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Truth and Evil

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“For everyone who does evil hates the light, and doesn’t come to the light, lest his works would be exposed (reprimanded). But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his works may be revealed, that they have been done in God.”1

The verse above contains more than I can try to explain here, so I want to focus on one aspect of it which really hit me recently, regarding the contrast being highlighted.  It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that Christianity, the religion that has regrettably formed around Christ and his teachings, is rooted in the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, instead of the Tree of Life. This shouldn’t be the case, but it is.

Because so many of us were raised in this pseudo-spiritual environment which is rooted in the wrong tree, our understanding of God and His will has been distorted to see everything naturally. Outward behavior becomes a primary focus, and spiritual concepts such as good and evil are understood as actions that we perform. But notice that John compares those who do evil with those who “do the truth.” Think about that – do the truth!  The spiritual opposite of evil isn’t goodness, it’s truth. Evil fears being exposed as flawed by the light, but truth welcomes the light because truth comes from the Father and the light will only reveal more of Him.

Let me mention this: Jesus didn’t come to earth and die so we can go to heaven someday, or so that we can avoid torment in hell. That’s a shallow and extremely selfish understanding. Jesus came to open the way to the Tree of Life in the earth again, to restore spiritual vision and freedom to God’s people,2 paving the way for the Kingdom of God to be manifested on earth as it is in heaven. We’re involved in this process and God does love us, but salvation is toward a bigger end than us, our personal happiness or eternal security.  What really important is the will and Kingdom of God, and our hindrance or cooperation with its establishment.  

Jesus’ teachings and parables (both before and after his death and resurrection!) were almost entirely about the Kingdom of God! Acts tells us Paul preached the Kingdom of God right up till his death. We MUST begin to have a spiritual, Kingdom perspective if we are to ever begin to understand the scriptures and the Father’s heart. From a Kingdom perspective, good and evil become defined very differently. Good is what comes from in the Tree of Life and the heart of God (which are the source of Truth), furthering the Kingdom of God (His rule and reign) on earth.  Evil is what comes from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the mind and heart of man, hindering the will of God being done on earth.

Here’s a harsh statement that I only say because it’s true: much of what religious men, including Christians, see and do as good, God sees as evil.  I cannot put a blanket statement on each and every thing, nor am I the judge of anyone.  But I know that in God’s sight (which is very different than man’s), religion, including Christianity, is evil.  Again, not evil as we understand it in the sense of “bad,” but evil in the very real sense of being founded in the mind and will of man, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and therefore a distraction and hindrance to God’s kingdom.  Men presume to know what God desires and what His Kingdom should look like and then go about doing that, but God sees and labels the result “evil.”  Those who practice this religious evil avoid the “light” of God’s spirit and Jesus’ teachings because it will expose (literally: “reprimand”) their work.  Regardless of how good it appears in our own eyes, everything done from the mind of man, the Tree of Knowledge, is evil in God’s sight because it is a distraction from and hindrance to the Kingdom of God.

We aren’t the King. What we like, what makes sense to us, the way we think things should be, doesn’t really matter at all. We have to deny ourselves – our religious selves! if we’re truly going to be disciples of Jesus and walk as sons of God.  Let’s welcome and seek out the light of God’s spirit within, to expose what is evil and let us repent.  Let’s honor our Father and seek to have all our works be “done in God,” not our religious selves.  As always, I include myself in these things.  Amen.

  1. John 3:20-21 WEB ®

  2. Luke 4:18

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Love, Life

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“By this we know love, because he laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”1

“…Always carrying in the body the putting to death of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus may be revealed in our mortal flesh. So then death works in us, but life in you.”2

Something I’ve been thinking about lately is life, in the spiritual sense the term is used in scripture (I wrote about life and the law it a little bit here).  I think life is such a huge and important thing, but something we don’t really understand or possess naturally.  I lately had the realization that there is no life without love.  But what is love, and what does it look like to love God and love others?  That’s what I hope to look at a little bit here.  I pray the spirit of God takes these inadequate words and uses them to do what only he can – reveal truth to the soul.

Jesus and the first apostles had much to say about love, and many of their statements lead me to believe that in their eyes, love is the greatest and highest thing.  Jesus said the greatest love any man can have is to “lay down his life for his friends.”3  If that’s true, then understanding what it means to lay down your life should help us understand what love is.

In each of the several scriptures that mention laying down your life, the word “life” is a translation of the Greek word psuche, which is also frequently translated “soul.”  Psuche refers to the part of us that isn’t physical – our thoughts, emotions, opinions, will, desires, etc.  To lay these things down literally means to set them aside, to neglect them.  Therefore, the greatest love is to set aside and neglect your own rights, feelings, opinions and desires, no matter how justified or strong they are, in order to benefit your “friend.”  Love is always self-sacrificing, but to set aside your very soul in favor of another is the greatest love.

Jesus didn’t want believers to become Christians, but disciples; those who exactly follow their master’s teachings and way of life.  According to Jesus himself, to be his disciple you must do 3 things: deny yourself (lay down your life), take up your cross (endure hardship and opposition), and follow him (his example, his way).4  In John 13, Jesus knows his time on earth is coming to an end and he has only one more chance to make a statement to his disciples before he is crucified.  Here’s what he does: “Jesus…arose from supper, and laid aside his outer garments. He took a towel, and wrapped a towel around his waist. Then he poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”5 

Notice that Jesus first “laid aside” his outer garments.  Lay aside and lay down are the exact same in Greek.  This is symbolic of laying down one’s life.  After Peter protested that Jesus was too good to wash his feet, Jesus said: “You call me, ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord.’ You say so correctly, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Most certainly I tell you, a servant is not greater than his lord, neither one who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”6   If Jesus wasn’t above washing the feet of impure men, we absolutely aren’t either.  Jesus knew that in a few hours, Peter was going to deny him and Judas was going to betray him, but that’s wasn’t the point.  

Jesus said he came so that we may have LIFE in greater abundance (not necessarily an “abundant life” as men think of it).7  This life is the spirit of God active and powerful within us, but many of us seem to remain without much experience of this.  I believe one reason is that we have pursued life by knowledge and scripture, but what this life demands is love.  The cross we are to carry is the often painful laying down of our life that is the core of love – repaying good for evil, blessing when we are cursed, forgiving from the heart, showing unconditional kindness and mercy.  In fact, Jesus’ sole commandment to his followers is that we love one-another like he loved us – without condition or ego.8  In other words, that we lay down our lives.  When Jesus was on earth, though he had access to unmatched spiritual and natural authority on earth and in heaven, he didn’t assume the role of a God, superior to men.  Instead, he humbled himself and became a servant of men.  He took the lowest place, and helped elevate others.  He had no home, and all but a few rejected him in the end.  He often withdrew alone, and he shunned fame and notoriety.  If you want the divine life Christ came to give, you first have to lay down yours.  That’s love.

I pray this was edifying and challenging, and God willing I’ll have a part 2 of sorts posted soon.  As always, there is more, and deeper avenues to these things, seek them out!  God bless you. 

 

  1. 1 John 3:16 WEB (R)): 
  2. 2 Corinthians 4:10-12 WEB (R))
  3. John 15:13
  4. Matthew 16:24
  5. John 13:3-5 WEB (R))
  6. John 13:13-17 WEB (R))
  7. John 10:10
  8. John 15:12
 
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Posted by on January 13, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Go, Bring, Build (From Haggai 1)

Haggai 1 (NKJV):

1 In the second year of King Darius (mighty, ruler), in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying, 2 “Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying: ‘This people says, “The time has not come, the time that the LORD’s house should be built (the people of God do not truly believe the time is NOW for true revival, for the will of God to be done on earth as it is in heaven).”’”  3 Then (again) the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying, 4 “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?” (Do you really believe it’s the time to edify yourself or the religious structures of man, while ignoring the spiritual shambles of God’s temple (His people))?  5 Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways! (Look at the fruit of your foolishness and selfishness):

6 “You have sown much, and bring in little;
You eat, but do not have enough;
You drink, but you are not filled with drink;
You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm;
And he who earns wages,
Earns wages to put into a bag with holes.” (Despite their religious labor, God’s people are spiritually barely scraping by).

7 Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways!  (Look at the fruit of your ways – your ignorant, foolish and selfish ways). 8 Go up to the mountains (spiritual realm/in the spirit/in Christ) and bring wood (spiritual building materials – Truth, revelation knowledge, wisdom, power…) and build the temple that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified,” says the LORD. (Repent and begin doing your part to bring restoration and correction to the body of Christ.  Only connection with and submission to Christ, the head, will produce fruit, pleasing and bringing glory to the Father).  9 “You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. (Though God’s people expected to possess lasting fruit, God Himself prevented them).  Why?” says the LORD of hosts. “Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house (we have been occupied with our own affairs, particularly our own church/denomination/view, or our own salvation and sanctification, while the body of Christ at large, God’s temple, is in ruins). 10 Therefore the heavens above you withhold the dew, and the earth withholds its fruit. 11 For I called for a drought on the land and the mountains, on the grain and the new wine and the oil, on whatever the ground brings forth, on men and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.” (God Himself causes total spiritual barrenness among His people, despite their labor and expectation, because they have neglected the state of God’s temple in order to care for that which directly concerns themselves).  

12 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people (the “elect” discussed in the New Testament), obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him; and the people feared the presence of the LORD. (They heeded God’s word as given through Haggai, and reverenced/desired God’s presence). 13 Then (after their repentance – change of mind) Haggai, the LORD’s messenger, spoke the LORD’s message to the people, saying, “I am with you, says the LORD.” (God reminds them He is for them, not against them, like Romans 8:31).  14 So the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest and the spirit of all the remnant of the people (God Himself stirred their spirits); and they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God, (they did as God said, going to the “mountains,” getting “wood,”  and beginning to work on His house, not just theirs) 15 on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month, in the second year of King Darius.”

-I believe this chapter contains a call God has given to all with ears to hear, summarized as “go, bring, build” (verse 8). 

-This passage (and others similar to it) reminds me of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:33:   “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  If we will be more concerned for the kingdom of God (build His house/temple) than we are our own “house” (that which interests us, religious/spiritual or otherwise), He will add all we need.  Otherwise, we may labor but will never experience abundance or rest.

I’ll probably look at the actual rebuilding of the temple, discussed in Haggai 2 and Ezra, next time, so come back!  God bless you.

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Absence of Love Brings Death. One Thing Needs to Die…

…And they loved not their life even unto death.”  (Revelation 12:11 ESV)

Let me point out a few things before I tell you what I believe this phrase means, which I find shocking.  The word “even” was added by the translators.  The word “loved” is Greek agapao, a verb meaning “to love” and “to welcome or entertain.” Life” is the Greek word psuche, which is most often translated “soul.”  The word “unto” is the Greek word “achri,” which is most often translated “until,” meaning “to the point of.”  The same phrase translated “even unto death” in Revelation 12:11 is used in Acts 22:4, where Paul says of his former self: “I persecuted this Way to the death,”  meaning he diligently persecuted followers of the way of Christ, refusing to quit until they were killed. 

With the above in mind, I believe the last clause of this verse literally means: “they actively and continually shunned and refused to regard their soul, until it died.  This is huge, and actually mirrors what Jesus emphasized during his ministry. 

Matthew 13:34 clearly states that in public, Jesus only taught using parables – physical symbols representating deeper, spiritual things.  Therefore, when Jesus said that to follow him we must take up our cross and lose our life (psuche) for him in order to find it, he wasn’t speaking of literally carrying a piece of wood or dying physically.  He’s speaking of losing our soul-driven, self-devoted life for a spiritual life that is founded on devotion and relation to God.

Remember, the call of Jesus is to pick up our cross, deny our self AND to follow him.  Unlike the common understanding, the self-denial Jesus had in mind isn’t about restricting what you eat, what you do, what you buy, where you go, etc.  It’s deeper than that.  You can restrict all those things without any change of heart toward God and without following Christ.  It’s about refusing to edify, promote or defend yourSELF.  Self-denial is really the total absence of awareness of or regard for self, PERIOD.  All the various forms of self-improvement and self-restriction that are promoted in the church and the world still bring focus to self, so they aren’t self-DENIAL

Self-denial is critical to following Jesus, because you can’t be aware of and concerned with yourself and God simultaneously.  Because a believer has become a member of the body of Christ and is called to total devotion to the Father, self has no place any longer.  The life of a disciple of Jesus is about giving heed and pursuing God’s kingdom only and ignoring the loud demands your selfish (and often religious) soul will make – demands to be heard, respected, acknowledged, and obeyed.  Sometimes the soul will demand you conform to a certain standard it sees as “good” or “holy.”  But holiness is simply devotion to the Father’s voice, which often makes no sense to the soul, which is “rational.”  

The phrase “they loved not their life” means these people actively and consistently gave no love – no compassion, tolerance, welcome, kindness, patience, recognition or obedience to their SOUL, until it became powerless and essentially died.  Absence of love results in death.  This is a hard process, but a vital one.  One thing that’s been on my heart is that if I’m going to suffer, at least let it be for a love-driven pursuit of God and His Kingdom – His will being done on earth.  Nothing else is worth it.

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Laodicea

(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. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.”

Many Christians believe that Laodicea, as the final church addressed by Jesus in the first chapters of Revelation, represents the “last days” church age in which we are living now, in which “lukewarmness” is rampant.  Be that as it may, I do think the church of Laodicea closely mirrors many believers today, and so the indictments and counsel Jesus gave her are very relevant for us here and now.  I actually think this is a vital word for our day when properly understood.

I have been taught and believed that Laodicea means “lukewarm.”  But it’s doesn’t.  It literally means something we would almost consider to be the opposite.  Laodicea means “people of righteousness,” or “a just/righteous people.”  It is a combination of the Greek words laos (a people) and dikaios (right or just).  As we will see, Laodicea’s righteousness was only in their own eyes (self-righteousness) and maybe in the eyes of others (outward righteousness),  but not in the eyes of the Lord (inward, true righteousness).  I believe God sees righteousness differently than Christians often do.  At the cross of Christ, everything radically changed in terms of what God desires, what pleases Him, and how we should relate to Him.  The Laodicean, “just and righteous” church and anything it may represent is one of which Jesus Christ has not one positive thing to say.

Much is often made of Laodicea being “lukewarm.”  The thinking goes that to be lukewarm means to be apathetic, as evidenced by little or no involvement in ministry, minimal bible study and church attendance, rationalization of sinful activity, etc.  But here’s the main problem with this line of thinking: it’s simply not what Jesus said lukewarm is.  If you read closely, you’ll see Jesus explained exactly why he finds Laodicea to be lukewarm.  This is a conditino that makes him nauseous and ready to vomit. Look at the emphasized part of Jesus’ words below:

(Revelation 3): 16So, 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.” 

Jesus calls them lukewarm and nauseating because of the self-confident, complacent attitude of their heart and their lack of perception of their true state.  Laodicea says (in their heart): “I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.”  This literally translates as: “I am rich, have an abundance, and have no need whatsoever.”  Let’s remember, Jesus said his words were “spirit and life” (John 6:63).  Jesus was concerned only with the Kingdom of God; his Father’s will being known and done on earth.  I believe all of Jesus’ words and teachings were, first and foremost, speaking of spiritual realities.  He came to declare and pave the way for the spiritual kingdom of God, who is Spirit (I wrote of this idea more fully in my very first post on this blog).  The spiritual realm is deep within the “inner man” of each one of us, where the Kingdom is.  The natural, literal/physical mindsets and interpretations of scripture that are prevalent today have contributed to the spiritually emaciated and blind state of so many believers, no matter how outwardly “righteous” they are.

If this is the case, then Laodicea isn’t lukewarm because of their riches and lack of need materially, and they aren’t lukewarm because of their lack of good works.  Their lukewarmness is attributed to their belief that they are spiritually rich and without need.  Laodicea (the righteous people) have come to a place where they are so blind they have no sense of their pitiful condition and desperate need.  The scary part is they probably are totally convinced of their spiritual “wealth,” while Jesus says they are, literally “undergoing a testing, pitiable, thoroughly destitute, blind, and naked.”  Such is the true state of Laodicea, the “righteous people.”  When Jesus’ words are seen correctly, as spiritual states, the horrible and ghastly reality of Laodicea’s condition becomes apparent.  More could be said of each of these states, but the basic meaning of each is sufficient to get the Lord’s meaning.  

Much of Christianity today teaches us to pray a “sinner’s prayer” in order to be saved, and that once that’s done, heaven is assured.  That’s really the goal of Christianity – to get to heaven and to avoid hell.  It’s not ultimately about God, it’s about SELF.  God is in the picture, but ultimately, only as a means to serve self.  And sure, self is thankful!  The righteousness of Laodicea is a self-righteousness that is based on self-confidence, believing that one has “arrived” and needs nothing else.  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.  But it’s all deception.

It’s hard to overstate how precarious and scary the condition of Laodicea is, especially because those within Laodicea don’t realize their true state (ask God to give you light on your true condition, reader).  However, Jesus doesn’t leave them helpless, he gives them counsel to return to true righteousness.  In my next post I plan to look closer at the counsel he gives.  God bless you.

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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