Worshipping an Image of Jesus & Not Jesus Himself

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the churches which were in Galatia. More specifically today’s passage begins with the eighth verse of the fourth chapter and continues through to the fifteenth verse of the fifth chapter. “Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain” (Galatians 4:8-11).

 

            “Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are: ye have no injured me at all. Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first. And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? For I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me. Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? They zealously affect you, but now well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them. But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you. My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you” (Galatians 4:12-20).

 

            “Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bond maid, the other by a free woman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the free woman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that nearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free” (Galatians 4:21-31).

 

            “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be. And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? Then is the offense of the cross ceased. I would they were even cut off which trouble you” (Galatians 5:1-12).

 

            “For, brethren, ye have been called unto Lori earth; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfill.ed in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another” (Galatians 5:13-15).

 

            When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul continuing to admonish, exhort and correct the churches which were present in Galatia. We dare not miss and lose sight of the words presented within this epistle for they bring us face to face with one of the greatest dangers facing the church today within our generation. If you turn and direct your attention to the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints you will quickly discover that although this church came behind in no spiritual gift and although this church was enriched in all utterance and knowledge in Christ Jesus they were a church that was carnal. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for it is possible to be spiritual and yet at the same time carnal in the sight of both God and men. The apostle Paul emphatically declared in this first epistle unto the Corinthian saints that he could not write or address them as spiritual but as carnal because there was strife, division and contention among them. What’s more is that as you continue reading this particular epistle you will find that there was a great deal of infighting, quarrels and debates taking place among these saints after the departure of the apostle Paul. The apostle Paul—you will recall—devoted a year and six months to faithfully laboring among those in the city of Corinth establishing a church among them within that city. The apostle Paul would faithfully preach the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ unto the saints which were present in the midst of the city of Corinth that they might be rooted and grounded in the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of when reading the first epistle written unto the Corinthian saints for although they were indeed a church that would have been considered as being spiritual they were a church that was entirely and altogether carnal.

 

            There is a reason why I mention the words which are found in the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints for the words the apostle Paul writes unto them describes them as a spiritually gifted church and yet they were entirely and altogether carnal in their practice. What’s more is that when you read the words found in the fifth chapter of this epistle you will discover that there was fornication among them—such as was not even named among the Gentiles as there was a man who had his father’s wife. As if this weren’t bad enough the apostle Paul would write how instead of the Corinthians weeping and mourning over this gross atrocity among them they were actually puffed up about it. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for if there is one thing the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints reveals it’s that it is indeed possible to be spiritually gifted and even appear outwardly righteous in the sight of men and yet on the inside be entirely and altogether carnal. It is possible to be present in many of our churches today and show up in your “Sunday’s best,” show up carrying your leather bound Bible, raise your hands when worshipping, giving your tithes and offerings, responding to the preaching of the word, and even coming forward when the “altar call” is given and yet within your heart and mind you are entirely and altogether carnal. I would imagine the Corinthian congregation was looked upon and viewed by other churches and other saints as being a church that was incredibly spiritual and moving in the gifts and anointing of the Holy Spirit and yet there was something beneath the surface that was drastically wrong. What this reveals and demonstrates for us is that it is not always what’s seen on the surface that is the truest picture of what’s going on and the truest picture of what’s going on in our lives. More often than not the truest picture of what is going on within our lives and what we are truly like is evidenced and manifested beneath the surface in the unseen and hidden realm of our hearts.

 

            You will recall in the sixteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Samuel when the LORD spoke unto Samuel concerning the next king of Israel who would succeed Saul how He declared that He was searching for a man after His own heart. What’s more is that when you read of Samuel in the town of Bethlehem as Jesse caused all of his sons to pass before Samuel the prophet saw the first and eldest son of Jesse and thought that this was surely the next king of Israel. Of course we know that Samuel thought that Jesse’s eldest son was the next king of Israel based entirely and altogether on his outward appearance. What we find within this passage of Scripture, however, is that when choosing the next king of Israel the king would not be chosen according to and after the same measure that was found during the days of Saul. Saul you will recall was head and shoulders above all the others in Benjamin and was indeed chosen because of his physical appearance. Of course we know and understand that after Saul was anointed by the prophet Samuel he would indeed prophesy, however, this would not be an indication of what type of man and what type of king he would be. The Old Testament book of First Samuel would demonstrate and reveal that Saul would be an impulsive and rebellious king who would not do according to the word of the LORD. What’s more is that eventually you will read how the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul and an evil spirit from the LORD would torment him. Not only this but Saul would even pursue David and would chase him throughout the nation and land of Israel seeking to put him to death—this after he had already attempted to kill him but casting two spears at him. What we find when the living and eternal God was choosing the next king of Israel was that while man looked on the outward and external appearance the living God looked upon the heart. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the sixteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Samuel:

 

            “Now the LORD said to Samuel, How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided myself a king among his sons. And Samuel said, How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me. But the LORRD said, Take a heifer with you, and say, I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Then invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; you shall anoint for me the one I name to you. So Samuel did what the LORD said, and went to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, Do you come peaceably? And he said, Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD> Sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice. Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons, and invited them to the sacrifice. So it was, when they came, that he looked at Eliab and said, Surely the LORD’s anointed is before Him. But the LORD said to Samuel, Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. So Jesse called ABinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said,  Neither has the LORD chosen this one. Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, Neither has the LORD chosen this one. Thus Jessie made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, Are all the young men here? Then he said, There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep. And Samuel said to Jesse, Send and bring him. For we will not sit down till he comes here. So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking.And the LORD said, Arise, anoint him; for this is the one! Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah” (1 Samuel 16:1-13).

 

            I am absolutely convinced we must needs pay attention to the words which are found within this passage of Scripture for within it we discover something truly incredible about the living and eternal God. What we find within this passage of Scripture calls and draws our attention to the fact that man looks upon the outward and external appearance while the LORD looks upon the heart. This is something which warrants strong consideration for it reveals that more often than not it is what is beneath the surface that is the truest sense and the truest picture of a person. More often than. Not it is not that which is visible on the external and outward part of our beings that is of great value and importance to the LORD but that which is found on the inward part of one’s being. Man would continually and repeatedly look upon the outward and external part of a man and man would even focus all their attention on making themselves appear righteous, and pious, obedient, faithful, and perhaps even courageous in the sight of others and yet inwardly they are nothing more than rebellious, stiff-necked, hard-hearted, fearful and unfaithful men and women in the sight of the living God. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it brings us face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the reality that man indeed focuses on the outward and external appearance in the sight of others while the living and eternal God focuses and looks upon the inward part of the man. Man indeed judges and governs based on outward appearance and yet the living and eternal God looks upon and judges according to the heart of a man.

 

            Having said this I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the following words which are found in the second chapter of the New Testament epistle written by James as well as the words which are found in the twenty-third chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. Within the twenty-third chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we find the words which Jesus spoke unto His disciples and followers concerning the scribes and the Pharisees. That which we find within this passage of Scripture describes how the scribes and the Pharisees focused their attention entirely and altogether on the outward and external appearance in the sight of men and cared nothing for the inward and hidden parts that are seen of men. With this being said I feel it is also necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the sixth and seventh chapters of this New Testament gospel. It is within the sixth chapter where we read of that which men do in the sight of others to be seen of them that they might receive praise, honor, glory and recognition from them. Moreover what we find within these passages of Scripture is a powerful picture of those who would enter into the kingdom of the Father and would profess before the Son, saying, “Lord, Lord,” and yet Jesus declares that not everyone who does so will enter into the kingdom of heaven. Jesus goes on to declare that only those who do the will of His Father which is in heaven would enter into the kingdom which was prepared for them. Jesus would then go on to describe men and women who would speak of prophesying in His name, casting out devils in His name and even doing many great works in His name and yet He will not only declare them to be workers of iniquity but He will instruct them to depart from Him for they were workers of iniquity. This is something which we must needs recognize and pay attention to for these passages reveal the incredible truth concerning the living God looking upon the heart while man does indeed and does in fact look upon the heart. Consider now the previously mentioned passages of Scripture beginning with the second chapter of the epistle written by James and moving to the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew:

 

            “My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, You sit here in a good place, and say to the poor man, You stand there, or Sit here at my footstool, have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called? If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, You shall love your neighbor as yourself, you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, Do not commit adultery, also said, Do not murder. Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:1-13).

 

            The words which James the brother of our Lord Jesus wrote in this passage of Scripture are entirely clear and are directly linked to that which we find in the Old Testament book of First Samuel. Within this passage of Scripture we not only find James writing and speaking concerning partiality within our hearts in our judgment toward others but James also speaks of judging others based on outward appearance rather than upon the heart. James makes it perfectly clear when writing the words found in this passage of Scripture that it is possible for the saints of God who call upon the name of the Lord to look upon the outward and external appearance of others and judge them according to that appearance. James makes it perfectly clear that we as the saints of God who gather together in His name in His house week after week can indeed judge others based on the outward appearance—and not only judge them based on their outward appearance but also treat them differently based on that appearance. If we are truly honest with ourselves we must needs admit that there have been times within our lives when we have indeed judged others based upon their outward appearance for more often than not the outward appearance is the most visible reality to us. What’s more is that there have been times when we have not been able to overlook and get past the outward appearance of others and have relegated and resolved ourselves to judging them based on that appearance. Oh how often and how frequently do we look upon others and not see them based on their outward appearance but based upon their hearts and the inward man? When was the last time you judged a person according to their heart rather than their outward and external appearance? This question must be asked for the scribes and the Pharisees not only judged according to the external appearance but also wanted to be judged based on their own outward and external appearance. The scribes and the Pharisees were such who not only desired to appear outwardly righteous in the sight of men but also judged others based on the external appearance which was visible to the natural eye. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the sixth, seventh, fifteenth and twenty-third chapters of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew:

 

            “Take heed that you do not your charitable deeds before men, to b e seen of them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secretly will Himself reward you openly. And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their toward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, 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 this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive your But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they. Disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but yo your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secretly will reward you openly” (Matthew 6:1-18).

 

            “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the prophets. Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad 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 or 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 bar tree b ear 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. Therefore whoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall” (matthew 7:12-27).

 

            “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 of God because of your traditions? 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 of 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).

 

            “Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and Lena rage the borders of their garments. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But you, do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for one is your Teacher, the Christ.  But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. Woe to you, blind guides, who say, Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whosever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it. Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold? And, Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whosever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it. Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it.  He who swears by the temple, swears by it and by it and by Him who dwells in it. And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it. Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then the measure of your father’s guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will s courage in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berachiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation” (Matthew 23:1-36).

 

            I realize this was a lot of Scripture that was presented in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew, however, I am absolutely convinced there is a great need to pay close attention to what is written and contained within it. As you read the words presented within these passages of Scripture you can and will encounter the tremendous reality that the scribes and the Pharisees were more and most concerned with their external and outward appearance than they were with the inward condition of their hearts. OUTWARD APPEARANCE RATHER THAN INWARD CONDITION! What we must needs recognize and understand is that from the sixth chapter to the twenty-third chapter of the same gospel written by the apostle Matthew we find Jesus calling and describing these men and individuals as hypocrites. Those who cared more about their outward and external appearance in the sight of men rather than the inward condition of their heart in the sight of the One who sits upon the throne are such who Jesus not only described as hypocrites but also as a brood of vipers. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for there is something to be said about men and women who care more about how they look and appear in the sight of others that they might appear a certain way. Not only this but there is something to be said about men and women who will craft a certain image of themselves in the sight of others that they might receive praise, glory, honor, recognition and accolades from man rather than the living God. With this being said I would dare say it is possible to be “known” in the earth and yet unknown in heaven by the Father who sits upon the throne and by the angels which are before and surround the throne.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in these passages of Scripture and I can’t help but think about the Corinthian church and how on the outward they might very well have appeared righteous, spiritual, gifted, holy and even as holy in the sight of others. There might very well have been other saints and other churches who looked upon the Corinthian church and viewed them as being spiritual, as being gifted and even as being holy and righteous in the sight of the living God. The truth of the matter, however, is that when the apostle Paul wrote unto them he could not address them as spiritual—he could not address them as they perhaps saw themselves and maybe even as others had seen them. When the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthian saints he wrote unto them as carnal and as babes in Christ for there were divisions, strife, contention and the like among them. The apostle Paul wrote unto them as carnal despite the fact they were enriched in all utterance and in all knowledge and came behind in no spiritual gift. The Corinthian congregation might very well have appeared pious, holy, righteous and even faithful in the sight of the living God and yet the truth of the matter is that they were carnal. This is something we dare not miss and lose sight of—especially when considering the epistle written unto the churches which were in Galatia. If the Corinthian church was and could be known as the spiritual but carnal church then the churches which were in Galatia could very well be known as the religious but carnal church. The more you read the epistle written unto the churches which were in Galatia the more you can and will encounter and come face to face with the incredibly unique and powerful  truth surrounding their view and opinion of themselves versus the opinion and view the apostle Paul had of them—and not only the view of the apostle Paul but also the view of the living and eternal God.

 

            We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found in the epistle written unto the churches which were in Galatia for although they might have been perceived as being righteous according to the law they were considered as being transgressors in the sight of the living God. The churches which were in Galatia had turned aside from the faith and had turned themselves unto a false gospel that was not a gospel at all. The churches which were in Galatia were such that had departed from the faith and had worshipped a false Jesus which was presented unto them by false brethren, false teachers, false apostles, false prophets and those who would seek to trouble and distress them. Much like the brethren which were in Antioch were troubled by those brethren who came from Judaea as well as by certain Pharisees which believed and also came from Judaea concerning circumcision and the Law so also the churches which were in Galatia were troubled by false brethren which crept in among them. I would dare say that this shift, this transition and this departure might very well have been gradual and slow at first but would eventually ramp up in degree and measure before it would eventually consume and engulf them. There would have undoubtedly been a small shift in their thinking and perhaps even in their beliefs before there would be a full blown departure from the faith and from the true gospel which was preached unto them by the apostle Paul. The churches which were in Galatia might very well have appeared righteous according to the Law, however, it was the apostle Paul who emphatically declared that we are not justified by the Law but by faith. What’s more is the apostle Paul would also declare that we are not justified in the sight of God by and through circumcision and if anyone committed themselves to being circumcised the cross and the gospel would be of none effect for them. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for when writing unto the saints which were at Rome the apostle Paul would emphatically declare that Christ is the end of the righteousness which is according to the Law for He is our righteousness. What’s more is no longer would or could man be justified by the Law for man is now justified by faith according to the free gift of God which is found in the person of Jesus Christ. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the fourth, fifth and tenth chapters of the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome:

 

            “What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blesses is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin. Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still circumcised. For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith t hat it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, I have made you a father of many nations) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, So shall your descendants be. And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old) and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore it was accounted to him for righteousness.  Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification” (Romans 4:1-25).

 

            “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation” (Romans 5:1-11).

 

            “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, The man who does those things shall live by them. But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, Do not say in your heart, Who will ascend into heaven? (That is, to bring Christ down from  above) or, Who will descend into the abyss? (That is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will b e saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture says, Whoever believes on him will not be put to shame. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. How then shall they call on Him whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, LORD, who has believed our report? So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: Their sound has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world. But I say, did Israel not know? First Moses says: I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation, I will move you to anger by a foolish nation. But Isaiah is very bold and says: I was found by those who did not seek me; I was made manifest to those who did not ask for me. But to Israel he says: All day long I have stretched out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people” (Romans 10:1-21).

 

            Please pay close attention to the words which are found in the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome for the apostle Paul would write similar words and use similar language in the epistle written unto the churches which were in Galatia. If there is one thing we must needs recognize about the churches which were in Galatia it’s that outwardly and in the sight of other saints and other churches they might very well have been considered to be righteous and holy. I am sure there might have been others who looked upon and viewed the churches which were in Galatia and view them through the lens of being righteous, holy, obedient and faithful in the sight of the LORD—particularly and especially because of their “commitment” to the Law of Moses. The churches which were in Galatia were infiltrated by brethren which were similar in nature to the brethren which came among those which were in Antioch. The churches which were in Galatia were entirely and altogether infiltrated by false brethren which crept in among them and not only distresses and troubled them but also turned their hearts away from the true gospel, from the true Jesus and from the true Spirit. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the fact that the churches which were in Galatia might very well have appeared to be holy according to the Law and yet what was truly going on was their being in bondage to the Law of Moses. What we must understand when reading this epistle written unto the churches of Galatia by the apostle Paul is that although they might not have been in bondage to sin they were undoubtedly and nonetheless in bondage to the Law of Moses. Not only this but they were entirely and altogether in bondage to the righteousness which comes from the law—a righteousness which Jesus indicted when speaking of the scribes and the Pharisees. In other words one might very well say that the churches which were in Galatia were churches that were filled with religious and legalistic hypocrites who were in bondage to the Law of Moses.

 

            With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the eleventh chapter of the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints as well as the words which are found in the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts:

 

            “O, that you would bear with me a little in folly—and indeed you do bear with me. For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds maybe corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have. Not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well pout up with it. For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles. Even though I am untrained in speech, yet I am not in knowledge. But we have been thoroughly manifested among you in all things. Did I commit sin in humbling myself that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge? I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you. And when I was present with you, a nd in need, I was a burden to no one, for what I lacked the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied. And in everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so I will keep myself. As the truth of Christ is in me, no one shall stop me from this boasting in the regions of Achaia. Why? Because I do not love you? God knows! But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:1-15).

 

            “And certain men came down from Judaea and taught the brethren, Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved. Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders, about this question. So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, describing the conversion of the Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren. And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things that God had done with them. But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and aid to them: Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which. Neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they. Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles. And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, listen to me: Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written, After this I will return and will rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will set it up; so that the rest of mankind may seek the LORD, even all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the LORD who does all these things. Known to God from eternity are all His works.  Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath. Then it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas who was also named Barsabas and Silas, leading men among the brethren. They wrote this letter by them: The apostles, the elders, and the brethren, To the b retired who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia: Greetings. Since we have heard that some who sent out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, You must be circumcised and keep the law—to whom we gave no such commandment—it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these you will do well. Farewell” (Acts 15:1-29).

 

            The words we find in this passage of Scripture must be carefully considered for they call and draw our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the churches which were in Galatia and how there were those who came in among them both troubling and distressing them. The more you read the words which are found in this epistle written unto these churches the more you will encounter the incredible reality that there were false brethren who perhaps masqueraded and paraded themselves as disciples and followers of Christ—wolves in sheep’s clothing—as well as false apostles who paraded themselves as apostles of Christ—despite the fact they were apostles of darkness—and sought to deceive the saints and brethren which were among these churches. You cannot read this epistle written by the apostle Paul and not come face to face with these false brethren and false apostles who entered in among their ranks teaching and preaching a false gospel and presenting a false image of Christ which was entirely different from that which was preached by the apostle Paul who had experienced him on the road to Damascus as well as through continued revelation. The Jesus these churches were hearing about and which was being preached unto and among them was a Jesus which was made in the image of those who sought to deceive and lead them astray. What makes this all the more intriguing when you think about it is when you consider the words which Jesus spoke at the mount of Olives concerning the Last Days you will find Him declaring that in those days many will come in His name making the claim that they are Christ. Moreover Jesus would go on to declare unto them that there would be false Christs and false apostles who would be rampant and widespread in the last days seeking to deceive and lead men and women astray.

 

            I have to admit that as I read and consider the words which are found in the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto these churches I am captivated by the words of Jesus who not only described many coming in His name professing they are the Christ but also many false Christs and false apostles who would seek to deceive many. What’s more is Jesus would also describe how these false apostles and false Christs would perform great signs to deceive if it were possible the very elect of God. In all reality I am convinced that these individuals whom Jesus spoke about were not those who would enter into churches or even appear on television screens and make the declaration they are Christ incarnate or Christ in the flesh. The Scripture clearly speaks of an antichrist who will appear in the Last Days who will set himself up as God and will even set himself up in the rebuilt Temple of God. I do not believe that in the Last Days there will be a competition between many coming in the name of Jesus professing themselves to be Christ while at the same time the antichrist is professing himself to be God.  What’s more is if we are going to take this for how it was translated in the our Bibles as those who make the profession and boast they are Christ we have to answer, justify and explain why Jesus would refer to them as coming in His name. Why would those who would dare make the profession and confession they are Christ come in the name of Jesus? Truthfully this doesn’t make sense and I would even dare say doesn’t line up with what we find within the words of Jesus Himself.

 

            I am absolutely convinced that the many who would come in the name of Jesus in the Last Days and make the confession and profession they are Christ are not those who make the declaration that they are Christ incarnate but that they are Christ’s. Thus what I am suggesting is that the many who come in the name of Jesus professing themselves to be Christ are those who parade and masquerade themselves as being disciples and followers of Jesus in this world. What’s more is I would even dare say such individuals are those who will come in the name of Jesus while teaching and preaching a false Jesus who is completely contrary to Scripture. Oh they might have certain features and certain characteristics of the Jesus who is spoken of in the gospels, in the book of Acts, in the epistles and even in the prophetic book of the Revelation but the Jesus they are preaching is nothing more than a caricature of the true Jesus. These individuals come in the name of Jesus and give the appearance and sound of preaching the true and authentic Jesus and yet the Jesus they are preaching is nothing more than a false or pseudo Jesus who is absolutely nothing like the Jesus mentioned in the Law and the prophets. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for it brings us face to face with the need for discernment in these last days—discernment to recognize and know Jesus of Nazareth who is the Christ and the Son of the living God. The apostles and many others who walked with and followed Him during those three and a half years He walked among us as the Word made flesh dwelling among us knew Him. This is precisely what the apostle John wrote about in His first epistle unto the saints which were at Ephesus for his desire was that they might know the true and real Jesus for who He was and not some caricature or image of Jesus. What’s more is that if we are being honest with ourselves we are either worshipping Jesus Himself or we are worshipping an image of Jesus fashioned by men.

 

            One of the greatest questions we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we are indeed worshipping Jesus Himself—the eternal and only begotten Son of the living God who is the Christ and Messiah—or whether we are worshipping an image of Jesus formed and fashioned by man. There are indeed those who worship the true Jesus who was spoken of in the Law and the prophets and who was written about in the gospels and epistles while there are others who are worshipping an image of Jesus made by men whose minds are corrupt and evil. There are countless men and women who are leading thousands—if not millions—of men and women astray by presenting an image of Jesus they have formed, fashioned and created themselves. What they have done is taken those parts of Jesus from Scripture they like and left that in the image they presented while removing those parts of Jesus they don’t like. In addition to this they add different elements, factors and characteristics appealing to them—even that which they believe will be appealing to the masses—and that is the Jesus they are presenting to others. What we must needs recognize is that in Caesarea Philippi Jesus asked the disciples who men said that He the Son of Man was—to which they responded by saying how some thought He was John the Baptist, some thought he was Elijah, some thought He was Jeremiah while others thought He was one of the prophets. Perhaps the greatest danger in the opinions, the thoughts and the ideas of men concerning the Lord Jesus is that if we aren’t careful we can allow ourselves to get caught up in this false image of Jesus and find ourselves worshipping an image of Jesus rather than Jesus Himself. I would dare say there are countless men and women in many of our churches today who are worshipping an image of Jesus formed and fashioned by man rather than worshipping the true Jesus who is the Christ and the Son of the living God. Moreover I would even dare say that there are those who are worshipping an image of God which was formed and fashioned by man rather than worshipping the true and living God. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John as well as the first chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome:

 

            “The woman said to Him, Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship. Jesus said to her, Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:19-24).

 

            “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 creation 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 became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing 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).

 

            As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to ask you who are reading these words whether or not you are worshipping Jesus who is the Christ and Son of the living God or an image formed and fashioned by men. Are you worshipping the one true and living God who sits upon the throne or are you worshipping an image of God formed and fashioned by men from and out of their own imaginations? Much like Aaron formed the golden calf in the wilderness and declared unto the children of Israel that this was their God who delivered them out the bondage and slavery of Egypt and just as Jeroboam son of Nebat formed, fashioned and erected two golden calves in the northern kingdom of Israel and made the same declaration so also do and so also have men and women formed and fashioned an image of God and an image of Jesus that is contrary to what is and has been presented in Scripture. There is a great need for us to know Jesus for who He was, who He is and who He will also be as well as knowing God for who He was, who He is and who He will always be. There is absolutely no room for men and women to worship images of Jesus and images of God—even images of the Holy Spirit—and not only not know but also not worship the triune Godhead who is One in three persons. It is with this in mind I leave you with the following words which are found in the fourth chapter of the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ which describes for us the scene of worship in heaven in the very throne room of God:

 

After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, Come up here, and I will show things which must take place after this. Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth. Living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was, and is and is to come! Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-fourth elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; For you created all things, and by your will they exist and were created” (Revelation 4:1-11).

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