My Lord and Master,
Jesus Christ, was a carpenter. My good friend, Milt Green, was a carpet
Introduction by Milton Green
"Many Christians believe we are living in a time of one of the greatest revivals in the history of the Church. Evangelism reports from around the world seem to substantiate this claim. Manifestations of supernatural gifts, signs and wonders are commonplace in a large percentage of churches. They are widely proclaimed as being from the Lord and proof that God is well pleased with the Church today.
Ministries are expanding into mass media evangelism which spans the globe. Evangelistic and charismatic groups are experiencing tremendous numerical growth as new buildings can be seen springing up and spreading out in almost every direction.
All of these things would seem to refute the remote possibility that we are now living in the time of the great falling away of the Church: a falling away from true faith and the life-style which God demands of His people and which is taught in scripture. Instead, multitudes of church members say they are eagerly anticipating the return of Christ through a secret rapture which will whisk them out of every trial and tribulation which is obviously coming upon the world.
However, when close investigation is made of the personal lives of the church members, we find little difference between most of their life-styles and those of the people in the world. Divorce, adultery, homosexuality, gossip, unforgiveness, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, and factions are as prevalent in the churches today as they are in the world.
Almost any pastor or church leader you talk to privately will admit that down inside he knows something is desperately wrong. Many people wander from church to church looking for something they know they are missing. The message of "peace and safety" being preached cannot put an end to their inner turmoil. They discern the spiritual emptiness in religious traditions and often fall prey to cults and sects that draw them away from Jesus Christ and the Word of God altogether. Others are looking for the true body of Christ which they know is supposed to be "holy and blameless." People easily become disillusioned when they see in the Church what they see in the world.
Churches have turned to recreation and entertainment in an attempt to hold the people, becoming more and more like the world. Rather than select a pastor on the basis of his spiritual maturity and understanding, they choose a man based on his fund-raising ability and his charismatic personality to attract people in order to increase the size of the congregation and "build the church."
Counseling ministries flourish as the message proclaimed by the churches is not sufficient to meet the needs of the spiritually hungry and desperate people. Many pastors, looking for answers, have investigated other denominations and groups (sometimes secretly for fear of being labeled disloyal to their denomination), only to be disappointed to find the other groups have similar spiritual problems.
In the midst of this day of people searching for answers, we should recognize that we are now experiencing what the Lord promised would come. "'Behold, days are coming,' declares the Lord God, 'when I will send a famine on the land, not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the Lord. And people will stagger (in spiritual darkness) from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east; they will go to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, but they will not find it.'" Amos 8:11, 12.
While this famine continues, the Lord has begun to awaken His sheep and reveal to them the essential truths from His Word that have been overlooked and ignored. God did not find it necessary to cooperate with the requirements of religious systems in order to reveal His truths in the time of Jesus. That has not changed.
If you are one of those who realize that something has been wrong in your own life and in the lives of those whom you fellowship, you will find in this book some of the answers you are looking for, answers directly from the Word of God. As you come to God seeking light and truth, you will realize that we are truly waking from a nightmare of destruction. It is our desire that you will hear His voice through His Word and that you will be faithful to follow Him as He leads His true church out of spiritual darkness.
My motive in writing this book is simply to build up the body of Christ in Love. God is using my part to lay a foundation in the life of the believer, a foundation they must have before they can walk with the Lord Jesus Christ in freedom and victory.
God has begun restoring the power and truth of the gospel today. This is the day that will see the glory and power of God coming to earth into His Church which will be holy and blameless."
The Alarming Condition of the Church Today - Apostasy
We are now living in the time of the great falling way: "Let no man deceived you by any means: for that day (the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ) shall not come, except there come a falling away first" (2 Thess. 2:3).
“Falling away” simply means that people turn away from faith in God and begin trusting other things. These other things become idols in their hearts, “golden calves” which they depend upon to lead them through this life and then into heaven. People who have fallen away begin calling something church that is not the church. They begin calling people Christians who are not Christians. Almost every funeral service is preached today as though the person who died has gone to heaven. But the Bible says, “straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which lead to life, and few there be that find it” (Matt. 4:17).
When the children of Israel saw that Moses, their leader whom God had chosen for them, delayed in coming down from the mountain, they tore off their golden earrings and brought them to Aaron. “And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt” (Ex.32:4).
The fleshly hearts of the children of Israel needed a god they could see with their eyes and a god who did not impose disciplines upon them. Then they could fulfill their fleshly lusts and be religious, too. So it is today.
Traditions Replace the Word of God
Many of the churches and denominations of today began as genuine movements of the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit moved Martin Luther through the Word of God as he received a fresh word from God for his day. As this “new light” was spreading, more and more people saw the same truths that Luther had seen. These people gathered around this light and treated it as if it were the whole gospel.
The result was the formation of a new religious structure, both in doctrine and organization, which later became the Lutheran denomination. Generally speaking, those who follow Luther will accept only the light he had. The amazing truth is that if Martin Luther were alive today, he would be diligently seeking for more light from the Word of God. Almost every religious structure in existence today began in this same way.
Many of the traditions developed by religious structures were started with good motives. Through the years they have become so ritualized that the Holy Spirit can rarely work through them any longer.
For example the “mourner’s bench” was used by the Holy Spirit during the ministry of Charles Finney. People would come in repentance and prayer to seek for God for hours or days, until their hearts were changed by the Spirit and power of God. After that the Salvation Army used the mourner’s bench as they called multitudes to repentance. Today “walking the aisle” or “raising your hand” has replaced the mourner’s bench and people “pray the sinners prayer” to be saved, but it is seldom that you see brokenness over sin and true heart repentance in those who come to join the church.
The hearts of unsaved church members by the millions blindly trust their church doctrines and programs, which have become their idols (golden calves), to lead them to heaven. By so doing they have blinded themselves to many of the truths of God’s Word.
People whose hearts are set on pleasing their flesh nature need a physical, tangible God. Today this need is fulfilled through a form of godliness manifested by many religious organizations. These, like Aaron’s golden calf, have been fashioned by the hands of religious leaders of the past to please men, and are protected by the religious leaders today.
The hearts of the people are captured by partial truths and religious slogans. Years of teaching Scriptures that fit into a doctrinal structure have blinded them to the other parts of the Gospel and have given them to the other parts of the Gospel and have given them a false security. They can only see in the Bible the parts of the Bible that fit into their particular structure. Like the Pharisees, they are offended when they hear the other parts of the Bible.
When the Word of God is resisted, Jesus becomes a rock of offense and a stumbling stone! “The stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, even to them which stumble at the word” (1 Pet. 2:7,8).
Tunnel Vision and Doctrines of Men
When people look at the Word of God from any standpoint other than God’s point of view, they have tunnel vision. Tunnel vision causes them to gather around only a part of the Word of God rather than the whole counsel of God. They will also have a Pharisaical attitude of “we have all the light.”
Then their religious structure becomes an idol in their hearts. They cannot be led out of darkness, because they will not receive any truth that conflicts with their doctrine. This is exactly how an idol in someone’s heart causes a veil to be over their face today. They do not have spiritual eyes to see, or ears to hear, and they cannot understand God’s Word.
God tells us in Ezekiel 14:3 “Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumbling block of their iniquity before their face: should I be inquired of at all by them?
The Pharisees loved their religious system more than they loved Jesus when He came to them. Therefore, the words Jesus spoke could have no place in their hearts; their religious structure had their hearts. If they had loved God and if He had their hearts, they would have received the whole counsel of God’s Word and could have been led out of darkness.
However, they could not have receive any new light, because they thought they already had all the light. Therefore, they did not have ears to hear, eyes to see, nor could they understand the rest of the Bible, because their religious system had become their whole source of truth.
Many cannot be led out of spiritual darkness today, because their hearts have become too hardened by resisting God’s Word. Jesus said to the Pharisees: “Why do you not understand my speech? Even because you cannot hear my word” (John 8:43). They could not hear, because they had taken only a part of the Word of God and built a religious structure that had captured their hearts. They could not receive any new light, because the words Jesus spoke would not fit their religious structures.
Towers of Babel (Confusion) Today
In Genesis 11:1-7, the goal of the people who built the Tower of Babel was to build their own city and a tower into heaven. “And they said, Go to, let us build a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name.” Their motivation was pride and the result was confusion. That is what Babylon means-confusion—and it was there they all began to speak a different language. How different is it today? Everyone is going to the same place but they are all speaking a different language. See the high corner towers in almost any city (Zeph. 1:15,16). In one corner tower the people will tell you, “I was baptized at birth, confirmed at age twelve. I'm on my way to heaven.” Across the street in another high corner tower people will say, “I went forward as a child, was baptized, and I am eternally secure.” On the opposite corner people will tell you, “I was saved by baptism and am kept by good works. This is the only high corner tower that will take you to heaven.” And so forth. (You add your own and you'll get the point. Mine) All of these high corner towers have taken a part of the Gospel, perhaps even a good part, and used it as if it were the whole Gospel to capture people's hearts. This is idolatry. The hearts of the people blindly trust their doctrines rather being led by the Spirit of God into all truth (John 16:13).
Slogans Replace the Word of God
Congregations are indoctrinated with slogans and a few isolated Scriptures rather than being instructed in the whole counsel of God’s Word, which would lead them to holiness. Echoing through the towers you hear: “Christians aren’t perfect; they are just forgiven”; “Everyone sins”; “Once saved, always saved”; “Well, after all, nobody’s perfect”; “Don’t doubt your salvation; I heard you pray the sinners prayer”; “It’s easy to be saved; all you have to do is follow me in this prayer.”
The religious structures today become an expression of a form of godliness through their traditions, doctrines and rituals, rather than becoming an expression of Jesus Christ (which is true godliness). These structures lead people to make a commitment to the structure rather than to Jesus. Then the structure becomes an idol in their (in our, mine) hearts.
It does not really matter how the church member lives, or whether they have unforgiveness one towards another. It only matters that they show up for the religious exercises and tithe.
When this happens in a congregation, a spirit of sleep and darkness covers them. The Spirit of God can have no control over their lives. They are lords over their own lives and live in spiritual darkness.
Jesus said: “…This people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men” (Mark 7:6-8 )
It is only through God’s Word showing us the true motives of our heart that we are ever able to turn from sin and walk in righteousness. It is only as the Word divides spirit from soul and flesh that we can learn to hear the Holy Spirit speak to us. We can then turn aside from soulish and fleshly religion and walk before the Lord in holiness and purity, putting to death all the deeds of the flesh. “As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the formal lusts in your ignorance: But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1: 14-16)
The Pharisees were blinded to righteousness and holiness because of their religious structures. Those structures led them after carnal traditions and fleshly desires. Because they were blinded, they could receive no more light from the Word of God. The Word could have no place in them, because God did not have their hearts: “He that is of God hears God’s Words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God” (John 8:47).
It is no different today for people whose hearts have been captured by carnal traditions, which lead people after fleshly lusts. They will hate everyone who brings new light contrary to their religious structures: “But if our gospel is hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Cor. 4:3,4). Satan and the powers of darkness blind the minds of all who receive their lies.
The Flesh Nature Loves Darkness
The Word tells us: “And this is the condemnation, that light (Jesus Christ) is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God” (John 3:19-21). As long as we love the evil deeds of our flesh, we will shrink back from Jesus Christ, but we come to the light when our ambitions is to please God more than anything or anyone else.
Every time you read the Word, you make a choice. Either you will continue to love rebellion and walk after the flesh and the ways of Satan, or you will come to the light. When you come to the Lord Jesus Christ and begin to love Him and the ways of God, you will walk in obedience and be perfected in holiness. But if you have a stubborn heart, you will shrink back from the Word of God and choose to continue to live in fleshly rebellion
Motives of Pride and Greed
When there is not genuine repentance, people will try to do the work of God though the strength of the flesh. The flesh nature just continues doing inside the church what is always did in the world. Instead of striving to make it to the top in the world, it strives to make it to the top in a religious structure.
Men who attempt to come to Jesus and still love the flesh nature will still have selfish ambition. They will try to have the biggest church, the largest and best choir, the greatest numbers, and the best reputation for building a church.
(All done for God, of course!) Instead of obedience to the Word of God and holiness, their goal is “nickels, noses, and numbers” to fulfill their selfish ambition. They say, “Come see my church!”
Religious towers are being built today by people who are seeking to make a name for themselves, just as the people did when they built the Tower of Babel. They are almost never aware that they are being motivated by pride and greed—the works of the flesh.
Pride, which is a perverted self-love, never makes a name for Jesus. A proud man becomes more proud, because he helps God out in the strength and works of his flesh. He believes that religious activity is godliness. People who have fallen away are totally unaware of this deception. Loving pride and greed is the very opposite of the purpose of Christ who said, “This is My commandment, that ye love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). To continue to love pride and greed is to continue to love the nature and character of Satan.
Pride and greed were the idols in the hearts of the false teachers in 2 Peter 2. If a person loves pride and greed, he will compromise the Word of God, and he will exploit his congregation to fulfill his love for pride and greed. His heart will seek to build a self-image and reputation more than the image of Christ. The motive in his heart is selfishness instead of love, because he has never truly repented and turned away from the sinful flesh nature. His prideful and greedy flesh has simply become religious, and it now seeks to share the glory with God. We are supposed to repent and turn from pride and greed when we come to follow Jesus.
The Nature of Satan or the Nature of God
This is probably the most important chapter in this book. Plan to move slowly through this chapter in order that you may have clear understanding of how the powers of darkness tempt and attack us through the flesh nature. When Jesus Christ and the Spirit of God control our lives, we overcome the flesh nature in order to be conformed to the image of Jesus. The Spirit of God leads us to overcome the nature of Satan in order that we will have the nature of God and be able to walk in holiness.
We will first see how the cursed nature of Satan came upon everyone in the world, and also how we repent and overcome this nature. There will be four very important illustrations that will help to give us clear understanding of the Scriptures which will explain the great falling away today.
The First Adam Brought the Cursed Nature
In the very beginning, Adam, the first man, was created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27). He had total innocence and a pure heart with no impure motives. He was holy and blameless. Since God tests the hearts of everyone He has created, Adam was given a choice between the tree of life and the tree of death. On the tree of death were the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. “But the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:17)
Then Satan tempted Eve with a lie and enticed her to eat from the tree of death by telling her: “Ye shall not surely die” (Gen. 3:4). Eve received this new doctrine from Satan and ate from the tree of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. Since Adam apparently loved Eve more than he loved God, when Eve gave this fruit to Adam, he ate also.
Because of this sin of Adam, all mankind received a cursed nature, the “flesh” nature, which is the nature of Satan. Every descendant of Adam then came into this world and walked in self-love, self-centeredness, and selfishness. They did not love God or their neighbor; they lived for themselves, like Satan.
The Flesh Nature Is The Nature of Satan
When man broke fellowship with God, the judgment of God rested on all mankind: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12). Today all the world walks in the image and likeness of Satan, because they all have this cursed nature. Everyone loves their selfish nature until they see the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ and repent. The flesh nature and the nature of Satan are the same. Therefore, they are in total agreement. When your heart loved this flesh nature, your motives were the same as Satan’s: selfishness and self-love. Satan controlled your life because your heart loved this selfish and cursed nature. The flesh nature is hostile to God and will not subject itself to the law of God. (Rom. 8:7)
The deeds or fruit of the flesh represent the character and nature of Satan. Because this nature is rooted deeply in the hearts of all mankind, their only motive will be to satisfy the desires of their flesh and live for themselves. The Lord Jesus Christ obviously has to do something about this flesh nature, or we would never be able to be obedient to the Spirit of God. This is why the Spirit of God leads us to put to death the deeds of the rebellious flesh (Rom. 8:13, 14; Gal. 5:16,24). In the new covenant, the Lord Jesus Christ enables us to overcome this flesh nature in order to be conformed to the image of Christ.
In the following illustrations we will see how we may know the motives of a man’s heart by the words that proceed from his mouth. This is called discernment. Jesus has clearly warned us that we will be able to identify the body of Christ or false teachers by the fruit or words of a person’s mouth, because their words originate from their hearts. It is with the heart man believes unto righteousness, or with the heart he believes unto unrighteousness. Therefore, if we are going to use the Scriptures to show how the Church has fallen away from the faith, it is very important that we understand what the Lord is teaching about the heart and its fruit. A form of godliness has clouded these Scriptures in such a way that no reference is made to them. However, when we understand these Scriptures, we can begin to see the thing that Jesus warned us about today.
In the first illustration, we will see a man of the world before he comes to know the Lord Jesus Christ. The Second illustration will be this same man after he has repented and made Jesus Christ Lord of his heart. The Spirit of God has led him to overcome the flesh nature. He now bears the fruit of the Spirit of holiness. The last two illustrations will be men who come to Jesus, but without true repentance. They do not overcome the flesh, but walk in double-mindedness. You will know them by their fruit. Study each illustration carefully and return to these illustrations often as you read the book in order to have better understanding of these Scriptures.
In this first illustration, we see the worldly man whose heart loves the fleshly nature of Satan. We can understand the motives of his heart by the words that proceed from his mouth. The evidence of a heart that loves this selfish nature will be the fruit of the flesh. In other words, the fruit of his heart will be words that he speaks from his mouth, which are evidence that the nature of Satan and selfishness are controlling his heart: “For from within, out of the heart of man, proceeds evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things comes from within (the heart) and defile the man (Mark 7:21-23).
“For of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh” (Luke 6:45). This man’s heart loves the selfish nature of Satan, and you will know him by this satanic fruit. God calls all the works of the flesh sin, because this fruit is the evidence of a heart that is in rebellion to God. The works of the flesh are the very opposite of loving your neighbor and loving the nature of God. These deeds of the flesh are the very sins we repent and turn from to follow Jesus. “Their tongue is an arrow shot out; it speaketh deceit: one speaketh peaceable to his neighbor with his mouth, but in heart he layeth his wait” (Jer. 9:8).
When anyone loves the flesh nature, he will use and exploit his neighbor because he seeks his own selfish interests. This is why everyone in the world is full of distrust and suspicion towards one another. People of the world know one another’s motives are selfish and deceitful.
ROOT: THE FLESH NATURE OF SATAN
The root is the motive that controls a man’s heart: If a man loves the flesh nature more than he loves God, the selfish motive of the flesh nature will fill his heart.
FORM OF GODLINESS:
* Verse to show this man: “Do not ye understand that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth, goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man (Matt. 15:17,18).
They will never have understanding of their dilemma until they turn to God, their Creator, and hears the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. God is the source of all true knowledge and wisdom. God tests the hearts of all mankind by giving them a choice to seek knowledge and wisdom from Him, or to be lord of their own lives. Everyone who does not turn from loving this selfish nature is wise in his own eyes.
When anyone loves the flesh nature, Satan will be his master because he will be able to control his heart and life through thoughts and suggestions, which fulfill his selfish desires. The powers of darkness will lead him to seek the selfish opportunities of the world because he lives for himself. Since he loves selfishness, the powers of darkness will begin tearing down all his relationships with suggestions and thoughts of jealousy, distrust, rejection, suspicion, and unforgiveness toward others. He will welcome these thoughts since he seeks his own self-interest rather than the interests of others. He will seek to gain an advantage and be deceitful in all his deeds like his master, Satan, until he has a change of heart. This change of heart is called repentance.
When anyone loves the nature of Satan, he does not love others. Since God demands that we love others as ourselves, every word or act that does not show love for God and for others is sin and rebellion. God made a provision through the last Adam, Jesus Christ, to restore us to fellowship with Him when Jesus Christ took all of ours sins on Himself at Calvary. A man becomes a totally different person when he comes to God in repentance and receives Jesus Christ as his new Lord and Master. The Spirit of God then leads him to be perfected in Love. He has seen the judgment and destruction that is on every man who loves and walks in the ways of Satan and the flesh.
He also understands that God is demanding that he love Him with all his heart instead of loving the flesh nature of Satan. Since he now loves the Lord instead of the selfish flesh nature, his motives have changed from selfishness to love. Previously, the root or motive of his heart was to please the selfish desires of the flesh. Now the root or motive of his heart will be to please the Lord Jesus Christ with all of his heart.
ILLUSTRATION: ROOT: THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
The root is the Motive that controls a Man’s Heart. If a Man loves Jesus Christ with all his heart, he will put to death the deeds of the flesh because all of his motives are to please Jesus Christ more than the flesh nature.
* Verse to show this man: A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits, ye shall know them (Matt. 7:17-20).
Jesus then leads him (this above man- with the Root of Jesus Christ) by His Spirit to overcome the flesh, the world, and the devil, in order to purify his heart and perfect him in love. The Spirit of God will lead him to put to death the deeds of the rebellious flesh, one by one, until he has a pure heart. This is how he becomes an overcomer. His mind will be renewed by the Word of God so that he can walk and talk like Christ instead of like Satan. This man has now been perfected in love and conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. He has a totally new heart and a renewed mind. His heart has been cleansed by God’s Word, and he now walks and talks like our Lord. He has the mind of Christ and no longer walks after the flesh. Paul identifies this man and the body of Christ by saying: “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal. 5:24). We see then “…all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Gal 5:14). The Spirit of God leads us to put to death the deeds of the flesh, so we will love others as Christ has loved us.
Pride Is Rebellion
If someone comes to God and does not repent and turn from pride, he is still walking in rebellion. He is really saying in his heart, “I will not give up pride because I love pride more than I love God.”
In the next illustration, you will see a man who has a root of pride in his heart. Once established, this root becomes a mighty fortress for the powers of darkness.
We will see later in this book how Satan uses pride to deceive the body of Christ. We can see in this illustration how Satan uses pride to build many strongholds of deceit. Pride is the root and symptom of countless other areas of sin. We are to know false teachers by their fruit. As you study this illustration, just picture this man as a spiritual leader.
If a person has a root of pride, his motive will be to build an image for himself. As he builds a name for Jesus in the strength and works of the flesh, he will deceitfully take part of the glory which belongs to Jesus to fulfill his love for pride and reputation. He will show partiality and will exploit all his relationships in order to control others and advance his selfish ambition. He will flatter and deceive others in order to look good and receive the approval of man. Pride always wants to be the center of attention. Pride receives glory from men. Pride is always concerned with its own image. Pride always has to be right. Pride loves the approval of men more than the approval of God. Pride will welcome thoughts and suggestions from Satan to exploit and use people to build one’s own self-image.
Another fortress that is built by Satan in the lives of men is the root of greed. Like pride, greed gives strength to numerous other strongholds, which attach to this root. Greed does not love his neighbor. Greed loves the things of this world. Greed hoards and lives his whole life for himself as he builds a fleshly kingdom. Greed acts as though he is going to live forever. He is deceitful and manipulates his neighbor to fulfill his selfish ambition. Then anyone loves greed, he is loving the nature of Satan rather than the giving and loving nature of God. In the next illustration, picture a man who loves the selfish ways of greed and tries to follow the Lord Jesus Christ at the same time.
Can God control the life of a man whose heart loves greed? Can anyone who loves greed truly love his neighbor?
Picture a salesman in the world system whose heart loves greed. He will exaggerate, withhold information, apply pressure, manipulate, and intimidate his neighbor to make a sale to fulfill his lust and greed. He exploits and uses his neighbor because he loves greed and selfishness more than he loves his neighbor. This is why the judgment of God is on the world today. The god of this world, Satan, has trained the world to love greed and to make it to the top, regardless of who suffers. This is called success by the standards of this world.
When anyone does not turn from greed, he will use the things of God to build opportunities for himself and fulfill his lust and greed. Lust of the flesh is when one’s heart is drawn to love something else more than he loves God. This is idolatry. John warns us: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever” (1 John 2:15-17).
The Psalmist described the ones who love pride and greed: “The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined. For the wicked boasteth of his heart’s desire, and blesseth the covetous whom the Lord abhorreth. The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts. His ways are always grievous; thy judgments are far above out of his sight: as for all his enemies, he puffeth at them. He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved: for I shall never be in adversity. His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud: under his tongue is mischief and vanity. He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: He hideth His face; He will never see it” (Ps. 10:1-7, 11).
When a worldly church still walks after the flesh and loves pride, greed and selfish ambition, there is no difference between them and the world. The Psalmist also said, “Help, Lord; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men. They speak vanity every one to his neighbor: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak. The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things: who have said, with our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us? The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted” (Ps. 12:1-4, 8).
Every man in the world walks in the image and likeness of Satan. He does not love nor honor God; neither does he love his neighbor. Each one in the world lives for himself. The strong deceive, manipulate and lord it over the weak. Everyone greedily gathers and hoards for himself, while all around him his neighbor hurts and suffers in need. “The whole world lieth in wickedness” (1 John 5:19). Their hearts agree with Satan.
The Powers of Darkness Control Men Through Thoughts
Satan is the god of this world (1 Cor. 4:4). Since the way of Satan and the way of the flesh is the same, the powers of darkness are continually directing the hearts of the people in the world toward selfishness. Because both the people of the world and the worldly people in the church love this selfish nature, Satan uses them as puppets, keeping their minds and hearts occupied with selfish ambition and the things of this present world.
Satan leads the whole world to practice sin and rebellion toward God. The people of the world welcome thoughts and suggestions from the powers of darkness, such as anger, unforgiveness, hate, envy, lust, jealousy, greed, pride, and revenge.
Everyone walks and talks like his master, Satan. You will know them by their fruits. However, the Spirit of God leads Christians to take all these selfish thoughts captive that exalt themselves against the Word of God in order to walk in loving obedience to Christ. This is how we resist Satan and the flesh.
Satan and the powers of darkness have the whole world seeking success, power, control, beauty, greed, selfish ambition, name, and reputation. Everyone deceives his neighbor in order to seek these selfish interests for himself. He seldom considers the needs of others, nor his Creator, because of his selfish motives.
Therefore, the whole world is under judgment and the wrath of God. The sentence of death rests upon each person in the world. With every act of rebellion toward God and his neighbor, the powers of darkness are able to build stronghold upon stronghold, fortress upon fortress, until he is destroyed. This judgment comes upon him because he loves the nature of Satan and hates his neighbor, rather than loving the nature of God so he can also love his neighbor. He walks in spiritual ignorance and spiritual darkness because he does not seek with his whole heart the One who created him.
God permits the heart of every man to be tested. From morning until night, the powers of darkness tempt his heart against his neighbor, or entice his heart with things of the world. Satan will remain his master as long as he does not come to receive wisdom and knowledge from God so he can walk in love. Without the wisdom of God, he will remain in ignorance and be destroyed in spiritual darkness. Each person in the world spends his entire life living for himself and comparing himself with others: “they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (2 Cor. 10:12). “The people which sat in great darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:16, 17).
The Last Adam Brought Holiness and Righteousness
When a man really sees the true Gospel, which is light and revelation from God, he will then be able to see that death and judgment are upon him. He will also see that his heart is rebellious toward God. The last Adam, Jesus Christ, came to restore man to walk in justice and righteousness after he has been reconciled to God. Each man may repent by choosing Jesus Christ as Master and Lord of his life. When he does this, the direction of his heart and life is changed. He will no longer exploit or use others. The Spirit of God will then perfect him in the God-kind of love that is called holiness (God’s nature). Jesus was led by the Spirit of God to have his heart tested in the same way that Eve was tested. Satan tempted Jesus with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Jesus proved that His heart was holy and blameless.
We are also tempted as Jesus was tempted. When we choose the way of the first Adam by walking after the lusts of the flesh, the result is sin and death. If we choose the way of Jesus, we will resist the selfish flesh and the result is sanctification (a pure heart) and holiness. “And as we have borne the image of the earthly, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Cor. 15:49). Our hearts will either choose the nature of God or the nature of Satan. This is the test for all mankind today.
How Do Demons Enter In?
Deliverance ministries have been springing up in churches all over the country to set people free from the powers of darkness. Pastors by the thousands have come to know there is demonic bondage in their own congregations, in their own lives, and in their own families.
Many other pastors simply choose to ignore the problem for these reasons:
1. They do not understand it.
2. They are fearful because they don’t have the answers.
3. Their theology, learned from men, didn’t equip them to cast out demons.
4. They fear their involvement would cause them to lose support, numbers, reputation, or even their job.
So congregations stay in darkness, and most deliverance ministries stay very, very busy. Most people who receive freedom do not continue to be free, but return to the same bondage.
There are some questions about this demonic bondage in the church today. How did it get there? Why is all this happening? Is God trying to tell us something? Obviously, we have missed the truth somewhere. We have to admit that an enemy has taken over many individual’s lives, and we have no understanding.
I once heard a pastor say, “If the law has been done away with, why do I see the curses of the law from Deuteronomy 28 in myself, and my own family, and in my congregation?” The answer is that our religious traditions have caused us to have a total lack of understanding about the part God’s law plays in the life of a Christian. We certainly need to set the captives free, but first, we need to understand why they’re captive. And we need to remember that the enemies have come to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). They are not blessings!
Almost every time anyone comes with a word about the law, there rises up a cry of “legalism,” or “you don’t understand grace.” Until you are willing to hear what God has to say about His law, you will never know true freedom, nor will you have understanding about the powers of darkness.
Since this is a very difficult subject, you must first agree that perhaps you have not yet received all of the truth. Then agree that if God has given someone understanding and light, it will be in the Bible in balance and context. Do not be like the Pharisees and react to the first statement you hear that is contrary to your traditions. If we have been in darkness in our religious traditions, let’s be willing to be led out of darkness by the Spirit and Word of God. But we have to admit first that we have obviously missed something somewhere. Jesus promised His disciples, “Ye shall know the truth, and THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE” (John 8:82). Jesus also said, “When He, the Spirit of Truth, is come He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).
Stay with the Scriptures throughout this chapter and the entire book, even though at first it may disturb you. Everything will fit together before we finish. Also remember that the truth will come against anything we have learned wrong. But if we love the Lord Jesus Christ more than we love our religious traditions, we can unlearn anything we have learned wrong. Then the Lord can lead us out of spiritual darkness.
What Does The Law Say Today?
When the law is mentioned to many people, they only think of the rituals that were done away when Jesus came to fulfill the law. The rituals did pass away, but the law still stands today. Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill (Matt 5:17).
Since Jesus came to fulfill the law, we need to know first what the law is really saying. Jesus answered this in Matthew 22, verses 37-40: “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” What the law is really saying is that if you do these two things, love God supremely and love your neighbor as yourself, you have fulfilled the law and are no longer a law breaker. (Not, that you got your Salvation through the law. Please don’t read into any other then what is written.) But this is impossible, keeping the law, without Jesus Christ because of our bondage to our selfish, self-centered flesh nature.
Since Jesus did not abolish the law, then what does the law do today? The law stands today to bring judgment upon all sin. The law, when it sees sin—if you will, brings the wrath of God (Romans 4:15). The law brings a curse (Gal. 3:13). The law is a ministry of death (2 Cor. 3:7), and the law is a ministry of condemnation (2 Cor. 3:9). All of these things come upon law breakers. Who are the law breakers? They are those who do not walk in love and cannot walk in love. Their minds are set upon the things their hearts love. “Because the carnal (fleshly) mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God (which commands us to walk in love), neither indeed can be. So then they that are IN THE FLESH cannot please God (Rom 8:7-8). So if anyone loves their flesh nature, they refuse to love God with all their heart and love others as themselves. They choose to walk in the image of Satan. Jesus was asked, “And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself (Matt 19:16-19).
Obviously if someone loves his neighbor as himself, he will not kill his neighbor; he will not commit adultery with his neighbor’s wife; he will not steal; he will not bear false witness against his neighbor. Those who still love the flesh nature (which is the nature of Satan) refuse to obey God’s law. The law stands in judgment today against all rebellion. Paul said, “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified (Rom 2:13).
When we understand that God is commanding us to walk in love or be destroyed, then we can see Paul’s dilemma in Romans 7. We find ourselves in exactly the same place as Paul. Like Paul, we know that through our efforts alone, it is impossible to keep the law. We cannot walk in this kind of love when we are in bondage to the selfish flesh nature. Paul said, “For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal (of the flesh), sold under sin…for what I would, that I do not; but what I hate, that I do…For I know that in me (that is, my flesh), dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me…For I delight in the law after the inward man: But I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members (of the fleshly body)…So then with the mind I serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin (Romans 7:14, 15, 18, 22-23, 25).
While a backslidden church today uses this passage to justify their sins, Paul clearly saw that he was under the judgment, curse, wrath, and death that comes from breaking God’s laws. He saw, that he was in this dilemma because it was not possible for him to walk in the kind of love that the law required. Paul said, “…for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law (Gal 3:21). In other words, if we could have attained righteousness by our efforts alone, then Jesus would never have needed to go to the cross. If we could overcome the flesh through our own efforts, Jesus died needlessly. That is what Paul is saying in Galatians 2:21: “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” However, this does not release us from the law that tells us that we must love others as ourselves. Jesus came to fulfill this law by perfecting the God-kind of love in us.
This is how we are reconciled back to God. Forms of godliness have explained this love away by saying it is impossible to walk in the kind of love that the law requires. This is true if you are being led by a doctrine that does not conform you to godliness, and does not even give you the hope that you can be holy. But if you are led by the Holy Spirit, He will make you holy, just as He is holy. When we are led by the Holy Spirit of God we are not under the judgment of the law, because we are fulfilling the requirements of the law by walking in love. When we walk after the flesh, we defraud and take advantage of others. This is sin and breaks God’s law. Those who sin by walking after the flesh do not have a hedge of protection against the powers of darkness. Therefore, the powers of darkness bring the judgment, wrath, and curse of the law upon all those who walk after the works of the flesh.
Jesus Explained the Love that Fulfills the Law
Jesus explained to His disciples the God-kind of love they were commanded to walk in to fulfill the requirements of the law. And He lifted up His eyes on His disciples, and said: “Love Your Enemies, Do Good To Them Which Hate You…and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again…And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise…and if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? For sinners also do even the same…But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again…And Your Reward Shall Be Great, And Ye Shall Be The Children Of The Highest: for He is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful as your Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:20, 27-36).
You manifest the nature of God when you love your neighbor as yourself. The reason these Scriptures sound like a foreign language to most people today is because they will not fit into today’s carnal doctrines. These doctrines do not teach people to fulfill the law, nor do they conform them to godliness so they can walk in the love that God requires. True disciples receive discipline in order to walk in this love. This is the God-kind of love that Jesus perfects in the body of Christ to fulfill the law.
Jesus confirmed this God-kind of love that we are to walk in today by saying: “This is My commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:12, 13). We must be obedient to the Holy Spirit and the Word of God in order to be perfected in God’s love. “He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in Him. And hereby we do know that we know Him, If We Keep His Commandments…Whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected…He that saith he abideth in Him ought also to walk, even as He walked” (1 John 2: 3-6).
“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16). Jesus described the body of Christ by saying: "Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:26-28).
We must understand that the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is in agreement with the law which says, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus referred to this law when He was asked about eternal life. “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What is written in the law? How readest thou?” And he answering said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all the strength, and with all thy mind; and they neighbor as thyself.” And he (Jesus) said unto him, “Thou hast answered right; this do, and thou shalt live” (eternally) (Luke 10:25-28).
Jesus continued to describe the love we are to walk in, “But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away…Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you: that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven…For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans [the lost world] do the same? Be Ye Therefore Perfect, Even As Your Father Which Is In Heaven Is Perfect” (Matt. 5:39-42, 44-48).
This is the Gospel that brought such opposition to Jesus and His disciples. It has not changed. Jesus was telling His disciples about the blessings that would come on those who walk in His Love to fulfill the law. He continued to describe this God-kind of love and blessings by saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit…Blessed are thy that mourn…Blessed are the meek…Blessed are thy which do hunger and thirst after righteousness…Blessed are the merciful…Blessed are the pure in heart…Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you and persecute you…Ye are the light of the world…Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:3-16).
Jesus explained in the next verse that this was the kind of love that fulfills the law. He said, “I am not come to destroy (the law), but to fulfill” (Matt. 5:17).
The Judgment of the Law
God is the Creator of all civilization. He has demanded that His creation walk in justice and righteousness. For this reason God established laws and judgments blessings and curses, on all mankind, according to their deeds. God’s law demands that we love our neighbor as ourself. God blesses everyone who fulfills this law. However, the law judges every deed contrary to His commandments.
The same judgment is on the worldly people who are in the church today. When someone walks in a form of godliness, he walks just like the world. Since he has a false security, he is blinded and unaware of God’s requirement to walk in love. He is walking in the stubbornness of his heart as he walks in sin without repentance. “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries” (Heb. 10:26, 27).
“Be ye therefore followers of God as dear children: and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us... But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you as becometh saints” (Eph. 5:1-3). These Scriptures explain the God-kind of love that we are to walk in to escape the judgment and curse of the law. When you lay down your selfish flesh nature, you will love your neighbor as yourself. Remember the “love of God, because He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16).
The Powers of Darkness Draw Us Away From the Faith Walk
We are now understanding the warfare a Christian has with the powers of darkness. The powers of darkness tempt every Christian to walk after the lusts of his own flesh and hate his neighbor. This carries him away from the faith that comes from being led by the Holy Spirit so he can be perfected in the nature of God. The powers of darkness continually tempt your mind with thoughts of anger, hate, selfishness, resentment, criticism, fault-finding, unforgiveness, etc. These thoughts are the very opposite of love, and they exalt themselves against the Word of God. These are the schemes of the enemy against us.
These are the thoughts we are commanded about: “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).
This is why we are warned to “put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil... taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (Eph. 6:11, 16).
In Luke 4:1-14, Jesus shows us how He resisted every temptation of the powers of darkness by standing firm on the Word of God. The Word is our shield of faith. The Psalmist said, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Ps. 119:11). We stand on the Word because we love Jesus more than we love our flesh. Through Jesus’ temptations, He proved Himself holy, just as we are to prove ourselves holy.
If we love our flesh more than we love Jesus, we will welcome these thoughts of Satan because his suggestions give us an opportunity to fulfill selfishness. But because we are disciples of Jesus, we love Him more than we love ourselves and we no longer walk in pride, greed, unforgiveness, resentment, and criticism. This is how we are conformed to the image of Christ. When we are reviled and attacked by others, we bless.
We no longer war according to the flesh by reacting in anger, hate, slander, revenge. We know that God’s law takes care of all revenge. So we are “Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing” (1 Pet. 3:9). This is the God-kind of love. “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh (we no longer strike back at our neighbor): For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5). This is how we overcome the flesh and the devil in order to be perfected in love. “And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2:3). We have already seen this Scripture, “He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him” (1 John 2:4, 5).
The Wrath of God Comes Against the Deeds of the Flesh
Paul said, "Set your affections (mind) on things above, not on things of the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. Mortify (put to death) therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry. For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which you also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that you have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him" (Col. 3:2, 3, 5-10).
Powers of Darkness Carry Out the Curse of the Law
When you commit any act of the flesh that defrauds our neighbor, it is sin. Then the hedge comes down, and the powers of darkness move in to attack. But when you love your neighbor, you are fulfilling the law and are protected by God. “If you fulfill the royal law according of the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well (you are blessed and protected by the hedge of God). But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors (and the hedge of God’s protection is removed). So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy” (James 2:8, 9, 12, 13).
Since the law commands us to love our neighbor, every act of selfishness lowers the hedge on us to the powers of darkness. The Scripture says, “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” (Luke 6:36-38).
If we do not seek the good of our neighbor, we will bear the wrong fruit of anger, hate and slander, which is sin. When we speak against others, the hedge is lowered; and we are cut down by the powers of darkness because God removes His protection. “And it shall come to pass in the day that the Lord shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou was made to serve; That thou shalt take up this proverb (taunt) against the king of Babylon (Satan), and say, ‘How hath the oppressor ceased! The Lord bath broken the staff of the wicked, and the scepter of the rulers. He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger... Since thou art laid down, no feller (tree cutter) is come up against us”’ (Isa. 14:3-6, 8).
Satan is the king of Babylon who brings the destruction when the hedge is down. Satan and the powers of darkness are the “tree cutters.” When we overcome the flesh, we overcome the destruction of Satan. Right now the powers of darkness are at work cutting down and destroying all those whose hearts refuse to be conformed to the nature of God. Our hearts are tested today, just as the first Adam and Eve were tested.
“Now will I sing to my well beloved a song of my beloved touching His vineyard. My well beloved hath vineyard in a very fruitful hill: And he fenced it, and gathered out of it the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine... And He looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes (it produced only the fruits of the flesh)... I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down” (Isa. 5:1, 2, 4, 5).
God has lowered the hedge today on all those who do not bear the fruit of love toward those around them, and they are being consumed by the powers of darkness. There is no deliverance or protection for those who refuse to overcome the flesh and walk in covenant with the Lord Jesus Christ and be perfected in love. Our hearts will either love the nature of Satan and the flesh, or our hearts will love the nature of God. This is how we will know a tree by its fruits.
“Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit (love); but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit (hate). A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit (which is the God-kind of love). Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down (by the tree cutters, the powers of darkness) and cast into the fire (because they break God’s law when they do not walk in love). Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them (Matt. 7:17-20).
If we receive the blessings of God by loving our neighbor, then we also receive judgment from God when we choose to defraud our neighbor. If we choose to judge our neighbor instead of loving him, we receive judgment. When we choose to condemn our neighbor instead of loving him, we receive condemnation. If we will not pardon, God will not pardon us. In every case, the hedge comes down and the powers of darkness become instruments of judgment and condemnation. God deals with us according to our conduct toward others, “who will render to every man according to his deeds” (Rom. 2:6). So by your standard of measure toward others, God measures in return to you. This is the law of God today.
Curses Prevail Because the Law Has Been Lost
"Now is the end come upon thee, and I will send Mine anger upon thee, and will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense upon thee all thine abominations... I will judge thee according to thy ways.., and Mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: I will recompense thee according to thy ways. They have blown the trumpet, even to make all ready; but none goeth to the battle: for My wrath is upon all the multitude thereof. Wherefore I will bring the worst of the heathen (powers of darkness), and they shall possess their houses (bodies). I will also make the pomp of the strong to cease; and their holy places shall be defiled (by the powers of darkness);.., they shall seek a vision from the prophet; but THE LAW SHALL PERISH from the priest, and counsel from the ancients. I will do unto them after their way, and according to their deserts (judgments) will I judge them; and they shall know that I am the Lord" (Ezek. 7:3, 4, 8, 9, 14, 24, 26, 27).
Ezekiel was talking about today. The law has been lost to us today, as it was lost in the days of Nehemiah. We would have understanding about the fear of the Lord if the law had not been lost.
"Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord. What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous... The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth" (Ps. 34:11-16).
Everyone who loves the flesh nature walks in rebellion to God's commandment to walk in love. God has set up His laws in this world to punish and destroy those who love the flesh nature of Satan more than they love the nature of God. Since God has set up punishment for this rebellion, there has to be a law. If there has to be a law, there has to be a court. If there has to be a court, there has to be a judge. The judge of God's court of law Is God. Since there is a judge and a court of law, then there must be officers and a prison.
The powers of darkness are the officers and their bondage is the prison. The powers of darkness build strongholds and fortresses to destroy everyone in the world who walks in rebellion to God's law. Only those who are fulfilling the law are protected by God.
After Jesus said, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets" (Matt. 5:17), He began describing the judgments and curses of the law. "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: ...
Agree with thine adversary (someone you have wronged) quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge (God), and the judge deliver thee to the officer (the powers of darkness), and thou be cast into prison (demonic bondage).., thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing" (by repenting and making everything right with your neighbor). (Matt. 5:21,22,25,26). The law f God has commanded us to love our neighbor as ourself. Jesus described this love to us, then commanded that we, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48).
God says that He does all the judging. His laws take care of all vengeance. We are then commanded to do one thing, walk in love. We do not speak one word against others. When we speak against others, we are taking the place of God and becoming the judge. When we do this, the law judges us. "If any man offend not in word the same is a perfect man, and able to bridle the whole body... Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men... Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be... This wisdom... is earthly (as the world speaks), sensual (from the flesh nature), and devilish" (James 3:2, 9, 10, 15).
James said, "...Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double-minded... Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy" (James 4:8, 11, 12). At this point, you should begin to see that we have been overlooking some essential truths in the Scriptures.
The law came through Moses 430 years after God gave the promise to Abraham and made covenant with him. Why was the law needed? It Was added because of the transgressions of the people (Gal. 3:19). God spoke to His people in Deuteronomy 28 and told them He would bless them if they obeyed His law, but He would put curses on them and their households if they did not obey the law.
This law pronounced a curse of judgment and destruction upon all those who would not walk in love and obedience to God.
Jesus did not come to abolish this judgment. The law and its judgment still stand today against all the works of the flesh which break God's commandments. All of God's commandments tell us that we must walk in love or receive judgment.
Jesus Came to Perfect God's Love In Men
Are we then really expected to love our neighbor as ourselves? The problem today is that most of the church people do not really love one another. What God calls love and what the church which walks in a form of godliness calls love are two very different things. The commandments of Jesus totally agree with the commandments of the law. Jesus still commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves in order to fulfill the law. Those who walk after a form of godliness cannot fulfill the law. "And this commandment have we from Him, that he who loveth God should love his brother also" (1 John 4:2 1). "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous" (1 John 5:2, 3). These Scriptures are sobering to those who have fallen away from the faith to a form of godliness. What part of us wants to resist walking in love? Could it be that we still love the nature of Satan? "
And you who were dead in trespasses and sins, where in time past ye walked according to the course of this world (you walked and talked like the world), according to the prince of the power of the airs the (demon) spirit that NOW worketh in the children of disobedience (those who walk after the flesh nature): Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the lusts of the flesh and the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath (under judgment)" (Eph. 2:1-3).
The Flesh Nature Must Be Put to Death
"That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Eph 4:22-24). The purpose of the cross of Christ was not that we should continue to live in sin, but that we should die to sin. "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness" (1 Pet. 2:24).
Righteousness is walking right in God's eyes by obeying His commandments.
When we love the flesh, we have our minds set on earthly things. When we love Jesus with all our hearts, we lay down our lives on this earth, because our minds (interests) are set on things above.
Jesus explained how we lay down our lives in John 12:24, 25: "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his (fleshly) life shall lose it (because of the judgment of the law); and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal." This is how we overcome the powers of darkness. If you have laid down your life in this world, the powers of darkness have nothing with which to tempt you. Jesus said, "For the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me (my flesh)" (John 14:30). "And they overcame him (the devil) by the blood of the Lamb... and they loved not their lives unto the death" (Rev. 12:11).
How the Powers of Darkness Build Strongholds and Destroy Us
God avenges through His law every act and word we speak against our brother. "Either make the tree good and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit... can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart (the Word of God hidden in his heart) bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment." (We are living in the day of God's righteous judgment now.) "For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned" (Matt. 12:33-37).
The mature man takes every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, "those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Heb. 5:14). The Lord was our example. Our Lord Jesus "learned he obedience by the things which he suffered: and being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him" (Heb. 5:8,9).
The powers of darkness work at destroying all relationships. They try to keep our minds full of suspicion, unforgiveness, distrust, anger, and so forth toward others. It is essential to stop these thoughts while they are still in our minds so that their evil suggestions will not get into our hearts and become our evil treasures. Their goal for getting their suggestions into our hearts is to carry us away from the walk of love by causing us to speak against our neighbor. This is sin, and we break the law by not loving our neighbor. "But every man is TEMPTED when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed (entrapped). Then when lust has conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death (because God's law is broken)" (James 1:14, 15).
Then the hedge comes down and the powers of darkness can attack us. We immediately lose our peace. If we do not repent, they continue to build other strongholds in our lives, which eventually bring death. Strong-holds move in when you are a transgressor of the law. "Do not err (stray from the truth), my beloved brethren. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath" (James 1:16, 19). Those who speak love from a pure heart do not break God's law. A pure heart is a heart that no longer loves the flesh. In fact, a pure heart hates every act of the flesh. This is the mature man of God.
How Satan Builds a Stronghold In Us
We will see an example of how Satan builds a stronghold in us. Before Jesus became Lord of your whole heart, you walked after the deeds of the flesh. When you came to Jesus, you repented of unforgiveness in order to purify your heart and love your neighbor. One of the schemes of the powers of darkness is to cause you to once again walk in unforgiveness, so they can build strongholds in you.
Paul warned the Corinthians about this scheme of Satan: "To whom ye forgive anything, I forgive also... Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices" (2 Cor. 2:10, 11). We will see how Satan builds a stronghold of unforgiveness. Peter was asking the Lord Jesus about forgiveness. "Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, until seventy times seven" (Matt. 18:2 1, 22). Jesus was replying, in effect, that you always forgive. Jesus then gave them a parable to show the judgment of God on unforgiveness.
"Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the Lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave the debt" (Matt. 18:23-27). This is a picture of us coming to the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness from our sin.
We see next what happened to this slave after he was released and forgiven: "But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, pay me that thou owest. And his fellow servant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. Then his lord, after that he had called, said unto him, 0 thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt... Shouldest not thou also have had COMPASSION on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee?" (Matt. 18:28-33). The Lord had forgiven this servant, but he would not forgive a fellow servant.
We can see God's judgment upon everyone who breaks God's law of love by not walking in forgiveness. This judgment brings God's wrath and lowers the hedge and turns the servant over to the powers of darkness. "And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the TORMENTORS, till he should pay all that was due unto him. SO LIKEWISE SHALL MY HEAVENLY FATHER DO ALSO UNTO YOU, IF YE FROM YOUR HEARTS FORGIVE NOT EVERY ONE HIS BROTHER THEIR TRESPASSES" (Matt. 18:34,35). If this person continues to walk after the flesh in unforgiveness without repentance, the powers of darkness will continue to build strongholds until he is destroyed.
"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves. Let this (same) mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:3, 4).
If we walk with the mind of Christ, we walk in love and have peace because we are protected by God. If we walk with our mind set on the flesh, we have the mind of Satan. The hedge will come down on us continually because of these works until the powers of darkness bring death.
This is why Romans 8:13 says, "For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify (put to death) the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God" (Rom. 8:13, 14). In this Scripture you see both life and death, blessings and curses. In order to have the mind of Christ, we must be led by the Spirit to put to death the deeds of the flesh. This is how we purify our hearts. If we choose to continue walking after the deeds of the flesh, the hedge will be down for the powers of darkness who "cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy" (John 10:10).
The hedge is down today, bringing death on the church, which is choosing to walk after the flesh.
Today the Lord is leading His followers out of this captivity and death. "And it shall come to pass when all these. things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath driven thee, And shalt return unto the Lord thy God, and shalt obey His voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul; that then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee" (Deut. 30:1-3).
Love Your Neighbor to Fulfill the Law
God's law to love your neighbor stood then as it does now: "You shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbor. Thou shalt not go up and about as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbor: I am the Lord. Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord. Ye shall keep My statutes" (Lev. 19:15-19).
But the Church has not kept God's law just as Israel did not keep God's law. Instead, like Israel, everyone has been doing what seems right to him. "Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes. For ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance which the Lord your God giveth you. But when ye go over Jordan, and dwell in the land which the Lord your God giveth you to inherit, and when he giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety... Deut. 12:8-10).
Those who desire to walk with God must stop following the flesh and submit to God's holy walk: "For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that He see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee" (Deut. 23:14). Jesus leads us by His Spirit to put to death the deeds of all fleshly rebellion, so that we may fulfill the law and be holy. If we do not resist sin and put to death the deeds of the flesh, we will continue to have a mind like Satan, because the nature of Satan and the ways of the flesh are the same. Putting to death the flesh is the only way we can have a pure heart and be renewed to have the mind of Christ. This is the walk of holiness. "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh" (Gal. 5:16). This is the Church of Jesus Christ, because ".., if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not (any longer) under the (judgment of) law" (Gal. 5:18). If you are led by the Spirit, your mind is no longer set on the things of the flesh, but the things of the Spirit. You are no longer under judgment because you no longer break the law. God's presence is in the midst of you to protect, deliver, and defeat your enemies.
The result is God's hedge, which brings peace: "For to be carnally minded is death: but to be spiritually minded is LIFE and PEACE. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law, neither indeed can be" (Rom. 8:6, 7). Everyone in the world who does not walk in love and obey God's law is destroyed by the powers of darkness. It is a slow death, almost imperceptible, as a moth destroys or as rottenness is in a fabric.
The ones who do not receive the Word of God into their hearts to be perfected in love are those who love other things more than they love God. If a person's mind is set on things of the flesh, the powers of darkness will be able to replace the Word in his heart with the lusts of the flesh and the things of the world. A disciple of Jesus Christ loves the Lord with all his heart and has his mind set totally on things above.
The powers of darkness bring temptation to cause our hearts to love pride, approval of man, greed and things of the world more than we love the Lord. These temptations become the roots of all sorts of evil, which change our motives from love to selfishness. This prevents us from being perfected in love. When we turn to the ways of Satan, we turn from our faith in Jesus. This is how the powers of darkness take the Word from our hearts and carry us away from the faith. The only root and motive in our heart should be to please the Lord. The parable of the Word best explains how the powers of darkness keep us from being perfected in love, and keep us from having understanding. Jesus said to the disciples, "Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: that seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand" (Mark 4:11, 12). Jesus was saying that only the disciples, the ones who come to Him with all their hearts, will have understanding. Everyone else will not be able to see, hear, or understand the mysteries of God today.
Jesus said, "The sower soweth the word.., but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts" (by turning their hearts to something else)... "These are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended." (They fall away from the faith and their hearts turn to things like pride, reputation, greed, treasures of this world, selfishness, and they love these things more than the Lord.) "And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, and (the powers of darkness bring) the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful" (Mark 4: 14-19).
These are examples of the trials that the powers of darkness bring against us to try to stop us from bearing the fruit of love. The powers of darkness try to get our hearts to be set on things of this world, by causing us to lust after the riches of this world and the desire for other things. Then our interest will be to please our flesh rather than to please God and be perfected in love. The opposite of all these is the man of God who is led by the Spirit of God. His motive will be to please the Lord rather than his flesh in everything he does. "But he that received seed into the good ground (a repentant heart) is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty" (Matt. 13:23).
What You Speak to Others You Will Reap
We experience fear of God as we learn about God's judgment and laws. "Do not be deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap (he sows either words of love or words of hate toward his neighbor). For he that soweth to his flesh (such as slander, hate, anger, murder, etc.) shall of the flesh reap corruption (judgment because he breaks God's law), but he that soweth to the Spirit (sows word of love and peace) shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting" (Gal. 6:7,8). This is the walk of salvation, because "...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: AGAINST SUCH THERE IS NO LAW" (because this is the walk of holiness) (Gal. 5:22, 23).
We fulfill the law instead of being law-breaker, when we love our neighbor. This is the fruit of a renewed mind. This is the mature man with a pure heart. He no longer has the mind of Satan; he has the mind of Christ. Therefore, the powers of darkness can get no ground in his life because he is a doer of the law through Jesus Christ: "For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified" (Rom, 2:13).
Then how do we put to death the deeds of the flesh? By no longer warring with our neighbor according to the flesh. When the pressures and trials come (and they will) to test your heart, stand on the Word of God and love your neighbor. This is how the flesh dies. Resist all temptations to defraud, hate, exploit, or speak against your neighbor. If he has done any wrong, God's vengeance will take care of him. LET GOD BE THE JUDGE! When you refuse to speak any words against your neighbor, you are putting to death the flesh and you are ceasing from sin. When you are reviled, persecuted and insulted, you speak blessings. You put to death the deeds of the flesh by resisting the flesh. You are dying to the ways of Satan and your mind is being renewed, because you are choosing to have the mind of Christ. You prove you love the nature of God more than the nature of the devil. Your heart believes unto righteousness.
"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect (perfected in love) and entire, wanting nothing" (James 1:24). "But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof" (Rom. 13:14).
On the one hand, the law brings judgment and wrath on all who do not keep the law. On the other hand, Jesus tells us to come to Him and He will lead us to fulfill the law by becoming a doer of the law. This is how we are saved from the destruction and judgment of God's law. "But IF ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law" (Gal. 5:18).
Put to Death the Flesh to Have a Pure Heart
The powers of darkness come to entice and tempt the brethren to break the law so they can devour us. "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking someone to devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith (only brethren can have faith), knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you" (1 Pet. 5:8-10).
We suffer as we deny ourselves and resist the fleshly temptations of Satan. We will suffer for a little while, putting to death the fleshly desires, because we love Jesus more than we love the flesh. This was the commandment of the law that we first love the Lord with all our hearts.
The Lord then leads us to die to the selfish flesh in order to have the nature of God and love our neighbor as ourselves: "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:26). The real sons of God put to death the flesh in order to have a pure heart.
The result of this faith is to become doers of the law by loving our neighbor as ourselves. "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law" (Rom 3:3 1).
We fulfill the law by being led by the Spirit of God (through faith) to become doers of the law. Jesus Christ came to fulfill the law in us so we could be reconciled to God: "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth" (Rom 10:4). If we believe, we will be perfected in love to follow the law.
Obedience Is Not Legalism
Paul explains how he was set free through the Lord Jesus Christ: "Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh (and break God's law). For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the Sons of God" (Rom. 8:12-14). "But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law" (Gal. 5:18). We are not under the law, because we are fulfilling the law through obedience.
When someone suggests to those who follow a form of godliness that we are required to be obedient to the commandments of God, you sometimes hear accusations of "legalism." The majority of the Church today is trying to guard against being entrapped in the error of legalism as were the Pharisees. The Pharisees were very legalistic by setting up their own rules. Then obedience to their rules became their standard for fulfilling God's law.
When we attempt to fulfill God's law through obeying our own set of rules, this is legalism and the works of the flesh. We are not being led and controlled by the Spirit of God. When the Pharisees became legalistic by obeying their own set of rules and laws, they were blinded to the obedience God requires to His own laws. They fulfilled their own set of rules and laws but became transgressors of God's laws. This produced a false security.
Almost all of the Church today is legalistic in a very similar way. They have drifted away into a form of godliness and they, like the Pharisees, have established their own righteousness. This happens when we believe our righteousness is fulfilled in the fleshly works of carnal doctrines. This is the "peace and Safety" message of today.
Carnal doctrines are only partial truths, which have fulfilled the selfish ambition of men but do not fulfill the laws of God. Those who follow carnal doctrines are in spiritual darkness because they are not led by the Spirit of God to fulfill the law of God. They remain under the judgment of the law with a false Security. There is no protection from God because of their disobedience. This is why the powers of darkness are in the Church today.
Legalism captured the hearts of the Pharisees. They had developed a very complex system of do's and don'ts. They were constantly rebuking anyone who dared to disobey the rules they had developed.
When Jesus refused to subject Himself and His disciples to their regulations, they were quick to criticize. They said to Jesus: "Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?... But He answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?" (Matt. 15:2,3).
The Pharisees had only a form of godliness. All of their regulations were being observed Without once honoring the Lord from their heart. Jesus said to them, 'There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things Which come out of Him, those are they that defile the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornication, murders, thefts, Covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man" (Mark 7:15, 21-23).
We see a distinction in the efforts of man to please God outwardly by obeying a set of regulations while his heart continues to break God's law with slander, pride, and other sins.
While the Pharisees were carrying out the desires of the flesh and looking good outwardly, the Lord was looking into their hearts. The issue, to God, is does a man love Him with all his heart: "For man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart" (1 Sam. 16:7). The Pharisees were admired by the people for their diligence and godliness, because they faithfully carried out and defended their legalistic traditions. But Jesus said to them, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity" (Matt. 23:27, 28). The legalism of the Pharisees consisted of traditions that could be carried out with outward works of the flesh: "Touch not; taste not; handle not; which all are to perish with the using; after the commandments and doctrines of men, which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body" (Col. 2:21-23). But these things can only make you self-righteous; they will never produce true righteousness.
The church today is filled with similar kinds of legalistic rules and regulations. Each structure has its own set of rules. But like the Pharisees, they are only works of the flesh, a form of godliness, which can never lead people to truly love their neighbor and fulfill God's law.
The flesh nature constantly looks for rules it can fulfill without having to take up the cross and deal with the heart. Much of the church is caught in the same trap today. The rules of these structures, like the rules of the Pharisees, are of no value against the rebellious nature of the flesh. OBEDIENCE TO THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD IS NOT LEGALISM. LEGALISM IS OBEDIENCE TO THE COMMANDMENT OF MEN.
This is why James says, "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone" (James 2:17). Works of love are the direct result of obedience and walking in faith.
All of the legalistic works of the flesh will never satisfy the Lord's demands for obedience to His law. Even the "sacrifices of praise" being offered up to the Lord in churches today are meaningless unless they come from hearts that are obedient to the Word.
The truth Samuel spoke to King Saul still stands true: "Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord. Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry" (1 Sam. 15:22, 23).
Obedience is the only way we can walk in the love that God requires in His law. By this obedience to His Spirit, we become "conformed to the image of His Son" (Rom. 8:29). Jesus invites us to come to Him with all our heart so He can lead us to be perfected in His covenant of love. Totally through His grace, He makes us strong enough to become doers of the law. "He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6). However, if you are not ready to give up everything in the world and everything of the flesh, you are not ready to make Jesus Christ Lord of your life. Jesus cannot perfect a good work in you if you walk in disobedience. If you love sin more than you love Jesus, you have a hardened heart. You will not submit to the obedience of the Spirit to be perfected in love.
The Lord Empowers Us to Overcome the Flesh
"For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted" (Heb. 2:18). "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain MERCY AND FIND GRACE TO HELP (resist the devil) IN TIME OF NEED" (Heb. 4:15, 16).
Understand that mercy and grace empower us to resist the temptations of the flesh, which come from Satan. Mercy and grace have been perverted by carnal doctrines, which tell us we can practice the desires of the flesh (lawlessness) without judgment. They say, "No one can keep the law" (the ten commandments).
That is true if you are following a form of godliness, but if you follow Jesus, you receive mercy and grace to become DOERS of the law. How can you have the mind of Christ if you continue walking with the mind of the devil? God is commanding us to be conformed to the image of Jesus.
The sons of God are those who are justified by faith and this faith leads us to fulfill the law. His Spirit leads us to put to death all the deeds of the lawless flesh nature. This must happen so your heart can be purified and you can love your neighbor as yourself. You have then laid down your life. This is the only way we can walk in the love that God demands: "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Pet. 1:4). We take these promises to heart and walk them out in order to have the nature of Jesus Christ and then we can love others as Jesus has loved us.
"Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently; being born again.., by the word of God" (1 Pet. 1:22, 23) The Word conforms us to the image of Jesus-holy and blameless. We then have the divine nature of God and bear the fruit of love. The opposite of this is to love the flesh and have our minds set on things of the world and build our treasures here on earth. "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matt. 6:2 1).
"For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor un- clean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. LET NO MAN DECEIVE YOU WITH VAIN WORDS; FOR BECAUSE OF THESE THINGS COMETH THE WRATH OF GOD (the judgment of the law) UPON THE CHILDREN OF DISOBEDIENCE (who walk after fleshly lusts). Be ye not therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes (formerly) darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light. Wherefore He saith, AWAKE SLEEPER, and arise from the (judgment of the) dead... See that you walk circumspectly... understanding what the will of the Lord is... That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be HOLY and WITHOUT BLEMISH.., that He might SANCTIFY and CLEANSE it with the washing of water by the word" (Eph. 5:5-8, 14, 15, 17, 27, 26). These Scriptures clearly explain that sanctification is being cleansed by the Word of God in order to be holy and blameless. God is now warning us to wake up in order to escape the judgment and wrath of God.
".... The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be JUSTIFIED BY FAITH" (Gal. 3:24). Remember that we are led to Christ by faith and then we are justified by faith. We have already seen that .... not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be JUSTIFIED" (Rom. 2:13).
How We Become Slaves of Righteousness
Being justified by faith means that we are made just as if we had never sinned. When we give Him our whole heart, we are justified; then He leads us to become doers of the law, which means walking in love. It is natural for us to want to keep the law when our hearts are pure because of our new nature. But those who follow after carnal doctrines oppose this truth because they are lovers of self and trust in their own form of godliness.
When we come to the Lord, we are to love Him with ALL OUR HEART, more than the world, more than the things in the world, more than family, more than the desires of the flesh, more than anything. Then the Word of God is able to wash our hearts from all unrighteousness, because our motives and the desires of our hearts are now to please Jesus. We want to please Him more than to fulfill our desires for pride, greed, selfishness, building treasures in this world, or anything else. We no longer present our members (of our bodies) as slaves to sin, but as slaves to righteousness.
Paul gave us an example of this walk: "But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: THAT I MAY KNOW HIM, AND THE POWER OF HIS RESURRECTION, AND THE FELLOWSHIP OF HIS SUFFERINGS, BEING MADE CONFORMABLE UNTO HIS DEATH, if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection from the dead" (Phil. 3:7-10). Paul took up his cross and denied himself in order to attain to this resurrection from the dead NOW. Paul explained in this passage how he was being perfected in love.
God has given to us the very same instructions. "For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow in His steps" (1 Pet, 2:21).
"Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God" (1 Pet. 4:1,2). The will of God for us is sanctification and a pure heart. "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together" (Ram. 8:17). "Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh" (2 Cor. 4:10, 11). "For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection" (Ram. 6:5). God did not have one Gospel for Paul and another Gospel for us today. Both Paul and Jesus were living examples for us today.
A good question would be: Did the first Church in the book of Acts prove by their lives that they were walking in the likeness of Christ by the love shown as they laid down their lives for one another? "And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily WITH ONE ACCORD in the temple ... And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul; Neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. . . and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked" (Acts 2:44-46; 4:32-34).
I could ask the questions again, "Did they love their neighbor as themselves? Did they love one another as Christ had loved them?" The first Church set the ex- ample for us, by having the giving nature of God. Jesus and Paul set the same examples. What has happened to the Gospel? Is there another Gospel? No! Quite simply, THE LAW HAS BEEN LOST! There is no fear of God. The Church in the book of Acts knew they were to forsake all and be perfected in love.
The rich young ruler came to Jesus and asked, "'Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?' And Jesus (referring to the law) said unto him... 'do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not steal, do not bear false witness, defraud not, honor they father and mother.. .' And he answered and said unto Him, 'Master all these have I observed from my youth. . .' Jesus... said unto him, 'One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross and follow Me'" (Mark 10:17-211).
We must come to Jesus Christ with ALL OUR HEART. If He does not have all our heart, then we will turn to the treasures of the world. If God has all our heart, we will then build our treasures in heaven. We remain an this earth only a short time to pass through the trials of this world and prove to God that we love Him with all our hearts and that our primary desire is to spend eternity with Him in heaven.
Jesus said to the rich young ruler: "If thou wilt be PERFECT, go and sell that thou hast" (Matt, 19:21). Jesus said those things because He saw that greed still had the heart of the rich young ruler. "And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. (He was grieved because he realized that he loved his possessions more than he loved God.) And Jesus looked round about and saith unto His disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!" (Mark 10:22, 23).
Many who read this verse are amazed and astonished at these words and wonder, "Well, who can be saved?" The disciples were amazed and astonished too. "And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can he saved? And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible Peter began to say unto Him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed Thee. And Jesus answered and said Verily I say unto you, there is no man that bath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My sake and the gospel's, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time.. . WITH PERSECUTIONS; AND IN THE WORLD TO COME ETERNAL LIFE .. and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid" (Mark 10:24, 26-30, 32).
If the disciples were amazed, astonished, and fearful at these statements of Jesus, why shouldn't we be even more so today? However, these same disciples later taught these things to the first Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. The people in this Church sold all their property and shared with all who had need. They were building their treasures in heaven. They loved their neighbors more than they loved their greed. This Church was perfected in the unity of the faith and to the fullness of the stature which belongs to Christ. They were of one heart and one mind in the temple because Jesus, not man, was the center of His Church.
No person can receive these Scriptures unless Jesus has all his heart. Did Jesus tell us to lay down our lives in this world? The implications of these Scriptures will cause a cultural shock to those in the worldly church today. We have been led astray. We find all kinds of patterns in this world that are called the church and that we are to be conformed to. But the disciples who spent years with the Lord knew exactly what the Church was supposed to be like. They left us this example in the book of Acts.
When we love the Lord with all our hearts, it costs us everything in this life and in this world. The Spirit of God can then totally control our lives and Satan can do nothing, because all selfishness is removed. This Church puts into practice the commandments of our Lord to love their neighbor as themselves, and to love one another as Jesus had loved them.
If we look at these Scriptures through the eyes of a form of godliness, we will call this a history of the Church, rather than a revelation of the Church of Jesus Christ, which was to be perfected in love.
Not only was the rich young ruler required to sell all that he had to follow Jesus, but many in the first church in the Book of Acts felt led to do the same. The powers of darkness could no longer tempt their hearts with anything in this world. They built all their treasures in heaven, because they laid down their lives for their neighbors. They laid down their lives to please God and be vessels to extend God's love to the whole world, because they now had the nature of Jesus.
Listen to the Word of God in Titus 3:3-5: "For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the KINDNESS AND LOVE OF GOD OUR SAVIOUR TOWARD MAN APPEARED (JESUS CHRIST)... He saved us, by the washing of regeneration (being cleansed by the word and Spirit of God), and renewing of the Holy Ghost" to have the mind of Christ. This is sanctification. This is how we are conformed to the image of Jesus and how we become the blameless bride of Christ.
We now walk and talk like our Lord and no longer according to the flesh. We can clearly see what grace instructs us to do in Titus 2:11-14: "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope. . . Who gave Himself for us.
THAT HE MIGHT REDEEM US FROM ALL INIQUITY, AND PURIFY UNTO HIMSELF A PECULIAR PEOPLE, ZEALOUS OF GOOD WORKS" (to walk in love).
Jesus commanded the body of Christ to lay down their lives in order that we may love our friends as He has loved us. Paul identified this body of Christ by saying, "And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the (fleshly) affections and lusts" (Gal. 5:24). "But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light" (Eph. 5:13).
We Are Called to Holiness
Jesus is calling you to holiness: "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God which worketh in you.. . that ye may be blameless and harmless (innocent), the sons of God without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world" (Phil. 2:12,13, 15). When we are led by the Spirit of God, we no longer walk after the flesh. We bear a different fruit, the fruit of love which is the nature of God: ... . against such there in no law." (Gal. 5:23)
This is how Christ fulfills the law in us. His Spirit leads us to become DOERS OF THE LAW, because we have a new heart, a pure heart with new fruit, the fruit of love. We no longer break the law, but we fulfill the law.
We are now walking in God's protection and blessings because we love God with all our hearts and our neighbors as ourselves. We have ceased from our own works and have entered into the rest of God. "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death, that THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE LAW MIGHT BE FULFILLED IN US WHO.. ."DO WHAT???
1. Join a religious structure?
2. Find the best doctrine?
3. Manifest a spiritual gift?
4. Do good works for Jesus?
5. Etc., etc., etc.,
NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!
".... that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, WHO WALK NOT AFTER THE FLESH, BUT AFTER THE SPIRIT' (Rom. 8:2, 4). "... WALK IN THE SPIRIT, AND YE SHALL NOT FULFILL THE LUST OF THE FLESH... But if ye be LED OF THE SPIRIT, you are NOT UNDER (the judgment of) THE LAW (Gal. 5:16, 18). This is the true Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Those in the true Church are not under the law. They are led by the Spirit of God to put to death the deeds of the flesh, so they can be perfected in love to fulfill the law. This is the Church which can truly say, "We are no longer under the judgment and curses of the law." The false church, which follows a form of godliness, has become a dwelling place of demons because she transgresses the law instead of fulfilling the law of love.
Grace of God Has Been Perverted
The grace of God does not permit us to practice sin, as carnal doctrines teach us today: "What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? GOD FORBID ...Shall we continue in sin (continue practicing sin) that grace may abound? GOD FORBID. How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? But God be thanked, that we WERE the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness" (Rom. 6:15, 1, 2, 17, 18).
Our obedience to the Word of God and the Spirit of God perfects us in the God-kind of love and righteousness: BUT WHOSO KEEPETH HIS WORD, IN HIM VERILY IS THE LOVE OF GOD PERFECTED; HEREBY KNOW WE THAT WE ARE IN HIM. He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also to walk, even as He walked" (1 John 2:5,6).
This is the body of Christ, which has been perfected in love. If Jesus commands us to love one another with the same love with which He loved us, WOULD HE NOT EXPECT US TO DO IT? This is the very same love that causes you to love your neighbor as yourself.
Many people in congregations today find security in the works they do for God. They sincerely believe if they do works for God, it is all right to practice sin (breaking God's laws). However, the Word of God teaches just the opposite.
We no longer present the members of our body as slaves to impurity and lawlessness (practice sin); "Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful woks. And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity" (Matt. 7:22, 23). "Whosoever commiteth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law" (1 John 3:4).
We continue to break the law if we continue to practice sin. Paul said, "But if , while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? GOD FORBID. For if I build again the things which I destroyed (the curse flesh nature), I make myself (still) a transgressor (still walking under the judgment of the law) (Gal. 2:17,18).
Works of the Flesh Destroyed
Paul said, "0 foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth... Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? (Gal. 3:1, 3). .This is how people walk under the judgment of the law and works of the law, by trying to be perfected in love through the works of the flesh. This brings the curse of the law: "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse..." (Gal. 3:10).
We see again the curse of the law is on all those who try to fulfill the law in any other way than being led by the Spirit of God. It is only through being led by the Spirit that we can be perfected in the love that fulfills the law: "So then they which be of faith (led and controlled by the Spirit of God) are the children of Abraham" (Gal. 3:9).
This helps explain the blessings and curses of God's law. We will see a clearer explanation as we continue. This is why the hedge is down on a harlot church today. She is trying to be perfected in love after the strength and works of the flesh. This is how Babylon, the harlot church, becomes a dwelling place of demons (Rev. 18:2). "Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil:... Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin... In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is NOT OF GOD, NEITHER HE THAT LOVETH NOT HIS BROTHER" (1 John 3:7-10).
When we continue to practice sin, we are not being controlled by the Spirit of God. We are being controlled by the flesh and sin. We are still choosing to walk in the image of Satan rather than the image of God: "If ye know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him" (1 John 2:29).
Who Are the False Sons of God?
"Wherefore. . let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with. patience the race that is set before us, LOOKING UNTO JESUS, the author and finisher of our faith;... For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.... My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him: for whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth" (Heb. 12:1-3, 5, 6).
When we repent and come to the Lord with a whole heart, He places a hedge around us so that we walk in peace. Should We find ourselves not walking in peace, the powers of darkness are attacking us. The hedge has been removed because of some sin which has broken God's commandment of love (His law). This is God's discipline and reproof on a Christian who sins. A Christian will want to repent, so he asks the Holy Spirit what sin he has committed, because a true believer loves Jesus more than any sin. The Holy Spirit, at some point, will reveal to US the sin. Then, because of the cross and the blood of Jesus, because of Jesus Christ's victory over sin, and because He became our sacrifice for sin, the blood of Jesus will cleanse us from this sin. We are then forgiven, and we are no longer transgressors of God's law. The powers of darkness have no more ground, so they have to back off and the hedge of protection and peace returns.
As we learn to walk in the blessings and peace of God, we become more and more sensitive about avoiding sin. This is the discipline that leads us to purify our hearts and love others as Jesus has loved us: "If ye endure chastening, God, dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? BUT IF YE BEWITHOUT CHASTISEMENT, WHEREOF ALL ARE PARTAKERS, THEN ARE YE BASTARDS, AND NOT SONS" (Heb. 12:7, 8).
False sons refuse to give up their love for the flesh nature of Satan. They devise ways to enter heaven without denying their flesh. They justify themselves with their form of godliness because they still love the world and the flesh. They are not led by the Spirit of God. This is the fallen away church today. False sons do not know about this peace of God, nor do they know about the fear of God. Since they walk in a false security, they do not know they have to purify their hearts. Therefore, as they continually break God's law, the powers of darkness are able to bring more and more bondage, until they are destroyed; all because they did not choose the nature of God. "Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron; because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the most High: Therefore He brought down their hearts with labour; they fell down and there was none to help. Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted" (Ps. 107:10, 11, 17).
"Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of Spirits, and live (eternally)? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness (have a pure heart)" (Heb. 12:9, 10).
We are obedient children led by the Spirit of God to be perfected in love arid holiness: "As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: but as he which hath called you is holy, SO BE YE HOLY IN ALL MANNER OF CONVERSATION; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, PASS THE TIME OF YOUR SOJOURNING HERE IN FEAR (that ye may not be destroyed)" (1 Pet. 1:14-17).
It is a painful thing to die to the flesh and to submit to the chastening of the Lord. We have to totally depend upon God. We become broken vessels. It does not look like victory to the world and to those who love a form of godliness: "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the PEACEABLE FRUIT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS unto them which are exercised thereby." (Heb. 12:11). Discipline causes us to yield the peaceful fruit of "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such things there is no law." (Gal. 5:22,23) This is the body of Christ which fulfills the law by submitting to discipline in obedience to the Spirit of God. This is the only way we can have a pure heart. This is sanctification and the walk of peace. "Pursue PEACE with all men, and the SANCTIFICATION WITHOUT WHICH NO ONE WILL SEE THE LORD." (Heb. 12:14)
Paul encouraged the Thessalonians about the opposition and trials which were coming upon the churches of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the fire which we go through to become vessels of gold and honor.
Paul said, "For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God... for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen" (1 Thess. 2:14). "[We] ... sent Timotheus... to establish, and to comfort you concerning your faith, that no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto... when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulations; even as it came to pass, and ye know. For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your FAITH, lest by some means the TEMPTER have TEMPTED YOU, and (you fall away from the faith so) our labour be in vain. (1 Thess. 3:2-5).
Paul was fearful that they would not stand in the trials and persecutions to be perfected in love. He feared that through the temptations, trials and pressures of the powers of darkness, they would turn from the faith back to the ways of the flesh. Therefore, they could not be perfected in love to become complete, holy and blameless.
An example of this is in the parable of the Word: "Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root (Jesus), WHICH FOR A WHILE BELIEVE, and in time of TEMPTATION (by the powers of darkness) FALL AWAY" (from being perfected in love) (Luke 8:11-13).
They fall away from being perfected in love when the tempter can cause their hearts to turn from God to love other things more than God. This is how we fall away from the faith. We see another heart which fails to be perfected in love in the following verse: "And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this present life, and bring no fruit (of love) to perfection"
(Luke 8:14). They love the world and the ways of the world more than God. They are not perfected in love to bring godly fruit to maturity.
How a Disciple's Heart Is Perfected In Love
In the last verse of this parable we see the disciple's heart which is perfected in love: "But they on the good ground (good heart) are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience" (Luke 8:15).
Jesus is coming for a bride who is holy and blameless. This bride will be perfected in love, and she will love her neighbor as Jesus has loved us.
Paul told the Thessalonians that he was praying for them night and day that we "might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith.., and the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men.., to the end He may stablish your hearts unblamable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess. 3:10-13).
Paul continued, "FOR THIS IS THE WILL OF GOD, EVEN YOUR SANCTIFICATION (a pure heart).., that every one of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor; not in the lust of concupiscence (longing for that which is forbidden)... that no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness (an impure heart), but unto HOLINESS (a pure heart). He therefore that despiseth (rejects), despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us His Holy Spirit" (1 Thess. 4:3-8).
We miss the will of God when we are not sanctified. Christ is returning for a bride who has been perfected in love, a doer of God's law. In these Scriptures, we clearly see that the Word cleanses our hearts from all love of the flesh. This will not happen unless we first love the Lord and His Word more than any sins of the flesh.
Paul was warning that the tempter would try to turn them from the faith. Then they would not be unblamable in holiness at the coming of our Lord. Paul said, "Now the end of the commandment is charity (agape love) out of a pure heart" (1 Tim. 1:5). This is the purpose of sanctification, to have love from a pure heart.
The man who purifies his heart possesses his vessel in sanctification and honor by overcoming the selfish flesh.
This is the true Church. This is the bride Jesus Christ is returning for. If anyone rejects the teaching of sanctification because of carnal doctrines, he is rejecting God who gives the Holy Spirit. The Word of God has clearly described the Church that our Lord Jesus is coming for.
"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such WERE SOME OF YOU: BUT YE ARE WASHED (by the word and Spirit of God), BUT YE ARE SANCTIFIED, (to have a pure heart), BUT YE ARE JUSTIFIED" (1 Cor. 6:9-11).
"And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy
and unblamable and unreproveable in His sight: IF YE CONTINUE IN THE FAITH... the mystery which hath been hid.., but now is made manifest to His saints:... which is CHRIST (FORMED) IN YOU, THE HOPE OF GLORY: WHOM WE PREACH... THAT WE MAY PRESENT EVERY MAN PERFECT IN JESUS CHRIST (with a pure heart, sanctified)" (Col. 1:21-23, 26-28).
The Falling Away and the Fiery Trials
God warns the Church today, "Harden not your hearts (by loving other things more than God), as in the provocation in the day of temptation in the wilderness. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err in their heart; and they have not known My ways. So I sware in My wrath, they shall not enter into My rest (peace)."
"Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. . . lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. "For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end (until we overcome)" (Heb. 8:8, 10-14).
The simple explanation of falling away is the fact that the Bible states you can fall away from the faith. A person falls away from the faith when his heart turns to love other things more than God. This is idolatry. When his heart turns from God, he is unable to enter into rest and peace because he turns back to sin and once again breaks God's law.
Israel, an Example For Us Today
Like the children of Israel, we are commanded to possess the land by overcoming sin. This is the way we enter into the land of rest and peace. Our hearts are tested as their hearts were tested. When we walk in obedience to the Spirit of God, we are protected and receive the blessings of God. When we walk in disobedience by choosing the ways of the flesh, the law brings the curse and death if we continue to practice sin: "For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die" (Rom. 8:13).
Because the hedge is down, the powers of darkness can bring adversity and death: "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace (rest)" (Rom. 8:6).
We cannot enter into the land of rest and peace unless we love the Lord with all our hearts. When the Lord has all our hearts, we are living totally for Him. This is what God demands and this walk eliminates all idolatry. This is the only walk which will overcome and enter into the land of peace and rest.
We take the weapons of God and overcome sin, the world, and the devil. We become the mature man "...unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13). This is the land of rest. God has commanded His craftsmen, the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, to lead the body of Christ through the wilderness to possess this land and enter into this rest. Today we either walk in life or death, the blessings or the curses. We enter into rest and peace by the obedience of faith or we walk in disobedience, in which case we are destroyed by the powers of darkness because we do not have the protection of God.
When the children of Israel were given the law, they were given the same choice, obedience with blessings of God, or disobedience which brought a curse and destruction. They were an example to teach us about God's judgment on disobedience in these last days. Since the law has been lost to us, we have lost all understanding of the judgment of God and the fear of God. "See, I have set before thee this day LIFE and good, and DEATH and evil; in that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land (of rest and peace) whither thou goest to possess it. But if thine heart turn away (by temptations), so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them (when we serve the flesh, we are serving the powers of darkness), I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish (be destroyed), and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it" (Deut. 30:15-18).
Moses also said, "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life (to walk after the Spirit) and death (to walk after the flesh), blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: that thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey His voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto Him; He is thy life, and the length of thy days (if you obey God); that thou mayest dwell in the land" (Deut. 30:19, 20). The children of Israel were delivered out of the bondage of Egypt, just as we are delivered out of the bondage of the world. God was leading them through the wilderness to test their hearts. If they were obedient they would enter into the promised land; the land of peace and rest from their enemies, the land where God protects His obedient children.
The judgments that God brought upon the children of Israel are an example of the judgments that are brought upon us today. As God has delivered us from the slavery of the world, God delivered them from the afflictions of Egypt: "And didst see the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, and heardest their cry by the Red sea;. . . so that they went through the midst of the sea on the dry land... Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven.., and I madest known unto them thy holy sabbath, and commandedest them precepts, statutes and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant" (Neh. 9:9, 11, 18, 14).
Nehemiah continued: "And gayest them bread from heaven (which is the word of God) for their hunger, and brought forth water (the word) for them out of the rock (Jesus) for their thirst, and promised them that they would go in to possess the land which thou had sworn to give them. But they and our fathers dealt proudly,. . . and hearkened not to thy commandments, and refused to listen.
. . but hardened their necks, and in their rebellion appointed a captain (to tickle their ears) to return to their bondage (the world)" (Neh. 9:15-17).
Congregations fall away from the faith when they appoint a leader who leads them back to the sin and bondage of the world. This is the very opposite of peace and rest: "And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men's hands, wood and stone" (Deut. 4:28). This is what has happened to the fallen away church today. They have appointed leaders to return to the slavery of the world. They are worshipping the works of man's hands (of wood and stone). Like Israel, congregations today have appointed kings and leaders to tickle their ears with a form of godliness, so they can justify their worldly lifestyles in the churches. God does not have their hearts. The world has their hearts.
In reading about the children of Israel, Moses is speaking to us today, "And I commanded you at that time, saying, The Lord your God hath given you this land to (overcome and) possess it: ye shall pass over armed before your brethren (with the weapons of warfare which they will use to remove the Canaanite nations who are types of the powers of darkness); until the Lord have given rest unto your brethren, as well as unto you, and until they also possess the land which the Lord your God hath given them beyond the Jordan" (Deut. 3:18, 20). "But they and our fathers dealt proudly, and hardened their necks, and hearkened not to thy commandments" (Neh. 9:16).
The Psalmist wrote on this same issue: "They soon forgot His works; they waited not for His counsel: but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert" (Ps. 106:18, 14). "They kept not the covenant of God, and refused to walk in His law. . . a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not steadfast with God" (Ps. 78:10, 8). "They made a calf in Horeb, and worshipped the molten image (a form of godliness). Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox (the image of a beast, just as has happened today) . . . They forgot God, their Saviour... they believed not His word.., therefore He lifted up His hand against them, to overthrow them in the wilderness (God removed the hedge of protection)" (Ps. 106:19-21, 24-26).
The Psalmist also said: "He brought streams also out of the Rock (a type of Jesus).. . and they sinned yet more against Him (they hardened their hearts) by provoking the most High in the wilderness. And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust (of the flesh)" (Ps. 78:16- 18).
"They did not destroy the nations (the powers of darkness), concerning whom the Lord commanded them: but were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works. And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them. Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils (this is exactly what we do today by teaching our children's hearts to go after success, power, and treasures of this world). Thus were they defiled with their own works, and went a whoring with their own inventions. Therefore was the wrath of the Lord kindled against His people ... and He gave them into the hand of the heathen; and they that hated them ruled over them (as the powers of darkness have invaded and taken over a fallen away church today)" (Ps. 106:35-37, 39-41).
The Psalmist also declared: "Therefore the Lord heard this, and was wroth; so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also came up against Israel; because they believed not in God, and trusted not in His salvation. Therefore their days did He consume in vanity, and their years in trouble. When He slew them, then they sought Him: and they returned and inquired early after God. And they remembered that God was their rock and the high God their redeemer, nevertheless they did flatter Him with their mouth, and they lied unto Him with their tongues. For their heart was not right with Him, neither were they steadfast in His covenant" (Ps. 78:21, 33-37). Nehemiah, addressing the same subject, said; "But after they had rest, they did evil again before thee; therefore leftest thou them in the hand of their enemies, so that they had the dominion over them:.. . and many times didst thou deliver them according to thy mercies; and testified against them, that thou might bring them again unto thy law: yet they dealt proudly, and hearkened not unto thy commandments, but sinned against thy judgments, (by which if a man do, he shall live in them); and withdrew the shoulder, and hardened their neck, and would not hear" (Neh. 9:28, 29).
The Psalmist said, "Many times did He deliver them; but they provoked Him with their counsel, and were brought low for their iniquity" (Ps. 106:43). According to Nehemiah,... . thou art just in all that is brought upon us; for thou hast done right, but we have done wickedly. Neither have our kings, our princes, our priests, nor our fathers, kept thy law, nor hearkened unto thy commandments ... For they have not served thee in their kingdom.. . neither turned they from their wicked works.
Behold, we are servants this day, and for the land. . . we are servants in it: and it yieldeth much increase unto the kings whom thou hast set over us because of our sins: also they have dominion over our bodies.., and we are in great distress." (Neh. 9:33-37). The Psalmist said: "For they provoked Him to anger with their high places (as they do today), and moved Him to jealousy with their graven images. So that He forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh (as He has forsaken the fallen away church today).... And delivered His strength into captivity, and His glory into the enemy's hand.., and was wroth with His inheritance. The fire (the powers of darkness) consumed their young men; and their maidens were not given to marriage" (Ps. 78:58, 60-63). "0 God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance; thy holy temple have they defiled; they have laid Jerusalem on heaps. The (spiritually) dead bodies of thy servants have they given to be meat unto the fowls of the heaven, the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth" (Ps. 79:1, 2).
Only the ones who love the Lord with all their hearts and put their faith and trust in Him will survive the judgment of the law today. The others will be lawbreakers and will be kept under the judgment of the law. "The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: but chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise authority" (2 Peter 2:9, 10).
We either resist the flesh and the temptations of Satan, or else we walk after the desires of the flesh in unrighteousness, staying under the punishment and judgment of God's law. This makes it easier to see and understand that we shall be saved, yet so as through fire. Israel turned away from entering peace and rest as the Church today has turned back from following God. They provoked God to jealousy by turning their hearts to other things instead of to Him. Their hearts fell away from God as a fallen church today has departed from God and turned to the ways and idols of the world. God Is jealous for our hearts also, and warned us of His wrath by using the children of Israel as an example. Moses wrote: "Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping His commandments. . . then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness (the world), wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions (which are types of the powers of darkness), and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint" (Deut. 8:11, 14, 15). As they needed water physically to survive in the wilderness, we also need water today. That water is the Word of God.
We need the understanding of God's Word to lead us through the terrible wilderness, in order to obtain God's protection from the fiery serpents. Their physical water was brought out of the rock of flint. Our spiritual water is also brought out of the rock, Jesus. God is warning us in the New Testament today, as He warned the children of Israel, to take heed lest we be destroyed as the children of Israel were destroyed because of disobedience. They were examples for us today. Paul said, "And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our EXAMPLES, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye IDOLATERS, as were some of them:. . . Neither let us COMMIT FORNICATION, as some of them committed, and 23,000 fell in one day. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents, neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer" (1 Cor. 10:4-10).
Paul warned: "Now all these things happened unto them for examples (models to warn us): and they are written for our admonition (warning), upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall (away and be destroyed). 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. Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry (from practicing sin). I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord (love), and the cup of devils (selfishness); ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table (covenant), and of the table (covenant) of devils. Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He? Let no man seek his own, but every man anothers" (1 Cor. 10:11-15, 21, 22, 24). God warns again that we can fall away in our trials and be destroyed as the children of Israel were destroyed in the wilderness: "Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness" (Heb 3:7, 8). We are truly learning the reality of the verses in Matt 7: 13 and 14, "Enter ye in at the strait gate.., and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat. Because strait is the gate and narrow is the way, which leadeth to (eternal) life, and FEW THERE BE THAT FIND IT." Even with all these warnings, the children of Israel refused to fear the Lord and obey Him. The heart of God was grieved by their actions:
"0 that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all My Commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!" (Deut. 5:29). The writer of Hebrews said: "But with whom was He grieved forty years? (on whom did He pour out His judgment?). Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? Let us therefore fear, lest.., any of you should seem to come short of it (the rest and peace of God). Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man FALL after the same example of unbelief (Heb 3:17, 4:1, 11).
The writer added: "For we have not an high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted LIKE AS WE ARE, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 4:15,16). And Moses wrote: "the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep His commandments, or no" (Deut. 8:2). We are going through these same tests today.
We overcome the wilderness experiences in this world in order to enter in and possess the land of peace and rest. These tests will prove whether we really love the Lord with all our hearts. If we love anything more than the Lord, we cannot enter into this peace and rest. A proud person will never stand these tests. Only the humble can be led through the wilderness to the land of peace and rest.
The Fiery Trials
Peter said, "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. . wherefore, let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator (1 Pet. 4:12, 13, 19).
The fiery trials today are the efforts of the world, the flesh, and the devil to turn our hearts away from God. Every man will either come through the fire and be like precious gold (with a divine nature), or else he will be a vessel of wood, hay, and stubble, which is burned up. When the pressures and trials come, if we strike back at others, we break God's law and give the fiery serpents ground to build strongholds and destroy us.
If anyone has a foundation built upon carnal doctrines, they have a false security. The fire will destroy all of those who walk after a form of godliness because they walk in disobedience. Anyone who stands on their carnal doctrines as a foundation is not standing on the Word of God. Their foundation is sand. They themselves are wood, hay and stubble, and in the fiery tests the fire will consume them because they have no hedge of protection from God. No other foundation except the Lord Jesus Christ can survive this fire: "But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that WITHOUT A FOUNDATION built a house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great" (Luke 6:49).
Everyone who follows after a doctrine that does not conform them to godliness is destroyed. When you have a false security, you do not act on the Word of God.
Paul wrote, "Now if any man build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stone, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire (powers of darkness) shall try every man's work of what sort it is. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 3:12, 13, 11).
That is why we need the true apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers: "For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (until Christ's love is perfected in us). That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine" (Eph. 4:12-14).
God has been testing the hearts of men since the day He put Adam in the garden. He offered Adam the tree of life or the tree of death. God still tests the hearts of all creation. Only the ones who love the Lord with all their hearts and put their faith and trust in Him will survive the fiery tests of this world. All others will break God's laws and be under the punishment and judgment of the law, because their hearts love idols more than God. "The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: but chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise government" (2 Pet. 2:9, 10).
We either resist the flesh and the temptations of Satan, or else we walk after the desires of the flesh in unrighteousness, in which case we stay under the judgment and punishment of God's law.
Jesus said, "I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful (WAKE UP!), and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works PERFECT (because you are not being perfected in love) before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard (remember the Gospel!), and hold fast, and REPENT. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief (in judgment), and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. He that overcometh (the world, the flesh and temptations of Satan) shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life" (Rev. 3:1-3, 5).
Jesus is coming first like a thief in destruction. Jesus did not come the way the religious leaders expected him the first time. Neither will Jesus come the way the religious leaders expect Him this time. "Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that ye may see. Who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the Lord's servant? The Lord is well pleased for His righteousness' sake; He will magnify the law, and make it honorable. But this is a people robbed and spoiled; they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison houses (of the powers of darkness): they are for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore. Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? Did not the Lord, He against whom we have sinned? FOR THEY WOULD NOT WALK IN HIS WAYS, NEITHER WERE THEY OBEDIENT TO HIS LAW. Therefore He hath poured upon him the fury of His anger and the strength of battle: and it hath set him on fire around about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart" (Isa. 42:18, 19, 21-25).
The sleeping church is being destroyed today and they don't even know it. They will scoff at warnings such as this. The fires of destruction are already being poured out among us. The Scriptures are not enough to lead most of these people out of darkness. That is the reason that only a remnant can hear. The others will not wake up-for them it is business as usual.
God warns us in His Word: "Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot: they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed. Whoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it. I tell you, in that night (of great spiritual darkness) there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken (by fire), and the other shall be left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken (by the fire), and the other left. And they answered and said unto Him, Where, Lord? And He said unto them, Wheresoever the (dead) body is, thither will the eagles (vultures) be gathered together (the birds of heaven which are the powers of darkness)" (Luke 17:28- 30, 33, 34, 36, 37).
This is how Jesus comes as a thief upon the spiritually dead congregation that will not wake up and repent in these last days. The hedge is lowered, and He no longer restrains the hordes of the powers of darkness which have been unleashed against the spiritually dead, fallen away church. If you read these Scriptures through the eyes of a carnal doctrine, you will be led to believe that the men who are taken from the bed or out of the field are raptured, rather than destroyed by the fire. This is how the deception and darkness have come upon us today. This is why people are being burned and they pay no attention. This is the fallen away church today which practices sin (lawlessness).
The remnant will love the Lord Jesus Christ with all their hearts. They will be perfected in love and holiness. No one will be able to counterfeit the love that is perfected in the remnant. You will know them by their fruits. The stumbling blocks will also be evident and they will be destroyed. "Another parable put He forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field. But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also (tares are evident because they bear the fruit of the flesh)" (Matt. 13:24-26).
"Now the works of the flesh are manifest" (Gal 5:19). When we practice the deeds of the flesh, we bear the wrong fruit and break God's law. This is how men who teach doctrines that do not conform you to godliness lead you to walk under the judgment and curse of the law. This is how the church is being destroyed in the fire today. They have no fear of God as they teach a form of godliness and become stumbling blocks to others. The blind follow the blind and never bear the fruit of love. In fact, they cannot because they are tares. "As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The son of man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity (by practicing sin)" (Matt. 13:40, 41).
"So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth (hate, anger, bitterness, sickness, pain, etc.) THEN SHALL THE RIGHTEOUS SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN IN THE KINGDOM OF THEIR FATHER. He who has ears to hear, let him hear" (Matt. 13:49, 50, 43).
There are hundreds of different denominations and teachings in this country today and each one has its own form of righteousness. But there is only one true righteousness and that is walking right in God's eyes. When we establish our own righteousness, we do not submit to the righteousness of God. Israel departed from the law and righteousness of God to establish their own righteousness.
Paul said of them, "my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God" (Rom. 10:1-3).
When the wicked thinks he is righteous in his own eyes, there is no fear of God. He is blinded to the judgment of God because he has a false security. This is how millions are blinded to the judgment of the law today.
"Hearken unto Me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is My law: fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. For the moth (the powers of darkness) shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but My righteousness shall be for ever" (Isa. 5 1:7, 8). The righteousness of God stands forever because only the righteous will survive. God has set up laws to destroy those who are wise in their own eyes, and will not submit to the righteousness of God.
Jesus said, "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth (remains, continues) in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit (of love): ... If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burned" (John 15:5,6). "Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit (of love); so shall ye be My disciples (God's kind of agape love is the proof of discipleship)" (John 15:8).
Jesus sets us free from being slaves of sin (lawlessness) to become slaves of righteousness (a pure heart): "For as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness (a pure heart)" (Rom. 6:19).
Paul said, "What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life" (Rom. 6:2 1, 22).
Through obedience we have a pure heart and we are perfected in love to the fullness of the measure of the stature which belongs to Christ. When the Word of God and the Holy Spirit have removed the selfish nature of Satan, we no longer live for ourselves. Therefore we have the nature of God and love others as Jesus loved us. We have laid down our lives so we can walk in God's kind of love. "Charity (God's kind of love) suffereth long, and is kind; (God's kind of love) envieth not; (God's kind of love) vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own (way), is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity (God's kind of agape love) never faileth. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity (this God-kind of Love), I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing" (1 Cor. 13:4, 5, 7, 8, 1-3).
The God-kind of love is the only love which can love your neighbor as yourself: "For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself' (Gal. 5:14). The ones who come through the fire will have this GOD-KIND OF LOVE, WHICH IS THE DIVINE NATURE OF GOD.
The Trumpet Is Sounding a Warning to the Fallen Away Church
Jesus is sounding a warning today for those who have fallen away from the faith: all those who have a false security in carnal doctrines, and to those who have built their own tower into heaven upon foundations of sand.
Jesus says, "I know thy works... because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing: and knowest not that thou are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind (with no understanding), and naked (lost, not having garments of salvation)" (Rev. 3:15, 17).
"I counsel thee to buy of Me gold (the divine nature) tried in the fire (by overcoming the fiery trials), that thou mayest be rich (in God and good works); and white raiment (robes of righteousness), that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness (lostness) do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see (and have understanding). (Because) as many as I love, I REBUKE AND CHASTEN; be zealous therefore, and repent (so that you can be perfected in holiness and love)" (Rev. 3:18, 19).
Then He extends the invitation: "Behold, I stand at the door (of the churches), and knock (with the Holy Spirit): if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup (fellowship) with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh (the world, the flesh and the devil) will I grant to sit with me in my. throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches" (Rev. 3:20- 22).
Jesus is speaking to the people in fallen away churches who are without discipline and reproof. Their deeds are not deeds of love because they have refused the discipline needed to be perfected in love. They are illegitimate children.
Jesus warns that the ones who will be saved are the ones who receive discipline and overcome and who will sit with Him on the throne of His Father. He is telling those who have ears to hear that they must be sanctified and holy.
"And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem (the church), shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem. When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment (brought by God's law), and by the spirit of burning (the fiery trials)" (Isa. 4:3, 4).
"If any man's work (of wood, hay and stubble which are the works of the flesh and treasures of this world) shall be burned, he shall suffer loss (of all these things on earth): but he himself shall be saved (from the ways of the world, the flesh, and the destruction of the powers of darkness); yet so as by fire (the fire burns up everything that is not the divine nature of God).., for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are" (1 Cor. 3:15, 17)
The Sin Unto Death
Carnal doctrines and false teachers are leading congregations into a form of godliness. A form of godliness gives congregations a false security and leads them to destruction. They will not receive the discipline and reproof necessary to purify and sanctify their hearts. Their hearts become hardened and the Word can have no place in them.
We are warned that "false prophets.. . false teachers... who privily (not easily discerned) shall bring in damnable heresies, (forms of godiness)... and many shall follow their pernicious (lascivious, sensual) ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you, whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not (God's judgment is on them NOW). For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh.., while they promise them liberty (no judgment or curse will come upon you), they themselves are the servants of corruption (flesh nature)" (2 Pet. 2:1- 3, 18, 19).
These false teachers will lead people to turn away from the Word of God through fleshly desires and turn back to the ways of the world: "For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning" (2 Pet. 2:20).
False teachers, through fleshly desires, will lead congregations from the Word of God back to loving the ways of the world. As they receive a false security and their hearts return to loving the things of the world, their hearts then become hardened to the Word of God. When this happens, the Word cannot sanctify and purify their hearts because they are not led by the Spirit of God. This is how a church falls away from the faith.
II Peter 2:21 says: "For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them."
Since they once knew the ways of righteousness and have now turned away from their first love, they will die in their sins because they have been overcome and captured again by the ways of the world. "For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins" (Heb. 10:26). They die in their sins and rebellions.
Since they have put their trust in false teachers and a false security, the Holy Spirit cannot lead them out of darkness. If they had not first known the way of righteousness and then hardened their hearts to God's Word, there would still be an opportunity for them to yet learn God's righteousness. But, having learned God's righteousness and having hardened their hearts to the holy commandment, their hearts have now become too hardened to return to God's Word. They no longer have a repentant heart. They cannot be perfected in love. They have fallen away from the faith.
THIS IS THE SIN UNTO DEATH!
"For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they should fall away, to renew them again unto repentance (because they chose to love the very things which God commanded them to turn from)" (Heb. 6:4-6).
Those who have fallen away are those who have become so hardened to the Word of God they will no longer receive the Word into their hearts. They now love other things more than they love God. This is idolatry.
Listen carefully to the Word: "For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries (as it did the children of Israel). For we know Him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto Me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Now the just shall live by faith (he preserves, endures and overcomes): but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him" (Heb. 10:26, 27, 30, 31, 38).
Only the ones who love the Lord with all their hearts will not shrink back. They will receive the mercy and blessings of God. God waits patiently for all others who have these idols to repent and turn to God. If they do not turn, they are destroyed in God's wrath.
Paul said, "What if God, willing to shew His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels (children) of wrath fitted to destruction: and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He afore prepared unto glory" (Rom. 9:22, 23).
God endures with much patience as He waits for us to come to the light and be perfected in love. If our hearts are turned toward other things which we love more than God, we will resist His Word and His Spirit and break His laws.
Therefore, His wrath permits the powers of darkness to continue placing more and more bondage in our lives until we are destroyed. The opposite of this is the vessel of mercy who does not shrink back from the Word of God, but walks in faith as he perseveres, endures and overcomes to be perfected in love.
Everyone who shrinks back from God does so cause his heart has turned from God to love other things more than He loves Christ. This, of course, is the falling away. If he
does not repent and turn back, he will be destroyed. "For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul" (Heb. 10: 36,39).
The Fear of the Lord
One of the primary reasons the Church today has fallen away from the faith is because it has not taught the fear of God. When God's judgment is not taught there is no fear of God. We are certainly to revere God, but we are to fear Him also. "My flesh trembleth for fear of Thee; and I am afraid of thy judgments" (Ps. 119:120).
We are taught by carnal doctrines that we can practice sin and there is no reason to fear God. cannot learn the fear of God until we know the truth. When God spoke the commandments of the law from Mount Sinai, the people stood at a distance and trembled. Moses explained, "Fear not: for God is come to test you, and that His fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not" (Ex. 20:20).
When false teachers lead congregations to walk in willful sin, they will not teach about the fear of God because they have not learned the fear of God. Messages about the love of God, unless they are balanced equally with the truth about His judgments upon sin and rebellion, are the "peace and safety" messages of the last days which are leading people to destruction and hell in masses.
God has given us many Scriptures about the fear of God: "And by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil" (Prov. 14:16). "The fear of the Lord tendeth to (eternal) life (Prov. 19:23). The fear of the Lord prolongeth days" (Prov. 10:27). "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Prov. 9:10). "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" (Prov. 1:7), and "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6).
Instead of learning the fear of God, we have learned the fear of man.
Man likes to intimidate and be feared so that he can bring people under his fleshly subjection. When you fear man, you can never learn the fear of God. When you fear God, you will never be afraid of man. "The fear of man bringeth a snare; but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe" (Prov. 29:25).
Paul wrote: "But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For Yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night (a time of spiritual darkness). For when they (the fallen away church) shall Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh Upon them (by the hordes of the powers of darkness), as travail upon a woman with child; they shall not escape" 1 Thess. 5:1-3).
Then he adds: "But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief; Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night (in spiritual darkness); and they that be drunken (by stumbling in spiritual darkness) are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess. 5:4-9).
The Harlot Church Today
God's Word warns: .... In the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves: covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof; from such turn away..., ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth (spiritually blind).., so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.., but evil men and seducers shall Wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived" (2 Tim. 3:1-5, 7, 8, 13).
Man-centered religion today thinks it is manifesting the love of God while at the same time it loves and indulges the selfish flesh. This is double-mindedness. Those caught up in this are not being led by the Spirit of God, or they would put to death the deeds of the flesh (Rom. 8:13, 14). They are trying to manifest the love of God through the works of the flesh. All works of cursed. This is why these works are called a form of godliness. They can never conform you to the image of Jesus. The opposite of this is to preach the whole Gospel, and the whole Gospel will tell the flesh it has to die. This is not a popular message and will not please men, but it is what God's men will preach as they seek the approval of God rather than of men. The whole Gospel produces holy men and women. Since grace has been perverted by false teachings, love is also perverted. The love expressed in most of the church today is just like the world. They hate their neighbor as they slander, condemn, judge, and curse one another. God calls this influence of the world in the church harlotry ... . For they be all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men. And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth;.., and they know not Me, saith the Lord" (Jer. 9:2,3).
When this congregation assembles, they speak against one another: "Take ye heed every one of his neighbor, and trust ye not in any brother: for every brother will utterly supplant, and every neighbor will walk with slanders. And they will deceive every one his neighbor, and will not speak the truth... thine habitation is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know Me, saith the Lord. Their tongue is an arrow shot out; it speaketh deceit: one speaketh peaceably to his neighbor with his mouth, but in heart he layeth his wait" (Jer. 9:4-6, 8). This is so descriptive of the church today. It is as if Jeremiah had written this after seeing the condition in the average church today. The manifestation of the flesh nature of Satan has not changed since the time of Jeremiah. What a form of godliness was then, a form of godliness is today. We must recognize the seriousness this problem. God calls it harlotry.
James warned, "Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law (James 4:11). When we continue to walk after the flesh, we speak against one another. Instead of being a doer of the law, we pass judgment on God's law, which in turn brings judgment on us. A form of godliness totally misses God by producing a double-minded harlot who speaks blessings and curses, because she wants to walk with Jesus and hold onto the flesh nature of Satan at the same time. This is the result of doctrines that do not conform you to godliness.
When the love of the flesh nature is removed from your heart by the washing of the Word of God, your mind no longer stays on yourself but on how you can love and help your neighbor. Your mouth bears the fruit of this love. You are no longer married to the old man (your old flesh nature). You have a new husband; his name is Lord Jesus Christ. He has all of your heart. This is how you become the bride of Christ. We are free from the judgment of the law because we have become a doer of the law and we bear fruit (the fruit of love) for God. Before we became the bride of Christ, we were the bride of the old man and we were bearing fruit for death, because we were law breakers. Therefore, as the bride of Christ, we must put to death the old man. Paul said, "I... am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ (by my choosing to put to death the flesh nature): nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me" (Gal. 2:19, 20). Paul describes an adulteress in Romans 7: "Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law (when you die to the flesh, you die to the law) by the body of Christ, that ye should be married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God (the fruit of love). For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins (the works of the flesh), Which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death (because of breaking God's laws). But now we are delivered from the law, being dead to (that) wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of Spirit and not in oldness of the letter" (Rom. 7:4-6).
Paul explained that the old man must die so that we can be released from the law. The Spirit of God must control our lives to put this flesh nature to death, so we can become doers of the law and bear fruit for God. If your heart is married to Christ, you will bear fruit for God. If your heart is still married to the old man, you will bear fruit for Satan. Paul continues: "Know ye not.., how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath a husband is bound by law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then, if while her husband liveth, she be married to another, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man" (Rom. 7:1-3). An adulteress is anyone who tries to follow Jesus while they still love and are married to their old man (the flesh nature). It is only as we choose to die to our old man that we can truly become the bride of Christ. The meaning of these Scriptures are hidden to those who have only a form of godliness, because they are totally contrary to their carnal doctrines. The understanding of these Scriptures will become much clearer as we continue in this chapter. Jesus said: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48).
We become perfect when we no longer speak against our neighbor: "If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body" (James 3:2). "And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men (hate, anger, slander against our neighbor)... Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly (walking and talking just like the world), sensual (from the flesh nature), devilish (because we do not resist the flaming missiles of the powers of darkness who continually fill our minds with opposition toward our neighbors). For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work" (James 3:6,9,10, 15,16). When a congregation follows a doctrine that does not conform them to godliness, they will bless God as they continue to break God's law by speaking curses against their neighbor. This is the double-minded adulteress which we saw in Romans 7. We see the same one in James 4:4: "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God. Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."
A person controlled by worldly wisdom is in rebellion to God and controlled by the powers of darkness: "For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways" (James 1:7, 8). Doctrines that teach a form of godliness produce a people with selfish ambition who are lovers of themselves: "Ye lust (by following your fleshly desires) and have not (your way); ye kill (by speaking against your neighbor), and desire to have (your way).., ye fight and war (against others).., ye ask (pray), and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts (praying with the wrong motive)" (James 4:2, 3). Since this congregation still walks after the flesh, they pray for God to cooperate with them while they try to fulfill selfish ambition by building a self-image and name for themselves. The opposite of this is the body of Christ which walks in love. Jesus said: "Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in My name, He may give it you (God answers all his prayers because his heart motives have been purified by love). If ye were of the world, the world would love his own.., but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you (because you will not participate with the world in slander, gossip, fault finding, etc.)" (John 15:16, 19). If you love your selfish nature more than Christ, you will not lay your life down to walk in love. You will not endure sound doctrines: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts they shall heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth (and will receive a false security so they can continue to be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, unloving, gossips, and haters of good)" (2 Tim. 4:3, 4).
Everyone makes a choice. They will love their life and preserve it in the image of Satan, or they will choose to lay down their life for their neighbor. Those who follow a form of godliness remain in darkness, unable to come to the knowledge of the truth, because they do not walk in love. "He that loveth his brother abideth (continues) in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness (of selfishness and self- centeredness) hath blinded his eyes" (1 John 2:10, 11).
The powers of darkness bring this darkness which blinds congregations to the true Gospel: "But if our gospel is hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them" (2 Cor. 4:3, 4). Everyone who chooses to continue to walk after the flesh nature is blinded and destroyed by the powers of darkness. Listen to the words of Peter: "Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin" (1 Pet. 4:1). Those who walk after carnal doctrines ignore Scriptures such as these. Carnal doctrines do not teach you to put the flesh nature to death. They encourage you to practice sin.
Carnal doctrines and carnal traditions teach congregations to do fleshly works for God instead of taking up their cross and denying the flesh. They make a futile attempt to perfect a fleshly congregation in love through the strength and works of the flesh. They are accursed because they practice lawlessness (they are lawbreakers). These doctrines have distorted the Gospel and have made the Gospel contrary to the truth in order to fulfill the selfish ambition of men who still love their flesh more than they love God. This congregation is "at ease in Zion" because they live for themselves. They refuse to suffer in the flesh in order to cease from sin.
People have turned from God and left their first love by the millions to follow after false teachers and distorted gospels. They know that they do not have the same relationship with Christ that they once had, but they do not understand why. The problem is very simple: "if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:9).
This is the falling away today. The hedge of protection has been removed and judgment is coming against all who teach doctrines contrary to the glorious Gospel of agape love. You have to die to selfishness in order to walk in love. The law was not made for a righteous man, but to judge the lawless and every doctrine and teaching contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Paul wrote: "Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy.., and any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; ACCORDING TO THE GLORIOUS GOSPEL OF THE BLESSED GOD" (1 Tim. 1:9-11).
The law brings judgment, a curse, and the wrath of God on all who participate in a distorted Gospel because they are not protected by God.
Paul warned them: "Charge some that they teach no other doctrine...which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith... Now the end of the commandment (the purpose of the teaching) is charity (agape love) out of a PURE HEART... From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm (these false teachers make confident assertions about matters wherein they have no understanding nor wisdom from God)" (1 Tim. 1:3-7). Paul also cautioned: "If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is (conforming you) according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing (because he is ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth)" (1 Tim 6:3, 4). Paul also said, "in the latter times SOME SHALL DEPART FROM THE FAITH, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils" (1 Tim. 4:1). These doctrines were developed by men who loved selfish ambition. The powers of darkness have deceived these men. They have taken parts of the Bible to build their doctrines which have captured the hearts of people, while fulfilling their selfish ambition. They divide the body of Christ into fleshly kingdoms, as they lead congregations into double-mindedness, rebellion and destruction. They do not build up the body of Christ into the unity of the faith, to a mature man, to the fullness of Christ. This is the adulteress which leads people to draw near to God with their mouths, while their hearts still love the nature of Satan. They are not perfected in love. They do not love their neighbor, but curse their neighbor. Matthew wrote in the Gospel: "But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man" (Matt. 15:18).
Mark wrote, "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness" (Mark 7:2 1, 22). This is the fruit produced by a form of godliness and the carnal doctrines of men. The doctrines of men will never change the heart. This is the harlot church. Mark also wrote: "This people honoreth Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me (they are double minded). Howbeit IN VAIN do they worship Me (they are lost), teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men.., making the word of God of none effect through your traditions.., and many such like things do ye" (Mark 7:6-9, 13). This is what the carnal doctrines of men have done to congregations. They produce a deceitful form of godliness.
In the book of Titus we read: "unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny Him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate (rejected, worthless)" (Titus 1:15, 16). Listen to the word of the great prophet Jeremiah: "Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; and come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My name, and say, WE ARE DELIVERED... Is this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your eyes...?" (Jer. 7:8-11). "But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be My people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you." "But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.
Therefore thou shalt speak all these words unto them; but they will not hearken to thee: Thou shalt call unto them; but they will not answer thee. But thou shalt say unto them, this is a nation that obeyeth not the voice of the Lord their God, nor receiveth correction: truth is perished and is cut off from their mouth (there is a famine of the word of God)" (Jer. 7:23, 24, 27, 28). Then the prophet added: "And the carcases (spiritually dead) of this people shall be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the earth (the powers of darkness); and none shall fray them away. Then will I cause to cease from the cities of Judah, and from the streets of Jerusalem (the church), the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, and the voice of the bridegroom (Jesus), and the voice of the bride (the true body of Christ); for the land shall be desolate" (Jer 7:33, 34). These Scriptures perfectly describe the spiritual darkness and destruction which is on the harlot church today. Yet she is offended when you attempt to show her the truth, because she is wise in her own eyes.
Isaiah also addressed this issue: "Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor Me, but have removed their heart far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the PRECEPT OF MEN. And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed (no understanding).., for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding (discernment) of their prudent men shall be hid" (Isa. 29:13, 14). Hear the words of Hosea: "for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land... by swearing, lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out... Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another... Therefore shalt thou fall in the day and the prophet also shall fall with thee in the night (in spiritual darkness), and I will destroy thy mother (the church). My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, and that thou shalt be no priest to Me" (Hos. 4:1, 2,4-6).
Hosea also wrote: "0 Ephraim, thou committest whoredom, and Israel is deified. They will not frame their doings to turn unto their God: for the spirit of whoredoms is in the midst of them, and they have not known the Lord. They have dealt treacherously against the Lord: for they have begotten strange children (false sons)... Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment (God's judgment has come upon His broken law), because he willingly walked after the commandment (of men). Therefore will I be unto Ephraim as a moth, and to the house of Judah as rottenness (the hedge is removed and the powers of darkness move in). For I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah; I will take away, and none shall rescue him.
I will go and return to My place (the presence of God is gone), till they acknowledge their offense, and SEEK MY FACE; in their affliction they will seek Me early" (Hosea 5:3, 4, 7, 11, 12, 14, 15). Because of His abundant grace, God is shining a light today in Jerusalem (the church). The wise virgins will come to the light and be perfected in love.
The foolish virgins, the harlot church, will scoff and mock with controversial questions and disputes about words. Everyone who sins against God and does not repent dies. Therefore God, through His mercy and grace, has made a provision for us to be forgiven through Jesus Christ and the blood of the cross. Jesus became a sacrifice so that our rebellious acts against God could be forgiven. When we are forgiven the powers of darkness lose their hold on our lives because we are removed from God's judgment against sin.
Everyone who does not walk in the ways of God is being destroyed by the powers of darkness. With each deed of rebellion against God or his neighbor, the powers of darkness get ground to bring punishment and destruction.
When we come to God and turn from our selfish ways of the world to walk in the loving ways of God, we enter covenant. But how do we walk in the ways of God when, like the world, we have only known the selfish ways of Satan? This is the reason Jesus came, not only as a sacrifice for our sins, but to show us how we should walk. Even more, He brought a book of instruction called the Word of God and His Spirit to counsel us so that we could be reconciled back to the ways of God. We must know what God requires or we will not know how to walk. This is called spiritual understanding. As we read the Word of God, the Holy Spirit counsels us and shows us the things in our lives that we must turn from. He also shows us the things we must do in order to please God. The Spirit of God leads us to overcome all the ways of Satan, so that we no longer walk and talk like the selfish world. Our minds are renewed to walk and talk like God. We are no longer conformed to our former lusts of the flesh, but we learn how to become holy like Jesus in all our behavior. We are conformed to the image of Christ and we escape the corruption that is in the world by lust. Because we no longer live for ourselves, we are reconciled back to God as a new creation. Old things have passed away.
As Jesus Christ walked in this world, so do we. We are ambassadors of God, and we take this word to others that they also may be delivered from judgment and be reconciled back to God. Like Jesus, we forsake selfish ambition and the gain of this world because our citizenship is now in heaven. The real treasure on this earth is to please God and receive His love and blessings which far exceed anything this earth can offer. What do we do if we make a mistake and break God's law? When we break God's law, the powers of darkness move in to attack us, and we lose our peace. To a Christian, this is reproof and discipline from God. If he no longer has peace, he knows the hedge of protection has been removed because he has given ground to the powers of darkness. Because of God's provision at Calvary, he has a place of repentance so that the judgment for this sin can be removed. Therefore when he repents by turning from his sin, he is no longer a lawbreaker and the hedge and peace return. If we do not continue to walk in peace and obedience, the powers of darkness are able to get more ground until we are destroyed. Therefore, everyone who does not walk in covenant is being destroyed by the powers of darkness.
By walking in covenant, we can keep God's laws and receive protection from destruction. Only those who walk in repentance and covenant will survive the destruction of the powers of darkness on this earth today. When we receive God's knowledge and understanding, we learn the fear of God and the judgment of God: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" (Prov. 1:7). If we have not learned the fear of God, we obviously have not learned the wisdom and knowledge of God. If someone does not have understanding, he is blind to the judgment and wrath of God today. When people do not have a true knowledge of God's judgments, they become arrogant and hostile toward God, just as the sleeping church has done today. This world literally becomes a testing ground to see if we really desire to go to heaven. If we receive God's instruction, we will overcome the judgment of this world by being perfected in the love and nature of God. It is a natural thing to overcome when we love the Lord with all our hearts, because all our motives will be to please God. The result of this obedience is that we will have the nature of God. However, if we choose to walk in selfishness, like Satan, we have made a choice to go to the same judgment that he received. For this reason, everyone who does not submit and receive wisdom from God is slowly being destroyed.
A wise man will seek the wisdom and protection of God by walking in covenant. THIS WISDOM COMES ONLY THROUGH JESUS CHRIST "who of God is made unto us wisdom" (1 Cor. 1:30). Since Jesus and the Word are the same, Jesus and the Word of God are the wisdom sent from God to rescue and SAVE US FROM DEATH AND DESTRUCTION. This is the Gospel that Jesus brought to us from heaven. God has so written the Word that we must come to Him with all our hearts in order to understand its mystery. With God's knowledge and wisdom, He shows us how to avoid the adulteress and a counterfeit form of godliness which leads people blindly to death and destruction. Throughout Proverbs, God's Word describes how we either walk in blessings or curses from God. Jesus is referred to as wisdom. We can see both the true Church, the bride of Christ, as well as the false church of harlotry. The latter has no understanding of God's laws; therefore, she has no fear of God. She walks in darkness, death and destruction. Jude warns about these last days: "How that they told you there should be mockers (scoffers who are foolish men) in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts... sensual, having not the Spirit" (Jude 18, 19). Because a scoffer loves the flesh, he is worldly minded. He walks and talks like the world. He has no understanding of the wisdom of God. He is wise in his own eyes. Unlike the wise man, he refuses the reproof and discipline which he must have to be perfected in love. We see in Proverbs: "Doth not wisdom (Jesus Christ) cry? and understanding put forth her voice? Unto you, O man, I call; and my voice is to the sons of men? Receive my instruction and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.
For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it. The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate. Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I AM UNDERSTANDING; I have strength. I love them that love Me; and those that seek Me early shall find me. My fruit (of the Spirit) is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and My revenue than choice silver. I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment: that I may CAUSE THOSE THAT LOVE ME TO INHERIT SUBSTANCE; and I will fill their treasures. HEAR INSTRUCTION, AND BE WISE... Blessed is the man that heareth Me... For whoso findeth Me findeth life, and shall obtain favor of the Lord. But he that sinneth against Me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate Me love death" (Prov. 8:1, 4, 10, 11, 13, 14, 17, 19-21, 33-36).
In Proverbs we also read: "Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning" (Prov. 9:8, 7, 9). A scoffer is a harlot who has a form of godliness. She loves the flesh nature and the ways of Satan more than the ways of God. This is how the harlot church becomes a dwelling place of demons. For this rebellion, she is destroyed by the powers of darkness.
We also find this teaching in Proverbs: "Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? Turn you at My reproof: behold I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. Because I have called and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at naught all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord; they would none of my counsel; they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way.., the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil" (Prov.1:20,22-27,29-33).
Proverbs continues: "My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee.., incline thine ear unto wisdom and apply thine heart to understanding; yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of His mouth (the word of God) cometh knowledge and understanding... He is a buckler to them that walk uprightly... He preserveth the way of His saints" (Prov. 2:1, 2, 4-8). "When (God's) wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge (of God's ways) is pleasant to thy soul; discretion (discernment) shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee, to deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things (who perverts the word); who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness.., to deliver thee from the strange woman (harlot), even from the stranger which flattereth with her words; which forsaketh the guide of her youth (Jesus Christ), and forgetteth the covenant of her God. For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead. None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life. For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it (with the hedge of protection). But the wicked shall be cut off from the land, and the transgressors (of the covenant) shall be rooted out of it" (Prov. 2:10-13, 16-22).
These Scriptures show us the Church Jesus Christ builds and the false church that the harlot builds. The harlot church is a synagogue of Satan (Rev. 2:9). The Church that Jesus Christ builds is wisdom: "Wisdom has builded her house, she has hewn out her seven pillars;.., she hath mingled her wine (the teaching); she hath also furnished her table (the covenant); She hath sent for her maidens (the body of Christ); she crieth upon the highest places of the city, Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: As for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Come, eat of my bread (the Bread of life), and drink of the wine which I have mingled. Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding. For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased" (Prov. 9:1-6, 11). If we become a part of the house Jesus builds, we will have the covenant of protection from God to protect us from the powers of darkness. This is how our days will be multiplied and years of life added to us, because we fulfill God's law: "My son, forget not My law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: for length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. Be not wise in thine own eyes; fear the Lord, and depart from evil. My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of His correction: for whom the Lord loveth He correcteth" (Prov. 3:1, 2, 7, 11, 12). The wise virgins make up the body of Christ. The foolish virgins are the harlot church. She is without understanding, having no fear of God, wise in her own eyes. She is ever learning, never able to come to the knowledge of truth.
The Scripture describes her as the foolish woman: .... she is simple, and knoweth nothing. For she sitteth at the door of her house (the false church).., to call passengers who go right on their ways: Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither:... but he knoweth not that the dead (spiritually dead) are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell" (Prov.9:13-16, 18). "With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him. He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life" (Prov. 7:21-23). Proverbs continues: "Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is on the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death" (Prov. 7:25-27). "My son, forget not My law; but let thine heart keep My commandments: for length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord (to perfect you in love).., for whom the Lord loveth He correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth. Be not wise in thine own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil" (Prov. 3:1, 2, 5, 7, 11, 12). "For the lips (words) of a strange woman (adulteress) drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: Her feet go down to death, her steps take hold on hell. Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them. Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house; lest thou give thine honor unto others, and thy years unto the cruel; lest strangers (the powers of darkness) be filled with thy wealth; and thy labours be in the house of a stranger; and thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed, and say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof: I was almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation and assembly" (Prov. 5:3, 5, 6, 8, 13, 14). This is where thousands are finding themselves today. "For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and he pondereth all his goings. His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sin. He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray" (Prov. 5:21- 23).
"Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. AVOID IT, PASS NOT BY IT, TURN FROM IT... for they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine (teaching) of violence. But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked (harlot) is as darkness (spiritual darkness): they know not at what they stumble... Let thine heart retain My words: keep My commandments and live. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life" (Prov. 4:14, 15, 17-19, 4, 22, 23). "My son, give Me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe My ways. For a whore is a deep ditch; and a strange woman is a narrow pit. She also lieth in wait as a prey, and increaseth the transgressors among men (by teaching rebellious people that they are righteous)" (Prov. 23:26-28). The Psalmist wrote: "But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare My statutes, or that thou shouldest take My covenant in thy mouth? Seeing thou hatest instruction, and casteth My words behind thee. When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedest with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers.
Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit. Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother's son. These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such one as thyself' (Ps. 50:16-21). "For My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns (religious systems), that can hold no water (because the word of God can have no place in them.) The young lions (the powers of darkness) roared upon him, and yelled, and they made his land waste: his cities (churches) are burned without inhabitant. Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God... And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt (the world)... Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet My people have forgotten Me days without number. Also in thy skirts is found the blood of the souls of the poor innocents (the lost)" (Jer. 2:13, 15, 32, 34). "Therefore the showers (Holy Spirit) have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain (for revival); and thou hadst a whore's forehead, thou refusedest to be ashamed" (Jer. 3:3).
Zephaniah said: "This is the rejoicing city that dwelt carelessly (with a false security).., how is she become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie in (the dwelling place for demons!) Every one that passeth by her shall hiss, and wag his hand. Woe to her that is filthy and polluted, to the oppressing city (church). She obeyed not the voice (of God); she received not correction; she trusted not in the Lord; she drew not near to her God" (Zeph. 2:15; 3:1, 2). Hosea said: "For Israel hath forgotten his Maker, and buildeth temples.., but I will send a fire upon his cities, and it shall devour the palaces thereof... For thou hast gone a whoring from thy God" (Hosea 8:14, 9:1).
Listen to the words of Amos: "And the songs of the temple shall be howlings in that day, saith the Lord God; there shall be many dead bodies in every place; they shall cast them forth with silence. And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord God, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon (a time of great spiritual darkness), and I will darken the earth in the clear day. And I will turn your feasts (church activities) into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation" (Amos 8:3, 9, 10). Again, Jeremiah said: "Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my words (sermons) every one from his neighbor. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the Lord, and do tell them, and cause My people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord" (Jer. 23:30-32).
The apostle Paul wrote: "Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the circumcision (false circumcision). For we are the (true) circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus (not in men and (their) doctrines), and have no confidence in the flesh. 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... who mind earthly things. For our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Phil. 3:2, 18-20). Paul also said, "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy (intellect and academics) and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world (doing the work of God through worldly methods and the strength of the flesh), and not after Christ. As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him" (Col. 2:8, 6).
The Psalmist said: "The haters of the Lord should have submitted themselves unto Him (or those who hate the Lord pretend obedience to Him); but their time should have endured for ever" (Ps.81:15). "Examine me, 0 Lord, and prove me; try my reins and my heart. I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers. I have hated the congregation of evil doers; and will not sit with the wicked" (Ps. 26:2, 4, 5).
The Prophets of Old Spoke of These Days
Some Jews in Rome came to Paul to hear his view about the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. "And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging: to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets" (Acts 28:23). Just as the teaching from the law and the prophets applied to the days of Paul, the law and the prophets teach us today about these last days.
We saw a good example of this when Paul referred to God's wrath and destruction on the children of Israel in the wilderness. Paul said these things happened to them as an example for us today. "Now all these things happened unto them for examples (model of warnings): and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come" (1 Cor. 10:11). The apostles saw clearly that the messages in the prophets were not simply an historical record, but a vital message for our day. Again we are told: "For whatsoever things are written aforetime were written for our learning" (Rom. 15:4). Jesus, after His resurrection, made reference to the law of Moses, the prophets, and Psalms to His disciples: "Then He said to them, 0 fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.., and beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.., and He said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets and in the Psalms, concerning Me" (Luke 24:25, 27, 44).
The prophecy about Jesus was being fulfilled in those days when He went to Calvary. It is no different today as the law of Moses, the prophets, and Psalms, are still teaching us today about this day in which we are living, and the coming of our Lord.
Peter said about the prophets: "Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come to you... Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto them- selves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost" (1 Pet. 1:10, 12). Both the major and minor prophets are filled with Scriptures about this time of judgment, which has come upon us today. Tunnel vision has blinded us to this part of the Word of God in the same way that we have been blinded to the fear of God.
The New Testament clearly instructs us to go back to the prophets to have understanding about God's judgment during these days. Peter also made reference to a statement made by Moses about the judgment of these last days: "For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; Him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever He shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, SHALL BE DESTROYED from among the people (this judgment comes at the hands of the powers of darkness who fulfill the curse). Yea, and ALL THE PROPHETS FROM SAMUEL AND THOSE THAT FOLLOW AFTER, AS MANY AS HAVE SPOKEN, HAVE LIKEWISE FORETOLD OF THESE DAYS" (Acts 3:22-24). Peter confirmed that ALL THE PROPHETS from Samuel onward are warning about these last days. Part of the reason the law has been lost today is because carnal doctrines have taught that the prophets of old are only for historical revelation.
The sleeping church today sighs in relief, saying that it sure is nice to live in this "age of grace" when God does not discipline or expect His people to obey Him anymore. However, the Lord expects His people to be holy and blameless. It becomes increasingly easier to skip Scriptures when you have a false security and a hardened heart.
Instead of our ancestors heeding these warnings and walking in obedience to the Word of God, they passed on to us misleading doctrines of "peace and safety" for these last days. The book of Acts records that the apostles and disciples of the early Church faithfully preached the whole message that the prophets had spoken in their day. "Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, THAT WHICH IS SPOKEN OF IN THE PROPHETS (about the judgments of the powers of darkness); Behold, ye despisers, and wonder and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you" (Acts 13:40,41). The fallen away church is offended today when you try to explain about the powers of darkness in their midst.
Let us go to the Scripture Paul was referring to: "Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously: For I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you. For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans ( a picture of the powers of darkness), that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwelling places that are not theirs. And they shall scoff at the kings, and the princes shall be a scorn unto them: they shall deride every strong hold; for they shall heap dust (flesh) and take it. Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord my God, mine Holy One? We shall not die, O Lord, THOU HAST ORDAINED THEM FOR JUDGMENT; AND, O MIGHTY GOD, THOU HAST ESTABLISHED THEM FOR CORRECTION (for chastisement when we break God's laws)" (Hab. 1:5, 6, 10,12). The Holy Spirit obviously was directing Paul as he spoke this message of warning to the people of his day and to us as well. As you continue in this study of the message from the prophets to us in these last days, you will be amazed at the accuracy with which the churches and church leaders of today are described.
Jeremiah wrote in Lamentations: "What thing shall I liken to thee, O daughter of Jerusalem? What shall I equal to thee, that I may comfort thee, O virgin daughter of Zion? For thy breach is great like the sea: who can heal thee? THY PROPHETS HAVE SEEN VAIN AND FOOLISH THINGS FOR THEE; AND THEY HAVE NOT DISCOVERED THINE INIQUITY (of breaking God's laws), TO TURN AWAY THY CAPTIVITY, but have seen for thee false burdens and causes of banishment (false visions and dreams of peace and safety). The Lord hath done that which He had devised; He hath fulfilled His word that He had commanded in the days of old: He hath thrown down, and hath not pitied: and He hath CAUSED THINE ENEMY TO REJOICE OVER THEE, HE HATH SET UP THE HORN OF THINE ADVERSARIES" (Lam. 2:13, 14, 17).
Also in Lamentations we find: "The yoke of my transgressions is bound by His hand: they are wreathed, and come up upon my neck; He hath made my strength fall, the Lord hath delivered me into their hands, from whom I am not able to rise up. The Lord hath trodden under foot all my mighty men in the midst of me: He hath called an assembly against me to crush my young men: The Lord hath trodden the virgin, the daughter of Judah, as in a winepress. For these things I weep; mine eye, mine eye runneth down with water, because the comforter that should relieve my soul is far from me: my children are desolate because the enemy prevailed. I called for my lovers, but they deceived me: my priests (preachers) and mine elders gave up the ghost in the city, while they sought their meat to relieve their souls" (Lam. 1:14-16, 19).
"Her ADVERSARIES are the chief
(her master), her enemies prosper; for the Lord hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions: her children are gone into captivity before the enemy. Her filthiness is in her skirts; she remembereth not her last end; therefore she came down wonderfully: SHE HAD NO COMFORTER (no Holy Spirit). O Lord, behold my affliction: for the enemy hath magnified himself" (Lam.1:5, 9).
"Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not? Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good? Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins" (Lam. 3:37-39). "The Lord hath accomplished His fury; He hath poured out His fierce anger, and hath kindled a fire in Zion (the church), and it hath devoured the foundations thereof. The kings of the earth, and all the inhabitants of the world, WOULD NOT HAVE BELIEVED THAT THE ADVERSARY AND THE ENEMY SHOULD HAVE ENTERED INTO THE GATES OF JERUSALEM. For the sins of her prophets, and the iniquities of her priests, that have shed the blood of the just in the midst thereof' (Lam.4:11-13).
False Teachers Today
The Gospel of Matthew says: "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves" (Matt. 7:15). Paraphrased: Beware of preachers and teachers who pretend to be servants of righteousness, but their heart's desire is to seize the Lord's flock to use them for their own selfish gain. These false prophets are the very opposite of lambs. They flatter congregations with words and actions in order to fulfill their selfish ambitions. Their motives are the same as wolves to seize the prey for themselves. Many will follow these teachers and preachers in the last days while they believe that Jesus is really their Lord. But Jesus will say to them, "I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity" (Matt. 7:23). Jesus will not know them because they have been practicing sin, as they have borne the fruit of the flesh because they followed a blind teacher who led them after carnal doctrines. Many of our deceived ancestors have developed carnal doctrines which are deceiving people today. These doctrines were developed by men who were blinded to the truth because their hearts loved selfish ambition. When a teacher's heart loves selfish ambition, he will seek the approval of men rather than the approval of God. He will fulfill selfish ambition through seeking to make a name for himself, a reputation, popularity and approval.
The only acceptable root (motive) in a person's heart is Jesus, not selfish ambition. When any person continues to walk after selfish ambition, he is still walking in rebellion to God and under the control of the flesh. He is not being controlled by the Spirit of God. If a person has a root of pride and greed in his heart, which he will not give up, his motives will be to please himself. He wants to make a name for Jesus in the strength of HIS flesh, while he takes a part of the glory to build a name and reputation for himself all because his heart loves pride and greed. Since his motives are perverted, he will exploit congregations in order to build up his own image and make a name for himself and his church. The rebellious flesh seeks to take for itself part of the glory that rightly belongs only to Jesus. "I am the Lord: that is My name: and My glory will I not give to another" (Is. 42:8). Satan uses false teachers to please men and women and to make them feel secure in their worldly and sinful lifestyles. In exchange, Satan sets these teachers up as lords over God's heritage and lets them fulfill their selfish ambition. When this happens, Satan can move the congregation into darkness and destruction. The powers of darkness cooperate with these blind kings by helping keep the congregations under their control through flattery, fear, intimidation and guilt.
When the powers of darkness can get a pastor or teacher to be concerned about their reputation and security, they can easily keep them from teaching the parts of the Bible that conform the congregation to godliness. Since he needs the approval of the congregation to fulfill his selfish ambition, he will not deal with certain parts of the Bible which will offend their flesh. He will welcome thoughts and suggestions from the enemy which tell him how to deceitfully take advantage of the congregation to help build up his reputation. At the same time, the powers of darkness are able to get him to water down the Word of God by making him fearful of losing his reputation and his position. They will attack his mind with fear of losing numbers, popularity, approval, big tithers, his job, and other things that are essential to fulfill his selfish ambition. Every pastor and teacher who reads this book will recall these threatening thoughts of intimidation that come each time he has ever taught against carnal traditions. These attacks come even while he is preaching and teaching. If he has selfish ambition, he will skip over, back off, or water down the Word of God because his motives have become perverted. The congregation will then receive only a part of the Gospel, because the Gospel has become perverted. He leads his congregation to be at ease in Zion. He has a deceived heart.
Men who teach carnal doctrines become kings over their congregations as they fulfill their own lusts for pride, greed, name and reputation. They honor men and teach others to honor men. These false teachers are instruments of Satan as they lead congregations to destruction by giving them a false security. The powers of darkness then capture the hearts of people while they fulfill the false teacher's selfish ambition. The congregation is then blinded to the real Gospel. They are led into a form of godliness and destruction. These forms are as varied as the "kings" that lead them-some are dull and ritualized some seem exciting and spontaneous, but every step is choreographed and controlled by the kings. The congregations sit through their forms, then go home with all the same bondage, confusion, torment and defeat with which they came. They are boxed into ungodly structures where King Jesus is not welcome, and He is the only One who can set them free. None of their programs can bring the deliverance they need.
So, like the Pharisees, they cannot understand nor even hear the words of Jesus, because the carnal doctrines and religious traditions have captured their hearts. Men of the world and false teachers and preachers in the church love pride and greed. Because of this they always show partiality and exploit their relationships in order to fulfill their selfish ambition. Selfish flesh always shows partiality and uses people to gain selfish advantage: "One speaketh peaceably to his neighbor with his mouth, but in heart he
layeth his wait" (Jer. 9:8). This is exactly how Satan has the world (and the world in the Church) living for themselves. People of the world spend their whole lives seeking a name, reputation, career, power, success, and control. Satan has very subtly moved these ways of the world into the Church today. You can no longer tell the difference between the methods of the world and the methods of the Church. Their goals are the same-to make a name for them- selves. Each one is seeking his own selfish interests. Listen to the words of Ezekiel: "And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as My people (they pretend to belong to God), and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.., for they hear thy words, but they do them not" (Ezek. 33:31, 32). They will not practice the Word of God because they have been given a false security: "Those who hate the Lord would pretend obedience to Him; and their time of punishment would be forever" (Ps. 81:15 NASV).
Jeremiah said, "Hear now this, 0 foolish people, and Without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not: Fear ye not me? Saith the Lord: will ye not tremble at My presence... But this People hath a revolting and a rebellious heart... A wonderful (devastation) and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and My people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof.?" (Jer. 5:21-23, 30, 31). "To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? Behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the Lord is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it" (Jer. 6:10). Paul told the Thessalonians that he preached the Gospel amid much opposition from the flesh. He said that all his motives were to please God, not men or himself. Paul said, "But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated.., we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention. For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: but as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. For neither at any time use we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God is witness: nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others" (1 Thess. 2:2-6).
Paul would not pervert the Word of God in order to receive the approval of men. He taught the whole counsel of God's Word amidst much fleshly opposition. False teachers who love selfish ambition will not teach the whole counsel of God's Word because their motives are self- centered and they seek the approval of men rather than God. Paul said, "For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:27). Paul said to the Philippians: "Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: the one preach Christ of contention (or selfish ambition).., but the other of love" (Phil. 1:15-17). Paul was having problems finding a teacher to send to the Philippians because the teachers all had impure motives and loved selfish ambition. Paul said: "For I have no man like-minded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's" (Phil. 2:20, 21).
In Acts, Paul warned the overseers: "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock... I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them (through selfish ambition)" (Acts 20:28-30). Paul continued, ... . I commend you to God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified" (Acts 20:32). Those who love selfish ambition cannot lead a congregation to be sanctified. This is why false teachers will lead many in the last days who will say, "Lord, Lord," but they will not enter into the kingdom of heaven because they did not do the will of God. They were not sanctified and perfected in love. False teachers can never lead a congregation to be holy and righteous. They cannot teach righteousness, because they are blind to righteousness. They will not consistently or seriously preach about God's judgment upon sin, nor will they seriously and consistently preach against sin. Such messages offend the flesh and will keep them from receiving glory from men. Such preaching would also cause them to lose church members and the appearance of success which they need to build their reputation. The powers of darkness are always reminding them of this. They compromise the Word of God. Their hearts are stubborn and hardened. They are at ease in Zion, building ungodly numbers for God. These numbers become like their false teachers:
"Can the blind lead the blind? Shall they not both fall into the ditch? The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master" (Luke 6:39, 40). The powers of darkness deceive the heart of the false teacher by making him believe he needs to look good in order to bring the congregation to God. This is the boastful pride of life. He begins to believe that everything that is good for him his name and reputation is good for God. He believes that his apparent success has come as a result of God's favor and blessing on him. He is totally bereft of the spiritual understanding and discernment that would show him that the powers of darkness always cooperate with the ones who practice pride and greed. He does not know that both he and his congregation are .... wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked" (Rev. 3:17). Satan tempted Jesus with the boastful pride of life: "And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set Him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto Him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: for it is written, He shall give His angels charge over Thee, to keep Thee: And in their hands they shall bear Thee up, lest at any time Thou dash Thy foot against a stone" (Luke 4:9-11). Satan tempted Jesus to seek the approval of men with the boastful pride of life by throwing Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple. The angels would save Him, and Jesus would look good to the people in the flesh.
This was Satan's way to get Jesus to lead the people with a fleshly reputation. If Jesus had chosen to lead the people with a fleshly reputation, Satan could have blocked Jesus from being led by the Spirit of God. He would have captured Jesus in the boastful pride of life-doing works FOR God instead of God working THROUGH Him,. The boastful pride of life tries to lead people to God without being led by the Spirit of God. This is done through the works of the flesh, using carnal doctrines and carnal traditions. Satan knows that a leader who loves the boastful pride of life will not lead a congregation to deny themselves or to take up their cross, because he wants to look good in the flesh before the congregation. Therefore the congregation is led after the flesh. The real sin in the boastful pride of life is seeking the approval of men rather than the approval of God. Jesus said, "How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only" (John 5:44). "Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on Him; but because (they wanted the approval) of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue (church): for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God" (John 12:42, 43).
The Psalmist said: "The foolish (boastful) shall not stand in Thy sight: Thou hatest all workers of iniquity. Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing (lies): the Lord will abhor the bloody and deceitful man. For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wicked; their throat is an open sepulchre; they flatter with their tongue. Destroy thou them, 0 God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against Thee" (Ps. 5:5, 6, 9, 10). When a false teacher is lifted up in the boastful pride of life, his desire is to look good to his congregation, rather than to God. He will pick out the blessings in the Bible so he can have the approval of man to fulfill his fleshly ambition. His motive is the boastful pride of life rather than building up the body of Christ in unity and to the fullness of Christ. He is a flesh ruler and king. His Congregation has appointed a leader to take them back to the slavery of Egypt (the world). They are following another Jesus. Sheep are supposed to recognize them by their fruit, because their mouth speaks what is in heart. "He had two horns like a lamb, and he spake a dragon" (Rev. 13:11).
Ezekiel warned: "Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture (the whole counsel of God word), but ye must tread down with your feet residue of your pastures (trampling under foot the word of God)? And to have drunk of the deep waters (of God word) but ye must foul the residue with your feet?... with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them" (Ez4 34:2, 18, 4). In other words, after the shepherd reads the whole counsel of God's Word, he picks out the parts that will serve his fleshly motives to dominate them and be their king. "And they (the congregation) were scattered, be- cause there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field (powers of darkness), when were scattered" (Ezek. 34:5). The congregations know they are empty, but the don't know what will fill the emptiness. They see, hear, nor understand the Word of God; They believe they are experiencing the normal Christian life in their shallowness and carnality, as they become more hardened to the Word and Spirit of God. Jesus promised that you would be hated and rejected by the world and religious leaders when you try to live godly and teach the whole counsel of God's Word.
Those who love the flesh nature will oppose those who choose to live holy and godly lives. This is why Jesus "Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for of Man's sake. Rejoice in that day . . . for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets" (Luke 6:22, 23).
To false preachers and teachers who seek the approval of man to build a name and reputation, rather than preach all of God's Word, Jesus said: "Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! For so did their fathers to the false prophets" (Luke 6:26). Because a false prophet is deceived, he in turn deceives the congregation: "But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.., for men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous (lovers of money), boasters, proud... having a form of godliness... from such turn away" (2 Tim. 3:13, 2, 5). Paul described the situation like this: "Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity, whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, spiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful" (Rom. 1:29-3 I). He added: "who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things (as greed, envy, strife, gossip, slander, arrogance, boasting) are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them" (Rom. 1:32). Then Paul said: "But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; WHO WILL RENDER TO EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS; to them who by patient continuance in well doing, seek.., eternal life, but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth.., indignation and wrath" (Rom. 2:2, 5-8).
The Psalmist wrote: "God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods. How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Defend the poor and fatherless (lost): do justice to the afflicted and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked. They know not, neither will they understand: they walk on in darkness" (Ps. 82:1-5). We are warned: "If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness (a gospel that conforms us to the image of Christ); he is proud, knowing nothing (a blind teacher), but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness (making the things of God an opportunity for the flesh- name, reputation, pride, greed, rewards)" (1 Tim. 6:3-5).
Like the Pharisees, these men attack the Gospel with controversial questions in the same way they did the Lord and His disciples. Neither the Gospel nor men's flesh has changed. Men will either repent, or they will attack the Gospel, because it exposes their fleshly kingdoms and carnal traditions which they love. They will seek to discredit the messenger who brings the truth. Then the truth will not be able to tear down the doctrines and idols which have captured deceived hearts.
If they can make the messenger the object of controversy, it will cause others to take their focus off the message of the Word of God. They will attack the messenger and truth with controversial statements, such as, "He is teaching legalism.., he is trying to put you back under the law," "He is teaching works," "He doesn't understand grace," "He sees a demon behind every bush," "He believes Christians can be demon possessed," "He believes in sinless perfection," "He believes all sickness is caused by sin," "He does not believe in 'once saved, always saved,'" etc. Controversial questions draw attention away from the real issue: the message of the Word of God. Controversial questions raise suspicions and take the focus off the white-washed messages of "peace and safety."
These controversial questions scare congregations to death and cause them to reject truth without hearing it or examining it. The result is that they are taught to hate the one bringing the message without hearing him or the message. The false teacher controls his congregation by making it fearful of hearing the Word from any other sources. They also intimidate and withdraw fellowship from those who get a drink of the water of God's Word through someone else.
The congregations learn to "hear God" only through their flesh kings. Since false teachers love pride, they are very jealous for crowds to fulfill their selfish ambition. They will oppose the Word of God and persecute messengers of truth in order to control and hold onto their congregations because of their fleshly ambition. An example of this is in the book of Acts. Paul and Barnabas were preaching the Gospel: "And the next Sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things, which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming (the word of God). And Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life.. 2 (Acts. 13:44-46). This is how Satan uses pride, greed, selfish ambition, and jealousy to oppose and block the Word of God. Those who love selfish ambition are tools of the powers of darkness.
In the Acts of the Apostles we read: "And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region. But the Jews (religious leaders) stirred up the devout and honorable women (who were of reputation), and the chief men of the city (who were also of reputation) and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts" (Acts 13:49, 50). Since congregations are trained like the world to honor men and follow men, Satan can easily use men and women who love fleshly reputations to lead congregations to persecute the work of God. Fleshly congregations are so programmed to follow men they will not move to the light of God's Word without seeing their devout women of prominence and leading men go first to this light. They cannot be led by the Spirit of God in the Word of God because they are led by men. They do not know that they will be waiting forever before an important person who loves selfish ambition will come to the light, unless he first repents.
This is a perfect example of how the blind lead the blind to the pit. Blind teachers lead the blind into a form of godliness. A form of godliness always teaches you that you can practice sin. An example of this would be the distortion of the first letter Paul wrote to the Corinthians, some of whom were still walking after the flesh. They were saying such things as: "I am of Paul... I am of Apollos" (1 Cor. 2:14). Paul said, "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ" (1 Cor. 3:1). We all began as babes in Christ, but we overcome and put to death the deeds of the flesh. Paul said, "I have fed you with milk, and not with meat; for hitherto ye were not able to bear it... for ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are you not carnal, and walk as men (of the world)?" (1 Cor. 3:2, 3). When these particular Scriptures are used to justify practicing sin, a person has tunnel vision. He will not examine the truths in all the rest of the Bible, which plainly teach you that you may not continue to practice sin. People will say today: "It is okay to practice sin because Paul says that babes in Christ practice strife and jealousy." Do not receive this kind of tunnel vision. Let's look at the rest of the Bible. Remember that strife and jealousy are works of the flesh. "For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify (put to death) the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God" (Rom. 8:13, 14). Paul also said, "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other; SO YOU CANNOT DO THE THINGS THAT YE WOULD. Now the works of the flesh are manifest: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry.., strife... envyings, murders,.., and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do 8uch things shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (Gal. 5:16, 17, 19-21). Very plainly, people who practice strife and envyings (which is jealousy) do not inherit the kingdom of God. Let's look at the second letter Paul wrote to the Corinthians. Paul said, "Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you... For I fear, lest when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings... strifes... and lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed" (2 Cor. 12:14, 20, 21).
Paul plainly said that he feared that when he returned they would still be practicing strife and jealousy (envyings) and would not have repented. Paul also said: "Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.., not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lust thereof" (Rom. 13:12, 14). Paul added: "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates (reprobates fail the test!)?" (2 Cor. 13:5).
In Romans Paul wrote: "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you" (Rom. 8:6, 9). If the Spirit of God is in you, you will be led by the Spirit to put to death the deeds of the flesh. Otherwise you are walking in the flesh and in death. Is it now obvious that men who love the flesh are blind to this part of the Word of God? They develop doctrines that please men and do not conform them to godliness. They do not deal with the parts of the Bible about judgment, holiness, righteousness, resisting the devil, resisting the flesh, resisting the world, church discipline, overcoming, suffering in the flesh, discernment, doctrines of demons, demons, harlotry, and weapons of warfare against an enemy who came to steal, kill and destroy. We are clearly warned about the false teachers who will pervert the way of truth. Because of their love for greed, they will exploit you with false words. "For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater (one who will not give up sin), hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them" (Eph. 5:5-7).
Hear the words of Ezekiel: "Thou art the land that is not cleansed (washed with the word), nor rained upon (no Holy Spirit) in the day of indignation. There is a conspiracy of her prophets in the midst thereof (they are all saying the same thing as they protect their carnal doctrines and traditions); like a roaring lion ravening the prey; they have devoured souls (taken congregations captive with a form of godliness); they have taken the treasure and precious things; they have made her many widows in the midst thereof. Her priests have violated My law, and they profaned Mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from My Sabbaths (by failing to enter into peace and rest from their own works), and I am profaned among them (they have tried to make Me over as a god in their own image)" (Ezek. 22:24-26). Ezekiel added: "Her princes (leaders) in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain. (They exploit the needy and afflicted.) And her prophets have daubed them with untempered mortar, seeing vanity, and divining lies unto them, saying, Thus saith the Lord God, when the Lord hath not spoken" (Ezek. 22:27, 28). "The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy: yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully. And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. Therefore have I poured out Mine indignation upon them with the fire of My wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord God" (Ezek. 22:29-3 1).
The Psalmist wrote: "0 Lord God, to whom vengeance belongeth; 0 God, to whom vengeance belongeth, shew thyself. Lift up thyself, thou judge of the earth: render a reward to the proud. Lord, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph? How long shall they utter and speak hard things? And all the workers of iniquity boast themselves? They break in pieces thy people, 0 Lord, and afflict Thine heritage. They slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the fatherless. Yet they say, The Lord shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it. Understand, ye brutish among the people, and ye fools, when will ye be wise?" (Ps. 94:1-8). The Psalmist also said: "Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law? They gather themselves together against the soul of the righteous, and condemn the innocent blood. Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? Or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity? But the Lord is my defense; and my God is the rock of my refuge. And He shall bring upon them their own iniquity, and shall cut them off in their own wickedness; yea, the Lord our God shall cut them oft" (Ps. 94:20, 21, 16, 22, 23).
Micah warned: "Thus saith the Lord concerning the PROPHETS THAT MAKE MY PEOPLE ERR, that bite with their teeth (gold coins), and cry, Peace; and he that putteth not into their mouths, they even prepare war against him (the one with no money). Therefore night shall be unto you (a time of spiritual darkness), that ye shall not have a vision; and it shall be dark unto you, that you shall not divine; and the sun shall go down over the prophets (no revelation from God)... Then shall the seers be ashamed, and the diviners confounded: yea, they shall all cover their lips; for there is no answer of God" (Micah 3:5-7). Micah added: "But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the Lord, and of judgment, and of might, TO DECLARE UNTO JACOB HIS TRANSGRESSION, AND TO ISRAEL HIS SIN. Hear this, I pray you, ye heads of the house of Jacob, and princes of the house of Israel, that abhor judgment, and pervert all equity. They build up Zion with blood (by leading congregations in lawlessness), and Jerusalem with iniquity.., the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money; yet will they lean upon the Lord, and say, Is not the Lord among us? None evil can come upon us" (Micah 3:8-11).
"Thus saith the Lord; For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have despised the law of the Lord, and have not kept His commandments, and their lies caused them to err, after the which their fathers have walked. But I will send a fire (the powers of darkness) upon Judah, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem. Thus saith the Lord; For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because THEY SOLD THE RIGHTEOUS FOR SILVER (greed) and the poor for a pair of shoes" (Amos 2:4-6). Amos also said, "Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came! That drink wine in bowls and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved over the affliction of Joseph (the church)" (Amos 6:1, 6). The powers of darkness have prevailed over the Church today. Satan has used false teachers and carnal doctrines to lead congregations into a form of godliness. He has put them to sleep and captured their hearts with a false security by telling them: "You surely shall not die." The congregations become justified by the words of men rather than the Word of God. "But the Spirit Speaketh expressly, that in the latter times (these last days) some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of demons" (1 Tim. 4:1).
Satan's doctrines have been the same: to lead people into rebellion against God! "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is" (Eph 5:15, 17). "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification" (1 Thess. 4:3). "That He might present it to Himself, a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word" (Eph. 5:27, 26).
False teachers who walk after selfish ambition love pride. You will know false teachers by their fruit.
* Pride wants to be the center instead of Jesus.
* Pride pleases flesh so it can receive honor and glory from men.
* Pride holds up its own image instead of the image of Jesus.
The Bible has given us examples of the selfish ambition of false teachers and their congregations who love pride. You will see these same fleshly congregations today with their false teachers!
* They in pride establish their own righteousness and do not submit to the righteousness of God (Rom 10:3).
* They in pride trust in themselves that they are righteous and view others with contempt (Luke 18:9).
* They in pride do all their deeds to be noticed by men
(approval of men) (Matt. 23:5).
* They in pride love the places of honor at banquets and chief seats in the synagogues (Matt. 23:6).
* They in pride love respectful greetings in the market place and being called by men "Rabbi" (Matt. 23:7).
* They in pride outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly (in their hearts) are full of hypocrisy (Matt.23:28).
* They in pride travel about over land and sea to make a proselyte and he becomes twice the son of hell they are (Matt. 23:15).
* They in pride tithe, but neglect justice, mercy and faithfulness (Matt. 23:23).
* They in pride are blind guides (false teachers), who clean up the outside of the cup (to make the flesh look good), but the inside (the heart) is full of robbery and self-indulgence (Matt. 23:26).
* They in pride are whitewashed tombs which appear beautiful on the outside but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness (Matt. 23:24-27).
* They in pride shut off the kingdom of heaven from men, for they do not go in themselves, nor do they allow those who are entering to go in. Jesus said: "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape damnation of hell?" (Matt 23:13,33).
These leaders always please the flesh and receive their glory from men. "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" (Gal. 6:12, 13). "They zealously affect you, but not well (with wrong motives); yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them." (Gal. 4:17). These false teachers seek you with fleshly motives in order that you may seek them and they may become your king. They then use you in their fleshly manipulation and schemes to help seek others to enlarge their fleshly kingdom.
Hear again the words of Ezekiel: "Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel that prophesy, and say thou unto them that prophesy out of their own hearts, Hear ye the word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord. They have seen vanity and lying divination (false dreams and visions), saying, The Lord saith: and the Lord hath not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word" (Ezek. 13:2, 3, 5, 6). Ezekiel also pointed out: "Have ye not seen a vain vision, and have ye not spoken a lying divination, whereas ye say, the Lord saith it, albeit I have not spoken. Therefore thus saith the Lord God; because ye have spoken vanity and seen lies, therefore, behold, I am against you, saith the Lord God. And mine hand shall be upon the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies: they shall be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the Lord God" (Ezek. 13:7-9). Ezekiel also said: "Because, even because they have seduced My people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and lo, others daubed it with untempered mortar (a whitewashed wall which is a false hedge of protection).., that it shall fall: there shall be an overflowing shower (the powers of darkness will come against the foundations); and ye, 0 great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall rend it.
Thus will I accomplish My wrath upon the wall, and upon them that have daubed it with untempered mortar, and will say unto you, The wall is no more, neither they that daubed it, To wit, the prophets of Israel which prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and which see visions of peace for her, and there is no peace" (Ezek. 13:10, 11, 15, 16). Jeremiah wrote: "I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in My name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed. How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? Yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart; which think to cause My people to forget My name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbor, as their fathers have forgotten My name for Baal (idols).
The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath My word, let him speak My word faithfully. What is chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord" (Jer. 23:25- 28). Isaiah wrote: "Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness; ye that seek the Lord: look unto the rock (Jesus) whence ye are hewn... FEAR YE NOT THE REPROACH OF MEN, neither be ye afraid of their revilings" (Isa. 51:1, 7).
Paul wrote to the Thessalonians: "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him... Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first (a falling away from the faith), and that man of sin be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming. Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie" (2 Thess. 2:1, 3, 8-11).
God warned Adam if he ate of the tree of (death or) the knowledge of good and evil (the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the boastful pride of life): "Thou shalt surely die" (Gen. 2:17). Satan then tempted and enticed Eve to eat from the tree of death by saying, "YE SHALL NOT SURELY DIE" (Gen. 3:4).
This is a direct contradiction of the Word of God and is the first reference to a doctrine of Satan in the Bible. Eve was led astray by a different spirit, another doctrine and another Gospel: "And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat" (Gen. 3:13).
When we receive the teaching of false teachers, their words become the fruit of death and lead us to rebel against God. Satan is still leading people' to the tree of sin and death today, to eat the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. This tree of death is false teaching which does not warn people about sin. Satan uses false teachers to give congregations a false security by telling them: "YOU SURELY SHALL NOT DIE." If a false watchman does not warn his congregation about breaking God's laws by sinning, the congregation has no protection from God. They are destroyed in their iniquity because of the false words of a false watchman who tells them, "YOU SURELY SHALL NOT DIE." He leads his congregation to destruction while he fulfills his own selfish ambition.
We see a clear warning to the false watchman and his congregation in Ezekiel: "But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand. When I say to the wicked, 0 wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it (by saying, YOU SHALL SURELY DIE); if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity, but thou hast delivered thy soul" (Ezek. 33:6, 8, 9).
Ezekiel also wrote: "Therefore 0 thou son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; Thus ye speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live? Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: TURN YE, TURN YE FROM YOUR EVIL WAYS; for why will ye die, 0 house of Israel?" (Ezek. 33:10, 11). The Gospel from God through our Lord Jesus Christ says: "You shall surely die" if you practice sin. False teachers who are controlled by pride and greed flatter, control and exploit congregations while they lead them into sin and destruction. Jude warns about these false teachers, who are "turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness (promoting lust), and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not" (Jude 4,5).
Satan's kings of pride and greed are real nice fellows who lead people from the faith into destruction while they use parts of God's Word, God's people, carnal doctrines and ungodly traditions, to fulfill their selfish love for the nature of Satan. Paul said, "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 Cor. 11:14, 15).
Paul wrote to the Corinthians: "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh PREACHETH ANOTHER JESUS, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive ANOTHER SPIRIT, which ye have not received, or ANOTHER GOSPEL, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. For ye suffer, if a man brings you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself...For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you a PURE VIRGIN (pure heart) to Christ" (2 Cor. 11:3, 4, 20, 2).
True prophets and teachers will build up the body of Christ "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with EVERY WIND OF DOCTRINE, BY THE SLEIGHT OF MEN, AND CUNNING CRAFTINESS, WHEREBY THEY LIE IN WAIT TO DECEIVE (and build their earthly and fleshly kingdoms), but speaking the truth in love, MAY GROW UP INTO HIM IN ALL THINGS, WHICH IS THE HEAD, EVEN CHRIST; FROM WHOM THE WHOLE BODY FITLY JOINED TOGETHER AND COMPACTED BY THAT WHICH EVERY JOINT SUPPLIETH, ACCORDING TO THE EFFECTUAL WORKING IN THE MEASURE OF EVERY PART, MAKETH INCREASE OF THE BODY UNTO THE EDIFYING OF ITSELF IN LOVE" (Eph. 4:13-16).
Hear the Word of the Lord; Ye Rulers of Sodom
The following Scriptures are serious warnings to the fleshly rulers today: "Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom (flesh kings): Give ear unto the law of our God, you people (congregation) of Gomorrah (who walk after the flesh)" (Isa. 1:10). "Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture! saith the Lord... Ye have scattered My flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings" (Jer. 23:1,2). "I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in My name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed. How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? Yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart; which think to cause My people to forget My name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbor, as their fathers have forgotten My name for Baal" (Jer. 23:25-27). "How is the faithful city become an harlot! It was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers. Thy silver is become dross, thy wine (the word of God) mixed with water (watered down); Thy princes (leaders) are rebellious, and companions of thieves: everyone loveth gifts, and followeth after reward (greed)" (Isa. 1:21-23).
"For they shall be ashamed of the oaks (strong men after the flesh) which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for the gardens that ye have chosen. And the strong shall be as tow (something thrown away as refuse).., and they shall both burn." (Isa. 1:29, 31) "Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made... For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up... And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day" (Isa. 2:8, 12, 17). "Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?... O My people, they which lead thee cause you to err, and destroy the way of thy paths" (Isa.2:22, 3:12).
"I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evil doers, THAT NONE DOTH RETURN FROM HIS WICKEDNESS. They are all of them unto me as Sodom and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah" (Jer. 23:14). "They still say unto them that despise Me, The Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you ( there will be no judgment for your sins)" (Jer. 23:17). "But if they had stood in My counsel, and had cause my people to hear My words, then they should have turned them from their evil ways, and from the evil of their doings" (Jer. 23:22). "Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see.., but perceive not" (Isa. 6:9). "For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed" (Isa. 9:16). "They have dealt treacherously against the Lord: for they have begotten strange (illegitimate) children" (Hos. 5:7). "Woe to them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed" (Isa. 10:1). "And what will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation which shall come from far? To whom will ye flee for help? and where will ye leave your glory?" (Isa 10:3). "For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely (selfish motives)" (Jer. 6:13). "I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? Every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle" (Jer. 8:6).
The Lord Is Destroying the Pastures of the Shepherds
"According to their pasture, so were they filled; they were filled, and their heart was exalted; therefore have they forgotten Me. 0 Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in Me is thine help" (Hosea 13:6, 9). "Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Behold, evil (the powers of darkness) shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth. Howl, ye shepherds, and cry; and wallow yourselves in the ashes, ye principal of the flock; for the clays of your slaughter and of your dispersions are accomplished; and ye shall fall like a pleasant vessel" (Jer. 25:32, 34). "And the shepherds shall have no way to flee, nor the principal of the flock to escape. A voice of the cry of the shepherds, and an howling of the principal of the flock, shall be heard: for the Lord hath spoiled their pasture. And the peaceable habitations are cut down because of the fierce anger of the Lord... For their land is desolate because of the fierceness of the oppressor, and because of His fierce anger" (Jer. 2 5:35-38). "There is a voice of the howling of the shepherds; for their glory is spoiled; a voice of the roaring of young lions; for the pride of Jordan is spoiled. Whose possessors slay them, and hold themselves not guilty: and they that sell them say, Blessed be the Lord; for I am rich: and their own shepherds pity them not. For I will no more pity the inhabitants of the land, saith the Lord: but lo, I will deliver the men every one into his neighbor's hand, and into the hand of his king (Satan): and they (the powers of darkness) shall smite the land, and out of their hand I will not deliver them" (Zech. 11:3, 5, 6). "Ephraim (the church), he hath mixed himself among the people (the world); Ephraim is a cake not turned. Strangers (powers of darkness) have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not: And the pride of Israel testifieth to his face: and they do not return to the Lord their God, nor seek Him for all this" (Hos. 7:8-10).
"Set the trumpet to thy mouth. He shall come as an eagle against the house of the Lord, because they have transgressed My covenant, and trespassed against My law. Israel hath cast off the thing that is good: the enemy shall pursue him. They have set up kings (rulers after the flesh), but not by Me: they have made princes (leaders), but I knew it not: of their silver and gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off (destroyed). Thy calf, 0 Samaria, hath cast thee off; Mine anger is kindled against them: how long will it be ere they attain to innocency?" (Hos. 8:1, 3-5). "They eat up (feed on) the sin of My people, and they set their heart on their iniquity. And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings" (Hos. 4:8, 9). "Ephraim (the church) is oppressed and broken in judgment, because he willingly walked after the commandment (of men)" (Hos. 5:11). "For they have sown the wind (words instead of God's word), and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk; the bud shall yield no meal (no fruit): if so be it below yield, the strangers (powers of darkness) shall swallow it up. Israel is swallowed up: now shall they be among the Gentiles as a vessel wherein is no pleasure. Because Ephraim hath made many altars to sin, altars shall be unto him to sin. I have written to him the great things of My law, but they were counted as a strange thing" (Hos. 8:7, 8, 11, 12). "And he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry. Therefore My people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.
Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it (hell)" (Isa. 5:7, 13, 14). "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!
Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!
... their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the Lord of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel" (Isa. 5:20, 21, 23, 24). They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly, saying Peace, peace; where there is no peace" (Jer. 6:14).
"Israel (the church) is an empty (degenerate) vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself: according to the multitude of his fruit (of selfish ambition) he hath increased the altars (church buildings); according to the goodness of his land they have made godly images (the more money they had, the bigger they made their palaces of worship). Their heart is divided; now shall they be found faulty: He shall break down their altars, He shall spoil their images.., ye have reaped iniquity. “Ye have eaten the fruit of lies because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men” (Hos. 10:1, 2, 13).
The days of visitation are come, the days of recompense are come; Israel shall know it; the prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is mad, for the multitude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred" (Hos. 9:7). "The Lord hath accomplished His fury; He hath poured out His fierce anger, and hath kindled a fire in Zion, and it hath devoured the foundations thereof. The kings of the earth, and all the inhabitants of the world, would not have believed that the adversary and the enemy (the powers of darkness) should have entered into the gates of Jerusalem (the church). For the sins of her prophets, and the iniquities of her priests (preachers), that have shed the blood of the just in the midst of her (because they perverted the word)" (Lam. 4:11-13).
Wake Up, Wake Up Sleeping Virgins
We are now living in the time of the most alarming condition that has ever existed in church history. Satan and the powers of darkness are no longer restrained. The hedge is being removed. Never have there been such problems, pressures, divisions, confusion, suspicion, and hate, as exist in the church today. This is the shaking of the last days and this is the day of the Lord. The judgment of God has come to us. The wise virgins and the foolish virgins alike have fallen asleep. A trumpet of warning is now blowing: "Wherefore He saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools (foolish virgins), but as wise (virgins)" (Eph. 5:14, 15).
Jesus Christ is returning at a time of great spiritual darkness (midnight), while everyone is drowsy and sleeping: "While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him" (Matt. 25:5, 6). Those who have ears to hear will come out to meet the bridegroom.
The others will remain asleep. At this time of great spiritual darkness, God is giving great revelation in order that the wise virgins can wake up, come out of darkness, and meet the bridegroom. The wise virgins will have spiritual ears to hear the trumpet warning and will wake up. The reason they will have above ears to hear and eyes to see is because their trust is in the Lord Jesus Christ rather than men and carnal traditions. The foolish virgins will not wake up. Their hearts are trained to receive only messages of peace and safety. Since they have a false security, they will remain asleep and will not listen to the trumpet warning. Since the foolish virgins are not led by the Spirit of God, they have no oil (Spirit)" (Matt. 25:3, 4).
John the Apostle wrote in Revelation: "And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus" (Rev. 12:17). Satan is bringing increasing trials and tribulations against the church today. Everyone whose foundation is not the Word of God will react to these fiery trials and pressures after the flesh and commit lawlessness (sin). Everything God does, Satan attempts to counterfeit. For example, God has a river that flows out of his mouth. (which is the Word of God) that brings life and peace to all those who will receive it. On the other hand, Satan has a river which flows out of his mouth (which are his suggestions coming as thoughts to our flesh nature).
When we receive the words of Satan and act upon them, they cause us to commit lawlessness which brings death. This is how we are carried away and destroyed by the flood of words that come from the mouth of Satan. God's Words bring life and Satan's words bring death: "And the serpent cast out of his mouth water (words) as a flood after the woman that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood (of words). And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death" (Rev. 12:15, 11).
These are the wise virgins who act upon the Word of God. Satan can get no ground in their lives with his flood of words (temptations) because they lay down their lives and no longer love the flesh. Jesus said, .... Every one that heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it" (Matt. 7:26, 27). Today is the day of the Lord. God's judgment has come upon the worldly church that is practicing lawlessness. We are now living in the beginning of this great destruction as hordes upon hordes of demons have been unleashed against Babylon, the harlot church today. The One who has restrained them is removing His hedge: "And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out thence; and though they be hid from My sight in the bottom of the sea, thence will I command the serpent, and he shall bite them" (Amos 9:3). God is revealing to us now how the powers of darkness (who are the lawless ones) lead us into lawlessness and destruction. This is the reason the powers of darkness, who are sons of the devil, are called sons of destruction. Their whole purpose is to propagate rebellion to God's laws so they can kill, steal and destroy. For the day of the Lord "shall not come, except there come a falling away first (this has already happened) and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition (destruction). (which is the powers of darkness), who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that HE AS GOD SITTETH IN THE TEMPLE OF GOD (which is our bodies), shewing himself that he is God (by controlling our hearts and lives)" (2 Thess. 2:3, 4).
While a sleeping church waits for a physical temple to be built in Israel, they are blinded to the fact that they are a part of a spiritual falling away. The spiritual is taking place while they are waiting for the physical. The man of lawlessness, the son of destruction, has already led the Church into lawlessness and entered their temples. This is how Babylon is a dwelling place of demons. The powers of darkness are the abomination that enters the temple to make desolation in the last days.
To have understanding about the mystery of lawlessness is simply to understand how the man of lawlessness (the powers of darkness) tempts and leads mankind to rebel against God's laws so he can destroy them. The powers of darkness have used another Gospel, another Jesus, and doctrines of demons to bring about the great falling away and destruction of the church today. "0 God, why hast thou cast us off forever? Why doth thine anger smoke against the sheep of thy pasture? Remember thy CONGREGATION, which thou has purchased of old: the rod of thine inheritance... Lift up thy feet unto the perpetual desolations; even all that the enemy (the powers of darkness) hath done wickedly in the sanctuary. Thine enemies roar in the midst of thy congregations (the lions roar because they have captured the meeting places); they set up their own ensigns for signs (doctrines of demons).
A man was famous according as he had lifted up axes upon the thick trees (the tree cutter, Satan, has cut down the congregation through the powers of darkness). They have cast fire into thy sanctuary, they have defiled the dwelling place of thy name to the ground. THEY HAVE BURNED UP ALL THE SYNAGOGUES OF GOD IN THE LAND.
We see not our signs (stumbling and staggering in spiritual darkness); there is no more any prophet; neither is there among us any that knoweth how long. 0 God, how long shall the adversary reproach? Shall the enemy blaspheme thy name forever?" (Ps. 74:1-5, 7-10). The prophet Obadiah said: "For the day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee (blessings or curses of the law): thy reward shall return upon thine own head. But upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob (the church) shall possess their possessions.., and the house of Esau (the house of flesh) for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the Lord hath spoken it" (Obad. 1:15, 17, 18). Isaiah said "and the hand of the Lord shall be known toward His servants, and HIS INDIGNATION toward His enemies. For behold, the Lord will come with fire.., to render His anger with' fury, and His rebuke with the flames of fire. For by fire and by His sword 'will the Lord plead with all flesh; and the slain of the Lord shall be many" (Isa. 66:14-16). These Scriptures describe what the powers of darkness are doing today.
This is the day of the Lord. "For the day of the Lord is at hand: for the Lord hath prepared a sacrifice, He hath bid His guests" (Zeph. 1:7). His guests are the powers of darkness. He is lowering the hedge on a people who hate and reject His Word. The powers of darkness are executing the anger and indignation of God. These tree cutters have taken over the meeting places with doctrines of demons as they destroy worldly and backslidden congregations. Most of the sleeping church does not even know they are a dwelling place of demons. "And it hath set him on fire round about, yet be knew it not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart" (Isa. 42:25). In the book of Isaiah we read: "I have commanded My sanctified ones (the powers of darkness), I have also called My mighty ones (God's army of vengeance and destruction) for Mine anger" (Isa.13:3). God's mighty ones are the army of darkness that God has unleashed against the false church. They execute God's wrath in vengeance for the lawlessness of the church. Just as God sent an evil spirit to Saul for transgressing His command, He is doing the same today (1 Sam. 15:22-24; 16:14, 15). Not one demon does any- thing without the permission of God. Isaiah also wrote: "The noise of a multitude in the mountains.., the Lord of hosts mustereth the host of the battle. They come from a far country, from the end of heaven, even the Lord, and THE WEAPONS OF HIS INDIGNATION, TO DESTROY THE WHOLE LAND" (Isa. 13:4,5). This army is already surrounding Jerusalem (the church) today. Isaiah added: "Howl ye: for the day of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth (in birth pangs): they shall be amazed one at another (because they have been asleep); their faces shall be as flames.
Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate (the powers of darkness are the abomination that makes desolate): and He shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible" (Isa. 13:6, 8, 9, 11). In the book of Matthew we find: "As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.., the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just.., and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun In the kingdom of their Father.
Who hath (spiritual) ears to hear, let him hear" (Matt. 13:40, 49, 41-43). This day is upon us. The trumpet is blowing loud and clear. Those who have wise hearts will hear this warning. Those with foolish hearts will never wake up until it is too late. "Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is" (Eph. 5:17). "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven: but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 7:2 1). The foolish virgins think they are doing the will of God. They don't even know the Lord. Their foundation will not stand in the day of the Lord's destruction. The writer of Hebrews said: "See that ye refuse not him that speaketh.
For if they escaped not who refused Him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from Him that speaketh from heaven: whose voice then shook the earth: but now He hath promised, saying, YET ONCE MORE I SHAKE NOT THE EARTH ONLY, BUT ALSO HEAVEN... Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken.., that those things which cannot be shaken may remain" (Heb. 12:25-27).
This shaking is the judgment God has promised in these last days. This judgment is the shaking of every foundation and is the (spiritual) earthquake of the last days. Everyone who is standing on a foundation that is not the Word of God will be removed and destroyed in this shaking. The powers of darkness will be able to destroy everyone whose foundation is sand, because they are transgressors of God's law. Only the wise virgins will survive the day of the Lord. They cannot be shaken because their foundation is the Word of God. They will be protected by God and shine forth as the sun. The Word tells us: "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man (a wise virgin)" (Matt. 7:24). "And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and COULD NOT SHAKE IT, for it was founded upon a rock (Jesus)" (Luke 6:48). A remnant who cannot be shaken will survive this destruction. They will act upon the Word of God, not carnal doctrines.
The foolish virgins who have the wrong foundation do not obey God's Word. They are asleep and walking in darkness. The trumpet is blowing but they will not receive any warning about judgment. They will only receive messages of "peace and safety" because of their false security. Listen to the words of Matthew: "But as the days of Noah were, SO SHALL ALSO THE COMING OF THE SON OF MAN BE" (Matt 24:37). In those days they were asleep, just as the church is asleep today. They scoffed about the judgment of God, just as they scoff about the judgment of God today. "And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.
Even so shall it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed" (Luke 17:26, 27, 30). The flood of water brought destruction during the days of Noah. The powers of darkness are bringing the flood of words to destroy today. Since the coming of the Son of Man will bring destruction just as in the days of Noah, we need to see why they were destroyed in the days of Noah. "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (as it is today). And it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth... but Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord... Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God" (Gen. 6:5-9).
Genesis also tells us: "And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth (as it is today). Then God said to Noah, The end of all flesh is come before Me... I will destroy them with the earth... I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, .. . (God is destroying with a spiritual flood today)... everything that is in the earth shall die... But with thee will I establish My covenant (since Noah was a just and perfect man, and walked with God), AND THOU SHALT COME INTO THE ARK" (Gen. 6:12,13, 17, 18).
We can see that this is also an example and instruction for us today as a sleeping church to wake up and enter the ark. "(And the Lord said unto Noah, COME THOU, AND ALL THY HOUSE INTO THE ARK; FOR THEE HAVE I SEEN RIGHTEOUS BEFORE ME IN THIS GENERATION. And they went in unto Noah into the ark.., as God had commanded.., and the Lord shut him in. And the flood was forty days upon the earth... and the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth (as the rain and flood are prevailing today)... And every living substance was destroyed.., and Noah only remained alive, and they that were within minutes THE ARK" (Gen. 7:1,7,16,17,19, 23). Everyone else was destroyed.
This is what is happening to us today. It is raining now. Matthew gives an account of how the foolish (virgins) will be swept away in this flood of destruction: "And every one that heareth these sayings of Mine, and DOETH THEM NOT, shall be likened unto a foolish man (foolish virgin) who built his house upon the sand (wrong foundation with carnal doctrines): and the RAIN DESCENDED (the rains of adversity), and the FLOODS CAME (temptations and testings), and the WINDS BLEW (winnowing winds to blow away all chaff), and beat upon the house (of the foolish virgin), and it fell; and great was the fall of it" (Matt. 7:26, 27).
It is raining more and more each day. People were asleep in the days of Noah; they are asleep now. The most terrible time that has ever come upon the earth since the beginning of mankind is upon us today. Just as the flood of waters destroyed the ungodly in the days of Noah, the ungodly will be destroyed by a flood of destruction today. This is the day of the Lord's violence and judgment against a stubborn and obstinate people who refuse to repent and enter the ark, who is the Lord Jesus Christ. The judgment of God is upon every person whose foundation is sand. God is raining judgment, and the fetters are becoming stronger and stronger each passing day. It is a day of destruction and wrath from God. We are now waking up from a nightmare. "If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing"
(1 Tim. 6:3, 4). Congregations who follow after doctrines that do not conform them to godliness remain in darkness without understanding. These are the ones in the fortified cities and high corner towers who are swept away by the hordes of darkness, which is the flood: "And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; SO SHALL ALSO THE COMING OF THE SON OF MAN BE" (Matt. 24:39). John in Revelation wrote: "If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee" (Rev. 3:3). Matthew said: "Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken (by the flood of the powers of darkness), and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch (time of spiritual darkness) the thief (powers of darkness) would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house (temple) to be broken up" (Matt. 24:40-43).
Only those who have spiritual ears to hear will receive this warning. Others will scoff, as they did in the days of Noah. Revelation 19 tells us about two suppers. One supper described is in verses 7-9 and is the marriage supper of the Lamb. This is for the bride of Christ who has made herself ready. She knows the will of God. She is a wise virgin who acts upon the Word of God. She is the Church that has been made holy and blameless. The other supper is described in verses 17 and 18, and God is serving this supper up to the powers of darkness. The birds that fly in mid-heaven are the vultures, the consecrated guests, and the army that God will use to destroy and eat the flesh of the Babylon harlot.
Revelation tells us: "Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit.., how much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously (after the lusts of the flesh), so much torment and sorrow give her... And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues" (Rev. 18:2, 7, 4). Babylon is the residence of the foolish virgins. The wise virgins".., know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him.., and every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself' (1 John 3:2,3). "For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He there- fore that despiseth (this word of holiness), despiseth not man, but God" (1 These. 4:7, 8).
Jesus Christ is now saying to those who can hear and understand: "Get ready (purify your hearts), come out to meet the Bridegroom." The foolish virgins whose hearts are tied to carnal doctrines will not hear. As this shaking, destruction, and pressure increases, the foolish virgins will come to the wise virgins and want some of their oil (discernment), because they cannot understand what is going on. "And the foolish (virgins) said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out (we can't see what you see, and we are being destroyed)" (Matt. 25:8).
Job explains: "Yea, the light of the wicked shall be put out, and the spark of his fire shall not shine. The light shall be dark in his tabernacle, and his candle shall be put out with him (no oil, no Holy Spirit). The steps of his strength shall be straitened (by sickness and disease), and his own counsel (of the flesh) shall cast him down. For he is cast into a net by his own feet... The snare is laid for him in the ground, and a trap for him in the way. Terrors shall make him afraid on every side (powers of darkness), and shall drive him... Destruction shall be ready at his side. It should devour the strength of his skin; even the firstborn of death (Satan) shall devour his strength. His confidence shall be rooted out of his tabernacle, and it shall bring him to the king of terrors (Satan). His roots shall be dried up beneath, and above shall his branch be cutoff.
HE SHALL BE DRIVEN FROM LIGHT INTO DARKNESS, AND CHASED OUT OF THE WORLD (DESTROYED). Surely such are the dwellings of the wicked, and this is the place of him that knoweth not God" (Job 18:5-8, 10-14, 16, 18, 21). This is a foolish virgin who asked the wise virgin for oil (Holy Spirit), because she was being destroyed. But she did not understand until it was too late. In Matthew we read: "But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you; but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, THE BRIDEGROOM CAME, and THEY THAT WERE READY (the wise virgins) went in (THE ARK, JESUS CHRIST) with him to the marriage; AND) THE DOOR WAS SHUT (just as it was in the days of Noah)" (Matt. 25:9, 10). A worldly church has its mind set on earthly things. Its heart is tied to the world and the things in the world; this is the reason it will not come into the ark with Jesus Christ to the wedding feast.
"The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, and sent forth his servants to call them (out of the world) that were bidden to the wedding; and they would not come" (Matt. 22:2,3). "And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must reeds go and see it: I pray thee have me excused (God). And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused (God). And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come (God)" (Luke 14:18-20). Matthew added: "Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise; and the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully and slew them. But when the king (Jesus) heard thereof, he 'was wroth: and HE SENT FORTH HIS ARMIES (the powers of darkness who are no longer restrained), and DESTROYED those murderers, and BURNED UP THEIR CITY (the world and worldly churches). Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which are bidden were not worthy (because they chose to love the world and the nature of Satan)" (Matt. 22:4- 8).
Luke added: "For I say unto you, That none of those men which are bidden shall taste of my supper. If any man come to me, and hate not (love less by comparison) his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea his own (fleshly) life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his own cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:24, 26,27). Again, Matthew wrote: "Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not" (Matt. 25:11, 12). These are the same foolish virgins of Matthew 7:21 who were led astray by false prophets. They will say, "Lord, Lord," believing Jesus Christ is their Lord, but they did not do the will of the Father. These are the ones who do not get ready and do not purify their hearts, but bear the fruit of a form of godliness. They will try to get through the strait gate and narrow way, but will not be able because they bear the wrong fruit. Listen again to the words of Luke: "Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? and He said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut the door (to the ark, Jesus Christ), and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door (by praying), saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: then shall ye begin to say, We (the foolish virgins) have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.
But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity (who bear the wrong fruit)" (Luke 13:23-27). The apostle Paul wrote: "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, emulations (jealousy), wrath, strife, seditions (divisions), heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like.., they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (Gal. 5:19-21). The body of Christ, the wise virgins, purify their hearts and die to the flesh nature in order to bear the fruit of love, which is in the nature of God. The prophet Amos wrote: "The (foolish) virgin of Israelis fallen; she shall rise no more.., there is none to raise her up. For thus saith the Lord God; The city that went out by a thousand shall leave a hundred, and that which went forth by an hundred shall leave ten, to the house of Israel (the remnant). Seek the Lord, and ye shall live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph (the church), and devour it... Ye who turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth. Seek him.., that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The Lord is his name" (Amos 5:2, 3, 6-8). Amos also said: "They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and abhor him that speaketh uprightly. Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! to what end is it for you? The day of the Lord is darkness and not light. As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him;... Shall not the day of the Lord be (spiritual) darkness, and not light? Woe to them that are at ease in Zion and trust in the mountains of Samaria,... which are named chief.., to whom the house of Israel came! ... But they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph (the Church)" (Amos 5:10, 18- 20, 1, 6). Jeremiah wrote: "Why then is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding?
They hold fast deceit, they refuse to return (repent). I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? Every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle. How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us?... they have rejected the word of the Lord; and what wisdom is in them?" (Jer. 8:5, 6, 8, 9). Jeremiah also pointed out:"., . every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely. They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying Peace, peace; when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? Nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall; at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the Lord" (Jer. 6:13- 15). "Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way (covenant), and walk therein, and ye shall find rest (and peace) for your souls. But they said, we will not walk therein.
Also I set watchmen over you, saying, HEARKEN TO THE SOUND OF THE TRUMPET (today)! But they said, We will not hearken. Therefore hear, ye nations, and know, 0 congregation, what is among them... Behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it" (Jer 6:16-19). This is the fate of the foolish virgins who preach "peace and safety." God is now giving light and understanding about these last days to the wise virgins. They will respond immediately to the call of God's trumpet:"... brethren (wise virgins), ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves (brethren) know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they (foolish virgins) shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon THEM (who preach peace and safety); as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief" (1 Thess. 5:1-4).
Babylon, The Great Harlot
God's judgment is upon the foolish virgins who are not obeying the Word of God.. In many places the Scriptures refer to these foolish virgins as the harlot. This great whore is also known as Babylon! ... . Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgement of the great whore, that sitteth upon many waters. For true and righteous are his judgments: for he has judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication" (Rev. 17:1, 19:2).
Jeremiah said: "Publish, and conceal not: say, Babylon (the harlot church) is taken... My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray... All (of the powers of darkness) that found them have devoured them: and their adversaries said, We offend not, because they have sinned against the Lord (by breaking God's laws)... For, lo, I will raise and cause to come up against Babylon an assembly of great nations from the north country... and they shall set themselves in array against her; from thence she shall be taken (captive)... Put yourselves in array against Babylon roundabout... for she hath sinned against the Lord" (Jer. 50:2, 5, 6, 9, 14). "The Lord hath opened his armory, and hath brought forth the weapons of his indignation (the powers of darkness)... Call together the archers against Babylon... recompense her according to her work.
According to all that she hath done, do unto her: for she hath been proud against the Lord, against the Holy One of Israel. Behold, a people shall come from the north, and a great nation (the powers of darkness), and many kings shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth.., they are cruel, and will not shew mercy: their voice shall roar like the sea. Therefore hear ye the counsel of the Lord, that he hath taken against Babylon; at the noise of the taking of Babylon the earth is moved, and the cry is heard among the nations" (Jer. 51:25,29,41,42,45,46). Jeremiah also wrote: "Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I will raise up against Babylon... a destroying wind: and will send unto Babylon fanners, that shall fan her, and shall empty her land: for in the day of trouble they shall be against her round about.
Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of the Lord's vengeance; Make bright the arrows; gather the shields;... for his (the Lord's) device is against Babylon, to destroy it because it is the vengeance of the Lord, the vengeance of his temple. The Lord of hosts hath sworn by himself, saying, surely I will fill thee with men, as with caterpillars (locusts); and they shall lift up a shout against thee. Thou (powers of darkness) art my battle ax and weapons for war: for with thee will I break in pieces the nations, and with thee will I destroy kingdoms; I will also break in pieces with thee (the powers of darkness) the shepherd and his flock" (Jer. 51:1, 2, 6, 11, 14, 20, 23). Jeremiah continued: "And the land shall tremble (the powers of darkness come against all foundations that are sand; this is the spiritual earthquake).., for every purpose of the Lord shall be performed against Babylon, to make the land of Babylon a desolation (the powers of darkness are the abomination that makes desolate)... The mighty men of Babylon have forborne to fight... They (the powers of darkness) have burned their dwelling places.., and I will make them drunken (staggering in spiritual darkness), that they may rejoice, and sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake, saith the Lord. THE SEA (FLOOD) HAS COME UP UPON BABYLON; she is covered with the multitude of the waves thereof.
My people, go ye out of the midst of her, and deliver ye every man his soul from the fierce anger of the Lord... Shame has covered our faces; for STRANGERS (the powers of darkness) ARE COME INTO THE SANCTUARIES (temples) OF THE LORD'S HOUSE. Because the spoiler is come upon her, even upon Babylon, and her mighty men are taken.., for the Lord God of recompenses shall surely requite. And I will make drunk her princes, and her wise men.., and they shall sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake, saith the King, WHOSE NAME IS THE LORD OF HOSTS" (JER. 51:29, 30, 39, 42, 45, 51, 56, 57).
"And the people shall labor in vain, and the folk in the fire, and they shall be weary. And it shall be when thou hast made an end of reading this book,...that thou shalt say, Thus shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise from the evil that I will bring upon her: and they shall be weary" (Jer. 51:58, 63, 64). Babylon the harlot has become a curse and a stumbling block to almost everyone in the world who has tried to come to God. Instead of teaching God's little ones righteousness and holiness, they have perverted the Word and instructed them falsely in order to fulfill selfish ambition and build a fleshly kingdom for Satan. Satan is the king over Babylon.
The apostle John wrote in Revelation: "Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye (true) holy apostles and (true) prophets; for God hath avenged you on her. And a mighty angel took up a stone like a GREAT MILL-STONE and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all. And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee, and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee.., for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. And in her was found.., all that were slain upon the earth" (Rev. 18:20, 21, 23, 24).
The Psalmist said: "Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing (no foundation). I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried... They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head; they that would destroy me are mighty... Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink: let me be delivered from them that hate me, and out of deep waters. Let not the water flood overflow me, neither let the deep swallow me up, and let not the pit shut her mouth upon me" (Ps. 69).
THE TRUMPET IS BLOWING!!!
Jesus warns us, "when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies (we see this today), then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out (those who hear the trumpet will leave Babylon and go to Zion), and let not them that are in the countries enter thereunto. For these be days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child and to them that give suck, in those days! For there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles (lost)" (Luke 2 1:20-24). Jesus also said: "And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; FOR YOUR REDEMPTION DRAWETH NIGH" (Luke 21:25-28).
"And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting (pleasures of this life) and drunkenness (spiritual darkness), and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the The Son of Man" (Luke 21:34-36).
The book of Revelation tells us: "Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he THAT WATCHETH (endures to the end) and KEEPETH HIS GARMENTS (of salvation), lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And there were voices, and thunders and lightnings; and there was a great (spiritual) earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earth- quake, and so great. And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath" (Rev. 16:15, 18, 19). THE TRUMPET IS BLOWING!
False Teachers and the Judgment of God
Listen to the Word of the Lord: "God is jealous, and the Lord revengeth; the Lord revengeth, and is furious; the Lord will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies. The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked" (Nah. 1:2, 3).
From Jeremiah we read, "Behold, a whirlwind of the Lord is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked. The anger of the Lord shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly. I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings" (Jer. 23:19-22).
Again, from Nahum: "Who can stand before his indignation? And who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? His fury is poured out like fire... The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him. But with an overrunning flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue his enemies. For while they be folded together as thorns, and while they are drunken as drunkards, they should be devoured as stubble fully dry. And the Lord hath given a commandment concerning thee, that no more of thy name be sown; out of the house of thy gods will I cut off the graven image and the molten image: I will make thy grave, for thou art vile" (Nah. 1:1-8, 10, 14).
"Wherefore hear the word of the Lord, ye scornful men, that rule (with false teaching) this people which is in Jerusalem. Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood we have hid ourselves. Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation; he that believeth (stands on the foundation of the word of God) shall not make haste (he will be protected)" (Isa. 28:14-16).
"Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow (flood) the hiding place. And your covenant with death (false teachings) shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell (that no calamity will come on you) shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge (flood) shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it. From the time that it goeth forth it shall take you: for morning by morning shall it pass over, by day and by night: and it shall be a vexation only to understand the report (it will be sheer terror to understand what it means; NASV). Now therefore be ye not mockers, lest your bands (fetters) be made strong: for I have heard from the Lord God of hosts a consumption, even determined upon the whole earth" (Isa. 28:17, 18, 19, 22).
THE TRUMPET IS BLOWING!!!
From Jeremiah: "For thus saith the Lord, Thy bruise is incurable, and thy wound is grievous. There is none to plead thy cause, that thou mayest be bound up. Thou hast no healing medicines. All thy lovers have forgotten thee; they seek thee not; for I have wounded thee with the wound of an enemy, with the chastisement of a cruel one... Why criest thou for thine affliction? Thy sorrow is incurable for the multitude of thine iniquity: because thy sins were increased, I have done these things unto thee" (Jer. 30:12-15).
Again from Jeremiah: "Behold, the whirlwind of the Lord goeth forth with fury, a continuing whirlwind: it shall fall with pain upon the head of the wicked. The fierce anger of the Lord shall not return, until he have done it, and until he have performed the intents of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it" (Jer. 30:23, 24).
Once again from Nahum: "Woe to the bloody city (the harlot church)! It is all full of lies and robbery; the prey departeth not: Because of the multitude of the whoredoms of the well-favored harlot, the mistress of witchcraft, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcraft. Behold, I am against thee, saith the Lord of hosts: and I will discover thy skirts upon thy face (lift up your skirts over your face: NASV); and I will shew the nations thy nakedness (lostness), and the kingdoms thy shame.., the gates of thy land shall be set wide open unto thine enemies: the fire shall devour thy bars (to your gates). There shall the fire consume thee; the sword (curse and tree cutters) shall cut thee off, it shall eat thee up like the cankerworm. Thy shepherds slumber, 0 king of Assyria: thy nobles shall dwell in the dust: thy people is scattered upon the mountains, and no man gathereth them. There is no healing of thy bruise; thy wound is grievous: all that hear the bruit of thee shall clap the hands over thee: for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?" (Nah. 3:1, 4, 5, 13, 15, 18, 19).
From Revelation: "And the fifth angel sounded and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And there came out of the smoke locusts (powers of darkness) upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die (because of extreme pain, extreme fear, extreme depression, weakness, sickness, confusion, worry, discouragement, self-pity, etc.), and death shall flee from them. And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon (destruction), but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon (destroyer)" (Rev. 9:1, 3, 6, 11).
"And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men. By these three were the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their theft" (Rev, 9:15, 18, 20, 21).
From Joel: "Hear this, ye old men, and give ear, all ye inhabitants of the land. Hath this been in your days, or even in the days of your fathers? That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpillar eaten. AWAKE, YE DRUNKARDS, (who are stumbling in spiritual darkness) and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine (the Word of God); for it is cut off from your mouth (there is a famine of the word). For a nation (the powers of darkness) is come upon my land, strong and without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek teeth of a great lion. Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the HUSBAND OF HER YOUTH (their first love, Jesus Christ)... The field is wasted (hardened hearts), the land mourneth (under the curse); for the corn is wasted (no fruit), the new wine is dried up (famine of the Word), the oil languisheth (no anointing of the Holy Spirit)" (Joel 1:2, 4-8, 10).
Joel is speaking to us today: "Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the Lord your God, and cry unto the Lord. Alas for the day! For the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come. Is not the meat cut off before our eyes, yea, joy and gladness from the house of our God? The seed (Word of God) is rotten under their clods (hardened hearts), the garners are laid desolate, the barns are broken down; for the corn (fruit) is withered" (Joel 1:14-17, 19).
Also from Joel: "BLOW YE THE TRUMPET IN ZION, AND SOUND AN ALARM IN MY HOLY MOUNTAIN: Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord is nigh at hand. A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; THERE HATH NOT BEEN EVER THE LIKE, NEITHER SHALL BE ANY MORE AFTER IT, even to the years of many generations. A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: The land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them" (Joel 2:1-3).
From Joel 2:6-11: "Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness. They shall climb the (whitewashed) wall like men of war; and they march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks; neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: ... they shall run to and fro in the city (the church); they shall run upon the wall (false hedge), they shall climb up upon the houses (into the bodies, temples), they shall enter in at the windows like a thief. The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble; the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining (spiritual darkness): And the Lord shall utter his voice (shout) before his army (of destruction)."
THE TRUMPET IS BLOWING!!!
From Isaiah: "The Lord shall go forth as a mighty man, he shall stir up jealousy like a man of war. He shall cry, yea, roar; he shall prevail against his enemies. I have long time holden my peace; I have been still, and refrained myself. Now I will cry like a travailing woman; I will destroy and devour at once" (Isa. 42:13-15).
From Lamentations: "The Lord was as an enemy: he hath swallowed up Israel, he hath swallowed up all her palaces: he hath destroyed his strong holds, and hath increased in the daughter of Judah mourning and lamentation" (Lam. 2:5).
From Jeremiah: "Then said I, Ah, Lord God! Behold, the prophets say unto them, Ye shall not see the sword, neither shall ye have famine; but I will give you assured peace in this place. Then the Lord said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart. Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, and I sent them not, yet they say, sword and famine shall not be in this land; BY SWORD AND FAMINE SHALL THOSE PROPHETS BE CONSUMED" (Jer.14:13-15).
Also from Jeremiah: "I have forsaken mine house, I have left mine heritage; I have given the dearly beloved of my soul into the hand of her enemies. Mine heritage is unto me as a lion in the forest; it crieth out against me: therefore have I hated it. Mine heritage is unto me as a speckled bird, the birds round about are against her; come ye, assemble all the beasts of the field, come to devour. MANY PASTORS HAVE DESTROYED MY VINEYARD, THEY HAVE TRODDEN MY PORTION UNDER FOOT, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness" (Jer. 12:7-10).
From Isaiah: "All ye beasts of the field, come to devour, yea, all ye beasts in the forest. His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark (cannot preach righteousness and judgement); sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber (foolish virgins who are asleep). Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds tint cannot understand; they all look to their own way, every one for gain, from his quarter" (Isa. 56:9-11).
Also from Isaiah: "For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more: he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water or affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers. And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left hand" (Isa. 30:19-21).
Again, from Isaiah: "The shall he give the rain of thy seed, that thou shalt sow the ground withal; and bread of the increase of the earth, and it shall be fat and plenteous: in that day shall thy cattle feed in large pastures. And there shall be upon every high mountain and upon every high hill, rivers and streams of waters in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall. Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the Lord bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound" (Isa. 30:23,25,26).
From Jeremiah: "Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the Lord thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the Lord. Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion" (Jer. 3:13, 14).
"Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the Lord. Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we come unto thee; for thou are the Lord our God" (Jer. 3:20, 22). "I form the light, and create darkness: I made peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things" (Isa. 45:7).
"And the Lord saith unto him, Go through the midst of the city, though the midst of Jerusalem (the church), and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite; let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men (elders) which were before the house" (Ezek. 9:4-6).
"And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord God! Wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of the fury upon Jerusalem? Then said he unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is EXCEEDING GREAT, and the land is full of blood, and the city of perverseness: for they say, The Lord hath forsaken the earth, and the Lord seeth not. And as for me also, mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will recompense their way upon their head" (Ezek. 9:8-10).
From Joel: "And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army (of destruction): for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it? Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil." (Joel 2:11-13).
"BLOW THE TRUMPET IN ZION, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?" (Joel 2:15-17). "The ambassadors of peace shall weep bitterly. The highways (of holiness) lie waste, the wayfaring man (who walks in holiness) ceaseth: he hath broken the covenant, he hath despised the cities, he regardeth no man (he does not love his neighbor)" (Isa. 33:7, 8).
From Isaiah: "The sinners in Zion are afraid: fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings: He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil.
He shall dwell on high: his place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks (Jesus); his bread (the Word) shall be given him; his waters shall be sure" (Isa. 33:14-16). "Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off (as they look back at the people still in bondage). Thine heart shall meditate terror (their destruction). Where is the scribe (who writes of the fleshly achievements)? Where is the receiver (of money)? Where is he that counted the (high corner) towers? (They have all been destroyed!)" (Isa. 33:17, 18).
From Joel: "The Lord will be jealous for his land, and pity his people. Yea, the Lord will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn (fruit), and wine (Word), and oil (Holy Spirit), and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen: But I will remove far from you the northern army (powers of darkness), and will drive him into a land barren and desolate (dry places),... Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain (for restoration). And I will restore to you the years that the locust (the powers of darkness) hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, MY GREAT ARMY WHICH I SENT AMONG YOU" (Joel 2:18-20, 23, 25).
From Isaiah: "Awake, awake; put on your strength, 0 Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, 0 Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean. Shake thyself from the dust (flesh); arise, and sit down, 0 Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands (yokes) of thy neck, 0 captive daughter of Zion" (Isa. 52:1, 2).
From Daniel: "And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. But thou, 0 Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased... Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand" (Dan. 12:1,3,4,9, 10).
Rebuilding the Temple In the Last Days
Matthew wrote: "And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" (Matt. 24:1-3). Matthew also recorded: "And Jesus answered, and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you (with false teachings). For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.., and there shall be FAMINES, and PESTILENCES, and EARTHQUAKES, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. And then shall many be offended (fall away), and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
And many FALSE PROPHETS shall rise, and shall DECEIVE MANY. And because INIQUITY SHALL ABOUND, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And THIS GOSPEL of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come" (Matt. 24:4,5, 7,8, 10-14).
Again, Matthew said: "When ye therefore shall see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION (the powers of darkness) spoken of by Daniel the prophet, STAND IN THE HOLY PLACE (whoso readeth, let him understand [let him understand that the bodies of men were created by God to be His holy place])... For then shall be GREAT TRIBULATION, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall rise false Christs and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect" (Matt. 24:15, 21, 23, 24).
Peter wrote: "Wherefore also it is contained in the Scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth in him shall not be confounded (ashamed). Unto you, therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense" (1 Pet. 2:6-8). The elect of God will come to Jesus". . . as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, ye also, as LIVELY STONES, are built up A SPIRITUAL HOUSE (THE TEMPLE OF GOD), an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 2:4,5).
The remnant will be living stones which are the members of the body of Christ which are used to build the temple of God, "And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone, in whom ALL THE BUILDING fitly framed together groweth unto an HOLY TEMPLE in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit" (Eph. 2:20-22). The building of the temple today is the responsibility of the craftsmen; the true apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers "For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of ......... From whom the whole body joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth... maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love, till we all come in the unity of the faith... unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:12, 16, 13). The body of Christ becomes the temple of God be- cause it is the exact representation of the measure and stature of Christ. "For we are laborers together with God: ye are God's husbandry (field), ye are GOD'S BUILDING" (1 Cor. 3:9).
Mark wrote: "And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what building are here! And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? There shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down" (Mark 13:1, 2). False teachers still admire and build beautiful buildings for God, while the true craftsman will build up and fit together the body of Christ in love. From Amos: "For, lo, I will command, and I will sift (shake) the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth. All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword (curse), which say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us. In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old" (Amos 9:9-11).
Just as the law had been lost in the day of Ezra and Nehemiah, it has been lost to us today. They found themselves in disobedience to God's law just as we have found ourselves in disobedience to God's law today. Their wall (hedge of protection) was gone and they had been led into captivity as we are today. God's grace brought reviving and restoration so they could rebuild the wall and the house of God in the midst of distress.
The temple today will also be built in the midst of distress and opposition. This is an example for our instruction to rebuild the wall and temple today. Ezra wrote: "AND NOW FOR A LITTLE SPACE GRACE HATH BEEN SHEWED FROM THE LORD OUR GOD, TO LEAVE US A REMNANT TO ESCAPE, and to give us a nail (to secure us) in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage" (Ezra 9:8). For just as God granted them a brief moment of grace, He is doing the same today to give us understanding to escape from the traditions and the bondage of a harlot church (Babylon) and from the powers of darkness. "For we were bondmen; yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of God (the temple, our bodies), and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall (a hedge of protection from the powers of darkness) in Judah and in Jerusalem" (Ezra 9:9).
Nehemiah wrote: "And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses which the Lord had commanded to Israel. And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; ... And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: and Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground" (Neh. 8:1, 4-6).
Nehemiah also wrote: "So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading. And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha (governor), and Ezra the priest, the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the Lord your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept (in repentance), when they heard the words of the law" (Neh. 8:8, 9).
The Lord is giving His remnant understanding as He did then. When the people began to have understanding of the law, they saw the darkness and sin they had been living in and began to repent.
Again from Nehemiah: .... the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, and with sackclothes, and earth upon them. And the seed of Israel (remnant) separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers. And they stood in their place, and read in the book of the law of the Lord their God one fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the Lord their God" (Neh. 9:1-3).
Nehemiah added: "And they said unto me, the remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire... When I heard these words, I sat down and wept, and mourned.., and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven, and said, I beseech thee, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love Him, and observe His commandments, and do them, though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there" (Neh. 1:3, 5, 7-9).
The Lord's promise stands today to those who return and become doers of the law through Christ. God is gathering His elect today. The remnant the Lord is calling out recognizes the ruin of Jerusalem, the desolate condition of the harlot church today: "Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: Come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach. Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me... And they said, LET US RISE UP AND BUILD.
So they strengthened their bands for this good work" (Neh. 2:17, 18).
From Ezra: "And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets... And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the Lord.. . And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. But many of the ancient men that had seen the first house... wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy: so that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people" (Ezra 3:10-13).
Again from Ezra: "Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the Lord God of Israel,... they came... and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do;... But Zerubbabel, and Joshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; But we ourselves together will build unto the Lord God of Israel" (Ezra. 4:1-3). Once again from Ezra:
"Rehum the chancellor and Shimhai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem... Be it known unto the king that the Jews which came up from thee to us are come unto Jerusalem, building the rebellious and the bad city, and have set up the walls thereof, and joined the foundations. Be it known now unto the king, that if this city be builded, and the walls set up again, then will they not pay toll, tribute, and custom, and so thou shalt endamage the revenue of the kings" (Ezra 4:8, 12, 13).
From Nehemiah: "But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? Will ye rebel against the king? Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, He will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem (Neither will the ungodly have any part in building God's temple today)" (Neh. 2:19, 20). The false teachers who oppose restoration to God's real church today will be completely cut off unless they repent! Those who will not repent and come to God's light will become furious and angry as they see people leaving their fleshly kingdoms to become a part of the remnant of restoration. "But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews.
And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? Will they fortify themselves? Will they sacrifice? Will they make an end in a day? Will they revive the (living) stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned? (The burned living stones are being revived today, those who have been burned by the fires of Satan)" (Neh. 4:1, 2). "So the wall was finished... And it came to pass, that when all the enemies heard thereof, and all the heathen that were about us saw these things, they were much cast down in their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God" (Neh. 6:15, 16). As God put it into the mind of an escaped remnant to rebuild the ruins in those days, God is doing the same today. The temple and the wall (hedge) is built today through repentance and dealing with all the sin in the body of Christ.
This wall of protection is the Lord Jesus Christ: "For I, saith the Lord, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her" (Zech. 2:5). "And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts... The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the forever... and in this place will I give peace (a wall), saith the Lord of hosts" (Haggai 2:7, 9). In the midst of these days of destruction, God's glory and power will be on the remnant as has never been in the history of mankind. "Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again into this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: And I will give them one heart and one way" (Jer. 32:37-39). "At the same time, saith the Lord, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. Thus saith the Lord, the people which were left of the sword (curse) found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest. The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry. For there shall be a day, that the watchman upon the mount Ephraim shall cry, ARISE YE, AND LET US GO UP TO ZION unto the Lord our God.
For thus saith the Lord; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O Lord, save thy people, the remnant of Israel. Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the BLIND AND THE LAME... a great company shall return thither. They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I WILL CAUSE THEM TO WALK BY THE RIVERS OF WATERS IN A STRAIGHT WAY, wherein they shall not stumble... He that scattered Israel will gather him, as a shepherd doth his flock. For the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of them that was stronger than he" (Jer. 31:1-4, 6-11).
From Isaiah: "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob (the church) their sins. Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the Ordinance of their God (a form of godliness)... Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not?... Behold, Ye fast for strife and debate" (Isa. 58:1-4). Is it such a fast that have chosen? A day for a man to afflict his soul (to humble himself). Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke. Is it not to deal thy bread (the Word of God) to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? When thou seest the naked (the lost), that thou cover him (with garments of salvation) and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh (you deal with all the works of your flesh)?" (Isa. 58:5-7).
Isaiah continues: "Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy reward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, "Here I am (because your prayers have been answered). thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger (criticism, slander, faultfinding, gossip, etc.), and speaking vanity; and if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul (by doing the works of Jesus); then shall thy light rise in obscurity (veil removed from your eyes), and thy darkness be as the noon day" (Isa. 58:8-10). "And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought (fiery trials), and make fat thy bones (healing); and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places (rebuild the wall and the temple); thou shalt raise up the foundations (the Word of God) of many generations; and thou shalt be called THE REPAIRER OF THE BREACH, THE RESTORER OF PATHS (the highways of holiness and righteousness) to dwell in" (Isa. 58:11, 12).
From Ezekiel: "Thus saith the Lord God; When I shall have gathered the house of Israel (remnant) from the people among whom they are scattered, and shall be sanctified in them in the sight of the heathen, then shall they dwell in their land that I have given to my servant Jacob. And they shall dwell safely therein, and shall build houses, and plant vineyards; yea, they shall dwell with confidence, when I have executed judgments upon all those that despise them around about them; and they shall know that I am the Lord their God" (Ezek. 28:25, 26). From Zephaniah: "In that day shalt thou not be ashamed for all thy doings, wherein thou hast transgressed against me: for then I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride, and thou shalt no more be haughty because of my holy mountain. I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord. The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down (in peace), and none shall make them afraid (because the remnant will have a hedge around them and will walk in holiness and peace)" (Zeph. 3:11-13).
From Jeremiah: "In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the Lord their God.
They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord, in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten. In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve (the remnant)" (Jer. 50:4, 5, 20). "The Lord hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: THE KING OF ISRAEL, even the Lord, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more" (Zeph. 3:15). From Isaiah: "And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem (the true Church), shall be called holy... every one that is written among the writing in Jerusalem (the heavenly Jerusalem). When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning" (Isa. 4:3,4).
"Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, which hast drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of his fury" (Isa. 51:17). "But I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee (the powers of darkness); which have said to thy soul, Bow down, that we may go over (lie down that we may walk over you): and thou hast laid thy body as the ground, and as the street, to them that went over" (Isa. 51:23). "AWAKE, AWAKE (SLEEPING VIRGINS), put on thy strength, O Zion (Church)... Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands (yokes) of thy neck, O captive daughter of Jerusalem" (Isa. 52:1, 2).
From Ezekiel: "As I live, saith the Lord God, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock; Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and shall require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock.., for I will deliver my flock from their mouth" (Ezek. 34:8, 10). Thus saith the Lord God; "Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out... and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day (of spiritual darkness). And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries ... I will feed them in a good pasture.., there shall they lie in a good fold (in peace).., they shall feed upon the mountains of Israel" (Ezek. 34:11-14). From Jeremiah: "I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the Lord" (Jer. 23:4).
From Ezekiel: "And I will make them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts (powers of dark- ness) to cease out of their land... I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing. And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit.., and they shall be safe in their land, and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them. And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen, neither shall the beast of the land devour them (the powers of darkness); but they shall dwell safely, and none shall make them afraid" (Ezek. 34:25-28). "I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment" (Ezek. 34:15, 16). From Jeremiah: "Set thee up waymarks, make thee high heaps: set thine heart toward the highway (of holiness).., and turn again, O virgin of Israel, turn again to these thy cities.
Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; As yet they shall use this speech in the cities thereof, when I shall bring again their captivity; The Lord bless thee, O habitation of justice, and mountain of holiness" (Jer. 31:21, 23). From Isaiah: "Thy watchmen (true shepherds) shall lift up the voice; with the voice together they shall sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion" (Isa. 52:8). "Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord" (Isa. 52:11). "But Zion (the church) said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands (the nail prints of the cross); thy walls (the covenant promises) are continually before me" (Isa. 49:14-16).
The Psalmist wrote: "Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart" (Ps. 40:7,8). From Isaiah: "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it" (Isa. 40:3-5). From Revelation: "Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready (pure, spotless, holy, and blameless). And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints" (Rev. 19:6-8). "AND THE REDEEMER SHALL COME TO ZION, AND UNTO THEM (REMNANT) THAT TURN FROM TRANSGRESSION IN JACOB (the Church)," saith the Lord. (Isa. 59:20) "O Zion, that bringeth good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; he shall gather the lambs with his hand, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young" (Isa. 40: 9-11).
Highway of Holiness
From Isaiah: "Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: Behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you. And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called THE WAY OF HOLINESS; the unclean (who walk after the flesh) shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those (who walk in holiness); the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. No lion will be there (powers of darkness), nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there: AND THE RANSOMED OF THE LORD SHALL RETURN, AND COME TO ZION WITH SONGS AND EVERLASTING JOY UPON THEIR HEADS: THEY SHALL OBTAIN JOY AND GLADNESS, AND SORROW AND SIGHING SHALL FLEE AWAY" (Isa. 35:3,4,8-10).
"I have set watchmen upon thy walls, 0 Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence, and give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem (His Church) a praise in the earth. Go through, go' through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard (the Word of God) for the people. Behold, the Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. And they shall call them,
The holy people, The redeemed of the Lord: arid thou shalt be called, SOUGHT OUT, A CITY NOT FORSAKEN" (Isa. 62:6, 7, 10-12). Daniel prayed: "Now therefore, 0 our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord's sake. 0 my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousness, but for thy great mercies.
0 Lord, hear; 0 Lord, forgive; 0 Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, 0 my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name" (Dan. 9:17-19). From Matthew: "0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee... Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, YE SHALL NOT SEE ME HENCEFORTH, TILL YE SHALL SAY, BLESSED IS HE THAT COMETH IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!" (Matt. 23:37-39).
(Written by: Milton Green)
This book is humbly dedicated to the Lord Jesus Christ who came to me when I was lost and dying, to give me life. Who gave me speech when I could no longer carry on a conversation. Who healed a body broken by drugs, alcohol, demons and physical decay. Although I was a very unlovable man with no hope, He loved me and healed me.
To my Lord, who did one of the most ridiculous things I have ever known. He took this same man, a carpet cleaner with a ninth grade education, and said, "I am choosing you as a vessel of grace; I am giving you a part." Who spoke to me in a deserted fishing camp in Florida and said, "Go and tell these people that they keep on listening but do not perceive; they keep on looking but they do not understand."
I also humbly dedicate this book to His godly shepherds and godly craftsmen who are presently forsaking all to become the instruments to build the temple of God in unity and purpose, holy and blameless, giving glory to no one but our Lord.
I lay this book at your feet, Lord. I pray for much more of your abundant mercy, grace, and wisdom, lest after I have now shared with others, I become a cast away. Also, please bless the ones who have walked with me helped me, especially my loving wife, Joyce, and my brother in Christ, Rick, and those who pray for me. I love you, Lord, beyond any words and I now trust You to bless as You change the heart and life of each person who reads this book.
Publishers Notes: The publishers recognize the great spiritual depth of this book. Therefore, in order that you might fully grasp the message herein, we seriously suggest that you read the book again and again. --The Publishers (Leonard Ravenhill)
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