Monthly Archives: July 2014

Under The Influence, Part 2

Christ said He saw Satan fall as lightning from heaven (Luke 10:18). We need only to look at the state of the planet we live on today – the insanity that surrounds us – and the evidence in scripture to see where that fall from heaven took him.

Who is “the God of this world”?

Reading Ephesians 6 describes a type of warfare going on right now, just as it was described in Revelation 12:7 (which we read in last week’s post). This war is happening on an angelic plane, in a dimension which affects us even though it is not visible to us. We need spiritual armor, for an engagement with a wily, clever adversary, and against a hierarchy of wicked spirit-beings.

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Eph. 6:11-12)

Of these adversaries, Matthew Henry says, “we struggle with the opposition of the powers of darkness, and with many enemies who would keep us from God and heaven. We have enemies to fight against, a captain to fight for, a banner to fight under, and certain rules of war by which we are to govern ourselves.” He continues to say,

“The devil is a spirit, a wicked spirit; and our danger is the greater from our enemies because they are unseen, and assault us ere we are aware of them. The devils are wicked spirits, and they chiefly annoy the saints with, and provoke them to, spiritual wickednesses, pride, envy, malice, etc. These enemies are said to be in high places, or in heavenly places, so the word is, taking heaven (as one says) for the whole expansum, or spreading out of the air between the earth and the stars, the air being the place from which the devils assault us. Or the meaning may be, “We wrestle about heavenly places or heavenly things;” so some of the ancients interpret it. Our enemies strive to prevent our ascent to heaven, to deprive us of heavenly blessings and to obstruct our communion with heaven. They assault us in the things that belong to our souls, and labour to deface the heavenly image in our hearts; and therefore we have need to be upon our guard against them. We have need of faith in our Christian warfare, because we have spiritual enemies to grapple with, as well as of faith in our Christian work, because we have spiritual strength to fetch in. Thus you see your danger.”

In many places, the word of God gives us evidence of an unseen army of enemies under the command of “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Eph 2:2). It speaks of familiar spirits, evil spirits, lying spirits, dumb spirits, foul spirits, seducing spirits, spirits of perversion and whoredom, and spirits of divination, just to name a few.

Seeing Invisible Enemies

How can you and I recognize these invisible enemies and come out from “under their influence? A short answer is that the Spirit of God gives us the ability to recognize both good and bad spirit influences and choose which we will become involved with.

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. (1 Cor. 2:12-13)

One of the spiritual gifts is “discerning of spirits” (1 Cor. 12:10). This ability to discern spirits means to recognize them, and respond to their influences. Let’s look at the types of spiritual warriors arrayed against us in our quest for the throne of the king of kings, and remember that they have a personal stake in destroying the image of Jesus the Christ in our eyes.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. (1 John 4:1-3)

There are spirits behind men, brethren, and we are to try them – to test them to see whether they are of God and in line with what we know of God through this Book. Here, we see that the focus of the test is how these “spirits,” fronted by human “prophets” view the King of the coming kingdom. Turning back to chapter 2, we see much the same focus.

Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. (1 John 2:18- 22)

Spirit of Antichrist

The spirit of antichrist is one that has particularly intrigued me over the years. Have you noticed the progression of antichrist doctrine even within the church over the last 10-15 years? It began (in my church at least) with an effort to distance ourselves from “Protestantism,” because they were teaching of a “sweet baby Jesus in a manger,” “a dead savior on a pewter cross you can hang around your neck as an idol,” “or a lawless Jesus who did away with His Father’s commandments and gave us license to sin.” It has progressed through the years to the point where some are teaching that the name Jesus means “son of Zeus” and should not be used at all … should be replaced with Yashuah, Yaweh, the Messiah, the Anointed, ect. Many question His divinity, and teach a variety of doctrines about His origins. Many teach what most worldly PhDs believe, that the New Testament wasn’t canonized until the 4th century A.D., and question the validity and authenticity of the NT and even the existence of Jesus, the Christ. I’ve personally lost some of my closest friends to these heresies … and we were warned of these very things in scripture. You’d think someone who’s spent 20 + years in the churches of God, 4 years at Ambassador College, and 10 years as an elder in the church would know a doctrine of the anti-Christ when they see it, but even people with these credentials can run after error.

Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. (Matt 24:3-5)

Christ is saying the same thing here that 1John 4:1 said, “watch out for men led by this antichrist spirit, who preach in My very name and still deceive.” He touches on it again in verses 11–13, and again in verses 23–26. And I would submit to you brethren that in order to deceive the very elect, these antichrists would have to insinuate themselves into the churches where the very elect are worshipping.

In Exodus 3:14, the Lord – the Eternal One who became Jesus, the Christ – introduced Himself to Moses, and Israel as ““I AM WHO I AM.” Have you noticed the number of leading ministers in the various churches today claiming great titles for themselves? They say “I am … the anointed … the apostle … the messenger … the watchman.” I would submit to you, brethren, that anyone who makes such claims bears some very close watching … because he’s under the influence! This is where we’ll pick up in next week’s post, with how to recognize imposters perpetuating deceptions about Christ.

Under The Influence, Part 1

I’d like to begin by quoting two verses from Revelation:

To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. (Rev. 3:21)

Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Rev. 11:15)

We are all here, brethren (as those attempting to overcome) because we are awaiting the coming of the great King (who has overcome the same thing that we are to overcome!). We await the establishment of His kingdom on earth. It is sure to happen – this King will take His throne. It will be a world-encompassing coup … and every misguided government, kingdom, fiefdom, dictatorship, and tyrannical dominion will then be gone. I’ve always loved to hear this sentiment expressed in Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.

Our Victorious Christ

Christ’s personal war has already been won. His enemies are defeated – He has overcome, and is seated at His Father’s right hand on His Father’s throne. But for each of us, the battle rages on. We are attempting to overcome this world even as He did, but with far less success … and when we do overcome the world, we will be allowed to sit with Him on His throne.

through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him. (1 Peter 3:21-12)

His victory has given Him greater authority and powers than anyone except for the Father Himself, and He has already won the throne of this earth. The Father is just waiting till the time is right … and when it is, He will act, an inauguration will take place, and the world will be His.

Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. (Col. 2:15)

I’d like to read a bit from Matthew Henry’s commentary on this verse: “The Redeemer conquered by dying. See his crown of thorns turned into a crown of laurels. He spoiled them, broke the devil’s power, and conquered and disabled him, and made a show of them openly – exposed them to public shame, and made a show of them to angels and men. Never had the devil’s kingdom such a mortal blow given to it as was given by the Lord Jesus. He tied them to his chariot-wheels, and rode forth conquering and to conquer – alluding to the custom of a general’s triumph, who returned victorious.”

Born to Overcome

Just as Christ has overcome, we are supposed to be overcoming. 1 John 5:4 provides us with a view of the gestational process of an overcomer. It reads, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith.”

The word “born” is gennao (G1080), and can mean “begotten, or born,” but in a figurative sense it also means to regenerate, to conceive, to be delivered of. And I ask you to consider, what fits better with what “overcoming” means for people like us.

Our Bibles contains the words, the ways, the thoughts, and the examples of the King of the coming kingdom. It could accurately be said that this Word is Jesus the Christ. I don’t believe it’s just a clever little play on words that John 1:14 says “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory.” The Bible is the King of the coming kingdom personified in print. It’s purpose is to teach the called out ones how to do what the King has already done so that they might become kings also under the King of kings, and sit with Him in His throne. It is His service to us as the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, as the Apostle and High Priest of our calling

How well do we know the King? How strongly do we believe the King? How deeply have we allowed our lives to be influenced by the King of the coming kingdom, and His words, admonitions and warnings to us? What I’d like to do in this series of blog posts, is to take a look at some particular warnings that the King has given us regarding our interactions with the spirit world, and how the evil beings from that realm, having failed in their attempt to prevent Him from overcoming and being seated with the Father in His throne, have directed their attentions to opposing His purpose for us to be seated with Him in His throne.

Under the Influence

And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. (Rev. 12:7-9)

Notice here, it says Satan is the deceiver of the whole world. No exceptions. Brethren … I’m under the influence, and I have been since birth. All of you are too. Every human being on earth is under the influence of Satan’s deception from birth – from the strongest to the weakest, the poorest of men to the very richest human being on the face of the earth, all of us are under the influence. Presidents and prime ministers, kings and queens, popes, evangelists, leaders and followers in the largest religions on earth … all of us are under the influence!

This influence has only been fully overcome by one human being to this point in world history. He is the only One who knows how to overcome the influences of this age and bring us to sit with Him in His throne. In order to be victorious, we are going to need His help, and that’s part of what we’ll talk about next week.

With Liberty and Justice For ALL

Anyone who has grown up in this country, partaken of it’s great bounty and wealth, and enjoyed the blessings of freedom as we all have can’t help but spend part of this July 4th weekend thinking about the rich meaning of the ideals that gave birth to this very special nation.

“With Liberty and Justice For ALL” baptismforlife.wordpress.com

The founding documents contain written evidence of the worshipful respect that the founders had for God, and it is everywhere apparent that America was founded as a Christian nation, by Christian men. While in that state, America has been richly blessed, no matter how the modern-day revisionists might try to rewrite history to prove otherwise.

The nation that we live in is rich in traditions that have kept the concept of freedom and liberty alive, even as we see the nation begin to fade before our eyes. When I was a small child, through at least the first 3 or 4 years of school, we began each day with a prayer, and then we all recited the Pledge of Allegiance with our right hands over our hearts like good little American boys and girls everywhere.

Now, I realize today that our true citizenship is with a King and a kingdom that is not of this world … so our spiritual allegiance shouldn’t be to any worldly flag. But there are some principles that even now can be applied to the greater heavenly kingdom and country that we are all here to seek. The last 10 words of the pledge (as it has been amended) read like this … “One nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.”

Our True Founders

Hebrews 11 tells us how Abraham, the father of the faithful, viewed his own citizenship while he was in the flesh. It also shows how God views those who earnestly desire that better country and kingdom, that is truly “under God, with liberty and justice for all.”

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. (Heb. 11:8-16)

A mission statement of sorts for one of the“founding fathers” (so to speak) of this heavenly country can be found in Isaiah 61. Christ, the King of our kingdom and country, used this to describe His own ministry in Luke 4:16-21, and here in the very first verse He was quoting we see this word … “Liberty!”

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound” (Is. 61:1)

And if we look back a few chapters to Isaiah 42:1-7, we can learn a bit more about the mission of the true Founders to the Kingdom of heaven. These verses are starred in my Bible as Messianic scriptures.

“Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles. He will not cry out, nor raise His voice, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth. He will not fail nor be discouraged, till He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands shall wait for His law.”
Thus says God the Lord, Who created the heavens and stretched them out, Who spread forth the earth and that which comes from it, Who gives breath to the people on it, and spirit to those who walk on it: “I, the Lord, have called You in righteousness, and will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the Gentiles, to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the prison, those who sit in darkness from the prison house.” (Is. 42:1-7)

The Founders of the heavenly Kingdom have made it their business to finally bring real “liberty and justice for all” to humanity, even though we can look at conditions around us and wonder how They are ever going to do it with all that is transpiring in today’s world.

A New Country

And even as we study together here today, we can see how They are laying the groundwork for a worldwide revolution of sorts against the corruption and captivity of this present evil world. Some of my readers may remember a booklet published by the Worldwide Church of God entitled “A World Held Captive” and written by Herbert W Armstrong. This booklet showed how all humanity has been held in bondage by “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4), the “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience ” (Eph. 2:2). Well, God is working in the world through His own Spirit in a group of human followers called out of this world to learn His vision of “liberty and justice for all.”

Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you? You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart. (2 Cor. 3:1-3)

God is writing the founding documents of His Kingdom on human hearts. Then Paul speaks of how the real truth has been hidden from the eyes of most of mankind.

Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Cor. 3:16-18)

These called-out people are being transformed into Him – and into He and his Father’s ideals, ways, and thoughts – so that when His time arrives, they will be ready to help lead the way to liberty and justice for all.

The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (Rom. 8:16-21)

Brethren, even with the highest of ideals all laid out on paper as a target, mankind has never even come close to providing the lofty goal of “liberty and justice for all,” even in one single nation. God and Jesus Christ will, with the establishment of the Kingdom of God, deliver the whole creation into the glorious liberty (and justice) of the children of God, and They are the ONLY ones who can. Not only that, but They will allow Their called out ones to assist Them in bringing that to all mankind. That provides us with a great incentive on this Independence Day weekend to give all diligence to make our calling and election sure.