Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line

Monday, June 26, 2017

Mortifying Faith



Mortifying Faith
        
  When a person repents of sin and dead works, believes in the sacrifice of Christ to satisfy God’s wrath upon all sin, confesses Jesus to be Lord, calls upon the Lord Jesus to save his soul, and receives Jesus as Lord of his life in the indwelling Person of the Holy Spirit of Christ, everything that has happened to Jesus has already happened to the believer POSITIONALLY (Colossians 2:10-15).  The word “complete” in Colossians 2:10 is a perfect, passive, participle.  However, these things will not be fully realized practically until the believer has experience the “redemption of the body” (glorification; Romans 8:23). 

22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:22-23). 

          The words “waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” in Romans 8:23 are words of great faith anticipation.  A vision of faith sees a future beyond the so called eternal sleep of death.  This faith vision looks beyond the temporal existence into the eternal to see the promised sharing of God’s eternality and the blessings of eternal fellowship with Him.  Paul speaks extensively of this promised new existence in I Corinthians chapter fifteen summarizing the teaching on the redemption of the body in verses fifty-one through fifty-eight. 

51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep {die}, but we shall all be changed {glorified}, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed {glorified}. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (I Corinthians 15:51-58).

Life in this world, even as supernaturally enabled Christians, is a constant battle against temptations from without (opportunities to sin) and temptations from within (desires to sin).  The “redemption of our body” is the final act of God in our New Birth whereby we fully receive our new spiritual bodies and are placed into the New Creation as fully functional children of God unhindered by the baggage of a fallen nature.  This is a faith issue that can only be understood and appreciated by those who are fully engaged in the constant spiritual warfare against the “works of the flesh” (Galatians 5:19-21).  This is a spiritual war by faith for “the faith.” 

The practical reality of this truth is that even though every believer is already “complete in Christ” (Colossians 2:1), each person still possesses a sin nature that has a wicked propensity for sin.  If our faith is based upon a pure biblical epistemology, we will understand that spiritual warfare is mostly an inward battle with the corrupted desires of our own carnal natures. 

1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid {perfect, passive} with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. 5 Mortify {imperative} therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 6 For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: 7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. 8 But now ye also put off {imperative} all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. 9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; 10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: 11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. 12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God {refers vocationally to the priesthood of all believers}, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. 14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:1-17).

          A living faith is a faith that mortifies the sinful desires of the “old man” (the Sin Nature or the “flesh”).  Faith is more about what we do with what we believe than it is about what we believe.  What we believe is critical to faith, but until those beliefs are fleshed out, they are nothing more than assent to intellectual facts.  There is no evident spiritual life in the kind of profession of faith that does not live what it professes to believe.

          Just as a living faith evidences itself in outward expressions of “good works,” a dead faith (unbelief) manifests itself in outward expressions of bad “works.”  These are what God called sins or the “works of the flesh.”  Paul deals with both the “fruit of the Spirit” (manifesting a living faith) and the “works of the flesh” (manifesting a dead faith) in Galatians 5:19-26.

19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:19-26).

Every human being has a carnal beast living within.  We all have a shocking propensity for wickedness and evil when left unrestrained by the truth of God’s Word and the restraining of the Holy Spirit as He uses Bible Truths to act upon the human conscience.  This restraining of evil in a person’s life is what defines that person becoming civilized.  The evil man is capable of acts beyond the imagination of civilized people.  Nonetheless, our history books and newspaper services provide ample testimony to the wickedness of which men and women are capable without Divine restraints upon their souls.  A person with a living faith understands this and sees the need for supernatural intervention and enabling to overcome this carnal beast living within.

9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? 10 I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:9-10).

“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away” (Isaiah 64:6).

The word “mortify” in Colossians 3:5 is from the Greek word nekroo (nek-ro’-o).  It means to slay or to put to death.  It can also mean to deprive of power or to destroy the strength thereof.  The latter meaning is the application in this text.  The idea is to insure there is no life remaining in the thing you “mortify.” 

Colossians 3:1-2 is an admonition of belief.  “If ye” - the question is, if you believe the following, then here is what will take place in your life.  The point is this, if you have been spiritually resurrected out from among the spiritually dead to a state of spiritual life, then you will constantly be seeking spiritual things.  This is quite a statement of expectation.  This is God’s expectation of all His “born again” children.  When God says we are to “seek those things which are above,” the statement is further qualified by the words, “Where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.”  The idea is more than seeking spiritual things above the worldly things.  The meaning is to seek the exact same things that Christ is seeking.

Christ is sitting at the “right hand of the Father;” the place of glorification, which signifies His work is “finished.”  He is seated on the Mercy Seat (the place of propitiation), where we are seated with Christ.  For the believer, this is a reminder that our Head is in Heaven (Christ).  The body is on earth (the Church).  The work of the “Head” is finished (the propitiation of God and the justification of man).  The work of the body is the “ministry of reconciliation.”  The “ministry of reconciliation” is about preaching the Gospel of an already accomplished reality through the “finished” Cross work of Jesus Christ.

18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (II Corinthians 5:18-19).

“Then Jesus said to them again, Peace unto you, as My Father hath sent me, even so send I you” (John 20:21).

The purpose of mortifying the sinful desires of the “flesh” is to bring the body under subjection to its “head” (Colossians 3:2).  “Set your affection,” means to bring one’s mind into union with the mind of Christ.  The life of Christ puts Christ first by bringing glorification and praise to Christ through actions.  Inconsistency brings reproach upon the Name of Christ.  Evidently, this has been a failure in the lives of Christians since the time of the beginning of the Church Age.

19 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. 20 For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. 21 For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s” (Philippians 2:19-21).

A person of faith is to set his desires on things above, “not on the things on earth.”  The things that occupy the earth are not sinful in themselves; alcohol, tobacco, money, etc.  There is nothing wrong with alcohol when it is used to clean a wound or kill germs.  I am sure that even the tobacco plant has some useful purpose. 

The Word does not say that “money is the root of all evil.”  “The love of money is the root of all evil.”  Therefore, the sin problem is when we become preoccupied with these “things on earth.”  The things of this world are often used to entice us away from serving God.  The solution is not just correcting our attitude towards the “things,” but our attitude towards God.  Our relationship God must be keep first.

The reminder (Colossians 3:3), “Ye are dead”

As far as a believer’s spirituality is concerned, the reminder “Ye are dead” means the believer was separated from all the lusts and enticements of this evil world when he was “born again.”  Therefore, he should be walking in the reality of the power of a resurrected spiritual life.  In fact, that reality should be so vivid that the world should not be able to see his old life styles, but only the life of Christ.  Those old life styles and affections should be “hidden with Christ.”  As Christ is hidden from the view of the lost world in the Godhead, so should the believer’s affections for the things of this world be hidden from them “with Christ.”  A life of sin, in any degree, is an abomination to God and shouting proclamation to unbelief.  The problem is that the one person that cannot hear the shouting is the very person living in sin. 

The practice of “Christ our life” (Colossians 3:5)

When Christ is our life, it will be our desire to “mortify” the sin nature.  To “mortify” the sin nature means to deprive it of power or to destroy the strength thereof.  This is a reality of a living faith.  Anything less is a perversion of “the faith.”

2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For 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: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:2-4).

We should never confuse our practical responsibilities in this temporal world with our concrete and eternal position in Christ.  Our position never changes and is unaffected by our response to God’s expectation.  However, that does not give us the right to take license with God’s grace.  It is a perversion of “the faith” to say that Christian “liberty” from the Law (Mosaic Covenant) gives the Christian freedom to live any way he wants.  This perversion of grace is another ancient heresy.

1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6  Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: 9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. 15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid” (Romans 6:1-15).

“Mortify” is not talking about spiritual suicide.  It is referring to putting the “carnal mind” effectively to death.  To mortify means to deprive of power or to destroy the strength.  Since our mind and thoughts control our bodies, the mind of which Christ is in control will control the body He possesses.

3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled” (II Corinthians 10:3-6).

In Colossians 3:5, “members” refers to the parts of the body as they are employed in sin.  These “members” employ themselves in certain described sinful practices.

1. “Fornication” is illicit sexual activity outside of the confines of a husband\wife relationship.
2. “Uncleanness” is any moral impurity as an outcome of gratifying selfish desires.
3. “Inordinate affection” is described in Romans 1:26-28 and refers to homosexuality.
4. “Covetousness” carries climactic force in the Greek and could read “especially covetousness.”  It is a category of sin that stands by itself called IDOLATRY.  Covetousness is the greedy desire to have more than a person needs.  It is the epitome of ungratefulness.  It is the religion of the discontent.  It is being unsatisfied with God’s provisions.

According to Colossians 3:4, our ultimate incentive to “mortify” the desires of our flesh should be the second coming of Christ.  This is the Bride (the Church) awaiting the Bridegroom coming to take the Bride home to glory.  This is a reality of a real belief in the imminent return of Christ.  Without this practical reality in our lives, we cannot claim to believe this great Scriptural truth.

          The Lordship of Jesus is not a visible sovereignty.  Unless our life actions (culturally and distinctively in the areas of personal holiness) make His Lordship visible, His Lordship will remain invisible.  Jesus personally is hidden from the lost world because believers refuse to reflect the “life of Christ.”  When we sin, we are hiding Christ from the world He died to redeem.  It is a wonderful truth to know the all-sufficiency of Jesus, but it is a sad fact that we, all too often, do not manifest the all-supremacy of Jesus.  A living faith lives to this end.

14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine {imperative mood} before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. 17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:14-19).

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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Living Oracles of Faith Language



The Living Oracles of Faith Language
 

Real faith speaks loudly and clearly through the language of a transformed life. 

Faith is not merely lip service to a list of professed beliefs.  Faith is living those professed beliefs within the context of all types of trials and under all types of duress and persecution for our attempts to bring the world to saving faith in the finished work of redemption through faith in Christ.  The unbelieving world mocks at the hypocrisy of professed beliefs that are not lived or that are easily compromised at the first moment of difficulty or trial of life.  

      Living according to the commands of God will never be easy in this life.  We can see this difficulty even within local churches where believers are supposed to agree about how they live.  The closer a believer seeks to walk with Jesus, the more abstract his life will appear to the unbelieving world.  Perhaps the greatest difficulty in living our faith is to try to “walk in the light” without presenting a persona of being holier than thou.  Being real and genuine about what we believe is a tough job description.

1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 3 According as his divine power hath given {perfect tense, passive voice} unto us {with the intent of causing} all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him {full or complete knowledge of God; the idea is having a thorough understanding of the Character and Nature of God and one’s own relationship to the Person of God} that hath called us to glory {restored dignity} and virtue {restored excellence; the idea is courage to fight for what is right and righteous}: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be {potentially become, not automatically} partakers {an associate or partner} of the divine nature {through the New Birth and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit}, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 5 And beside this {for the purpose of escaping ‘the corruption that is in the world through lust’}, giving all diligence, add {imperative verb} to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge {full or complete knowledge of God; the idea is having a thorough understanding of the Character and Nature of God and one’s own relationship to the Person of God} of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Peter 1:1-8).

          Christ considered a Christian or local church that did not win souls and make disciples an anomaly that was wasting His blood investment in the redemption of their souls.  Some type of fruit bearing is expected of all true believers!

6 He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. 7 Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? 8 And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: 9 And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down” (Luke 13:6-9).

          Within the text of II Peter 1:1-8, we find a trinity for fruit production This trinity comes all wrapped up for us in the word “faith” in II Peter 1:1.  This trinity rapidly unfolds in the next seven verses in the key words “grace,” “peace,” “knowledge,” and “divine power” ultimately ending in fruitfulness (fruit bearing).  This trinity involves three spiritual dynamics.

The Tripartite of Spiritual Power

1. Knowledge (illumination) of God’s will through His Word
2. The supernatural enabling of the Holy Spirit of God in the illumination and the application of God’s Word
3. Translating the Word of God into the language of living (becoming “doers of the Word”)

Training in these three areas is really what defines discipleship; “the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry” (Ephesians 4:12).  Herein is where most local churches fail so often in their discipleship (“perfecting”) ministry.  This is also what makes preaching different than teaching.  Teaching primarily appeals to the head while preaching primarily appeals to the heart.  Preaching is the dogmatic presentation of the truths of God’s Word in the power of the Spirit of God (“unction”) resulting in the confrontation of our Will Gates with the intent of bringing our living into harmony with the Word of God (living/doing faith).

Knowing faith is not the same as living faith.  Successful discipleship is measured in the realm of living faith, not mere knowing faith.  We see very few real life changing decisions today in our invitations after preaching services.  The lack of these decisions is even more evident in the reality of the lack of any real change in how people live out their professed faith in the everyday living of their lives.  If spiritual decisions are genuine, that genuineness will manifest itself by these people engaging their corporate ethic with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is almost as if people think they can live the Christian life (living faith) covertly.  This kind of thinking must be confronted and eradicated before true living faith can become a reality. 

Living faith is a public faith that stands on the highest ground of a person’s corporate and individual influence with a living testimony of a life that points to Jesus Christ.

25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? Anchor26 Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. Anchor27 What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. Anchor28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:25-28).

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

          Orthodoxy should always result in orthopraxy.  Orthodoxy involves knowing correct doctrine.  Orthopraxy is accurately living correct doctrine (Truth) to the degree that it reflects and restores the image of Who God is in our lives resulting in manifesting His communicable attributes to the world.  This is known as bringing God glory.  Glorifying God (manifesting who He is through the way we live) is the primary purpose of Bible study and the pursuit of orthodoxy.  Without orthodoxy, we can never achieve orthopraxy and we can never truly glorify the Lord.  The focal purpose of orthodoxy is always doxological or it is not orthodoxy. 

Obtaining “Like Precious Faith”

          The word “faith” is used of both saving faith and living faith in the Word of God.  The context of use must determine too which of these two meanings are being referred.  These two meanings of faith can be found together in Romans 1:17.

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Anchor17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from {saving} faith to {living} faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:16-17).

 The context of II Peter is referring to Christian service (ministry).  Therefore, the meaning of the word “faith” here is living faith.  In this context, the word “faith” refers to putting some muscle upon the theological bones of Bible doctrine. 

It is not that the believer puts life to the Word of God (God’s Word is inherently living).  The idea is that the indwelling Holy Spirit of God puts life to our bodies, dead in trespasses and sin and still possessing a sin nature, through the transforming, cleansing power of the Living Word of God.  This happens when the believer yields to the indwelling Holy Spirit of God and begins to live the Truths of God’s Word through the Spirit’s supernatural enabling (grace).

          However, the miraculous work of the indwelling Spirit does not take place until a believer yields to the indwelling Spirit AND begins to live the Word of God (living faith).

          Biblical faith is not merely what we choose to believe.  Biblical faith is Sola Scriptura.  Sola Scriptura means our beliefs are what the Word of God teaches; nothing more and nothing less.  This is what the Word of God means when God speaks of “like precious faith” and “the faith.”  Biblical faith is not about man’s opinions, traditions, or philosophies.  Biblical faith is not about our observations of human behavior patterns (psychology).  Biblical faith is not discovered by rationalism or human logic.  Biblical faith comes by the supernatural illumination of Sola Scriptura.  This is an absolute necessity in the spiritual dynamic of faith building in both the life of the preacher/teacher and in the life of the disciple.

1 Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you. Anchor2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:1-2).

          Therefore, the second aspect of the Tripartite of Spiritual Power necessary to fruit bearing is the fact that Theology (knowing who God is) is intricately connected to Pneumatology (knowing who the Spirit of God is and what He is doing in our lives).  This is the connecting link in II Peter 1:1-8 between saving faith and living faith.  This is communicated in this text by the words “grace,” “divine power,” and “partakers of the divine nature.”  If we miss this truth, we miss the primary distinctive characteristic of what defines the Age of Grace or the Church Age. 


  The third aspect of the trinity necessary to fruit bearing is that Pneumatology (knowing who the Spirit of God is and what He is doing in our lives) is the connecting link to translating the Word of God into the language of living (becoming “doers of the Word and not hears only”).  Anything less than living supernaturally enabled by the indwelling Holy Spirit of God will be nothing more than carnal legalism.

1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? Anchor2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Anchor3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Anchor4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. Anchor5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith” (Galatians 3:1-5)?

          The Christian life (living faith) is supernaturally produced.  Apart from the supernatural enabling of the Holy Spirit of God, the Christian life is completely beyond our realization.  The Spirit of God produces the Christian-life (the Christ-life) in us when we yield our will gate to Him as He reveals His will to us through the illumination of the Word of God. 

1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: Anchor2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Anchor3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; Anchor4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope: Anchor5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:1-5).

          In II Peter 1:5-8, the Christian life is described by seven tangible, evidentiary realities that are added to faith through incremental decisions intended to make a believer’s life fertile soil for fruit bearing to the glory of God.  The word “add” is from the Greek word epichoregeo (ep-ee-khor-ayg-eh'-o).  It literally means to nourish or to aid.  The context would imply that the seven attributes listed bring faith to its fullest potential; i.e. fruit bearing.  As these seven qualities are built one upon another (the word “to” should be translated upon) and are connected one to the other, they will nourish faith to its fullest stature and potential.  Living faith is defined by adding these virtues one upon the other.

1. Virtue: from arete (ar-et'-ay), manliness or valor and probably refers to moral strength of character
2. Knowledge: from gnosis (gno'-sis), most commentators agree that the context implies this to mean applied knowledge for discerning the will of God and therefore knowing the will of God with assurance dogmatically
3. Temperance: from egkrateia (eng-krat'-i-ah), self-control or self-restraint; refers to holding in the corrupted desires of the flesh
4. Patience: from hupomone (hoop-om-on-ay'), meaning constancy; enduring under trials or difficulties
5. Godliness: from eusebeia (yoo-seb'-i-ah), holiness or separation from worldliness and unto ministry (loving self-sacrifice)
6. Brotherly kindness: philadelphia (fil-ad-el-fee'-ah), kindness and generosity to other believers
7. Charity: agape (ag-ah'-pay), sacrificial benevolence to the benefit of others.  This kind of love does not happen apart from GIVING of self sacrificially.  It is the kind of love that God is. 

 These seven character qualities added to our faith are the essentials of grace to produce fruit through the empowering of the indwelling Holy Spirit and a transformed life.  In other words, there are some very tangible aspects of Christian character that we must possess before the power of the indwelling Spirit of God can be fully released through our lives.  The Word of God does not tell us to what extent we must have these added qualities, but I would surmise that the more of these qualities we possess the more eternal fruit will be produced through our ministry by the Holy Spirit.  These are the attributes of a living faith forged in the foundry of spiritual growth intent upon production of eternal fruit. 

          These attributes forge a chain that connects the supernatural existence of God to the temporal existence of mankind.  The believer with these qualities added to his/her faith becomes that connecting link.  The outcome of that supernatural connection is that “if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Peter 1:8).

          Central to a local church’s failure in fulfilling the Great Commission is the failure of people who have not forged a real-world faith in their lives and who are not living in the Tripartite of Spiritual Power.  Wilderness Christians remain in the barren wilderness of fruitlessness because they have a superficial knowledge of God, a superficial knowledge of the ministry of His indwelling Spirit, and a superficial faith that never connects them to the spiritual warfare that living in the Promised Land necessitates.  Peter spoke of this living faith in his first epistle as well. 

1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. 3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: 4 Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: 5 Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. 6 For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead {when Christ descended into Abraham’s Bosom; i.e. paradise}, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh {at the Judgment Seat of Christ}, but live according to God in the spirit.7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. 8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. 9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging. 10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 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 (I Peter 4:1-11).

In I Peter 4:7-9, God gives an admonition to believers within a local church union about living during the last days.  The Church Age Dispensation will end with the death of every lost soul on the face of planet earth.  Only the lost who enter alive into the Tribulation and who repent of sin and trust in the finished work of Christ for their redemption during the seven-year Tribulation will enter into the Kingdom Age Dispensation alive.  Every other person who has received the mark of the Beast will be destroyed by the glory of the coming of Christ.  With this view in mind, the believer should carefully follow the admonitions of I Peter 4:7-9. 

          Along with what we are told in Revelation chapters four through nineteen and numerous other prophecies, this is the world view of every Christian who believes in the imminent (any moment) second coming of Jesus Christ.  This is the looming dark cloud of God’s promise of His unleashed wrath in His judgment of the nations.  This is the theological foundation in the any moment pending reality to which the words: “7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. 8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. 9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging” (I Peter 4:7-9) are addressed.  Perhaps if we truly understood this any moment pending reality, we might begin to take these words seriously.

          The word “end” in I Peter 4:7 is from the Greek word telos (tel'-os).  This word refers to the point aimed at as a limit or the point of termination.  The Church Age Dispensation is the next to the last age of God’s longsuffering grace upon this fallen creation.  Then comes the “day of wrath” that Paul speaks of in Romans 2:5: “But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. . .”  This is the future horizon of which all Church Age believers must be constantly reminded.  We must keep this prophecy as part of today’s possible realities. 

          In I Peter 4:7-11, we see many words that describe the overflow of the Spirit of God that manifests His indwelling power flowing through our lives.  There are seven ministry areas of the Christian life that are intimately and intricately connected to having a right working relationship with the Lord.  Understanding these words is critical to understanding how God releases His power through our lives in ministry to one another. 

1. Sobriety: from the word sophroneo (so-fron-eh'-o), meaning sound of mind or thinking.  Sound mindedness comes from thinking things through and taking into consideration all the Truths of God’s Word as they weigh upon any given subject or situation.  Sophroneo was a word that described a person who did not allow his mind to come under the influence of alcohol.
2. Watch unto prayer: the word “watch” is from the word nepho (nay'-fo), meaning to abstain from wine drinking and connecting sobriety (right mindedness) with prayer (God-dependency) in power with God in all matters of life.  Contradistinctively, failure in nepho (abstaining from wine drinking or any similar worldly practice) would disconnect the believer from power with God.  Worldly desires manifest a weak mind (the opposite of a strong or sound mind).
3. Fervent charity: literally, unceasing sacrificial (parenting kind of) love for other true believers.  The idea is the willingness to make extreme sacrifices for one another, to help one another grow in grace, and to escape the shackles of our own selfishness.  The words “charity shall cover the multitude of sins” in I Peter 4:8 is a quote from Proverbs 10:12. “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.”  The idea is that our love is not constantly stirring up the dunghill of a fellow Christian’s past failures of which he has confessed and that have been forgiven.
4. Use hospitality: from the word philoxenos (fil-ox'-en-os), it simply means being fond of guests.  Christians ought to enjoy the company of other Christians and “use hospitality” to encourage one another.  Notice this comes with the qualifier, “one to another without grudging” (grumbling or complaining about having to do it).  Remember, “God loveth a cheerful giver” (II Corinthians 9:7).  Hospitality costs both time and money.  If love does not cost us something, we have not loved. 
5. Minister “the gift:” “gift” is from charisma and “minister” is from diakoneo (dee-ak-on-eh'-o).  In other words, God did not give us the supernatural gift of spiritual enablement to consume upon ourselves.  He has gifted us with the intent we will use that “gift” and spread it as a resource to the widest possible scale of our influence “as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”  Notice, there is a stewardship involved.  Stewardship means we will be held accountable for this “manifold grace of God.”  This accountability defines the Dispensation (stewardship) of Grace.  Salvation is a free gift of grace, but with it comes overwhelming spiritual responsibilities for which we are accountable to God.  He expects “fruit.”
6. Speech: “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” (I Peter 4:11).  The word “the” is not in the Greek text in front of the word “oracles.”  It should read, “Speak as oracles of God.”  The idea is the “thus sayeth the LORD” proclamation of the Old Testament prophets.  The idea is that you are not communicating some philosophical idea or some great thought from your own mind.  There is no option for debate or dissension.  Truth is to come forth from the mouth of the prophet of God, as if God is speaking Himself.  Therefore, when you are speaking forth the Word of God, you are to do so with the authority of its Author. 
7. Ministry to the glory 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” (I Peter 4:11b).  We often hear the word charismatic used to describe people who can attract large crowds.  They are like fly paper.  The fly was just looking for a place to land to get something to eat and then he found himself stuck

          When God uses the word charisma, He uses it in the context of His supernatural enabling of a believer for the “work of the ministry.”  This gift of supernatural enabling (grace) is never to be used for someone to build himself an empire of loyal followers.  God’s gift of grace should be used to make followers of Jesus Christ where all that we do is intent upon bringing God glory. To glorify God means revealing Him in all His wondrous attributes to a blind, cursed, and dying world of sinners.  Sometimes there is a narrow line between a man building himself a kingdom or a man working to win souls and make disciples for the Kingdom of God.  That line is sometimes difficult to discern. 

Anonymous comments will not be allowed. 
Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

Monday, May 1, 2017

II. False Faith and Self-Deception

 

II. False Faith and Self-Deception
 
         
After God’s confrontation through the prophet Jeremiah of the corrupted nation of Israel recorded in Jeremiah 7:1-15, God tells Jeremiah not to even pray for those to whom he was to preach (Jeremiah 7:16).  Although God was telling the children of Israel where they had failed and was calling them to repent, He knew their hearts were hardened in unbelief.  We cannot even imagine the despair of Jeremiah when God told him to preach anyway knowing the children of Israel would not even listen to what God had to say.  Here are some of the saddest words in the Bible:

Therefore thou shalt speak all these words unto them; but they will not hearken to thee: thou shalt also call unto them; but they will not answer thee (Jeremiah 7:27).

          It has been said that Psalm one-hundred and nineteen is like a field of millions of acres of wisdom ripe and ready to be harvested.  The focus of those one-hundred and seventy-six verses is upon loving, reading, and knowing the Word of God.  To love the Word of God is to love the God of the Bible.

     Contradistinctively, to love the God of the Bible is to “hate every false way” (Psalm 119:104 and 128) because God hates “every false way.”  If such an attitude towards false doctrine and the pagan intrusions of corruption into sanctification are not part of a professing believer’s life practices, his faith is false by that same degree.  Within this corrupt attitude towards God’s Word is the seed for the potential of apostasy.  Some of these false ways may be sanctification issues.  These things will keep a person from being used of God or from having prayer answered.  Other kinds of false ways may be salvation issues and reveal that a person’s salvational faith is false because the repentance foundation of that salvation in corrupted. 

16 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, 19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Worldliness is a perspective of life diabolically opposed to what God wants for us.  Worldliness is a basic first level manifestation of corrupted faith.  Although worldliness involves practices, it is embodied in an attitude more than anything else.  Worldliness focuses our attention and consumes our time on ventures that provide no lasting, eternal benefit other than fluffing our egos and puffing ourselves up.  Worldliness wants to be entertained.  This attitude is a foundational characteristic of worldliness.  When this attitude becomes dominant, it can potentially corrupt every choice in a person’s life. 

Worldliness does not necessarily involve a person in issues of moral turpitude.  In most cases, worldliness can be simply about appearances such as “a proud look” and wanting to be accepted by a culture that is worldlyWorldliness can also involve immoral practices that have come to be acceptable by most cultures and societies while being completely unacceptable to God, such as “a lying tongue.”  The worldly person is more concerned about what his peers think about him than what God thinks about him.  Such a person will twist the truth to accomplish that goal.  Although he may talk about his concerns about God’s will, such talk is really hypocrisy.  He will walk as close to the world as his religious peers allow, seeking to give himself at least a fa├žade of acceptability with God.  This is false faith!

15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (I John 2:15-17).

     Worldliness is being defined subjectively and narrowly within Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism in present day Christianity.  This corrupted definition of worldliness creates a pseudo-Christianity.  When John says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world,” what exactly does he mean?  It is an important question to answer because to “love the world” reveals that God’s love “is not in” that person.  There is godly love and worldly love.  Worldly love is any emotion that is fed by the corruption of the “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (I John 2:16). 

“The world” that we are commanded not to love is a very broad and encompassing term.  The word “world” is translated from the Greek word kosmos (kos’-mos).  The context defines the meaning as all the satanic influences within the corruptions of religion, politics, and economics.  These influences have varied through the millennia while maintaining certain consistencies within the variations.  Religions have evolved and thousands of false religions have developed over the millennia.  Within these false religions, there is a commonality in varying degrees of paganism, syncretism, and idolatry.  Understanding these three influences helps us understand the term worldly

Paganism

Paganism is the corruption of human sexuality in numerous ways and in varying degrees.  Modern day paganism has corrupted human sexuality in degrees equal to the worst that has ever been known in the world through the corruption of our children and the inculcation of a culture that is practically given over to the pornographic.  The word “fornication” in the Bible is usually translated from the Greek word porneia (por-ni'-ah), which includes harlotry, incest, adultery, and any other corruption of human sexuality outside the marriage relationship.  
The most severe inculcation of worldly influence is the constant barrage and instruction that corrupts children into accepting these corruptions of human sexuality at the earliest ages possible.  These corruptions are taking enormous strides in the last days prior to the second coming of Christ and are characteristic of the end times.  During the last days, even the apostate churches of apostate Christianity will condone these “fornication” corruptions (Revelation 2:21 and 9:21). 

Syncretism

Syncretism is the merging, blending, and integrating of false beliefs about God into religious practices.  Syncretism is the corruption of Bible doctrine by degree through integrating false notions about God and what is acceptable and unacceptable to Him.  Syncretism is the corruption of the worship of God by introducing worldliness and commonality into the worship.  Any worldly or common practice defiles both the worshiper and the worship. 
Syncretism begins with the corruption of the Gospel and what defines a biblical faith response to the Gospel to be saved.  The span of this corruption has extended to degrees one would have thought impossible.  Yet, the span of corruption continues to expand daily.  Syncretism results in Ecumenicism and Pluralism.  Toleration is the banner under which Syncretism thrives and growths like a field of weeds strangling truth with its very contact.

Idolatry

Idolatry is exalting anyone or anything above the one true God in worship or in worship practices.  Idolatry does not need the presence of a stone, wood, or metal god to exist in the hearts of humans.  Idolatry exists when entertaining people or even catering to their fleshly desires enters into deciding what will be included in worshiping God.  Idolatry is any form of corruption of the sanctity of worship.  Idolatry steals worship from God to put it upon man.  Idolatry puts other things than God at the focus of ministry.  Idolatry accepts any form of worship and thereby extricates God from worship because God’s presence is always in the midst of holiness.  This world and all that is in it is corrupted by sin and cursed of God.  Therefore, God accepts only that which is purified of worldliness to be used in worshiping Him.
 
          In the simplest terms, worldliness is anything that caters to the carnal “flesh” of humanity.  Idolatry feeds the carnal “flesh” in worship practices.  This is what draws people to these types of religions and churches.  False teachers learn quickly that they cannot draw large crowds preaching about the holiness of God and the sinfulness of sinners.  They learn quickly to cater to human desires and to give people what they want.  They learn to make a carnival appear like a church substituting cotton candy platitudes and puppy dog moments for “thus sayeth the Lord.”  They are doomed to constantly needing to invent new carnal ways to appeal to the carnal crowd.

          There is no doubt that the majority of children of Israel were living in open rebellion against the Words of God given them in the Mosaic Covenant by which their forefathers had agreed to live.  About four hundred years before Jeremiah comes onto the scene, Samuel had prophesied God’s warning to Saul about his wicked rebellion against God.  God had commanded king Saul to utterly destroy the Amalekites, descendants of Esau.  Saul, in rebellion against God, spared Amalekite king Agag.  Samuel confronts the lying hypocrisy of Saul with the words “13 …Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD. 14 And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear” (I Samuel 15-13-14)?  Then, Samuel rebukes king Saul with words that echo through the great halls of historic failures of false faith:

22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king (I Samuel 15:22-23).

The great lesson of God’s many messages through the prophets to the rebels of Israel teach us a simple truth.  Since God has given humanity a free will, when humans are in rebellion, there is no power in the world that can force their wills into obedience.  The only thing anyone can do to keep the rebel from destroying everything right and good is to restrain his rebellion.  This eventually means some form of prison or early death for the rebel.  This is always the eventual destiny of the rebel – CAPTIVITY!  Hell is the ultimate captivity for false faith. 

One need only read Paul’s epistle to the Galatian churches to see how God is contrary to this whole nonsense of the so-called Church Growth Movement.  It would be difficult to even imagine one of these crowd gathering churches ever honestly dealing with any of the substance of the context of the rebuke given in the epistle to the Galatians.  In Galatians, God calls rebellion “the works of the flesh” and describes its many forms.

19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do {prasso; or habitually practice} such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21).

Carnality is rebellion against God!  The words “the works of the flesh are manifest” are intended to confront all that is contrary to supernaturally produced spiritual life of the truly “born again” believer.  These few verses are simply saying, this is what carnality looks like.  Any one of these practices or attitudes reveal that the carnal nature, the “flesh,” is in control.  Look at these words carefully, because your toleration or condoning of any one of these manifestations of carnality is where your spirituality ends and your false faith begins. 

          These are the things of which God was calling Israel to repent.  We can have very little comprehension of the long-suffering of God until we read His warnings through the hundreds of years of recorded history through His prophets calling Israel to repentance.  Isaiah was given God’s message to preach to Israel to repent and returned to Him (Isaiah 1:11-17) in about B.C. 760.  Jeremiah was given God’s message to preach to Israel to repent and returned to Him in about B.C. 629.  Amos was given God’s message in about B.C. 787 to preach to the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom to repent and returned to Him even earlier than Isaiah.  The Southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin had been a faithful remnant in Israel for centuries.  Faithful believers from other tribes had relocated to the south to join with the tribes of Judah and Benjamin along with the faithful priests.  This left the ten Northern tribes without any faithful priests while living under corrupted pagan Jewish kings and priests totally given over unto idolatry and the horrible practices that were part of this wickedness. 

21 I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. 22 Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. 23 Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. 24 But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream. 25 Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel? 26 But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves {during the wilderness wanderings under Moses, many of the children of Israel secretly maintained a portable shrine/tabernacle for their pagan Moloch the star or fire god}. 27 Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the LORD, whose name is The God of hosts” (Amos 5:21-24).

          James said almost the same thing as Isaiah regarding what defines “pure religion.”  True Christianity, the pure practice of the faith, must translate itself into a genuine compassion for people or it is “dead” faith.  “Dead” faith means artificial, lifeless faith.  “Dead” faith is the same as false faith. 

26 If any man among you seem to be religious {the external appearance or exercise of the faith}, and bridleth {controls} not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion {his external exercise of the faith} is vain {empty, profitless, like idolatry}. 27 Pure religion {exercise of the faith} and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction {be concerned about the needs of orphans and widows in the church}, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:26-27). 

          James is dealing with religious externalism as an manifestation of false, dead faith.  Externalism will never look at a drunkard or a drug addict with a broken heart for his soul, but you can be sure that is the way God sees him.  Externalism and self-righteousness see through the eyes of contempt, not compassion.   Externalism will never see a lost child the way God sees him.  Externalism will never see that lost kid with compassion for his soul.  Externalism will never be willing to reach out and touch his life with a consistent investment of love, time, and effort to bring him to Christ and disciple him so as to help him escape the prison of the degradation of the life patterns his parents have been building into him.  Externalism will never try to bring the life-transforming message of the Gospel into his home to try to reach his family.  Because of that, his soul will slip through the cracks of God’s hand in this world (local churches) to fall limp, broken and wasted on the hopeless and helpless heap of sin soaked, Hell bound souls. 

          God speaks to this externalism and its results in Jeremiah 2:13. This verse speaks clearly to this issue.  It speaks specifically to the false faith of religion without relationship. 

“For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13).

          In this verse, God speaks of two evils generated in the false faith within the lives of people who are more concerned with duties for God than they are about relationship with God.  The first is that they have the order backwards.  When they cultivate intimacy with God, the duties God expects will flow from that fountain of intimacy like living waters.  God is the “fountain of living waters.”  The only way for those “living waters” to flow through our lives is when we are connected to the Godhead by a living, loving, and holy relationship of intimacy to which the Bible refers as “fellowship.”  This is the Spirit-filled life.
 
          Most Christians are like a rubber garden hose that lays out in the Sun for days and days, but never gets connected to the water supply.  As a result, they end up all dried out and cracked, because they never get connected to the source of supply of “living waters.”  We forsake the potential of those “living waters” flowing through our lives when we forsake our relationship with God.  The Spirit-filled life of “fellowship” with God is the connecting link to the Christ-life flowing through us.

          The second evil of false faith was that they created their own man-made sources of fulfillment to sustain them spiritually (whatever form this takes, it is idolatry).  These were man-made sources for personal fulfillment or happiness.  This is what God calls “broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”  In other words, these man-made inventions will never be able to accomplish what people create them to do.  They are superficial and self-deceiving. 

          This is to what God is referring in Jeremiah 7:4 and 8 when He says, “ye trust in lying words.”  He is talking about this self-deception of false faith.  We are lying to ourselves when we have religion, the practice of the faith, without relationship.  Externalism is idolatry.  The works of externalism become the externalist’s god and idol.  Jesus quotes Isaiah 29:13 in Matthew 15:8 and applies it to the Pharisees.  How accurately this describes all religion (a word used to describe ministry) without relationship.

“This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me” (Matthew 15:8).

          How can we escape this deadly deception that generates such a facade and sham of Christianity?  The only way to escape it is by being brutally honest with ourselves and to God.  We need to take three basic steps.  Each step takes us away from the world and closer to God.  Each step involves the believer in communicating with God and allowing God to communicate directly to that yielded believer’s heart. This is the pathway out of externalistic religion.
 
          The first step towards intimacy with God begins with prayer.  Our prayer life must be willing to communicate with God about every integral aspect of our lives.  Be sure of this, you will never shock God or surprise Him with what is going on in your life.  He already knows and is working to help you get victory.  Getting that victory begins by coming to Him and talking with Him about everything that is going on in your life.  If you do not learn to communicate with God about the intimate details of your thought life, the details of your so-called secret sin life, and the details of your struggles with temptation, do not expect intimacy with Him.

          The second step towards intimacy with God involves your devotional life.  We have devotions to cultivate being devoted to God.  Being devoted to God will not happen by accident.  Cultivation of devotion to God comes when we are driven by a genuine desire to know Him.  The Bible expresses that concept by the words hungering and thirsting after righteousness (Matthew 5:6).  God’s promise to those who “hunger and thirst after righteousness” is that “they shall be filled.”  Devotions are not about just reading your Bible and praying every day.  Devotions are about being consumed with knowing God intimately, personally, and seeking the intimacy of being able to look into His face.

          Lastly, when these previous two things become a reality in your life, you will naturally involve yourself in the “work of the ministry.”  If we have cultivated a love relationship with God, we will gain His heart.  His heart is burdened to reach the lost.  His heart is burdened for the recovery of sinners and their deliverance from the bondage of sin in their lives.  If we are not driven by a concern about the things God is concerned about, our Christianity and our professed faith is nothing more than dead religious externalism.  Fruitful ministry will naturally flow from a life through which God overflows (John 15:1-8).  When God finally gets a hold on your heart and you get a hold on His, He will overflow (“fruit of the Spirit”).

37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38).

          If flowing rivers of living water is what you want to see in your life, you are going to have to seriously evaluate your priorities.  The flow of that “living water” will begin when your heart and God’s heart are one.  It will not be just a trickle.  It will be a flood.  However, first be sure your faith is real.  If you are not “born again” of the Spirit of God, there is nothing you can do to produce spiritual life from your spiritually dead carcass.

One cannot even imagine the many facets of worldliness.  Most pastors recognize worldliness as easily as one might see a painted red face in the midst of a crowd.  Worldliness is apparent in one’s mannerisms.  Worldliness is apparent in conversations, occupations, and even one’s recreation.  Worldliness is apparent in the way we dress and even in our countenance.  Worldliness is apparent by what we love and what we do not love.  Worldliness is apparent by what we do and what we do not do.  In most cases, there is very little difference between professing Christians and the lost in all of these things.  A Christian cannot love the world and love God at the same time.  Yet many worldly Christians have deceived themselves about their worldliness and about their love of God.
 
Over the years, it has been my responsibility to speak to many parents about the warning signs of worldliness apparent in the lives of their children.  In many cases, parents took offense when approached about apparent signs of worldliness in their children.  In almost every case, when warnings went unheeded, those children later abandoned church attendance, went off into the world, married unbelievers, and evidenced a reality completely foreign to that of a “born again” individual.  What are some of the signs of worldliness in the lives of the children of believing parents? 

1. They constantly bicker with their siblings. 
2. They come to church, but do not listen or hear what is being said. 
3. They have no burden for holiness in their own lives and they have no burden for the lost with which they come in contact.  They have no real ministry in life that is motivated by their love for God. 
4. They love what the world loves and have secret, hidden lives known only by them.  Their friends know nothing of their professed Christianity.  They do not want their friends to know because they are ashamed of Christ. 
5. They have no real interest in spiritual things, in building a relationship with Christ, and no thoughts of ministering to anyone.  They have no fear of God (Romans 3:18).

As a pastor, the lack of parental concern about worldliness in children troubles me greatly.  Worldly children grow to be worldly adults.  Sadly, many Christian homes are fertile greenhouses seemingly intent upon nurturing worldliness.  Our local churches and godly homes must focus attention upon the abrogation of worldliness.  Pagan and materialistic cultures cultivate worldliness.  We are bombarded with worldliness at every turn in life.  Our Hedonistic cultures teach worldliness through frequent repetitions and admonitions.  The answer is not isolation, but education.  We must warn of the subtle influences of worldliness.  We must teach that the only solution to worldliness is complete repentance that then seeks to live in fellowship with Jesus.
 
It is important that we understand that worldliness must be replaced with the kind of spirituality that expresses itself through ministry.  Worldliness expresses itself through carnality and selfishness.  Spirituality always expresses itself through compassion, self-sacrifice, and ministering the truths of the Word of God to others.  Replacing worldliness with spirituality is difficult in that spirituality can come forth in an artificial form of worldliness known as self-righteousness.  This expresses itself through contempt towards those that do not measure up.  All these artificial means for self-fulfillment must be replaced with genuine, compassionate ministry.  This is known as the Replacement Phenomena

17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind {empty of knowing God and His will}, 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19 Who being past feeling {corrupted conscience} have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But ye have not so learned Christ; 21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. 25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil. 28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you (Ephesians 4:17-32).          

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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.