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Repentance Addresses Ignorance

The Bible uses many “spiritual” words such as repentance, salvation, holiness, faith, love, righteousness, glory, etc…  These words are English translations of Greek words, first written almost 2,000 years ago, and are simply descriptions or terms for various spiritual realities.  I am convinced that over the almost 2,000 years since the books of the Bible were written, layers of tradition, natural understanding, and human manipulation have accumulated around the meaning and understanding of all these descriptive words.  I greatly desire to strip this man-made accumulation away, giving me at least the potential to see the reality of the spiritual thing these words describe, and I know others feel the same.

I think repentance is the most appropriate term to look at first. According to Jesus and the first apostles, repentance is a prerequisite for one who desires to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and walk after the Spirit. Repentance was the first exhortation Jesus gave, was the central theme of John the Baptist’s message, and it was emphasized by Paul and the other apostles after Christ as well.

Christianity’s non-spiritual understanding and their ultimately fear-based relationship to God have led to an underlying motive of hell-avoidance and behavior-modification.  Therefore “repent” has come to be understood, roughly, as: “an improvement in behavior accompanied by a fervent conviction and sorrow over one’s “sins.”” Admittedly, there are scriptures that can be used to support this definition, but there are others that prove repentance is not so simple.  It’s all too common for scriptures to be cherry-picked and misunderstood to support things that are simply not true.  I fear being one of those who is so foolish as to think I can’t be blind to reality while confident in my own understanding.

To understand what someone says, it’s best to use the same language.  This is one reason it’s helpful to look at the Greek which the scriptures were written in.  I have found one scripture to be particularly insightful in understanding repentance.  In Acts 17:30 (NAS77), Paul wrote this:  “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance (Greek: agnoia), God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent (Greek: metanoia)...”   The underlying Greek word for “repent” and “ignorance” share a common root – noia, which means the mind,comprehension, understanding, and perception. The only difference between the word repent (metanoia) and ignorance (agnoia) are their prefixes.  The prefix “meta” means “again, or afterward,” so to repent means to “reconsider” or “think again.”  The prefix “ag” means “without, absence of,” so ignorance means “without understanding.”  So here’s what Paul actually meant: “Therefore having overlooked the times when men were without spiritual perception and understanding (agnoia – ignorance), God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should reconsider and change their old ways of understanding and perception of God and His ways (metanoia – repent).  

Notice: repentance doesn’t address sinful behavior, or a future in hell.  The atoning sacrifice of Jesus took care of both of these things.  What repentance addresses is IGNORANCE.  Repentance is really for believers, not unbelievers. It’s both funny and sad, but the most spiritually ignorant, those who most need repentance, are those who are confident in their religious doctrines and self-righteousness.  Isn’t that amazing?  

Pride prevents repentance, and humility prepares the way for it.  Repentance is the ongoing process of allowing the Holy Spirit, the spirit of truth, to become one’s faculty of perception and understanding of spiritual things, instead of the natural mind we are all born with.  To repent is to begin to wait for and follow spiritual revelation rather than forming and standing on doctrines and ideas formed and established in the mind and heart of man.  The times of “ignorance” Paul wrote about were the times when men only knew God from afar, as fearful servants who only receive commands.  Repentance opens up the reality of the New Covenant, where through Christ we are adopted as beloved children, growing up privy to their Father’s heart and inheritors of His possessions.

This is a very brief overview, and there are many other scriptures I could examine, like those below. Look into these things for yourself, or even better, sincerely and simply ask God to give you grace to repent yourself, being ready to follow where the spirit leads. It’s likely to be astounding and challenging territory.

  •  2 Timothy 2:25-26:  “…with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil…”
  • Hebrews 6:1: “Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God…”
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Posted by on November 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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“Over-Spiritualizing” the Spirit

“Don’t “over-spiritualize” the spirit.”

Think about that a bit – it’s a word God spoke directly to me recently.  It blessed me just to hear Him, because in the unusually distracted and tired state I’ve been in for the past month or two, I haven’t been in communion with God like I want.  Regardless of the circumstances, when the spirit of God speaks to you, it’s encouraging.

This is a word spoken to me, not to everyone, yet I think it’s appropriate to share because it deals with an issue that others surely relate to. 

I am a bit unusual in that I am very interested in and open to the idea of spirit, as a distinct realm of reality and part of the makeup of mankind.  I also believe, with frustration and sadness, that Christianity is largely ignorant and devoid of genuine spiritual reality. Christianity is very aware and a great proponent of scripture, goodness, kindness, morality, doctrine, etc. I’m certainly not against these things and God isn’t either, but let it be known they have nothing to do with spirituality.

I think the essence of God’s exhortation could be stated like this: 

“Realize that “spirit” is not just a vague word or concept, and doesn’t mean anything like “good and godly things.”  Spirit is a realm of reality.  This realm is deeper than and lies beneath the physical realm that our bodies inhabit, but it is just as real – in fact in a sense it is more real.  You have to see it as a real realm with enormous importance, a realm you can and must access and walk in.  Then and only then you can begin to journey on the way of My son, Jesus.” 

I would also add the following as an explanation of why this is so important.  God didn’t directly say this, but I think it’s reflective of Truth, as well as scripture:

“It’s only in this realm that I am truly known and related to.  It’s in this realm that the things I desire and find valuable are located.  Realizing this, change your mind and your ways.  Repent.  Quit living by and regarding the things you’ve gathered from the minds of men, no matter how good they sound, how reasonable they seem, or how inspiring or familiar they are.  I do speak through men.  You’ll know it when you hear it if you are letting the spirit teach and confirm in you.  But I want you to be like a spiritual pilgrim and pioneer.  Follow the example and teachings My son left you.  Seek, listen, follow My Spirit.  You say you want to be Christ-like; this is the way.  Otherwise, I don’t know you.” 

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Living in Spirit Means Quenching the Soul

We all can think of things we’ve read without any contemplation or understanding.  I think for many, a prime example for this from the Bible are verses which mention things pertaining to “spirit.”  For years, read about “spirit” and without much thought just took it as a vague concept that concerned God or people a lot more holy than I.  While I still don’t have full understanding, I do realize that the spiritual realm is the realm of God Himself and that to know God requires one to be able to relate to him there.

I’ve written about this before, but the spiritual realm is deeper than the oh-so familiar realm of the soul – the realm of human feelings, will, and thought.  For most people, including highly religious people, their entire sphere of life and awareness is in the realm of the soul.  This is worthless in God’s eyes.  Religion often mislabels as spiritual things that are in reality just “good” things of the soul, such as unusual or profound feelings, deep or new doctrines, or various other experiences.  These things are all sourced in the human soul.  This is why after the experiences are over and the novelty is worn off, there is no lasting change.  The soul in and of itself is unstable and ever-changing.

I want to look at one idea that is fairly common in the Christian sphere; the notion of “walking in the spirit.”  Galatians 5:16 says: “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”  Many of us have read that, but I’d guess much fewer of us have taken the time to genuinely meditate, study, and seek God for what that truly means.  Without understanding, which is given by the spirit of God, information is useless.  

I want to look more specifically at Galatians 5:25, which states: “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”  Paul is saying that living and walking by the spirit are connected; if we are to do the first, we must do the second also.  I believe this verse literally means: “If we are to live in the realm of the spirit, we must follow and conform to the spirit’s direction moment by moment.”  Our comfort-loving flesh wants things to be automatic and easy.  But nothing in the Kingdom of God is automatic.  We must daily fight and struggle to follow and conform to the leading of the spirit, if we are to be those who live in the spirit, as Jesus did.  He set us that example for us to follow.  

What must we fight and struggle against?  Christianity would have us believe it’s our bad behavior, our “sins” that make us unspiritual and that we must fight.  But that has nothing to do with it.  Primarily, our struggle is against our own soul, which is influenced by our flesh and our various religious indoctrinations.  These are the things that oppose the walk in the spirit which is our inheritance. 

How does our soul oppose the spirit?  To be able to follow the spirit, it’s obvious we have to be sensitive to and aware of the spiritual realm.  But the spiritual realm is deeper and very different from the soulical.  It often doesn’t make sense to our soul, which is based on reason and logic.  To access the spiritual realm, we must be willing to learn to quench the dominance of our soul by silencing the chatter of our minds, stilling or choosing to ignore the raging of our own thoughts, reasonings and feelings.  When the human soul is subdued, we can begin to be aware of what the Spirit of God is revealing to us, Spirit-to-spirit.  If we don’t, then the human soul’s various doctrines, gathered over the years from unspiritual men, and the cacophony of our own thoughts and feelings will dominate our awareness, and we’ll remain carnal and soulish – little different from the world other than being better-behaved. 

Quenching our soul is somewhat akin to turning down a loud stereo in order to hear and focus on the underlying voice of a loved one, which is quieter but more important.  Food for thought, I hope.  God bless you.

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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The Parable of the Vineyard, Pt. 3

At the end of this parable, Jesus switches and begins to speak in future-tense, of something to come later.  Jesus says “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you (religious leaders) and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.”  Allow me to answer a few questions here:  1). What is this fruit?  2). Has the vineyard exchanged hands yet?  3). What or who is this nation that will bear the fruit of the seed the landowner planted? 

Regarding question 1:  The book of Genesis says all seed produces offspring of the same kind as itself.  Therefore, the fruit that comes from the seed God planted is sons of God – those who think like Him and have His spirit.  If this sounds far-fetched, it’s because you’ve probably not been exposed to the plans of God, which are much bigger than religion realizes.  Consider these scriptures:  (Hebrews 2:10): For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory…”  (Romans 8:29): For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He (Jesus) might be the firstborn among many brethren.” 

Regarding question 2:  For many reasons I can’t expound on here, (but you can just look around and see it), I do not believe the faithful nation Jesus spoke of, who will will bring the seed to fruition, has shown up yet.  The vineyard was taken from the Scribes and Pharisees, to be sure.  But as prophesied in this parable and elsewhere, Christianity itself has followed the path of the Pharisees.  It’s done this by exalting tradition (thus nullifying the seed – God’s word), silencing His prophets, and rendering the worldwide church, i.e. the body of Christ, immature.  Christianity wants the inheritance (heaven) selfishly.  They don’t truly care about the landowner or His vineyard, only what they can get from Him. 

This is going to change.  The church was prophesied to follow the path of religion and blindness for a season, so this is no surprise or accident.  But we are at the beginning of th third 1,000 year day since Christ, and the 7th 1,000 year day since Adam.  Prophesied to come is the arrival of a people, with no religious identity at all, who will bring God’s word to maturity, repair the hedge, begin making new wine in the winepress, and man the watchtower.  They won’t be religious, but they will follow God in spiritual ways that don’t make sense to many.  Jesus will be their Lord – not in word, but in reality.  They will walk as he walked – devoted to their Father, attentive to his voice, and concerned with truth rather than morality or self-improvement.

If you want to be a part of that people, I believe the surest way is to deny yourSELF (including all the religious knowledge you’ve gained) and seek desperately to hear God’s voice, develop intimacy with Him, and follow Him on a daily basis.  The standard of a follower of Jesus is not ANY religious ideas or Bible verses, but God’s present voice.   He speaks today, Spirit to spirit.  Get your mind quiet and free of pre-conceptions and begin to let Him teach you in the spirit.  Amen.

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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The Parable of the Vineyard, Pt. 2

In Mark 12:1-12 or Matthew 21:33-41, you can find Jesus’ parable of a landowner and his vineyard.  It can also be found in its entirety in part 1 of this blog, posted on 04/04/2013.

I have found that Jesus never wasted words, so each of the things in this parable represents something important.  It’s also important to notice that the Bible specifically mentions Jesus spoke this parable to and “against” the Pharisees.  Therefore it’s has an anti-religion meaning, which the Pharisees represent.

The landowner represents God Himself.  The vineyard represents the area where God’s seed has been planted.  The seed represents the word of God, His voice (Jesus said seed represents the word of God in Luke 8:11, as did Peter in 1 Peter 1:23).  The hedge around the vineyard represents an established  boundary between the vineyard (immature kingdom of God) and the rest of the world (the kingdom of darkness, devoid of truth).  The winepress represents the ability to contain, process and obtain new revelation of Truth (wine represents revelation of Truth).  The tower represents the ability to discern and fend off enemies of the Kingdom.  All these things God built Himself, with the primary goal of producing and protecting fruit.

The vinedressers represent religion and law, typified by the Pharisees in Jesus’ day and Christians in ours.  Their only task was to ensure the newly-planted seed matured into fruit while the landowner was away.  Notice, the landowner leased the vineyard to these vine-dressers, for a set time.  He never intended for them to inherit it.  So too, religion and law was “hired” by God for a season only, but will not inherit His Kingdom.  Paul wrote of this in Galatians 3:24-26 and elsewhere.  These vinedressers had no real relationship or communication with the landowner.  The servants of the landowner represent the prophets.  These men weren’t a part of the vineyard (religion of Christianity), but had something better – a relationship with the landowner.  They cared about His desires and were sent directly from him.  Their task was to check for ripe fruit and report to the landowner.

When the servants arrived, the vinedressers beat, murdered, insulted them and sent them away “empty-handed.”  Interestingly, Jesus doesn’t say why they responded so violently, but it’s obvious they had strong feelings toward these servants.  I believe the vinedressers, lacking a relationship with the landowner, didn’t believe these servants were truly sent from him.  Second, I believe the vinedressers acted violently because these servants exposed their failure – the fruit they were supposed to nurture never matured.  I think also the watchtower was unmanned, the hedge was broken allowing pests and thieves in, and the wine-vat was empty.  As a result, the vinedressers feared losing their position and security.  Fear, stemming from a lack of relationship and concern for the landowner was behind all of this.  Their vinedressers were only concerned with themSELVES.

Similarly, many Christians oppress the true prophets of God today because they don’t really know or care about God.  They just like what He’s given them and can do for them.  When the Bible says the vinedressers “shamefully treated” the servants, the Greek word literally has the idea of insulting and discrediting them.  Many do this because their message is so contrary to what they know and hold dear, and they love the security of tradition over the pursuit of truth.  Religion hasn’t changed in 2,000 years.  God’s prophets are still in effect”beaten” or “killed” by religion, with the same goal in mind – SILENCE.  The prophets expose the failure of the religious to nurture the seed to fruition and their ignorance of the landowner’s heart.  Selfish religion just wants them silenced.  Jesus was saying an encounter with the “hired” religious establishment leaves the prophets wounded, silenced, and discredited.

The son of the landowner represents Jesus Christ.  Jesus tells us the vinedressers, in accord with their selfish nature, saw the son’s appearance as another opportunity for themSELVES.  In the parable, their twisted minds reason since they were hired to care for the vineyard, if the landowner’s only son was killed, they would by default inherit the vineyard for themselves.  They recognized him as truly teh son, but they killed him and threw him out, just as they had the servants.  I don’t believe it ever occurred to them that the landowner could instead give the vineyard to foreigners.  But He will.

The sobering truth is that the vinedressers in this parable mirror the religious within Christianity today, full of traditions of men, hypocrisy, blindness, and selfishness.  Christianity has a lot of “good,” so it’s easy to overlook their lack of true perception, but  atheists, Mormons, New Agers, and whatever else often labor diligently for “good” causes.   That’s not the issue.  The issue is producing sons of God, devoted to Him alone, with no selfish motive, who think like Him and have His spirit.  The walk in the spirit, which requires diligence and self-denial, has been shunned in favor of easy formulas and false guarantees.  Religion is based on fear of punishment, desire for reward, and enjoyment of blessing – not love for God.  It’s become about self-improvement, not self-denial and knowledge of the Father.  For the institution of “church,” it’s become about being attractive to the world and gaining “nickels, noses, and numbers.”  But God doesn’t care about any of these things like religion does. 

In part 3, which I will post soon, I want to look at where we are today and what Jesus prophesied is soon to happen.  A revolution is coming and the kingdom of God is going to truly be seen again.  Christianity as we know it is going to be destroyed and lose much of it’s influence as the body of Christ begins to follow the spirit of God, not the religion of Christianity, once again.  Amen.

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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The Parable of the Vineyard, pt.1

(Mark 12, NKJV): Then He began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a place for the wine vat and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country. Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that he might receive some of the fruit of the vineyard from the vinedressers. And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent them another servant, and at him they threw stones, wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully treated. And again he sent another, and him they killed; and many others, beating some and killing some. Therefore still having one son, his beloved, he also sent him to them last, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those vinedressers said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they took him and killed him and cast him out of the vineyard.“Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the vinedressers, and give the vineyard to others. 10 Have you not even read this Scripture:

‘The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.
11 This was the Lord’s doing,
And it is marvelous in our eyes’?”

12 And they sought to lay hands on Him, but feared the multitude, for they knew He had spoken the parable against them. So they left Him and went away.

If you didn’t read all that, I’ll summarize the parable.  A man built a vineyard, leased it out, and went away on a journey.  He sent some servants to check on the fruit of his vineyard, but the tenants watching the vineyard either beat or killed them, and left them with no fruit to take back to the master.  Finally, the master sent his own son in hopes the tenants would treat him better.  But the tenants saw this as an opportunity to kill the son and obtain his inheritance, which they did.  The master, upon his return, will destroy these tenants and give the vineyard to others.  In Mark 12:12, we actually are told that Jesus spoke this parable “against” the Pharisees (the religious establishment).

I am becoming more convinced all the time that Jesus’ earthly mission was as much anti-religion as it was pro-kingdom.  The two go together.  To build a new house, the old house must first be torn down and removed.  Learning a new habit often requires un-learning of an old habit.  Unlearning may be more difficult than learning, in fact.  To establish a new way of relating to God in spirit, rather than by law, the old way based on law and self-focused fear, which is the essence of religion, must be removed. 

As I type this, I remember that Jesus himself said this:  (Luke 5, NKJV)  37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. 38 But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved. 39 And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better.’”  Jesus wasn’t trying to sell some new wineskins for a little spending money.  I believe he was making a point about revealed truth.  If you try to put new wine (new revelation) into old wineskins (old mindsets and systems of belief), the new, fresh revelation will “burst” the old mindset and be “spilled” (lost).  It won’t work, and even the old mindset will be ruined.  First, you must get a new mindset (a process called repentance, see my previous blogs), and then the new revelation can be kept and used.

In my next post, I plan to look closer at the fuller meaning of the parable of the vineyard.  But believe it or not, the essence of this parable, which was spoken from the mouth of Jesus himself, is that religion, (no matter how “dressed up”), always focuses on self, always opposes spiritual growth and always hinders the expansion of the kingdom of God.  I’ll demonstrate this from Jesus own words next time.  Please check back, it’s an important message for the church today.

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Laodicea Summarized

(Revelation 3, ESV):  14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.  15“I know your works (labor): you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.

It’s critical to keep in mind that Laodicea, who Jesus speaks to, is a congregation of believers in Jesus Christ.   Laodicea means “a just/righteous people,” from the Greek words laos (a people) and dikaios (right or just).  As we will see, Laodicea’s righteousness was only in their own eyes.    

Interestingly, Jesus tells them exactly why he sees them as “lukewarm.”  (Revelation 3): 17 Because you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing…”  Laodicea is seen as lukewarm and nauseating, because they say in their heart that their condition is one of wealth and they need nothing.  Again, this is a congregation of believers which God recognizes.  I believe Laodicea says in their heart they are “rich” by believing in Christ, have “abundance” by doing good works, and “lack nothing” because they are saved and assured of going to heaven.  This is lukewarmnessJesus literally says in reality they are:  “undergoing a testing, pitiful, thoroughly destitute, blind, and naked.”   He then gives them counsel to repair their utterly destitute state.  The theme of his counsel is toward repentance from tainted understandings.

Jesus first counsel is to get “gold refined by fire.”  Here and everywhere else, he is speaking spiritually.  This “gold” represents that which in the kingdom of God is precious and leads to increasing wealth.  In scripture, gold is compared with wisdom.  Wisdom and understanding are the “gold” of God’s kingdom.  The fire that refines (purifies) this gold is the judgments of God.  I believe this primarily takes place within our heart, the core of our thoughts and beliefs.  When we undergo this fire, things based on men’s false wisdom are either consumed or made visible and then separated.  What remains is the precious “gold” of everything in our heart which is based on wisdom from God.  I believe many well-established religious ways of thinking and acting will be burned up in this fire.  We can only access God’s mind and heart by Spirit-to-spirit revelation.

The second thing Jesus says to buy is “white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed…”  Garments cover naked flesh.  In the spiritual, our “flesh” reprents our SELF, the “me, myself, and I” part that always cries out to be catered to.  Self can be very religious, but it always opposes God.  It must be crucified and covered.  I believe the “white garments” here represent the righteousness and purity of Jesus Christ Himself.  As self is daily put to death, then one can receive this white garment.  God recognizes nothing else.  Many things we see as “good” have been tainted by self and God sees them as ”wood, hay and stubble” to be burned or disgusting, “filthy rags.”  Self is the filth that stains our spiritual covering.

Finally, Jesus counsels Laodicea to buy “eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see.”  In  Matthew 6:22-23, Jesus spoke of the singular eye” (spiritual perception) which gives light within, which can be “clear” or “bad.”   The word “clear” is the Greek word haplous, essentially meaning an unmixed, sound whole.  Jesus is saying that one’s spiritual perception (eye) needs to be without any mixture of the false teaching of men or unclean spirits, which Jesus calls darkness.  An “eye” that has this mixture is called “bad” and results in total darkness.  Jesus warns if the “light” (truth and understanding) we claim to have is actually “darkness” (deception and confusion), then this is the most extreme darkness there is.  This is why the Laodicean attitude of “no need” while in darkness is so dangerous.

“Eye-salve” is the Greek word kollourion, which comes from a base word meaning “glue.” “Anoint” likely just means to “rub in.”  Our natural understanding is the “eye” Jesus said in Matthew 6:23 is bad and results in total darkness.  The “eye-salve” Jesus offers will glue shut this bad eye and cover it with the presence of the Holy Spirit.  1 John 2:27 says: “you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie…”  To perceive spiritually based on the “sight” of this anointing is the “clear” eye that Jesus says will produce a body full of light (truth).  But first, the “eye-salve” must be applied to glue shut or negate everything else.  If this is not done, then the natural, carnal understanding/perception will remain the “light” within, which Jesus calls the most extreme darkness.  God forbid.

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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