The dangers of Peter Scazzero and his Emotionally Healthy Spirituality nonsense – Part II

Chapter 4 begins on page 65, and is titled, “Know Yourself That You May Know God.” First off, when I asked the people in my EHS Workbook Study Group if they understood what Scazzero is talking about in this chapter, they were all confused and thought something was wrong with them because they didn’t understand. They thought that because they couldn’t understand what he means in “know yourself” that they were really messed up. I tried my best to assure them that there was nothing wrong with them, the problem was with the nonsense that we were reading.

No where in Scripture are we told that we need to get to know ourselves before we can know God. This is just more nonsense, whether coming from Scazzero himself or the pagan religions that he incorporates into the EHS books. Either way, it is not Scriptural. There is no secret you hiding deep within yourself fighting to come out…there is only the you that you want to be. But that person does not exist until you become that person. It seems that confusion thrives in this book, so much so that I am truly astounded that so many Evangelicals have been taken in by it. Apparently, the mix of false pastors, false teachings, and little actual knowledge of the Scripture leads to mass groping in the darkness to the point that anything will be believed, even when it fosters confusion.

In this chapter, Scazzero makes numerous statements that mimic esoteric New Age writings, like, “true self,” and “your authentic self.” You are you…period. If you want to change something about yourself, then you have the desire to change something about yourself, it is not a completely different person in you waiting for you to release them into being. It is just you desiring a change in life. The way Scazzero words things here, you need to somehow bring out the you that is dwelling inside you, calling it your “true self” and “your authentic self.” This is nothing more than nonsense aimed at either making the book thicker and worth paying more money for, or something akin to spiritual guidance from the dark side to give more confusion.

Part of the problem here is that Scazzero is once again taking this “true self” stuff straight out of Buddhism and Hinduism…

Our real self, the spirit, is ever perfect and free. (http://breathmeditation.org/the-breath-of-life-the-practice-of-breath-meditation)

 

Contrary to what Scazzero is saying here, our spirits are not our true selves. Our spirits are the part of us that make us live in this present world. As James says, without the spirit the body is dead. Your spirit does not make your decisions, it does not cause you to act in the way that you do. Your spirit is just a part of what makes you human – body, spirit, and soul (mind). Part of the problem here is that Scazzero seemingly doesn’t understand himself and places his emotions under a microscope. Scripture is clear, it is OK to be angry, just don’t allow your anger to cause you to sin or do something stupid, and don’t allow anger to rule you, forgive the person that made you angry before the sun goes down. This is just one example of Scripture dealing with emotional issues, and the majority of them require forgiveness in order to get over them, and if we don’t forgive those who have incited those negative feelings, they get worse and worse. A little seed of anger, if not forgiven, can lead to a “root of bitterness” which continues until actions and behavior are affected. “Why do I do that?” “Why do I feel like this?” When we have to ask such questions, you can bet your money that you have not forgiven someone in your past, and it will only get worse until dealt with.

On page 93 where chapter 5 begins, we read: “True spirituality frees us to live joyfully in the present. It requires, however, going back in order to go forward. This takes us to the very heart of spirituality and discipleship in the family of God – breaking free from the destructive sinful patterns of our pasts to live the life of love God intends.” First, let me start out by giving the same engagements as before…this is nonsense. They only thing that frees us to live joyfully in the present, is walking in obedience to God, pure and simple. Eastern religious esoteric practices do not free us for anything, but actually has the power to bring us into great spiritual bondage to darkness.

Remember that Scazzero’s definition of spirituality as he uses it, does not have anything to do with Christianity or what we read in the Scriptures. Second, contrary to what he teaches here, nothing that he has given to us in this book has anything to do with discipleship. Discipleship as taught in the Scriptures, is all about teaching new converts the basics of the doctrines of God, and then helping them practice those which direct our behavior and lifestyles. Meditating to your breathing and other nonsense that he is building up to, has nothing to do with Christian discipleship. Third, they only way to break “free from the destructive sinful patterns of our pasts” is by sitting down and forgiving those who have wronged us, whether they deserve it or not, and by renewing our minds with Scripture so that we can walk in the Spirit, so that we have the power to walk in obedience to God.

We cannot, and will not be able to, live the kind of life of love that God wants us to until we do these three things; renew your mind, walk in the Spirit, walk in obedience. Why? Because sin is a choice, unless it is an addiction (which began as a choice). An addiction can be either a physical, biological one (drugs, alcohol, eating, pornography, etc.) or it can be a sinful one bound up within the flesh (masturbation, etc.) that only prayer will be able to break. Either way, no amount of meditation or chanting mantras will help…

 

Colossians 2:23                                                                                                                                 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

 

Paul says this because it is true…the only thing that can give us the power to stop “the indulgence of the flesh” is the Spirit and the power that He provides. As he says elsewhere…

 

Galatians 3:3                                                                                                                                        Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

 

Chapter 6 (Journey Through the Wall), beginning on page 117, can be considered a valiant attempt to describe and give insight into what Scazzero calls “the Wall.” The Wall is, as he takes from the so-called “ancients,” called “the dark night of the soul” and can last for years, even decades. I have experienced my own time of this darkness, when it seems like God doesn’t answer us, that He doesn’t visit us like He used to. It seems like we receive no direction in life and it fuels frustration and the idea that we have done something so wrong that He just walked away from us. Sadly, however, Scazzero fails to understand exactly what this is, and gives us esoteric instructions on how to get “through” it…which really does not work because it is misguided.

What this “dark night of the soul” is in reality, only comes to those who previously walked with God in intimate relationship, who desired to go deeper with God, and thus voiced that desire in prayer. Then things begin to happen that make us wonder what God was doing…they stopped hearing from Him, stopped feeling His presence, the pull of sin seemed to become stronger while our strength to fight against it seemed to grow weaker. We begin to wonder what we have done, or what we need to do that we haven’t been doing, that is destroying our ability to sense any kind of love or attachment with Him any longer. But not everyone comes to this place, because not everyone who gets saved actually keeps walking with God, even thought they may believe that they are because of false teachers and false doctrines.

What is happening in reality, is that God desires us to move ever closer to Him, and in effort to bring that same desire in us, He hides Himself (as David speaks about in the Psalms) hoping to entice within us the desire to seek Him more diligently in prayer. There, in the thick, dark clouds of obscurity, He waits for us to get so frustrated with things that we fall before Him in deep, soul-wrenching prayer that sometimes lasts for hours or days, and when we come out on the other side, words cannot express the joy that we find in the Light of His glorious face as we enter into His presence yet once again…miles closer to Him than we were before we first prayed that initiating prayer. Scazzero senses the darkness of the soul, but mislabels it, and after mislabeling it he attempts to give us instructions on how to deal with it. However, as stated above, those instructions are misguided because the problem is not what he suspects that it is.

The Wall has nothing to do with faith, or stages of faith. It all has to do with God desiring us to follow Him into the darkness through prayer, seeking Him in order to move closer to Him.

On page 128 he introduces the so-called “Jesus prayer” and says, “By repeating the prayer throughout the day, synchronizing the syllables of these words with our heartbeat throughout the day, the intention is that our very lives will embody the richness of the prayer.” Again, more esoteric nonsense, as if synchronization of the words you speak with your heartbeats will somehow magically weave the meaning of the words into your very being.

In the beginning of chapter 8, on page 153, we read the following directly under the chapter title: “Stopping to Breathe the Air of Eternity.” So, first of all, this chapter is about the Catholic practices of “The Daily Office” and “Sabbath.” Let me first point out regarding sabbath, that Christ is our sabbath today, He is the one that gives us rest as we push forward in obedience to God.

Second, while the practice of “The Daily Office” is centered around taking a short time out from our daily routines and work in order to focus on God – which is a good thing – the manner in which he presents this is not Scriptural. Devotions and quiet time with God (quiet time meaning going somewhere by yourself in order to spend time with God in prayer) is a good thing, and we are all for that. We should all have devotions and take time out’s in order to focus on God and spend some time in prayer, but it needs to follow Biblical precepts, not Hindu and/or Buddhist precepts.

Scazzero goes through how he first came to know about the daily office by visiting Trappist monks at a monastery. In order to get the full scope of what a Trappist monk is:

 

The Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (also known as “Trappists”) is a Roman Catholic contemplative religious order, consisting of monasteries of monks and monasteries of nuns…Our lives are dedicated to seeking union with God, through Jesus Christ, in a community of sisters or brothers. (http://www.ocso.org/)

 

They are ‘contemplatives,’ meaning that they subscribe and practice contemplative spirituality…which, again, is nothing more than Hindu and/or Buddhist meditation practices (which they label as prayer), particularly the so-called “breath meditation.” In breath meditation, which lines up perfectly with Scazzero’s instructions (on page 160), one sits still while holding himself attentive and open to whatever might happen during his meditation time (a red flag should go up just right there alone); sit straight (because in Hinduism, the chakras going up the spine must all be aligned); breathe slowly, deeply, and naturally; and close your eyes or lower them to the ground. As I stated, if you look up Hindu/Buddhist meditation practices, they line up perfectly with what Scazzero gives us here…because that is where he gets them from.

After this list he writes: “When you find your mind wandering, let your breathing bring you back. As you breathe in, ask God to fill you with the Holy Spirit. As you breathe out, exhale all that is sinful, false, and not of him.” First, we do not breathe in the Holy Spirit…if that was the case, then every Christian would be full of His Spirit every day of their lives. Second, you cannot exhale your sins away, nor what is false, nor what is not of God. This is pure nonsense. Nothing cleanses you from your sin except the blood of Christ (if you are walking in obedience to Him, I John 1:7), as for what is false and not of Him, that is YOUR part by walking in obedience to Him. Aside from these minor things, I want to focus on this meditation for a moment…because this is what so-called Christian contemplatives call “breath meditation” in the “Christian (Catholic) Tradition.” Their writings, although couched in “Christianese” mirror Hindu and Buddhist teachings:

 

So in Breath Meditation we immerse our awareness in the breath as that is beyond the thinking mind, beyond all words and concepts, and leads us to the silent consciousness that is our sole reality… In advanced yoga treatises we frequently encounter the term, “Chidakasha,” which means “the Space (Ether) of Consciousness.” This is the level of existence and consciousness so pure and subtle, so interwoven with spirit, that it is indistinguishable from spirit. Various yogic texts inform us that the breath arises directly from the Chidakasha. Breath Meditation right away begins centering our awareness in the etheric levels of our being, in the Chidakasha. By fixing our attention on the movement of the breath our awareness enters into the very root of our existence. The process of meditation takes place within the Chidakasha, the seat of the Spirit-Self. This is the Paradise from which we fell into the “earth” of material consciousness, and to which we return through meditation. In Breath Meditation, through increasing awareness of the breath we begin experiencing the Chidakasha to greater and greater degrees. This is the highest experience for the meditator. The more we meditate the higher and higher and further and further we penetrate into the Infinite Consciousness of which we are an eternal part.  (https://ocoy.org/original-yoga/how-to-meditate/the-breath-of-life-the-practice-of-breath-meditation/the-hindu-tradition-of-breath-meditation/)

 

The ‘christian’ contemplative’s goal is to become united with God…the Hindu goal through breath meditations is to become one with “the Infinite Consciousness of which we are an eternal part.” Sound familiar? You “can be like God” or, in the New Age version, you are god only you just don’t know it yet. Continuing…

 

Breath, which exists on all planes of manifestation, is the connecting link between matter and energy on the one hand and consciousness and mind on the other. By sitting with closed eyes and letting the mind become easefully absorbed in observing and experiencing the movements of the breath we enter into the consciousness from which it arises–the eternal Witness Consciousness. We start with awareness of the ordinary physical breath, but that awareness, when cultivated correctly, leads us into higher awareness which enables us to perceive the subtle movement behind the breath. Ultimately, we come into contact with the Breather of the breath, our own Spirit-Self. (http://breathmeditation.org/the-breath-of-life-the-practice-of-breath-meditation)

 

In case the point here is missed, lost within the babble surrounding it, the “eternal Witness Consciousness” is the same as “the Breather of the breath” . . . which turns out to be you! Your “own Spirit-Self!” Again, you are god, you just don’t know it yet until you reach certain enlightenment through breath meditation. However, when people go into altered states of consciousness in these breath meditations, they open themselves up to demonic possession, which Scazzero either does not know about, or doesn’t know enough about what he is saying to know any better. Other “contemplatives” and esoteric religions (including Hinduism) will give the practitioner warnings about this possibility, such as here by Richard Foster, a practicing (and teaching) ‘christian’ contemplative…

 

I also want to give a word of precaution.  In the silent contemplation of God we are entering deeply into the spiritual realm, and there is such a thing as supernatural guidance that is not divine guidance.  While the Bible does not give us a lot of information on the nature of the spiritual world, we do know enough to recognize that there are various orders of spiritual beings, and some of them are definitely not in cooperation with God and his way. (thevalueofsparrows.com)

 

Foster does not use the word “demon” but that is exactly what he is talking about. This is one other thing that is dangerous to the Christian church; those who get into practicing this contemplative spirituality begin to lose Scriptural truth at an alarming rate. They begin quoting Scripture and twisting it to suit their contemplative nonsense…kind of like Scazzero does throughout his book. Here is one example (found on page 160):

 

Scripture commands us: “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7) and “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

 

He uses these two passages as support in the book for what he calls “centering,” or being still before God. The only problem with this is he is taking the passages out of their context and assigning to them an esoteric meaning outside the purview of the Scriptures. Psalm 37:7 is speaking of not letting yourself be overcome with stress and anxieties because of what others are doing. The premise behind Psalm 46:10, when taken into context, is that God is for Israel and He will not let any lasting harm befall them.

 

On page 161 under the heading of “Silence,” Scazzero continues with, “Dallas Willard has called silence and solitude the two most radical disciplines of the Christian life. Solitude is the practice of being absent from people and things to attend to God. Silence is the practice of quieting every inner and outer voice to attend to God.” First, in searching Dallas Willard and the many, many things associated with his name, he seems like a first-rate Christian with a lot of wisdom. However, when we dig deeper not only in his own life but also in the things associated with his name, such as the Dallas Willard Center for Spiritual Formation, we find underneath the Christianese a disturbing trend…more contemplative spirituality, only far more carefully worded.

Secondly, “Silence is the practice of quieting every inner and outer voice to attend to God” is pure nonsense. Once again, Scripture says nothing about these two supposed practices in order to grow closer to God, and one cannot “attend to God” by sitting alone in a room silently meditating upon his favorite mantra or focusing upon his breathing. Third, “Solitude is the practice of being absent from people and things to attend to God” is nonsense. While we do need to take time out every day, as many times as we can a day, to pray and just talk to the Lord, we “attend to God” by – shocking revelation – walking in obedience to God in His Word. We attend to people by loving on them, that is, by helping them when they need help, and by being kind to people whether they need help or not.

 

On page 177 we read a small list of eight things and then a short paragraph:

  • How can I be quick to hear and slow to speak?
  • How can I be angry and not sin?
  • How can I watch my heart above all else (since that is the place from which life flows)?
  • How can I speak the truth in love?
  • How can I be a true peacemaker?
  • How can I mourn?
  • How can I not bear false witness against my neighbor?
  • How can I get rid of all bitterness, rage, and envy?

 The end result of an inability to walk out our beliefs is that our churches and relationships within the church are not qualitatively any different from the world around us.

While Scazzero’s observation in bold may be true, what he offers in his book is not the answer to the question of how a Christian can walk out his beliefs. Meditating upon your breathing, or meditating upon the name “Jesus” or any Scriptural mantra will not do that. I have stated this before and I will say it again, by trying to use Hindu and Buddhist meditation practices into the church in order to help Christians somehow move closer to God as a spiritual vehicle, is as lame, stupid, and moronic as bringing a Ouija board into the church as a spiritual vehicle and using it to communicate with God and draw closer to Him with it.

Hear me clearly, those who do such things, whatever condemnation falls upon such people because of those actions will be justly deserved.

Concernedly, the answer to his eight bulleted questions (and many, many more) is found solidly in prayer. The more time we spend with God in prayer, the more Christ-like we become inwardly, developing what Paul calls “the mind of Christ.” But that is not where things end, that is only the catalyst to changing one’s behavior to conform to the image of Christ. The mind of Christ is always the first thing that must come, because our actions begin in our minds. Only after developing the mind of Christ through prayer and renewing our minds can we then move into the realm of obedience that matters – because then it comes from the heart. Obedience simply for obedience’s sake is good, but hollow. If obedience doesn’t come from the heart, then we are only pretending, playing church, becoming religious people who soon turn into legalists.

How can I stop telling lies? By spending enough time with God that I develop an emotional bond with Him, then my emotions…my heart…will be strengthened to stop telling lies because I don’t want to hurt God’s feelings. I never wanted to hurt His feelings in the first place, but until we develop an emotional bond with Him, we may not have wanted to hurt Him in the past but our hearts were not “into it.” Understand?

I can not want to purposely hurt you, but being human and naturally self-centered, I may not purposely try to stop myself from hurting you, and if I did hurt you, although I would feel bad for a few minutes, it wouldn’t have that great of an impact upon me. Why? Because I don’t know you. I don’t have a relationship with you. I don’t have any kind of emotional bond with you. But, when we spend time with one another and get to know one another, we develop an emotional bond with one another, and that bond motivates us to not lie to one another. The same is true of any and every other thing that is not pleasing to God.

If I have an emotional bond with you, then I won’t steal from you, I won’t try to sleep with your wife, I won’t try to kill you, etc. When we build an emotional bond with God through prayer and personal worship – and I mean real prayer, not just getting down on your knees and praying without any emotional investment or tears, but pouring our hearts out to Him and allowing ourselves to become vulnerable – when we pray with our whole being, we build that emotional bond of love with God. That bond gives us joy because we have reached Him, and because reaching Him gives Him joy, and “the joy of the Lord is our strength.” The joy we receive in ourselves because we give Him joy, strengthens us to walk in a way that is pleasing to Him.

Most people erringly believe that this passage (Neh. 8:10) tells them that God somehow will give them joy…apparently by grace and for no other reason…and that this divine joy will be their strength. However, that is not what is meant here. We receive joy in knowing that we are making God happy with us by drawing closer to Him. The more joy we give Him, the more joy we receive in knowing that we are giving Him joy, and that joy gives us strength to keep pushing forward into ever increasing obedience and holiness, to keep pushing ever forward into deeper and deeper prayer lives and times of personal worship. When we come to the place of receiving joy in knowing that we give God joy just by our seeking Him in prayer and worship, we gain the strength through that emotional bond to renew our minds and begin walking in the Spirit.

When we begin walking in the Spirit and hearing His voice, we enter into the highest place of existence here upon the earth, shedding the flesh, walking in genuine love for all people, even our enemies. There is no closer walk that we can attain with God until the day He takes us home.

 

 

This concludes my review of Peter Scazzero and his book, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, which in and of itself is nothing more than a person’s thinking about how to help the ailing church with its problems, but in a completely misguided, esoteric way. The answer to the church’s problem today is that (1) by and large, for the most part, Christians do not set aside time to spend with God in prayer; and (2) our churches today – by and large, for the most part – are pastored by people who God never called into that ministry. As such, they are not equipped by Him in order to understand how to minister to the church…they don’t understand what worship is or what it does…they don’t understand how to correctly study and read the Scriptures, and so the church today is filled with every kind of false teaching and false doctrine.

 

 

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The dangers of Peter Scazzero and his Emotionally Healthy Spirituality nonsense

Before getting into the book itself, let’s take a look at the author: Peter Scazzero…

  1. Scazzero is not a Christian, he is a Catholic. Now, while many Christians may hold that Catholics are Christians because they embrace the main doctrines of Scripture, it matters little if they do such when they involve themselves in unbiblical practices.

– When you pray to Mary, you are involved in pagan practices, not Scriptural practices.

– When you pray to a statue of Mary, you are involved in pagan practices, not Scriptural practices.

– When you tell people that they have to come and confess their sins to you, rather than going to the Mediator between God and men, Jesus Christ, then you are not practicing Biblical precepts.

– When you cling to worldly things and teach millions of others that doing such is OK with God, then you are not practicing Biblical precepts.

– When you tell young people that if they commit themselves to each other they are married in God’s eyes, so they don’t necessarily need to get married before men, then you are in sin.

– The list can go on, but the point is that just because Catholicism is based upon the Bible, does not mean that they are any more Christian than Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses, who also base their religion on the Bible.

There may very well be people within the Catholic church that are deadly sincere in their search for God or in their religion, but we know that being sincere does not amount to a hill of beans if you are sincerely wrong in what you are practicing.

2.  Scazzero is not only a Catholic, he is also part of the Catholic – Buddhist movement (which they call the Christian-Buddhist movement), and has even been the guest speaker at such Catholic-Buddhist conventions. Anyone who mixes the Bible with paganism, is not a Christian by any stretch of the imagination.

3.  Scazzero is also somewhat of a leader in the Emergent Church Movement, which is riddled with false doctrines, liberal unscriptural doctrines (homosexuals are OK with God, for example), and other unbiblical teachings and attitudes.

 

4.  As we shall see in the coming pages, Scazzero thinks that it is Ok to teach Christians to involve themselves in esoteric, eastern mystic meditation practices in order to ‘get closer to God.’ These practices lead people to involve themselves in pagan practices that open them to demonic contact and demonic possession – but Scazzero thinks nothing of that since Catholic mystic monks have been practicing them for decades.

 

5.  Aside from these things, he couches the vocabulary of the book within Christian terminology, which is deceptive, whether he believes it is or not.

 

Now that we have an inside look at the author of this book, let us tackle the teachings which Scazzero is giving to the Church at large:

The seeming point to the book is the underlying caption, “It’s impossible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.” The supposed premise here is that one cannot become spiritually mature if one is emotionally immature; however, the fact is that when one matures spiritually he will automatically mature emotionally. The two cannot be separated any more than your spirit can separate from your body and the body remain alive.

On page 1 Scazzero writes, “I never imagined that the message contained in these pages would resonate so deeply with churches across all denominations and theological lines.” However, the reason for such a deep resonation is that the Church is experiencing the fall-out from numerous problems, most of which center around people taking up the positions in the church of pastor who God has never called into the ministry (this will be explained more fully later).

On page 2 of the Introduction, he tells us, “This book is meant to transform your life, not merely provide information. It is an invitation to a deeper and wider relationship with Jesus Christ, requiring you to journey into the unknown…” I don’t know whether Scazzero is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, or whether he is just deceived, but this book will not get you any closer to Christ…and in fact, it will take you farther away from Him if you practice what he invites you to do in the book; such as…

In the same paragraph, he tells you, “The combination of emotional health and contemplative spirituality – the heart of the message found on these pages – will unleash a revolution into the deep places of your life.” Now we have the main crux of what this book is all about, contemplative spirituality, and now we must give you the meaning of this term:

Contemplative Spirituality –

  • Contemplative spirituality teaches that god lives inside every man, saved or unsaved…

 

  • It teaches that man’s basic problem is that he is not in contact with the god that dwells within us all…

 

  • And that by ancient meditation practices and prayer techniques, man can restore communion, peace, and balance with god…

 

  • It teaches you to empty your mind and focus on your breathing (Buddhist/Hindu meditation), because your breath is the spirit of god and you must concentrate on breathing in god…

 

  • CS spiritualizes God into some kind of esoteric manifestation of love – love incarnate. This is not what the Scriptures mean when they say that God is love.

 

  • Within Contemplative Spirituality, practitioners practice what they call contemplative prayer and compare it to prayer which we read about in the Bible. The main problem here, however, is that contemplative prayer is not prayer at all, rather (as we touched upon above) it is sitting still, clearing your mind and emptying it of any and all thought, chanting a single word or short phrase (in the so-called ‘Christian tradition’ one can chant Jesus’ name over and over again, or something in a phrase like “God is love”) or focusing on one’s breathing. There is no communication with God taking place at all – the practitioner is actually focusing inward to hear ‘god’ rather than addressing Him directly, as the Scriptures teach.

 

  • CS also teaches its adherents regarding transcendental meditations, to ‘go inward’ seeking enlightenment that is within us all, to the point that when you become sufficiently enlightened, that you become light enough to levitate during meditation. The only way that a person can levitate, is if they have become demon possessed and the demonic spirit within them is causing that action. Human beings do not have the power to levitate in and of themselves…it is akin to saying that you can walk through walls. This aspect of CS is not addressed by Scazzero in his book.

 

  • Adherents of CS and contemplative ‘prayer’ as well as other transcendental meditations, can not only feel better and more mentally alert after their meditation practice…but continued practice has led many to experience nervous breakdowns, episodes of dangerous and bizarre behavior, suicidal and homicidal tendencies, psychological episodes, crime, depression, and manic behavior. All of which are modern day symptoms (among others) of possible demonic activity. Although people may have these symptoms, it does not necessary mean that they are possessed. [A person who is possessed does not always act like what we see in The Exorcist or other movies portraying demonic possession. In some people the symptoms can be homosexuality, or various other things.]

 

  • Speaking of demonic activity, the practice of contemplative ‘prayer’ takes one into the spiritual realm where people – in this case Christians who mean well in trying to develop a better relationship with God (cough) – think they are meeting angels, the Holy Spirit, or even Christ or God while in the spiritual realm. However, masquerading as angels of light are what demons do, for the purpose of deception in order to keep us from meeting with God.

 

  • Nothing having to do with Contemplative Spirituality, or contemplative prayer, is anything that a Christian should be participating in – especially if their goal is to move closer to God. Scripture says that there is only one way to move closer to God…and that is by moving into ever deeper practice of holiness. Of course, that’s just too much work, so people want to find a better way of moving closer to God. Unfortunately for these folks, there is no other way to move closer to God; hence we have teachers accumulating to themselves those with itching ears, and moving into ever increasing darkness rather than light.

 

  • So, when Scazzero says, “contemplative spirituality – the heart of the message found on these pages – will unleash a revolution into the deep places of your life,” he may have good intentions on his part, but his ‘well-meaning’ advise has the potential to revolutionize your life through demon possession…something that no sane person should desire. Even CS and CP enthusiast and teacher Richard Foster issues caution:

I also want to give a word of precaution.  In the silent contemplation of God we are entering deeply into the spiritual realm, and there is such a thing as supernatural guidance that is not divine guidance.  While the Bible does not give us a lot of information on the nature of the spiritual world, we do know enough to recognize that there are various orders of spiritual beings, and some of them are definitely not in cooperation with God and his way. (thevalueofsparrows.com)

 

Scazzero evidently has no qualms about teaching Christians how they can perform pagan Hindu and Buddhist meditation practices that will take them directly into contact with demonic spirits… and he doesn’t even give us warning about these things in this book, which others in the field of eastern meditation do feel necessary to warn others about.

On page 3 of the Introduction, he says, “Chapter 3 provides the hinge upon which the rest of the book hangs, explaining why both emotional health and contemplative spirituality are indispensable to bringing transformation in Christ to the deep places of your life.” This is outright nonsense. CS is really BS! Neither Paul nor any of the other apostles, or Christians of the first century, needed contemplative spirituality in order to transform into the image of Christ. Scazzero, in fact, does not know what he is talking about. Paul, I am sure, would denounce Scazzero for a wolf in sheep’s clothing. What takes us into transformation into Christ, and becoming more and more like Him (as we are commanded to), is personal prayer and relationship with God, and in walking in obedience to Him. Key points of Biblical character which Scazzero never addresses not even one time throughout the 227 pages of the book. He appears to be one of those who thinks he knows better than the Scriptures on how to reach God, and in a most unbiblical, esoteric way.

Also on page 3 of the Introduction, Scazzero quotes and references in other places in his book, John of the Cross, a Catholic mystic who engaged in esoteric and occult practices. This is not someone a Christian should be reading from. Among his writings, he teaches that Christians need to stop practicing prayer and other spiritual routines because, he says, they prevent one from attaining ‘full union with God.’

On page 7, the first page of chapter 1, Scazzero gives us insight into his mental haze by saying, “Christian spirituality, without an integration of emotional health, can be deadly – to yourself, your relationship with God, and the people around you.” Let us pause for a moment and examine the outer crux of what Scazzero’s book is supposedly all about, emotional health.

Exactly what is emotional health?

People who are emotionally healthy are in control of their thoughts, feelings, and behavior. They can keep things in perspective and are able to bounce back from set-backs that take place in their lives. They feel good about themselves and have good relationships with others.

Being healthy emotionally does not mean that you are happy all the time. Rather, it means that you are aware of your emotions and you are mature enough to keep them in check so that you don’t allow them to rule and run your life. People who live their lives according to what they feel are not emotionally healthy…they only do the dishes when the “feel” like it. They only do their laundry when the “feel” like it. They only go to work, pay their bills, feed the kids, cut the grass, etc., when they “feel” like doing those things. And if they don’t feel like doing them, then someone else has to do it or those things don’t get done.

In effect, what we are talking about when it comes to emotional health, is maturity. Being mature means that you accept your responsibilities in life and do them, regardless of how you feel. You pay your bills because you are responsible for them. You take care of your kids because you are responsible for them. When we do not accept our responsibilities in life, then we are immature.

When a person lives their life according to how they feel, and not according to their responsibilities in life, but allow their emotions to dictate their actions and behavior…then they are not mature. Below the surface, what Scazzero is ‘trying’ to doctor for you, is your level of maturity – yet he is so spiritually immature that he does not see that.

Being emotionally healthy means that you manage your emotions so that you don’t allow them to cause you to make stupid or unhealthy decisions and actions. An emotionally healthy person still experiences the same kind of stresses, depression, and anxieties that we all have, but he deals with them in healthy, constructive, and beneficial ways.

Therefore, how does “Christian spirituality” and emotional health come together? We find the answer in a variety of passages in the Scriptures – without having to consult esoteric, mystic, eastern meditation practices:

Romans 12:2                                                                                                                                          Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:10                                                                                                                                    Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Romans 12:14                                                                                                                                   Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

I Corinthians 9:27                                                                                                                               But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Galatians 5:24                                                                                                                                    And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Ephesians 4:2                                                                                                                                    with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,

Ephesians 4:26                                                                                                                                      Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,

Ephesians 4:31                                                                                                                                     Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

Philippians 2:3                                                                                                                                     Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Colossians 3:2                                                                                                                                      Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

 

These are but a small fraction of the passages addressing emotions (as well as other topics) and how we are to deal with them. The spiritually mature are those who pay attention to their emotions (in this specific case) and train themselves to deal with those emotions according to the directives of the Scriptures.

A Christian who deliberately hurts people physically or emotionally when he is angry, is either not a Christian, or he is not a very mature Christian. Maturity has to do with accepting one’s responsibilities – no matter what they are – and as Christians we are given mandates that we are responsible to God for, regarding how to handle our emotions.

We are not to “bottle” our emotions, but neither are we to just “have at it” with our emotions. We are to find mature ways to deal with our emotions so that they do not get out of hand and cause emotional problems or cause us to make problems for ourselves through violence or other issues.

Now, let’s look again at the quote above: “Christian spirituality, without an integration of emotional health, can be deadly – to yourself, your relationship with God, and the people around you.” We would think that Scazzero means ‘spiritual maturity’ because “Christian spirituality” seems to be redundant…but it is in fact not redundant, because what Scazzero means by spirituality is esoteric eastern nonsense.

Spirituality as defined in the way that Scazzero means – from the eastern religions – means a spiritual process of re-forming oneself in order to orientate oneself towards contact, experience, and subsummation into the god within. In other words, through spiritual meditation and exercises into the spiritual world, one contacts his inner self through which he can come face to face with higher spiritual beings who will teach him how to live life well now, while at the same time learning to become one with the supreme being (or beings) who are transient and dwell within all other things. In this language, we hear about “ascended master’s,” personal growth with an emphasis upon personal experience with spirits, and other non-Biblical terms and teachings.

Spirituality in this sense means that there is no right or wrong way to reach god. One person might seek god through meditation, another through yoga, another through drug experimentation, etc. The term “spirituality” generally addresses spiritual paths outside of Biblical directions to do so. Spirituality generally has no rules for what is right and wrong, good and evil, neither is there a right path to God or a wrong path, but any path may be found by particular individuals in their search for universal truth and harmony.

A simple web search for the meaning of spirituality will show a definite differentiation between what the Bible tells us about relationship with God, and some definitions of spirituality will even include religious awareness and/or religious attendance (church, mosque, temple, etc.). What we will not find, is anything close to how God’s Word tells us that we must come to God. Thus, the term “spirituality” has little to nothing to do with Christianity. We must remember Scazzero’s background…a Catholic background where he has mixed Buddhist/Hindu teachings and practices with his brand of ‘christianity.’

Christian ‘spirituality’ cannot be separated from emotional health, strictly because one’s emotional health is part and parcel of one’s walk with God. Controlling one’s emotions has a direct impact upon our behavior, and one who is not controlling his/her behavior is not, by definition, on the pathway to spiritual maturity. The belabored point here, is that one cannot be actively walking with God and not be bringing under control his emotions and feelings, because one who is actively walking with God strives to be holy and righteous (things that ‘spirituality’ does not address regarding a divine being).

Having said all that, in the quote Scazzero says that being emotionally unhealthy can destroy ourselves, our relationship with God, as well as with those around us. While his round-about way of teaching includes esoteric terms and language, what he says is true – if a person allows his emotions to run away with him, and allows them to cause him to do things that he should not be doing, he will most definitely destroy his relationship with God, others, and potentially destroy every area of his life.

However, his book does not address the foremost thing that Scripture tells us to do in order to become spiritually mature…walking in obedience to God and applying the spiritual precepts to our lives which the Bible gives us to do.

On page 8 he says he did something that no pastor of a church of God should ever do…he says that he lied to someone visiting his congregation. According to the Scriptures and the attitudes that they give us concerning ministers, anyone who calls himself a pastor that lies to anyone, much less someone in their congregation, is not a person that should be filling the pulpit.

On page 10 he says the following: “I was stuck at an immature level of spiritual and emotional development. And my then-present way of living the Christian life was not transforming the deep places in my life.” While I have no doubt that this was (and most likely still is) the truth about him, Scazzero fails to understand that Scripture tells us how to move into spiritual maturity – and it has nothing to do with the eastern esoteric meditative nonsense that he outlines in his book.

Spiritual (and emotional) maturity as the Scriptures outline them, has to do primarily with walking in obedience to God’s Word, putting into practice what the Bible tells us to do, such as the passages given above. Walking in obedience to God is the only way to come to spiritual maturity, and it is the only way to come to emotional maturity as the Bible outlines it. And this is one of the main reasons why people are leaving the church today without even realizing it – because they would have personal experiences with God IF they were walking in obedience to His Word. Sadly, however, obedience to God today is not one of the main subjects preached about.

On pages 10-11, Scazzero may correctly pin-point the feelings of those who are leaving the church in droves when he says; “Researchers have been charting the departing dust of those known as ‘church leavers’ – an increasingly large group that has been gathering numbers in recent years…what went wrong? They were sincere followers of Jesus Christ, but they struggled as much as anyone else with their marriages, divorces, friendships, parenting, singleness, sexuality, addictions, insecurities, drive for approval, and feelings of failure and depression at work, church, and home…what went wrong with the church?” He continues on to page 11 in saying; “After many years of frustration and disappointment, realizing that the black and white presentations of the life of faith did not fit with their life experience, they quit – at least internally…they grew weary of Christians around them who, regardless of their ‘knowledge’ of God, church involvement, and zeal, were angry, compulsive, highly opinionated, defensive, proud, and too busy to love the Jesus they professed…They can’t quite put their finger on the problem, but they know something is not right. Something is missing.”

Although what he states above is true…in that there is something missing in a vast majority of churches in this country today…what Scazzero fails to pin-point is exactly what is missing. He fails to address what is missing because he himself does not know what it is. In effort to give the church what he feels it is missing, Scazzero instead gives hundreds of churches nationwide, and thousands of Christians around the world (possibly millions) eastern mystical, Buddhist and Hindu meditation practices so that – in his mind – will give them a better chance at experiencing God in their personal lives.

He is not far from the truth. What is missing in our churches today is that people go to church in search of God. They want to come into contact with God face to face as it were…they believe and exercise faith in Him, but their hearts yearn for contact with Him, but they are just not finding it in church. While this is not a paper on why the church does not meet with God, for the most part, I will basically state that the reason why we don’t meet God and come into contact with Him in church…is because our churches today, for the most part, are pastored by men and women whom God has never called into His ministry.

If God has not given you a specific call into ministry by some divine contact – be it through a prophet, evangelist, vision, or other means – then you have no business filling the position of the pastor of a church. Period. He whom God calls, He also equips. And when a person fills the position and office of pastor who has not been called by God into that position and office, then that person is not equipped for that job. If he isn’t equipped for the job, he will not be able to do the job…just as a person who has not been called by God to be a prophet will not be able to do the job of a prophet. He will be a false prophet, calling down upon himself the wrath of God for doing what he is not called to do. That should be a stern warning for any and all who take up the mantle of what God Himself has not called him to do. Read Ephesians 4:11-14 for the duties of those church offices of ministry.

What am I saying? I am saying that if you study the texts in Scripture that deals with ministry, it is God who gives a certain (solid, concrete) call into the ministry, and He equips those with special spiritual giftings to be able to perform the call He places upon them. If one is not called to be a pastor, then he will not be able to take the church into God’s presence in worship, he will not be able to see in Scripture the key things that people need in order to become spiritually mature, and he will not be able to give you what you need in order to approach God according to Scripture. This is one reason why I see that Scazzero is not called by God to be the pastor of the church he is currently pastoring…because if he was, he would see the problem – the true problem – and address it according to Scripture; not according to eastern religious esoteric meditation nonsense that has the ability to get people demon possessed.

On page 16 he hits a milestone: “A yoke, in ancient Palestine, was made of wood, handmade to fit perfectly to the neck and shoulders of oxen and prevent chafing or cutting. In the same way, Jesus’ assurance of a ‘light, easy yoke’ can be translated as follows: ‘I have crafted a life for you, a yoke for you to wear that perfectly fits who you are. It is light and easy, I promise.’ The reality, however, is that after many years as an active Christian, I felt exhausted and in need of a break. My life was lived more out of reaction to what other people did or might do or what they thought or might think about me. I knew in my head we were to live to please God. Living like that was another matter.”

I want to focus in on the bold text, where Scazzero is confused and gives us his erroneous interpretation of what Jesus actually states. The text that he refers to (Matthew 11:28-30) does not translate to saying that Christ has fashioned a “yoke for you to wear that perfectly fits who you are.” God calls us to move from who we are (practicing sinners) into a life of holiness and righteousness, He does not fashion a yoke for us for “who you are.” The yoke that He speaks of always ‘yokes’ two working animals together, and this is what Jesus is promising: that He will yoke us together with Him and He shares our burdens and empowers us to the work…as long as that is what we are doing.

The work we are to be doing is working on ourselves to bring ourselves into His likeness, to transform ourselves into His image on earth. That only takes place through commitment to Him and walking in obedience to Him. It does not come about only through prayer, or worship, or doing good things, or doing ministry (especially if you have not been called by God into the ministry). We do not become the image of Christ in maturity, or anything else, if we are not walking in obedience to Christ. This is the second reason why the church is failing today: we not only have pastors who are not called by God into leading His people, we also have churches full of people who put on their Sunday best, go to church, and then go home and leave their ‘christianity’ back at the church doors.

Some people like to say that what makes them a Christian is what they believe, and that is childish nonsense. Do you become a car if you believe that you are a car? Do you become a cheeseburger if you believe that you are a cheeseburger? Can you fly if you believe that you can fly? Let’s take it further…are you a lawyer simply because you want to believe that you are? Can you make yourself a police officer just because you want to believe that you are a police officer?

The obvious answer is no. Neither are you a Christian just because you believe in Christ. This “easy believism” nonsense in the church today is what’s killing the church today. What makes you a Christian is following Christ in obedience, which is what Scripture teaches from Genesis to Revelation.

On page 17, Scazzero repeats an oft-repeated mantra of his, the center issue of the book, “It is not possible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.” While he correctly identifies a problem, he both looks at the problem, and addresses the problem, from the viewpoint of a salesman, not a psychologist. In fact, it is impossible for a person to be spiritually mature in Christianity, and be emotionally immature at the same time; why? Simply because our emotions, and how we process them, are part and parcel of becoming spiritually mature. The problem with Scazzero’s approach here, is that he looks at the two events as two separate and individual problems, when they are not.

A person who is reading the Scriptures, praying (which includes more than simply your “please do this” list, but actually coming to God for personal and intimate communion and fellowship), worshiping God personally at home, will not start down the road to Christian maturity until they begin to walk in obedience to God and do what the Bible instructs us to do. And again, Scazzero never touches on obedience to God at all…not once…in the entire 227 pages of the book.

On page 19 we see one of the areas in his life that suggests that he was never called by God to pastor a church, lacking the spiritual gifting to understand Scripture and obedience. He says, “I had been taught that the way to approach life was through fact, faith, and feelings, in that order. As a result, anger, for example, was simply not important to my walk with God. In fact, it was dangerous and needed to be suppressed.” He goes on to the end of the paragraph, stating that he was “asking God to take away my ‘bad’ feelings and make me like Christ.”

Two things here: first, Scripture does not tell us to suppress anger, it tells us to forgive the one who made us angry because of whatever they did or said. When we don’t forgive like we are commanded to, then God says that He will no longer forgive us. When we walk in disobedience to God, we are not walking in obedience to Him…we are not being transformed into the image of Christ, and we are not on the road to spiritual maturity in Christ. Second, God tells us to conform to the image of Christ, Scripture does not tell us anywhere that God will snap His fingers and “poof!” we magically become the image of Christ. That is our job, not God’s, and we only work on becoming the image of Christ through walking in obedience to Him.

Down at the bottom of page 19, we read the following: “I learned that if we do the hard work of integrating emotional health and spirituality, we can truly experience the wonderful promises God has given us.” Here, the sad truth is that Scazzero is deceived, completely. First, notice that he once again returns to the term “spirituality,” and note that he does not use the word in the Biblical sense. How do I know this? Because if he was using it in the Biblical sense of the word, he would next address obedience to God, but he does not. Secondly, he is deceived in thinking that eastern esoteric meditations lead people into experiencing “the wonderful promises God has given us,” because those promises only come to those who are abiding in the New Covenant through obedience to the Law of Christ…not through Hindu meditations.

Many, many Christians do not experience the promises of God in their lives because…because they only believe they are Christians when they really are not. A person is a Christian when they follow Christ’s teachings and walk in obedience to God, because it is then that they abide in the New Covenant – the marriage covenant of God to “whosoever will” come to Him on His terms.

For far too long the church, especially in the West, has ignored the fact and implication that the Bible is made up of two covenants, not two “testaments.” A covenant is not a testament. They are both legal instruments of ancient juris prudence (law), but they served two completely different purposes legally. The New Testament is not a testament, it is the New Covenant in Christ, and until the church learns exactly what that means, and what it directly implies, she (the church) will continue to have problems and remain spiritually impotent and powerless to affect change in either the individual, or the world around her.

Case in point, the promises of God are covenant promises, given by God to those who abide in the New Covenant. We remain abiding in the New Covenant through walking in obedience to God. If we are not walking in obedience to God, then we are not abiding in Christ or the New Covenant. If you are not abiding in Christ or the New Covenant, then you do not have any legal right to have any of the promises of God…and that includes eternal life. When people believe through false doctrine that they don’t have to walk in obedience to God because Christ’s righteousness is what its all about, then human tendency is to not do what we don’t have to do.

People get saved and then never engage God in either personal relationship, nor walk in obedience to Him (which is what leads to all the problems in Christians’ lives that this book addresses)…in effect, they walk through the front doors of the church, and then spiritually walk right out the back doors, never knowing that they did. They attend church on Sundays and perhaps even mid-week service, but they have no relationship with God physically or spiritually…and like Scazzero, years later wonder why they don’t experience God and their lives are falling apart.

Throughout the book we read sentences akin to “Allow God to love you where you are now,” and the like (page 20). This is nonsense. God loves us all day long, every day, wherever we are, whatever we are doing – even when we sin. This phrase, and all those like it, are not only deceptive but down right unbiblical.

On page 24 Scazzero gives us a list of 10 things he believes are symptoms of being emotionally unhealthy…most of which is sincere nonsense. In numbers 2 and 3 (Ignoring the emotions of…; and Dying to the wrong things) he gets close, but not close enough to do the reader of his book any real good. The main symptom (and cause) of being emotionally unhealthy for the Christian, is found solidly in the fact that one is not walking in obedience to God.

Oh, he may not be spending hours in pornography or using foul language, and she may not be spending hours gossiping over the phone or masturbating in wild fantasies, but neither are they doing what God tells us to do in the Bible. People don’t spend quality time in prayer, they don’t spend time bettering themselves as far as God is concerned, training themselves to be kind and loving to others. They spend more time in front of their computers, TV’s, phones and iPads than they do in personal praise and worship and reading God’s Word. Walking in obedience to God includes much, much more than simply obeying the 10 Commandments (which is what most people think).

On page 28 Scazzero shows that he knows little about sanctification, and gives us reason to believe that the gospel that he preaches to his congregation is primarily a social gospel, not the gospel of Christ (which follows suit since he also appears to be part and parcel of the Emerging Church movement). He says, “Part of the sanctification process of the Holy Spirit is to strip away the false constructs we have accumulated and enable our true selves to emerge.”

Pure adulterated nonsense. Sanctification has everything to do with bringing the Christian into deeper and deeper levels of walking in holiness before God. There is nothing inherently holy about a human being…there is nothing hiding deep within a person (our “true selves”) that the Holy Spirit is trying to let loose to emerge within us. We were indeed created as holy and righteous beings, but sin has marred what we were created as, and causes us to be what we are today. What we were created to be is not “our true selves,” because no matter how far down we go, what we were created to be has been destroyed.

The whole purpose of God now, is to bring those who so desire, through the battlefield of this life into a personal and intimate walk with Him through relationship and obedience. In fact, 90% of that relationship on our part, is obedience. When you walk in sin during the week (which entails both doing what God has told you not to do, as well as not doing what He has told you to do), and then stand in church with your hands raised, singing at the top of your voice – even if it is a true worship song – your worship is nothing more than a stench in the nose of God. Worship (in any form) without obedience (in every form), is actually an abomination to God. Read the first 12 verses of Jeremiah chapter seven for more clarification if you need it.

On page 30-31, Scazzero quotes Ron Sider’s book, The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience, in saying, “Whether the issue is marriage and sexuality or money and care for the poor, evangelicals today are living scandalously unbiblical lives…The data suggest that in many crucial areas evangelicals are not living any differently from their unbelieving neighbors.” So, Scazzero quotes Sider who obviously sees the problem in the mainline church today (walking in disobedience to God and to the Word of God) yet Scazzero’s approach to fixing the issue isn’t writing a book to motivate Christians to start walking in obedience to God…instead, he writes a book telling Christians to follow Buddhist and Hindu meditate practices so that (in his mind and words) they can “experience God.”

According to Scripture, if you want to experience God, hear His voice and enjoy having Him speak to you in your spirit, and enjoy feeling His presence…then you spend quality time with Him in prayer, in personal worship, and by walking in obedience to Him. Why did Paul, Peter, and Philip in the Book of Acts hear the Spirit speak to them? Because they were walking in obedience to Him, and the more we do so, the more He will speak to us because we are following His leading.

In Romans 8:14, Paul writes that those who follow the leading of the Spirit are the children of God. It does not matter if you got saved at age 16, if you are not actively following the leading of the Spirit, whether by unction or voice in your spirit, then you are not following His leading, and according to Paul, then, you are not really a child of God, no matter what you think. Meditating upon a mantra or your breathing will not cause you to walk in obedience to God.

In the tenth thing that Scazzero gives as a symptom of being emotionally unhealthy spiritually, Judging Other People’s Spiritual Journey (beginning on page 36), he falls back into the eastern mystic definition of spirituality again. On page 37 he says, “By failing to let others be themselves before God and move at their own pace, we inevitably project onto them our own discomfort with their choice to live life differently than we do…” This is echoed in the EHS Workbook, on page 12 under Suggested Guidelines for group study, under the heading “No Fixing, Saving, No setting Other People Straight,” we read…

Respect people’s journeys and trust the Holy Spirit inside of them to lead them into all truth – in his timing. Resist the temptation to offer quick advice as people share in the group.

Basically, what Scazzero is saying, it that it is OK if someone believes a false doctrine and that fact comes out somehow in the group discussion. It is OK if someone believes New Age doctrine because their journey just isn’t ‘there’ yet. It is OK if someone believes that they can engage in sexual behavior outside of marriage…the Holy Spirit will teach them that it is the wrong thing to do.

Scazzero directly contradicts Scriptural teaching here, so just for the record, and to be thorough in the exposure of his mentality here…

 

I Timothy 4:1                                                                                                                                     Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,

II Timothy 4:4                                                                                                                                     and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

II Peter 2:1-2                                                                                                                                        But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.

Hebrews 13:9                                                                                                                                        Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them.

 

In these passages we are told that false doctrines and ignorance of the Truth will surely come into the church, and Paul tells us that we are saved by having correct knowledge of the Truth (II Thess. 2:13). In the following passages, we are told to correct those who believe things that are not the truth…we are never told to just let them go and hope that the Holy Spirit will teach them what they need to know (which nonsense we will address below)…

II Timothy 2:25                                                                                                                                        in gentleness, correcting those who oppose themselves, who repeatedly choose to hold to attitudes about things which are contrary to the gospel out of ignorance of truth; so that God might give them understanding, causing them to repent of their attitudes, and then move into a complete knowledge of the truth.

II Timothy 3:16                                                                                                                                     All Scripture is prompted by God, and is useful for direction in teaching, to bring about conviction and correction, for directing educative discipline into conformity to righteousness.

Ephesians 4:14                                                                                                                                       so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

 

Many are under the false notion that the job of the Spirit is to lead us into all truth as is incorrectly interpreted from passages like John 14:26 (“but…the Holy Spirit…will teach you all things”), in which case Jesus was only speaking to the apostles, which does not filter down to Christians today; and I John 2:27 (“and which will teach you all things”). Sadly, many completely forget the words immediately preceding those above; “and you have no need that anyone should teach you.” Yet, God ordains and commissions teachers in the church…but why, if the Holy Spirit is the one who will “teach you all things?”

One reason, is that the majority of people don’t understand the Scriptures, for various reasons. For another reason, which is not widely taught in the church today, not everyone who claims to be a Christian has the Holy Spirit dwelling within them, to be able to teach them the Truth. Remember, the Holy Spirit is a gift from God accorded only to those who remain abiding in the New Covenant, which we do by walking in obedience to Him. Therefore, if you got saved 3 years ago, but have not been walking in obedience to God from the 4th week after getting saved, then you have been calling yourself a Christian when you were only playing church, and you have not had the Spirit dwelling within you since that time.

Scazzero’s advise in leaving people to their false ideologies of Scripture and God, is just one more piece of evidence that he doesn’t have the Holy Spirit, and that he is not guided by Scripture, but rather by eastern esoteric religious teachings of paganism.

At the end of chapter 2, on page 37, Scazzero writes: “The pathway to unleashing the transformative power of Jesus to heal our spiritual lives can be found in the joining of emotional health and contemplative spirituality.” So, basically, what he is saying, is that we don’t need to walk in obedience to God in order to become spiritually mature (which includes becoming emotionally mature)…what we need to do is practice contemplative spirituality. That is, we need to practice Buddhist and Hindu meditative practices in order to enter into the spiritual realm, meet spirits there or contact the god within, and experience a personal encounter with what you would call the Holy Spirit or God/Jesus Himself.

This is nothing more than what is called today as “Christian mysticism,” which is summed up well by one web site:

 

Christ is the sole end of Christian mysticism. Whereas all Christians have Christ, call on Christ, and can (or should) know Christ, the goal for the Christian mystic is to become Christ—to become as fully permeated with God as Christ is, thus becoming like him, fully human, and by the grace of God, also fully divine. (http://www.frimmin.com/faith/mysticismintro.php)

 

Now, while not all so-called ‘christian mystics’ believe the last sentence above – that their goal is to become “fully divine” – this mysticism is exactly what Scazzero alludes to in this book, which is readily observed in his numerous references to, and quotes from, Catholic mystics (Brother Lawrence, Brennan Manning, Thomas Merton, Richard Rohr, Parker Palmer, Henri Nouwen, and John of the Cross). No undeluded, undeceived Christian in their right mind would ever even consider trying to “become Christ,” nor is that even possible. No person can ever even hope to attain to the reality of having the fullness of what Christ was, simply because He was Yahweh God in the flesh. But mysticism…going as far back as Christianity itself…is just the same old lie of satan to Eve in the garden, just wrapped up within Christian terminology – ‘you, too, can become a god.”

The beginning of chapter three starts out like this; “Once people begin their journey with Jesus Christ and join a church or community, our first task is to help them connect with God and grow spiritually. Our sincere hope is that they will allow the Word and the Spirit to transform each aspect of their lives. We teach them to…” then we find listed eight things that Scazzero apparently believes needs to happen in order for the new Christian to supposedly thrive spiritually – conspicuously missing from that list is obedience to God, especially when it comes to renewing our minds and walking in the Spirit.

This may be an oversight on his part, but the first task in helping those who want to begin the journey in life with Christ, is to make sure that they have indeed come to Christ on His terms and are saved. If the person is not yet saved, then absolutely nothing else that he does with his congregants will ever make a difference…they are still on their way to hell. They may well be living a good life, but as we all know, just being good does not cut the mustard when they stand before a holy God.

Then he goes on to say, “After a few years many find that past, deeply rooted behavioral patterns that move them away from Christ remain entrenched. And what we’re teaching them simply isn’t enough to combat those patterns. What most people are left with is a long list of things to do and not to do – ten new things to feel guilty about messing up on. What is needed is the injection of an antidote into all aspects of the Christian life – an antidote that turns our spiritual lives right side up. I’m talking about emotional health and contemplative spirituality” (emphasis in bold is his).

First, the only way to destroy those “deeply rooted behavioral patterns that move them away from Christ” is to obey the Word of God and renew their minds with the Word so that they can walk in the Spirit. If one’s mind is not renewed by the Word of God, nothing else that one tries to do for God, or in order to move closer to God, will ever work. The problem is first and foremost in the flesh (Romans ch. 7), and it is only through renewing the mind so that we can walk in the Spirit that the “motions of the flesh” can be “put to death” or, as the KJV says it, “mortified” (Romans ch. 8:1-13; Galatians 5:16-17).

Galatians 5:16-17                                                                                                                                But I say, walk in the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh, because the flesh wars against the spirit, and fights against the spirit, in order to keep you from doing the spiritual things that you want to do.

 

No amount of Buddhist or Hindu meditation practices will stop the desires and passions of the flesh. Secondly (skipping the other unbiblical points that he messes up), contemplative spirituality, which he will give an awkward definition to here shortly, will not help. All it does is give a person an emotional and experiential “band-aid” and bring them close to demonic possession. Thirdly, Scazzero’s interpretation of Revelation is anything but accurate, thus the point he tries to make with it is also grossly missed.

On pages 45-46, Scazzero lists what, in his mind, contemplative spirituality is and does. This list follows immediately after a list of 12 things he thinks emotional health means; some of them are legitimate, but not all. The list making up his definition of what CS also has 12 items: we will address some of them here.

  1. Awakening and surrendering to God’s love in any and every situation.”

Scazzero apparently has a warped sense of things here, either that or he has known some people who had a warped sense of things. God loves all people, He does not love our sin, but He loves those whom He has created, even sinners. “Awakening” and “surrendering” to God’s love is a misnomer, and if we think about it according to the Scriptures, it really makes no sense at all.

 

  1. Positioning ourselves to hear God and remember his presence in all we do.”

A couple of things here; first, we position ourselves in order to hear God through Biblical prayer (as opposed to contemplative ‘prayer,’ which is not prayer at all, as we shall soon discuss), worship, and walking in obedience to Him. If we are not walking in obedience to Him, then you will “listen” for years and never hear Him speak (unless He really wants to point something out to you). Second, by “positioning ourselves” to hear God, Scazzero means, literally or figuratively, sitting a certain way, focusing upon a certain thing, emptying your mind, meditating upon a word or short phrase (mantra), and being silent so that you can hear a voice. None of this is Scriptural.

I, and many whom I have conversed with in the Christian community who have heard God speak to us, have had the same experience: it does not matter what you are doing, where you are, or how noisy you or your surroundings are…when God wants to speak to you, He can and you will hear His voice. I have been in the middle of praying, both whispering and out loud, even praying while crying out in tears, and when God spoke, it came over loud and clear in my spirit. This nonsense teaching today that you have to be quiet in order to hear that “small, still quiet voice” is nothing more than just that – nonsense.

Third, we don’t need to “remember his presence in all we do” because remembering does not amount to a hill of beans. We can, and should, remember the Lord in all we do, and we should also do all that we do for His glory. However, we are human, and being human we cannot live in His presence 100% of the time, and those who think that we can don’t know what they are talking about. When a person has really come into the presence of God, things happen that we cannot control. When a person comes into the presence of God, they weep, sometimes uncontrollably; they fall prostrate upon the floor, if they can remain in His presence for very long at all. The point is this, if we were in His presence for very long of a time, we could not function…the beds wouldn’t get made, we couldn’t drive to work (or anywhere, for that matter), we couldn’t work, we wouldn’t eat, etc.

I have been in the presence of God and I have conversed with others who have been, and while it is a wonderful experience that one never forgets for the rest of their lives, we in our human bodies cannot sustain that experience. Now, some people have misjudged what they think being in God’s presence is. They feel tingly all over and their hands might even begin to shake, but that is not what it is like being in the presence of God. When you are in His presence, your mind doesn’t think and your body only reacts to it like Jell-O would react to be struck by lightning. What I mean is that it is involuntary: you weep, some speak in tongues if they can speak at all, you fall to the ground prostrate or flat before Him, sometimes you can’t see anything, even with your eyes wide open, sometimes you can’t hear anything until the experience is over.

 

  1. Communing with God, allowing him to fully indwell the depth of our being.”

This is more esoteric nonsense. God does not fully indwell the depth of our beings, He can’t…if He did, we would literally explode. God told Moses that “No man can see My face and live,” so if we cannot even look upon His face and live, how much more can the human body not contain His fullness? Jesus didn’t even have the fullness of God dwelling within Him; He did have the fullness of the Spirit, but not God as Yahweh Himself in His fullness. The wording Scazzero uses here is reminiscent of the same wording you can find in Buddhist or Hindu writings on the subject, but when they speak, they speak in the sense of allowing a spirit to enter into them and dwell in the depths of their bodies…and the spirits they are asking into them is not the Spirit of God.

Furthermore, we can commune with God anywhere we are, whenever we want to, because communing is simply talking to. We should get into the practice of talking to the Lord all throughout our days, about anything and everything, He should be our best friend. However, meditating and focusing on your breathing, or upon a word or phrase, is not communing with God.

 

  1. Practicing silence, solitude, and a life of unceasing prayer.”

No where in Scripture are we taught to be silent in order to hear God, and the verses that these so-called “christian” contemplatives use as support for this teaching are taken out of context and twisted (which is nothing new). No where in Scripture are we told that we need to practice solitude in the way in which Scazzero means here. Yes, we need to get alone with God, that is a no-brainer. However, it is not humanly possible to live “a life of unceasing prayer.” We can do like Daniel and pray three times a day, and talk to Him all throughout our day, but there are some things that require our full attention…otherwise we will find ourselves in a lot of trouble in every area of our lives.

 

  1. Resting attentively in the presence of God.”

I have already addressed this above; if you are indeed in the presence of God, you will not be attentive in anything, because you won’t be able to. Resting attentively while you feel tingly all over is just sitting there with tinglies…that’s it.

 

  1. Understanding our earthly life as a journey of transformation toward ever-increasing union with God.”

This is straight out of Hinduism. All one need do is a web search for union with God in Hinduism, and paying close attention to the words and how they are used. We are said to be transformed through ‘self-consciousness,’ and we attain ‘union with God through experience,’ and even ‘Christ’ as the Hindu uses the term.

 

  1. Adapting historic practices of spirituality that are applicable today.”

By “historical practices” Scazzero refers to the Catholic practices of mystic monks and so-called “desert fathers” of Catholicism; he does not refer to anything Scriptural or Christian. Keep in mind that in the ‘tradition’ of the so-called “christian-Buddhist” conglomeration, certain Catholics have not only adopted Buddhist/Hindu meditation principles into their daily routines, but then – because they believe themselves to be Christians following the Bible – they turn around and call it historical practices of the Christian faith. Again, remember that these people adopt Christian vocabulary just as easily as Buddhists and Hindus (and other pagan religions) adopt Jesus Christ as one of their venerated teachers, and both religions claim that Jesus visited major centers of each during His so-called “lost years” before turning 30 and starting His ministry.

Therefore, even though they ‘sound’ Christian, what they are teaching not only does not come from the Bible, but it actually goes against what Scripture teaches us concerning God and how He has instructed us to walk in godliness before Him. There is no “historical practices” within Christianity involving esoteric eastern religious meditations, and all such meditation practices take one dangerously close to demonic possession to one extent or another.

At the end of this list on page 46, Scazzero says, “The combination of emotional health and contemplative spirituality addresses what I believe to be the missing piece in contemporary Christianity. Together they unleash the Holy Spirit inside us in order that we might know experientially the power of an authentic life in Christ.” Sadly, Scazzero is deceived and doesn’t understand many things.

First, as stated before, what is missing from contemporary Christianity is personal righteousness and holiness among those who call themselves Christians. They live their lives, for the most part, just like they did before they got “saved” and do not pursue living holy and righteous lives. Holiness and righteousness are two sides of the same coin – called obedience. Righteousness is obeying God in doing what is right in His eyes, and holiness is keeping oneself from doing what is not right in God’s eyes. Both make up the nature of obedience, and when people who claim to be God’s children do not even attempt to live holy and righteous lives, then they do not have the abundant life that Jesus came to give them, nor do they possess any of the gifts or promises of God.

As has also been already spoken here, the two main reasons for this tragedy is that most churches are not pastored by those whom God has divinely called to take up the mantle of that position, and because of false teachings in the church since the Reformation and Calvin. When the church is told that we don’t need to do anything in order to maintain our standing with God as having eternal life, which is a direct contradiction to what the Scriptures teach, then human nature is to do exactly that…nothing. We instinctively know that we should, but if we are told that we don’t need to, then we don’t even try – we would much rather do what we want to do. And so, when we do what we want to do, rather than what God tells us to do in His Word, then we no longer remain abiding in Christ wherein all the blessings and gifts of God abide.

Secondly, contemplative spirituality does not “unleash the Holy Spirit inside us,” and this is a ridiculous statement for Scazzero to make if he was indeed called by God into any kind of ministry. The Holy Spirit indwells the believer walking in obedience to God, and any kind of ‘unleashing’ of the Spirit into our lives, or through our lives, comes directly from walking in obedience to His voice. Third, what brings the experience and “the power of an authentic life in Christ” into our lives is, again, walking in obedience to God…not sitting in silent contemplation of the universe in order to hear a spirit speak to us, especially when that spirit is not God.

On page 47, Scazzero says the following: “Awareness of and responding to the love of God is at the heart of our lives. We are first and foremost about God revealed in Christ.” I am sorry, but this is either the epidemy of lies from this book, or Scazzero is so deceived that he can’t see the forest for the trees. First, Scripture tells us how to respond to God’s love – by loving Him back; and we love on Him by walking in obedience to Him, not by sitting still focusing on our breathing and chanting a word or mantra…

 

John 14:15                                                                                                                                                If you love Me, then you will obey My commandments.

I John 5:3                                                                                                                                     Because this is how we love on God: we obey His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome.

 

This is why I have such a hard time with people who are in Christian ministry who never received the tangible call of God on their lives…because they don’t understand simple, basic teachings (or they refuse to acknowledge them) of the Scriptures. The second great deception here is found in his words, “We are first and foremost about God revealed in Christ,” because if that was what was first and foremost about Scazzero, he wouldn’t be turning to pagan practices in effort to have an experience with God. What his book teaches has nothing to do with God revealed in Christ, it is all about how to practice a form of meditation that Buddhists and Hindus use in order to make contact with spirits that will supposedly help them to reach the god that lives within them.

Perhaps Scazzero is being completely straightforward and honest in his mind about what he is teaching people to do here…but he does so in ignorance of the Truth found in Scripture…

 

Ephesians 4:17-18                                                                                                                             Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them

 

On the same page, he says, “At the same time contemplation is not simply about our relationship with God.” Here is another misnomer in the works, contemplation is redefined in CS and does not mean what contemplation normally means. In the real world, contemplation means that you are thinking about something, contemplating it from all sides, meditation upon it…but in CS, contemplation is elevated to the place of relationship with God, it is placed upon equal standing with prayer.

Prayer is always accomplished by speaking (there are a few instances where people were only thinking in communion with God, but for the most part, prayer is talking to Him)…not simply thinking about a word or phrase or meditating upon the things of the world around us because ‘God is in everything’ (pantheism) so thinking about nature is thinking about God. CS has nothing to do with our relationship with God. Scazzero also equates contemplation a few lines down with “loving union with God.” Again, the CS version of contemplation is not a loving union with God…it isn’t even union with God in any sense of the word.

This kind of mentality comes straight out of Hindu religious thought and doctrine, not Scripture. A personal relationship with God is nothing less than how we engage each other in personal relationship; we speak to each other, take each other places, spend quality time with each other, and when we love another person we sometimes will even sing to them. A personal relationship with God consists of prayer (not just intercessory prayer, but also spending quality time just talking to Him about whatever), personal worship, and walking in obedience to Him. The more we walk in obedience to Him with the above combination of quality prayer and worship, He begins to speak to us and guide us to do things – thus we experience Him speaking to us and coming to know Him on a more intimate and personal basis. Without this loving walk with God where He begins to interact with us because we are loving on Him the way He tells us that He accepts love, then our “Christian walk” is not Christian, it is just living and playing church, and we get discouraged and leave the church because we are not experiencing God.

At the bottom of page 49, we see a diagram where “Contemplation” is sub-titled “Being with God.” Again, this is pure paganistic nonsense. Sitting in a room by yourself, emptying your mind, meditating upon a mantra if you need to, with your back straight and focusing on your breathing in effort to silence your thoughts, is NOT “being with God.” It is being with yourself…but then again, because this is based upon Hindu teachings, and god is already dwelling within all of his creation, to them you are spending time with the god that is in you. However, that god is not Yahweh God of the Bible; that god is you, and we are taught that enlightenment comes to show you that you are

 

This is the end of the first section, I will pick up on the second section of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero in a later entry.

 

 

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Renew Your Minds!!!

Renewing our minds in Scripture is so important to your spiritual walk, that…basically… you cannot walk spiritually (as far as God is concerned) until you do. But, don’t take my word for it, let’s examine the Scriptures on the subject . . .

Romans 12:2
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Most of us do not come to the Lord until we are at least teenagers or early adults, by that time our minds have been so inundated by the ways and things of the world – meaning sinful things and sinful ways of thinking – that unless God completely changes the way we think at the moment we get saved (which I have seen, but not too often), then we need to swap those things out of our minds for the things of God. Why?

Because the saved, regenerated person now has two natures, where before we only had one – the sin nature, that is, as Paul puts it in Romans 7, the flesh. Sin dwells in our flesh, that’s why we will fight against sin for the rest of our lives on this planet, because the new nature that dwells within us, the new man, is constantly being attacked by the sin nature that dwells in the flesh. Paul puts it this way . . .

Romans 7:18-20
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but the evil that I do not want to do is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, then it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

Again, here Paul is speaking about the flesh when he says the sin “that dwells within me,” he is not saying that sin dwells within us through-and-through, like some groups out there today teach. There is a separation between the flesh and the spirit, sin lives in the flesh, not the spirit of a person. If a person spends enough time in sin then it begins to affect his mind, and if he remains practicing sin long enough then it begins to seep from his mind into his spirit – but sin does not originate within one’s spirit. Again, a person’s spirit can become corrupted by becoming sin-stained (II Cor. 7:1), but sin does not originate within the spirit, nor was the human spirit damaged directly by the Fall.

Notice in Rom. 12:2 the result of renewing your mind . . . being transformed, the question is, transformed FROM what INTO what:

Ephesians 4:22-24
to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

God wants us to transform ourselves into the new man, here called “the new self,” which is created in the “likeness” of God by, and through, our walking in righteousness and holiness. Recall Genesis 1:26 when God created Adam and Eve; it says that He made man in His “image” (referring to our physical appearance – if you want to know what God looks like, just look into your mirror) and in His “likeness” (referring to His spiritual nature, that is, He created us as righteous and holy beings in spirit). That spiritual nature within man can be corrupted, as we addressed above, through the consistent practice of sinful, corrupting behavior.

God created us in such a way that our physical activities sway on our minds. If what we do is darkness, then our actions of darkness reinforce darkness within our minds, and eventually that darkness begins to stain our spirits. If what we do is light, then our actions of light reinforce the light within our minds, and we will eventually become in-tuned to our spirits and have greater capacity for communion with God. It is the same principle which Jesus speaks about here:

Matthew 6:21-23
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

When Jesus uses the word “eye” in the sentence, He was not just speaking about the physical eye, but also about the things that we purpose to look at, which is why verse 22 follows naturally after verse 21 – because both speak of the heart. If your heart is full of wicked desires, then what are you going to be looking at, what are you going to be planning to do? Whereas, if your heart is full of love for God, what are you going to be looking at, what are you desiring to do? In a way, things almost seem backwards, because the issues of life come out from the heart where our decisions are made, and while the heart affects our minds, our minds also affect the heart.

We can make a conscious decision to do good…but as Paul says, sometimes that conscious decision to do good does not affect the flesh, to give power to it in order to carry out that good thing. This is where renewing your mind comes into play, Paul says it like this:

Romans 8:5
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

Romans 8:13
Because if you conduct your life according to the flesh, you will die; but, if you put to death the deeds of the flesh by walking in the Spirit, then you will live.

How can we put to death the actions and motions of sin in our flesh? By walking in the Spirit. How do we “walk in the Spirit?” According to the text, we walk in the Spirit by “minding” (thinking on, meditating on, having in the back of our minds, having our minds inundated and saturated by) the “things of the Spirit.” Yeeeeesssss! BUT – how do we come to the place that we can walk in the Spirit…we must first renew our minds with the Word of God.

I have learned this now, after 35 years walking with God…and can now look back and see why I struggled with certain sins all my life. Why I kept giving in to sin, why I kept fighting what seemed like a losing battle, and always turning back to God in tears because of my actions that – at a certain point in the struggle – I seemed to lose control and ended up doing what I did not really want to do. This is the reason, it took me years to learn exactly what renewing your mind means, and even longer to understand why we need to do it, and how it works.

Renewing our minds, as I stated at the outset of this entry, is so important to the person who desires to walk with God, because until we get the gunk out of our minds left over from our previous lives in the darkness of the world, there are many things that we just cannot do. Unless we renew our minds, we cannot walk in the Spirit; if we cannot walk in the Spirit, then we cannot put to death the motions of sin in our flesh, which means that we cannot consistently practice righteousness and holiness, we cannot set ourselves apart unto God – which is what sanctification is all about. We cannot consecrate ourselves wholly to God. The greater and greater that our minds are renewed, the greater and greater our walk with God becomes, the more we begin to hear His voice, the more we begin to be able to hear the voice and unctions of the Spirit in order to do what He would be leading us to do . . .

Romans 8:14
Because as many as are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

Now, I know that there will be those who read this and disagree because of the Calvinistic mindset they have been brainwashed with – but what is more important, taking the Word of God for what it teaches, or taking one’s bias over and above what the Scriptures teach? I think we all know which one we should be choosing, especially if we care more about our relationship with God than about doctrinal statements. Some people out there believe a naive way of thinking, and that is that God does everything, we don’t need to do anything. He does it all, and all we have to do is just sit back on our spiritual couch and wait until the end. Sorry, folks, but that is not what the Scriptures teach.

As the trail continues, when we renew our minds with the Word of God, our mindset begins to change, we begin to see what pleases God and what does not please Him, just as our first text states . . . “that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Because people don’t renew their minds, they cannot test the things the world tells us about stuff against God’s will, to determine what is good and ACCEPTABLE to Him, and what is not. Hence we have people calling themselves Christians today, even pastors of supposedly Christian churches today, who are saying that God created people as homosexuals, so since God made them as homosexuals, He is OK with them as long as they are in “committed, loving relationships.” I will only say this much more on the issue, God’s condemnation of homosexuality has nothing to do with love or relationships, it has to do with perversion of His creation. God did not make Adam and Steve, He made Adam and Eve. I know that this is very simplistic as an answer, but the details of this subject matter is not the point of this entry.

If we do not understand what is good and acceptable to God, what His will is, then we cannot be led by the Spirit because we will reject what the Spirit may be trying to lead us to do. Look at Eph. 4:22-24 again . . .

Ephesians 4:22-24
to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

We are to “put off your old self,” the man of sin, the person that we used to be when we used to run around purposing to commit as much sin as we could. That man was “corrupt through deceitful desires,” but what does that mean? It means, in our worldly state of mind, we were deceived by desires that we could not discern as being evil and wicked. I know of a man who would put his hands upon his daughter’s body in an inappropriate way, but when he was taken by his wife to counselling, he honestly didn’t see anything wrong with it, “she is my daughter, after all,” was one of his comments early on in the sessions. After 6 months of counselling, he understood that his behavior was not appropriate, that a father should not be touching his daughter in sexual ways. What was going on? This was a man who had lived for 40 years in darkness, living a life of sin, looking at pornography and so on…and all that sin deceived his mind into deeper and darker sins.

Sin will always take you further than you wanted to go, deeper into depravity than you bargained for, and puts a hook into your nose to lead you into places that you never wanted to go into. It is deceptive, and forms addictions to sin, and works to destroy everything in your life . . . all through deceiving our minds from what is real and from what is right:

Hebrews 3:13
But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

The only way to put the motions of sin in our flesh to death, or to mortify it as some Bible translations say, is to walk in the Spirit, but we cannot walk in the Spirit without renewing our minds. Further evidence of this is found in Galatians . . .

Galatians 5:16-17
But I say, walk in the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Because the flesh wars against the spirit, and fights against the spirit, in order to keep you from doing the spiritual things that you want to do. 

The sin in the flesh fights against dong righteousness, because the very definition of sin is disobedience to God. The flesh always wants to do the exact opposite of whatever it is told to do, it always wants to live in complete selfishness, doing whatever it wants to do, regardless of the consequences. For example, in some of us, the flesh just wants to have sex, and doesn’t care where it gets it . . . whether it is a son or daughter, cousin, someone of the same sex, an animal, a stuffed toy, a dead body . . . after serving in law enforcement for 25 years, I have seen things that would probably make you sick. I know, they made me sick when I heard about them, too. The flesh unrestrained will lead people to do all kinds of heinous and gross, evil, wicked sins. The ONLY way to restrain that sin, is by walking in the Spirit, which first requires renewing our minds.

If we do not renew our minds so that we can walk in the Spirit and put to death the deeds of the flesh, the sin nature, then we will find it almost impossible to practice holiness and sanctification, it will be almost impossible for us to completely consecrate ourselves to God for His purposes. What does Scripture have to say about that?

Hebrews 12:14
Strive . . . to practice holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.

Jesus said that unless we crucify the flesh, we will not be able to follow Him, we will not be able to be His disciples. Why? Because a mind, even a regenerated mind that is still filled with the thought patterns of the world from which we came out of, if it is still filled with worldly things, just as Paul states in Galatians, if we do not renew our minds so that we can walk in the Spirit and crucify the flesh, then the motions of sin in the flesh will always be fighting against us in order to keep us from walking in obedience to Christ. That is why we will not be able to follow Him and be His disciples if we do not put the deeds of the flesh to death. What Jesus said is the same as what Paul teaches, only they use different terms in saying it. Crucifying the flesh, and putting the deeds of the flesh to death, are the same thing.

 

Part II – How To Renew Our Minds

There are a couple of things to do to work on renewing our minds:

  1.  Read the Bible.

The problem with this, however, is that there is a lot of . . . for lack of a better term . . . “fluff” in just reading the Bible when it comes to working on renewing our minds. What am I talking about?

When it comes to renewing our minds, reading the Gospels, for example, does not do very much for us. There is the Sermon on the Mount where we find strong teaching on how we are to conduct our lives, but for the most part, there are few “life instructions” on how to walk as a Christian. This is the key – to find passages where “life instructions” are articulated, because these are the passages that address how we are to live and conduct our lives.

So, for another example, reading the book of Acts does not help a whole lot in the mind-renewal area, because we are looking for “new programming” in our minds, to actually re-program our thought patterns, and for that purpose simply reading the Scriptures as they are doesn’t really help a whole lot. Therefore, we have our second mind renewal technique:

2.  Make Scripture cards.

What I have done, which works really well, was to start from Matthew just so you don’t miss any good life-instruction passages, and make a list of the passages that stand out to you as life-instruction passages.

Then, when you are ready to copy the passages down onto a 3×5 card, bring up the passages one by one and write down either the verse word-for-word, or write down what the verse is saying. This is not memorization – it is not important to purposely set out to memorize these verses, that is not what we are doing, and that is not the goal in this exercise. For example, Mat. 5:6 says . . .

Matthew 5:6
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

So, the card that I wrote down for this verse, looks like this:

Mat. 5:6

Hunger and thirst to do righteousness.

I write the verse from which my wording comes from, just in case I ever want to review that passage, but I only write down on the card the main idea. For another example, Mat. 5:9 reads . . .

Matthew 5:9
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

So, the card that I wrote down for this verse looks like this:

Mat. 5:9

Strive for peace in every situation possible.

Is it registering yet? For one last example, here is what Mat. 25:31-46 says:

Matthew 25:31-46
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’

And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Now, there is DEFINITELY a lot of life-instruction going on in this passage that we don’t want to miss, but this is way too much information to place onto a 3×5 card. So, this is what my card on this passage looks like:

Mat. 25:31-46

Eternal life is reserved for those who love on Jesus by loving on others.

Then, after you go through the entire New Testament and have your cards all made out, set aside some time every day and do one of two reviews, or a combination of both – Review #1 – simply read the cards at least one time, at least two times a day. The more you read them, the more they sink in, and the faster you will renew your mind with Godly, Scriptural things – things of the Spirit. Review #2 – take the cards, and read them one by one, as many as you can in one sitting, but this time spend some quality time thinking and meditating upon what each one is saying. For example, here is my meditation and thoughts on Mat. 25:31-46 above:

Jesus said that if we love Him, we will obey Him. The Scriptures tell us that we love on God by walking in obedience to Him. Walking in love fulfills God’s commandments of the New Covenant, so when we love on people, we are loving in God. The Scriptures tell us that when we love on people, thereby loving on God, that we are abiding in Him, in God and in Christ. Eternal life is found only in Christ, and according to I John, only those who have Christ have eternal life. We only have Christ by walking in love towards others and abiding in Him, because I John also says that when we are abiding in Him, then He is also abiding in us. How do we love on people? We love on people by doing good to them, by helping them, whether they are in need of help or not. Mowing my widow neighbor’s yard when she has to pay someone else to do it, because she cannot do it, is loving on her. Paying for someone’s groceries or meal at a restaurant is loving on people. Helping someone at work with their work when I am done with my work, whether they really need help or not, is loving on that person. We love on people when we see them in need, and take up that need to fill it. There are all kinds of ways to love on people: visiting them when they are sick, making them meals when they are sick, babysitting for someone who needs a babysitter, helping them paint their fence, etc., etc.

This is just a small sample, and the more Scripture you know, then the more you can connect the dots in Scriptural subjects, but again, the purpose here is not to so much memorize Scripture, the purpose here is to change how our minds work and think, and that is best accomplished by forcing it to think about the statement or Scripture that you have just read.

Don’t be like most of us…don’t just read your Bible here and there, so many times a week (if even that!), and take 50 years to renew your mind. Take steps to renew your mind right now, today, so that you can benefit GREATLY by doing so. Want to hear God’s voice? Want to hear or feel the leading of the Spirit? Want to know what God has in store for you? Do you want to be able to get passed living in Romans chapter 7 and get to the place where you can begin living Roman’s chapter 8? Then you MUST renew your mind, and the more actively you work on this process, the faster you will accomplish it, and then reap the rewards and intimate benefits of it as your walk with God can now grow deeper and more fulfilling.

Blessings!

 

 

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Why are people leaving the church? Because most churches aren’t “doing it” right…

This entry originates out of the observation that people are leaving the church in droves, some are just simply “quitting” church altogether, some are leaving the Body of Christ and going across the line into movements like the Emerging Church Movement, which is not Christian (although they put up a Christian front), while others hop from church to church trying to find a difference worth going to.

The purpose of this article is to explain why I believe this is happening, and one trend that seems to be moving along side of this church leaving trend, is the growth of Calvinistic doctrine within the church. Churches that do not sing worship songs in their worship service, but rather, play contemporary Christian music songs in place of worship, are one of the factors for people leaving the church. Another factor is that when a church teaches that miracles are not for today, that the gifts of the Spirit are not for today, etc, removing all essences of the supernatural workings of God from the church…as Calvinism does…why would a person want to remain in that church?

Here is a question: Why do people go to church in the first place?

Answer: They go to church because they are looking for some kind of manifestation of God, they want to make contact with God, they want to have a personal experience with God. Well, when we have pastors that were never called by God to be pastors – they do not have the calling and so they are not equipped by God – because God equips those whom He calls…and if Jerry was never called by God, but called himself to be a pastor, then God has not given him what he needs in order to be able to shepherd His people. If the pastor is not equipped by God to be able to care for the sheep, then the sheep suffer.

Another reason is the lack of true worship in the church service – the Scriptures tell us that there is acceptable worship, which automatically tells us that there is “worship” that men call worship, that is NOT acceptable to God. What kind of worship is that? In the realm of singing worship, it means songs that are about us, in one way or another, or other things that are not directly praising God. For example, “The God of Angel Armies” is a find contemporary Christian song, but it is not a worship song…it was meant for Christian radio, not the worship service of a church.

Songs that are worship songs, are songs such as “Let us Adore” or “I Worship You, Almighty God” and “Glorify Thy Name” and “It is You” (Hosanna Praise and Worship)… songs where we are speaking directly to God about how great He is, about how much we love Him, etc. When churches sing contemporary Christian music in place of worship music in their church services, the presence of God never falls. Why? Because only worship music/songs attract the presence of God…God loves to be worshiped – why? Because when we worship Him in song, to refer to a secular phrase, we are making love to God. God wants us to love Him, He wants to be loved, just as we want to be loved, and when we are loving on Him it is an invitation for Him to come down to meet with us.

When God’s presence falls, EVERYONE feels it, saint and sinner alike. God’s presence is NOT subjective, it is objective…meaning that when the pastor gets up to the microphone and says, “Oh, I feel the presence of God in this place,” but I don’t feel it in the second row down…then the pastor is just saying things for his purposes. In other words, the presence of God is not in the church, because if He was, all of us would be feeling His presence. Why are people leaving the church? They are leaving because they come to meet with God but God is never attending the church that they are part of…so they go elsewhere looking for the presence of God.

Why are people leaving the church? They are leaving because they come to meet with God but God is never attending the church that they are part of…

Another reason why people are leaving the church, is because since their pastor was never called by God into the ministry, and because of that they are not qualified to be a pastor of God’s House, they don’t understand spiritual precepts that are needed in order to get the church on higher spiritual ground. What do I mean by that?

The very first thing that needs to be done with a new believer in Christ, is that they need to be discipled in the basic doctrines of Christianity. When they are not discipled (taught the basic doctrines of Christianity), they cannot spread their roots deeper or wider into the Word of God. Knowledge always comes first: you cannot DO what you have not been told that you can or are to do. Part of discipleship is mind renewal in the Scriptures, and if we do not have our minds renewed in the Scriptures, then we cannot walk in the Spirit, we cannot build the faith required in order to have the boldness to pray for people’s healing (or whatever). If we are unable to walk in the Spirit then we cannot put the deeds of the flesh to death, which means that we cannot walk in righteousness or holiness.

Now, for the calvinist, none of these things matter, because calvinism teaches that all you have to do is believe and God takes care of all the rest – and this, for those of you who do not know – is NOT what the Scriptures teach. Scripture teaches us that if we do not practice holiness, then we will not see God, and that Scripture was written to saved believers. Scripture says that if we do not practice righteousness (doing what is right in God’s eyes), then we are not abiding in Christ…and if we are not abiding in Christ, then we do not have eternal life.

All of these things are made a possibility in our lives only by the foundation of renewing our minds…but when the pastor is not teaching his congregation that they need to renew their minds…what kind of church is he ‘guiding?’

People are leaving the church because they are seeking God, but He does not ever show up at the church they are attending. He does not show up because the spiritual leadership of that church doesn’t either know, or they don’t care, about the difference between what is acceptable worship to God, and what is not acceptable to Him. God does not show up because the pastor is not walking with God…and because of this he has no spiritual awareness of what’s going on in his congregation. He can’t minister to the spiritual needs of the people because he himself has no connection with God. And this one is really bad…there are a growing majority of pastors today who are not “saved” by the common definition of the term (which, by the way, is incorrect).

A man who is not walking with God cannot lead a people to God.

From the foundation up, Paul said in I Corinthians chapter three, that those who build upon the foundation of Christ, need to be careful of how they build, because those who don’t know what they are doing will have all their work burned up…and they might be saved IF they themselves begin to abide in Christ before they die. The calvinist twist on this chapter is not valid (used as a crutch for “once saved, always saved” false doctrine in interpreting it as saying that it applies to all people and that whether your works are burned up or not, you will still be saved; the passage only applies to ministers, not the average Christian).

If your current church is dead, lifeless, without the presence of God, then you really need to leave that church and find one that is alive with the presence of God…because if you wait too long, you will become accustomed to that lifeless atmosphere and either come to believe that there is no God, since He isn’t showing up, and leave the church altogether; or you will become the proverbial frog in a cooking pot that doesn’t realize he is being killed slowly from the inside out…

 

 

 

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Do you have questions about the Bible or Christianity in general?

This morning while I was laying in bed, meditating on spiritual things (Rom. 8:5-6), I believe the Spirit directed my mind to this thought: “There are many ‘question and answer sites’ out there, but none that give answers according to a more accurate understanding of Scripture because they do not understand covenant, nor how covenant affects our interpretations of the Scriptures. So you start one.”

As I lay there, thinking about that, I realized that I didn’t think that it came from me, so I whispered, OK.”

So, here’s the deal…if you have a question regarding the Bible or Christianity in general, any question at all, whether in Scriptural or historical contexts, feel free to post that question here and I will begin answering your questions IN FULL. In other words, I will THOROUGHLY research the question and post the answers daily under their own question titles when I have completed the research.

I used to have a lot of questions in my youth when I first began witnessing to people – because those who I spoke with had questions…so I studied the Bible to find those answers, because that’s how we learn. If I can help you learn, especially about Scripture, then all the work necessarily put into the effort is well worth it. What’s more, you will not receive a Calvinistic answer, nor a Reformed Theological answer…nor answers that reflect any denominational stand.

What you will receive is an answer based solidly in Scripture not only according to covenant understanding, but according to a more accurate understanding of the NT Scriptures as they are – New Covenant Scriptures, out of utilization of a complete Biblical Hermeneutic (a complete set of Biblical principles of interpretation). Most out there only utilize a partial hermeneutic – they cannot utilize a whole and complete hermeneutic because some of those principles completely destroy their personal theology, so they either ignore those principles of interpretation when they harm their doctrine, or they throw them out completely.

So! Let the questions fly! The more the merrier!

Blessings!

 

 

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How do we draw close to God?

James 4:8-9

Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded people. Be wretched and mourn and weep, let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy into gloom.

 

  1. The Greek grammar in verse 8 implies that this has to do with a personal relationship.
  1. cleanse your hands, you sinners,” speaks not of our hands, but of what we do with our hands, what we touch, what we participate in. It speaks of consecrating ourselves to God and God alone:

 

II Corinthians 6:17

. . . touch no unclean thing, then I will receive you,

 

This verse speaks more to acceptance by God than it does about drawing closer to Him, but the principle still applies. We need to “touch no unclean thing” in effort to draw closer to Him.

As it has to do with acceptance, God is speaking here and He tells us plainly and clearly that He will not receive us, we will not be accepted or welcomed, if we continue to participate in unclean things.

 

  1. The anarthrous construction in the verse implies that we are to purify ourselves through “obedience to the truth” and loving on others…

 

I Peter 1:22

You have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth, in sincere love out of a pure heart; I exhort you to love one another earnestly,

 

According to Peter, we purify (cleanse) our souls by walking in obedience to the truth. This does not speak of the imputed sanctification/holiness of Christ to our accounts, it speaks directly to the point that God demands holiness from us and that He has arranged things in such a way that we purify and sanctify ourselves by walking in obedience to Him…

 

Hebrews 12:14

Strive for . . . holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.

 

Those who claim that we do not have to walk in obedience to God in order to get saved, may well be correct in that assessment, but to carry that mantra over into maintaining one’s eternal life is to commit spiritual suicide. Unless a person is walking in obedience to God, he is not striving for holiness…and if he is not striving to live a life of holiness, then his claim-to-fame of being saved once in the past will not take him into heaven.

The holiness that Apollos speaks of here is, again, not the imputed holiness/sanctification of Christ to our account, it is the ‘rubber-meets-the-road’ daily application of living out the Word of God. In other words, this holiness is our part, not God’s part.

 

  1. purify your hearts, you double-minded people,” our hearts are not pure when we are double-minded – that is, stop ‘riding the fence’…stop placing one foot in Christ and the other foot in the world (from our perspective). Stop running and fussing over things of the world, and start focusing on the higher, spiritual, godly things.

 

Being double minded means that we have an affinity for (relationship with…sympathy for…interest in…attraction to…a ‘causal connection’ with) both God and something in the world, causing one to mind (think about, take action toward) both spiritual and worldly spheres – divided in mind and attention. In other words, one is trying to be a friend of God and a friend of the world – and doing such makes them an enemy of God…

 

James 4:4

You adulterers! Don’t you understand that friendship with the world is animosity towards God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

 

If a person is double minded, it is because they are clinging to something or things that are of the world…a worldly attitude, or the world itself. They might well love God, but they demonstrate that they love the world more than they love Him, and Jesus said that if we do not love Him above and beyond all else then we are not worthy [1] of Him (Mat. 10:37).

The things of God and the Spirit, and the things of the world, are diametrically opposed to one another; so, in effect, when one ‘has a foot’ on both sides of the fence, he is in fact an enemy of God playing the part of the hypocrite. We cannot move closer to God because one leg is over the fence, and God cannot bless a person who is whoring themselves out to the things of the world.

We are to separate ourselves from the world, not make friends with it, not partake of it, or any of its wicked themes, not allow it to influence our lives because that influence leads downward into spiritual darkness and shadow (Rom. 1:18-32).

 

  1. we are to separate ourselves from the world and all of its corrupting influences – particularly people – as that is what the context of II Cor. 6:17 is addressing…

 

II Corinthians 6:14-17

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore, go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you,

 

Paul doesn’t just address not touching the unclean thing here, he addresses the larger picture of separating from sinful people because if we do not, eventually their wickedness will rub off onto us, corrupt our thinking, and cause us to fall or walk away from God. The person who walks in obedience to God really doesn’t have much in common with the person who is in the midst of rebelling against God. Hence, the person of Light has nothing in common with the person of darkness…the believer has nothing substantial in common with the unbeliever – they are actually enemies of one another in spirit, and animosity is generated between them due to that friction.

 

  1. Touching “the unclean thing” is figurative for participating in the sinful, corruptive, things of the world. If you are choosing to look at it, then you are participating in it. If you are doing it, then you are participating in it. You cannot participate in Christ and participate in the world – it is either one or the other in reality…

 

I Corinthians 10:21

You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.

 

Those who think they can participate in worldly things and still keep one foot in Christ, are sadly mistaken, and unless they repent and turn to God whole heartedly, they will end up in eternal flames, regardless of what they believe…regardless of whether they were at one time saved or not. The doctrine of ‘once saved, always saved’ is a false doctrine, not taught in the Bible anywhere.

What am I touching that is sin?

What am I watching/listening to that is sin?

What am I thinking about/imagining that is sin?

What am I saying/doing that is sin?

 

What am I not doing or saying that is sin?

 

  1. what is God saying here? He is saying that if a person wants to draw close to God – indeed, even be accepted by God (eisdechomai = to receive into favor or communion, fellowship, relationship) – one must separate himself from the world, the things and corrupting issues of the world, and the corrupting influences of those who are not saved or not walking with God. In short, this verse speaks much more about being accepted as a child of God, than it does about drawing closer to Him. But it still applies to the latter…

 

  1. Returning to an earlier passage –

 

I Peter 1:22

You have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth, in sincere love out of a pure heart; I exhort you to love one another earnestly,

 

Here Peter echoes Jesus’ words in prayer to the Father…

 

John 17:17

Sanctify them in the Truth; Your Word is Truth.

 

In other words, it is not enough to be a hearer only of the Word of Truth, for hearing only does not purify our souls. We must put the truth of the Word into action in obedience in order for the purifying work to be processed.

Obedience is a two-sided coin: righteousness (obeying God in doing what is right in His eyes) and holiness (obeying God by not doing what He tells you not to do). It is ‘doing good’ and it is ‘not doing what is wickedness.’ It is very important that we understand that this is our part, this is not the imputed righteousness and holiness of Christ to our account – and, indeed, the Scriptures bear witness to the fact that if we are not striving for personal righteousness and holiness, then that which is imputed to us from God will cease.

 

  1. obedience to the truth” is another way of saying “obedience to the Faith” (Rom. 1:5; 16:26), where the word pistis is used as a metonym for the articles and doctrines of the Christian system of faith. In other words, we purify our souls by walking in obedience to what the doctrines of Christianity tells us to do – as well as not doing what they tell us not to do.

 

We do this, according to the next section of the verse, “in sincere love out of a pure heart.” A pure heart (katharos) means a heart that is not only clean and free of worldly contaminates, but also implies that it is pure because we do not have one foot in the world, becoming polluted through friendship and association with the world.

When it comes to where the “rubber meets the road,” we move closer to God through consecration to Him and purifying ourselves through obedience to God and His Word.

Someone might ask the question, “Why would you want to move closer to God?” The answer to that question, I suppose, might be different for each person. For me, I have been close to the Lord in the past and then allowed the devil to work on me and mess that relationship up…and I want it back! I can’t put into words eloquently enough how it feels to be sitting in God’s presence when you are close enough to actually feel Him in your room, or when you are walking and talking with Him and you can feel His presence with you. I crave personal experiences with the Lord like what I used to have, and I recognize that I had them with Him because I had moved close to Him.

I have had experiences with God that others only dream about, and while I am not pushing personal experience to the point of being unbalanced, I do believe that God wants us to get to know Him here, today, where we are. We can only come to know God on a personal level by experiencing Him in intimate, personal ways – when He would choose to interact with us. That’s what it’s all about today, God doesn’t want to wait until we get to heaven to interact with us, He wants to do that today – especially because many of those interactions result in either our personal spiritual growth, or someone’s salvation.

Blessings!

 

     [1] axios (axioV), meaning an estimation of value or worth; used as it is in Mat. 10:37, “worthy of Me,” means that one is not worthy to be a friend of God, or to be cherished by Him or anyone.

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Who is, and who is not, a Christian?

In recent days I have been assaulted with various claims by people who believe themselves to be Christians, who…I might add…are in error in that belief.

“Those are strong words, Dave.”

Yes, they are, because the Scriptures are very black and white…there’s none of this practicing homosexuals can be Christians nonsense in the Scriptures. There’s none of this I can say “f**k” and still be a Christian nonsense. There’s more, but let’s not jump off the top of the building, we need to work our way to the top from the bottom.

Let me start out by reflectively saying that I do not hate anyone, but I do hate. What I hate is what God hates – that means, first and foremost, I hate lies in the form of false ideologies and, in particular, false teachings and false doctrines – whether they be of a religious nature (for example: “once saved, always saved” nonsense doctrine) or of a worldly nature (for example: “evolutionary theory has been demonstrated as a fact” nonsense when the facts to not support the theory like evolutionist’s portray it).

This is why, false ideologies lead to false teachings, and false teachings lead to false doctrines – and false doctrines take people to hell. We are going to examine numerous false ideologies – myths – within people’s minds concerning Christianity and what it means to be a Christian (if you think that I miss something, let me know and we will add it)…because false doctrines have only one purpose, born of demonic origins within the minds of people – to separate people from God. My motivation is two-fold; Scriptural truth for the sake of truth itself, and making the effort to give people that truth so that they can, as Paul says, “examine yourselves to see whether or not you are really in the Faith” (II Cor. 13:5).

Simply because, if you claim to be a Christian, but don’t pass the test of examination, then you are deceiving yourself into thinking that you are OK with God when you really are outside the ark of safety. How do people deceive themselves? James says it quite nicely…

 

James 1:22
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

 

We shall observe just how true his words are as we continue. We need to begin from the beginning, from the foundation, as Paul puts it, there is no “foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Notice that he didn’t say the gospel, which some erroneous interpret his words here to mean. No, he said that the foundation that was laid was “Jesus Christ” Himself, and there is a reason for this – because we are told in Scripture that Jesus is the “truth” and the “light” and that if we are in Him, we walk in the Light… but if we do not walk in Him, then we walk in darkness, “and the darkness has blinded their eyes” (I John 2:11), meaning that they can’t even see or understand the truth.

Therefore, in order to understand who is and who is not a Christian according to the Scriptures, we first must look at how a person can become a Christian. What do the Scriptures tell us about what a Christian is? We will go by the numbers:

A Christian is someone who has received salvation from the sins of their past sinful lifestyle by receiving Christ as their Savior.

How does one “get saved?” This is perhaps one of the most important questions, and one that satan has fought to twist through false teachings since the Reformation. It is falsely taught all over this country today that one gets saved the moment they come to faith in Christ – but this is not taught anywhere in the Scriptures, it is wholly part of the false doctrines of Calvinism. In order to get saved according to the Scriptures, one must first come to faith in Christ, that is the first “step” if you will…

 

John 3:15-16
15 that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.
16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

 

Those versions of the Scriptures that read John 3:16 as “shall not perish” violate numerous grammatical points, and is a gross mistranslation of the Greek text (which you can find detailed in my other posts so I will not detail it here). Jesus says clearly and plainly, that believing does NOT save anyone, it is only one step in the process of decision-making to come to God on His terms. Anyone who tries to come to God on his own terms will wake up one day in eternal flames. God is the sovereign, He makes the rules and we either come to Him on His terms, or we choose the alternative. That is black and white, if that offends you, then so be it.

Jesus says, “may have eternal life” and “should not perish” because faith is only one prerequisite to coming to God…

 

Hebrews 11:6
And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would draw near to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.

 

After one comes to saving faith in Christ, he must then count the cost of walking with Christ and choose to repent from his past sinful lifestyle (“saving faith” does not mean that they are saved because they have chosen to believe, it means that there is a difference between living faith, and dead faith, which James explains in his letter – faith that is not made living by walking in obedience to what one claims to believe, is dead faith; and dead faith can’t save anyone – Jam. 2:14-26). God will not forgive and save someone if they do not first repent (choose to turn away) from practicing the sinful things that they used to practice – because there’s no reason to…

 

Matthew 4:17
From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Luke 13:3
No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

Acts 3:19
Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,

 

Now, the false doctrines of Calvinism and others, tells people that you don’t have to do anything in order to get saved but believe in Jesus – yet we can clearly see in the above passages that repentance is another prerequisite to receiving God’s forgiveness. Peter, under the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit in Acts 3:19, clearly gives the indication that unless one repents, even though he may believe in Jesus, he cannot have his sins blotted out. This is also his intended meaning here…

 

Acts 2:38
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

 

Peter states explicitly that unless one repents, as one of the prerequisites, then he will not be forgiven of his sins – as well as introducing here another prerequisite to receiving salvation, being water baptized into Christ. This point Calvinists and others also chide against because they give ear to doctrines of demons and seducing spirits, as Paul tells us people would do in the last days (I Tim. 4:1). I will assume the reader has never read this before, so I will detail it here because of its great importance. We see that water baptism into Christ is how the Scriptures teach us to be saved, which is in direct contradiction as to what the ignorant and unstable in the Scriptures teach…

 

Acts 18:24-26
24 Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures.
25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John.
26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

 

Apollos was a man who thought of himself as a Christian…he believed in Christ, he was also competent in the Scriptures, the Spirit tells us. He taught in the synagogue the things concerning Jesus accurately – that is, that Jesus was the Messiah…BUT, there’s that key little phrase that the Spirit had Luke write into the paragraph that upon first glance really doesn’t make much sense. Luke writes that Apollos “knew only the baptism of John,” meaning that Apollos had not yet been baptized into Christ.

“So what?” you might ask. This is where cultural understanding cuts most Americans off from getting the full understanding and grasp of the NT Scriptures…every Redemptive Covenant has a God-given ceremonial rite of entry, EVERY Redemptive Covenant. The New Covenant is a Redemptive Covenant, and no one enters into that covenant unless they enter it by the way that God has decreed. The way of entry into the Old Covenant was circumcision, and the way of entry into the New Covenant, by God’s decree, is water baptism. Period. That is what the Scriptures teach, therefore that is the truth on the matter.

“Where does the Scriptures teach that water baptism is how we enter into Christ? And what does entering into Christ have to do with salvation?” Good questions, I’m glad you asked…

 

Isaiah 42:6
I am the LORD; I have called You in righteousness; I will take You by the hand and keep You; I will give You as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations,

Isaiah 49:8
Thus says the LORD: “In a time of favor I have answered You; in a day of salvation I have helped You; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages,”

 

Both of these passages are part of Messianic Prophecies (I’ll let you read the whole prophesies on your own if you so wish) where God the Father is speaking to God the Son as the coming Messiah, and is telling Him that He will make Him a living covenant. God is speaking concerning the New Covenant, and He is telling you and I that He has made Jesus Christ the Living embodiment of the New Covenant – Jesus IS the Living New Covenant.

This has dramatic impact upon how we are to read and interpret the NT Scriptures, because as I have stated many times before, the New Testament is NOT a testament at all, it is a covenant – to be precise, it is an Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) Covenant, fashioned after ANE covenants and under the authoritative legal standing of ANE covenant principles of operation. As the living New Covenant, pretty much every word that Jesus ever spoke was covenant stipulation. This also has a direct impact upon our current discussion…

 

Romans 6:3
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

Galatians 3:27
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have entered into Christ.

 

No one comes to be “in Christ” simply because they believe in Him, there is only one way to enter into Christ according to the Scriptures, and that is through the God-ordained ceremonial rite of entry of water baptism. This is why Peter said in Acts 2:38 above that one must not only repent in order to have their sins forgiven, but that they must also be water baptized in the name of Jesus, because to be water baptized in Jesus’ name is to be water baptized into Jesus. Christ Himself tells us that water baptism is necessary in order to receive salvation from sin…

 

John 3:5
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

 

When Jesus uses the phrase, “born of water” he is not referencing physical birth as Calvinism and other false doctrines teach (in which they make the same ridiculous mistake that Nicodemus made and which Jesus chided him for), He was referencing water baptism. This can be clearly observed in light of the other passages on water baptism and entering into Christ when we apply the principles of Biblical interpretation to the study, taking clear passages to illuminate John 3:5 where Jesus speaks in a figurative manner. He says that unless one is baptized – thereby entering into Christ the Living New Covenant – a man cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Why?

Because the Kingdom of God is a covenant kingdom, and no one enters the kingdom of God unless they are in covenant with God. Therefore, no one can receive salvation from their sins and enter into the kingdom of God unless they enter into Christ through water baptism. This is how people get saved today under the auspices of the New Covenant, according to the Scriptures – and not according to the false teachings of men who wish to be teachers of God’s Word who neither know the Scriptures nor God Himself…

 

Jeremiah 2:8
The priests did not say, ‘Where is the LORD?’ Those who handle the law did not know Me; the shepherds transgressed against Me; the prophets prophesied by Baal and went after things that do not profit.

 

In this respect, little has changed since the days of Jeremiah.

In concluding this portion of the discussion, one gets saved by first coming to faith in Christ (because if one does not believe in Christ, then one will not repent or get baptized), then counting the cost of following Christ, called being a disciple of Christ, and then receives water baptism into Christ where salvation is meted out to him (see the earlier post on Salvation and Eternal Life, where we address that salvation from sin is part of the six elements of the atonement in Christ). Salvation is found only “in Christ,” therefore, unless one is abiding in Christ, he does not have salvation – no matter what he believes…

 

2 Timothy 2:10
Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

 

Next…

Some Myths about who and what a Christian is:

 

1.  Some people think that because they got saved 5, 10, 20 years ago, that they are still Christians today.

This plays into the false doctrine of “once saved, always saved” nonsense.

Nope, this is not what the Scriptures teach. The word “Christian” means “Christ-like” or “follower of Christ,” both terms employed in the understanding that a Christian is one who is a disciple of Christ. What is a disciple? The word means one who follows the teaching and lifestyle of another, a prominent teacher or Rabbi, for example. Therefore, a Christian is one who DOES, not one who DID something years ago.

A Christian is one who is following the teachings in their everyday lives which Christ taught, and which the apostles handed down to us in the NT Scriptures. It matters not if you “got saved” 30 years ago if you are not actively following after God today in obedience to Him and His Word…if you make a practice of lying, then you are not a Christian. If you make it a practice to close your heart off from your spouse, withholding your affections for no valid reason, then you are not a Christian. If you practice speeding down the road breaking the speed limit after understanding that the Scriptures tell us to obey the laws of the land, then you are not a Christian.

If you make it a daily practice to say cuss words, then you are not a Christian. If you don’t make it a practice to love on people, helping them when you have the opportunity to do so, then you are not a Christian. If you fail to practice daily putting your flesh upon the cross so that you can walk in the Spirit, then you are not a Christian. If you fail to engage God in personal relationship on an on-going lifestyle, then you are not a Christian. A person is not a Christian because they got saved in the past, a person is a Christian if, and only if, they are currently walking in obedience to God in Christ according to “the way of God” as we observed in Acts 18 above with Apollos.

Harsh words? Jesus said that unless you are willing to give up all that you have or hold dear, all of your passions and dreams, all of your desires and the distractions that you love to participate in, then you cannot be His disciple…

 

Luke 14:27-33
27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?
29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him,
30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’
31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?
32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.
33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has, cannot be My disciple.

 

Why does Jesus say that anyone who does not renounce all that he has, “cannot be My disciple?” It’s because if you let anything come between you and Him, then that distraction will prevent you from being ABLE to follow Him in what He has called us to do. I can’t follow after Christ at the same time that I am playing video games…I can’t follow after Christ at the same time that I am sitting on the couch watching hours of TV or episode after episode of something on Netflix…I can’t follow after Christ at the same time that I am engaging in various species of entertainment. I can’t follow after Christ if I love my wife more than I love the Lord, and spend most of my time trying to please her rather than trying to please Him. She can’t get me into heaven, only I can do that.

 

2.  Some people think that they are Christians simply because they believe in Jesus or God.

Nope, this is one of the biggest lies floating around the church landscape today…”Oh, I believe in God, so I am a Christian.” Sorry, that’s not how it works. You can believe all you want to that you are a car, and go stand in your garage for hours at a time – but you are delusional! I can believe that I can walk through walls or fly, but the facts of reality demonstrate something very different. No one is a Christian simply because they believe in God, and James says that the demon believe in God, but their belief does not give them amnesty from what they have done and continue to do. Again, listen to James’ words…

 

James 1:22
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

 

It reads a little differently in the Greek…”But be obedient to what the Word tells you to do, not just listening to what is said, failing to practice what you hear – because this is how you deceive yourselves.” What does he mean? In order to answer this, we need to look at some other passages…

 

Hebrews 4:12
For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

1 Thessalonians 2:13
And because of this, we also give thanks to God continually, that you received the Word of God that you heard from us and accepted it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God, which is active in those who consistently believe.

 

The Word of God is living and active in the lives of those who believe and walk in obedience to (practice as a lifestyle) what the Word of God demands from us. It does no good to only listen to what the Word has to say if you do not practice what it tells you to do in obedience to God – because that is what being a Christ follower is all about. To follow Christ you MUST obey what He tells you to do – if you do not walk in obedience to Him, then you are not following Him, and you are NOT a Christian, no matter what you choose to believe.

The Word of God can only work in our lives as we walk in obedience to it, as we practice what God tells us in His Word to do. If we are not putting the Word into action in our lives, then it cannot do what God has sent it into our lives to do. Getting back to the point, no one is saved just because they believe in God, just as no one is a Christian just because they believe in God. That is a doctrine straight from the bowels of hell.

 

3.  I am a Christian because I repeated the sinner’s prayer with the pastor one day, or because I repeated the sinner’s prayer with the guy on TV.

Nope…not really. I do concede that I have spoken to at least one person that said the sinner’s prayer with a TV preacher and seems to have genuinely received salvation out of that experience, but that is a rarity and I can only think that somewhere in the TV preacher’s sermon that he addressed repenting in order to get saved.

“But wait a minute…you said earlier that one must receive water baptism into Christ in order to get saved, now you are backpedaling.”

No, not quite. I had yet to get into all the details of differing scenarios…which we will now address. Some of you earlier got all bent out of shape when I stated that one must be water baptized in order to receive salvation from sin, and instantly – and ignorantly – regurgitated the same nonsense that you have learned from others…”what about the thief on the cross who was accepted by Christ, you are saying that he wasn’t really saved because he didn’t get baptized”…or…”you forgot about Cornelius and his family who was apparently saved by faith and was baptized in the Holy Spirit before they were water baptized, so you are wrong!”

No, I didn’t forget about them, I just waited until now to address the situations. First, God is holy and righteous, He will ALWAYS act in a righteous way. If God did not accept the thief on the cross just because he didn’t have the OPPORTUNITY to receive water baptism, according to His Word, then He would not have been acting in a righteous and upright way on the thief’s account. If one does not have the opportunity to receive water baptism, do you really think that God will not honor such a person’s faith? Again, He would not be righteous if He didn’t. The thief on the cross is reminiscent of death-bed conversions, where people do not have the opportunity to receive water baptism…so what I am saying is that God does not bend the rules, but He makes calculated exceptions where judgment is concerned in receiving people through faith. He is God, that is His prerogative to do so.

As for Cornelius and his family, we must look at the context of what was happening. First, the church, being up to this point strictly Jewish in nature, was refusing to take the gospel to the Gentiles (which is why God chose Paul rather than Matthias, whom we never hear about again after his ‘election’ to be the 12th apostle by Peter – Acts 1:15-26). God had to get the church’s attention, to recall to them the prophesies that the gospel would be made available to all the world, not just the Jews, under the New Covenant. And working through Cornelius was how God chose to do so.

In short, this was a unique incident in the Scriptures – no one ever received salvation outside of faith, repentance, and water baptism into Christ before Cornelius in the Scriptures (aside from the thief on the cross), and no one in the Scriptures received salvation outside of faith, repentance, and water baptism into Christ after Cornelius in the Scriptures. It may indeed have taken place, but it is not recorded. I say that because I personally know about myself receiving salvation without receiving water baptism, as well as others who have also received Christ without having been water baptized.

“Dude, you are so confused…your brain is out in left field.”

No, I just understand covenanting, and most of those reading this blog do not. Again – God will ALWAYS act in accordance with righteousness, that is, in what is RIGHT. Here is the scenario (which you can get in greater detail than what I am going to give here, in the book: The Gospel According to ANE Covenant Understanding click here),  the church of the first century understood covenant because the Middle East was the center of ANE covenanting. Covenants were a part of their daily life, so they understood like we in western civilization do not, all of the “in’s and out’s” of covenanting. Once the church became predominantly Gentile, particularly after the third century and the church spread over Europe and beyond, the knowledge and understanding of ANE covenanting – and that the New Testament is a covenant, NOT a testament – was all but lost to the church.

A little of that knowledge returned to the church after the Reformation, but it was horribly warped and distorted through Reformed ‘Covenant Theology.’ But solid introduction to ANE covenants and how they impact our understanding of the NT Scriptures did not begin in the church again until the late 1800’s – early 1900’s, and have only recently (within the last 20 years) have become widely understood in the Theological community. Sadly, however, for whatever biased reasons, the heads of pretty much every denomination in this country have not seen fit to get this pertinent information into the hands of their pastors and evangelists. One of the primary effects of covenant understanding is that covenant places boundaries upon how we are to interpret the Scriptures, and because we have not had closed boundaries since the Reformation, we have many false teachings in the church today because of it. The boundaries set by the New Covenant rectifies, clarifies, and separates the intended meaning of many passages from the many false interpretations assigned to them.

That being said, those who heard Jesus teach, and those who heard Paul preach, understood perfectly that they were addressing the gospel as the outworking of the New Covenant – and we, for the most part, do not. They understood that in order to get saved one had to be a participant in the covenant that made salvation possible – and because the Reformers didn’t have that understanding, they claimed – in great error – that all you have to go in order to get saved is to believe in Jesus. So, when it comes to today, and the vast majority of people do not understand covenant, nor that they must be in the New Covenant (that is, in Christ) in order to have salvation – being falsely taught that all they have to do is believe in Christ – God had to make a decision…

Was he going to let the lost knowledge of covenanting and how it affects our understanding of the Scriptures keep millions of people out of relationship with Him, or was He going to do the RIGHT thing and accept people based upon what they know, and not what they don’t know? So…people today can get saved if they come to faith in Christ, repent, and ask God to forgive them of their sins and come into their lives, without receiving water baptism into Christ. HOWEVER, when a person hears that the Scriptures do dictate that water baptism is necessary in order for them to enter into Christ and have eternal life, and if that person rejects that information for no other reason than because of their bias, in not seeking the truth of God’s Word but just protecting and defending their bias – that person’s standing with God as having eternal life has now become jeopardized by his unwillingness to heed the truth of God’s Word.

To put it simply,  I would not want to be standing in that man’s shoes when he stands before God on judgment day…because he was shown the truth of God’s word – “the way of God more accurately,” and he refused to listen because of his arrogance and pride in his doctrine defending without truth seeking. I will defend what I know, but only after listening to what the other person has to say (because he may have greater Light on something that I don’t yet have) and then lining it up with what the Scriptures have to say, but I am not a bias-defender above truth-seeking.

 

4.  Practicing homosexuals can be Christians, so stop saying they aren’t.

Wrong…so dead wrong that its almost laughable if it wasn’t so stinking sad. What does the Scriptures say on the subject?

 

 

Leviticus 18:22
You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.

Leviticus 20:13
If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor those who practice homosexuality,
10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Romans 1:21-32                                                                                                                 Because although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools…Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves…For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done…Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

 

The Scriptures tell us that practicing homosexuals (which includes lesbians) are not saved, neither can they be while they continue to practice such behavior. Is that any different from practicing lying, stealing, prostitution, murder, child molesting, or any other behavior that God condemns? No, it isn’t, so I am not picking on homosexuals – the facts are the facts.

If you practice lying to people, then you are not a Christian.

If you practice thievery, then you are not a Christian.

If you practice any kind of sin, in any way, shape, or form, then you are not a Christian… this is what the Spirit tells us through John the apostle…

 

1 John 2:4
Whoever says “I know Him” but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,

1 John 2:6
whoever says that he abides in Christ will walk in the same way in which He walked.

1 John 3:6-10
6 No one who abides in Christ keeps practicing sin; no one who keeps practicing sin has either seen Him or known Him.
7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.
8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on practicing sin because he has been born of God.
10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

 

In I John 2:4 God tells us that those who claim to know God (i.e., claim to be saved) but who do not keep His commandments, is a liar and is not saved and does not know God. In the next verse He says that those who abide in Christ (i.e., have eternal life) are those who practice walking in the way that Christ walked – that is, in righteousness and holiness. In the third passage, the Spirit tells us through John that no one who is abiding in Christ practices sin…any sin…period. Whoever practices righteousness (i.e., doing what is right in God’s eyes, which is the same as saying one who does not practice sin) is righteous, just as Christ is righteous. Whoever practices sin “is of the devil”…those who do not practice righteousness, nor loving on others in their time of need, are not of God – meaning that they are not saved nor do they have eternal life. In short, they are not Christians.

Now there are those out there, in their efforts to justify their sinful behavior before God, who claim that the Christian sins against the homosexual by calling him out on his sin – wrong answer. There is a judgmental way of doing that which IS WRONG…but as Paul says, “Am I now your enemy because I tell you the truth?” You may consider me your enemy because you don’t like what I am saying, but that does not mean that I consider you my enemy. The truth sets people free – lies of satan keep people bound to sin and eventually take them to hell. I do not condemn, that is not my place nor my authority. My authority is in preaching and teaching the truths of the Word of God, once I do so, the hearer has the responsibility to align his beliefs and life with the Word of God, or choose to reject it. Those who reject the Word of God reject God, and in doing so take themselves into a world of hurt and suffering, just as Paul lines out in Romans 1:18-32, which I will not post here, you can look it up for yourself.

 

5.  Homosexuals are born that way, they cannot help the way they feel.

Nope, that is neither true according to the Scriptures, nor according to science. This myth has entered into the church scene because pastors and teachers who are not saved, take the word of gay scientists over and above what the Word of God tells us. We will hit the gay gene myth here in a second, but first lets look and see what God has to say about the lie that He supposedly makes people born homosexuals…

 

Ecclesiastes 7:29
See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have chosen to go their own way.

 

That word for upright is the Hebrew word yasar, meaning straight, just, righteous in God’s eyes, which is why if an infant dies before the age of accountability, it goes straight to heaven because it has not yet come to understand the difference between right and wrong and has purposely chosen to sin. In other words, God makes all people perfect in His eyes from inception; the Scriptures do tell us that we were conceived in sin, but He is not saying that we are sinful from conception, He is saying that the flesh is sinful, not the baby.

God condemns homosexual activity, which we have already observed above, therefore…if God turns around and causes, or allows, people to be born homosexual, then He cannot be just or righteous. That’s like saying that after God made black people, He turns around and condemns them all to hell because they are black, not because of their choices. Sorry, but that is not Scriptural, God does not create some people through pro-creation to be something that He explicitly condemns – what that is, is the twisted minds of people trying to talk their way out of hell-fire while remaining in their chosen sin.

But, let’s be fair…what about people who are homosexuals who genuinely feel and believe that they were born gay (not just saying so in order to bolster their justification when it isn’t true)? Can there be any kind of truth to this scenario? There is truth, but not that people are born gay…let us look at another spiritual conception akin to this one. People who believe in reincarnation because they have vivid memories of their so-called passed lives, are being deceived through the means of possession by what the Bible calls as ‘familiar spirits’ (demons masquerading themselves for the purpose of deception). These people claim to have had these memories of their past lives early on in childhood…the most famous of cases is that of Shirley Maclain, who claims to have been reincarnated now for about 7 times, from (supposedly) a life of an Atlantean before it sank, to an American Indian princess, to prostitutes.

But the Scriptures tell us that reincarnation is a hoax, that it isn’t real…

 

Hebrews 9:27
And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,

 

Reincarnation is from eastern mysticism, but the Scriptures teach that demons masquerading as ‘familiar spirits’ impersonate those whom they have possessed in the past. When people go to seances to speak to someone who has died…they cannot actually speak to the dead, because the dead are either in heaven or in hell, they don’t float around the earth and haunt houses or any of that nonsense. Those spirits which impersonate the dead are familiar spirits – that is, demons who possessed those people and who have all of their memories…and in the case of reincarnation, pass those memories on to those whom they are now possessing, making them believe that they have been reincarnated. Why would demons do that? Because the Word of God says that men die one time, and then wait to be judged in eternity…so if they can make people believe what is in contradiction to Scripture, then they effectively nullify saving faith in that person, and chalk one more soul for hell-fire.

In the same way, some people who genuinely believe they have been born gay, may be possessed from childhood and the demon possessing them gives them those homosexual tendencies. To many this may sound odd, but it really isn’t. The gospels record children being demon possessed in the Scriptures, and we even have modern day reports of child possessions (demons possess children in South America; demon possessed boy glides backwards across floor and walks up the wall). People only choose not to believe that a child could be demon possessed because people don’t want to believe in demons – however, since man dies one time and then goes to either heaven or to hell waiting for judgment, the only spirits left here on earth are demons and angels, and angels don’t deceive people, only demons do. Demons haunt houses, demons possess people, demons make people believe that they have been reincarnated, demons make people believe that they have been abducted by aliens, etc.

“Are you saying that all people who are homosexual are demon possessed? That’s ridiculous!”

Yes, that would be ridiculous, and that is why that’s not what I am saying. Some people who have had such homosexual tendencies since childhood may well be possessed since childhood, but the Scriptures tell us that for the most part (that is, apart from those who are being deceived into believing that they were born gay), the homosexual lifestyle is a chosen lifestyle, from one or another reason. I know a man who was straight until one of his friends asked him to go to a gay bar with him because he didn’t want to go alone – in my book, it would have been a great mistake to go with him, you are just walking into the snakes den. But he went because this guy was his friend.

But, during the course of the night, this guy was raped by a homosexual, and from that very night began having supernatural experiences from demonic sources. He could see the demon, it would manifest itself to him and talk to him. It would tell him that he now belonged to the demon, and that he would do with him whatever he liked. Ever since that night, this guy had strong homosexual urges – so what happened? From all that we have covered from above, and some new information I am about to give you, this poor guy became demon possessed because the guy that raped him was possessed by the same demon. The Scriptures tell us that two people who have sex, as a spiritual principle, become one person – that is, one life lived in two individuals.

This is one reason why God commands that we not have sex until we are married, and that we only have sex with our husband or wife, because we will become one with them when we consummate the marriage relationship. Every time a person has sex with someone, they break that supernatural tie to the one before, which tears one’s soul. So, after a man has had so many sex partners, and his soul has been torn several times, he becomes numb to things…he comes to the place where he doesn’t feel anything for anyone anymore, and it only gets worse and worse. Pretty soon, he (or she) is unable to form any spiritual attachment to anyone, and it only gets worse from there.

So, if a man is possessed by a demon, and he has sex with another person (straight or homosexual, it doesn’t matter, demons aren’t discriminant), he becomes one life with that person because of the spiritual principle, and now the demon possessing him has access to the person he is now one with. What does this have to do with a person who believes he was born homosexual? I am just showing that in many cases – not all cases – demon possession plays a key factor in homosexual activity…in fact, any activity that goes against Scripture. The demon possessed person will not love on you, to the contrary, they make those whom they possess do anything that they can do that is a direct contradiction to what the Scriptures teach.

How would a child get demon possessed? How indeed…how did the children that Jesus cast demons out of get possessed? I can’t answer that, all I can do is show that it is possible today through the activities of their parents when they were infants (or older). If the parents played D&D or played with Ouiji boards, or dabbled in witchcraft (which is on the rise and has been for the last 30 years), then the child in the house was an easy target for possession. Parents do stupid things sometimes that allow demonic activity into their homes…doing drugs, games, sexual perversions, having sex outside of marriage… anything that is strictly forbidden in Scripture, when one participates in it, can lead to demon possession.

I used to work in law enforcement for 25 years, in the county jail in California, and many times we had possessed people coming in that there was no doubt that they were possessed. The courts would label them as crazy and assign them to mental facilities, because the world does not want to believe that demons are real – because if they concede to demons, then the next step is to conceding to the Bible which tells us all about them. Anyway, let’s not get off track…

 

What marks a person as a Christian or not, is not so much what they believe as it is, in the short, what they do. You can believe, but if you do not align your behavior and life according to what God tells you to do – and stop doing what He tells you to stop doing – then you are not a Christian. Remember, the word means Christ-follower, or Christlike…you are not Christlike if you are practicing lying, stealing, being mean to people, using cuss words every paragraph (or worse), etc.

Too many people today in the church are walking the fuzzy road of their own making, and not following Christ according “to the way of God.” Jesus said there are two roads, the broad road which leads to destruction that many, many take…and the narrow road, which few find and walk. Far too many people are choosing to believe what the world says over and above what the Scriptures say. When a person who was at one time “born again” now chooses to believe that they don’t have to do everything that God tells them to do…when they choose to believe that homosexuals are born that way (even when science decries the nonsense that such behavior is directly attributable to genetic factors), even for the sake of their ailing conscience because one of their children chooses to be gay (and I can sympathize, but I would not ever compromise)…then such people are choosing lies over the truth, which takes them right back to Paul’s words in Romans 1:18-32.

When we reject the truth of God’s Word, and choose to accept the lies of the world, then we are, in fact, rejecting the God who spoke and wrote that Word. When we reject the light of the truth, all that remains for such people is the deception of the darkness which now darkens their minds and keeps them blinded from the truth.

You cannot reject truth and expect to hold truth, that is psychotic – yet that is exactly what many today who call themselves Christians, but are not, do.

But being a Christian is far more…one can have faith, repent, enter into Christ through water baptism and gain eternal life…and then never take that eternal life to its purpose…

 

John 17:3
And this is the purpose of eternal life, that they may come to know You personally, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

 

Christ does not give us eternal life as just a “get out of hell free” card, there is a purpose for giving people eternal life, and that is so that we have what we need in order to be able to enter into the presence of God and engage Him in personal relationship. If we fail to engage Him in personal relationship, then we are not Christians – because that is what Christianity is all about. What does engaging God in personal relationship look like? It is spending time with Him in prayer (intercessory) and in quiet time, where you share your soul with Him; and in personal times of worship at home.

Far too many people go to church on Sunday morning, maybe Sunday night, and that is the extent of their “relationship” with God. Sorry, that is not a relationship with God, that is simply being religious or playing church for social reasons. Christianity is all about relationship with God, not about religion…and because of false teachings, many believe that they are in relationship with God just because they got saved, or because they go to church, or because they pray and turn to God whenever they have some great catastrophe happen to them or someone they love. Again, sorry, but that is not a relationship with God…that is using God as your own personal cosmic Santa Claus, and that doesn’t cut it when it comes to eternal life.

In closing, what makes a person a Christian, is this:

A person is a Christian who has been saved from his past sins and is currently walking in a committed, personal relationship with God. He is one who is walking in obedience to God, not practicing lying, stealing, watching dirty movies, cussing, “getting some” whenever they can, practicing homosexual behavior, murdering people, etc. On the other hand, the Christian is the person who practices doing what God tells us to do, in loving on others when we see them in need, whether they are Christians or not. The Christian is one who has an intimate, personal, love relationship with God, who talks to God on a daily basis and makes Him a part of everything in their lives…who worships God at home and doesn’t wait until Sunday to do so. A Christian is a disciple of Christ, studying His word to renew his mind from worldly passions, to Godly passions…the Christian is the one who lives to please God, first and foremost.

People who claim to be Christians, but who spend most of their time doing anything and everything other than spending time in God’s Word, other than spending time with God Himself in prayer, other than making love to God in personal worship, are only kidding themselves. What takes a person from eternal life present, to the consummation of eternal life in heaven, is only that personal relationship with Him. That is what the fullness of the Word of God teaches.

 

What do you think?

Blessings!

 

 

 

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Spiritual Power and walking in the Spirit

SPIRITUAL POWER and Walking in the Spirit

Psalms 105:4
Seek Yahweh and be strengthened; seek His presence continually!

Psalms 28:7
Yahweh is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him.

In Psalms 105:4 we read the Spirit of God telling us through the writer, that we receive spiritual strength by seeking the presence of God, that when we enter into His presence, we receive such spiritual strength. In Psalm 28:7 we read David through the Spirit telling his audience that Yahweh is the strength of His people (we also read the same thing in other passages throughout Psalms).

Therefore, when we need spiritual strength (that which we need in order to do something spiritual), the only source of that strength is the presence of God – this is why the Spirit tells us to “seek His presence continually.” How do we seek the presence of God? That is, how do we enter into His presence? According to the Scriptures, we enter into the presence of God through praise, worship, and prayer…hence all of the examples and admonitions in the NT to pray continually…

Psalms 95:2
Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise!

Psalms 100:2
Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into His presence with singing!

Luke 5:16
But He would withdraw to desolate places and pray.

Luke 6:12
In these days He went out to the mountain to pray, and all night He continued in prayer to God.

Luke 18:1
And He told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.

Acts 1:14
All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and His brothers.

Acts 2:42
And they devoted themselves to . . . prayers.
Acts 6:4
But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

Romans 12:12
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Colossians 4:2
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

I Thessalonians 5:17
pray without ceasing,

234 verses in the Bible addressing prayer by term; 119 verses in the NT alone (just over half). There are:
43 verses in the NT that address “eternal life” by term…
41 verses using the search term “salvation”…
55 verses for the search term “saved”…
53 for the search term “righteous”…

A good portion of Scripture is dedicated to addressing prayer, double that for other terms that we would consider very important subjects in the Bible…there is a reason for that! In Job we read the question…

Job 21:15
What is the Almighty, that we should serve Him? And what profit do we get if we pray to Him?

When we pray we are seeking God – whether on behalf of another/others or on our own behalf. When we pray, those who have been born of God (born of the Spirit of God) enter into the spirit – that is, when we who are His children pray, we enter into His presence. When we enter into His presence, just as Psa. 105:4 states, we receive spiritual strength from Him in order to live the way He wants us to live. In answer to the question above, we receive power to walk in the spirit – to crucify the flesh…to put to death the things of the flesh…to mortify the flesh with its lusts and passions.

Romans 8:5
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

We receive power from God in order to live a holy, sanctified life; a life of walking in righteousness, filled with the fruit of the Spirit.

Romans 8:13
For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Walking in the spirit means to live in the spirit. If you spend most of your time in two different places, which one is the one that you live in? It is the one that you spend the majority of your time in – the one that you make into your home, your dwelling place. Therefore, one is living (walking) in the spirit rather than the flesh, when he spends most of his time (and makes his home/dwelling place) in the spirit rather than the flesh. It is only by tapping into God’s power through prayer that one can put to death the deeds of the body (walk in the spirit) and remain abiding in Christ and become His…

Romans 8:1
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 5:24
And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

When we spend adequate time in prayer, we are spending time in the secret place of God:

Psalms 91:1-9
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High, will abide in the shadow of the Almighty…Because you have made Yahweh your dwelling place – the Most High, who is my refuge –

Most commentators and theologians that I have read agree that “the secret place of the Most High” reads in the original Hebrew as meaning what verse 9 affirms – that the secret place is the Most High, and the only way to enter therein is through prayer.

Those who live in the flesh focus their minds upon worldly, fleshly pursuits; while those who live in the spirit are those who focus their minds upon spiritual pursuits…but what are spiritual pursuits?

Spiritual pursuits are things like striving to walk in holiness and sanctification, striving to walk in righteousness, striving to love on others and to rid themselves of those things within them that are not pleasing in God’s eyes. Spiritual pursuits would also include being a man or woman of prayer and spending every moment that they can in fellowship and communion with God, whether in prayer, worship, or just talking with God.

Other spiritual pursuits include seeking the truth of God’s Word in honest sincerity…seeking to evangelize the lost and to teach others how to walk with God according to His way…making time to praise and worship God, not just letting everything else come before and then complain that you didn’t have the time for “that.”

A spiritual pursuit is anything that either (1) enlarges the Kingdom of God, or (2) builds one up spiritually or (3) builds others up spiritually, or most importantly, (4) brings one closer to God in an intimate personal love relationship with Him.

How does this work?

I am only surmising since I have searched and to date have not discovered any passages that come right out and give us detailed information on the subject, but as near as I can discern, when we enter into God’s presence and remain for a certain amount of time, we become saturated by His presence.

Remember Moses, when he came down from the mountain top after spending 40 days and night in God’s immediate presence? His face glowed from being in God’s presence…just like one of those glow-in-the-dark items you can find in stores. The more time one spends in God’s presence, the more of His presence he becomes saturated by – the more of His power he becomes inundated with.

Psalms 90:8
You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.

Psalms 4:6
There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!”

Psalms 89:15
Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O LORD, in the light of your face,

Isaiah 2:5
O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD.

This is why we are told 119 times in the NT to pray, to pray continually, to constantly be in prayer and in an attitude of prayer. We enter into God’s presence when we are in prayer, and when we stop praying…we leave God’s immediate life-changing presence. The more we want to change, the more we need to spend time in prayer. The more we want to effect the world around us, the more we need to spend time in prayer.

One cannot walk in the spirit if he does not spend adequate time in prayer, receiving from God’s presence the power to do so. One cannot crucify the flesh, put the flesh to death along with its lusts and passions, without spending adequate time in God’s presence in prayer. As Jesus said… “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is not equal to the task” (Mat. 26:41). In other words, the spirit of the man wants to do spiritual things, but the flesh is in opposition to the spirit, just as Paul tells us here…

Galatians 5:16 – 17
But I say, walk in the spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Because the flesh wars against the spirit, and fights against the spirit in order to keep you from doing the spiritual things that you want to do.

In prayer we enter into the spirit, we enter into God’s presence and receive power so that we can, among other things, walk away from temptation – which is why Jesus told His disciples, “Watch and pray, so that you may not enter into temptation…” (Mat. 26:41).

When temptation comes against us, if we would only discipline ourselves to turn away from it and begin to pray immediately, then we would not be so prone to enter into that temptation and partake of it. Temptation always has something to do with the flesh, and when we enter into the spirit through prayer – entering into God’s very presence in the spirit – we receive power to walk away from that temptation, effectively putting the deeds of the flesh to death.

The more time in prayer that we put under our belt, the stronger we become in spirit, just like the longer you hold a glow-in-the-dark product near a light source, the longer and brighter it will glow. But also just like that product, we need to spend time with God in His presence on a continual basis, otherwise that power diminishes. Just like a pale with a small hole in the bottom, we need to continually fill our tanks because it dissipates with time…we need to continually fill up on God’s presence and power in order to keep from losing so much of Him that we no longer have the power to do anything spiritual.

This is what the Scripture shows by using the term “full of the Spirit” in the following passage…

Acts 6:5
And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch.

One point that we need to see here, is that Stephen was not an apostle (because some today think that only apostles had certain powers granted to them by God, and that normal people don’t have such abilities), he was just an ordinary believer like you and I, only he apparently spent a lot of time in prayer. He was full of the Spirit, full of faith, and he went around doing miracles because of it…

Acts 6:8
And Stephen, full of loving-kindness and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.

Through prayer – entering into God’s presence for power – we can rid ourselves of things that can only be accomplished through prayer…

Mark 9:29
And He said to them, “It is only by praying that you can have power to cause this kind to go out.”

Granted, here Jesus was specifically addressing a situation which involved a demon, yet we do not observe anywhere in the Scriptures where men spent a lot of time in prayer in order to cast demons out of someone. In every case where we do observe this event (accomplished by men), such as Paul, the demon is cast out with a single command and the demon obeys and departs from their victim.

Therefore, I think it reasonable to assume that Jesus here meant not just the possibility of a person so demon possessed that the believer getting ready to cast it out must be “prayed up” and full of God’s power and Spirit to do the job, but that Jesus may have also been indirectly touching upon other issues within people’s lives – especially after taking into consideration the information which we have already examined. Without spending time in prayer, we have not the spiritual power to even punch our way out of a wet paper bag…

The main point herein, is that we receive power from God to live and walk in the spirit, by spending adequate time with Him – in His presence – through prayer. The more we pray, the more time we spend in God’s presence through prayer, the more power we have in order to perform spiritually…the more spiritual power we have enabling us to seek after spiritual pursuits.
A person cannot walk in the spirit without spending time in prayer. A person cannot put to death the deeds of the flesh without spending time in prayer. A person cannot crucify his flesh unless he spends time in prayer. Therefore, a person cannot remain abiding in Christ – wherein dwells eternal life – unless he spends adequate time in prayer on a continual basis.

People under the auspices of false teachings will not like to hear that, because they are taught that they are in Christ simply because they believe in Him – but that is not what the Scriptures teach us. God, through Christ, has made the way…but we are the ones who must walk in that way, God does not cause Christ to walk in that way for us.

Saved does not mean “heaven bound,” it means that our past sins have been dealt with so that we can enter into the spirit, into God’s presence, for relationship…which involves prayer. If we do not spend quality time with God in prayer, then we do not have a relationship with God – it is as simple as that.

If one does not spend time with God in prayer on a continuous basis, then not only does he not have a relationship with God, but he will never make it to the consummation of eternal life in heaven. God has given us the key and expects those who really desire Him to use that key…God gives no one a free ticket to heaven, if He did then He would be defeating the very purpose for creating mankind in the first place.

That purpose was for intimate, personal, love relationship…God does not get that from us by giving us a free ticket to heaven. The way has been paved, but no one walks down that path on anyone else’s legs…you have to use your own legs and your own effort, strengthened by spending time with God in prayer.

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What is “spiritual death?”

The concept of spiritual death entered the Biblical scene in the second act, and in addressing spiritual death, we need to carefully distinguish between it and physical death, particularly in passages within the Old Testament – confusion of those passages in the past has led to false teachings. In the Scriptures, spiritual life and death are of a different nature than that of physical life and death, because the natures of the flesh and spirit are as different as night and day. Physical life is…physical life, so, too, with physical death – the life that animates the body is gone, and that animating force is the human spirit within it…

James 2:26
For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

Adam didn’t die physically when he partook of the fruit of the tree, he died spiritually, which is why his body didn’t just “drop dead” within moments after taking the first bite. The definition of “spiritual death,” also called by Paul as being dead in sin and transgressions, is what this article is all about. Taking the totality of the Scriptures into consideration on this subject, we learn that spiritual life and death are firmly grounded in the concept of personal relationship with God. Union with God is spiritual life, separation from God is spiritual death:

Deuteronomy 30:20
loving the LORD your God, obeying His voice and holding fast to Him, for He is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”

Isaiah 59:2
but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.

Besides Deut. 30:20, which tells us that God “is your life,” we also have other passages in the Scriptures teaching the same, only couched in Messianic terms, telling us that spiritual (or eternal) life is “in Christ” . . .

John 1:4
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

II Tim. 1:1
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus,

We also read where Jesus, like God, is said to actually be life…

John 14:6
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

I John 5:20
And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

And then we have Colossians 3:4 which tells us specifically, that Christ is our life…

Colossians 3:4
When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

We also find more passages in the OT which support the idea that God (Jesus) is our life, and that union with Him in one fashion or another, gives us life…

Psalms 36:9
For with You is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.
Psalms 91:14-16
14 Because he holds fast to Me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows My name.
15 When he calls to Me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him My salvation.”

In the passage above, we find the insinuation that “he” who holds fast to God, is in personal relationship with God…he loves God, he calls upon God, and in the context of the entire Psalm, he lives “in God.” He makes God his home – where he spends a certain portion of his time in or with…he places his trust in God and walks with God, meaning that he walks in loving obedience to Him. Because of this relationship, God responds by telling us that He will deliver such a person and be with him in his trials, that He will answer him when he calls upon Him.

God says that He will rescue him, honor him, protect him, and finally He will give him physical life (abundant life) and then, salvation (intending spiritual life in eternity with God). All because this person chooses to love God and spend time with Him in order to come to know God’s name…meaning that he comes to know God’s covenant name to His covenant people through personal experience. A person does not come to know God’s blessings or protection, unless they are walking with Him in covenant relationship, and saying that one “knows My name” is to insinuate that such a person is walking in covenant relationship with God, and so experiences God first-hand…not just His promises and blessings, but comes to experience and know God personally.

In the OT God was our life, according to the Scriptures…in the NT, as we have already witnessed, Jesus Christ is said to be our life. As the following passages indicate, the only way that one has eternal life today, is if one possesses Christ, and the only way one can possess Christ is by walking in covenant relationship with God…

I John 5:11-12
11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

I John 3:23-24
23 And this is God’s commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as He has commanded us.
24 Whoever keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He will abide in him; and by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.

The only way to have the Son, is to abide in Him, because as he abides in God/Christ, He/They remain abiding in him. If Christ is in you, then you have Him…because you walk in obedience to God’s commandments of the New Covenant – the Law of Christ…

John 14:23
Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home within him.”

Spiritual life is union with God, where our lives become so intertwined and interwoven within each other, that we essentially become one unit in many ways…which is what Paul means here when he says that we begin to conform to the image of Christ:

Romans 8:29
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.

This does not mean that God causes those in Christ to be conformed into His image, it means that God desires and has foreordained that those who are in Christ are to engage Him in relationship so that they will become more and more like Him…just like two good friends, and spouses, over the years take on certain of each other’s characteristics. This is what growing the Fruit of the Spirit is all about.
Bringing this even closer to home, God has said that He will give the promise of life to those who engage Him in an intimate, personal relationship and come to know Him personally, and who come to love Him not just in obedience, but because they fall in love with Him…

James 1:12
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him.

Separation from God is spiritual death…
Isaiah 59:2 says it quite clearly – sin separates us from God…

Isaiah 59:2
but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.

God will not remain walking with a person who engages in willful sin, so when that happens, such a person finds himself no longer in relationship with God. This is spiritual death, and why God told Adam that in the day he ate of the Tree, he would die:

Genesis 2:17
but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.

But spiritual death is not like physical death – once a person dies spiritually, it is not the end…not yet, anyway. A person who is spiritually dead can come back to God and become alive again in the spirit, but if he does not, and he dies physically while still in rebellion (sin) against God – then that is the final end.

If one dies physically while still in sin, then he will go into an eternal state of existence called “the second death” . . .

Revelation 2:11
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.

Revelation 20:14
Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.

Revelation 21:8
But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

The “second death” is life within the eternal confines of the Lake of Fire, that was not originally intended for mankind but for satan and his angels – but all who follow satan in rebellion against God will spend eternity in that place. Spiritual life and death is all about relationship, which is Christ’s point in His parable about the Prodigal Son…

Luke 15:11-32
And Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need…But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger?…And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him…But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate…It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

In context to this passage, Jesus was talking about what was lost and found…a lost sheep that was found, a lost coin that was found…and a lost son that was found. The only difference between the three stories in His teaching on this subject, is that in the Prodigal Jesus gives it a more life and death emphasis when it came to people. A lost sheep or coin does not have eternal consequences, but a lost person does – because those who are lost, which Jesus emphasizes in His parable, are those who are separated from the life of God. In other words, those who are lost, are spiritually dead, they are separated from God and the life of God…

Ephesians 4:18
They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.

In Jesus’ parable, the boy’s father, an allegory for the Father (God), says of him, “My son was dead” because he left the Father – he separated himself from the Father. Then, when the son returned home again, the Father says, “My son is alive again,” because he returned to the Father and the life that is in and with the Father. Jesus makes the link between the Prodigal Son and the first two stories He told, by adding the phrase, “he was lost, and is found,” intimating that the ‘lost’ are also the spiritually dead, just as the ‘alive’ are also the spiritually alive…

Luke 15:24
For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

Luke 15:32
It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.

While the son was in a state of absence from the Father of Life, the Father looked upon him as being dead to him relationally. That is the state of spiritual death, where a person is dead in relation to God. But when the son came back to the Father, no longer living in rebellion and separation from Him, the Father looked upon him as coming alive again. Separation from God is spiritual death, relationship (union) with God is spiritual life. Spiritual death is what Paul refers to in the following passages…

Ephesians 2:1
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins

Ephesians 2:5
even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…

Colossians 2:13
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,

When a person is living in sin, rebellion, and trespasses upon the rights of his Creator, then he is spiritually dead – relationally speaking, he is dead because he is not walking in personal relationship with God the Father. That is why Paul says in Eph. 4:18 that those who are walking in sinful rebellion against God are “alienated from the life of God.” He doesn’t mean that they are just separated from God, he means that they are separated from the life that being in union with God brings…spiritual, abundant life. Jesus ratifies this notion in the following passages:

Matthew 8:22
And Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”

Luke 9:60
And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

God says in one place, that He has no pleasure in “the death of anyone” . . .

Ezekiel 18:32
For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live.”

Yet He says in another place that He apparently does have pleasure in the deaths of some people…

Psalms 116:15
Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.

Obviously, when God says that He has no pleasure in people dying, He is referring to them dying in their sins – that is, dying while they are separated from Him, dying while abiding in spiritual death. Yet He takes great pleasure in the deaths of those who are walking in relationship with Him, those who are in union with Him, and walking in spiritual life…because now their trials are over – they have remained faithful to Him in love and obedience, and now they are finally home with Him forever…

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Contrary to the teachings floating around within certain Reformed branches of theology, being spiritually dead does not mean that a person is so totally depraved that he cannot come to God on his own volition…there is no evidence of this anywhere in Scripture. Spiritual death does not mean that a person’s spirit is somehow dead, so that he cannot think of God in any way, shape, or form – and totally given over to sinful inclinations. It only refers to the fact that one is not walking in relationship with God, the origin of spiritual life. There is only a relationship “to” God, or “with” God…and only a relationship with God imputes the life of God to an individual.

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The Bible

The Bible is also called the “Word of God” [1] and “the Scriptures,” [2] but they all mean the same thing – the written account of God’s creative purpose and dealings with mankind since the creation of the world, where God intervenes in the history of the human race.

We are told that the Scriptures originate from God, by His Spirit, through the hands of chosen vessels – men of God…

II Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness

II Peter 1:20-21
Knowing this first of all, that no word of Scripture gives way to private individual interpretation, because no teaching ever came by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Because the Bible has its origin from God by His Spirit, and God does not and cannot lie because He Himself is truth, this makes His Word true and a manifestation of truth…

Psalms 18:30
This God – His way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him.

John 17:17
Sanctify them in the truth; Your Word is truth.

Therefore we hold that the Bible is inerrant, infallible…that is, in its form as it was originally given to man from God, it is free from error and contains only aspects of truth and reality.

In all of its history, the Bible has been demonstrated true over and over again, through Biblical Archeology and even through the passages that touch upon the nature of the world and cosmos that the various sciences have only discovered within the last 100 years or so. However, translations of the original Scriptures are not infallible nor inerrant, nor does it mean that a man’s interpretation or commentary on the Scriptures is infallible:

I Timothy 1:7
desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

I Timothy 4:1
Now the Spirit explicitly says, that in latter times some will fall away from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,

II Timothy 3:7
always learning but never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

II Peter 3:15-16
And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

Because of the importance of the Scriptures and what they teach, and because, as the passage in II Peter above demonstrates, we need to study the Scriptures for ourselves as they require studying in today’s culture and age, so that we can know what they actually teach us. In the Book of Acts, we find the Bereans were noteworthy in that they did just that – they studied the Scriptures for themselves to make sure that what Paul and the other evangelists were telling them was the truth…

Acts 17:11
Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

Although the following passage deals mostly with ministers of the Gospel, it should also be applied to each of us individually…because how do you know if the pastor you sit under and listen to knows what he is talking about?

II Timothy 2:15
Make every studious effort to do your best to cause yourself to stand in God as acceptable, an irreproachable worker correctly handling the Word of Truth.

Matthew 22:29
But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong because you know neither the Scriptures, nor the power of God.

We also need to understand and recognize, that just because someone sounds good or has a solid grasp on one subject, that they have a solid grasp on all Biblical subjects. We have a prime example of this written down for us in Acts…

Acts 18:24-26
Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

Apollos was a Jew born in Alexandria in Egypt, most likely his ancestors were carried there when Alexander the Great conquered Israel and practiced Hellenism (the carrying away of people from their homelands and planting them in other conquered lands within the empire; this strategy kept uprisings from taking place). So Apollos had heard of Jesus and the gospel and had accepted it, and evidently had been baptized by John, so he was in Jerusalem at least while John was still alive, either before or immediately after Jesus came into the spotlight.

Apollos had been accurately taught concerning the things of Jesus, that He was the Messiah, His mission in coming to earth, His ministry, and so forth. However, just because He knew about Jesus, didn’t mean that he had the whole story down correctly. Priscilla and Aquila, friends of Paul the Apostle, heard Apollos speaking and went and pulled him aside somewhere and they had to “explained to him the way of God more accurately.” So he evidently had some things correct, but not all of it – and we see the same thing happening today in churches all over this country. Some have the things of Jesus down correctly and accurately teach them, but they do not have “the way of God” accurate.

What’s the difference? The way of God is the complete story, not just a paragraph of the story. Apollos had only a portion of the “way of God” down, but a portion is not the whole story, it is only a portion. When we only have half of the truth, and the other half that we teach is wrong…then that makes the whole thing wrong. A little lie added to a true story to embellish it, makes the entire truth into a lie. When Priscilla and Aquila took Apollos aside and explained the whole “way of God” to him, he evidently accepted it and became a man of God just under rank of Paul.

The Word of God is not just another book, God worked in history to bring all of these historical writings together into one place and preserved them so that we could have what we need in order to be taught in righteousness:

II Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Being “God-breathed,” the Scriptures come to life in the believer’s life by the working of the Spirit of God within us in the different ways that He does. Sometimes you will read a verse and it just “jumps out at you” and you have a deeper understanding of it than you ever had before, even though you read it a number of times already before!

Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

I Thessalonians 2:13
And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.

I Peter 1:23
since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;

Through the work of the Spirit of God, the Word of God is alive and active in the believer, it works in our lives and abides within us when we get enough of it in us for it to work and live. This is one reason why we need to read and study the Word of God as much as we can, so that it can get down inside of us and do its work…but that work takes place mostly when we put it into practice, which is why Jesus tells us:

Matthew 4:4
But Jesus answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

One of the reasons why we need to have the Scriptures implanted within our minds, is because it is also a weapon (both defensive and offensive) against the things of darkness, not just demonic powers, but against the darkness of false teachings…

Ephesians 6:17
and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God,

We also need to be careful that we don’t add our own things to the Scriptures, because when we do that, we can nullify the effectiveness of God’s Word not only in our own lives, but also in the lives of those around us…

Matthew 15:6
he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God.

If we are not careful in handling the distractions of this life – whether they be normal everyday activities that we must do, like cooking and working…or whether they are the things that we do for “entertainment,” they can become the little termites that each away at our spiritual homes until it is completely destroyed…

Mark 4:19
but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the Word, and it proves unfruitful.

We touched briefly upon the fact that the Bible has been demonstrated not only historically, but also scientifically in the things of nature that it touches (because it is not a science book, it does not explain everything concerning nature), that it is 100% accurate in all that it addresses and states. One of these proofs is unique to Scripture, and that is in the realm of the prophetic.

Not only cities of antiquity, but peoples and even specific individuals are found addressed in Biblical prophecy, and everything that was foretold in those prophecies has come to pass. No other “prophetic entity” has a 100% perfect rack record like the Bible has, therefore it is trustworthy as being demonstrated to be written from God, and not just men. For example, God pronounces doom upon several OT cities and peoples, such as the cities of Tyre, Babylon, and Ashkelon with its inhabitants of the Philistines – and they have all perished and have been destroyed, just as God foretold.

Individuals like Cyrus and Nebuchadnezzar were foretold would do things before they were even born, Cyrus over a hundred years before he was born…and of course, the Messianic prophecies concerning Jesus Christ…

I Corinthians 15:3 – 4
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

Here Paul is basically telling the Corinthian church that Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead in resurrection power on the third day after His death and burial – just as the prophecies concerning the Messiah foretold. Because the Scriptures contain the truth of all that matters, it is a source of encouragement to those in covenant relationship with God in Christ…

Romans 15:4
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

So all in all, the Bible is an important tool in the life of the believer in Christ. It is true and without error or fault, and has been demonstrated as such now for over 100 years through various means. The believer can also test the veracity of the Scriptures by putting into practice those things taught to him in the Scriptures, such as giving monetarily to the cause of God and watching that gifting come back to him two-fold…or by taking authority over disease and healing someone, or taking authority and power over the powers of darkness, etc. God says…

Psalms 34:8
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

II Corinthians 9:6
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

The point here we are making, is that because what the Scriptures tells us is true, we can put it to the test and see that everything that we are told therein is true, and therefore trustworthy. In a very real way, putting our faith and trust in the Scriptures is the same as putting our faith and trust in God, from whom the Scriptures came. After all, we need to be like the

I Thessalonians 2:13
And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.

 

     [1] Luke 11:28 “But Jesus said, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!’

     [2] I Timothy 4:13 “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.”

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