Friday, October 29, 2004

Blessed Are the Poor

Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt 5:3).

Blessed is makarios, which means "happy." Poor is ptochos, meaning (according to Strong's concordance): "reduced to beggary, begging, asking alms; destitute of wealth, influence, position, honour."

So the Kingdom belongs to people who are, spiritually speaking, hungry, begging for nourishment from God. There are tons of analogies in the Word that present the Lord as food for the believer. The manna given in the Tanakh (Exodus 16, Numbers 11) to the Jews in the desert was a picture of God spiritually sustaining His children. He provides all we need.

Jesus said He is the bread from heaven:

John 6:57-58
Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." "Sir," they said, "from now on give us this bread." Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven." They said, "Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, 'I came down from heaven'?" "Stop grumbling among yourselves," Jesus answered. "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: 'They will all be taught by God.' Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever."

Jesus gives the overcomers--those who have followed Him until the end--the hidden manna at the end of the age:

Revelation 2:17
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.

Ezekiel and Revelation have similar passages where the Word of God is ingested by a prophet about to speak messages from the Lord:

Ezekiel 3:1-4
And he said to me, "Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the house of Israel." So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. Then he said to me, "Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it." So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth. He then said to me: "Son of man, go now to the house of Israel and speak my words to them.

Revelation 10:8-11
Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me once more: "Go, take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land." So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, "Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey." I took the little scroll from the angel's hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour. Then I was told, "You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings."

What does this have to do with spiritual poverty? Spiritual poverty is brokenness, hunger, thirst. It's realizing you are in a humble and beggarly position before the Lord: Lord, feed me! Sustain me! We cannot survive without Him.

Matthew 4:4
Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'

We can do nothing without God, just as the body cannot live without food and water.

John 15:5-6
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned."

I long to be spiritually poor, in the way Jesus is talking about. I want to know how much I need Him--in the same way that I know I need food every day, in the same way that I know I am thirsty and need a drink.

Lord, make me aware of my need for You. Make me understand my poverty so I don't think I am self-sufficient. You are my portion.

Keep me clothed in humility, so I will not parade around ignorantly naked. I thank you that you are FOR and not AGAINST those who call on Your name!

Revelation 3:16-18
So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Media Choices and the Christian

A version of this article can also be found on This Gospel.

The Word of God, the Bible, is the believer’s authority. What does God's Word say about what we see and how we spend time? We are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), so just as nothing unclean was allowed to enter the temple in the OT, so no unclean things should enter our hearts:

2 Chronicles 23:19 (Holman)
He stationed gatekeepers at the gates of the LORD's temple so that nothing unclean could enter for any reason.

And we are now the Lord's house! Psalm 101:1-7 can certainly be applied to TV, movies, magazines, and other worldly media outlets:

I will sing of lovingkindness and justice,
To You, O LORD, I will sing praises.
I will give heed to the blameless way.
When will You come to me?
I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart.
I will set no worthless thing before my eyes;
I hate the work of those who fall away;
It shall not fasten its grip on me.
A perverse heart shall depart from me;
I will know no evil.
Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy;
No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure.
My eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me;
He who walks in a blameless way is the one who will minister to me.
He who practices deceit shall not dwell within my house;
He who speaks falsehood shall not maintain his position before me. (NASB)

The word for “worthless” in Psalm 101 is beliyaal, which also means “wicked, good for nothing, unprofitable.” The Psalmist sets NO wicked thing before his eyes. Think of the images in so many magazines, movies and TV shows. They despise Godly ideas and practices, and they promote rebellious and licentious ones.

Nothing we do escapes the notice of God. Often a man’s life is described in the Bible as a “walk” that is “before the Lord,” meaning that God sees everything we do in our daily lives.

Prov 5:21 (NLT)
For the LORD sees clearly what a man does, examining every path he takes.

Eph 5 shows clearly how we are to live as followers of Jesus Christ:

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person--such a man is an idolater--has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Dabbling in the world's distractions (certain media, 'entertainment') is a foolish waste of time for a Christian. We only have a tiny bit of time here on earth; God has given us lots to do. In addition, we issue an invitation to the enemy to speak to us and influence us when we voluntarily listen to and watch wicked images or linger over writing that exalts sin.

Eph 4:27
Do not give the devil a foothold.
Don't give the Devil an opportunity. (HCSB)

"There's only one nude scene; "Just a few curse words."

The real question is: what does GOD want from the life of a disciple? We are called to reject this world's way of looking at things:

Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

We are to be a living SACRIFICE to our Lord; we were bought by Him (1 Corinthians 6 and 7) and we don't belong to ourselves. Discipleship calls for radical separation from the things that are of the world (and therefore are of Satan himself). We cannot afford to be deceived.

We are running a race; we are fighting a battle for our lives. How we spend our time and the choices we make about entertainment influence our character. All the little behavioral choices in your life add up to present the essence of who you are.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NLT)
Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win. All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misses his punches. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

The scripture below from Proverbs has, in my opinion, a spiritual connotation as well as a physical one. If we fall asleep spiritually, we'll be robbed of spiritual growth and power, and eventually of spiritual life itself. The enemy seeks to devour those who are not alert (1 Peter 5:8-9):

Proverbs 24:30-34
I walked by the field of a lazy person, the vineyard of one lacking sense. I saw that it was overgrown with thorns. It was covered with weeds, and its walls were broken down. Then, as I looked and thought about it, I learned this lesson: A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.

All the scriptures below apply to a Christian’s choices regarding worldly media. Paul says that we are not to be ignorant of the devil’s schemes (2 Cor 2:11), and we are to be armed against them (Eph 6:11). Since we have an enemy seeking to deceive us, we must examine our thoughts, hearts, and patterns of behavior, checking them against the Word of God.

Matthew 6:22-24 (NLT)
"Your eye is a lamp for your body. A pure eye lets sunshine into your soul. But an evil eye shuts out the light and plunges you into darkness. If the light you think you have is really darkness, how deep that darkness will be!

Romans 13:11-14 (NLT)
Another reason for right living is that you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for the coming of our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So don't live in darkness. Get rid of your evil deeds. Shed them like dirty clothes. Clothe yourselves with the armor of right living, as those who live in the light. We should be decent and true in everything we do, so that everyone can approve of our behavior. Don't participate in wild parties and getting drunk, or in adultery and immoral living, or in fighting and jealousy. But let the Lord Jesus Christ take control of you, and don't think of ways to indulge your evil desires.

2 Corinthians 6:13-18 (NLT)
I am talking now as I would to my own children. Open your hearts to us! Don't team up with those who are unbelievers. How can goodness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the Devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? And what union can there be between God's temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: "I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore, come out from them and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don't touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."

Romans 2:1-16 (NLT)
You may be saying, "What terrible people you have been talking about!" But you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you do these very same things. And we know that God, in his justice, will punish anyone who does such things. Do you think that God will judge and condemn others for doing them and not judge you when you do them, too? Don't you realize how kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Or don't you care? Can't you see how kind he has been in giving you time to turn from your sin? But no, you won't listen. So you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself because of your stubbornness in refusing to turn from your sin. For there is going to come a day of judgment when God, the just judge of all the world, will judge all people according to what they have done. He will give eternal life to those who persist in doing what is good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and practice evil deeds. There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on sinning - for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. But there will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who do good - for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism. God will punish the Gentiles when they sin, even though they never had God's written law. And he will punish the Jews when they sin, for they do have the law. For it is not merely knowing the law that brings God's approval. Those who obey the law will be declared right in God's sight. Even when Gentiles, who do not have God's written law, instinctively follow what the law says, they show that in their hearts they know right from wrong. They demonstrate that God's law is written within them, for their own consciences either accuse them or tell them they are doing what is right. The day will surely come when God, by Jesus Christ, will judge everyone's secret life. This is my message.

Romans 6: 19
I speak this way, using the illustration of slaves and masters, because it is easy to understand. Before, you let yourselves be slaves of impurity and lawlessness. Now you must choose to be slaves of righteousness so that you will become holy.

Heb 12:14 (KJV)
Try to live in peace with everyone, and seek to live a clean and holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.

Colossians 2:20 (GNB)
You have died with Christ and are set free from the ruling spirits of the universe. Why, then, do you live as though you belonged to this world?

I urge you, by the Spirit, to take inventory of your own life, particularly the things you put before your eyes. As you walk before God: Is it profitable? Is it wicked? Is it leading you away from the Lord and keeping your mind and heart focused on worldly things? Can you invite Jesus to participate? Would you feel weird or peaceful if He sat beside you while you watched that movie, TV show, or read that magazine?

Be honest with yourself and God.

Al Dager and Media Spotlight

I am so glad that Al Dager, publisher of Media Spotlight (, is on the mend. Like my own father, Al recently had heart trouble, but while my father's artery was able to be opened without open-heart surgery, Al did have to go through that procedure.

Al is an amazing disciple of Jesus. Since 1977 his writings have been blessing those who are hungry for truth. It's not that Al is always right--who is?--it's that his heart is for the Lord, and he is unafraid to have an understanding of Scripture that runs contrary to popular teaching if need be. Ryan and I found Media Spotlight at a time when we really needed to know that there were people out there who were interested in following the teachings of the Bible, who were serious about their walks with the Lord, and who were willing to draw boundary lines between good and evil, exposing the unfruitful works of darkness (Eph 5:11).

Thank you, Al, for all you do for the Lord. I am thankful you are still here to edify and encourage us.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Exciting Warnings?

Those two words don't seem as though they'd rightfully go together--exciting warnings?--but when you're talking about the Bible, they do.

The Word of God is replete with warnings, both to those who are believers (in an active and responsive covenant with God) and to those who are unbelieving and subject to His judgment. The essence or intention of the warnings, though, is similar: God wants anyone who is in rebellion, who does not know Him, or who is straying from Him to be turned away from their sin. He wants them to know what He did for them and that His mercy can extend even to them, IF they will repent of rebellion against Him, making up their minds to turn away from wrong, and start obeying Him.

I was thinking about that today as I read Malachi. In Chapter 2 of Malachi, God is warning the priests to change their ways. They were not honoring His name, and they were supposed to be spiritual leaders of the people! God compares the priests He is warning with Levi, a priest who behaved righteously:

Malachi 2: 4-7 (NIV)
I have sent you this admonition so that my covenant with Levi may continue," says the LORD Almighty. "My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin. For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek instruction--because he is the messenger of the LORD Almighty."

Unlike Levi, the priests God is speaking to dishonored His name. He gives them a shocking warning I'll get to in a minute.

Many times professing Christian leaders today will present the God of the Bible as so meek and mild that He would never hurt someone's feelings or offend anyone. That is not true, and it tries to present a facet of God's character (his meekness, mercy and tenderness) while leaving out the absolute justice, righteousness and holiness that make His judgment imminent for a sinful world.

The truth is that God will judge those who live unrighteously, no matter what they profess or what their 'position' is before Him. You can see an example here in Malachi: the priests didn't get a license to do whatever they wanted because they were priests. In fact, look at what God said to them:

Malachi 2:3 (NLT)
I will rebuke your descendants and splatter your faces with the dung of your festival sacrifices, and I will add you to the dung heap.

Yep, you read that right. God will splatter their faces in fecal matter. Why? God always has a purpose for what He says and does, just as you would expect of a good father.

Malachi 2:4 (NLT)
Then at last you will know it was I who sent you this warning so that my covenant with the Levites may continue," says the LORD Almighty.

The bottom line is that God wants them to WAKE UP so that His covenant with them may continue. Anytime we see a warning that applies to us, there is a reason that warning is there. God isn't arbitrary or cruel--He's loving and merciful and just. He wants us by His side.

I mentioned that warnings are exciting. Maybe that sounds strange, especially given the above passage. Who wants to be warned?! But the part I find exciting is this: God cares enough about me (and you) to warn us when we get off track, or to warn us not to get off track. He loves us! It's exciting to be His child and to be loved enough to be disciplined in order to spend forever with Him--because only the righteous will enter the Kingdom.

Hebrews 12:5-7
And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:
"My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?

free hit counter

Thursday, October 21, 2004

So Now the Good News

Robert's "Lawlessness" article demonstrates clearly from Scripture that people, including you and me, have rejected God's ways and Law in favor of doing things our own way.

Going your own way, though it is glamorized by Satan, leaves you separated from God--unable to have a relationship with Him because of your sin (rebellion against Him, His Law, His ways). This gap between God and man, as Robert illustrated, began in the garden of Eden, but you and I are no different than Adam and Eve in the choices we've made. We've all stood there at that tree, either entirely deceived (like Eve) or knowing what we're doing and choosing wrong anyway (like Adam). Either way, we've all chosen against God and stand condemned before Him, consigned to eternal separation from Him, without hope of connecting with Him. He's HOLY, righteous and perfect! We're like Isaiah, of a people of unclean lips. What can we do?

This is the good news: Jesus came to reconcile us to God. He's the promised Messiah of the Tanakh (Old Testament), the Son of God in the flesh, the only acceptable, blameless, perfect sacrifice once for all for the sins of all men.

Isaiah 53, the "Suffering Servant" passage, is all about Jesus, written hundreds of years before His birth as a man. Notice how the bad news and the good news are presented together: we all have gone astray, but the Lord has laid on Him, Jesus, the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53
Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

He bore our sin on the cross, which means he took the wrath of God poured out on the sins of the world--so that we could be with Him. So that we could be presented clean and pure, like a bride on her wedding day is presented to a groom--instead of being ashamed in our filth.

That is the good news in a nutshell: that God cared about us enough--even after we totally rebelled against Him--to send His only Son to reconcile us to Himself.

Matthew 21:33-44
"Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit. The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. Last of all, he sent his son to them. 'They will respect my son,' he said. But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, 'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him and take his inheritance.' So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?" "He will bring those wretches to a wretched end," they replied, "and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time." Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures:
'The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes'?
"Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed."

God sent the Prophets to preach righteousness and call people to repentance. He sent His Son to gather the hurting under His loving wings. Will you be broken by falling on your knees and surrendering your ways and your life to the Lord, or crushed at Judgment Day, if you have not repented and followed Jesus, the Holy One who gave Himself for you?

2 Corinthians 5:17-19
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

free hit counter

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

What is the Gospel?

My friend Robert recently launched his website ( He's worked on the articles on that site for years--I edited a few of them. One of Robert's passions is getting out the true gospel: what is the 'good news'? Why is it so good? Why do you need it?

The truth is, you can't even understand "good news" until you know the whole story, which includes the bad news. Have you lied...ever? Did you ever show disrespect to your parents? Did you ever steal anything? If so, you'd have to agree that you've broken at least one of the Ten Commandments, outlined in Exodus 20:1-17. So before the God who created everything and who therefore gets to set the rules, you're a lawbreaker. (See and

Being guilty of lawlessness before God is a big deal. Below is Robert's document "Lawlessness." You can also find it at After understanding more about being lawbreakers before God, we can better understand our need for Him and begin to talk about what He's done to rectify our lawless state. That's the good news, to be discussed later.

Lawlessness (an article by Robert Wiktorski)

Do you hate rules? I do in the flesh. I try not to be rebellious, but let's be honest, I am. Jesus is not rebellious. I used to think of him that way. I could see him overturning the money-changer's tables in the temple. I thought he was out to destroy the sacrificial system and the law of Moses. I did not realize he was cleaning greed out of his father's house. I thought he spoke against the Pharisees because he was against the Law of Moses-and they followed it too strictly. I was wrong. I clarify the place of the law for today's believer in a document entitled "law".

After I got saved, I decided to read the entire bible from cover to cover. It took me a while to "get through" the Old Testament, which I sometimes now refer to as the "Tanuch". It was not as obsolete or pointless as I had expected it to be. I had heard jokes about Leviticus as pleasure reading, and how the law was dry. However, it helped deliver me from the spirit of rebellion or lawlessness that was still lurking in the dark corners of my new Christian experience.

I began to see God's law as a boundary between the Kingdom of the World and the Kingdom of God: A way of defining who is He is and who He is not, a way of understanding His holiness and my lack of it--viewing Christ as the bridge to become one with His identity.

Matthew 19:16-17
Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?" "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments."

God’s identity was first revealed to humans through rules.

Genesis 2:15-17
The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."

He offered a rule and consequence, as any loving father would. As long as they obeyed the law, they did not give authority to the devil, the prince of this world.

Genesis 2:25
The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

After they broke the spiritual wall of God's protection (in breaking the law), and let the devil into their minds, they hid from God.

Genesis 3: 6-11
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?" He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid." And he said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?"

Their innocence had been corrupted by the knowledge of evil. They gained a concept of good and bad. Who did they gain it from? Can it be trusted? Everyone has opinions of what is good and bad for them.

Proverbs 14:12
There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

So they traded God's rules for their own. They traded God's law for their own law. Eve had three reasons why eating the forbidden fruit was GOOD. She reasoned that it would not be wrong to eat it. She made her own law. She rejected God's law in the process. (I think she had some help in making her own law. Don't we all?) She felt like God's law was too strict and wanted to see how much she could get away with. After all, how wrong could eating fruit be?

John 3:6
Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.

Romans 8:6-7
The mind of sinful man [or mind set on the flesh] is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace;
the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so.

Romans 13:14
Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

Philippians 3:3
For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh...

Fleshly thinking, or thinking in our own strength, leads us to reject God's law in favor of our own law that we figure out. This is a deadly type of law and it needs to be continually replaced with God's law.

Psalm 19:7 (KJV)
The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. {law: or, doctrine} {converting: or, restoring}

Psalm19: 7-14 (NIV)
The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Joshua 1:8
Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

Psalm 1:2
But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

What our opinion of GOOD is does not matter. We are not lawmakers, but children. The Father and the Law are good. They are one in Christ.

Romans 7:12
So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.

Christians seems to like to talk about what they think is good and bad. They try to get me to join them. They tried that with Jesus too.

Matthew 19:17
"Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments."

The question for the believer is not: 'what is good or bad?' The Law already tells us that. The question should be: 'what is the Lord's will for me right now?'

Psalm 40:6-10
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. Then I said, "Here I am, I have come-- it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart." I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, as you know, O LORD. I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and salvation. I do not conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly.

Ephesians 5:17
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is.

The Old New Age

The essence of the humanistic New Age movement is this: Humans are good and can decide what is good is. Is the New Age "new," though? Where did Eve's ideas come from? Who was tempting her?

Genesis 3:21
The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

In verse 22, it looks like the New Age movement wins, with man as equal to God. Verse 24 brings truth back into the distorted picture. Human knowledge of good and evil is inherently corrupted and vain. Humans need God's law. They will not be able to approach him without submitting to it, as the warrior cherub's sword will ensure.

Enmity against the law's fulfillment

Genesis 3:15
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.

Indeed Christ crushed the serpent’s head on the cross. However, Christ’s heel was also bruised in attempts to resist suffocation. Even from the beginning, the spirit of Messiah, who expresses and fulfills the law, has always been at enmity with the spirit of this world—the spirit of the air—the spirit of antichrist.

Genesis 4: 1-8
Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, "With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man." Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." Now Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go out to the field." And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

The spirit of AntiChrist even attacked Christ’s lineage in hopes that he would not be born:

Galatians 4: 28-31
Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. But what does the Scripture say? "Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son." Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.

Then they tried to kill him after he was born.

Matthew 2: 13, 16, 19, 22
When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him."....When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi....After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt...But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee

They finally got him when he was around 30, but by then, he had already fulfilled (and was fulfilling) God’s will.

The Spirit of Lawlessness

The law’s fulfillment is in Christ, and through Christ. The spirit of lawlessness hates Christ and his obedience through others by the Spirit.

2 Thessalonians 2: 1-17
Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God. Don't you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

Notice Paul’s advice to not give in to lawless “spirituality” by standing firm in the true apostolic message and person of Jesus Christ as He strengthens them in fulfilling the law by the Spirit through every good deed and word. What does he mean by “lawless”?

Mark 15: 27-28
They crucified two robbers with him, one on his right and one on his left, and the scripture was fulfilled which says, "He was counted with the lawless ones" (Isaiah 53:12)

Hebrews 10:17
Then he adds: "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more."

2 Peter 2:7
And if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)...

1 John 3:4
Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.

Peter reiterates Paul’s warning against teachers of lawlessness, or antinomianism.

2 Peter 3:17
Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position.

Jude continues this warning against apostasy via lawless doctrine and practice.

Jude 3-4
Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

Let’s look at more about the Biblical warning against lawless men:

2 Peter 2: 1-22
But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them--bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)--if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment. This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority. Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings; yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord. But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish. They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you. With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed--an accursed brood! They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness. But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey--a beast without speech--who spoke with a man's voice and restrained the prophet's madness. These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity--for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its vomit," and, "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud."

Then he concludes the next chapter by referring back to the same lawless false-grace teachers:

2 Peter 3: 14-18
So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

So he warns that while he and Paul are on the same page concerning lawlessness, some false teachers will try to distort Paul’s true grace message into a lawless one. These teachers take advantage of the fact that Paul’s writings are hard to understand. It is easy to take some of Paul’s sentences out of context to purport an antinomian position.

Some scriptures I have memorized only because I have heard them quoted so many times by so many lawless Christians. I wish I could say that they were not quoting these scriptures to purport lawlessness. However, it seems like they take these scriptures or slogans to hint that you can do whatever you want and God still loves you and you’re still saved:

“all things are permissible….”
“there is no condemnation…[leave out the part about for those who are IN Christ]”
“it was for freedom that Christ set us free”
“I’m free from the law”
“Are you spying on my freedom?”

2 Peter 2:18-19
For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity--for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.

Truth teachers do not misuse scripture and quote 'cool' Christian slogans though:

2 Corinthians 4:2
Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.

2 Timothy 2:15
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

free hit counter

Monday, October 18, 2004

Sites of Note

Blessed Hope Chapel ( is a doctrinally strong and loving fellowship; I've been listening to messages coming out of that church for several years, and I've been blown away. BHC is very scripture-focused and intent on learning what pleases the Lord. Make sure you see the site for their Fight the Good Fight ministries ( Hollywood Unmasked 2 is coming out soon, by the way. My favorite video is still "Rock N Roll Sorcerers of the New Age Revolution," taped in 1992 by Joe Schimmel. Nearly all of the bands and musicians he talks about in that video are still wildly popular today--and still inspired and powered by the same enemy of Jesus. Don't believe me? Check it out. Joe meticulously documented everything; the words in the video, for the most part, aren't his--they're either God's (Scripture) or the musicians' own words. The upshot: Satan has been behind rock since its inception with an agenda--to keep you from turning to Jesus and living for Him.

Lisa and Gary Ruby put many great articles on

free hit counter

Launch of 'Walking Circumspectly'

Welcome to Walking Circumspectly.

free hit counter

In case you're wondering where the blog name came from, I've posted the relevant scripture below--in KJV and NLT. 'Circumspect' in the Koine Greek is akribos, which means "exactly, accurately, diligently." Walking as one who is not unwise, but wise, redeeming the time.

Ephesians 5:11-17 (KJV)
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

Ephesians 5:11-17 (NLT)
Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, rebuke and expose them. It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. But when the light shines on them, it becomes clear how evil these things are. And where your light shines, it will expose their evil deeds. This is why it is said,
"Awake, O sleeper,
rise up from the dead,
and Christ will give you light."
So be careful how you live, not as fools but as those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days. Don't act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do.

It is good, and I think it's worthwhile, to examine culture, life, society, current events--and anything else that comes up--in light of the Bible and the discernment that comes from the Holy Spirit. God didn't give us the Bible so it would sit on a shelf and get dusty.