Will God's 'Strong Delusion' Deceive You?
(II Thess. 2:11) "And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:"
This verse of scripture is an enigma to most Christians. They cannot believe that God would send a lie to deceive most of His own called out followers. But that is the truth. These are the plain words of scripture.
Many Christians delude themselves that this is speaking of the lost world and not the church, the called out, of God. But this cannot be the case, because this statement is in the context of widespread apostasy:
(II Thess. 2:3) "Let no man deceive you by any means: for [that day shall not come], except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition."
Who Is This 'Man Of Sin?'
This 'falling away' is a falling away from the truths that are in every Bible in every Christian home in this nation or in the world. Here we are told that this "falling away reveals that man of sin the son of perdition." There is a lot of speculation in Christian circles as to who, exactly, this 'man of sin the son of perdition' is. About the only thing that everyone agrees on concerning this 'man of sin' is that he is an end time personality. 'After all, Paul's argument is that the day of the Lord is not at hand because the man of sin has not yet been revealed. The 'great falling away' has to happen first, is the teaching. With this dispensational approach to the scriptures, everything is now to be understood as 'in the future', 'at the time of end.' That 'time of the end' is generally understood to be just around the corner, but 'it certainly isn't talking about me, or my church right now.' So reasons most of the Christian world.
The scriptures, as usual, teach just the opposite of this commonly accepted, dispensational, application of Biblical prophecy. Here is the scriptural approach to understanding this and all prophecy:
(1Jo 2:18) "Little children, it is the last time. And just as you have heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have risen up, from which we know that it is the last hour."
(Rev 1:3) "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand."
Now this "man of sin" becomes relevant to me. "It IS the last time." "Even NOW many antichrists have risen up." "It IS the last hour." "THE TIME IS AT HAND." This is the proper approach to all prophecy. Why did the apostles approach prophecy with this frame of mind? It is because, unlike many modern teachers of God's Word today, the apostles knew what the purpose of ALL prophecy was:
(1Co 14:3) "But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort."
What This Man Of Sin Does
(2Th 2:4) "Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he, as God, sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God."
(2Th 2:5) "Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things"
(2Th 2:6) "And now ye know what withholds that he might be revealed in his time."
Is Paul telling the Thessalonians that some extremely sinful man is going to set himself up in the temple in Jerusalem some time in the future, just prior to the coming of Christ, and require all mankind to worship him? IN MERE LETTERS? It sure sounds that way. To the natural man it certainly appears that way. And consequently all 'carnal, babes in Christ' ( Cor. 3:1),TAKE IT THAT WAY! But Paul tells us in a very straight forward way that his words are not to be taken in an 'outward' manner:
(1Co 2:4) "And my speech and my preaching [was] not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power."
Paul's words are in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. But who sees this demonstration of the Spirit and of power in the words of Paul? Certainly not "carnal ... babes in Christ," who can only receive the crucifixion of Christ as a outward thing. But some do see this "demonstration of the Spirit and of power" in the words Paul writes:
"We speak wisdom among them that are perfect [Greek-Becoming mature] ...we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, [even] the hidden [wisdom], which God ordained before the world unto our glory:" (I Cor. 2:6-7)
'Hidden' From Whom?
The Greek word translated 'among' here is 'en' Strong's # 1722. Nine out of ten times it is translated properly with the English word 'in', in the KJV. It is the same word translated 'in' in verse 4 where he says that his words were "in demonstration of spirit and of power." It should be translated 'in' here in 2:6 also.
Paul was not saying one thing to 'babes in Christ' and something different "among them that are perfect." No, it was always the same gospel: "Jesus Christ and him crucified." But it was received differently "in them that are perfect [mature]." It is not 'a mystery' (Greek - musterion - secret- Strong's #3466) to the 'perfect' - the mature; it is not 'hidden wisdom' to the 'mature.' It is "a mystery [and] hidden wisdom" to "carnal ... babes in Christ" who can only see "Christ and HIM crucified."
So, if we translate the Greek word 'en' consistently, here is what Paul is telling us:
'In the mature we speak the secret, hidden, inward, wisdom of God, but in the immature we speak only of the outward fleshly appearing of Christ and of His outward death and outward crucifixion.'
How is this all accomplished? It is all accomplished with the same Bible, with the same letters and words. But 'the same letters and words' have vastly different meanings 'in' the 'mature' and 'in' the 'babes in Christ,' who are 'yet carnal.'
Paul did not have two gospels, one for babes and one for mature Christians. Rather the one gospel 'Jesus Christ and Him crucified,' is received two entirely different ways in the hearers. And why is that? It will always be the same; it is because "many are called but few are chosen." The "many called [but not] chosen," will always be drawn to the outward, physical, letter understanding of prophecy. Anything else is "foolishness" to the "carnal ... babes in Christ," to whom I Cor. 2 is addressed.
In the very next verse Paul gives us an example of what he is saying:
(1Co 2:8) "Which ['hidden wisdom'] none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known [it], they would not have crucified the Lord of glory."
Now ask yourself, who are 'the princes of this world', who have, 'crucified the Lord of glory?' Is this referring to the Romans? The 'gentiles' are certainly included (Acts 4:27), but who do the scriptures reveal as the motivating force behind the crucifixion of Christ?: Speaking to his own countrymen the 'people of God', Peter tells them:
(Act 2:36) "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ."
Yes, 'the princes of this world', who crucified Christ were His own brothers, his own people, the people of God. Why did they do it? Because they 'knew not the secret, hidden, wisdom of God' (v.7). And what is the result of not 'knowing the secret, hidden, wisdom of God?':
(1Co 2:9) "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."
This statement is not addressed to 'the world.' This is not primarily a statement about the condition of those in 'the world.' This is a warning to "carnal ... babes in Christ," 'Corinthian, Christians', of every generation since Christ.
This verse, verse 9, is very familiar to many Christians because it is invariably quoted at many funerals to help comfort the survivors of the deceased. "Why," the minister will invariably say, "we can't even begin to imagine the things that God has prepared for those that love Him." But what is the 'fulness of the truth' of this statement?:
(1Co 2:10) "But God hath revealed [them] unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God."
So what is it that God wants to reveal to us? It is things that physical eyes cannot see and physical ears cannot hear, "the deep things of God."
So verse nine is speaking of "carnal ... babes in Christ," as contrasted with the "mature" of verse ten, to whom "God has revealed ... the things of the Spirit."
Rightly Dividing The Word
"The deep things of God," are the things Paul is telling these "carnal ... babes in Christ," THEY cannot receive. In verses 11-12 Paul explains that they (we) must replace the carnal 'spirit of man', with 'the spirit which is of God', before we can even hope to understand "the things which are freely given to us of God."
(1Co 2:13) "Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual."
THERE IT IS! You have just been given Paul's formula for 'rightly dividing' the word. Paul, right here in I Corinthians 2:13, reveals how the Spirit opens up the "hidden, secret, deep things of God." How does the Spirit "teach" us?: BY "COMPARING SPIRITUAL THINGS WITH SPIRITUAL!" The Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. It is not accomplished in any other way.
When Paul says that spiritual discernment is "not in words that man's wisdom teacheth," he is not saying that the Holy Spirit teaches in a secret 'unknown tongue.' Not at all. What Paul means is that man's 'context' oriented understanding of the scriptures is no substitute for that "which the Holy Spirit teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual."
If you think that simply keeping the scriptures in their proper context is going to assure that you are on the right path to understand prophecy you are dead wrong. That is what the scriptures refer to as "carnal reasoning." If there were any truth to that teaching, then any one could read the scriptures, consider the context, and see clearly 'the things of the Spirit.' If this carnal minded reasoning were true, then the very next verse would have to read like this:
'The natural man can easily receive the things of the Spirit of God, for the scriptures will make perfect sense to him if he will just remember to keep them in their proper context'.
This, of course is exactly what these "carnal" Corinthian Christians were doing. They had heard of Christ and HIM crucified. They had been told that He had died on the cross for their sins. They were determined to keep this all in context. It was Christ who did the 'dying.' And it was Christ who was on the 'cross.'
But how does verse 14 really read?:
"But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned..."
Christianity today equates 'keeping the scriptures in their proper context' with 'spiritual discernment.' They could not be any further from the truth. This is itself 'strong delusion.' For dozens of scriptures demonstrating the fact that 'understanding the context' does not equate to 'spiritual discernment' read the paper entitled 'Rightly Dividing The Word-Using A Principle Only The Apostles Understood,' posted on this site. Very few of the scriptures quoted by the New Testament writers as referring to Christ, 'in context' are actually speaking of some Old Testament patriarch, or prophet, or of Israel as a nation. But the Spirit of God says these scriptures refer to Christ. So who are we to believe? Do we follow the principles of the multi-degreed professors of Dallas Theological Seminary, or the principle of rightly dividing the scriptures as revealed by the way the apostles quoted the Old Testament?
Now let us see where these "words which man's wisdom teacheth" has led the church of God.
'Jesus Christ And Him Crucified'
Paul tells us, "the gospel of Christ ... is the power of God unto salvation" (Rom. 1:16). The gospel being 'the power of God unto salvation' obviously includes 'Jesus Christ and Him crucified.' The apostle Paul told the Corinthians:
(I Cor. 2:2) "For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified."
Why did Paul make this determination? We don't have to speculate, he tells us specifically:
(I Cor. 3:1- 3) "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, [even] as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able [to bear it], neither yet now are ye able, for you are yet carnal..."
What is Paul getting at? Why does he admonish the Corinthians in this way? Does 'You are babes in Christ but you are yet carnal' mean that the Corinthians were not 'saints?' Does this mean that they were not 'sanctified in Christ Jesus?' No, it does not mean that: (I Cor. 1:2)
"Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called [to be] saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours"
Being 'sanctified in Christ Jesus', being 'called to be a saint' apparently does not guarantee that one will not be "yet carnal." Many millions of Christians are "called to be saints," but they "are yet carnal."
Why Paul Wrote Corinthians
Paul was well aware that a baby on his mother's milk would choke to death on a T-bone steak. But Paul is not writing this epistle to praise these Corinthians for receiving the milk of the word. Paul tells us why he wrote to the Corinthians:
- (I Cor. 5:9) "I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:"
- (II Cor. 2:3) "And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice;"
- (II Cor. 2:4) "For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you."
- (II Cor. 7:12) "Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, [I did it] not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you."
There we have it. Paul has given us four reasons why he wrote to these Corinthian brothers. Do any of these reasons sound as if he were pleased with the progress being made within the church at Corinth? NO, Paul was very disappointed with what was happening within the church at Corinth:
"Out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears..."
So yes, 'the power of God unto salvation,' includes the 'sincere milk' of 'Christ and Him crucified. And yes, a mother's milk is the only food with which to nourish a baby. But it is the flip side to this truth that elicited this epistle, for no man yet has ever made it to maturity on nothing but his mother's milk. 'The power of God unto salvation' involves a much deeper understanding than a crucified Christ. It involves a resurrected Christ. And it concerns much more than a resurrected Christ with holes in His hands and side, as He is viewed by doubting Thomases.
Here is a little more of 'the power of God unto salvation':
"I AM CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST" (Gal . 2:20).
"For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake" (Phil. 1:29).
"[I] fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church" (Col.1:24).
And also this:
"If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things have passed away; behold ALL THINGS HAVE BECOME NEW" (II Cor. 5:17).
But does 'all things' include Christ on the cross? Yes it does.
Even 'Jesus Christ and Him crucified' becomes 'new':
"Henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, THOUGH WE HAVE KNOWN CHRIST AFTER THE FLESH [in the cradle; walking on this earth; on the cross or even resurrected with a body of 'flesh and bone'], YET NOW HENCEFORTH KNOW WE HIM NO MORE [after the flesh]" (II Cor. 5:16).
This is the "HIDDEN ... wisdom of God in a MYSTERY," that Paul is referring to, only three verses after saying, 'I determined to know nothing among you but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.'
This statement, 'hidden wisdom' (I Cor. 2:7), is not addressed to the unconverted, uncalled world. It is addressed to immature, 'carnal ... babes in Christ' who are YET now ... not able to bear meat (I Cor. 3:1-2). So this more mature 'wisdom [is] hidden' from them and is only understood "among [Gk. - in] them that are perfect" (I Cor. 2:6). This is the only thing negative about the doctrine of 'Christ and Him crucified.'
"Neither yet now" indicates that these brothers who have heard the "sincere milk of the word," "nothing among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified," are not "going on unto perfection [maturity]" (Heb. 6:1), as they should.
When Paul asks, having begun in the spirit are ye now made perfect by the flesh? (Gal. 3:3), he is indeed referring to the fact that these Galatian brothers were reverting back to circumcising and keeping the law of Moses:
"For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, cursed is everyone that continueth not in ALL THINGS which are written in the BOOK of the law [not just the two tables of stone] to do them" (Gal. 3:10).
This differs only slightly from the Corinthians in that the Corinthians were reverting to their selfish, carnal Gentile ways; openly fornicating, ignoring the hungry and suing one another. Both of these errors in both of these churches as well as the thorns and briars ... whose end is to be burned, of Heb. 6:7-8, all have one thing in common: THEY ARE ALL THREE THE RESULT OF SPIRITUAL IMMATURITY. All three are called 'babes' (Greek - nepios) - I Cor. 3:1; Gal. 4:1; Heb. 5:13.
'Sons' Versus 'Children'
Since all three are addressed as immature "children," then it must be of utmost importance that we progress beyond the slaying of the Passover Lamb; beyond simply applying the blood of the lamb to the door post. Knowing that the death angel has passed over us IS what is called the sincere milk of the word for NEW BORN babes that you may GROW thereby (I Pet. 2:2). 'Jesus Christ and Him crucified' has rendered maturity as inconsequential and unnecessary in the church today. Yet 'growing thereby' is still essential to becoming a mature son, a 'uihos.' It is ONLY the 'uhiothesia' for whom 'the whole creation groans and travails.' All other Christians are "a child [nepios], differ[ing] nothing from a [bond] servant, though he be lord of all" (Gal. 4:1).
Paul concludes this chapter: 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 freewoman" (Gal. 4:30).
What is it that we are encouraged to 'grow' up into? We are to grow up from being 'babes', [nepios] into becoming mature sons 'uihos' (Gal. 4:5-6)
Just how important is it that we become mature sons? Here is just how important it is:
(Gal 4:1) "Now I say, [that] the heir [those who are 'sanctified and called to be saints'], as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all."
The word 'child' in this verse is not 'uihos', a mature son; the word here is 'nepios', a babe in Christ, who, so long as he remains a nepios, a babe, can never inherit the promises:
"Wherefore thou art no more a servant [or 'a child, nepios, differing nothing from a 'servant'], but a son [uihos]; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ" (Gal. 4:7).
ONLY "IF A UIHOS," are we "then an heir of God." The 'uihothesia' are not affected by the second death, for they, and they alone, have been through the first death, mentioned by Christ in John 12:24:
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and DIE, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit."
This is not a physical death any more than 'death and hell' are physically cast into the lake of fire.' It is,
"I am crucified WITH Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me" (Gal. 2:20).
This is the first 'death' that one must experience before he qualifies for the "blessed and holy ... first resurrection" (Rev. 20:6).
Many Are Called But Few Are Chosen
The 'passing over' of the death angel is an accomplished fact, not just for believers, "but also for the whole world," whether they are aware of it or not.
(1Jo 2:2) "And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."
But 'the whole world' will not be in the 'blessed and holy ... first resurrection.' Many [will be] called [to see and accept 'Jesus Christ and Him crucified'] but few [will be] chosen to take part in the 'blessed and holy first resurrection.' This resurrection is reserved for 'the remnant,' the 'bride,' the 'chaste virgin,' the 'uihothesia,' mature sons. Those who 'put the blood on their door post' were baptized ... and did all eat the same spiritual meat [Greek - bromah - food]; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock and that Rock was Christ. But with many [all but two] of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness (I Cor. 10:2-5).
Is this 'they were overthrown in the wilderness' group, a small insignificant matter as some assert?
Will those who "grieved" the Lord, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness (Heb. 3:17) still be in the first resurrection because they put the blood of the Lamb on their door post?
Will they be in the first resurrection because they were all baptized ... in the cloud and in the sea (I Cor. 10:2)?
Will eating 'spiritual meat', put you in the first resurrection?
For the shocking answer to this question, read Eze. 37, about 'the WHOLE house of Israel.' The shocker is realizing the scriptural timing of this event.
The Fulness Of The Gentiles
According to Paul, this "all Israel shall be saved" will not take place until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in (Rom. 11:25). This 'fulness of the Gentiles' is accomplished before 'all Israel will be saved,' because we are told:
(Rom 11:25-26) "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, UNTIL the fulness of the Gentiles be come in."
And so ALL Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob... Ezekiel repeats this truth in Eze. 37:11:
"These bones are the whole house of Israel ... I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves."
Will 'the whole house of Israel' be in the first resurrection? Those who teach that all you need to know is 'Christ and Him crucified,' believe that they will. 'These are God's chosen people,' they will tell you. But all those who teach such nonsense are totally unaware that Ezekiel had already given the time line for the fulfillment of this prophesy:
(Eze 16:55) "WHEN thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters, shall return to their former estate, and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former estate, THEN thou and thy daughters shall return to your former estate."
This is 'the great white throne judgement.' This is the 'lake of fire,' the greatest single act of God's fiery, purifying, chastening grace in the history of mankind. Why will 'the whole house of Israel' come up in judgement AFTER THE MILLENNIUM, along with and beside 'Sodom and her daughters and Samaria and her daughters?' Simply because:
- "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (Rom. 8:9). Simply because:
- "For the law was given by Moses, [but] grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). Simply because:
- "By grace are ye saved through faith" (Eph. 2:8).
Neither the 'grace' or the 'faith of Jesus Christ' (Rom.3:22), were available to Israel before the coming of their Messiah. Neither the fulness of the 'truth' (Christ), nor 'the 'spirit of Christ' were present to mature these carnal Israelites. They 'were yet babes;' they 'were yet carnal.' They are "the son of the bondwoman" and "shall not be made heir with [us] the son of the freewoman" (Gal. 4:30-31).
All 'Children' Think They Are Mature
ALL 'babes in Christ' "are yet carnal!" Paul says I determined to know nothing among you but Christ and Him crucified. Next he says I have fed you with milk. The obvious message is that 'babes in Christ' will invariably receive this great powerful light of truth in a "carnal" way, that is, 'Christ died in my stead so I don't have to die.' "I am crucified with Christ," and "I die daily" is the 'meat' which most are even now unable to receive. This is the "we speak wisdom in a mystery, even the HIDDEN wisdom [meat of the word], among them that are perfect [becoming mature]."
Those who teach a perverted, half-truth 'grace' and who teach only a perverted, half-truth 'Christ and Him crucified' cannot receive the meat of to you it is given IN BEHALF OF CHRIST, NOT ONLY TO BELIEVE ON HIM, BUT ALSO TO SUFFER FOR HIS SAKE (Phil. 1:29). This too, is the meat which 'babes in Christ ... neither yet now are able' [to receive] (I Cor. 3:1-2).
There are no spiritually mature babes! Even the apostle Paul "went into Arabia" and spent time unlearning his own destructive ways. Nowhere are we told exactly how long Paul spent in the wilderness of Arabia, but Christ Himself spent 40 days in the wilderness in preparation for His ministry. Had the 'babes in Christ' Corinthians, or the 'foolish Galatians,' or the 'you ought to be teachers ... but now you are in need of being taught' Hebrews been "driven [of the Spirit] into the wilderness ... to be tempted of the devil" (Mark 1:12; Matt. 4:1)? Well, they were certainly being 'tempted.' But unlike Christ they were unskillful in the word of righteousness: for [they were] babes ... using milk (Heb. 5:13) and thinking it was 'strong meat.' This is why so many of God's people are in this immature condition.
(Heb 5:13) "For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe."
The church teaches nothing but 'milk' ("Jesus Christ and Him crucified") and they think it is 'meat.' So Paul tells them "Ye are yet carnal."
This is a truth completely foreign to the minds of most Christians. How can we possibly be 'in Christ' and still be called 'carnal?' The answer to this dilemma is given to us in the example of Christ and His twelve 'chosen' apostles and their relationship to Christ while He was still on this earth in the flesh, including the time He spent with them after His resurrection, appearing to them as "flesh and bone," up until the day of Pentecost.
So what kind of a relationship did Christ have with His chosen twelve while He was 'in the flesh?' Well, since Christ had not yet died, and had not yet been resurrected, He could not possibly have given the Holy Spirit to anyone:
"Nevertheless I tell you the truth; IT IS EXPEDIENT FOR YOU THAT I GO AWAY: FOR IF I GO NOT AWAY, THE COMFORTER WILL NOT COME UNTO YOU; BUT IF I DEPART, I WILL SEND HIM UNTO YOU" (John 16:7).
Consequently, the twelve chosen apostles were as carnal as the Corinthians the whole time they knew Christ after the flesh (II Cor. 5:16). Let us take note of a few examples of just how carnal the apostles were before they were "filled with the spirit" while they yet "knew Christ after the Flesh."
Peter is probably the best known of the apostles. He was always the first to answer any questions posed by our Lord. Whom do ye say that I, the Son of Man am, Christ asks. Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God, Peter replies. To which answer Jesus responds:
"Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 16:13-17).
So it was the Father who had revealed this to Peter. Does this now mean that Peter was no longer carnal, now that he had begun to see some spiritual truth? Absolutely not! But Peter had simply, begun in the spirit (Gal. 3:3). Christ goes on to tell Peter that he is giving him the keys to the kingdom of heaven (vs. 19). Does Peter now have the mind of Christ, now that he has 'the keys of the kingdom? It is only two verses later that Christ is compelled to rebuke Peter for his carnal ways:
"But he turned and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me Satan: thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men" (vs. 23).
Mark adds an interesting detail:
"But when he had turned about and LOOKED ON HIS DISCIPLES ALSO, he rebuked Peter, saying..." (Mark 5:33).
Why does Christ "look on His disciples also?" Simply because, as with all scripture, so with all prophecy, Christ knew that what He was saying was not just for Peter's benefit, but for the benefit of all of His disciples for all time.
Now what was it that Peter had said that had led Christ to call Peter 'Satan?' From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
"Then Peter took Him and began to rebuke Him, saying, Be it far from thee Lord: this shall not be unto thee" (vs. 21-22).
This is the immature 'Corinthian Christian' attitude, "Be it far from thee ... this shall not be unto thee." When Christ called Peter 'Satan,' he was not using a figure of speech. At that moment, Peter was nothing less than a messenger of Satan. Yet he, like so many carnal Christians, acknowledged Jesus as "the Christ, the Son of the living God." Poor, 'yet carnal' Peter simply could not yet receive the things of the Spirit of God: for they [were] foolishness unto him (I Cor. 2:14). Peter, at this point, only knew Christ "after the flesh."
Not long after this incident, Christ again corrects Peter. Peter, still filled with carnal self confidence, is again withstanding Christ. Our Lord has just declared that before the night is over, all of His disciples will forsake Him:
"Peter answered and said unto Him, though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus said unto him, verily I say unto thee, that this night before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice" (Matt. 26:33-34).
Peter still knew Christ only "after the flesh."
That very night Christ is betrayed into the hands of the chief priests and elders. Once again, Peter, filled with an immature spirit of "strong delusion" believes that he, by his own efforts, his own works, can change, or at least forestall, the things that Christ had just said must occur:
"And, behold ... [Peter] stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priests, and smote off his ear" (Matt. 26:51).
How typical Peter is at this point of all the immature leaders of Christendom today who tell their immature followers to physically take up arms for God and country.
Peter saw things just as those he typifies at this stage of his development. What greater cause could anyone fight for than "the Christ, the Son of the living God?" Peter yet knew Christ only 'after the flesh.'
What were Christ's words to Peter and to all who yet know Him only 'after the flesh?' Can any today receive His words?:
"then said Jesus unto him, put up again thy sword into his place: FOR ALL THEY THAT TAKE THE SWORD SHALL PERISH WITH THE SWORD" (Matt. 26:52).
Peter, of course, did just as Christ had predicted he would and denied his Lord three times before the cock crowed. Christ was crucified and rose the third day as He had said he would. He shows Himself to His disciples numerous times. Sometimes He would appear in their midst when they were behind locked doors. Now His disciples know the resurrected Christ. Are they now no longer carnally minded because they have now met the resurrected Christ? No, even after Christ's resurrection, they wanted to "go back" to fishing for fish. And Peter was still comparing himself to John (Jhn 21). They still did not understand "a corn of wheat falling into the ground and dying."
The Purpose And Function Of Grace
This 'message of death' is not simple or easy for a 'carnal babe in Christ' to get a handle on. 'Jesus Christ and Him crucified,' is as strong a nourishment as they can yet bear. 'Sanctification,' being set aside for a holy calling, is immediate, but eventual 'glorification' comes only through
suffering for His sake
filling up what is behind of the afflictions of Christ in our flesh
(Col. 1:24), and
it is through MUCH TRIBULATION that we must enter into the kingdom of God
(Acts 14:22). And so it is written:
If so be that we suffer with him... we may be also glorified together."
(Phil. 1:29) "filling up what is behind of the afflictions of Christ in our flesh"
(Col. 1:24) "and it is through MUCH TRIBULATION that we must enter into the kingdom of God"
(Acts 14:22) "And so it is written: If so be that we suffer with [him] ... we may be also glorified together."
Back about 1997 I attended a bible conference in Florida. It was hosted by a dynamic minister in his 70's whose group believes in the doctrine of 'two administrations.' The basic tenets of this doctrine are that the Jews have one gospel, and the Gentiles another. The Jews receive one reward, and Gentiles another. Their thinking is that since Christ died for us, and since we are saved by grace 'apart from works of the law', then there is no need for constantly affirming that they which have believed in God [should] be careful to maintain good works (Titus 3:8,14). This is a simple 'Pauline' admonition which will never be repeated at one of their conferences. I had asked the three main spiritual leaders of the group what Paul meant when he said my sufferings for you fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in MY flesh? I mention all this just to demonstrate how difficult it is for the carnal Christian mind to understand the 'simple truth' of 'Christ and Him crucified.'
These men, who all have made the ministry their life's profession, could only reply "If you can explain that, you will be doing something no one in this room can do." This was the climax of a protracted discussion of the function of grace in the life of the believer. My contention is, after MUCH study on the issue, that grace teaches [Greek - chastens] us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world (Titus 2:11-12,) and be careful to maintain good works (Titus 3:8). Because of their mistaken belief that ANY works are unnecessary for a Christian, they reject the very apostle they hold the most dear, even though he, Paul, admonishes us to 'maintain good works', more than all the other New Testament writers combined.
The simple lesson of I Cor., chapters 1-3, Gal. 3-4 and Heb. 5-6 is that to understand that Christ died for your sins is not the same as understanding all that His death entails. This knowledge is simply the 'sincere milk of the word' which should be 'desired by NEW born babes, to GROW thereby' (I Pet. 2:2). But for a 'uihos', a mature son, to 'lay again this foundation' is to "crucify again the Son of God afresh."
The result is to put Him to an open shame (Heb. 6:6). So a mature son does not see "this simple message of death" in the same way a 'carnal babe in Christ' would understand it.
Because of our fleshly nature, we often fail to see the spirit behind the 'letters' in scripture. All of us, at first, experience a lack of living in the 'fulness of Christ.' As we mature in Christ, our understanding increases. Any carnal 'babe in Christ' who thinks that Christ died to the flesh so that we can live in it will NEVER understand that the gift of being counted worthy to suffer in behalf of Christ of Phil. 1:29, is the same as that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ of Col. 1:24. This is a part of the gospel that is little understood in many cases.
Leaving The Principles Of The Doctrine Of Christ
"The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, but after that faith is come we are no longer under the schoolmaster" (Gal. 3:24-25).
"The law is good if it is used lawfully, knowing this that the law is not for a righteous man but for the lawless" (1 Tim 1:8-9).
We must be brought to Christ by our 'schoolmaster', 'the law' (Gal. 3:24), which we then leave behind as an in part ... childish thing (I Cor. 13:9,11).
So it is with the "first principles of the doctrine of Christ:"
"When I was a child, [a 'nepios' a 'carnal babe in Christ'] I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child [a 'carnal babe in Christ']: but when I became a man, [began to mature] I put away childish things."
Now we come to Heb. 6:1-2:
"Therefore [because you 'have had your senses exercised to know both good and evil - the first step to "becoming like God" - Gen. 3:22; because you are now 'full of age'; because you can now receive 'strong meat', all mentioned in the previous verse] LEAVING THE PRINCIPLES OF THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST ['the first principles of the oracles of God...milk and not...strong meat' - 5:12] let us go on unto perfection" [Greek - teleios - Strong's #5047, the same root word translated 'full of age' in 5:12 - teleiotes - Strong's #5046].
Let us go on unto perfection; NOT LAYING AGAIN THE FOUNDATION OF [now we are given the things we should be 'going beyond':
repentance from dead works, and of
faith towards God [through Christ],
of the doctrine of baptisms, and
of laying on of hands, and
of resurrection of the dead, and
of eternal [Greek - eonian] judgment.
These six doctrines are the extent of the sermons of many ministers week in and week out, year in and year out. They are one and all 'milk of the word.' They are good for the 'nepios' [infant or toddler] of Gal. 4:1, but they are used by no less an adversary than Satan himself to keep the heir ... a child, differing nothing from a slave [to the flesh and to sin] though he be lord of all (Gal. 4:1).
Paul makes it clear that he gave the Corinthians the "milk of the word," "Christ and Him crucified," because they were still "carnal ... babes in Christ." Here is what the author of Hebrews says:
"For when for the time [considering the time you have known Christ and Him crucified] ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God..."
These 'first principles' are as necessary, in their proper time and place, as 'being brought to Christ by the law.' Every Christian of every generation must become familiar with these 'first principles of the doctrine of Christ.' But they should eventually become childish things (I Cor 13:11), like a mother's milk, to be used and preached to "newborn babes desiring the sincere milk of the word." It is worthy of repetition:
"For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat ['I am crucified WITH CHRIST...'] belongeth to them that are full of age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Heb. 5:12-14).
It is the experience of all who come to an understanding of 'being conformed to the image of His son' (Rom. 8:29) to carry out the time consuming process of leaving the flesh behind. This is fully comprehended and applied by only a "few ... chosen." It will not, indeed it cannot, be understood or applied by the "many ... called" 'carnal babes' who want to hear nothing but 'Christ died FOR me.' These are those who "received seed into stony places" or "among the thorns" of Matt. 13:20-22-
"He that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word [Christ and Him crucified], and anon with joy receiveth it; YET HE HATH NOT ROOT [I am crucified WITH Christ] in himself, but he dureth for a while:"
"for when TRIBULATION OR PERSECUTION ariseth BECAUSE OF THE WORD [again this is 'I am crucified WITH Christ'], by and by he is offended."
"Few are chosen," explains to us that most professing Christians are greatly "offended" "because of the [meat of the] word" of having to die to the flesh just AS Christ died to the flesh.
Paul lived out the very message of 'Christ and Him crucified.' He was often to "bear in his body the dying of the Lord Jesus" and consequently he "manifested the life of Christ in his body." As a result his words were in demonstration of the Spirit and of power (I Cor. 2:4). That is, there was a spiritual understanding of 'Jesus Christ and Him crucified' in the life of the apostle. But there is also a 'carnal, babe in Christ' understanding.
When Paul says, "I have fed you with milk and not strong meat; I determined to know nothing among you but Christ and Him crucified" he is referring to the carnal understanding of the sacrifice of Christ. "Bearing in their bodies the dying of the Lord Jesus" was the last thing on the minds of the sectarian, carnal, greedy, self-centered, fornicating Corinthian 'babes.'
The Truth About 'The Unpardonable Sin'
So BABES IN CHRIST, THOUGH THEY BELIEVE IN CHRIST, ARE STILL CARNAL! Though they believe and preach all six of the "first principles of the oracles of God ... the principles of the doctrine of Christ," they "are yet carnal."
"And this ['not laying again the foundation, but going on to maturity'] we will do, if God permit. For [Greek - gar - Strong's #1063 - to assign a reason; so here is the 'reason' for "leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ ... going on unto perfection;" becoming 'full of age' in Christ, HERE IS THE 'ASSIGNED REASON.'] it is impossible for those who were once enlightened [made to know Christ], and have tasted the heavenly gift [this is Christ again], and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit [through Christ] and have tasted the good Word of God [Christ], and the powers of the world to come [Christ], if they shall fall away, to renew them again to repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame" (Heb. 6:3-6).
So the reason for verses 3-6 is given in verses 1-3. This is not talking about 'falling away' in the sense of denying Christ. It is 'for' [Gr. - gar - BECAUSE] these Hebrew converts were not willing to "GO ON UNTO PERFECTION;" TO GO BEYOND THE SIX "PRINCIPLES OF THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST."
These people do not deny 'Christ and Him crucified'; they actually "crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame." How do they do this? By refusing to 'leave [go on to maturity] the principles of the doctrine of Christ.' All they know, or want to know, is 'the milk of the word' "for they are yet carnal." The Corinthians were not walking in the reality of Christ in them. This was evident in their quickness to sue one another, getting drunk, committing fornication, causing divisions, etc. However, all of these manifestations of the flesh would have been taken care of if the "demonstration of the Spirit and power" of the message of "Christ and Him crucified" had been lived out in their lives. Walking a crucified life means we prefer others before ourselves, become a servant to the Body of Christ - our fellow believers, look upon others' needs before our own, and give up our lives for our brethren.
"Christ and Him crucified" can be a positive statement if believed in the spirit instead of just the letter. Paul was trying to show the Corinthians that they were in fact NOT living a crucified life. Many people in the 'lake of fire' will know 'Christ and Him crucified':
"Many shall come in my name saying that I am Christ [and Him crucified], and shall deceive many" (Matt. 24:5).
How is this possible? Because the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant... (Gal. 4:1). The truth about the so-called 'unpardonable sin' is that "it is impossible for those who were once enlightened ... if they should fall away ... to renew them to repentance..." in this age. They will be brought to repentance in a later judgement, the White Throne Judgement, in the Lake of Fire. "When we are judged, we are CHASTENED [not tormented for all eternity] of the Lord" (I Cor. 11:32).
Mature Versus Immature
Here in Titus and throughout all of his epistles, Paul presents grace as an active verb, chastening the life of the CHOSEN believer, 'burning up his ungodly works', 'scourging' him to become 'conformed to the image of His Son.'
"Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth [same Greek word translated 'teaching' in Titus 2:12] and scourgeth EVERY son whom He receiveth" (Heb. 12:6).
How many of the millions of professing Christians has God given the spiritual vision to see this 'verb-half' of the definition of the doctrine of grace?
To most, 'grace' is simply an inactive noun, with no effect on their daily lives.
To these 'babes in Christ', to even suggest otherwise would be to rob 'grace' of its power and glory.
To them it is not 'powerful' to be saved FROM sin through its 'chastening, scourging, fiery' power.
To them the power of grace is to save you 'just as you are' and NEVER SO MUCH AS MENTION such scriptures as "go and sin no more lest a worse thing come upon you," or "whatsoever a man sow, that shall he also reap," or "faith without works is dead."
To these babes in Christ, works can never be attributed to 'Christ in you' because that is a spiritual thought.
To these babes in Christ ALL works are of self, and therefore have nothing in common with the doctrine of grace.
To them, whether Protestant or Catholic, grace is opposed to works and Paul is opposed to James. They would ignore Titus 2:11-12, and Paul's endless and 'constant affirmations to good works':
"This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men." (Titus 3:8).
We are admonished in scripture to be forgetting those things which are behind,
"and reaching forth unto those things which are before ... press toward the mark for the prize of the HIGH CALLING OF GOD in Christ Jesus. Let us ... as many as be perfect [Gr. - telios - mature - same word used in Heb. 6:1], be thus minded" (Phil 3:13-15).
There is a truth about Christ in the flesh that is very little understood or taught today, but the Holy Spirit led Paul to teach this truth:
"Henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, YET NOW HENCEFORTH KNOW WE HIM NO MORE [AFTER THE FLESH]" (II Cor. 5:16).
We are to know each other only 'in Christ' and not in the flesh. This knowing each other only after the spirit, is not that hard to grasp, but this is true of CHRIST ALSO.
Why should we "know Him no more [after the flesh]?" The truth is that the flesh of Christ, as does any flesh, keeps us separated from God.
That's right, Christ Himself, so long as He was in the flesh, kept us separated from the Father, whom He had come to reveal.
It was Christ Himself who said:
"I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I [in the flesh] go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I ['after the flesh'] depart, I will send Him unto you" (John 16:7).
There is an even more graphic picture of why we must 'go beyond Christ in the flesh', whether we know him in a crib, coming in the form of a servant [slave]; a great prophet walking the earth, preaching the gospel to the poor, feeding them and healing them of all their diseases; hanging dead on the cross for our sins as 'Christ and Him crucified;' or even the resurrected Christ still in a body of 'flesh and bone.'
As always, the only thing negative about "Christ after the flesh" is to stop at that point and refuse to go on unto perfection. Here is why: A new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, THROUGH THE VEIL, THAT IS TO SAY HIS FLESH (Heb. 10:20). There it is.
The veil that kept man separated from the holy of holies, the very presence of God, was the flesh.
Yes, the flesh of Christ Himself, as long as He remained in it, was the final obstacle to our being able to approach the presence of the Father.
It is not a negative thing to approach the Father 'THROUGH the veil' of His flesh, UNLESS we stop at the veil of the flesh and fail to go on unto perfection. But we are not saved BY 'the veil of His flesh,' the death of Christ, only THROUGH it.
It is the same with our own flesh. Here is the scripture:
"When we were enemies, we were reconciled by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be SAVED BY HIS [RESURRECTED] LIFE" (Rom. 5:10).
This is why "henceforth know we him no more after the flesh." It is the Christ of the 'transfiguration' whose face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was white as the light (Matt. 17:2), the Christ of Rev. 1:13-16, His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters ... and His countenance as the sun shineth in his full strength, that we should now know.
Knowing any less a Christ is not the full, real, mature knowledge of Christ. We are saved, not by the death of the flesh of Christ, but through' the 'veil, that is to say His flesh.' We are "saved By His LIFE:"
"IF Christ be not RAISED, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins ... but Christ is risen from the dead [has passed through the veil] and become the first fruits of them that slept" (I Cor. 15:17-20).
And what does this mean for us, right now?
(Rom 6:13) "Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God."
We are to be living "as those that ARE alive from the dead." If you think that the outward rituals of circumcision, water baptism, esteeming one day above another, and that the things that go into your mouth will defile you, then you are not living, "as those that are alive from the dead." Not one of these things concerns Him who IS "alive from the dead."
The book of Hebrews was primarily written to Hebrew believers who were going back and tasting the things of the old law. This is why so much time is spent explaining the types in Hebrew 7-9. The writer is explaining that it is no longer the blood of bulls and goats which save, but the blood of Christ. These believers were being influenced by Judaizers trying to convince them to go back to the law.
Who Are The 144,000?
Paul talks of the simplicity that is in Christ (II Cor. 11:3) and Peter tells us to desire the sincere milk of the word (I Pet. 2:2).
This word 'simplicity' is Strong's #572 - haplotes. It appears eight times in the New Testament.
Five of those eight times it appears right here in II Corinthians.
Three times it is translated in the sense of "liberality" (II Cor. 8:2; 9:11, 9:13), as in giving from a whole [single] heart.
Three times it is translated 'simplicity' (Rom. 12:8; II Cor. 1:12; II Cor. 11:3).
The two remaining times this word appears, it is translated 'singleness' (Eph. 6:5; Col. 3:22).
But according to Strong's, this word is "from 573, singleness." The Greek behind 573 is 'haplous' and appears only twice in the New Testament (Matt. 6:22; Luke 11:34).
In both instances, it is 'single': The light of the body is the eye:
"if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light" (Matt. 6:22).
The root and the force of both of these words is 'singleness.'
It is revealing that the scripture concerning "the simplicity that is in Christ Jesus" is preceded by Paul's assertion that we are espoused ... to one husband ... as a chaste virgin to Christ (II Cor. 11: 2).
This is effectively denied by most of Christendom in as much as they claim that 'Israel according to the flesh' is the '144,000 virgins' of Rev. 14:4. According to the 'simplicity [singleness] that is in Christ,' these virgins are one and the same as those espoused ... to one husband ... as a chaste virgin unto Christ. Yet many 'Christian' leaders teach that there are two viable covenants, with two requirements, two promises and two rewards. See the article, 'Who Are The 144,000?'
Paul compares such a doctrine to as the serpent beguiled Eve (II Cor. 11:3). None of this is to say that the gospel is not a simple message. It is, but only to "those to whom it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God," to those who can see beyond 'Christ and HIM crucified,' the milk of the word, to 'I am crucified WITH Christ;' the meatier understanding of the Gospel.
Is Heb. 6:1-2 a Contradiction Of I Cor. 2:1-2?
Heb 6:-2 "Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment."
1Co 2:1 "And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified."
Paul would not contradict himself:
"I determined to know nothing among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified ... I have fed you with milk and not meat: for hither to ye were not able to bear it [being crucified WITH Christ], neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal..." (I Cor. 2:2; 3:2-3).
This statement is in complete accord with Peter's:
"AS NEWBORN BABES, desire the sincere milk of the word, THAT YE MAY GROW [grow past the need for milk] thereby" (I Pet. 2:2).
Now the word for babes here is even less mature than 'nepios.' The Greek here is Strong's #1025 - brephos. A 'nepios' is a toddler, under a 'schoolmaster, tutors and governors' (Gal. 3:22-24; 4:1-2). A 'brephos' on the other hand is a fetus or an infant:
"For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy [Mary's] salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe [brephos] leaped in my [Elizabeth's] womb for joy" (Luke 1:44).
"Ye shall find the babe [nephos - Christ] wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger" (Luke 2:12).
Hebrews 5 and 6 agree with the rest of the scriptures; being a nepios in Christ "differeth nothing from" being 'under the law ... our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ ... under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the Father [to feed us with the meat of 'I am crucified WITH CHRIST']. The Father feeds with 'strong meat,'
NOT the 'many called' [Greek - kletos - Strong's #2822] but only the 'few chosen' [eklektos - #1588]. 'Eklektos' is a contraction of two Greek words, the word 'ek'-meaning 'out of' and the word 'kletos'-meaning 'called'. So the "few elect" or the "few chosen" are chosen 'out of ' the 'many called.' These 'few chosen' are then promised:
"Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth EVERY SON [#5207 - uihos] whom He receiveth" (Heb. 6:12).
"To you it is given [Strong's # 5483 - charizomia - the noun half of grace] in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer [suffer the 'dying daily', suffering the 'I am crucified with Christ', suffering the 'corn of wheat falling into the earth and dying,' suffering the first death, the death of self, while still in the flesh.] for His sake" (Phil. 1:29).
There were many prophecies concerning the coming of Christ in the Old Testament. The writer of the book of Hebrews is exhorting these believers to stop focusing on the letter of the prophecies, and start focusing on the living reality of the Messiah. Christ is here. He is living, and He transcends the letter of the law. The prophecies and descriptions in the old law concerning the Messiah are all well and good, but they cannot replace the reality of "Christ in you, the hope of glory." Leave those things behind, press toward maturity in the living reality of the Christ. In other words, leave the types and pictures of the Christ, and move on to Christ Himself.
In the wilderness, only two people out of millions, figuratively left the milk of the word and began to die to the old man; to cross the Jordan. The old man cannot stand on holy ground. Moses shoes were a type of the flesh which we must "put off" before we can stand "on holy ground." The "old man" has to die first. It was the same with Abraham spending so many years in Haran, until his father Terah died. It was the same with Jacob who spent so many years in the same area "until the time appointed of the Father" (Gal. 4:2). Even then he had to become a cripple before he could prevail with God. You and I are no different. Truly they are 'tupos,' types, of us (I Cor. 10:6,11). We, like even the apostles, knew Christ even after His crucifixion, still only "after the flesh" (II Cor. 5:16).
When asked about the conditions at the time of the end, Christ said as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man...; then He added, remember Lot's wife. To which phrase I see no conflict to say 'remember Caleb and Joshua and virtually every man of God until this day.' Be it David, who was hunted down by God's rejected anointed, or Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and all the prophets. They were all hated by the people of God to whom they were sent. In every case the people were either satisfied being right where they were or else they were 'looking back'; looking back to Sodom or looking back to Egypt. It was no different for Christ: "We have no king but Caesar."(John 19:15). Why would it be any different for us?
(Mat 10:24) "The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord."
(Luk 6:40) "The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect [Gk.- mature] shall be as his master."
If Christ had said 'remember Nineveh,' then I would say 'remember Nineveh, there is going to be a great revival sweeping the land, just like it swept Nineveh.' But Christ did not say 'remember Nineveh.' He did say
Then He asked:
"When the Son of Man returns, will he find faith on the earth?"
It all leads me to believe that the 'great revival sweeping the land' is in reality the 'strong delusion' and the 'great falling away.' It is not a falling away from the professing of Christ. Who would fall for that? But if the Adversary can convince most professing Christians that the Red Sea is the Jordan; that grace will somehow save the old man while he still wallows in his flesh; if he can only convince us that milk is meat, then truly, the heir as long as he is a child [will] differ nothing from a slave... (Gal. 4:1).
Exactly what did Christ have to say about those who want to 'go back to Egypt,' those who think of 'the cross' and an 'alter' as shameful, messy, and unnecessary? In other words, what did Christ have to say about those who don't have the stomach for spiritual maturity? Here are His sobering words to such immature Christians:
"But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people" (Lk 21:23).
What has our Savior just told us. Are we to believe that Christ has just placed a curse upon all pregnant women in Israel at the time of His return? That is exactly what the immature, dispensationalist teachers of most of Christianity would have you to believe. But Christ's words, one and all, are spiritual (John 6:63).
This verse is not about pregnant women at all. Nor does it apply solely to those in physical Israel. This verse concerns itself with the immature state of the people of God, who profess the name of Christ, in every generation since those words were uttered.
In Mt. 21:16 we read: have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise? The Greek word translated 'sucklings' in this verse is Strong's # 2337 - thelazo. It is this very word which the translators have translated "to them that give suck," in Luke 21:23. It is rendered as one English word, 'sucklings,' in Mt. 21:16. It is translated with five English words, 'to them that give suck,' in Luke 21:23. In other words Luke 21:23 might better be translated 'Woe ... to sucklings in those days.' They that have ears, let them hear.
Now, let us suppose that all who read this paper, fully realize the absolute necessity of 'leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ and going on unto maturity.' How then, now, are we to perceive our brothers and sisters who may not have this knowledge. Are those who are aware of the pit of chronic spiritual immaturity the only ones who will be in the first resurrection? No, God is not the least bit impressed with the degree of our maturity, nor with the depth of our understanding or knowledge. In fact there are several scriptures which indicate that knowledge tends to become a curse to most who have it. For example, Paul was given a thorn in the flesh ... "lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations" (II Cor. 12:7). And he also gives us this warning: "Knowledge puffeth up, but charity [love] edifieth" (I Core. 8:5).
You see, God is love, so that is what we must become. Mat 25:15 tells us:
"And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability."
So a spiritually mature Christian never exalts himself over others. He realizes that any 'talent' that he has, was given to him of God. But this parable goes on to demonstrate that God does not judge us so much by how much we produce. God judges us by what we do with what we have been given. If we are mature, it will be of God. If we are called at the eleventh hour, and are not as mature as others, rest assured,God knows what we have done with what we have been given.
The Love Of The Truth
We started this paper quoting I Thess. 2:11:
"And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie..."
For what cause? Why does God send 'strong delusion' to the 'many called?' The answer is given in the preceding verse:
"because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved."
"The love of the truth," is closely associated with faith, the channel through which we receive saving grace (Eph, 2: 8). If we love the Truth, we will believe the Truth.
Very few people realize or even understand the significance of the statement in John 1:17:
"For the law was given by Moses, [but] grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."
What is John implying? Is John saying that the 'law' was not the truth? No, John is not saying that the law is not the truth any more than Paul is saying that "Jesus Christ and Him Crucified" is not the Truth. We are right back to the point of this whole paper. What John is getting at is revealed in the previous verse:
"And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace."
It is the "fulness" of the truth that Christ brought. 'The law' was the truth for it's time. It would have been breaking the law for anyone to fail to prepare for the sabbath (Mt.12:1-2), much less to walk through the fields gathering food to eat:
(Exo 16:5) "And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare [that] which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily."
Hebrews 4:1 explains that when we are in Christ we have entered into [our] rest. The fact that Christ broke this old covenant law does not deter the modern day Pharisees from teaching that the 10 commandments are the spiritual law of God and that now that we have the Spirit, we can keep the law. This false teaching is one of the single most powerful delusions on the market. The fact that the teachings of Christ in Mt .5-7 flatly contradict the law does not deter modern day Pharisees from clinging to the law ... a [mere] form of knowledge and of truth (Rom.2:20). These modern day Pharisees refuse to believe that Christ, like Moses, was a reformer and that the law by it's own admission was only until the time of reformation (Heb. 9: 10). This is a subject covered in detail in another paper on my site. It is entitled 'The Law Of Moses Versus The Law Of The Spirit.'
According to Paul those who still think that the law of Moses is glorious will never see the glory that excels (II Cor. 3:10). You cannot defend the law of Moses and still have faith in the words of Christ. That is what Christ called "putting old wine in new wine bottles" and "putting new cloth on an old garment." It is a lack of faith in the words of Christ. It is the most insidious form of spiritual immaturity.
"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 bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he [who was] of the bondwoman was born after the flesh [those who desire to be under the law]; but he of the freewoman [was] by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai [the old covenant law of Moses], which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar" (Gal 4:21-24).
What church anywhere in the Catholic or Protestant world believes this plain teaching of scripture? And what is the result?:
"For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia [those who 'desire to be under the law'], and answereth to Jerusalem [the people of God, the church] which now is, and is in bondage with her children."
Those who want to be "in bondage" are identified with "Mount Sinai" and the giving of the law of Moses. They are identified with Hagar the Egyptian' the "Bondwoman and her son." What does Paul say will happen to these immature Christians who lack faith in the words of Christ?:
The Penalty For Unbelief
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 freewoman" (Gal. 4:30).
No, Jerusalem which now is and is in bondage with her children are those who still identify with Mount Sinai. They will not be made heir with the children of the freewoman, those who do not desire to be under law. Those who 'desire to be under the law,' do not believe the words of Christ Himself or the words he inspired Paul to write. These immature Christians will come up in the second resurrection, "when Sodom and her daughters will be returned to their former estate" (Ezk. 16:55). "And so all Israel shall be saved..." (Rom. 9:25-26).
The Blessings Of Faith
Col 1:27 "To whom God would make known what [is] the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."
"Wherefore [we] are no more ... servant[s], but a son; and if ... son[s], then heir[s] of God through Christ" (Gal. 4:7).
"So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free" (Gal. 4:31).
Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
"For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only [they], but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption [uihothesia - mature sons], [to wit], the redemption of our body" (Rom. 8:21-23).
Paul uses the phrase "the temple of God" five times. I Cor 3:16 is typical of what he means:
"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"
He repeats this definition three more times: I Cor. 3:17, I Cor. 6:19, and II Cor.6:16. The only other place he uses this phrase, "the temple of God," is in II Thess. 2:4 in reference to "the man of sin setting himself up as God in the temple of God." Paul has told us that "in the mature" his words are "in demonstration of spirit and power." These words about the man of sin are surely just such words.
It is very revealing to notice that the beast and the image of the beast of Rev. 13 also demand worship. They tell you that "no man can make war with the beast." This statement is "strong delusion!" For the key to these "words in demonstration of the spirit and of power," read Ecc. 3:18.
Don't fall for this strong delusion. You will never overcome as long as you fail to see God's Word as anything less than the demonstration of the spirit.
You can make war with the beast (Rev 13:4);
[You] can do all things through Christ which strengthens [you] (Phil 4:13).
You can refuse to worship the beast (Rev 13:8).
You can cast him out of the temple (II Thess 2:4)!