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How to Block Faith and Prevent Righteousness

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“I have come in my Father’s name and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, who receive glory of one another and the glory that comes from the only God, you do not seek?” -Jesus                      (John 5:43-44 MLV)

As I first learned from Jason Henderson of http://www.marketstreetfellowship.com, there really aren’t separate words for “believe” and “faith” in the Greek language, which the Bible was originally written in.  In the Greek, the word usually translated “believe” is pisteueo, which is just the verb form of the Greek noun pistis, which is translated “faith.” These words are so similar because they both come from the same Greek root verb, peitho.  So, in scripture, to “believe” is nothing more or less than to use faith.

Perhaps in part because the Bible uses both “faith” and “belief” to translate the same basic word, we have come to think of “faith” and “belief” as the same thing, defining them roughly as: “a mental confidence that something is true or reliable.  Of course, everyone has such a belief and puts it to use on a daily basis.  This is fine, but we need to realize that mere belief is both unreliable and spiritually inadequate.  While genuine faith INCLUDES a “mental confidence that something is true or reliable,” scripture makes it clear faith often includes something more, a spiritual component.  While everyone has belief, scripture says faith is given by God in various portions, and some have none at all.  In a nutshell, faith could be defined as “a divine gift of perception and insight, allowing one to agree with and walk in line with spiritual truth and reality.”  (See footnote 1 at the bottom for more scriptures).  In this way, faith enables righteousness, because without faith, we cannot perceive the ways of the Spirit and cannot walk according to the Father’s heart and will.

Understanding that faith involves using the gift of spiritual perception changes the meaning of many scriptures.  For example, in the passage at the top of this post, Jesus isn’t saying that those who “receive glory of one another” instead of God cannot “believe” in the sense that they cannot mentally agree with certain facts about God.  Instead, those who receive the glory of men cannot receive and have FAITH, and therefore cannot receive the grace of God or walk in righteousness.2  What Jesus actually said is this: “you cannot perceive and walk in the path of divine truth, when you selfishly receive and give glory and esteem to one-another, but do not seek the glory and honor of the only God, the source and object of faith.”

So, if you want to ensure that you are not able to walk in faith and righteousness, then make sure you are more concerned with receiving or giving esteem to other men than you are with seeking the esteem of God alone.  The lesson here, to me, is that if I want to continue to be granted faith and walk righteously with God, I must be sure that I am not in any way occupied with giving OR receiving glory/praise from men.  If men esteem you, fine.  If they don’t, fine.  But what is NOT fine is to in any way seek to be praised or esteemed by anyone but God, or put someone else in the place of esteem which God alone should occupy.  If we do, then according to Jesus we will be prevented from walking in faith and maintaining righteousness.

I know that “righteous by faith alone” is a central tenet of Christianity, and it’s true, but righteousness is not the same thing as justification!  We are justified and sanctified once and for all, by the death and resurrection of Christ, but one can be justified and sanctified without being righteous, because righteousness is a state that is maintained by faith, in which one is seeing and walking according to God’s heart and will in the present moment!  We will not face God’s wrath or end up in an eternal hell, period.  But we’ve got to move past the purely selfish focus on where we end up, and focus on the far bigger matter of God’s Kingdom!  If we want to walk with God and establish His Kingdom on earth, we must maintain righteousness by continually walking in faith. 

As I’ve said before, I believe humility is the prerequisite for just about everything of spiritual value we can receive or be a part of. 

“But don’t you be called ‘Rabbi,’ for one is your teacher, the Christ, and all of you are brothers. Call no man on the earth your father, for one is your Father, he who is in heaven. Neither be called masters, for one is your master, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you will be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
(Matthew 23:8-12 WEB (R))

So, my aim is to humble myself before God, to acknowledge my weaknesses and propensity for error, and seek to be taught by Him alone.  As I rest in the fact that my Father is good and loves me, regardless of what happens in my natural life, as I rest in the fact that He will never leave or forsake me and dwells within, I can begin to let go of the beliefs and religious obligations I have accumulated out of fear and regard for men, and start the walk of faith and righteousness.

Bless you!

 

 

  • Footnote 1:
    • Romans 12:3: “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
    • 1 Corinthians 12:7-9:  “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit…”
    • Ephesians 2:8: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God…”
    • 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2: “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith.”
    • Hebrews 11:3: “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”
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Posted by on October 15, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Deception 1: Something When Nothing

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For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.” (Galatians 6:3 KJV)

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”  (Galatians 2:20 KJV)

 

Believe it or not, if you examine them closer, you’ll see the two verses above are actually speaking of essentially the same thing.  I’m going to look at this, because they contain an essential truth, one I’ve been sharing about often as of late.

The common fear-based mentality of “act right or be punished” will, AT BEST, lead to a shallow and incomplete understanding of the spiritual truths the apostles wrote about in the Bible.  Spiritual things go deeper than surface-level outward behavior.  For example, many Christians read Galatians 6:3 (quoted above) as something like this: “if a man thinks he is acting righteously when he is hypocritically living in sin, he deceives himself.”   Maybe there’s some shallow truth in such an interpretation, but what Paul really said is this: “if a man considers himself (that is, his flesh) to be alive or better than others, when in reality all flesh is dead and worthless, he deceives himself. 

Do you see the great difference in the two? The first attitude, which is surely the far more common one, has to do solely with outward behavior. Equating spirituality with obedience of outward laws will ALWAYS lead either to self-righteousness or self-condemnation.  These are equally deadly, because both keep the focus on SELF, working exactly like spiritual cancer in that they keep the flesh alive when it should be dead (that’s what cancer cells do, look it up)!  The second interpretation, which Paul meant, is not directed at behavior, but at recognizing what God did in Christ (ended the flesh and brought the reign of God to earth through the Spirit), and beginning to see and walk accordingly, with the Life that is implanted within!

That being said, allow me to highlight Paul’s foundation for stating the flesh is worthless and those who value it are bound to be deceived.  He gave this foundation earlier in this same letter to the Galatians, in chapter 2 verse 20, also quoted above.  What he said is that since he had seen by revelation that he (and ALL flesh) had been crucified with Christ, he no longer considered himSELF as being alive or capable of producing anything (spiritually) alive. 

In Philippians 3:7, Paul wrote of undergoing a radical change, so radical that the very things he once saw as profitable and desirable, he now found worthless and gross.  The basis for this radical change was receiving the revelation of Christ as the “last Adam”1.  Before this revelation, he valued his own works and was proud of his impressive law-keeping.  But, by the grace of God, he was shown that the only “life” within him, the only thing righteous, was Christ, the Spirit of God.  Knowing this and knowing himself, Paul remained on guard against thinking ANYTHING that came from himself was of spiritual worth or usefulness.

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So what does this mean, what should we be doing differently? That’s the so-called million dollar question, but there’s really no direct or cookie-cutter answer other than “follow the Spirit.”  Remember Jesus saying in John 3:8 that a spiritual person is like the wind, which cannot be predicted or followed? I believe at least one point he was making was that the Spirit of God is not like the law, with its strict set of do’s and dont’s. The walk of a spiritual man is different – the law becomes inward, written on the heart (Jeremiah 31:33, Romans 2:15, Hebrews 8:10 and 10:16). Carnal/fleshly man cannot discern what is and isn’t spiritual, it takes spirit to discern spirit.

So, I have no specific directions for you, other than to seek to know the presence of God within you, nurture it and listen to it and desire its growth, and patiently follow its leadings and promptings.  Sadly, this is what most of Christianity has failed to do, choosing self-preservation and religion over sacrificial love and the walk of the Spirit.  What I can say is that following spirit will lead you into love and sacrifice and truth (and persecution from the religious who are threatened), and away from religion and pride.  For me, as I’ve (very slowly and still very imperfectly) learned to follow the Spirit, I am finding love and peace and kindness and compassion present within me, coming forth more and more without effort.  When I’m walking in the spirit, I’m not TRYING to love – it’s just there within me. I’m not TRYING to be patient or kind, I just AM. I’m also not worried about God’s wrath or judgment if I screw up, because I know that God has already judged and condemned those same things I want to be rid of. If I fall short, I am thankful to recognize it, and I simply press onward.

I realize I’ve written about this same essential idea in most of my last several posts. But for whatever reason, this is what I am seeing and what is coming out of my heart right now. I hope it blesses and challenges you. Others are saying these same basic things more powerfully than I am, but there you go.

I love you with the love of Christ, and am in this with you : )

 

  1. 1 Corinthians 15:45
 
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Posted by on August 2, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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The Deceitfulness of “Sin”

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Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”  (Hebrews 3:12-15 ESV)

It’s so easy to lose focus on the central issue in one’s walk with God – the inward, invisible heart.  In the passage above, the one thing we must take care to avoid is a “falling away (literally: departure) from the living God.”  We’re told that this departure is a result of an “evil, unbelieving heart,” and that an evil, unbelieving heart is a heart which has been hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.  That all sounds great, but WHAT DOES IT MEAN???

I don’t think this was intentional, but I see a general progression given in these verses: deceitfulness of sin → hardened/evil/unbelieving heart → departure from the living God.  The starting point seems to be “the deceitfulness of sin.”  I think sin remains greatly misunderstood.  You can quit or avoid all kinds of bad actions, but still remain in “sin.”  Sin isn’t a set of actions, it’s an inward nature or power.  For example, scripture says that sin can dwell within us and that it “desires” certain things.1   Under the old covenant, sin was essentially the violation of the law as given through Moses.  Sin had to do with behavior.  But in the new covenant, Christ has redeemed us from the old way of the law to the new way of the Spirit.  He has become our one, final propitiation (sacrificial offering) and “taken away” our sins.2  Sin now has to do with the one’s spirit.

Within the new covenant, sin could be defined as anything which does not conform to the heart of God or the love of the Spirit.  Sin is the nature of the flesh, the fruit of the carnal mind.  In that light, sin is actually much more broad and dangerous than a bad attitude or behavior.  In God’s eyes, sin could look like following the law instead of the spirit, or promoting religion and judgment instead of love and mercy.  It could look like refusing to consider or accept another viewpoint, or holding to tradition over revelation.  Sin in God’s eyes could be many of the “good” things which religious men promote.  A prophet once said: “maintaining truth without revelation is deception.” 

Sin and what Paul referred to as “the works of the flesh” are related, but not the same thing.  Galatians 5:19 says that the works of the flesh are “evident” or “manifest,” meaning they are easily seen and recognized; things including violence, drunkenness, sexual deviance, jealousy, debauchery, etc.  If you see those things, you immediately know the flesh is at work.  However, sin is different.  Sin is said to be deceitful, meaning that it can be very subtle and difficult to recognize.  The serpent in the Garden of Eden was said to be extremely “subtle” or “crafty.”  His temptation wasn’t for Adam and Eve to do something outright evil, but simply to be like God!

All that said, let’s look again at the phrase  “the deceitfulness of sin.”  First of all, in chapters 7-10 of Hebrews you’ll find the most plain statements in the entire Bible that sin (as it was known to a Jew 2,000 years ago) is no longer an issue which believers need worry about.  In these chapters we are told things like: Jesus purged our sins, made reconciliation for our sins, that God will not remember our sins and iniquities anymore, that there is no more sacrifice for our sins after Christ, that there is a “remission” of sins, that sin has been “put away” in the offering of Christ, that we need have “no more consciousness of sins,” and that we have been “perfected forever” by the offering of Christ.  So, I don’t believe the “deceitfulness of sin” is simply being somehow tricked or tempted into doing bad things (“sinning”). That’s “sin” under a covenant of law.  Hebrews 9:15 (ESV) says: “Therefore he (Jesus) is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.”

I think falling away from the living God begins with sin’s subtle nature (deceitfulness) causing us to mislabel and fail to recognize it.  Therefore we may remain in sin and darkness, all the while being satisfied with our behavior/performance or preoccupied with issues which God has put away from Himself in Christ.  This causes a “hardened heart,” meaning a mind which resists new truth or ways, because we’ve been deceived into thinking we’re following God already.  The result is “falling away from the living God,” meaning ceasing to commune with God and walk by fresh spiritual revelation and insight (faith) into current righteousness.  Righteousness is by faith, and is maintained by fresh faith.  Because our human nature, which is inherently sinful, is always bent toward the natural realm and way, including law and behavior as a means of righteousness or judgment, we are to “exhort each other daily” to live in the new way of the spirit, abiding in Christ, and refuse to return to the natural way of law, fear, and deception.  

 God bless you, thank you for reading.  I hope this was edifying.

 

 

 

  1. Romans 6:12, 7:20
  2. Galatians 3:13, Romans 7:6, 1 John 2:2, 1 John 3:5
  3. Titus 3:9-11
 
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Posted by on February 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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The Fatal Flaw

“If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”1

 “Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”2

 In both of these verses, Jesus is speaking of the Jewish religious leaders, scholars, and teachers, and to those who followed them. What he said is extremely relevant to examine, because what was true of them has become true of the church today.  

 Jesus proved he was from God in many ways, not the least by performing life-restoring miracles and teaching with genuine authority.3  Sadly, while personally witnessing these things, the religious Jews were oblivious to what was happening (the ending of their season) and were only concerned with the threat to their elevated status which Jesus posed.  He frequently warned and lamented the state of the Jewish religious leaders, and told his disciples that they and those following them were blind and going to end up in a “pit,” separated and excluded from the path of walking and communing with God.  It’s very sobering.

 Though the Jews had many flaws, I think one in particular was fatal: they claimed to see. Their claim was founded on their lineage from Abraham, their status as God’s chosen people, and most of all in their knowledge of the law of Moses and their diligence in keeping it. Ultimately, their trust was in themselves, contrary to Jesus’ way of total self-denial.  In reality – things from God’s perspective – they were blind, hypocritical, and opposed to what God was doing through His son, right under their noses.   

Let’s look at the broader context of the first verse I posted above: “And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see; and that those who see may become blind.” Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things, and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”4

As always, Jesus is referring to spiritual things and is concerned with the heart.  Jesus said he actually came to this world for “judgment.”  This is not talking about condemnation or punishment; the Greek word for “judgment” means to make a distinction.  Naturally speaking, the distinction (judgment) between blindness and sight is determined by the ability to receive and process “light,” which is a common metaphor in the New Testament basically meaning revealed truth from the spirit realm.  Therefore, those with “sight” are able to discern divinely revealed truth and understand it, and those who are “blind” cannot, often following the reasoning of their own human mind and becoming confident in their own righteousness.

Put simply, those who are without sight are those who in their heart know and admit their need for light, while those who claim to see are those who in their heart believe they have no need.  Jesus said if the Pharisees acknowledged their need for light, they would have had no sin.  Amazingly, Romans 3:25-26 states that God passed over the sins committed prior to Christ, in order to demonstrate his righteousness and justice in the season of the new covenant in Christ.  If they had only admitted their need for light (their blindness), the Pharisees would have discerned the new thing God was doing in Christ (been able to see) and had their sin removed by Jesus’ ransom payment.  Sadly, their contentment in their own righteousness and understanding of the law barred them from Jesus’ atonement, thus sin remained on their account.  Jesus knew that by his coming to this world, the self-righteous and confident would be nullified and blinded, and the humble and desperate would be given grace and enlightened.

 It’s essential we depend on God, who is spirit, for our sight, which is largely what the process of repentance is about.  This doesn’t come from reading the Bible, which is evident if you look around Christianity.  Ask God to grant sight to you.  Righteousness is ONLY that which conforms to God, so humble yourself.  You’ll begin to see that presumption and blindness are rampant among even devout and zealous believers.  But if the church will humble herself and begin to diligently seek for God and for truth in the spirit realm, I believe a revolution will take place.  Many are saying that such a revolution is coming soon and has already started.  Get ready.

  

  • 1. John 9:41

  • 2. Matthew 15:14

  • 3. Matthew 11:20-23, Mark 6:2, Acts 2:22

  • 4. John 9:39-41

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Good, or Righteous?

“And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.”  (Mark 10:18).

“Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.  For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry.” (1 Samuel 15:22-23)

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments…” (1 John 5:3)

Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’  (Matthew 7:22-24)

Good and evil are two concepts which can be debated endlessly as to their origin and meaning.  In this post, I want to focus on good and evil in light of the Kingdom of God, the supreme focus of Jesus’ life and ministry.  As I’ve said before, the kingdom of God on Earth is where the will of God is being known and done.  That’s the focus, the purpose, the goal of God in Jesus Christ.  Not to get us to heaven. 

For most, “good” is behaving selflessly or suppressing carnal urges.  “Evil” evokes thoughts of selfish or oppressive behavior.  Without question, selfishness and oppression are not pleasing to God.  But here’s the issue.  Doing good and avoiding evil, as seen from our human perspective, is not going to further God’s Kingdom and is not what God desires. 

Many believers have made a religion out of “good works,” and I see two main reasons for this:  1). To assuage a guilty and/or fearful conscience, fearing hell or judgment, and 2). A lack of connection with God in the spirit so as to follow His direction.  As I’ve said many times before, along with Christians, many Hindus, Atheists, Muslims, etc. are in favor of doing a degree of “good” works.  But this isn’t God’s kingdom being established.  If the primary focus of a beliver is on good behavior, he or she is really no more beneficial to God’s kingdom than an altruistic atheist. 

The primary Greek word for “good” is agathos and essentially translates “beneficial or upright.”  The primary word for “evil” is kakos and essentially translates “detrimental, not as intended.”  So we see that from a Kingdom perspective, good is what is benefits the Kingdom and evil is what is detrimental to it.  God wants righteous people, not “good” people.  Righteous = being in agreement with God.  Good = being in agreement with your conscience

The Kingdom of God is all about righteousness, while religion is all about goodness.  What seems beneficial to the kingdom in our eyes may actually be detrimental in God’s eyes.  Maybe God wants someone to suffer a while in order to reach them or steer them.  Maybe God wants one of His servants to be occupied with their family, or investing in a single child’s life, or spending their time sitting in His presence seeking and learning from Him.  Sadly, in many cases this servant is busy with church work or some humanitarian cause, thinking in their heart something like ” Look how good it is and how many people I’m affecting! Surely this pleases God?”  Forget that.  If it’s not God’s will, He’s not impressed.  See the 1 Samuel 15 verse at the top of this post.  God desires obedience, not sacrifice.

If you want to help the poor or do some other good thing in Jesus’ name, I’m not here to stop you.  What I’m saying is, make sure that what you are doing is what God desires, not what your conscience does.  Only this will further His kingdom, and only this is recognized by God as good.  He reveals His will to the spirits of those who seek Him in love.  Anything else is dangerous.  We don’t want to be found to have been serving our conscience our whole life and to be a stranger to God.  Keeping the kingdom first in mind – do good!   :  )

 
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Posted by on October 1, 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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Jesus’ Advice to Laodicea

(Revelation 3:18-19)  “I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich, and white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see.  (19)  ‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent.

(1 John 2:27):  “And as for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and 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, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.

 It’s critical to keep in mind that Laodicea, who Jesus speaks to, is a “church,” a congregation of believers in Jesus Christ.  As I discussed last time, Laodicea means “righteous people,” referring to their self-perceived righteousness.  These “christians” believe in their heart they are “rich” by believing in Christ, have “abundance” by their good works, and have “need of nothing” because they are saved and on their way to heaven.  However, Jesus exposes their true condition as deplorable, pitiful, and bankrupt.  Keep in the forefront of your mind that Jesus is speaking of their spiritual condition.  It’s a grave and common mistake, especially with Jesus’ words, to read scripture in a “natural” sense all the time.  He said he spoke in parables and his words were “spirit” and “life.” He also reminds Laodicea that his harsh rebuke and discipline is a sign of love, and he encourages them to zealously repent, which literally means to zealously reconsider their belief systems and to begin to perceive on a deeper level. 

Jesus first counsel is to get “gold refined by fire.”  This refers to gold that has undergone intense fire, which melts the gold and allows the impurities within it to be seen and removed.  Once Laodicea has this refined gold, Jesus says they will truly be “rich.”  The gold Jesus speaks of is simply that which is precious and leads to increasing wealth in the kingdom of God.  In scripture, gold is compared with wisdom, but wisdom is said to be far superior and God alone knows where it is hidden.  Wisdom and understanding are the “gold” of God’s kingdom

When you are taught by Jesus Himself, through the Holy Spirit (see 1 John 2:27 above), you can access this gold (wisdom) and become rich in the sight of God.  God doesn’t regard much of what men do, including religious men.  The gold Jesus counsels Laodicea to buy is imperishable and has been purified not with physical fire, but with the fire of God’s judgment which consumes and separates every spiritual impurity.  If this comes to our life, it can be painful and a cause for “fear and trembling,” but it’s also a cause for great rejoicing, because it means God receives us as His children. (Hebrews 12): “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.”  …But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.”  And as Jesus reminded Laodicea: “those whom I love, I reprove and discipline…” 

When we undergo this fire, that which is not from God is consumed or separated from the truly precious “gold” of all which was from Him.  I believe this primarily takes place within our heart, which is the core of our thoughts and beliefs.  In 1 Timothy 1:5, Paul says the goal of his teaching is “love from a pure heart…”  What “pure heart” means is one’s core of thought and belief (mind) which is untainted by the traditions, teachings, religious ideas of men and is therefore “purely” of God.  It isn’t having no desire for sinful things – that would be better called a “clean” heart.  I believe many well-established religious ways of thinking and their resulting “good” works will be burned up in this fire, because they were not based on God’s mind, but the minds of men.  We can only access God’s mind by Spirit-to-spirit revelation of truth and wisdom.

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…”  The purpose of a garment is to be a covering.  What needs covered?  The natural realm mirrors the spiritual realm.  In the natural, the shamefulness of our naked flesh is covered by our clothing.  In the spiritual, the shame of our “flesh” is also covered by spiritual “garments.”  Flesh in this case speaks of the focus on and obedience of SELF.  When self is the focus and is served, self is god and king.  Self/flesh is permanently opposed to God and must be crucified.  (Romans 8): 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,  7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so…  13 … for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die…”  (Galatians 5)17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh…”  24 Now those who are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” 

I believe the “white garments” here represent the righteousness and purity of Jesus Christ Himself.  Jesus became radiantly white when he was transfigured.  Angels who appeared to men were brilliantly white.  The “overcomers” (of self) in Revelation 3:4-5 are said to be clothed in white.  Once the pride of self in its good or its knowledge (see: the Pharisees) is humbled and the flesh is crucified, then one can receive the white garment of Jesus Christ himself.  God recognizes nothing else, as everything good that is of man is, according to scripture “wood, hay and stubble,” “filthy rags,” and worthless. 

Finally, Jesus counsels Laodicea to buy “eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see.”  Our natural eyes give us sight and perception of the physical realm.  We also have “eyes,” or faculties of perception, into the invisible realms of soul and spirit.  Paul spoke of the “eyes of your heart” in Ephesians 1:18, which he prayed would be “enlightened” by the Spirit of God.  In  Matthew 6:22-23, Jesus spoke of the singular “eye” (referring to one’s perception of the spiritual realm) which gives light within, which can be “clear” or “bad.”  Jesus says this “eye” should be “single” (KJV).  The word “single” is the Greek word haplous.  It literally means “without folds or braids,” in the sense of whole, single, uncomplicated, simple.  I think Jesus is saying that one’s spiritual eyesight/perception needs to be without any mixture of darkness caused by the traditions and teachings of selfish, fearful men, which causes confusion.  Jesus then warns that if the “light” (truth and understanding) we claim to have is actually darkness (error and confusion), then this is the most extreme darkness there is.  This is why saying one has “need of nothing” is so dangerous.

The “eye salve” Jesus counsels them to buy and to “anoint” their eyes with is the Greek word kollourion.  It actually comes from a base word meaning “glue,” and refers to a thick glue-like paste that would be applied to eyes to soothe them.  “Anoint” is the word egchrio, has some interesting possible meanings, but likely just means to “rub in” with the idea of “receiving.”  Priests were “anointed” with oil as a symbol of their intended function before God.  I think a literal translation of Jesus admonition here is to buy “eye-glue to rub in your eyes, that you may see.”  The idea is our natural, carnal eyes (human perception, often based on fear, tradition or confusion) being covered or glued shut, with the presence of the Holy Spirit covering them.  Again, 1 John 2:27, which I quoted at the beginning, 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, which John spoke of, requires first that “eye-salve” be applied to glue shut or negate one’s natural, carnal perceptions.  If this is not done, then the carnal, religious perception will remain the “light” within, which Jesus calls the most extreme darkness.  God forbid.

So, Jesus says to Laodicea, the self-righteous and spiritually satisfied and complacent, that if they want to have anything of spiritual value, they need three things:  1). Wisdom which is set on fire and requires a process of burning and separating impurities, 2). the righteousness of Christ himself which requires true humility and self-abasement, and 3). spiritual perception which requires the “gluing shut” of one’s carnal eyes.  My counsel for us all is to take Christ’s counsel earnestly, and to desperately cry out for wisdom, true righteousness, and clear sight.  Let us be still before God to learn of and be equipped by Him.  God bless you.

 
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