Spiritual Warfare Prep

Spiritual Warfare Prep
We Are In The Lord's Army

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Shallow Group Of Professing Christians And What They Are Missing

When I first came to know the Lord in 1972, the state of the church was interesting. I was meeting people who had a very evident relationship with the Lord, while others seemed to be hung up on certain doctrines. A large group of professing Christians though were living out something very shallow and heartbreaking.

There were many who seemed to 'get' the Gospel message and responded to it. At the same time, there was this large group which seemed only to focus on evangelism, yet, not many in the church actually practiced doing evangelism. This is very interesting, yet strange to my thinking.

What was the problem? Perhaps it was due to a shallow understanding of the Gospel? Churches that had this thinking would emphasize evangelism, but never really talked about how evangelism was done. In theory, the only Biblical concepts these people knew about was 'getting saved' and 'telling others about Jesus'. So what is missing from this concept? What was the evident weakness of all this teaching and understanding of Christianity?

Three things come to mind. One is, like I mentioned above, was that the understanding (and appreciation) of the Gospel is weak. Many of these people view sin as things like smoking, cussing, dancing, drinking, and a few other obvious vices. What is missing is the real understanding of sin. Sin is not necessarily the outward things that we do, although those things many times are symptoms of our sin, but all our sin starts in the heart. The need for the Cross doesn't really make sense to these people, for they do not necessarily practice sins that are open and obvious, and thus, they are not really that bad.

In the Bible, we learn what sin is from knowing the 10 Commandments; God wants nothing to be more important to us that He is, we are not to make a 'god' or 'idol' to suit ourselves, taking God's name in vain is sin, we must keep the Sabbath day holy, we are to honor our parents, we are not to kill anyone with intention, we must be faithful to our spouses, we must not steal, we must not lie, and we must not want something so badly that belongs to someone else.

But sin goes deeper. In Proverbs 6, we see a list of things God considers an abomination. A lying tongue, a proud look, hands that shed innocent blood, are some examples. Throughout the Bible, there are other descriptions of sin like being angry with your brother without cause, and evil thoughts.

So, this large group of professing Christians tends to neglect the heart issues, but focuses on the things that are obvious, that they consider as sin. So, if a person belongs to that group and doesn't drink or smoke, then they really are a pretty good guy. Really? Has that person looked and seen the pride in his heart? Has he dealt with his anger or lust? Probably not because those things are hidden in the heart. He misses seeing them as sin. Or maybe he really doesn't think they are there.

The second thing is that there is no understanding or belief in the doctrine of sanctification. Many times, these people are so strong on making sure everyone knows the verses about how we are saved by grace alone. We all would agree with that, but in this case, they totally ignore the doctrine of sanctification. They hold onto the doctrine of grace and ignore the rest of the Scriptures at the expense of their spiritual growth.

A church that believes this way thinks like this; We need to get people saved, then they need to go out and see other people get saved. That is their only goal and aim. And it is not so much that people get saved from their sins, but it is more that people can now have a way to escape hell.

There is no need for training or discipleship. They claim to know the Bible, but, it is only head knowledge. They don't use the Bible except when it comes to the weak Gospel they are familiar with and the verses associated with that.

Jesus said, "All authority has been given unto Me. Therefore go, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you..." Matthew 28:18-20.

He didn't tell us to just tell people how to be saved. We are to teach and disciple them as well. That is how the sanctification process works in our lives.

The third thought is, they lack the power of the Holy Spirit. They are powerless because they are not trusting in Him. They know about Him and believe in Him, but He is not an active part of their lives. Most of this is due to ignorance, but some of it is due to fear.

The Holy Spirit activates God's word and gives us the lenses to see God in His word. The intent of Scriptures connect and we can use the word of God by applying it to our lives. We feed upon God's word and we grow spiritually as the Holy Spirit illuminates His word to us. He also gives us the power and the boldness to do evangelism and the wisdom to know how to communicate the Gospel message in a correct way that will minister to people.

A lot of Scriptural insight seems to be missing from his group. For example, Scripture can be taken out of context and they can build their own doctrine out of that. One time, I was skimming through a book that covered the reasons why the spiritual gifts are not for today. The author used Paul's words of how certain spiritual gifts 'edified' the believer. The author took the word 'edified' and used it to mean 'being puffed up'. So, the author took Paul's explanation of using the spiritual gifts to edify oneself or the church, to mean that the person using the gift was puffing himself up! Friends, this is not right discernment of God's word. We have to be very careful to communicate the correct meaning of the words the Bible writers used and keep everything in context.

So, to sum it all up, here is what this belief system entails:

1. Weak or wrong understanding of sin and the Cross
2. Little or no understanding or practice of sanctification
3. Little or no understanding or active trust in the Holy Spirit for power in sanctification and living for God's glory

This is what I see in a large part of the body of Christ. Perhaps we should be praying for the church in America as well as our own local churches.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Deception of Deception - Fool Me Once, Shame On You - Fool Me Twice, Shame On Me!

You would think that after falling for computer viruses and scams, I would be on the alert when the next one would come. But, I fell for the scam.

It looked different. I didn't recognize it as a scam. It looked perfectly valid. Nevertheless, I was scammed.

It started when I was researching for some graphics on the Internet. I got this new toy called 'Cricut' and I was going to make some Christmas pictures with it. That is, until I got scammed.

While I was looking for this graphic, a message box came up saying that my computer was infected with a virus. It said I had to call such and such a number to fix it. I tried to close the browser, but a voice yelled at me and told me my computer had a virus. I figured that it was a valid warning at that point. So, I called the number.

Now, I could have called Apple, but I didn't. It seemed like so much of a hassle whenever I called before and I was afraid the virus was ruining my computer so I called the given number. A man named 'Alex' answered and seemed very kind. He explained to me that my computer did indeed have a virus, and that he would fix it.

Three hours later, my computer was 'fixed'. I was asked to buy a license for $499.99. It would give me a year of free technical service. He also installed an antivirus program on my computer.

"Alex' called me the next day making sure everything was working with my computer. He spoke very good English, but with an Indian dialect.

I asked some computer saavy people on my Mac emailing list about the antivirus program. And they gave me the bad news. "You were scammed" many of them told me. I posted a message about it on Facebook. They told me the same thing. I called Apple. They also confirmed that I had been scammed.

After all that, I contacted the credit card company. They told me if I wanted to dispute it, I should contact the scam company first. So, I did.

The scam company's name is 'Brainbro'. I talked again with Alex, and then with someone who had the same dialect, but said his name was 'Brian'. I told them of all the people who said that I was scammed by them. Of course, they did not agree. Alex said that he was disappointed that a reputable company like Apple would say such a thing. I told him that my computer really was not infected with a virus. He agreed with what I said. He explained that when I got the message that my computer was infected with a virus, it really meant that malware was found on my computer. He removed the malware that he found, according to him. They would refund $349.99 of the money I paid for the license.

Just before Christmas, before 8 am, I get a phone call. It was from someone who had the same dialect as Alex. He said his name was Albert. He mentioned something about a license and that within the past two weeks malware was found on my computer. I told him that my computer was working just fine. 'Albert' then hung up. The caller I.D. said 'Private Caller' so I don't know who it was from, but it sure sounded like it was from 'Brainbro'.

You might be wonder what all this has to do with anything spiritual. First, I want to warn all my friends about this scam. When I searched the Internet using keywords, others had been scammed by this company the same way I was. It is scary when you see an authentic message pop up on your computer saying that you have a virus. It can look very authentic, but it may be totally false. It would be easy for anyone to fall for.

But also, this, I believe is how the devil works with us. He doesn't come at us with things that would be obvious to us. He tries to get us to fall for his tricks with plausible arguments. His claims look authentic. We all have fallen at times, into his traps.

How can we not fall for the devil's tricks? The main way is to know the word of God. God's word is activated by His Holy Spirit. We also need to be filled with God's Holy Spirit. That way, we can become discerning.

Jesus said,

" If a son shall ask bread of any of you who is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them who ask him?"

We need to be discerning. We need to separate the truth from the lies. The devil's lies look like truth to us. We need to have our guards up at all times because we do not know when the next trick will come.

Hating And Being Hated By One Another - The Annoying Jeopardy Contestant

"For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another." Titus 3:3 ESV

I was intrigued by a Jeopardy contestant a couple of weeks ago by a woman who had an interesting dialect. In fact, her dialect sounded much like the dialect of my grandson! We enjoyed watching her as she answered the many questions on a Jeopardy program and actually won.

What was interesting was that this woman made an impact upon many who were watching Jeopardy those nights when she was on the program. She made such an impact that she ended up on Youtube as was dubbed as the most annoying Jeopardy contestant! I had to go to the videos that were made by others with her on the program.

What I saw in the comments was interesting and very sad. The words that were posted in some of those comments were unbelievable. "...id stab that bitch", "women are ****", "I would've told her to stfu", and a few choice others which I would not repeat. I found other comments under another Youtube video of her. A few did come to her defense.

My point is that we live in a world of darkness. We are so far away from the brilliance of the Gospel. What we see here in these comments is the fruit of lives which are apart from God. All of us would be living lives where we would be full of hate, at least toward someone or something, if it were not for His mercy to us. We would be hating others as well as being hated by others. That is just the nature of living in a world of darkness, without God. This will continue throughout eternity for those who have not responded to God's mercy by turning away from sin and turning to God in repentance and faith (trust) in Jesus Christ as the payment for our sins.

A while back, I learned that only 2% of the church actually engage in evangelism. I don't know why that is, but, if we have been radically changed by the power of the Gospel, it would seem like the desire to share the Gospel with others would be natural. It takes the power of the Holy Spirit to do the work of evangelism. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to overcome sin, and He also reveals Christ to people's hearts. He gives us the boldness to communicate Gospel truths and wisdom as we talk with people about the things of God.

Maybe we have just lost our awe of God? Maybe we have never seen God as awesome? We can have all our theological ducks in a row perfectly arranged, and still miss it.

Here is a quote from a young man who preached at our church last week. Maybe this is a clue as to why we are not impressed with God?

""Your willingness to be a disciple of Jesus is in direct proportion to your awe of Jesus". Seth Grier.

Anyway, as we intentionally bring the light of the Gospel to those who are lost, the light will cause the darkness to go away, and people will be able to clearly see God. Many will respond to the Gospel. Many will no longer live their lives hating and being hated by one another.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Good Admonitions For The Church Today

Here are some strong admonitions Paul had for the church at Thessalonica. At the end of this chapter, Paul tells the Thessalonians to read this letter to all the holy brotherhood.

1 Thessalonians 5:14-26 
Now we exhort you, brothers, warn them who are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.

See that no one renders evil for evil unto anyone; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
 Rejoice evermore.

 Pray without ceasing.

 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

 Quench not the Spirit.

 Despise not prophesyings.

 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

 Abstain from all appearance of evil.

 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 Faithful is he that calls you, who also will do it.

 Brethren, pray for us.

 Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Problems With Pelagianism

The problem with what Pelagians believe is that it is too light on sin. What I mean is something different than what you are probably thinking. Pelagians believe that a person must stop sinning before they can come to God in repentance and faith. They must therefore believe that they have stopped sinning since coming to Christ. They would have to believe that they are no longer sinners, because they have chosen to not sin anymore. But that thinking leads to a lot of problems.

First, we are all blind to our own sin until we allow God to reveal our own hearts to ourselves. We don't see our sin, but we can see the sin in others. Think about how easy it is to spot pride in someone's life, yet, we, too easily have our own pride to deal with, yet, we overlook it because we either don't see it as really that bad or serious, or, we don't think we have pride, even though it is definitely there.

Secondly, Pelagians do not believe people are born with a sinful nature. They think Reformed people are causing people that hear the Gospel to be irresponsible if they were to teach that. In other words, the power of sin is totally under our control. We can choose to be sinners or not. But that is not what the Bible teaches.

In Genesis 3, we see the first human beings God created, turning from good to evil. They chose to do evil when they listened to the voice of the devil instead of God's voice. The world has been under a curse ever since that time. People would now be born into a spiritually dark world. They would be ensnared by sin. They will now become slaves to sin and be imprisoned by sin. Sin is no respecter of persons. Everyone has their fair share and then some. When we are born, we are already subject to the kingdom of Darkness. We don't choose to be in there. That is our default.

Third, Pelagians do not give room for spiritual growth or the process of sanctification. If the Pelagian doctrine is correct, then there is no sanctification process for we become perfected at salvation. But we have to be careful because we could lose this standing if we ever choose to sin. In fact, I am sure they would believe that if we choose to sin, then there is no more repentance available for that person. Once a true believer in Jesus Christ sins, it's over for him or her. (see Hebrews 6 and 10).

Finally, Pelagians do not appear to know anything about the love of God. They always focus on God's wrath and anger, and make it appear as if God is just waiting to destroy us. This passage from Isaiah shows something different though.

"Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him." Isaiah 30-18 ESV

Sadly, as I talk to many Christians or read their writings, I see Pelagianism in what they are trying to communicate. Pelagian evangelists will explain repentance as something equivalent to 'stop sinning'. Even Reformed believers can fall into this trap.

One time, a rich, young ruler came up to Jesus and asked Him, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?' to which Jesus replied 'You know the Commandments." Then Jesus named some of the Commandments. The rich, young ruler responded by saying that he had kept these Commandments from his youth. So, Jesus asked the rich young ruler to do something else. This revealed what was in his heart. Jesus asked him to sell everything he had and then give the money from that to the poor. The rich young ruler was not happy about this question and he went away very sad. What had happened was that this man thought he was a good person without sin. He thought that he kept the Commandments, until Jesus challenged him with a question. Then, when he realized he really was a sinner, he was sad. But his sadness was not over his sin. It was over the fact that he thought he was a good person, but now Jesus showed him that he really was not a good person.

I think this is how the Pelagians think about themselves. They really do think that they are not sinners. They may look at the sin in their past lives and believe that Jesus died for their sins, but now it is up to them to 'stop sinning' and if they don't, they will become toast.

How much 'Pelagianism' is in our own thinking? We need to pull it out if it is there. We also need to be patient with other believers, especially those who are weak. The doctrine of Pelagianism could destroy many. It could also be very discouraging and is certainly deceptive, for none of us can stand up against the power of sin in our own strength. It takes the power of God, and the blood of Christ to set us free from sin. No amount of human willpower will take away our sin, nor will it take the desire for sinning away. That can only come with a new heart.

When we come to Jesus in repentance and faith, we receive the forgiveness of sins. But there is so much more! We are also set free from sin. We can be delivered from sin and its snares. We have a new heart. Now we can obey God and grow in our love and affection for God and others. This is not something we can do on our own. Only God has the power to break sin in our lives. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

When "Your Truth" Hurts "My Truth" And Destroys My Dignity

If you have seen the news, you are aware that there were shootings near Paris that has hurt many and killed some people. Some are, at this moment, being held hostage. According to the NY Post, this is a Terrorist attack.

We live in a society where we value what we think is freedom. We certainly value, perhaps unknowingly, freedom from having to obey God. Many think that God has too many restrictions on our lives. So, we think we can do what we want and really be free. But are we really free to do what we want?

There is a group of people who have made up a logo that says, 'Coexist' meaning that we should all get together and work together in peace, no matter what religion we hold onto. But does that really work?

The Terrorists who killed dozens of people today are practicing their religion. They believe that the god they are trusting in has directed them to kill people who do not hold to their religious beliefs. How can we follow the belief system of those who hold to the slogan of 'Coexist' and practice a belief system that says to kill other people who don't believe in our religion?

This is the fallacy of those who believe that they can believe in whatever they think of as truth. What if you are a person who holds onto that belief system, and a Muslim comes to you to kill you because you will not submit to Allah? Will you submit in a superficial way just to save your neck, or will you stand up for what you actually believe in, or know is true? How do you feel about the Terrorist who wants to kill you, who believe that everyone should be practicing their own truth?

So, you who believe in my truth and your truth being what is prominent and what should be allowed to be practiced in everyone's life, how do you feel about Isis? Remember, your truth will end up backfiring on you when someone else's truth violates your truth.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

What Our World Looks Like Because We See Through a Glass Darkly

New insight into something I see in the body of Christ. I am on Facebook as well as on other social media and I continually see professing Christians tearing one another apart. There are even specialized groups with matching mottos that do this ('We Tear Wolves Up', etc.)

There are professing Christians who seem to rejoice when a famous Christian comes out of the closet, not because the person is trying to be restored to the church, but because now, the professing Christian is finally admitting to how evil he or she really is, which is what they want to emphasize. But even in other ways, Christians seem to delight in finding others who disagree with them doctrinally and call them 'heretics' as well.

Granted, we are not going to agree on everything. This is where we find confusion and arrogance. As one Christian pointed out, the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth, so when two Christians do not see something the same way, that means one of them is not following the Holy Spirit and is a heretic.

But is that true? Of course, the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth. But this is a gradual process. It doesn't mean that we become perfect in knowledge when we come to Christ. The moment we get saved, that is the beginning point of learning to live a new life in a new way, not the final outcome of our lives!

Here is the crux of it all: We see through a glass darkly. When we use the spiritual gifts, we only use them in part. We do not come to Christ, receiving immediate perfection. We have to go through the process of sanctification and we will become mature.

So, when you see a 'fallen' Christian (see Galatians 6) or someone in the body of Christ who you disagree with, please be patient with him or her. They may be struggling in their walk with God. They don't need to be knocked down or unfairly criticized because of their difficulties. They need someone to pray for them so they can repent and get back into the battle again.

Something to keep in mind; the Pharisees were in total opposition to God. There was a time when they saw God for who He is. They chose not to respond to Him as God. Jesus dealt sternly with these people. There are other people who are just in sin, like prostitutes, thieves, liars, pornographers, etc. These people are not usually in a place of spiritual authority like the Pharisees were. When they hear the Gospel, many of them do repent and come to Christ. Sometimes, they struggle though in their walk with God. They need to have someone walk along their side while they struggle. These groups are two different groups. Both have rebelled against God, but the latter group is not after opposing God because God is a threat to their authority and ability to control others. That is why Jesus dealt with the Pharisees the way He did in comparison to the way He treated the tax collectors and prostitutes.

We have to be careful to not treat people who we disagree with in the same way Jesus treated the Pharisees. We will disagree as long as we are living on this planet. Even when we are more mature in the Lord, we will still disagree with others in the Lord. We all see through a glass darkly. We need to respect others who also see through the glass darkly.

And if you do enjoy finding out who the latest false teacher is so you can expose him or her, please check your heart and try to find the reason you enjoy this so much. This may be the first step that will have a major impact on your life.

"I might have all my spiritual theological ducks in a row, but if I don't have the love of God in my heart, I have missed God."