Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Monday, June 30, 2008

For Muslims during Ramadan

I thought I would bring to your attention the teaching on fasting from the prophets and from the Injil.

Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the house of Jacob their sins. For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them. 'Why have we fasted,' they say, 'and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?' "Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. "If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. "If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD's holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob." The mouth of the LORD has spoken. Isaiah 58 (NIV)

Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. "This, then, is how you should pray: “ 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.' For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:1-18 (NIV)

This is Jesus’ teaching on alms, prayer and fasting.

You may write to me, Jim Wilson, at ccm@moscow.com.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Forgiving Oneself!

Many times in recent years I have heard statements like the following, “yes, I know that God has forgiven me, but I cannot forgive myself.” The awful part of this statement is the person who says it, says it as if it were a virtue.

Here are a few thoughts for consideration.

1. The Bible does not address the problem. If it were real, the Bible would speak to it.

2. The Bible speaks about being forgiven and forgiving others.

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matthew 6:14 (NIV)

This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart. Matthew 18:35 (NIV)

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

3. The Bible speaks of two kinds of sorrow, Godly sorrow and worldly sorrow.

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 2 Corinthians 7:10 (NIV)

Not forgiving oneself is worldly sorrow. It results in death. Godly sorrow leaves no regret. Not forgiving oneself is living in regret, which means it wasn’t Godly sorrow, which means God has not forgiven because the sorrow wasn’t Godly. In other words there is no such thing as being forgiven by God and not forgiving oneself. If forgiven by God there would be joy.

4. The person who says he “cannot forgive himself” is making himself senior to God. Who does he think he is?

5. There is another problem; that is in his use of words. He says he “cannot forgive.” He means he “will not forgive.”

6. This is not a virtue. It is denying the work of Christ, the faithfulness of Christ and the word of Christ.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 1 John 1:7 (NIV)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

7. This saying “cannot forgive” is one major sin that needs repentance and forgiveness.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Confession of Sin Leads to Unity

In reading different histories of World War II, we can read how the British won the war, the Americans won the war, then on to tanks, submarines, destroyers, airborne, bombers etc., how each won the war. We were all on the same team. However, it was not always evident.

Unity is comprised of two components:

1. The greatest loyalty is to the supreme commander of all units; and
2. Great love for all those who are under the supreme commander.

Let me illustrate with an isosceles triangle. The two points at the ends of the base of the triangle represent two units, tanks and infantry. The apex represents the supreme commander. If these two units get farther removed from the supreme commander, the distance between the units gets greater. The closer they are to the supreme commander, the closer they are to each other.

Jesus’ prayer for His army in John 17:20, 21:

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (NIV)

Do you see it? He was praying for US who are Christians today. He was praying we would be one with each other in the same way as the Father and the Son are one.

How are they one? “Just as you are IN me and I am IN you.” That is not competition, nor is it cooperation. It is much greater; it is interactive unity.

Why does He pray this? So “that the world may believe that you have sent me.” The greatest truth in the gospel is the deity of Jesus Christ. The world is the enemy army. Our oneness is the way we communicate the deity of Jesus Christ to the world.

This unity has another component. It is love for each other.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:34, 35 (NIV)

Jesus tells us to love other members of the body in the same way He loved each member of that same body. The result will be that ALL MEN will KNOW we are followers of Jesus Christ.

We are not to be at war with other members of the body of Christ. We are not to be satisfied with co-belligerence, competition, tolerance, cordiality, friendliness, or cooperation. All of these are less than the command to be one and to love one another.

Do not jump to the question, “How do we do it?” That is not a valid question until we know we WANT to obey; we WANT to love; we WANT to be one.

Sin will have to be confessed before we can begin to want this oneness.

(Taken from Weapons & Tactics in Evangelism, part 9)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

No Competition in the Kingdom

There were many tragedies of incompetence on all sides in the Crimean War. However, the greatest tragedy was having two cavalry generals, who hated each other, in the same division. They were competitive for glory. The result was the charges of the Light and Heavy Brigades at Balaclava. Neither of the generals had ever been in a war, nor had they studied war. They were parade ground generals.

In the Second World War, competitiveness showed up in Montgomery and Patton, both of whom wanted the same fuel for their own tanks.

In the Korean War, I Corps and Eighth Army raced to see who would reach the Yalu River first. This ended in tragedy.

In the units that are fighting in the spiritual war today, there are similar tragedies caused by parade ground generals who are competitive for money and for glory. The casualties are many in the body of Christ.

We see this competition in Philippians 1:17:

“The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.” (NIV)

Also, in Acts 20:30:

“Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.” (NIV)

We want followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, not followers of men.

(Taken from Weapons & Tactics in Evangelism, part 8)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sword of the Spirit

The word of God is described as an offensive weapon in Ephesians 6:17.

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (NIV)

And again in Hebrews 4:12.

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (NIV)

In modern parlance, we would call this conviction of sin, one of the states of unregenerate man that precedes repentance. The other great result of preaching the word of God is faith. Faith is caused by the preaching of Christ.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17 (NIV)

A command to use the sword of the Spirit is in 2 Timothy 4:2.

PREACH THE WORD; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction. (NIV)

F.W.H. Meyer in his narrative poem St. Paul said it this way:

Then I preached Christ, and when she heard the story,
Oh? is such triumph possible to men?
Hardly, my King, had I beheld Thy glory,
Hardly had known Thine excellence till then.

Then with a rush the intolerance craving
Shivers throughout me like a trumpet call,
Oh! to save these; to perish for their saving;
Die for their life; be offered for them all.

(Taken from Weapons & Tactics in Evangelism, part 7)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Heaven and the Bride of Christ

When we think of Heaven, it might be a beautiful meadow with wild flowers in the sunshine or some other pleasant place.

However, one of the descriptions we have in the Bible is one of the throne and the Lamb and the 24 elders and the cherubim and seraphim. It is a place of glory and continuous praise.

Another is of a city. However this city is identified as the church, the bride of Christ. If the city were a literal, physical, city as described in Revelation here it is, the description and dimensions.

1. It descends to earth.
2. It is a mega city. It is 1400 miles wide (Seattle to Omaha) 1400 miles long (Omaha to Mexico City) and 1400 miles high. If we cubed these numbers, it would be over 27 million cubic miles. It is a walled city with walls over 200 ft. thick. The city is square and made of pure gold that is transparent as glass. In this city there is no moon, no sun, no night, and no sea. There is a river that is a fruitful river. There are twelve gates, each made of a single pearl. There are twelve foundations each made of a very precious stone. The city shone with the glory of God. There was an angel at each of the gates.

This might be Heaven but it is the Bride of Christ, the Church.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Idolatry should not be Tolerated

Statues are not idols. Statues are symbols of men of renown; Washington, Grant and ideas like Liberty and Justice. I am not sure these should be made according to the 2nd commandment. However, having been made, no one to my knowledge has bowed down to them.

There are millions and millions of people who make idols to bow down to them. God was not and is not tolerant of the people or the idols. With the idolatry, which is a great evil, there are many attendant immoralities.

The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts. Revelation 9:20, 21 (NIV)

Idolatrous religions (Buddhism, Hinduism) are not innocent ‘other religions’ of which we should be tolerant. These people are lost.

Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. Jude 22, 23 (NIV)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sin in Histories

In addition to reading novels and biographies I also read history. In history we get sin in big pieces, sin in mass. In none of these books is pride, envy, greed, murder, rape, stealing and lying called sin. It might be called crime or unwise or stupid, but it is not called a violation of the holiness of God. It is not called sin.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sin in Biographies

Great men in history have had many biographies written about them; Lincoln, Napoleon, Washington, and John Adams. Even though many of them have been written to make the subject a hero, they do not succeed without withholding information or changing it. After several generations have gone by, new biographies are written and we find out their heroes were human and as humans, they sinned. Again, the sins are written as fact. If the man had received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, that would be left out.

There are other biographies where sin is mentioned and the solution is in the man’s life. He received Jesus Christ sometime in his life and then spent the rest of his life living and proclaiming Jesus.

Here are a few such people of which I have read and re-read over the last sixty years; Corrie Ten Boom, Amy Carmichael, Irene Webster-Smith, George Mueller, James Fraser, Hudson Taylor, John Sung, Pastor Hsi, Charles Simeon, The Cambridge Seven, and Oswald Chambers.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sin in Novels

I am an eclectic novel reader. Over the years I have read Russian (Dostoevsky, Turgenyev), English/Scots (Dickens, Austen, Scott, Stevenson, Sayers, Perry, Wentworth, Christie, Wodehouse, Chesterton, Lewis, Tolkien, Stuart, McInnis, Thirkell, Douglas, Carrol, Grey, McDonald, Buchanon, Shakespeare, etc), American (Montgomery, Hawthorne, Twain, Heinlein, McManus, London, Cooper, Gray, Brand, Aldrich, Alcott, and L’Anour).

That is a sample. My reflection in the last few days on all of these novelists, whether it was romance, mystery, humor, fantasy, or adventure, the subject was always sin. You may have noticed I did not mention the writers who describe sin in great lucid detail. I have not read them. However, sin is the basis in each of the books. Without sin, there would be nothing to write about. Novels are about people and people are sinners. In most of these books, relative good comes out in the end. There are a very few authors who write with the Cross as a solution to the sin problem. You may see references to church as part of the culture but not as part of the solution. On the whole, religion and pastors get poor press in novels as Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice.

Two novelists who have written with the gospel as a solution are Amy Le Feuvre and Charles Dickens. We see two hints of the Gospel, one in the Tale of Two Cities where, Sidney Carton recites; "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25, 26 and the other in The Brothers Karamazov in the chapter on the Grand Inquisitor. I listened to an audio version of the book and that chapter was left out.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Moral Autonomy

The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. Genesis 6:5 (NIV)

This is a description of man before the flood.

You are not to do as we do here today, everyone as he sees fit. Deuteronomy 12:8 (NIV)

This is a command given to Israel before the occupation of Canaan.

In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit. Judges 21:25 (NIV)

This is a polite way of saying there was anarchy.

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

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight. Isaiah 5:20, 21 (NIV)

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. Isaiah 64:6 (NIV)

These three scriptures tell us man’s thinking and value systems are upside down.

We need righteous revelation of truth from God and grace from God as a solution to man’s autonomy.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Kindness is a Weapon

KINDNESS is one of the GREATEST weapons in kingdom warfare. It is the major weapon of God in leading people to repentance.

“Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, NOT REALIZING THAT GOD’S KINDNESS LEADS YOU TOWARD REPENTANCE?” Romans 2:4 (NIV)

In witnessing, God, through Paul, gives Timothy negative and positive instruction, how not to witness and how to witness.

“Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” 2 Timothy 2:23-26 (NIV)

On the whole, people do not associate the words kindness and repentance together. Repent is considered a harsh word. Repentance is a requirement. Kindness and gentleness are God’s MEANS of CAUSING IT TO HAPPEN.

(Taken from Weapons & Tactics in Evangelism, part 6)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Refusing to Rejoice

We all know people who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ who do not live in the joy of the forgiveness of their sins.

There are several reasons for this.

1. They are not Christians. They are Christians in name only.
2. They are Christians, but have accumulated unconfessed, unforgiven sins in
their life. They are being chastened by God.
3. They are Christians. They have confessed their sins in detail, but refuse to accept God’s forgiveness. They think they do not deserve forgiveness. That is true, but that has nothing to do with forgiveness. Forgiveness is by love and grace.

This refusal is a greater sin than the sins they have been confessing. It needs to be repented of. Here is why.

1. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

These are commands.

2. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

God is faithful. He keeps his word. Refusing to accept this forgiveness is saying that God is not faithful. You may think you are not saying it; you are just not rejoicing in His forgiveness. Who do you think you are? Are you senior to God?

3. ”For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:11, 12

“Heavens above the Earth.” That is a long way!

“East from the West”—That is an infinite distance. "North from South" is a fixed distance.

4. "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” Isaiah 43:25

He blots sins out for His own sake. He does not remember them.

5. “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” 2 Corinthians 7:10

The sorrow for sin is worldly sorrow.

If you are refusing to rejoice for any of the above reasons, you are in big trouble with God.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Victory is Ours

“THEY overcame HIM by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” Revelation 12:11 (NIV)

In context, the antecedent of “they” is “our brothers.” The antecedent of “Him” is “Satan.” The spiritual weapon is the “blood of the Lamb.” The Lamb is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Rephrasing the sentence by substituting nouns for pronouns, we have:

Our brothers overcame Satan by the BLOOD of the Lord Jesus Christ.

First, we see the BLOOD of Christ in our salvation, our forgiveness, liberation from sins, redemption, and continual cleansing.

“And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his BLOOD, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.” Revelation 1:5, 6 (NIV)

“God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in HIS BLOOD. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—“ Romans 3:25 (NIV)

“Since we have now been justified by HIS BLOOD, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!” Romans 5:9

“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the PRECIOUS BLOOD OF CHRIST, a lamb without blemish or defect.” 1 Peter 1:18, 19

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7

THIS IS all the direct work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Here is a case where the brothers overcame Satan by that same blood that saved them.

Here the blood is a weapon. It is linked with “the word of their testimony.” This “blood of the Lamb” is not a phrase to say. This is the death of the Lord Jesus Christ that overcomes not the phraseology. We see this in Hebrews 2:14.

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—“ (NIV)

We should focus on the second phrase “…by his death (the blood of the Lamb), he might destroy him who holds the power of death.” Hebrews 2:14

(Taken from Weapons & Tactics, part 5)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Love for Everyone Else: Neighbors and Enemies

“May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.” 1 Thessalonians 3:12

“Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.” 1 Thessalonians 5:15

“And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Matthew 22:39

“You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:27-36

We understand we as Christians are to love each other with overflowing love. However, we are to love everyone else. Who does this include? Everyone who is not a Christian including neighbors and enemies. They do not have to be loveable in order to be loved by us. They just have to be alive.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The book, Leadership & Self Deception

I mentioned in a previous Roots that this book describes sin very well. However, this description assumes there is a good person who betrays himself. The description is good but the definition is flawed. My comments will attempt to describe the situation in the book in two different ways.

1. The people are natural men.
2. They are spiritual men.

The natural man has these characteristics.

1. “But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.” Romans 6:17
2. “I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.” Romans 6:19
3. “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10
4. “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.” Ephesians 4:17-19
5. “Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” Romans 1:28-32
6. “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.” Romans 7:14-23
7. “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14
8. “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5
9. “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21

If in fact the man described in the book is a natural man; he has not betrayed himself. He has acted normally. That is his nature. He is selfish by nature. All of the main characters in the book acted naturally selfish and did not think they were selfish. All of the secondary characters in the book acted naturally selfish. They acted this way because they did not have the Spirit. But they did not have all of the evil characteristics described in the nine scriptures quoted. That is true. However, in real life, in real families and job situations many of the descriptive words in the scriptures apply. The people are in “the box.” “The box” is not of their own creation. They are slaves to sin. They were born in “the box.”

They can get out of “the box,” but not the way the book describes.

1. Each involved step of being in “the box” is sin against the Holy God. Recognizing the helplessness of being in “the box” is very good. They have not sinned against themselves but against God. They are really helpless!

Being in the box is called self-deception and it is. However, the self deception is deeper and more profound than the book describes.

2. The Spiritual man has these characteristics.
-“The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not
subject to any man's judgment:” 1 Corinthians 2:15
-“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things
there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful
nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us
keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and
envying each other.” Galatians 5:22-26 “Dear friends, since God so loved us,
we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:11
3. “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:11
4. “I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.” Romans 6:19 “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” Romans 6:22
5. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” Colossians 3:1
6. “Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” Colossians 3:9, 10
7. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” Ephesians 5:25-27
8. “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” Colossians 3:19
9. “And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Matthew 22:39
10. “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” Luke 6:35

If the people in the book are spiritual men then all of the in “the box” descriptions are clearly violations of the commands of God and the provisions of God.

These are sins contrary to the commands of God. The Christian has the fruit of the Spirit and is capable of confessing his sin and loving his wife, neighbor, and boss.

If a person finds himself in “the box” it is not just, unwise or unprofitable for the company, or destroying the family, it is a description of someone in sin who needs to be forgiven by God. He is either a Christian or not one. He is either a Spiritual man or a natural man.

Please send for a free copy of How to be Free from Bitterness or download it from our website, www.ccmbooks.org.

1. You may think the verses describing the natural man are too gross and do not apply to you and the verses describing the Spiritual man are too holy and do not apply to you. There are no other kinds of people. Which list describes you the best?

Friday, June 06, 2008

Weapons of War

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NIV)

First, “We do not wage war as the world does.”

How does the world wage war? It wages war with weapons that kill and destroy, whether it be clubs, arrows, swords, rifles, bombs, missiles, starvation, chemical, biological, or atomic weapons. In the history of war there has been pillaging, looting, raping, torture, murder, and prostitution. Motives in secular war include envy, covetousness, pride, glory, fear, vengeance, patriotism, anger, hatred, and defense of our home country. There may be legitimate objectives, but much of the practice of war is as just mentioned, carnal.

Second, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.”

What are the weapons we fight with? Here are a few:

1. The blood of Christ. (Rev 12:11)
2. The name of Jesus Christ. (Acts 3:16)
3. The Holy Spirit:
-In prayer (Eph. 6:18)
-In preaching (Acts 4:8)
-In love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22, 23)
4. Our testimony (Rev. 12:11)
5. Our own physical death (Rev. 12:11)
6. The Word of God (Romans 10:17)
7. Faith (1 John 5:4)
8. Humility (Eph. 4:2)
9. Divine Power (2 Peter 1:3)

Notice the difference in the weapons. You can see out weapons are not carnal. They are very different. The motives are different too. They are opposite to the motives in the physical war.

Third, “On the contrary, they have divine power to DEMOLISH STRONGHOLDS.”

The strongholds are different. They are not walled cities. The world has an objective of taking the walled city. In the process, people are killed in order to capture the city. The stronghold in the spiritual war is the hold of Satan on the world of men. We DEMOLISH ARGUMENTS and every pretension that sets itself against the knowledge of God. The stronghold of Satan over men includes three things: 1) the sinful nature of man; 2) the lies (arguments and pretensions; and 3) the rebellion. We fight Satan to capture men. We do not fight men to take Satan, the stronghold. We are to take men alive using the weapons that work. If anyone dies in the enemy camp, it will be the direct work of God. If anyone dies in our army, that is okay; death is one of our weapons. The death is caused by the enemy. We see it in the death of Stephen.

"Look," he said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep.” Acts 7:56-60 (NIV)

We see it also in Revelation 12:11 (NIV)

THEY overcame HIM by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.

(Taken from Weapons & Tactics in Evangelism, part 4)

Thursday, June 05, 2008


“Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!” Deuteronomy 5:29

“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45

“He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.” Acts 15:9

“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” Matthew 18:35

Obedience, speech, and forgiveness come from the heart. This is talking about real obedience, real forgiveness, and edifying speech from a purified heart filled with good things.

There are acts that look like obedience, and words that sound like forgiveness. We want the appearance of purity more than we want purity.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Love and Faith Require Obedience

The common denominator of “faith” and “love” is obedience, or action that expresses the love and that validates the faith. Without the obedience, “love” is not a big word; it is a cheap word. It is just a word and not a very good word at that. The more we use the word, the less it means. It has less and less value. It is a prime example of word infatuation. The more we love as Christ loved the more it means. Loving increases the value of love. Saying “I love you” often decreases its value.

It’s the same with faith.

“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?” James 2:14

Saying the word “faith” is no evidence of faith. In fact, it may be less than faith or a substitute for faith.

Recently, I was talking with a young man who said that he loved God with all his heart. He also talked of his strong faith: When we talked about the reading of the Word of God and obeying God he seemed to be absent. He told me that he loved God and he had faith, what more was necessary? He had convinced himself. In truth, he had neither love nor faith.

It is not possible to love without a giving expression. Love requires an object and love requires expression. However, it is possible to have an action without love and to convince ourselves it is love.

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3