the choice to believe something against the grain never causes the person in question to deny “the Lord that bought” him.[9] If the belief in question doesn’t cause a person to reject Jesus Christ as their Lord, then we have to be willing to admit the possibility that such a belief doesn’t cause Jesus Christ to reject them as His servant (therefore, we shouldn’t either).

Consider how many people in the world today have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Trinitarians, Unitarians, Oneness, Catholics, Baptists, Charismatics, Pentecostals, and etc. have all received the Gift of the Holy Spirit, and have spoken in tongues.

Acts 5:32,

32. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.

Acts 11:15-18,

15. And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.

16. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.

17. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?

18. When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

These two passages prove beyond a shadow of a doubt the following:

A.) Anyone who has legitimately received the baptism of the Holy Spirit has “obeyed him“, i.e. God. This means that, in some way, shape, or form, their level of obedience to Him was sufficient for Him to acknowledge their faith and grant them the gift of His Spirit.

B.) Anyone who has legitimately received the baptism of the Holy Spirit has been “granted repentance unto life“.

Now, here’s the kicker: Believers from all denominations, movements, and traditions have received the Holy Spirit, and spoken in tongues. This is a fact. But are all these people right or orthodox in everything they believe? Not a chance. Errors abound in every denomination, movement, and tradition. And yet, God didn’t require a complete doctrinal overhaul of every error before granting individual members of all these different denominations, movements, and traditions the Gift of the Holy Spirit.

Trinitarians speak in tongues. Oneness believers speak in tongues. Catholics speak in tongues. It’s everywhere. So, if a person need not correct every belief before God grants them repentance sufficient to receive the Holy Spirit, how salvationally-based can some of these errors be?

The truth is this:

Romans 10:8-10,

8. … The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;

9. That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

10. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

If a person believes Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and believes that God raised Him from the dead, they are an automatic candidate for the Gift of the Holy Sprit, no other questions asked. Salvation is within their reach, regardless of whatever error(s) might be present in their way of thinking or believing. If they obey the Lord and repent and believe, and trust God to fill them with His Holy Spirit, He will, no matter what else they do or don’t believe.

This is where the Spirit of Truth comes into play (See John 14:26 and 16:13). People need to first receive the Holy Spirit before they can be led into ALL TRUTH. After God has granted them repentance unto life and sealed them with the Holy Spirit, HE will faithfully help them sort out the rest of their mess, subsequent to filling them, as long as they faithfully seek Him and are teachable.

Therefore, it should be quite obvious by now that making a choice to believe something that doesn’t damn the soul isn’t a heresy, because as long as it doesn’t cause a person to deny “the Lord that bought” them, that person can be helped by God to stand, through the Spirit of Truth, lovingly correcting and guiding him back toward a better understanding of all of these non-salvation based matters.

5.) Since a person has to have been truly “bought” by the Lord, i.e. redeemed, in order to deny Him, anyone who hasn’t first been saved shouldn’t be considered a damnable heretic or false teacher. Rather, they need to be loved and won to the Lord through the Gospel. Remember Apollos!

6.) Swift destruction will  eventually come upon a true heretic. However long it takes, if the divisive views are damnable, it will eventually cause the heretic to disavow the Lord. Once that happens, to put in plainly, they’re toast.

But note a key point: If swift destruction isn’t occurring in the man’s life, then he obviously hasn’t denied the Lord who bought him, meaning his view or belief isn’t a “damnable heresy“, meaning he’s not a false teacher, even if what he believes is different than what most understand to be true.

Conclusion:

It is true to say that heresy exists. It is also true to say that those who embrace heresy are heretics.

But it is not true to say that all differing views and understandings of the Holy Scripture are automatically heresy or make one a heretic.

It is true to say that if any man, after a thorough investigation and a refusal to repent, having been twice admonished to abandon his false views, is found to be a heretic, he must be rejected, either demoted or not promoted, into a bishopric/eldership.

But it is not true to say that a man, if he’s found to be a heretic, is automatically ex-communication worthy. He just can’t share in the oversight of the Christian community.

It is true to say that false teachers exist. It is also true to say that false teachers, because of their wicked nature, try to divide the Body in secret, under cover of pretense and deceit. Further, it is additionally true to say that such a false teacher will have embraced a damnable heresy, and if he doesn’t repent, he’s going to eventually deny the Lord and lose his soul.

But it is not true to say that if a man in the Body holds to some differing doctrinal views regarding certain non-essentials that he’s automatically a heretic who has lost his soul.

The truth about heresy is that, sometimes, the so-called “heretics” in our midst are actually the ones who are right.

It’s the rest of us, because of tradition, lack of discernment, or a weak understanding of the Holy Scriptures, who are the real “heretics”. We’re the ones mistakenly leading others astray. We’re the ones dividing the Body, battling over foolish questions and strivings about the law. We’re the ones hurting God’s Family by not obeying the instructions of Paul to Titus. We’re the ones who might end up denying the Lord because we’ve been so busy damning everyone else we haven’t taken heed to our own souls.

In conclusion, my dear brothers and sisters, you owe the individual members of your family in Christ the benefit of the doubt. You owe it to them and to yourself, to know EXACTLY WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT before you randomly and/or carelessly dismiss a blood-bought saint of the Most High God as a heretic, simply for disagreeing with you.

I hope you have ears to hear…

Peace and God bless,

Aaron

_________________________________________________________________________________________

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Systematic-Theology-Introduction-Biblical-Doctrine/dp/0310286700

[2] Maybe it’s because we’re Pharisees?

[3] Notice how Ephesians 4 starts off about unity and the oneness that we in the Body are supposed to have with each other. As the chapter continues, Paul eventually gets into things that destroy unity (See vs. 17-19), until, in vs. 20-21, he writes: “But ye have not so learned Christ…If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus…” If we have heard Christ and have been taught by Him, we will not allow petty disagreements over non-fundamentals to end our fellowship. And yet we do, thus proving, we haven’t heard Christ as well as we think, and we haven’t been taught by Him as much as we claim.

[4] Consider the Jewish Talmud, which attempts to answer a bevy of theoretical questions about various legal situations that may or may never arise and how to try and handle them just in case they should come up. Note, too, how, in Jewish Yeshiva, these foolish questions get fought over, for and against, for hours on end, to no avail.

[5] Remember the opening anecdote. I could have lashed out at Tim and called him a heretic in return. And before long, we could have escalated the discussion into a contest of “I know you are but what am I?” or some other childish antic not fitting for believers. (The point being that saying something about someone else doesn’t make it so, no matter how weighty you think your words are. You call me a heretic and I call you one; we can trade blows and duke it out all day and at the end of the day, no one has proven anything. This isn’t to say that there’s no such thing as a heretic, because there is, but it’s something WAY different from what we tend to think, as will be shown later in the blog).

[6] Understand I’m not talking about general questions of the faith. I am talking pointedly direct, yes or no, do you believe this or not type questions, with an opportunity to explain each answer according to the Bible. Even the Sanhedrin gave Jesus a chance to defend Himself and answer His accusers (See John 18:19). To do less than this is to be less than the council that denounced Jesus and had Him crucified.

[7] I know of one situation where a man, a brother in Christ was expelled as a heretic without any formal investigation into his views and beliefs. He was never admonished, or given a chance to prove his innocence or the legitimacy of his views. He was simply asked to leave without so much as a chance for him or his wife and kids to say goodbye. The whole church turned on him and dis-fellowshipped him, and treated him as a backslider. Some members wouldn’t even look him in the eye and say hello at the local Wal-mart. We reap what we sow, friends.

[8] This is where grace comes in (we are to forbear one another in love, right?). Conformity is not unity. Unity requires diversity. Although God is One, He is multi-faceted, and there are various aspects to His personality. The Body needs to be diverse in order to reflect those layers in God.

[9] Understand that the Greek word for “deny” in 2 Peter 2:1 means to speak against, i.e. contradict, which then entails a disavowal of the Lord. It’s a process, you see. Contradict the Lord who redeemed you long enough, and it will become a disavowal of all that He is and is supposed to be in your life. When the Lord is contradicted, the person speaking against Him is not acknowledging His right to rule over them as their Lord and Son of God. Note then, that from here on out, when I speak of denying the Lord, I mean it within this context (i.e. of speaking against/contradicting leading into a disavowal of His Lordship over them and the Church).

The Loss of Joy

•05/23/2015 • 2 Comments

Having grown up in an abusive home, in which fighting, antagonism, hatred, strife, and sometimes violence were typical companions, I feel like I have a particular insight into what an abusive church looks like.

In a family environment, abuse is not always noticeable. Many times the family takes on a dual personality: acting one way in public so no one suspects them of having dysfunctional issues while acting at home in a different, perhaps even completely opposite way, where the gloves can come off and the members of the family, especially the authority figures (i.e. the parents) can be themselves, bad and unfortunate as that may be.

Abuse in a church is often not noticeable, either (unless one knows to look for it, or rather, for symptoms indicative of abuse). Members in a local church, for the most part, have come together in love, for God and Christ, each other, and the community at large, and so, it can be almost impossible, from such a vantage point, to see abuse when it’s happening. There’s no perspective.

And yet, many are the saints who can tell a story of how, over time, they just began to feel like something at their local assembly was “off”. They couldn’t put their finger on it, there wasn’t a very good way of describing it; they just felt like something wasn’t right.

They couldn’t point to a particular sin in the camp. Sometimes, they assumed something must be wrong with them. Others just chalked it up to a slump or some other kind of seasonal, spiritual depression, a funk, if you will, that they thought they’d bounce out of, when God decided it was time. And some just left, for parts known or unknown, never to find out the true cause of why they wanted to leave in the first place.

Very few of these people ever called it like it was, back when that nagging feeling first started nipping at the back of their minds. But something interesting occurred. They began to feel like they couldn’t talk about it with anyone from their local church. They became afraid that speaking up and attempting to name the nameless specter would get them in trouble.

So they sat on it, held it in, maybe only talking with their spouse, or a brother or sister far removed and/or in a different assembly.

And over time, something began sapping them of a most important fruit of the Spirit, that is to say, something began sapping them of their joy.

Rejoicing and celebrating with the brethren became more of a chore and a duty, rather than a natural response to God’s grace and mercy.

Others in the assembly, oblivious to what was really going on, if they noticed a change in them, began making unfounded assumptions: they were struggling, they were battling temptation, they were falling away, they had an offense, they were backslidden in heart, et cetera and et cetera.

I want you to know, dear brother or sister, that if you’ve ever experienced what I’ve written above, but have yet to realize what’s really going on, that what you’re going through is the first symptom of spiritual abuse.

Before love, before peace, even before goodness, which is kindness, before any other fruit of the Spirit, the joy of the Lord quickly disappears in those sensitive souls who truly love and appreciate God and His salvation, if and when, abuse is present (even if under wraps or unnoticeable) in the local church—when they, themselves are being abused.

It’s tricky. In a family, if a person is being beaten, molested, taunted, or terrorized physically or emotionally, they know right away, or at least by the time they’re old enough to know such treatment is wrong, that they are, or have been, abused.

And abuse is always about the same thing: personal inadequacy on the part of the abuser resulting in an unrighteous desire to control others and make them pay for how they themselves were abused.

Hurt people hurt people, right?

So, what does spiritual abuse look like? In an abusive church, it may not be (and pray it isn’t so) that anyone is being physically hurt or violated. It may be that no one is being tormented emotionally. And so, it may seem impossible to discern abuse.

But remember what abuse it: unrighteous control of others.

God grants us all authority. Some may have more than others. However much authority God gives to one person or another, the moment a person oversteps their bounds, abuse occurs. Firstly, it’s an abuse of their authority, what we might call an abuse of power.

When one’s power in the Gospel is being abused, it never fails: God’s people are the ones who suffer.

If I was authorized to a certain extent in Christ, to reprove or rebuke (for example) and instead of holding that power in reserve for only severe, absolutely necessary occasions, and instead, just began reproving and rebuking anyone and everyone for what I perceived to be even the smallest slight, then I would be abusing my power/authority in the Gospel.

If I was authorized to expect financial remuneration from the Body of Christ for my ministry (See 1 Corinthians 9), but instead of simply being content with “food and raiment” (1 Timothy 6:8), I began to badger and bemoan the Bride of Christ, expecting Her to take care of many, most, or all of my financial needs, even my unnecessary whims (all the way up to my necessary house payment, car payment, student loans, and/or any other major expense), then I have, AS PAUL REFUSED TO DO, abused my authority in the Gospel (See 1 Corinthians 9:12-19[1]).

What is it then, brethren? The issue is abuse in the church, albeit, abuse of the spiritual variety, which almost never looks like abuse in the regular world. While abuse in the church often, and sometimes, almost exclusively comes from those who have been given a level of authority by God (just as in the secular world with parents, for example), the manner in which that authority is abused is significantly different.

It is expected of an authorized person in Christ to reprove and rebuke (See 2 Timothy 4:1-2). So when a line gets crossed, it’s hard to know.

It is expected of an authorized person in Christ to expect financial support for their ministry (See 1 Timothy 5:17). So when a line gets crossed, it’s hard to know.

BUT GOD KNOWS. And those who know God will begin to feel what He feels: discontent, even sorrow (that is, lack and loss of joy) at and for the abuse. God is an emotional being; He feels things. God can become distressed and upset at how things in His church are going, even at the local level. It’s true. That distress and sorrow can be, and often is, experienced by those who share true communion with Him. He expresses and emotes His feelings to those willing to listen, feel, and understand, as much as any husband is willing to express and emote how he feels to his wife (See and consider Ephesians 5:22-33). One person I know calls it “pillow talk”.

Here’s what it comes down to:

If a husband is being mistreated, even abused at his job, what’s the first thing that happens?

He loses his joy for the job and wants to quit.

If a wife is being mistreated, even abused in her marriage, what’s the first thing that happens?

She loses her joy for her husband and wants to leave.

If children are being mistreated, even abused at home, what’s the first thing that happens?

They lose their joy for their family and want to run away.

When a student is being mistreated, even abused at school, what’s the first thing that happens?

They lose their joy for learning and want to stop attending.

If a saint is being mistreated, even abused at their church, what’s the first thing that happens?

They lose their __________ for __________ and want to __________.

Can you fill in the blanks? If you’re suffering abuse at your church, I bet you can.

________________________________________________________________________________

[1] I recommend reading from a translation other than the King James Version since some of the words in the King James don’t make as much sense to our modern understanding, e.g. power and reward. Try instead the English Standard Version or even the New Living Translation to get the fullest sense of the passage (and how it applies here).

Link to ESV:

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+cor+9%3A12-19&version=ESV

Link to NLT:

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+cor+9%3A12-19&version=NLT

 
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Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.

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Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.

Theo-sophical Ruminations

A collage of theological and philosophical musings

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