Archive for February, 2015

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Inhabitors of the Continuing City

February 24, 2015

The late Leonard Ravenhill made an observation concerning those among us who, from their heart, have let go of this worlds allegiances and have set their affections firmly upon things above. He spoke words to the effect of “they live in eternity six days a week, and on the seventh day, they come down to attend church.” Physically speaking, they are as much a part of this world as their neighbors.  They work and raise families; they are model citizens who may be found in nearly every facet of society. But their conversation, their perspective, and their focus is on the eternal. They cannot be enticed with shallow discussion and dead religion holds no place for them. They have a walk with the Lord Jesus that all of us strive to reach as they fully identify with the words of the apostle Paul. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.” 

For the saints in this category, eternal mindedness is no longer a theological construct. They dwell continually in the presence of Jesus and concern themselves primarily with issues of eternal significance. I feel woefully inadequate to embark on this as I am continually reminded of my own shortcomings. Subsequently, this is as much a “note-to-self” as it is an encouragement for all who love the Lord Jesus. To use an old cliche “we’re all in this together.” 

This post will involve a visiting of passages which are familiar to many of us. It’s likely that a number of them are carefully preserved in our memory and we visit them on a regular basis. As the days grow darker and the strong delusion continues to take on attributes that none of us were expecting, it is imperative that our focus is on the Lord Jesus and that our perspective is eternal. Satan plays to the three lusts like a skilled musician; incorporating the full emotional spectrum. from a euphoric sense of wellness to overwhelming despair, as he seeks to direct our attention away from that which is eternal and back to the itinerary of this world. These distractions may seem noble. Many will have a form of godliness. Pursuing them will oftentimes cause us to think to ourselves “I’m doing God service” as they lure us into a continuous loop of earthly focus and endeavor. If we make mention of them to other professing saints, many of them will not recognize the distraction as being such. We must have our senses exercised to discern between good and evil as we forgo the frivolous and lay hold of the eternal.

The first passage below is necessary because striving to be more like Jesus and less like us is a lifelong endeavor. At the end of any given day, we will have either become a little more like Jesus, or we will have surrendered territory which must be regained. We face pitfalls and distractions of a nature that previous generations did not have to contend with; due largely to the current state of technology, coupled with the steady rise of spiritual darkness as the final moments of the age play out. We must look to Jesus; focused squarely on the eternal, while nearly everyone and everything in our physical ambiance is trying to pull us into the vortex of perdition. 

Philippians 3:13-14 “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ.”

I become discouraged when considering where I desire to be spiritually……and then comparing it with an accurate assessment of my current state. These words are a remedy for anyone who, at times, finds themselves becoming overwhelmed by the journey and the issues that they struggle with. This passage is not a license to remain in a state of complacency or continual stumbling. Rather, it compels us to repent, get back up, and keep looking to Jesus. “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” (I John 3:3)

This next passage is the perfect summary to the listing of saints from past generations who maintained their testimony until the end. 

Hebrews 12:1 “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and run with patience the race that is set before us.” 

The great cloud of witnesses. A company which, since the time of this writing has grown beyond our comprehension. It now encompasses those who left this world at the hands of Islamic invaders, and the untold thousands who refused to agree to the unscriptural doctrines of Rome. It is composed of missionaries who left their nativity with no expectation of returning and evangelists who regarded not their own well-being as they brought the words of life to hostile shores. Pastors, farmers, craftsmen, a few statesmen who revered God more than their office – people from every generation and every walk of life, who, in the face of adversity and firey trial, maintained the testimony of Jesus while darkness swept across the land.  These have crossed the finish line; leaving behind a legacy of souls who were birthed into the kingdom and an example for those following who would be tried in like manner.

The message is clear. “Let go of everything that hinders and lay hold of eternal life; trusting in Jesus who is our faithful Creator and Redeemer.” As the days grow darker, it will become easier to let go of the trivial matters that currently hinder so many of us. The firey trial will do this. It silences everything that is irrelevant and amplifies the issues that truly matter. For one who is truly born of the Spirit, it brings the eternal into perfect focus; burning away every shred of lifeless religion and dissolving any residual fascination with the trappings of this evil place. Hebrews chapter 12 continues: 

Hebrews 12:2 “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  

From before the foundation of the world, Jesus was knew that a moment would arrive when he would be crucified at the hands of evil men. He was fully aware as this moment went from being thousands of years away to hundreds of years away…..and eventually just around the corner has he began his earthly ministry. When the moment arrived, we can see his agonizing as it was recorded by Luke “And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,  Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine be done. And their appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Regardless of what we may have to endure in this world, it will not even come close to the agony that Jesus went through on our behalf.

He could have called twelve legions of angels…..but didn’t. He could have come down from the cross when the mockers were compelling him to do so…..yet he remained. We must be continuously mindful, and eternally thankful, that our faithful Creator redeemed us with his own precious blood.He endured the cross and was faithful unto death. Three days later, he rose from the dead and is alive forever more. 

Hebrews 12:3 “For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”

We were once in absolute contradiction to the person and nature of the Lord Jesus Christ…..until that moment, when, in sincere repentance and desire to leave the old behind, we called out to him. It wasn’t simply a fire escape or a decision made while a fleshy praise team worked the crowd up into a frenzy. It was a sincere desire to follow Jesus. My personal story bears repeating. The moment that I believed on Jesus, there was no overwhelming euphoria or feeling of release. Quite the opposite. As I sat there “believing” that if I truly called on him and asked for forgiveness, he would do it. Then the strange “thought” came to me. it seemed to come from just outside my right ear. It spoke to me “you know that you can never live like that. Three or four days and you will be back to your old self again.” That thought from the enemy caused me to…think….and then proclaim with emphasis “NO! I’m tired of what I have been all of my life. I’m serious about this.” and I was. despite seasons of struggle and one lengthy season of backsliding, that day was the most important in my life. it was my one “turning point” in every sense of the word.

Hebrews 12:4 “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.”

And because Jesus overcame this world, and we have the Holy Spirit abiding within, we too can overcome the wicked one……even in a time of tribulation which Jesus warned us would be more severe than any other season of adversity; before or after.  Our time in this world is but a vapor that appears for a fraction of a second. Then we enter our eternal situation, “and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” I recently heard it described like this. This world is the only hell that a true Christian will ever know. This world is the only heaven that those who reject the truth will ever know.  The final two passages were actually part of a draft that involved a different topic, however, they fit this issue perfectly

James 4:8 “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.  Cleanse your hands ye sinners; and purify your hearts ye double minded.”

Revelation 2:17 “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone, a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.”

The first one encourages us to draw close to God and cease from the works of the flesh. To repent and turn from anything that separates us from the Lord Jesus and unite our heart to follow him without reservation. The second passage is one that blows my mind upon every remembrance. If I understand it correctly…..in the age to come, each of us is going to have a special name that nobody else knows except the Lord Jesus. Without a doubt, we will have an identity that is known to others, however, we will also have a secret name…..and only the Lord Jesus will know that name. WOW! Even now, it blows my mind that he can have a personal deep relationship with each of us at the same time…..as though we were the only person on the planet. But the words found in Revelation 2:17 carry this into a whole new dimension.  This idea is in the realm of things “too wonderful to comprehend while inhabiting a vessel of flesh and seeing through a glass darkly.”

A name that only the Lord Jesus knows. This is far more incredible than the grandest mansion, the widest street of pure gold, the indescribable features of a world with no ending,  or any other reward that one could receive, This is what comes to mind whenever my thoughts venture into heavenly placves. Being in the presence of Jesus and surrounded by the company of all who entered eternity with their testimony intact.  “For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” I’m looking forward to the moment when we are all gathered around the throne of God, who inhabits eternity. 

Blessings in Jesus name.

 

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The Faith of a Malefactor

February 17, 2015

All four of the gospels tell of them. In John 19:18, they are simply mentioned as being present. We learn nothing about them; only that they were crucified at the same time as Jesus with one being on his left and the other being on his right. In Mathew 27:44, we learn that these other two were thieves and that they “cast the same with his teeth.” In mark 15:32 we discover that “they which were crucified with him reviled him.” But in the gospel of Luke, we discover that, as they were in their final moments, one of these thieves had a revelation. A revelation which, not only highlights the truth that salvation is by faith alone, it reveals that Jesus will save anyone who turns to him in true repentance. Those who attempt to incorporate baptism, keeping of the torah, good works, church affiliation, or any other action into salvation cannot account for the thief on the cross. While good works and fruit will certainly follow as evidence that one has been born of the Spirit, they are not a part of the equation insofar as “what must I do to be saved?” The account regarding the thief on the cross is as follows:

Luke 23:39-43 “And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be the Christ, save thyself and us.
40 But the other answering, rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.
42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, to day shalt thou be with me in paradise. 
 

There is so much information contained in this short passage that relates to us today. The short of the matter is this: one of these malefactors went into eternity saved, and the other went into eternity lost. When we reach our final moment in this world, the only thing that matters is our standing with Jesus. All other endeavors, passions and titles become as nothing. Our treasures are scattered, our position is filled by another, and within a few decades, the memory of us is lost. A name on a tombstone, accompanied by two dates that carve out a span of time, will be the only indicator by which future generations will know of our venture through the land of the breathing. In regards to the two malefactors who were crucified at the same time as our Savior, they were secured into a situation which would end their time in the physical realm. As the minutes passed and reality set in, the reviling subsided. They began to respond to the inevitable in two different ways.

Luke 23:39 “And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be the Christ, save thyself and us.” 

One could write volumes on this statement alone as it reveals the hear of one who, despite being in their final moments, is unrepentant and unbelieving…….beginning with the words “if thou be the Christ.” There is a world of difference between “if thou be the Christ” and “I believe that thou art the Christ.” This man was in the situation which would send him into eternity. He would never again return to his friends or the life that he once lived. Next to him was the one person in all of history who could grant him eternal life…….and all that he could come up with was “if thou be the Christ.” Following this utterance, we find the motivation behind it. “save thyself and us.” In other words, he was making a last ditch effort to escape his situation and get back to where he once was. His thoughts were completely on the temporary, with no regards to the everlasting. Undoubtedly he had heard about a coming Messiah and most likely was aware of the stories about Jesus. But an unquenchable lusting for this world prevented him from giving thought to the everlasting, even though it was but a few short hours away.  

I fear that many professing Christians today are in the “if thou be the Christ” category. They may have a form of godliness and even be able to point to a date in history when they said a sinners prayer. But somehow, the word that they heard did not resonate and, instead of believing on Jesus, they are trusting in having said a sinners prayer……or…….like the malefactor mentioned above, they simply wanted to avoid hell and so they did what the presenter of the gospel instructed them to do. If there is not a distinct change in lifestyle and convictions following the saying of a sinners prayer, there was no conversion – it was merely the seeking of a fire escape. A truly born again saint will have a new nature which will manifest outwardly. The apostle Paul admonished us to give all diligence in settling this matter, as failing to do so will have everlasting ramifications. 

II Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”

The apostle Peter also spoke in regards to this: 

II Peter 1:10 “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: (please visit verses 5-9 for a listing of things that accompany faith)

The other malefactor began to give serious thought to the situation. Undoubtedly, he was aware of Jesus and knew that he had not engaged in any wrongdoing. As he hung between life and death, he must have heard the conversations going on nearby. The mocking of the soldiers, the hatred of the religious crowd, and the words of anguish spoken by those who knew and loved the Lord Jesus. The thoughts of the second malefactor were no longer on the temporal world; a truth that is revealed in his response to the first malefactors desire to escape this end. The life that he once knew was no longer in the equation as his thoughts turned to what really mattered. Besides, even if he were to escape this situation, death catches up to everyone sooner or later. A lifetime; be it a hundred years or just a few, isn’t even a drop in the proverbial bucket when compared to the everlasting.

Luke 23:40-41 “But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost thou not fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.” 

As his final moment was approaching, he understood the whole of the situation. He knew that he had been sentenced to this end; not because of any misfortune or betrayal, but because he had been caught engaging in unlawful activity. He also knew that Jesus was innocent. Not only was he innocent, he was going to his kingdom. This man understood who Jesus is.

Luke 23:42 “And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” 

He didn’t ask Jesus to save him; not even eternally. He must have thought that salvation was out of range at this point. he didn’t say a sinners prayer. He understood his situation had had resigned himself to accept his just reward. His only request was remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” But just when all seemed lost, he heard the most incredible words that anyone will ever hear. 

Luke 23:43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, to day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

From that moment on, the two thieves were on different paths. The one who believed has now been in the presence of Jesus for over two thousand years. In life he had been a criminal; moving amongst the shadows and securing gain at the expense of others. But as he was nailed to a cross for his participation in such deeds, revelation was granted. He realized who Jesus is……and that he was being crucified unjustly……“but this man has done nothing amiss.” In fact, during the thirty three years that he walked in a body of flesh, Jesus had been tempted in all points as we are, and was yet without sin. “And what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.” He had fed multitudes in the wilderness, cast devils out of those who were tormented in such manner, healed all manner of diseases, and shared the words of life everywhere he went. Finally, on an old rugged cross, he paid the sin debt of us all with his own innocent blood.

It is imperative to diligently give thought to our great salvation; lest we become forgetful and careless. Less something else becomes our first love and we begin drifting toward the jagged rocks. Lest we faint along the way and partake of that for which there is no remedy. It’s equally imperative that we do not complicate, or add to salvation by faith. Without a doubt, true salvation will produce fruit and result in works as such will be in the heart of one who has been born of the Spirit. But works can never save us. Even baptism is an act that one undergoes after believing on the Lord Jesus. If a person continually puts it off, it becomes questionable as to whether or not they ever truly believed on Jesus. 

I Peter 3;21 “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” 

Well I have to go for now. My prayer is that all of us will be continually mindful of a salvation so profound that none of our words are adequate in trying to describe how incredible it is. Each one of us; if we had died the day before we believed on Jesus, would be in hell at this very moment……along with the rich man in Luke chapter 16, the first malefactor, and all who rejected the love of the truth. May we look steadfastly toward Jesus and hide his word in our heart, as we navigate the most perilous season that the world has ever known; that being the end of the age.

Blessings in Jesus name.

 

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Kokuo no aru kaodachi kyoretsu – Hanketsu ga kuroppoi rikai suru

February 7, 2015

This posting must begin with two links to the same site. The first link takes one to the general homepage, where the latest teaching will always be located at the top of the page.  The second takes one to a specific portion of what is currently the most recent study.

Scott Johnson home page
Scott Johnson February 1 Teaching, part 3

 In the third part of the February 2, 2015 teaching, (second link) Scott Johnson discusses two aspects concerning the time of the end that none of us can easily dismiss. The first involves a person who could potentially be the notorious son of perdition.  We all wonder who will eventually move into that position.  The reason that the discussion is so important is that it highlights the elements of deception that will accompany the arrival of this fierce king…..regardless of who ends up fulfilling that role. The individual mentioned in the teaching, not only made an appearance wherein miracles were performed, a local Christian leader introduced him as Jesus. Prior to his appearing, another well known Christian evangelist prophesied that this guy would appear on June 11, 1988, which turned out to be the exact day of the appearing. This evangelist also referred to him as Jesus. To add even more intrigue to this, the travels of a then-24 year old Barak Obama brought him within a few yards of where this individual appeared.

Matthew 24:23-24 “Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there: believe it not.
24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. 

In the study, Scott Johnson touched on aspects of the incident that I was unaware of, such as the evangelist who “prophesied” the exact day of his appearing. This man is well known and respected among evangelical Christians. I have never taken time to study this man, or listen to his teachings, so my commentary here is strictly in regards to this single incident that transpired 27 years ago. An incident that reveals the dangers of following a man…..any man…..regardless of how legitimate they appear, how on track their teachings are, or how focused on Jesus they seem to be. None of us are completely immune to deception. The greatest danger that a saint faces is not deception from a way that is blatantly contrary to scripture, but from one that appears to be spot on. If such a one unwittingly places more emphasis on miracles than they do on that which is written, the danger becomes even more profound. 

I Thessalonians 5:21 “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”

It is not certain as to whether or not Mr. Obama had a direct encounter with this man. The fact that the Mr Obama just happened to be visiting the country at the same time as the appearing seems well beyond the realm of coincidence. What can be documented, however, is that right after June 11, 1988, Mr Obama was taken out of total obscurity and placed on the fast track to power.  He received favor in every facet of life and was repeatedly placed in positions that nobody with his limited level of experience should have been able to secure. He is now the president of the United States and can no longer mask the contents of his evil heart. Ever since he took office in January of 2009, he has diligently sought to advance every evil agenda that one can think of while doing irreversible damage to the nation that he now “rules over.” One of the primary attributes of a tyrant is that they bring great harm to the nation where they are in power. In regards to harm; both to the nation and its citizens, Mr Obama has done far in excess of any who occupied that office before him.

Two things have prevented Mr Obama from joining the ranks of Joseph Stalin, Adolph Hitler, Pol Pot, and similar vessels of Satan. One is the God who spoke all things into existence and with a word can either raise up a nation or bring down a nation.  This is the primary reason. Another element to consider is that miraculously (as in God is merciful) the machinery of democracy is still functioning. It has viruses; it has lost critical pieces of infrastructure, the people who understand how to maintain it are disappearing, and certain people who hold positions of authority have sought to redefine key sentences in its constitutional mandate. Nonetheless, those portions that still remain have prevented Mr Obama from implementing all that is in his heart……at least for the time being. Tomorrow may be a different story, and eventually all that is familiar will be washed away. 

The second aspect, covered in Scott Johnson’s Feb 1 teaching involves medical implants; more specifically, the number of implants that are being embedded without the patients awareness. Before delving into this further, I must mention a report that I first saw years ago because it highlights just how alluring something like this can be. The report focused on an implant which, when embedded into a person who suffers from Parkinson’s Disease can virtually neutralize all of the symptoms that accompany this condition. naturally it was hailed as a major advance……but something was troubling me; not so much because of that one thing, but because one can see where it’s headed. Increasingly, implants are being used to address other areas of infirmity. Most of the time, the patient knows about them, but other times, they are introduced unawares. Many who have discovered implants that they were not told about have sought legal action……to no avail. This indicates that something quite sinister is transpiring just under the surface. 

Scott Johnson’s teaching covers this in much greater detail.

The reason as to why something like this carries such significance can be found in Revelation 13:16-17 “And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand or in their foreheads: 17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” This is where this will eventually lead. Medical implants, rfid chips in the name of convenience, and what have you; Satan seeks to get under our skin. One reason for this is conditioning of the population to be receptive to such things. Then, when the final “mark” is rolled out, most will receive it with joy…..and forfeit any hope of eternal life with the Lord Jesus. Another reason is control. If a medical implant can offer its bearer positive benefits, another can be produced that can have quite a different mission…..as in a third party having control of the person in whom it is implanted.

It has been suggested that, the final mark of the beast, will literally alter a persons DNA and render them….not 100% human anymore. One thing is for certain. It does place a person beyond the reaches of conviction and repentence…..and Satan knows this. Subsequently, he is promoting anything and everything that will lower a persons resistance to such a thing. He’s dressing it up with promises of a better tomorrow – health, convenience, prosperity, and what have you. Employing all of the three lusts, he will use his two ambassadors to lure all who know not the Lord Jesus into receiving an identifier that will seal their doom. As Scott Johnson mentioned in the teaching, whenever it is possible to do so, we should resist any effort to implant something in us; even if it promises great medical (or other) benefit. We must look at everything through an eternal lens; resisting anything that seems suspect.

The day may well be close at hand, when a seemingly innocent medical implant contains the media through which other parties will have partial control over the person.  Satan seeks total control, and total destruction of all who are made in the image of God. And according to scripture, the final deciding factor will be a mark. None of us know exactly what it will entail, however, this much we do know. Once a person receives it, they are forever lost…….no matter what John MacArthur says. The below link tells of how this man; also with a large following, has taken an unbiblical stand in regards to the mark of the beast.

John MacArthur – he claims that a person can be saved; even after they have received the mark of the beast.

The events that will ultimately usher in the dark champion are unfolding quickly; even to the point that the most diligent watchmen struggle to keep up with the developments. Each of us must strive to keep our hearts with all diligence and not be moved when the unexpected transpires. We must be close to Jesus and have his word hidden deeply in our heart, to the point that any doubt or wavering is driven out. Our affections must be on the eternal……because Satan will pander to the three lusts in ways that most of us may have never been exposed to before. The coming strong delusion will dislodge anyone who is not firmly anchored in the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Blessings in Jesus name.

Daniel 8:23-25 “And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.
24 And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.
25 And through his policy also, he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.”

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Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness

February 2, 2015

Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”

I John 3:2-3 “Beloved, now we are the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him: for we shall see him as he is.
3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”

Found within the wording of I John 3:3 is a most important truth; one which discerns whether or not a person is truly born of the Spirit. After we believe on Jesus in true repentance and intentional turning from what we had always been, our sins are washed away by his blood and we become a new creature in Christ. Because of this new nature, we begin to desire to be holy and to separate from sin. We begin to purify ourselves; letting go of things which are contrary to the nature of God and seeking after those things which have eternal significance. The old nature is ever present in our members, however, because we have a new heart, we will both desire, and strive, to keep the ever-present reminder of the former things under subjection.  As we continuously grow toward the fullness of Christ, the eternal will gain clarity while the issues and interests which lose all relevance the second that ones final breath is exhausted will lose their appeal. As the apostle John rightly observed, “and his commandments are not grievous.” (I John 5:3…..notice how it compliments I John 3:3)

Most of the works of the flesh are easily recognizable to one who is walking in the Spirit, while the more subtile ones will be made known to us as we strive to become more like Jesus and less like us. There is, however, one particular condition which, not only has the ability to slip past the most sensitive spiritual radar, it can shipwreck the most discerning among us. It can drag us to a point of spiritual death; even while we believe ourselves to be walking close to the Lord. It enters in quietly, lures our attention away from Jesus, and refocuses that attention on self. It’s called spiritual pride, and it can grow undetected for years – even decades. Pride is an enemy that none of us can defeat in our own strength or wisdom. It takes a continual humbling ourselves before the Lord Jesus; allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal any area where it is beginning to grow, and quickly repenting of any strongholds that have taken root.

The perplexing thing about pride is that, while the Holy Spirit will convict us of its presence, we can unwittingly become so…….amazed……..(for lack of a more accurate description) at our perceived spiritual standing that we don’t hear it.  Spiritual pride is “the worshipping of ones own perceived spirituality.” The old nature craves status and respect of those in the ambiance and will seek to utilize any talent, gifting, knowledge base, or accomplishment to secure admiration by others. Even a continual display of humility can be a source of pride as one who appears to have this quality will be held up as “one who walks close to the Lord. True humility is an absolute necessity for a close walk with Jesus, however, there is an ever present danger of allowing it to become a conduit for seeking admiration.  It’s such a twisted thing – of all the works of the flesh, spiritual pride is the real shapeshifter of the group. We can never let our guard down.

3 John 9 “I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.” (This is what spiritual pride will lead to – decisions will be made with the intent of maintaining ones perceived status, even if those decisions are contrary to the spiritual well-being of the other saints in ones vicinity)

Spiritual pride can take on many forms, but three camps are easy to define. Some folks “love the limelight.” Their words and actions make this obvious as they don’t even try to hide it….because they do not recognize it as a problem. This is the impression that most of the televangelists and big-name preachers leave with many, however, they are not the only ones. In the January 4 teaching, Scott Johnson  (www.contendingfortruth.com) was discussing how many street preachers (not all, but many) are filled with pride; even to the point that one cannot have a conversation with them. They almost instantaneously look down upon any person who is not “doing exactly as they are doing.” I’ve been there. The saints from my church in Virginia engaged in open air (street) preaching every weekend. While I cannot speak for the others, I know that for me it was a source of spiritual pride. This pride was not only self-destructive, it worked to drive people away from considering the words of life. 

Others may speak and behave in a manner that is recognized by others as being prideful, however, they view themselves as merely “being about the Fathers business. Such a one may make continual references to their accomplishments; always giving God the glory for these accomplishments, but secretly enjoying that they are in such a position of such perceived spiritual maturity and understanding. When I was on facebook the first time, I would sometimes link to this blog when a particular topic was in play. I tried to reason that I was doing it to offer my thoughts into the discussion, however, each time it felt “REALLY WEIRD” linking to something written at my hand. After a few awkward instances of “linking to self,” I simply stopped…..because it felt like self-promotion. A lot of people make known their books and writings out of a sincere desire to share knowledge with others, while some seem to enjoy the attention.  

Two dangerous forms of spiritual pride have been addressed. There is one category, however, that is far more dangerous than these previous two. This is when pride enters a persons heart, but their demeanor keeps it well hidden from both their contemporaries and themselves. They may seem genuinely humble before the Lord. They will rarely, if ever, talk about their own accomplishments or strengths, and when someone else makes reference to such, they will quickly downplay it. But in their heart; oftentimes unknown to them (because they are unable to hear the promptings of the Holy Spirit) there will be a barely recognizable mindset of boastfulness over the talent, strength, or the reputation that they have. Only continual fellowship with the Lord Jesus continual examining of self, and being always mindful of our fallen nature can shield us from allowing this form of pride to enter in. This passage came to mind as I was typing the last sentence:

Hebrews 3:12 “take heed, brethren,  lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.”

Pride is the nearly invisible shift from “look at what God has done” to “look at what I have done”……usually worded as “look at what God has done through me.” Whenever we inject “me” into the equation, trouble is brewing. Whether it’s in word, or merely a vague thought in the back of our mind, it is an indicator that a spiritual examination is in order. One thing has helped in recent years is this: if I had died in August of 1983 (the month before Jesus called me out of darkness) I would be in hell at this very moment. I would have now been in torment for 32 years, however, with means of measuring time, I would have no idea of how long I had been there. I would remember every time I had rejected the words of life while remembering all of my loved ones who were unsaved at that time……wondering how many were now in this place also…….continual despair…..no relief……no hope whatsoever of better days ahead. This is what I deserved. This is what we all deserve as, in our fallen state, we cannot stand before a holy God.

James 1:17 “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

I Peter 4:11 “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”

Before concluding this post, it’s necessary to visit a situation that the apostle Paul had to contend with. From this situation, three things can be gleaned. First, there is the ease with which pride can enter into a heart. Second is how the Lord prevented the arising of such a situation in the life of Paul. (It may well be that many of our desires are not granted because they would result in spiritual pride. There are a number of prayer requests of mine that seem to go unanswered and I believe that the reason for this is that I would be unable to handle the fulfillment of those requests without becoming lifted up with pride.) And third, we learn from Paul’s situation, how we should respond to something that seems inconvenient, but is intended to keep us in check.

II Corinthians 12:7 “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.”

The apostle Paul was given the commission to carry the gospel deep into the lands of the gentiles and was granted revelations far in excess of many of his contemporaries. While we do not know what the thorn in  the flesh was, we know that it was necessary to prevent the apostle from being lifted up more than. Knowledge and understanding will puff a person up. And even when a person is in a place spiritually where they can keep themselves in check, others may hold them in higher esteem than they should. We should always be on the alert when another saint seems to make continual references to a particular preacher of one who ministers. The apostle Paul, in order to prevent such a thing from developing, whether in his heart, or in the hearts of others, was subjected to the buffetings of a messenger from Satan. He sought the Lord three times, that this thing may depart. The way that Paul responded to this provides us an example of the kind of mindset that we should have. In all things we must look to Jesus. (Romans 8:28 comes to mind)

II Corinthians 12:8-10 “For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

His affections were on things above; not things here. He sought to lift up Jesus; not self. For this reason, he was able to, not only accept what he had to endure, but glory in it; knowing that this enabled the power of God to be upon him. When we become full of ourselves, the power of God will not be on our lives and we’ll begin relying on our own abilities. Once we begin operating fluently in our own abilities, pride will enter in and we will begin to drift away from our first love. Pride “always” separates us from God. Paul understood this and rejoiced when the Lord provided a means of keeping him from being exalted above measure. This was good for Paul, and for us as the revelations given to Paul were essential for the equipping of the church.

I Peter 5:2-5 “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves to the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

Blessings in Jesus name.