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!”

Something in Which to Glory!

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

“As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:12-14 KJV).

In what shall we glory? About what shall we boast? In what shall we find value?

Religion produces people who enjoy bragging all about their “dedication to God.” “Look what I did—the ceremonies in which I have participated, the many prayers I faithfully recited daily, how much I put in the collection plate, see how many pleasures I gave up to please God! Come, see how much I love Him!” Dear friends, the Apostle Paul found great value in something—but that something was not what he did. All that human flesh can accomplish pales in comparison to the work in today’s Scripture.

As Lent begins, the time when religionists temporarily (a mere 40 days) relinquish some pleasant food or activity, let us remember that our performance is often non-performance. Once we place ourselves on that treadmill of “do, do, do,” we are guaranteed to fail at some point. Human flesh is simply too weak to maintain 100 percent—that is sin! Even concerning one rule, we cannot keep it perfectly. We mess up eventually.

If ever we believe that our puny works are worth bragging about, let us remember the words of the Apostle Paul in today’s Scripture. While some boast in their religiosity (in the passage, the Judaizers applauding their rite of physical circumcision), and such denominationalists today urge us to obey their church’s instructions so they too may boast in our ability, let us eschew such foolishness. Being imperfect, all their works do not measure up to Christ’s finished crosswork. At Calvary, we find the only sacrifice that will ever please the God of the Bible. If we must boast, let us brag that He did what we could never, ever do!

See our archived Bible Q&A: “Should Christians observe Lent?

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why is Jesus called ‘the Son of Man?’

Something in Which to Glory!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

“As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:12-14 KJV).

In what shall we glory? About what shall we boast? In what shall we find value?

Religion produces people who enjoy bragging all about their “dedication to God.” “Look what I did—the ceremonies in which I have participated, the many prayers I faithfully recited daily, how much I put in the collection plate, see how many pleasures I gave up to please God! Come, see how much I love Him!” Dear friends, the Apostle Paul found great value in something—but that something was not what he did. All that human flesh can accomplish pales in comparison to the work in today’s Scripture.

As Lent begins, the time when religionists temporarily (a mere 40 days) relinquish some pleasant food or activity, let us remember that our performance is often non-performance. Once we place ourselves on that treadmill of “do, do, do,” we are guaranteed to fail at some point. Human flesh is simply too weak to maintain 100 percent—that is sin! Even concerning one rule, we cannot keep it perfectly. We mess up eventually.

If ever we believe that our puny works are worth bragging about, let us remember the words of the Apostle Paul in today’s Scripture. While some boast in their religiosity (in the passage, the Judaizers applauding their rite of physical circumcision), and such denominationalists today urge us to obey their church’s instructions so they too may boast in our ability, let us eschew such foolishness. Being imperfect, all their works do not measure up to Christ’s finished crosswork. At Calvary, we find the only sacrifice that will ever please the God of the Bible. If we must boast, let us brag that He did what we could never, ever do!

See our archived Bible Q&A: “Should Christians observe Lent?

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!

Beat Up With Corinthians!

Friday, August 31, 2018

“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 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” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15 KJV).

A dear Christian brother still struggled with the extensive denominational brainwashing he had endured decades prior. The priest read the Bible at Mass, but it was never edifying. Scripture about sin was recited to “beat up” the congregation. First and Second Corinthians were used to make them feel guilty (“prepared” for their next confession).

He was never told, and neither were the rest of the poor church members, how to have victory over sin. They were simply condemned as wretched sinners, which caused him (and likewise them) to fear the Bible. What a terrible way to use the Holy Scriptures. Just because a minister reads the Bible, that does not mean that he is serving the God of the Bible, using the Bible properly, or speaking on behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ. Beware!!

Today’s Scripture, written 20 centuries ago, says there were way back then (!) “false apostles, deceitful workers.” People who claimed to be “ministers of righteousness” and really “ministers of Satan!” This is strong language, friends. The Holy Spirit did not hesitate to say exactly what they were. Our churches are filled with them—self-righteous leaders who have no goal in life other than to support and defend their denominational system. So long as their church tradition is upheld, they do not care how much damage they inflict upon others, or how greatly they distort God’s words.

God did not simply give His Word to point out our sin; He supplied it so we could see how to be delivered from sin! “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:31).

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!

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!