Today’s selected reading continues in and concludes the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the churches which were in Galatia. More specifically today’s passage begins with the sixteenth verse of the fifth chapter this New Testament book and continues through to the eighteenth verse of the sixth chapter. “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary to the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envying, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:16-26).
“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in. Himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden. Let him t hat is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man Soweto, that shall he also reap. For he that Soweto to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:1-10).
“Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand. As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. Unto the Galatians written from Rome” (Galatians 6:11-18).
When you come to the fifth and sixth chapters of the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the churches which were in Galatia you will find him writing about the liberty that is found in Christ—and not only the liberty that is found in the person of Jesus Christ but also the liberty that is found in the person of the Holy Spirit. What’s more is that within these chapters you will find the apostle Paul admonishing the churches in Galatia to not use their liberty in Christ as license to sin—something which he would write about in the epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome. If you read the words which are found in the epistle written unto the churches which were in Galatia you will find the apostle Paul writing and declaring unto them the works of the flesh which were manifested in the earth—works which our Lord Himself would speak of in the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. It’s actually quite interesting that when you read the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel written by the apostle Matthew you will find Jesus being confronted by Pharisees who came from Jerusalem specifically to try and indict the disciples who walked with and followed Him. The account in the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel account written by the apostle Matthew describes how the Pharisees came unto Jesus asking. Him why His disciples transgressed against the tradition of the elders eating bread with unwashed hands.
If there is one thing that makes the words which are found in the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew so incredibly unique and astonishing when you take the time to consider them it’s how directly linked and connected to religion, to legalism and ultimately hypocrisy is the works of the flesh. What’s truly interesting when you take the time to read the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the churches which were in Galatia is that in an epistle in which the apostle Paul sought to restore them from their departure of the faith he would speak to them of the works of the flesh which were manifested unto and among them. In all reality one of the greatest truths we can and should recognize is that if and/or when we allow ourselves to depart from the faith through turning aside to a different gospel and begin to worship. An image of Jesus rather than the true Jesus who is the Christ we not only open ourselves up to a tremendous amount of legalism and religion together with hypocrisy but we also open ourselves up to the works of the flesh which both our Lord and the apostle Paul wrote and spoke about unto the churches which were in Galatia. It would be when speaking unto the scribes and the Pharisees who came from Jerusalem our Lord would ask them why they transgressed the commandment of God because of their tradition. Jesus would then proceed to provide them with an example of how they did just that—transgress the commandment of God because of their tradition. Moreover Jesus goes on to declare that what they themselves were guilty of was making the commandment of God of no effect because of their tradition. He would then go on to quote the words of the prophet Isaiah who prophesied concerning a people who drew near to the the LORD with their mouth and honored Him with their lips but their heart was far from Him. In vain these people worshipped Him teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.
I sit here today thinking about and considering this particular reality and I am brought face to face with the absolutely wonderful reality that the works of the flesh which the apostle Paul wrote of in the fifth chapter of the epistle written unto the churches which were in Galatia are similar to the words which our Lord Himself spoke of when teaching. His disciples. Jesus would declare unto the multitudes after calling them unto Himself that it is not which goes into the mouth that defiles a man but that which comes out of the mouth which defiles a man. Interestingly enough the disciples would come to Jesus after He had spoken these words and would ask Him if He was aware of the fact that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying spoken by Him. What makes this truly interesting is when you consider the fact that Jesus would declare unto them how every plant which His Heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Jesus then goes on to instruct the disciples to let the Pharisees alone for they were blind leaders of the blind. Jesus would also declare that if the blind lead the blind then both will fall into a ditch. Immediately following this Simon called Peter would come unto Jesus and ask Him to explain the parable which He had spoken—to which Jesus would respond by asking him if he was still without understanding. Jesus would then proceed to speak unto the disciples and the multitudes concerning that which enters the mouth and that which proceeds forth from the mouth. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for if we pursue our own righteousness without and apart from that which comes from God through faith in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ we will not only give ourselves to legalism and religion but we will also give ourselves to hypocrisy in the sight of the living God.
The more I think about the words which are found in the epistle written unto the churches which were in Galatia the more I am brought face to face with the incredible truth that they had turned themselves aside and departed from the faith. That which caused them to turn aside and depart from the faith was directly caused by one who entered in among them and troubled and distressed them. The epistle is replete with the apostle Paul writing and speaking unto them concerning their departure from the faith and their deliberate and intentional turning away from walking by faith rather than by sight. If t here is one thing we must needs recognize and understand it’s that this turning aside and departing from the faith is never immediate nor is it sudden. This departure from the faith and turning aside from the true gospel is always gradual—almost like the analogy of putting a frog in a pot of lukewarm water and turning the stove on. Eventually and gradually the water will heat up and the frog will not be aware of it because the temperature of its body will adjust to the increase in temperature. What is unkown to the frog, however, is that it is slowly being boiled to death as eventually the water will reach a boil and the temperature will be beyond that which is sustainable for the frog. The frog could very well jump out at any point in time but because of the slow and gradual acclimation to the increase in temperature the frog continues to remain and abide in the pot slowly boiling to death. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for while I am not in the least bit comparing us as flesh and blood to a frog I can without a doubt say that we ourselves can be subject to a gradual increase in temperature within our lives and can indeed subject ourselves to a gradual destroying and eroding of our faith until eventually we reach a point where the faith we once had is completely and utterly destroyed.
If there is another analogy I can’t help but think about concerning this particular reality it’s that of erosion. Look upon a vast array of landscapes throughout our world today—specifically gorges and canyons that have rivers running through them—and you will see the reality and concept of erosion in full display. What’s more is that if you look at any coastline and the cliffs that are there at the ocean’s edge you will see this reality and concept of erosion in full display as well. What both of these examples have in common is the slow and gradual erosion of the rock and the earth by the continual flow and force of the water. Whether it’s the force and flow of the ocean against the coastline or whether it’s the continual flow and force of the river that runs through the canyon and gorge the earth itself is dramatically altered through erosion. What’s important to note and understand about erosion is that it doesn’t take place in the immediate timeframe and requires a considerable amount of time to truly work and produce the effects of it. I have watched enough documentaries about the various gorges, canyons, valleys and the like within this country to know that scientists believe that the continual flow and force of the river running through these gorges, canyons and valleys erodes the soil and completely and utterly alters the landscape. In a similar manner we must needs recognize that deception through a false gospel being preached and even a false image of Jesus being presented us can. And will over time produce a turning away and departing from the faith within the hearts of those who aren’t wise and discerning to recognize the distinct sound of a false gospel and the distinct image of a false Jesus.
I am absolutely convinced that two of the greatest dangers facing many Christians during the days Ins high we are living—and not only during the days in which we are living but the days in which were about to enter—is that of a false gospel and that of a false image of the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. I firmly believe with all my heart that what Jesus spoke of and referenced when speaking unto His disciples on the mount of Olives after departing from the Temple concerning the Last Days He wasn’t speaking of those who would rise up in the earth and profess themselves to be Christ incarnate and Christ in the flesh. What I firmly believe within all my heart Jesus was speaking of and teaching the disciples is many coming in His name professing and claiming themselves to be Christ’s—essentially those who were disciples and followers of Him. You will notice when reading the words presented in the twenty-fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew that Jesus would first begin by instructing the disciples to take heed that they be not deceived. In all reality I would dare say that at the very heart of the Last Days is the presence of deception that can and will be present through false teaching, through false gospels and even false images of the person of Jesus Christ. I firmly believe there will be many who will come in the name of Jesus and not only profess themselves to be followers of Christ but will also present a false image of Jesus which they themselves have formed and fashioned within their own minds and imagination.
It is with this being said I would like to invite you to consider the following passages of Scripture. I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the first chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome. It is hear where the apostle Paul writes about turning the truth of God into a lie and corrupting the image of the eternal and living God by forming and fashioning their own image and likeness of what they believe concerning God. The apostle Paul goes on to write how they began to worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator because they were corrupted and polluted in their minds. With this in mind I would also like to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew as well as the fifth chapter of the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the churches which were in Galatia. Within these two passages of Scripture you will find in the context of religion and hypocrisy a door being opened to the works of the flesh and that which defiles the heart of a man and ultimately proceeding forth from their mouths. What’s more is I would like to also call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the twenty-fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew for it is here the Lord Jesus speaks unto His disciples concerning the Last Days and the need to guard their hearts and minds from the deception that will be rampant during those days. In addition to this I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the epistle written by Jude, the second chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Peter, the fourth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy as well as the words found in the third chapter of the second epistle written unto Timothy. It is these passages that highlight and underscore the tremendous dangers of false teachers, false prophets and false apostles in the Last Days who will come as wolves in sheep’s clothing. I would also like to call your attention to the words which are found in the seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew.
With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the first chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome beginning with the eighteenth verse:
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the c reaction of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but because futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting: being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:18-32).
Within this passage we find the apostle Paul describing those who knew God who did not glorify Him as God nor were thankful but became futile in their thoughts and their foolish hearts were darkened. The apostle Paul goes on to write how they professed to be wise and became fools while changing the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man. Moreover the apostle Paul goes on to describe how God gave them up to uncleanness in the lusts of their hearts to dishonor their bodies among themselves having exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for the apostle Paul would go on to write and speak about the works of the flesh which are made manifest in the earth and declare how those who committed such offenses were deserving of death. It is with this in mind I now invite you to consider the following words which are found in the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew as well as the words which are found in the fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the churches which were in Galatia:
“Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread. He answered and said to them, Why do you also transgress the commandment ofGod because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honor your father and your mother; and, He who curses father. Or mother, let him be put to death. But you say, Whoever says to his father or mother, Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God—then he need not honor his father or mother. Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. When He had called the multitude to himself, he said to them, Hear and understand: Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out o f the mouth, this defiles a man. Then his disciples came and said to Him, Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying? But he answered and said, Every plant which my Heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch. Then Peter answered and said to him, explain this parable to us. So Jesus said, Are you also still without understanding? Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man” (Matthew 15:1-20).
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entailed again with a yoke or bondage. Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who b e comes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love. You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you.A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in you, in the Lord, that you will have no other mind; but he who troubles you shall b ear his judgment, whoever he is. And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased. I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off! For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in. one word, even in this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. But if you bite and devour one another, b we are lest you be consumed by one another. I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as Also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom o f God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:1-26).
We must needs pay attention to the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for when speaking unto the multitude as well as unto His disciples Jesus emphatically declares that it is not that which goes into the mouth that defiles a man but rather that which proceeds forth from the mouth that defiles a man. What’s more is Jesus would in another place declare that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks thus intrinsically linking and connecting the heart and the mouth. This is something we must needs consider for I have often said that the truest test and measure of the condition of your heart is the words which proceed forth out of your mouth. If you want to truly recognize the condition of yours heart and what is buried deep within the inner recesses of it you need only listen to the words which proceed out of your mouth. This is something we must needs recognize for one of the things which is revealed in this epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the churches which were in Galatia is that if they walked in the Spirit they would not fulfill the lust of the flesh. The apostle Paul then goes on to describe how the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the spirit against the flesh and the two are contrary one to another so that they do not the things that they wish. The apostle Paul also goes on to declare that if we are led by the Spirit we are not under the Law. The apostle Paul reveals within this epistle the tremendous truth that these churches had departed from the faith by believing a false gospel which was preached among them, by worshipping a false image of the Lord Jesus Christ and even receiving a different spirit from what they had previously received. What we must needs understand is that if we turn aside from the truth and depart from the faith we no longer walk in the Spirit and as a direct result of not walking in the Spirit we open ourselves up walking in the flesh, gratifying the desires of our flesh and committing those things which are unlawful in the sight of God and which might very well prevent us from entering into the kingdom of heaven.
Having said these words I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the following words which a re found in the twenty-fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. Consider if you will the following words which are found in this chapter beginning with the first verse of the chapter:
“Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, Do you not see all these things? Assuredly I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down. Now as He sat on the mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age? And Jesus answered and said to them: Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come. In my name, saying, I am the Christ, and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is. Not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will b e offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in t he holy place (whoever reads let him understand) then let those who are in Judaea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is. In the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened. Then if anyone says yo you, Look, here is the Christ! Or, There! Do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. Therefore if they say to you, Look, He is in the desert! Do not go out; or Look, He is in the inner rooms! Do not believe it” (Matthew 24:1-26).
Pay close attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for within it we find Jesus beginning by admonishing the disciples to take heed that one deceives them. Jesus goes on to describe how many would come in His name saying that they are the Christ and will deceive many. Jesus goes on to declare how they will hear of wars and rumors of wars and then goes on to instruct them to see that they are not troubled for all these things must come to pass but the end is not yet. DO NOT BE DECEIVED! DO NOT BE TROUBLED! Oh if there is one thing we must needs recognize concerning the words which are found in this passage of Scripture it’s that we have indeed and have in fact been called to be those who guard ourselves from being deceived and even guard ourselves against being those who are troubled in heart and mind. Jesus spoke of wars and rumors of wars, nation rising against nation, kingdom rising against kingdom, as well as famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. Jesus declares that the end is not yet and all these things are the beginning of sorrows. Of course Jesus goes on to describe how His disciples and followers will be delivered up to tribulation and will be killed and would be hated by all nations for His name’s sake. Many will be offended and will betray one another and will hate one another. As if this weren’t enough Jesus goes on to describe how there would be many false prophets who will rise up and deceive many and because lawlessness will bound the love of many will grow cold. What we must recognize is that Jesus goes on to describe how false Christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive if possible the very elect. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the fourth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy, the words which are found in the third chapter of the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy as well as the words which are found in the epistle written by Jude and the words found in the second chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Peter:
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every c feature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance. For to this end we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. These things command and teach” (1 Timothy 4:1-11).
“But now this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always. Learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Joanne’s and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was” (2 Timothy 3:1-9).
“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among oyu, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destitution. And man will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber. For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood. On the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; and delivered righteous Lost, who was oppresses by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)—then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, whereas angels, who are greater in power. And might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord. But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, a s those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you, having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children. They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man’s voice restrained the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escape from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to. Turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: A dog returns to his own vomit, an, a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire” (2 Peter 2:1-22).
“But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt; afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abrade, He has reserved in. everlasting chains under darkness of the judgment of the great day; as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries. Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke you! But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, kin these things they corrupt themselves., Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. Now Enoch the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him. These are grumbles, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage.But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit” (Jude 5-19).
Consider if you will the following words which are found in the seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew beginning with the thirteenth verse:
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and b road is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes of figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my father in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in your name? And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:13-23).
I am absolutely convinced it is necessary for us to return to the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the churches which were in Galatia. If you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the sixth and final chapter of this epistle you will find the apostle Paul speaking unto the brethren concerning those who were overtaken in any trespass. Beginning with the first verse you will find the apostle Paul writing concerning those who were overtaken in any trespass and how those who were spiritual were to restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness considering themselves lest they also be tempted. The apostle Paul would go on to instruct and admonish them to bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ for if anyone thinks themselves to be something when they were nothing they deceive themselves. He then goes on to admonish those in these churches to examine their own work and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone and not in another for each one shall bear his own load. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for this is precisely what the apostle Paul was doing when writing this epistle unto these churches which were in Galatia. The apostle Paul recognized and understood that they were overtaken in trespasses—and not only overtaken in trespasses but also enslaved and entangled in the bondage of religion, legalism and hypocrisy. In all reality we must needs recognize and understand the words which are found within this passage of Scripture for within it we encounter and come face to face with the incredible truth surrounding these churches and how they had begun in the Spirit and yet how they were now seeking to continue walking in the flesh. The apostle Paul even wrote unto them declaring they began well and they were running well before they were hindered by those who distressed and troubled them.
The more I read the words which are found within this epistle the more I am brought face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding these churches and how they were enslaved and entangled in their own bondage. There were those who crept in among them seducing, enticing and deceiving them through a false gospel and presenting unto them a false image of Jesus Christ. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for in the opening chapter of this epistle the apostle Paul speaks unto them how they were so quickly turned aside out of the way and had departed from the faith. What’s more is when you read the words which the apostle Paul writes in this epistle you will find him speaking of those who were fallen from grace who sought to be justified by the Law and even by circumcision. As you read the words which are found in this epistle you can and will be brought face to face with the absolutely incredible truth surrounding these churches and how they had indeed believed a false gospel and were worshipping a false image of a Jesus that was entirely different from the one who walked throughout Judaea, Galilee and even Samaria. The apostle Paul made it perfectly clear that these churches had begun in the Spirit and had begun well and yet they had departed from the faith and had fallen from grace because they were now seeking to accomplish and fulfill in the flesh what was begun in the Spirit. These dear churches and precious saints were such who had initially believed the true gospel which was preached by the apostle Paul and others and yet they had allowed themselves to be seduced by dangerous doctrines and false teaching which crept in among them. This is something we have a great need to pay attention to when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the words the apostle Paul wrote in the sixth chapter of this epistle.
In the sixth and final chapter of this epistle the apostle Paul. Instructs those who were spiritual to restore any man who was overtaken in a trespass. The apostle Paul admonished those who were present among them who were indeed spiritual—for there were indeed some among them who were spiritual—to restore such a one among them who was overtaken in any trespass. What we must needs recognize and understand, however, is that this restoration must not be done with force but with gentleness. What’s more is the apostle Paul would also speak to them declaring unto them how they who were spiritual needed to consider themselves lest they also be tempted. The apostle Paul would go on to write and declare unto them how they needed to bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. The apostle Paul desired that no one among them thought of themselves to be something or more highly than they ought to and so deceive themselves. In all reality this is in direct alignment with what we find in the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints as well as the words which are found in the second chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome. I would also day say this is also found in the epistle written by James the brother of Jesus concerning those who would dare think of themselves more highly than they ought to and they themselves are guilty of such sins and trespasses. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the following passages of Scripture beginning with the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints. Consider if you will the following words found in these passages of Scripture noticing first the words the apostle Paul wrote to the saints which were in Corinth:
“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:12-13).
“Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in according with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment ofGod, who will render to each one according to his deeds: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and banish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God. For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel” (Romans 2:1-16).
“Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God, and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law. You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach t hat a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say, Do not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who makes our boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law?For the name ofGod is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you, as it is written” (Romans 2:17-24).
“Blessed is the man who endure temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of. Life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted by God; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and entire. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full grown, brings death” (James 1:12-15).
“Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of. Man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to k eep oneself I spotted from the world” (James 1:21-27).
I sit here today thinking about the words which are found in the epistle written unto the churches which are in Galatia and at the very end of the epistle the apostle Paul perfectly describes that which he sought to accomplish—not only within this epistle but also within the first epistle written unto the church and saints which were in Corinth. If you read the first epistle written unto the saints which were at Corinth you will discover that this was a church which although it came behind in no spiritual gift and excelled in all utterance and knowledge was carnal in its nature. You cannot read the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints and not encounter and come face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding this carnal church that had allowed fornication, division, strife, contention, bitterness and offense to be dominant among them. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to that which the apostle Paul sought to accomplish through writing this epistle. The apostle Paul sought to restore them unto their rightful place in the sight and presence of the living God and used this epistle to rebuke and correct them. We cannot afford to miss this particular truth and principle when reading the writing of the apostle Paul for it brings us face to face with the incredible truth surrounding his desire to restore the Corinthian saints to right fellowship—not only with each other but also with the eternal and living God. It is impossible to read the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the churches which were in Galatia and not discover that this church—if the church in Corinth was the carnal church—was the religious church. THE CARNAL CHURCH, THE RELIGIOUS CHURCH! There is something unique about the words which are found in the epistle written unto the churches which were in Galatia for the words presented there call and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth that this church had allowed themselves to become enslaved and ensnared to religion—and not only to religion but to a justification according to the Law and a righteousness that came not from God but from man.
The more I read the words found in the epistle written unto the churches in Galatia the more I am brought face to face with the tremendous reality that this was a church that had allowed themselves to be ensnared and enslaved to religion and to a false righteousness that was perceived to come through the Law—and not only through the Law but also through circumcision. What we must needs recognize when reading the words which are found in this epistle is both the preaching of circumcision and even the act of being circumcised not only touched matters of righteousness according to the flesh but it also touched the realm of suffering and persecution. The apostle Paul suffered persecution because he preached justification without the Law and apart from circumcision and even appealed to Abraham as an Old Testament figure and example of God justifying a man apart from the Law and without circumcision. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the fact that man can be justified without the Law and apart from circumcision according to the free gift, the grace and the mercy of God. This is something worth considering for it calls our attention to the fact that Paul’s preaching of justification by and through faith alone without the Law and apart from circumcision would indeed result in his being persecuted by the religious Jews. What’s more is the preaching of the cross, the preaching that Jesus was the Son of God, the preaching that Jesus was the Christ and the preaching of justification by faith alone without the Law and circumcision went against everything the Jews themselves had believed and had been taught. What’s more is this preaching would exempt the Gentiles from being as the Jews for coming to Christ didn’t mean becoming a Jew nor even becoming like a Jew.
As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the fact that our coming to Christ does not mean that we are coming to Christ to be like anyone else. There is this misguided perception and notion that our coming to Christ means that we have been called to look like and have been called to be like those who are in the churches we gather together. The truth of the matter is that we have not been called to be like anyone else within the spiritual body of Christ and have been called to be like one person and one person alone—the Lord Jesus Christ. Coming to Christ and making the decision to walk with and follow Him is something which warrants strong consideration for when the apostle Paul preached the gospel unto the Gentiles it allowed the Gentiles to come to Christ and be justified without the Law, without circumcision and without becoming a Jew nor becoming like a Jew. The apostle Paul preached a gospel that allowed the Gentiles to experience justification according to faith alone in the free gift of God through the person of Jesus Christ without the Law and apart from circumcision. This is something which we have great need of recognizing and paying attention to for this is precisely what caused the apostle Paul to suffer such great persecution in various cities he traveled to at the hands of the Jews. The religious Jews could not tolerate the preaching of the gospel unto Gentiles much like Jonah originally sought to run away from the call of God upon his life to preach the gospel unto the Gentiles and heathen in Nineveh. Even after Jonah had preached repentance, righteousness and judgment in Nineveh the whole city repented before the Lord in sackcloth and ashes. What made this truly unique and astonishing, however, is that Jonah seemed to be distraught and distressed as a direct result of this because revival had come to heathen and Gentiles apart from the Jews which were in the northern kingdom of Israel.
What we find within the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the churches in Galatia is the understanding that the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who do not believe but the preaching of justification in the sight of God without the Law and apart from circumcision offends the religious Jews. The preaching of the cross unto the Gentiles did not require Gentiles to be like the Jews—either in observance to the Law nor even in being circumcised. This is something we as the saints of God and as the disciples of Christ must needs recognize for we dare not and must not make anyone who seeks to come to Christ feel as though they need to and/or have been called to be like us. Coming to Christ does not mean that an individual is somehow conformed into our own image or even into an image we have somehow formed and fashioned within the church we gather together and worship. There are some churches within our nation today that have adopted and created a false image of what a Christian and one who comes to Christ should and ought to look like and they impose that image upon men and women who would come to Christ. There are churches, congregants, elders, pastors, teachers and the like who have created and formed this image of a Christian among then which they then impose upon those who would seek to come to Christ. If there is one thing we must needs understand and acknowledge it’s that coming to Christ doesn’t mean being conformed into the image of what man has determined a Christian looks and sounds like. Nowhere in Scripture does coming to Christ mean that those who would believe on Him should be formed and fashioned into and after the image we have created for them and others who would seek to come to Christ.
Perhaps one of the greatest warnings that can be issued to many churches within our generation today is that man can be justified in the sight of God without the Law and apart from circumcision. Moreover Jesus did indeed come in the flesh as the Word of God made flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus of Nazareth is indeed the Christ and the Son of the living God and was anointed by the Spirit of God to fulfill the will and work of God in the earth. Jesus did in fact suffer in the flesh and was crucified before being buried in the earth before being raised from death to life on the third day. The gospel is indeed foolishness to those who do not believe and those whose hearts are indeed hardened in the sight of the living God. Nowhere in all of Scripture does coming to Christ mean conforming ourselves into the image and likeness of what man has determined a “Christian” should look and sound like. In fact part of the problem facing many of our churches today is they are worshipping a false image of Jesus rather than the true Jesus of Nazareth and they have created and crafted a false image of what it means to be a “Christian”—a true disciple and follower of Jesus Christ. Many churches are and have been in danger of worshipping these false images of Christ and even presenting these false images of what “Christians” are and what they should look and sound like. Coming to Christ does not mean that men and women are conformed into the image of what we think and believe disciples of Christ should look and sound like. In fact if your definition of what a disciple of Jesus should look and sound like in any way deviates from the truth that is found in Scripture I would dare say that you are not only leading men into a false reality of what it means to be a Christian but you yourself might also be in danger of being a false brother or false sister professing themselves to be a disciple of Jesus and yet are nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
The more I sit here today thinking about this reality the more I am brought face to face with the incredible truth surrounding the danger many churches in our generation face seeking to produce “Christians” after an image and likeness they themselves have formed and fashioned rather than what is presented in Scripture. The gospel the apostle Paul preached unto the Gentiles did not require them to be circumcised nor did it require them to observe the Law as Jews had been taught and trained their entire lives. Gentiles who believed and sought to come to Christ did not need to become a Jew nor did they need to become like a Jew and could instead be justified in the sight of God through faith according to the free gift of God which is found in the person of Jesus Christ. This is precisely why the apostle Paul suffered persecution at the hands of the religious and unbelieving Jews for they could not handle the fact that he appeared to be preaching against the Law of Moses and against circumcision. The truth of the matter, however, is that the apostle Paul did not preach against the Law of Moses but rather preached the Law being summarized in two commandments—love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might and with all your mind and love people. This is what makes this epistle to the churches in Galatia so incredibly unique and powerful for the apostle Paul was seeking to bring these churches back into right relationship with God, help them come out of their slavery and bondage to religion and help them recognize that justification is by faith alone according to the free gift of God through the person of Jesus Christ. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it also strikes at the very heart of what it means to come to Christ as coming to Christ means coming to Him that we might not only believe on Him, that we might not only behold Him but might also become like Him having been transformed into His image. Oh that we would be men and women who not only worship the true Jesus of Nazareth but also that we would know and understand what it truly means to be a disciple of Christ and worshipper of God and abandon and false images of who Christ is and what a “Christian” should look and sound like.