Not Made Perfect by the Flesh #5

Friday, October 30, 2020

“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:1-3 KJV).

Can “the flesh” add anything to the Holy Spirit’s work? Nay, it cannot!

“I will be like the most High,” Lucifer boasted (Isaiah 14:14). As he told Christ, he desires worship: “All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me(Matthew 4:9). Employing whatever sneaky means necessary, Satan accomplishes his goal. If he can counterfeit God’s actions, then people will be deceived and credit God. By attributing Satan’s work to God, man unwittingly worships Satan. It is an ingenious strategy, one seldom perceived!

Emotions mislead because the human heart is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). While something may “feel” right, it may not actually be right. Feelings are fickle, changing with our circumstances. Therefore, we cannot use them to gauge truth and error. Adrenaline rushes come and go, so never should we confuse them with the permanent Holy Spirit. If we are externalists or formalists, we run the risk of faking at some point. For instance, if we observe people raising hands or dancing, peer pressure urges us to mimic them. The Holy Spirit is thus quenched and our flesh—namely, the fear of being “left out”—motivates the behavior. Satan smiles. Except for the rare Berean Bible student, no one is able to notice the error.

So-called “Christian revivals” are being held where protests, riots, lootings, and shootings have occurred. It is claimed, “The Devil is active, but God is moving!” Online videos show musicians hosting “Christian rock” concerts. Crowds—mainly young adults—raise their hands, jump, run, sing, sob, and pray. Supposedly, they are “coming to Jesus;” yet, a clear Gospel message is absent. When we compare their activities with the Scriptures, what is allegedly “God’s work” turns out to be a mockery of Jesus Christ. Remember, we are not made perfect by the flesh!

Bible Q&As #779 and #780: “Should Christians observe All Saints’ Day?” and “Should Christians observe All Souls’ Day?

Not Made Perfect by the Flesh #4

Thursday, October 29, 2020

“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:1-3 KJV).

Can “the flesh” add anything to the Holy Spirit’s work? Nay, it cannot!

The Galatians were preoccupied with the Law of Moses (cf. Galatians 4:21). Religious rules and regulations captivated them. They were deceived into believing their performance—their “flesh”—could somehow enhance their Christian life (cf. today’s Scripture). Did the Holy Spirit come to indwell these saints because of their religious works? No! Would He need their pious deeds to continue living in and through them? No! Sadly, today’s professing church is equally “foolish.” Nearly 20 centuries later, it still refuses to recognize rites, rituals, and ceremonies are incompatible with God’s grace! Like the Galatians not thinking clearly, we lack even basic spiritual common sense. We too have not let the Message of Grace renew our mind.

Philosophy and other vain speculations of lost (pagan!) people distracted the Corinthian believers. The first three chapters of 1 Corinthians are the Holy Spirit’s instructions to straighten out their confusion. Selfishness abounded in Corinth because spiritual ignorance flourished there. Whereas the Galatians were quite “strict” with their legalism, the Corinthians were quite “loose” with their sensuality. The Corinthians acted like spiritual babies because they also thought like spiritual babies. This too describes today’s professing church. Actually, the conundrums in 1 Corinthians parallel the chaos and confusion of modern “praise and worship.” Recall 1 Corinthians 14:40!

Instead of being thankful for the Message of God’s Grace—what the Holy Spirit has revealed in Pauline doctrine, Romans through Philemon—we unwisely believe we can improve the Christian life. Whether from Galatia or Corinth, we must learn the lesson: neither formalism (strict rules and regulations) nor fanaticism (no rules or regulations whatsoever) will ever replace the Holy Spirit’s work in grace believer’s heart. Let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why did Jesus offer Himself to Israel if He knew they would reject Him?

To Look Beyond the Makeup #13

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

And when Jehu was come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she painted her face, and tired her head, and looked out at a window (2 Kings 9:30 KJV).

Removing her “paint,” what do we see?

Prior to our Dispensation of Grace, Satan’s evil world system contaminated ancient Israel with pagan idolatry (especially through King Ahab and Queen Jezebel). After our Dispensation, this will be repeated via “King” Antichrist and “Queen” Whore of Babylon. Remember, once Satan learns something works to his advantage, he will use it repeatedly. For thousands of years now, false religion has deceived mankind. If it was beneficial to the Devil’s plan then, and it will be helpful to him later, then he is indeed (!) operating it right now… and practically no one detects it!

Scripture explains how the harlot seduces a young man “void of understanding” (Proverbs 7:7). He is among the “simple [uneducated, unskilled] ones.” Carefully read the whole chapter. Exercising great subtilty, she lures him with the promise of physical delight (cf. 1 Timothy 4:1-3). Naïve and uninformed, he absolutely cannot resist. He merrily jumps in bed with her… and then she kills him! That man represents unsuspecting Israel—or even gullible “Christians” today—falling for Satan’s lie program of evil religion. The LORD God gave them His Word, but they ignore that Divine wisdom. Focusing on mere outward appearance (a “painted” face), they lack any sense to realize they have joined themselves to a “woman of the street!”

Finally, consider “eye-opening” 2 Corinthians 11:13-15: “[13] For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. [14] And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. [15] Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” False religion is attractive yet sneaky, Satan’s precise method in Genesis 3:1-6. It shoves aside God’s grace, and stresses our (self-) “righteousness.” With our eyes on the creature, they are off the Creator (Romans 1:25). Ignoring God’s Grace Message through the Apostle Paul, the Bible Books of Romans through Philemon, we have failed to look beyond the makeup… yea… fakeup!

World Lost! #10

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

“Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons; Specially the day that thou stoodest before the LORD thy God in Horeb, when the LORD said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children” (Deuteronomy 4:9,10 KJV).

Some have cried out, “This world is going to hell in a handbasket!” Others have exclaimed, “We have lost our country!” Surely, surely, they are all correct!

For centuries, church members have constructed buildings, lit candles, walked aisles, distributed religious literature, donned choir robes, knocked on doors, held “revivals,” organized concerts, and raised money for “missions.” Our leaders have wasted decades and billions of dollars on seminary and Bible college, having learned nothing but man’s speculations and traditions. Spreading their error to the congregations, the Body of Christ—lacking God’s wisdom and power—is rendered impotent and unable to withstand the deceitful cultural revolution already begun.

The formalism was but a veneer. All its gold and silver cannot hide the spiritual poverty of the professing church. Neither can all the water in every baptistery fount wash away its hypocrisy. All the professions of “faith” cannot mask the unbelief that pervades it. Simply put, people have been “playing church”—and the “actors” have finally taken off their masks! In the Apostle Paul’s time, the challenge was preaching the newly-revealed Gospel of Grace so the nations would trust it and abandon their paganism. Now, having gone through 20 centuries of individuals rejecting that Good News, we are witnessing a reverse. Light refused becomes darkness. Today, the nations know the Gospel of Grace—and are returning to heathenism anyway!

Jesus Christ’s return will right everything wrong. Until then, we Christians need to believe and proclaim a clear Gospel message (1 Corinthians 15:3,4), and then believe teach sound Bible doctrine (the Word of God rightly divided—especially Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon). Brethren, let us faithfully pass that to future generations, so we may say, “We are not responsible for the world lost!”

Filthiness and Foolishness!

Friday, October 19, 2018

“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away” (Isaiah 64:6 KJV).

Human nature, often assumed to generate only “worldly sins,” is actually composed of two extremes. Yes, we are naturally inclined to lasciviousness, dirty sins, wild living (what the religious crowd “shuns” and “condemns”). However, a more serious (but seemingly innocuous) vulnerability exists within us.

We are also inherently ascetic, self-disciplined, strict. Religion—offering our works to please God—actually leads to greater evil. Self-righteousness attempts to replace God’s righteousness (cf. Romans 10:1-3). Mankind believes he can substitute his “goodness” for God’s and God will supposedly be none the wiser. We can indeed fool other people but God looks beyond outward appearances. He sees our intentions, heart attitude (1 Samuel 16:7; Jeremiah 17:9,10). We really want Him to let us into Heaven, not solely because of Jesus Christ’s work, but rather because of our work. God sees it as foolishness!

God considers all human nature wicked. Thus, He deems all (not some) of its works unacceptable. Whether in religion or non-religion, man is constantly striving to replace God’s efforts with his, God’s ideas with his, God’s objectives with his. Almighty God will not overlook it: He will not alter His plan of salvation simply because we want Him. He will forgive us all our sins and save us unto eternal life, and then He will do good works in and through us. It is not to be confused with religion—us doing good works to gain forgiveness and eternal life. From all outward appearance, what God produces in and through people is identical to what religion produces in and through people. Nevertheless, God sees the difference inside.

When God the Holy Spirit comments on human “goodness,” His inspired Word calls it “but dung” (Philippians 3:8). How flattering! Notice today’s Scripture—“all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” The Hebrew root employed implies the monthly courses of a woman’s menstrual flux. “Filthy rags” is literally “menstruous cloths” (“sanitary pads” in modern English). Dirty, soiled! (Consult Leviticus 15:33, Leviticus 20:18, and Isaiah 30:22.) Again, from God’s vantage point, human “goodness” is filthiness!

See the King in His Beauty

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off (Isaiah 33:17 KJV).

Jesus Christ quoted today’s Scripture in Matthew 5:8 when He said “the pure in heart… shall see God.” In the Millennium, they will come to see Him, the King of Israel—Immanuel, “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23; cf. Zechariah 8:23).

The public goes to great lengths to meet a celebrity (actor, politician, writer, filmmaker, musician, religious leader, et cetera)—expensive trips and long wait times mean nothing. They want to snap “selfies” with that person, get his or her autograph, and/or shake hands. Screaming with delight, they blow kisses, joyfully leap, sometimes falling to the ground. Acts 10:26 paraphrased: “Stand up! They are just people!”

However, when Israel’s Messiah-King was born in little Bethlehem of Judah, no massive crowds came. The masses were “too busy” with their lives to “bother” seeing God in the flesh. Visitors were lowly shepherds whom angels had notified out in the countryside (Luke 2:7-20). Israel had “no room” for Baby Jesus in the inn, so they offered Him a stable. He was an outcast even in the virgin Mary’s womb! His own people (Israel) wanted nothing to do with Him. Nonetheless, within two years of His birth, Gentiles from the east (wise men) came to see and worship Him (Matthew 2:1,2). Verse 3: “When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.” The nations want God’s fellowship but Israel is not willing to be the channel of blessing. Horrible!!

Today is no different. Rather than the masses flocking to grace churches to commune with God’s people and learn the truths of His Word rightly divided, they gravitate to “places of worship” where they hear feel-good catchphrases, motivational speeches, and entertaining music concerts. Whether they know it or not, they have no time for the one true God. Satan, the god of this world, has distracted them. God is not mocked. Their spurning of Him is not going unnoticed! How urgent it is that they come to Him by faith in Jesus Christ alone, and embrace His pure Word to them, lest they see the King in His wrath!

A Filling—Not a Feeling!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; (Ephesians 5:18,19 KJV).

Notice, dear friends, this is a filling not a feeling!

A Christian woman approached me recently to ask if I believed in “the filling of the Holy Ghost.” I told her that I most certainly did, as the Bible does tell us to be “filled with the Spirit” (cf. today’s Scripture). However, knowing her background, I quickly added, “But there is no loss of self-control with this filling.” Whether today, or thousands of years ago, Satan’s religious system always has its counterfeits. While “praise dancing” feels good, while “holy laughter” brings some people happiness, feelings and emotions do not have the authority to gauge truth. What does it mean to be “filled with the Spirit?”

If we turn to the companion passage of today’s Scripture, we see the term defined for us. Colossians 3:16 says: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” To be “filled with the Spirit” is to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom.” In other words, His thinking controls us because we have studied and memorized His Holy Word. The Bible says that we need to “mind the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5-8). This is how the Spirit of God leads us. By recalling what we read, we walk in line with what His Word says today in the Dispensation of Grace (Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon).

How sad it is when people reduce the role of the Holy Spirit to nothing more than some strange feeling that causes one to engage in some pretty wild, disorderly, absurd behaviors. Religious tradition is so intoxicating, so inebriating, it causes people to lose all sense of reason. Nevertheless, when we “let the word of Christ dwell in [us] richly in all wisdom,” it becomes a filling rather than a feeling!

Mark the Heretics—Mark the Faithful

Friday, September 18, 2015

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:3,4 KJV).

My, oh my, most news items involving “Christianity” today can be summed up thus!

A news article currently circulating on social media involves a 103-year-old woman now banned from the Baptist church that she has attended all of her life. She disagreed with the “new” pastor’s actions and teaching in the local assembly. He would holler and those with him would roll around on the floor. She confronted him, telling him these types of charismatic activities did not belong in their Baptist church. Sometime later, she received a letter in the mail that forbade her from returning to the church building. When she did return, the police were called… but they could not do anything because it was a civil dispute. She plans to keep on going to that church.

Yes, Christendom is still sliding doctrinally. Apostasy—that is, turning away from God’s truth, and embracing error—is evident even in mainline denominations that did not historically support such warped views. Evidently, the local assembly—like tens of thousands of others—did not have enough Scriptural grounding to identify and run off the heretical pastor. He is still there!

“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17,18). Not only are we to “mark” those who are bad, but we are to also “mark” those who are good. “Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample” (Philippians 3:17).

We are to follow the Apostle Paul and those who follow him, for they are following Jesus Christ Himself (1 Corinthians 11:1). This is the sure way to avoid the spiritual disaster described in today’s Scripture… and in today’s religious news stories!

Paul and Dispensationalism #10

Monday, August 17, 2015

“If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant” (1 Corinthians 14:37,38 KJV).

What else can the Apostle Paul teach us about dispensational Bible study?

Just what is the test for true spirituality? How many hymns we sang? How many large tithes we gave? How many “unknown tongues” we uttered? How many long prayers we recited? How many theology books we read? How many miracles we performed? How well we know Hebrew, Greek, and Latin? How many confessions we made? How many times we attended church? How high we jumped and how well we danced during “worship?” While in religion these are seen as “marks” of true Holy-Spirit-led Christian service, the Holy Spirit Himself has quite a different opinion (today’s Scripture).

In Corinth, carnality and Biblical ignorance abounded among Christians. It broke Paul’s heart to see that assembly in spiritual shambles… the very same saints he had taught personally for 18 months (Acts 18:11)! Pagan philosophy had enticed and deceived them, they were suing each other, they behaved as drunken gluttons at the Lord’s Supper, they abused spiritual gifts for personal gratification, et cetera. The Corinthians thought they were so spiritual and so wise, while in reality they were so fleshly and so silly! (Like today’s professing “church!”)

Today’s Scripture declares that a Spirit-led Christian, one speaking on behalf of God, acknowledged Paul’s apostolic authority over us Gentiles. The Corinthians were not spiritual—they rejected Paul’s apostleship in chapters 10 through 13 of 2 Corinthians. Paul knew, however, some Christians would continue deliberately ignoring his apostleship. His advice? Let them stay “ignorant!”

First Corinthians 2:6-8 says God’s “hidden wisdom” is manifested for all to see in the writings of Paul the Apostle, Romans through Philemon. Sadly, like the Corinthians, most true Christians today are too deceived, too weak, and too immature to appreciate “the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery.” They cannot handle the deeper things of God. May we be as patient with them as possible, but when they persistently resist God’s truth, do not waste time. Friend, move on to others!

Paul and Dispensationalism #8

Saturday, August 15, 2015

“Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:” (Romans 16:25,26 KJV).

What else can the Apostle Paul teach us about dispensational Bible study?

Indeed, 95 to 99 percent of professing “Christianity” is doctrinally weak. Most alleged “Christians” and most true Christians have an extremely feeble grasp of Scripture. This ignorance applies not only to church members but also to preachers and priests and theologians… the “blind” leading the “blind” (Matthew 15:14)! How did such a spiritual mess arise? Honestly, the “church” has focused on founding religious organizations and defending denominational tenets. There was no sound and proper Bible study. The Bible was merely scanned and appealing verses were chosen—that weak foundation produced the current frail, teetering structure.

More commentaries (further confusing them) have been read than verses in the Holy Bible! More time has been spent recounting worthless stories, telling jokes, singing and jumping, and re-teaching and re-teaching basic verses, than time spent preaching a clear Gospel message and teaching a profitable Bible lesson! More energy has been spent organizing weddings, baby showers, dances, food and clothing drives, and bingo nights than energy expended in planning Bible conferences and Bible camps! The average church almost entirely neglects the Bible, especially Paul’s epistles. No wonder the average local church is not “dying” but dead!

The professing “church” has utterly failed to grasp today’s Scripture. They usually cannot adequately delineate Paul’s Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:3-4—Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day). They do not understand Paul’s special ministry, “the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery.” They do not know how those Pauline books fit with the overall Bible scheme. Basically, they have not been “stablished” (stabilized) and spiritually matured. Therefore, they are “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14). Such ignorance is the result of ignoring Pauline dispensationalism!