spiritual warfare

Competition

Saturday, February 18, 2017

“Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)” (Philippians 3:17-19 KJV).

Even today, we find such “enemies of the cross of Christ” among our “Christian” brethren!

A pastor friend once held a grace Bible conference at his local church. He had discovered dispensational Bible study a few years earlier. Now, he was eager to hold a conference by inviting some grace preachers to his assembly. Of course, a denominational preacher in the same town, not far away from his church, who had already rejected right division and decided to compete against it. The same weekend my preacher friend held his Bible conference, the denominational pastor had his own conference. This was strategic. His church members were distracted, unable to attend the nearby grace conference and hear dispensational Bible study. They would not be freed from his denominational system!

Dispensational Bible study allows us to understand God’s grace given us in Jesus Christ. We find that in the Pauline epistles, Romans through Philemon. Once we recognize Grace—not Law—is how God deals with us today, then we will not stumble over Scripture’s legalistic passages. Rather than struggling under Law, we will know that it was nailed to Christ’s cross: “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross” (Colossians 2:14).

However, some Christians fight against this—they want Law, the performance-based acceptance system found in the Bible. They prefer their rites, rituals, and ceremonies because human flesh gravitates toward human “goodness” (religion). Since they follow Scripture’s water baptism, tithing, Sabbath-day keeping, and so on, they believe this “Scriptural” approach is God’s will for them.

However, the Holy Spirit instructed in today’s Scripture for us to “follow Paul and those who follow him.” Only Paul’s epistles tell us we are dead to the Law, and free under grace (Romans 6:14,15). How sad many professing Christians ignore this!

Lifted and Fallen #6

Monday, February 13, 2017

“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:12,13 KJV).

Does the Bible teach “entire sanctification?” Today’s Scripture screams, NO!

Since we are all genetically related to Adam, all humans are equally prone to sin. Whatever Satan has used to seduce you to sin, he has utilized it to allure every other person, present or past. That is why the Bible says, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man….”

Still, today’s Scripture pronounces we can indeed be victorious over sin. Nonetheless, it has nothing to do with our faithfulness (works-religion). Today’s Scripture goes on to say, God is faithful.” While Satan’s evil world system tantalizes us with various temptations, we escape them by “bearing” (enduring) them—not by having them removed. We have complete victory in Christ, but only in Christnot ourselves! Hence, Paul issues the command: “Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry” (verse 14). The indwelling Holy Spirit can cause us to avoid idolatry (that is, Israel’s mistakes). Yes, we will still sin, but that is because we reverted to the flesh when we should have been relying by faith on the Spirit of God and His Word rightly divided.

Dear friends, we had better learn—and never forget!—these lessons from Israel’s history. They serve as our example in how not to behave, how not to respond to God’s generosity (goodness and grace). While we hope we will not sin, we will sin until we are taken to Heaven. Thankfully, God has already taken care of our sin. Nearly 2000 years ago, He settled IN FULL our sin debt at Calvary. Now, we just walk in Him, living day-to-day, relying on Him (resulting in good works) not self (resulting in sins). When we sin, we just return to His Word, find verses to correct our behavior, and implement them to life by faith! 🙂

Lifted and Fallen #5

Sunday, February 12, 2017

“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:12,13 KJV).

Does the Bible teach “entire sanctification?” Today’s Scripture screams, NO!

After meticulously rehearsing Israel’s sins, the context of today’s Scripture says: “Now these things were our examples…” (verse 6). Also, verse 11: “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” Then, we read today’s Scripture cautioning us to beware. Brethren, we should not get prideful, lest we fall into sin as they did.

The sins of the “flesh”—outward activities—are bad. However, the Bible also talks about the sins of the “spirit”—religion and mental attitudes (2 Corinthians 7:1). Filthiness of the spirit means following denominations and false religion, parroting preachers, idolizing theology, and constantly thinking about self (more money, power, fame, beauty, education, sex, et cetera). In fact, today’s Scripture is part of the Holy Spirit’s reproof of the Corinthians’ allowing idol worship and false religion to stifle their Christian lives (read chapters 8-11 of 1 Corinthians). Also, please refer to 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 and all of chapter 11.

First Thessalonians 5:19 says, “Quench not the Spirit.” We should not hinder the Holy Spirit from working in our lives (the verse implies we can hinder Him!). The saints at Thessalonica were mature, spiritual, but even they had to be warned about committing sin (both carnal sins and religious sins). The same admonition was issued in 1 Timothy 5:22, Titus 3:14, Ephesians 5:7-18, Philippians 2:12-16, Galatians 5:13-26, Romans chapters 6-8, Colossians 2:20-23, et cetera.

So-called “sinless” Christians today may avoid alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, adultery, and dancing, but they are quite drunk on pride, breathe out spiritual lies, sleep with other gods (including self), and move to the beat of Satan’s policy of evil! If they do not understand what God is doing today (Romans through Philemon), they are just as unapproved of God as Israel of old was….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Did Paul engage in ‘missionary journeys?’

Lifted and Fallen #4

Saturday, February 11, 2017

“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:12,13 KJV).

Does the Bible teach “entire sanctification?” Today’s Scripture screams, NO!

“I would never do what he or she did!” We Christians may deceive ourselves into thinking we no longer sin. Religion (and self-righteousness)—not Scripture—led us to that conclusion. Friends, remember poor Israel as described in the context of today’s Scripture! We too are Adam’s sons and daughters, heirs of the same sin nature that drove the Jews to unbelief and disobedience! The same evil world system that existed 3,000 years ago, when Moses led Israel, is still with us today. Conditions are ripe for us—yes, us in Christ—to sin! We had better beware, and not puff out our chests in overconfidence.

Satan still uses false religion to intoxicate people—even genuine Christians— into believing lies straight from the pits of hell. They ignore the provisions God has offered us in Christ. All they do is complain and argue. His King James Bible is not perfect enough. The crosswork of His Son is good, but they also want to do their own works to gain God’s blessings. They ridicule Paul, His apostle to the Gentiles. They steal all of Israel’s blessings and make them their own—water baptism, tithing, spiritual gifts (particularly tongues and healing), material blessings, divine earthly government, prayer promises, Sabbath day, kosher food laws, end-time prophecies, et cetera.

Rather than staying with the doctrine to and about Church the Body of Christ, Romans through Philemon, they wander all over the Bible, yanking legalistic verses out of context in order to force them onto us today. No wonder they are so confused. Unless they start using the Bible dispensationally, they will remain confused! Committing such sins of the spirit is just as offensive to God as pursuing the sins of the flesh….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why do 1 Corinthians 10:8 and Numbers 25:9 disagree?

Lifted and Fallen #3

Friday, February 10, 2017

“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:12,13 KJV).

Does the Bible teach “entire sanctification?” Today’s Scripture screams, NO!

Verses 1-4 say Israel started right—a leader, Moses (God’s spokesman to them); the cloud (God’s presence); the Red Sea crossing (passing to new life in Christ); spiritual food (manna and quail); and spiritual drink (water). However, they were not content with God’s provisions.

We continue reading: “[5] But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. [6] Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. [7] Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. [8] Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. [9] Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. [10] Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.”

Verse 5, sinful Jews dying in the wilderness, refers to Numbers 14:29. Verse 6, them craving the old life (sinful pleasures) in Egypt, compares to Numbers 11:4-6. Verse 7 refers to Exodus 32:6, them worshiping the golden calf idol and engaging in orgies (lewd dancing parties). Verse 8 quotes Exodus 32:28,35—God striking those fornicators with a deadly plague. Verse 9 refers to Numbers 21:5,6—God sending serpents to bite and kill defiant Jews. Finally, verse 10 compares to Numbers 14:36-37 and/or Numbers 16:46-50—God destroying the complainers with a plague. They doubted He would bring them into the Promised Land. Rather than being thankful for His blessings, they preferred their old life. Instead of serving Him, they worshiped pagan idols. They repeatedly challenged Him and complained. Those same sins exist in the professing church today….

Clueless

Saturday, February 4, 2017

“And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee” (Matthew 21:9-11 KJV).

Whether 2,000 years ago or today—some people are utterly clueless!

A reporter interviewed people on the sidewalks of an American city. While holding portraits of famous United States politicians, he asked passersby if they could identify those faces. These pedestrians were utterly clueless. In complete sincerity, they threw out random names, far from the truth. How comical! Doubtless, sadly, such oblivious people exist in all nations. Strangely, in this world of constant communication (smartphones, email, social media, and so on), some people still fail to stay abreast with current events and prominent characters. This was exactly where Israel was in today’s Scripture.

Indeed, some Jews recognized Jesus as Messiah when He came. As He fulfilled prophecy after prophecy, they became increasingly certain that He was the God-Man their ancestors had expected for many centuries. Yet, most remained in spiritual darkness. While their King rode on a donkey into their capital city, the so-called “triumphal entry,” Jerusalem’s citizens asked, “Who is this?” There are hints of sarcasm or scorn here. “If He is so important, so worthy of such adoration, why is He on a modest, baby donkey? He is no one special!” Friends, sin had so blinded them. They could not even see that Jesus was riding that donkey to fulfill yet another prophecy—Zechariah 9:9. Even today, the average Jewish person still rejects Jesus as Messiah.

The multitude replied, “This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.” While this was true, they were also lacking spiritual insight. He was not just some “prophet;” He was “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16)! (Notice the “clueless” people there in verses 13 and 14.) Friends, there are minor consequences if we fail to recognize key people in our world today. However, let us not fail to recognize the Lord Jesus Christ as God’s Son and the payment for our sins—such ignorance will have eternal consequences!

Growing in Christ!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

“Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14 KJV).

Herein is the Christian’s spiritual growth—looking forward to deeper things and not looking back to the shallow!

Friends, around this time of year, now a decade ago (!), a brother in Christ and Bible teacher introduced my family and me to Pauline dispensationalism. His “Bible timeline” reminded me so much of what my parents had first believed many years before. Up to that point, due to two painful church splits fifteen years earlier, we had been in and out of various “fundamental”/“evangelical” churches. After years of “hopping” from one assembly to another, growing more disappointed in the apostasy and unbelief cropping up in each group, we were now being stabilized! The Spirit of God was using this Bible teacher to bring us back to His Word. Many months later, a pastor who taught Pauline dispensationalism also began to help us grow in the King James Bible.

We had trusted Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour many years earlier, but how we did not understand and enjoy the Bible until Pauline dispensationalism came to light in our lives! Dear friends, where I am now has taken 10 long years of thoughtful Bible study. While I still have unanswered questions, I can honestly say that, through diligent Bible study, a lot of my (once-nagging) questions have been answered. My Christian life now is so much more meaningful, more appreciated, more understood, and more exciting! Now I know what my Father God is doing today, and I can cooperate with Him by faith.

Saints, I look back on myself 10 years ago, stuck in denominational teaching and the traditions of men, and am now grateful to have been liberated from such spiritual confusion and doctrinal perversion. Never do I want to return to such ignorance! I am (still) growing in Christ! 🙂

Bible Q&A #345: “Do Matthew 17:15, Mark 9:17-18, and Luke 9:39 contradict?