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  • Romans Chapter 13

     

    Romans Chapter 13

    Introduction to Chapter 13

    Chapter 12 was a very intense chapter where Paul explained that as Christians we must obtain the renewal of our mind and only through this process we will be able to make our bodies, our flesh, submit to God. Only through the renewal of the mind we will not be conformed to the ways of the world and only through the renewal of the mind will we be able to be transformed into the image of Christ and only through this process will we be able to achieve the mind of Christ and therefore change our worldly behavior into godly and righteous behavior. Only through the renewal of the mind will we be able to know God’s will and accept it as it is, good and perfect for us. This is very important as this process is what is needed to be able to obey the exhortations that Paul has given the Roman Christians and also to us, in other words the etiquette and behavior we are to have with others in the church and how we are to perform our Christian ministry and duties.

    Chapter 13 on the other hand has a change of pace as Paul begins this chapter exhorting and commanding Christians to submit to earthly authorities and government, we find this taught in verses one to seven.

    These commandments are very important and very misunderstood in the church today so we will shed biblical clarity on what Paul and God really are telling us regarding this very important concept.

    Paul goes on then exhorting Christians as to how we are to relate and behave with each other and also with our neighbors, in other words other people even who is not saved. This Paul teaches us in verses eight to fourteen.

    Let us now dive in to the text of Romans 13 and learn what God is telling us.

    Romans Chapter 13

    Romans 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

    This first verse is perhaps one of the many most misunderstood verses in the church especially today.

    We will look at how God in His word delineates this concept. The very first thing we draw from the verse is that God expects every single person to submit to governmental authorities. The so called higher powers mentioned here is the earthly governments and law enforcing agencies. God expects all men including Christians to submit to human laws and to human governments.

    There are two wrong ways in the church as this is viewed. One camp of believers in the church says that human government is all evil and that it holds no validity at all in the life of the believers.

    One other camp of believers instead believe and teaches that the Christians must obey every and all human laws and they use this verse to support their view.

    Actually both camps are partially wrong and partially right and we will learn why. Suffices to say that for the Christians it is very important to obey this commandment, but not for the Christians only, in fact the verse says that all human being regardless of their spiritual condition are held by God to submit to human government and authorities.

    Hwy does God expect this to happen? The answer is in the next part of the verse, we must, they must, submit to higher authorities and government because it is ordained by God. In other words it is created and established by God Himself.

    This concept flies in the face of those who believers who erroneously claim that all human government and all human authorities are all corrupt and evil and that actually they were established by Satan and not God. Indeed what we see here is that they are absolutely wrong to assert this fact because the verse clearly states that government and authorities are indeed ordained by God and that all human government is of God, in fact the verse says that there are no authorities and no govern that is not from God.

    People still will object to this by declaring that governments and authorities often act in ways that are not godly and righteous and that many laws and ordinances they pass are not in line with God’s word and law.

    Well what I say is that government is ordained and crated by God as the verse says and we know the church is ordained and created by God as well. Yet if we use their philosophy then we could also come to the conclusion that because the church, that we know is ordained and created by God, has evil in it or that it does not conform perfectly to God’s word that it is evil and created by Satan.

    We know that it is not like that. We do know though that human beings are inherently evil and eventually they will corrupt and spread wickedness everywhere they go and in everything they do. This is the unfortunate situation as to why even the church does not obey God perfectly and why in the church in many cases evil can exist.

    In other words we know that the more ungodly and wicked the people in charge of the government are then the more wicked and ungodly that government will be, this means that even though many laws in human governments are righteous and godly the corruption can still be great and those governments can still be mostly controlled by Satan.

    That God has created and ordained government is evident by the fact that the Bible will show us that it is so, however we also understand that God has ordained human government by the fact that in it we find still many laws that reflect divine law.

    The Ten commandments are God’s law given to Israel but God from the very beginning has placed His law in the heart of all men, God’s word says so:

    Romans 2:14-15 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

    As we see God’s law is in the hearts of man and that is exactly why first of all all men are without excuse when it comes to breaking God’s law and using the excuse that they did not know it, secondly in this context we realize that it is because of this very fact that all governments establish their laws which are almost all based upon the principles of divine law.

    In Exodus 20 God have His law to His people Israel and within these laws we find many commandments that are reflected in human laws and not only and exclusively in the nation of Israel.

    Lets us look at some of these commandments and let us compare them to human law.

    Exodus 20:1-17

    7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

    Did you actually know that once blaspheming the name of God in public was actually against the law and I mean human law.

    13 Thou shalt not kill.

    14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.

    15 Thou shalt not steal.

    16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

    We clearly see that within this divine law are found many laws human governments established.

    Thou shalt not murder” we know that murder is outlawed and forbidden in practically all nations and governments. This is without getting in the thick and thin of the details regarding killing we know that it is a forbidden practice within all nations.

    Thou shalt not steal” is another of God’s commandments that is enforced as human law.

    Thou shalt not bare false witness” Although generic lying is not usually against human law yet in many circumstances even in human law swearing falsely and lying is against human law in many circumstances.

    Some years ago in many, many countries even committing adultery was against human law and not only divine law. Unfortunately as western societies and cultures are becoming predominantly godless this is no longer against human law, although let us remember God’s law is never abolished although human law may abolish righteous and divine laws.

    In fact, although not mentioned in the Decalogue but mentioned in the law God gave Moses, besides the Ten Commandments, we find the sin of homosexuality and even not very long ago, in many countries it was against the law. So as we see in many nations for many, many years and still today a lot of laws mirror divine law.

    These very facts determine that God is the One who has ordained governmental authority.

    It is interesting to note the words of John Adams the second President of the United States when he said:

    Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

    It is interesting that the government and the Constitution of the United States were established on righteous and godly principles and it is evident today that as American society is becoming less and less moral and religious that the incessant call to make the laws of the nation less and less righteous and godly is literally deafening. So John Adams was and still is absolutely right when he made that declaration.

    This however is in part true in every nation and culture, in other words that as societies and cultures in which the governments are more godly the laws are by consequence more righteous and as the societies become more and more ungodly so do the governments and the laws become more ungodly and unrighteous as well.

    This is why it’s a misnomer and a great error to say that there must be a separation of church and State. Let me rephrase that, the separation should indeed exist, but it should be on the side of the government, meaning that the government should never interfere with the religious rights of the people, but that Christians in no way should be impeded to take office and to practice their faith and to even support and pass righteous laws that reflect God’s law.

    Unfortunately, in today’s culture separation of church and state means separation of state and God, as if the state and the government were answerable to no one but themselves—as if the government didn’t have to respond to God. But God monitors and is actually sovereign over all human governments; God raises them up and brings them down.

    Every human government is accountable to God and is accountable to maintain its affairs with justice and with righteousness. When the government is no longer acting justly and no longer protecting life—sanctioning abortions, for example—then it is the task of the church to be the prophetic voice, to call the state to task and tell the state to repent and do what God commands it to do.

    That by no means a government which accepts believers to affect it is an indication that it would be a Theocracy, it’s not ever going to be a Theocracy unless God was indeed the actual head of the government in a physical sense.

    Yet in the course of human affairs although God is and remains sovereign over the affairs of man, yet the government is actually not run by a religious leader, such a Pope or the head of a main denominational religion, no matter what it is. The state is not the church nor the church the government these lines of separation do exist and should.

    In fact the founding fathers if the United States did not want the government to be run by a specific denomination such as it had been for over one millennium in Europe, with the Roman religion and in England’s case the Anglican church in England.

    Having Christians in government that can influence the government to retain and pass righteous laws is not wrong it’s actually God’s desire as it is God’s desire that a government enforce righteous and just laws.

    Unfortunately, especially today, big part of the church has unknowingly been working for the devil and for many years now, in the way that it has bought into the lies of the devil that call believers to remain separated from the government and even to avoid becoming involved in government and politics.

    This has done a great disservice to the society in which that church lives. The church has thus indeed has abdicated its responsibility given her by the Lord Jesus Himself in:

    Matthew 5:13-16 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

    Influencing and affecting society by spreading godliness in all of its aspects is as we see written here is indeed a mandate given to believers by the Lord Jesus Himself, so no, it is not wrong for Christians to be involved in government, it would seem that God desires that we are.

    In fact, being subjected to the higher authorities could means also become an active and integral part of the same so that the government remains open to the Gospel and so that godly laws will permeate the society in which the church lives.

    God requires that every human being be subject to the government that is in charge of their nations.

    Every person, as we said before means just that, no one is above the law. Let me say however that no one person or government is above God’s law. This concept is essential to properly understand this entire subject delineated in Paul’s letter to the Romans.

    So God ordained human governmental authorities and He therefore expects human beings to submit to their authority and to respect those authorities as well as He expects governments to be just and righteous in their government and laws.

    Earthly authorities; those who rule over others do so in order to keep society stable and orderly. Only God however is the sovereign ruler of all.

    When human governments exalt themselves above God, they go beyond their legitimate function in society and therefore they go beyond their legitimate function given to them by God.

    Jesus Himself stated and confirmed that governmental rule is ordained by God when He said this to Pilate:

    John 19:11 Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.

    Governments are and remain legitimate as long as they do not take over the role reserved for God alone as Jesus aptly stated in:

    Mark 12:13-17 And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words. 14 And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? 15 Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it. 16 And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar’s. 17 And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.

    So we see that in both these cases Jesus gives legitimate authority to human government, although God is the ultimate authority and the one who permits to governments to have their authority. Nothing happens without God’s permission.

    Jesus taught that earthly governments exist by God’s will John 19:11 and are legitimate as long as they do not take over the role reserved for God alone Mark 12:13-17.

    Romans 13 discusses human government as ordained by God. Revelation 13 on the other hand, discusses it as degenerate and demonic.

    Christians constantly live in a temporal tension created by the fact that governments can be good as Romans 13 declares as they are actually designed to be, or evil as Revelation 13 describes government as a global Antichrist/AntiGod government.

    When governments promote good and suppress evil, they fulfill their God given function as the following verses in this chapter and also 1 Peter 2:11-12 describe.

    However, if government exalts itself as sovereign over all life, then it has overstepped its bounds and purpose given it by God and becomes a handmaid of evil.

    Every human government is accountable to God and is accountable to maintain its affairs with justice and with righteousness. When the government is no longer acting justly and no longer protecting life—sanctioning abortions, for example—then it is the task of the church to be the prophetic voice, to call the state to task and tell the state to repent and do what God commands it to do.

    There is an irony regarding how evil or how good governments can be because it actually depends on two factors and today as well all this is defined by God’s permission and His sovereign will.

    This is affected by the behavior of believers. This has been true both in the Old Testament and in the New Testamentary history in which we also live today.

    How does this works is interesting. It works like this:

    God may establish a good and righteous government, He did with Israel for example. Beginning with Moses and the giving of the Law in which God also established how the Jewish people should have ruled in their government. It was to be a just and righteous government.

    However, we know that people sin and when and if wicked people get into positions of power then by consequence the government also becomes wicked and unrighteous.

    This happens because the God’s people abandon God and by consequence the government becomes more sinful and wicked for this very reason.

    As we see though, this is consequential on the people in that society which become less godly and more evil.

    This became evident after Moses’ and Joshua’s death beginning with how all this is described in the book of Judges. Israel became increasingly idolatrous and God gave them in the hands of wicked lawlessness, in fact in Judges it states, there was no king in Israel and everyone did what was right in their own eyes.

    This fact is true always, even when there is a government, when the people and consequentially the government become ungodly, idolatrous and lawless, then anarchy prevails, in other words every one does what is right in their own eyes, which is in the end purely evil, and then even the government no longer is interested in enforcing the laws because they become no longer relevant and therefore lawlessness pervades.

    This concept is also clearly described in the life of the people of Israel after the division into the Northern and Southern Kingdoms, see 1 Kings 11:29-37.

    Until David and Solomon remained kings of the unified Kingdom of Israel the people and the government in Israel remained righteous and just.

    With Solomon turning away from God’s law toward the end of his life this caused the division of the kingdom we see the plunge of the Northern Kingdom into open rebellion and idolatry and both the people and the kings and therefore the government became wicked.

    The same happened later in the Southern Kingdom although the Southern Kingdom often fluctuated between good and evil as its kings and people fluctuated between following God and following pagan gods.

    So what does all this actually mean? It means that in most cases God gives a nation the government is deserves based on His own people’s faithfulness to Him.

    Basically an evil and wicked government has to do with whether or not there is idolatry that pervades in that nation and or if the people follow the only and true God.

    Bad government is a sign of God’s judgment on that nation and yes even God’s faithful people become greatly affected by this.

    However, it is also evident that God is the One who ordained human government, it’s not man’s idea, it’s God’s idea!

    It is clearly stated in Scripture that it is God who has absolute sovereignty over the affairs of man and that it is God that places people, kings, rulers, and governments in power as He deems appropriate.

    After God gives Daniel the meaning of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, Daniel breaks out in a praise to God for giving him the meaning and he states this:

    Daniel 2:20-21 Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: 21 And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:

    He clearly states that it is God who removes kings and places them in power, this means that it is God who places governing authorities in place as He deems proper as well as removing them. This in our days and age means that when people vote and elect rulers it never happens without God’s consent, actually it is His will that is established.

    It is ironic that even in the church a lot of believers do not at all understand nor accept this fact. God’s sovereignty is grossly misunderstood in the church also because the doctrine is hardly ever taught or taught properly when it is.

    I understand how Christians and not only, have a hard time understanding how a ruler like Hitler or any evil dictator or ruler can be in power through God’s will and permission.

    Let us understand that God is completely separated from evil, God transcends all evil, there is no evil in God.

    1 John 1:5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

    James 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

    Romans 9:13-14 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. 14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

    Rest assured there is absolutely no evil in God nor does God create or promote evil. However He allows it to exist and uses it to bring judgment upon people even His own people.

    This fact is very clearly delineated in Scripture.

    The history of God’s people is filled with examples for how God used evil governments of evil empires to judge and chastise His own people.

    Too many examples exist regarding this concept, let’s be honest, in the church we seem to think that God did such a thing in Old Testament days and with Israel only but would not do the same in and with the church today.

    In fact, even the New Testament confirms that God allows Satan and his demonic forces to chastise and discipline even Christians and the church.

    In the Old Testament we find many examples of God using evil people to judge His own people.

    There is one particular passage that explains this concept very well and it is found in:

    Habakkuk 1:1-13 The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see. 2 O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save! 3 Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention. 4 Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth. 5 Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you. 6 For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwellingplaces that are not theirs. 7 They are terrible and dreadful: their judgment and their dignity shall proceed of themselves. 8 Their horses also are swifter than the leopards, and are more fierce than the evening wolves: and their horsemen shall spread themselves, and their horsemen shall come from far; they shall fly as the eagle that hasteth to eat. 9 They shall come all for violence: their faces shall sup up as the east wind, and they shall gather the captivity as the sand. 10 And they shall scoff at the kings, and the princes shall be a scorn unto them: they shall deride every strong hold; for they shall heap dust, and take it. 11 Then shall his mind change, and he shall pass over, and offend, imputing this his power unto his god. 12 Art thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O LORD, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction. 13 Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?

    This passage is one of the most telling regarding the concept of God allowing a more evil people to judge His own.

    As we clearly understand, I hope, from this passage, in verses 1 to 4 the prophet is burdened by God’s law as to the evil that was being committed by God’s own people.

    In verses 5 through 11 God answers the prophet and tells Him that He was going to raise up His judgment by allowing the Chaldean people, in other words the Babylonians, to be the instruments of God’s judgment and of chastisement upon His people.

    In verses 12 to 13 the prophet does not and cannot, as many do today, understand why God could and would allow a people, for all intents and purposes much more ungodly and evil than God’s people to be the instruments of His wrath. Yet, God always does exactly this in this way, even today!

    I am saying all this because we need to understand clearly that it is God who rules with sovereignty in all the affairs of man and this helps us understand better that God is the One who allows both, evil and good governments to raise up, although remaining transcendent from evil, God still controls and it is He who allows government to be where it is.

    An unrighteous, evil and tyrannical government will be in charge when the people of that nation are ungodly, evil and tyrannical and He allows this because it is His judgment upon those people and whoever is affected by it.

    This is exactly why in idolatrous, ungodly nations we often find ungodly and unjust and evil governments. When the government becomes the ruler in the place of God and the people in that nation are also ungodly, that government will rule with injustice and tyranny.

    As I said even before, God will give people the government they deserve and often desires. If they deserve judgment He will place a tyrannical and ungodly government to rule over them and that my friends will also include the church that lives in that nation. When the chirch is born in a nation that is already idolatrous and consequently evil, it will suffer persecution on part of that goverment and the people itself. However, this is not always an indication of God disciplining the church. In that particular case, the church often is living in holiness and righteousness for the most part but the idoaltrous and evil environment they live in cause them to be persecuted.

    So we as a church need to clearly understand that when a government is acting as an enemy of the church and acts in an unjust and ungodly way it means that the people in that nation are more unjust and ungodly than they should be, sometimes and today more and more often than not this will include also the condition of the church itself.

    Trust me as it was in the Old so it is in the New Testament, God won’t judge the church eternally but He will judge them in this world and in a temporal way. God did that with Israel and He will do it with the church as well. The more sinful and worldly the church becomes the more God will place it under a tyrannical and ungodly government.

    This means that the church will struggle more and more to live in that society without being persecuted by the same government that rules that society.

    In a country where the church is making an impact with the Gospel and in which the Christians permeate like salt and light that nation and government will live and rule in a more just and godly way.

    Proverbs 14:34 Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.

    This does not mean that everyone in that society and country will be saved and be godly, it simply means that the fear of God and His justice will prevail and the church will enjoy a fairly good and peaceable existence.

    This is why Paul exhorts Timothy and us today to teach and practice this in the church:

    1 Timothy 2:1-3 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;

    This does not mean that Christians will not ever suffer persecution that will always occur when Christians live in a truly godly way.

    Some form of Christians persecution will always exist in any society and under any government.

    2 Timothy 3:12-13 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

    What we are talking about instead is a general and almost complete persecution and hatred of all that is relating to Christ and God and the church from the general population and the government. This occurs when the government and the majority of the people become ungodly and idolatrous.

    This condition is where we almost are now in the USA. I would venture to guess that more than half of the population is pagan, idolatrous and wicked and therefore even more than half our government is evil and ungodly and pagan. Therefore as the evildoers import more and more ungodly and idolatrous and wicked people in this country and as more and more people embrace the government elevating the state over God and as a big part of the church becomes more and more worldly and sinful the persecution of the true church and also the evil in the country and government will also increase.

    So as we see God raises up kings, empires, governments and they all serve His purposes even when they are evil.

    The Medo-Persian Empire who later judged and destroyed the Babylonians who had, remember, judged God’s people, was used by God to not only judge Babylon for what it had done to God’s people but also to show favor to God’s people and allow them to return to the promised land and free God’s people.

    As we see it wasn’t that God allowed Babylon to get away with its evil deeds and the ruthless treatment of His people. No, God always repays those who commit evil even when they are indeed used to judge His own people. Let’s remember and never forge that God is indeed sovereign even over how much evil can operate and God will always refrain evil and will always remember mercy even in His judgment, especially when He chastises His own. God’s chastisement of His own people is deigned to be e remedial judgment and bring His people back to Him not to destroy them.

    Even the same Habakkuk understood this as he proclaims these words:

    Habakkuk 3:2 O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.

    God had also told Pharaoh that He had raised him up, put him in power for His own purposes:

    Romans 9:17-18 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. 18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

    God will always bring about His purposes through good and through evil yet remaining completely separated from evil.

    Jesus told the churches in Revelation 2 and 3 that indeed He would judge and chastise the church for her disobedience, sinfulness, for embracing false doctrine, tolerating idolatry, error and sin.

    Paul also mentioned several times that believers would be given over to Satan to be scourged and chastised.

    1 Corinthians 5:4-5 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

    1 Timothy 1:19-20 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: 20 Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.

    As we clearly see God will give over even His own people to evil in order to have them chastised and disciplined, in fact that is exactly how God does it and how He always did it.

    So now, you again may ask yourselves, what does all this have to do with God establishing government and God being the One who places governments in authority?

    We had to establish these points to better understand the fact that even if and when governments are evil and tyrannical in their nature it has always been God’s will and His intention to establish government to rule the people and keep law and order.

    Let us take for example the Roman Empire, the Roman Empire even in Jesus’ days and later until the Jewish and later Christian persecution started, although a pagan and idolatrous and often tyrannical government however, allowed its conquered people, including Jews and Christians for a period, to pretty much freely exercise their own faiths.

    For all intents and purposes the Roman Empire was not good yet it had a lot of positive aspects as well and it did indeed keep law and order. It is understandable that for many centuries within the Roman conquered nations there was peace, order and even prosperity for many, actually almost all people.

    God ordains government to keep law and order where it rules and believe me, the Roman Empire ruled with law and order and punished criminals even very severely, even to death when necessary. The cross was the method of execution of the Romans.

    Let me make something very clear, government is not in authority, ever and nowhere to exercise mercy but to enforce the law and to bring justice upon evil doers. In fact, this is exactly what Paul is telling us in this chapter!

    The important things we learn from this first verse is that God wants, commands, all people without exception to be subjected to the authority of the government that is over them. All people must submit and obey the laws and be subjected to its authority.

    1 Peter 2:13-17 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. 15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: 16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. 17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.

    As we see even here it is more than clear that God desire His children, the church to be obedient to to every ordinance and law that does not conflict with His. We also see as we will study later that the actual purpose God gives government is to punish evil doers and to praise them who do well. Peter syas therefore we, children of God ought to do good and not evil and use our freedom in Christ to serve God in righteousness and goodness. We should be respectful to all, love the church, fear God and honor our leaders.

    Let’s make this very clear, all this animus and hatred that people are casting upon President Trump and all who support him is ungodly behavior, all this lawlessness, rioting and rebellion against him and our government is ungodly behavior and they are actually in violation to God’s law and His will. Many Christians and conservative people really did not agree with President Obama’s way of governing, nor did many even agree or like his governing policies and his preferential treatment of Islamic religion and his cozening up to our country’s enemies and also his obvious dislike of Israel. Yet he was mostly respected and was never challenged by the people or by the church in the way President Trump is today.

    President Trump is by no means a perfect man and in many cases he is gruff and can be rude for someone, yet he is a man that loves his country, who in so many ways honors the true God , who wants to enforce law and order and keep the citizens of this country safe. He desires liberty, freedom and success for all people regardless of status and race. He wants to protect the sovereignty of the nation and he is in many ways a compassionate man. Yet the ungodly hate him and dishonor him, pay no respect whatever to his position and his title. They truly are anarchists, evil and wicked in many way and the very fact that evil and wicked people hate him and his supporters is a clear indication that he has, at least for now God’s favor and he is somehow doing God’s will.

    Many godless people are self deceived into thinking that lawlessness is actually mercy and it is godly to rebel against authority without a biblical cause. Many of these godless people mention Scripture and do it citing it out of context of course. They do so to justify their godlessness and rebellion and they deceive themselves into thinking that they are being good and merciful. They don’t know God at all and yet they claim that God is on their side because that tolerate all kinds of evil and wicked behavior and pretend to love people, not knowing what true love really is, as they do not know God and He is love. They pretend to love people yet in reality they hate their neighbor, they pretend to love the stranger who comes into this nation to pillage and does it illegally, against the law of this land.

    You see we are indeed studying here that we are ordered by God to submit to the authority of the governing authorities (when the laws are nit in violation with God’s word) and if who does not is actually disobeying God and is under His judgment and the government’s as well.

    These people are disobeying not only the government but also God and this is lawlessness and rebellion. They claim that God is on their side but He indeed is not.

    God has a harsh message for people like that as He declares it it in Psalm 50.

    Psalm 50:16-22 But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? 17 Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee. 18 When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers. 19 Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit. 20 Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother’s son. 21 These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes. 22 Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.

    This passage is very telling and it explains exactly what is also going on today. These people are anarchists and they are also Antichrists. They despise God and His word and His laws, they love sinfulness and evil and wickedness. Yet they are hypocritical in their behavior and thoughts and God describes these people to the tee. These people God calls wicked, and He accuses them of declaring His statutes and they mention God’s covenant. This is exactly what these people do, they quote Scripture in hypocrisy to appear holy but they are unsaved wicked people who know nothing about God and His word. God says they hate His instruction and they actually cast His words behind them. They aren’t interested ever in God’s law and His word, they only mention it to make themselves appear righteous or to throw it in the face of the real believers in order to accuse them. They always cite Scriptures out of context and never really know the true meaning of what God’s word really means.

    God says that they actually consent with evil when someone practices evil, they partake in adultery and all other wicked behavior and agree with any who do the same. Yet they try to speak morality to justify their fake righteousness. They give their mouth to evil and their tongue to deceit and lying. They speak evil and then they take God’s word in their mouth, they practice evil and they approve of all who do the same then they try to preach God’s word as an accusation toward God’s people.

    They sit and speak against their neighbor, while God tells us to love our neighbor, they pretend to love each other, they pretend to love illegal immigrants yet they hate other Americans and speak hatred against them. They do all this and because God hasn’t yet done anything to them they actually think, erroneously, that God is like them, they think God is on their side as many claim even today. Yet, God says to them that He will reprove them, and He will set them in order before His eyes. He warns them to consider this, as they forget God, He will tear them in pieces, and there will be none to deliver.

    They are those who Paul describes in:

    2 Timothy 3:1-5 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

    They have a form of religion but they deny the power of their religion. Either they believe in false religions or they believe in a false and counterfeit form of Christianity. The power of real and true religion is the Gospel; Romans 1:16 and the power of the Gospel is Christ. This means they actually deny Christ.

    These are the anarchists who are trying to subvert a legitimate government even as it is happening today in our nation and in many others.

    Unfortunately in other countries like Europe and Asia this is an easier task because people in these nations are mostly atheist or idolatrous and as we said God’s judgment will place them under ungodly and tyrannical governments.

    In the USA even though things aren’t as bad as they are in other parts of the world, still things are progressively becoming worse and worse. People are becoming more and more atheist and ungodly and the church is becoming more and more worldly, compromised, apathetic and even sinful. This will only throw this nation in the spiral of God’s wrath and judgment and even our government will progressively become more and more ungodly and tyrannical.

    It’s up to us, God’s people, if we repent and turn to God again we may have hope still, we must heed the Lord’s plea given to His Old Testament people when He said:

    2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

    Many believers think this plea is for Israel only, I beg to differ, I believe it’s for Christians always and every where. Today Christians are God’s people called by His name, Christians. We bear the name of Christ, the name of the LORD. So no, we cannot avoid to make this apply to the church as well as Israel.

    If our nation is under God’s judgment, and it is then we are called to do this in order for God to heal our land and God knows our land needs healing!

    Part of God’s healing a nation is restoring to it a good, righteous and just government.

    The second thing we learn is that government is indeed God’s and not man’s invention. It’s God ordained!

    We therefore saw that even when the government is evil and ungodly, such as even the Roman Empire was, and Paul indeed is talking to a church and a people who actually lived under its rule, it’s still God ordained.

    There could be have been at the time and there are even today questions in the church’s mind that if indeed it is being taught in church doctrine, and it is, that Jesus indeed is Lord, and He is King, He is the One to whom we owe our only allegiance, if indeed we are citizens of the Heavenly Kingdom, and if we are citizens of heaven then why do we have to submit to the earthly government? Especially an evil government such as the Roman Empire?

    The questions are not wrong to ask and they also seem obvious. However, they are born because of the fact that Scripture is not understood properly and even not taught properly.

    In fact these questions are still alive and well in the minds of Christians today and so we need to understand that God desires that we submit to the authorities under which we have been placed because the government is ordained by Him, even when it goes bad.

    God indeed monitors governments and is actually sovereign over all human governments; God raises them up and brings them down.

    Here are various passages of Scripture that confirm that indeed it is God who raises up and bring down governments:

    Judges 5:13 Then he made him that remaineth have dominion over the nobles among the people: the LORD made me have dominion over the mighty.

    Psalms 75:6-7 For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. 7 But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.

    1 Samuel 15:28 And Samuel said unto him, The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou.

    Isaiah 45:1-7 Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;2 I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron: 3 And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel. 4 For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me. 5 I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: 6 That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else. 7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

    Jeremiah 27:5-8 I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto me. 6 And now have I given all these lands unto the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant; and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him. 7 And all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son’s son, until the very time of his land come: and then many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of him. 8 And it shall come to pass, that the nation and kingdom which will not serve the same Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, and that will not put their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, that nation will I punish, saith the LORD, with the sword, and with the famine, and with the pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand.

    Daniel 2:37 Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.

    Daniel 4:17 This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.

    Daniel 4:25 That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.

    Daniel 5:18 O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour:

    As we clearly understand it is God who places governing authorities where and how He pleases. This is part of God’s sovereign rule over all the affairs of man. God is completely sovereign in all that happens in the world. The sad thing about many in the church is that they have a real hard time believing that God is sovereign over all things.

    We also need to know, and we will see it in the study of the next few verses, why God ordained government and how it needs to function and why.

    We will also see that it is incumbent on the believers to obey God above and beyond any man, even government, but only if and when certain situations come into play. In other words, being Christians does not in any way exonerate us from obeying the government in most cases. In fact:

    Romans 13:2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

    Whosoever therefore resist are those who who rise up against “government itself;” who seek anarchy and confusion; and who oppose the regular execution of its laws.

    Remind you of anyone today?

    It is implied as we will see ahead, however, that those laws shall not be such laws that violate the rights of conscience in a godly way and oppose the laws of God.

    So whoever resists the authority of the Government, the godly and just laws of the government, they resists the ordinance of God.

    They are resisting what God has ordained, or appointed. This means clearly that we are to regard “government” as instituted by God, and as agreeable to His will. When the governments are established, we are not to be agitated about the titles of the rulers; we are not to enter into angry contentions, or to refuse to submit to them, because we may be apprehensive of a defect in their title or because they perhaps may have obtained it by oppression. Therefore if the government is established, and if its decisions are not a manifest violation of the laws of God, we are to submit to them.

    Paul says that those who do such things, those who rebel against the laws and against the authority of the government, these shall receive to themselves damnation.

    The word damnation here is also applied to the punishment of hell; on other words to future torments. However, this is not necessarily the entire meaning of the word which is used here, krima .

    It often denotes “punishment;” Romans 3:8; 1 Corinthians 11:29; Galatians 5:10.

    In this place the word implies “guilt” or “criminality”, so in resisting the ordinance of God, Paul affirms that, the man that does this shall indeed be punished.

    Whether the apostle means that he shall be punished by “God,” or by the “magistrate,” is not quite explicit yet most likely it means both, compare with Romans 13:4. It is true that such resistance shall be attended with the displeasure of God, and will be punished by Him at some point.

    This passage is therefore telling us that, in all cases where and when human government, which is as God’s word says established and ordained by God, it does not conflict with God’s law and with His will and word; when a person disobeys and rebels against the governing authorities it is as if they disobeyed and rebelled against God.

    It is therefore evident that God’s displeasure and eventually judgment will be upon all people who willingly and openly behave in a lawless and rebellious way toward the government’s authority.

    Let me give two quick examples to show what I mean by saying this.

    Let’s take abortion for example. The question is this one: if a human government makes unborn baby murder legal, is it actually legal?

    Even if from the human government standpoint it is legal in reality, no it is not legal why? Because it transgresses God’s law in many ways, but it is especially in violation of God’s commandment found in

    Exodus 20:13 Thou shalt not murder.

    Because of this commandment, the human governing authorities do not have the right to legalize what God has deemed sin. When they do this they actually abdicate their God given authority and purpose in that particular aspect. When they do this they are also calling God’s judgment upon themselves and their society.

    In this case as in all cases where the human governing authority defies God’s commandments and makes regulations which are openly against God’s law, those regulations and laws are to be disregarded and disobeyed and fought against and great efforts must be placed into changing those unjust, so called laws.

    So it may appear to many, that when Christians oppose, by civil disobedience rules and regulations and defy government law to protest by trying stop the murder of unborn children, that behavior is in violation of Romans 13:1-2.

    However in reality they are not in violation of this Scripture because it is the government which is in violation of God’s law in this case.

    In reality if lower government officials, such as police officers or lower magistrates, were truly upholding true justice and righteous laws even they would defy the government themselves and they would actually arrest those who murder children while not arresting those obey the law by defying unrighteous wicked deeds many today call law.

    But unfortunately this will not happen, why? Because these are afraid of the personal consequences that their righteous behavior may encounter. They would most likely be charged with insubordination according to human philosophy and the so called unjust human law, yet they would indeed be obeying God by defying these types of unjust practices. In the end if more and more did the right thing there would be very little that could be done to defy God’s law, in the end perhaps the government would take notice and do something to change these unjust laws.

    Unfortunately even many, many Christians end up obeying ungodly, so called laws, and therefore end up sinning against God by adhering to the government’s evil doing and being fearful instead of the consequences of obeying God.

    Yet, if and when a person defies unrighteous and unjust human rules and therefore by doing so obeys God’s law and His word, they are never in violation of Romans 13:1-2.

    The Apostles demonstrated to us clearly that this is the case when they themselves disobeyed their nation’s religious leaders and defied their authority:

    Acts 5:27-29 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, 28 Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. 29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

    As we see here, it is a priority for Christians to obey God when human laws and rules are contrary to God’s.

    This is clear and evident also by the statement Jesus made at the end this next passage:

    Mark 12:14-17 And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? 15 Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it. 16 And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar’s. 17 And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.

    Although it may seem unfair to pay excessive taxes, as it was for Jews in those times, but paying taxes is obviously not in violation of the divine law. And in fact, later we will see the subject and the context of taxes.

    Even church elders/pastors are exhorted to teach this in the church, they are exhorted themselves to command and exhort believers to submit to the governing auhtorities.

    Titus 3:1 Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work.

    1 Peter 2:13-15 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. 15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:

    Once again we must continue to stress the fact that pastor/elders should teach and encourage believers to obey and submit to the governing authorities but if and when the rules and laws their governing authorities expect them to obey are indeed in agreement with God’s laws and commandments.

    It is not wrong for pastor/elders to teach believers to disobey governing authorities when and if these command believers to violate God’s word and His laws. God is the One who establishes government in order to maintain law and order in society, but God requires those governments to exact just and righteous laws that are not in conflict with God’s righteous decrees. God will, without a doubt, judge a nation and a government that makes laws that violate His, make no mistake of that.

    We have seen that Jesus Himself declares, for example, that people are required by God to pay taxes to the government.

    As you remember Jesus said that it was indeed required that, even though the Jews were under Roman oppression, that they still be required to pay taxes to the Romans, even if they felt that the taxes were excessive and unfair.

    In fact Paul says the same further ahead in Romans 13 verses 6-7 and we will talk about that specifically later, yet we see that we cannot use the excuse that since Christians are not of this world we are not required to pay tribute and taxes or obey government. God desires that we be honest and owe no one anything but love.

    However, if the governing authorities pass unrighteous and ungodly laws we have seen that Christians are commanded actually not to obey anything that forces them to sin against God and disobey His word.

    We also are definitely required by Scripture to not only disobey ungodly ordinances rather to do all we can ( without violence and without sinning) to denounce and even change, fight, ungodly and sinful laws.

    Ephesians 5:6-13 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them. 8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. 12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. 13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.

    So as believers we are always supposed to be light and salt in the world and not only, we are never to partake in the unfruitful works of darkness, in other words practice them, rather we are to reprove them and this means denounce them publicly and vocally. This is exactly the very things the prophets of God were required to do, to condemn the evil deeds of the very governing authorities they lived under. Let’s remember we have two of the greatest examples of public civil disobedience in Daniel and his three friends.

    Daniel’s friends did not obey Nebuchadnezzar’s law to bow down and worship him and it cost them the possibility of losing their own lives and they would have if God had not stepped in.

    Daniel 3:12-18 There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. 13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. Then they brought these men before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? 15 Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. 17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

    Daniel also defied an imperial edict, in other words a law that would have prohibited him from praying to God. Even in his case if God had not miraculously stepped in and saved Daniel he also would have lost his life for obeying God instead of obeying the governing authorities, for which by the way, he and his friends worked.

    Daniel 6:7 All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellers, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions.

    So as we see, it would be as if today a bunch of politicians and government authorities got together and made up laws prohibiting and outlawing Christianity and prohibiting us from doing what God wants us to do.

    Daniel and his friends give us examples as to what a believer ought to do. They all defied the government’s decrees.

    Daniel 6:9-13 Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree. 10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. 11 Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. 12 Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king’s decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. 13 Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day.

    Daniel was cast in the lion’s den but God spared him and saved him.

    Daniel 6:16-22 Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee. 17 And a stone was brought and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel. 18 Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of musick brought before him: and his sleep went from him. 19 Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions. 20 And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions? 21 Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever. 22 My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.

    In both of these cases God delivered His people, however in many and in most cases, God did not and does not take away the consequences of defying the ungodly decrees and laws.

    This happens though not as a judgment for disobeying the governing authorities but it’s persecution that occurs because they were actually obeying God and not man’s ungodly rules.

    There are many, many of God’s people in both Old Testament and New Testament church history, who have been persecuted, arrested, tortured and killed for obeying God rather than the government.

    We are aware of all the Christians who died because of the Roman persecution. In fact the real reason why they were persecuted and eventually killed was exactly the same reason why Daniel’s friends got thrown into the furnace and Daniel into the lion’s den.

    Caesar decreed that the Christians could have the freedom to worship their God but also had to pledge allegiance to the Emperor and pay obeisance to him as Lord. Don’t forget that the Romans considered the Emperor to be like a god. Christians refused to bow their knee and confess Caesar as Lord in a divine sense and this actually caused the Roman persecution as the Emperor and the Roman authorities deemed Christians rebellious, seditious and anti-Emperor.

    The Romans as said did allow the Christians to practice their faith only if and when they compromised it by declaring Caesar lord. However, they would worship and only call Jesus Lord. This cost them their life.

    Unfortunately today in many churches Romans 13:1-2 is being taught in an erroneous way because most pastors teach that the Christian must always and in all ways submit to the governing authority no matter what the governing authorities tell the church to do, even when and if the laws are ungodly.

    The very sad thing about all this is that ministers are actually teaching Christians that they must defy God’s word and His law, they teach Christians to pledge allegiance to man while betraying God and they encourage them to become unfaithful to God and they do so convincing them that they are actually obeying a commandment found in Scripture. However, they do this by teaching it in an erroneous way.

    Therefore these poor Christians, who are taught such false teachings, think that they are actually obeying God by always obeying the government even when the laws they demand obedience to are against God and His law and by doing so they are dishonoring and disobeying God instead.

    This is very similar to what the Pharisees used to do, teaching and by imposing people to obey wrongly taught Biblical laws, yet believing and teaching that doing thus a person actually obeyed God.

    Today many pastors unfortunately support and promote even sinfulness such as abortion and homosexuality, because they claim Romans 13:1-2 in order to convince believers that they can practice such things, or they can and should support these things, because these are the so called laws of the land and God says that we must be subservient to the governing authorities.

    It is obvious to me that such so called pastors are only wolves in sheep clothing and nothing else, yet their teachings often are very subtle and therefore not so obvious to a lot of biblically ignorant and not spiritually discerning Christians.

    Many of these so called pastors often won’t tell you to just go ahead and get an abortion or to be a homosexual, at least not most would, although there are many others who do this today. However many will tell you, for example, that if you vocally protest against abortion or homosexuality, that you are actually violating Romans 13:1-2.

    They say this because according to them you are behaving with an anti-government attitude and since that is the law of the land, even though we should not practice those laws, yet they say, Christians should not protest against the government. They aren’t saying that the laws are just but they say that we should not protest or oppose the government otherwise we are indeed in violation of Romans 13:1-2.

    They will teach that all the church is called to do is only preach the Gospel and not to get involved in the secular government’s affairs. However, by teaching this they themselves violate God’s word and His will and they are teaching only a partial truth, which in the end is no truth at all.

    We have seen in Ephesians 5 that this is absolutely not the case at all and that we must, publicly, vocally and actively, yet peacefully and respectfully, denounce the unfruitful works of darkness.

    This mentality and these teachings these pastors spread in churches are erroneous and they actually cause the government to become more and more ungodly and unjust and they cause believers to become disobedient to God and to become accomplices of the evil works of darkness.

    In the USA, actually the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence is to help the church to obey God and to defy tyrannical and ungodly government. Also our Constitutional Republic style government is framed in such a way that we definitely, not only can, but should express our outrage for unjust and ungodly laws and fight to change them.

    This kind of erroneous teaching by many pastors actually causes Christians to be in contrast with Romans 13:1-2, why? Because God certainly expects us to respect our governing authorities, but in the US the governing authorities are such because the people elect them and these also appoint others. In this case it is actually an abdication of our responsibility both as citizens of the nation and as Christians to accept unrighteous and ungodly laws.

    This is another very good reason why the government becomes ungodly and unjust, because Christians do not become involved in government and in addition as we said, they are taught and cautioned by false teachers not to become involved in government.

    One must ask themselves why this is taught?

    Daniel and his three friends were appointed as government officials in an ungodly and unrighteous kingdom. Yet they did not decline or refuse those charges and positions. They rather refused to eat certain foods because that was actually sinful to them but serving in that government was not sinful otherwise, trust me, that would have refused to do so as they refused to do other things.

    Nehemiah was at the king’s service, he basically worked for his government and was appointed as governor of Judah, Nehemiah 5:14.

    David was a king and many other kings served God as they served as heads of government.

    Esther became queen, think on that for a moment, a Jewess that actually married a pagan king, yet God placed her as a head of government and used her to save His people. As queen she did exercise influence on the king’s decisions and authority.

    Let’s mention some others: Joseph was governor of Egypt second only to Pharaoh, Genesis 42:6; Zerubbabel was the governor of Judah Haggai 1:1.

    We definitely have many Biblical precedents to sustain that believers were and definitely can be and actually should be involved in government and in positions of governmental authority.

    Unfortunately, in today’s culture separation of church and state means separation of state from God, as if the state and the government are answerable to no one but themselves—as if the government didn’t have to answer to God.

    This is why Paul says that if and when we do not submit to and obey the government, in laws that do not oppose God’s law we mean, we are actually disobeying God’s will and His law. This causes, as Paul says, the condemnation, the judgment, both of the government and of God.

    We know very well that when we transgress the law the government punishes the transgressors. We know that if we steal and they arrest us for theft we will pay the consequences, if we kill, unless they kill a baby in the womb through abortion, that is not punished by the government, in all other cases, we will be arrested and in some countries and cases even jexecuted for this crime in particular.

    All the laws we transgress will bring condemnation. In fact, for those who think of escaping the earthly authorities, let us remember that they will never escape divine condemnation and divine judgment. The consequences of divine judgment will be both temporal and eternal for the wicked and temporal even for believers. A believer who commits a transgression of human law, if not in violation of the law of God, commits a sin, period.

    Many believers do not believe it to be so, but in reality it is so. It is how and when a wife is rebellious, disrespectful and disobedient to her husband, if and when he does not want her to do things contrary to God’s will and law, she becomes not only disobedient to the husband but to God. Because God commands wives to be obedient to husbands and to respect them and not be rebellious.

    This is also the case with the government. If and when we disobey the laws and ordinances of the government, precisely I repeat, that do not transgress the law of God, we are disobedient not only to the government from which we must expect negative consequences, that is condemnation, but we must also expect God’s discipline besides.

    So we have, I hope understood thus far that God indeed created government, He ordains it and He actually places every government where He pleases and He does it all for His purposes, to bring about His will and to unfold His plans that He has set in motion in human history. It is God’s predetermined counsel and will for which He allows things to be as they are and this includes placing governing authorities as He sees fit.

    Now let’s look at to what Paul explains is the purpose of government on earth.

    What is the real and actual purpose for which God created government.

    Romans 13:3-4 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

    God ordained government for a specific reason and purpose. The main purpose God has ordained governing authorities is to be a terror to evil doers and not to be a terror to good works.

    He also exhorts to do good and in that case the authorities will praise honesty and law abiding citizens.

    We can say a lot of things about this verse. Let’s begin by understanding that Paul is actually writing to believers in the Roman church. Let’s remember that the Epistle is indeed written to believers and not to unbelievers. So we must interpret this passage even today as this is written also to us today, us believers in the church today.

    Paul here says the same thing that Peter said in his Epistle:

    1 Peter 2:13-14 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.

    Again we understand clearly that God wants us believers especially to be obedient to the ruling authorities and to be those who do good and not evil. Remembering that God ordained governing authorities to punish evil doers and lawlessness. God desires that all men, not only believers be obedient to the government and to be respectful to it. It’s there to punish evildoers and praise and reward those who do good! God wants us to be good and honest to be praised for doing good, we should be law abiding citizens and do good and not evil not just because of our fear of punishment of the authorities but we ought to obey and submit the governing authorities for obedience and respect to God, the fear of the Lord is, should be, our motivation in everything we do.

    In fact, in Peter’s Epistle this concept is even clearer as he says that it is for the love we have for God that we ought obey the governing authorities.

    We should be obedient to God for in so doing we will do good and not evil. Yet, God wants us to understand that we must obey the government and its good and just laws, not evil and unjust ones, also because the government is ordained by God and obeying it and respecting it is actually also obeying and respecting God.

    In addition God warns us that is we think we can just break human laws it is as if we disobeyed God as well for it is His will that we obey the governing authorities and if we do not we will indeed be classified as evildoers and will indeed receive punishment from the authorities.

    In doing so we will dishonor God and actually sin against God, our testimony will be tarnished and actually become null and void and in addition we will suffer punishment as doers of evil also do.

    This is also why we should also fear the governing authorities, yet as I said before, if we fear God we will most likely not have to fear the governing authorities.

    God wants us to live in this world as good people and just in case we are not understanding properly, God desires us to be citizens of heaven but also of whatever nation we live in.

    Patriotism and love for country is not ungodly, it is actually a very godly quality, loyalty toward our nation and love for our neighbors, our countrymen are required commandments of God.

    God called His people Israel to be loyal to their national heritage and their land, sure we must be loyal and obedient to God first and foremost, but God does not call the believers not to be responsible citizens and not to take our civic duties seriously.

    The very fact that God desires us to be submissive to the governing authorities is the clear demonstration that God wants us to be loyal to our nation and government. The love we ought to have for our neighbor, is a commandment of God, it’s the one that follows the one to love God with all our being and strength; with this in mind we therefore realize that to do so we must love the people of our nation and honor the government which according to God’s will is ordained to help love our neighbor.

    How you may ask? This way: we did see before that in most cases the majority of human laws reflect God’s law. Now, we also understand that it is incumbent on God’s people to obey His law and yet we know that evildoers, unbelievers are not at all inclined to obey God’s law at all.

    Paul writing to Timothy speaking of God’s law says this:

    1 Timothy 1:8-11 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; 9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; 11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

    According to God’s law, it is implied here that the law is not for a righteous man, why? Because a righteous man will obey the Gospel which calls us to love God in obedience, John 14:21-24; and that when we do love God in obedience we also will end up loving each other 1 John 5:1-3. Love is indeed the fulfillment of the law, but the two are mutually connected. How? Because when we love we are obeying the law of God in that we obey God’s commandments because when we do it means that we do not do any wrong to each other and our neighbors.

    In fact Paul says this exactly forward in this Romans 13 chapter when he says:

    Romans 13:8-10 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. 9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

    This subject is to expose when we do get there and yet we see how this whole concept is interconnected as it should be.

    Therefore the law, even God’s law and the just and good laws the ruling authorities enforce are for the evildoers because,we hope that God’s people will obey the law of love and therefore keep God’s law and man’s law by loving God and our neighbor not to want to do anything at all to cause harm to our neighbor.

    Evil doers instead are not at all interested to obey any laws, whether God’s or man’. This is why God ordained government as it states in the next verse we will study, in other words:

    Romans 13:4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

    So we clearly understand that the laws are there to keep order and to keep society within the boundaries of God’s law as well. This is why God ordained government. In fact as we see in the passage we find in 1 Timothy 7 all the things mentioned, well let’s say almost all, are laws that most if not all governments on earth have and enforce.

    murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons,

    We find here mentioned murderers and man slayers, this is committing murder for all and many reasons. This does not include self defense or war time but it does include abortion. Whore mongers, who encompass the entire prostitution ring especially those who exploit women and take advantage of them. Here we actually find mentioned those who defile themselves with mankind, which is another way of saying homosexuals. Let’s remember, in many nations homosexuality even today is considered an outlaw behavior and we must say that even in Western society until not so long ago the practice of homosexuality was considered a crime as well as even was adultery and even in many cases divorce. Then it mention man stealers, this actually means kidnappers. Kidnapping comes in many forms and for many reasons. It can be done for extortion it can be done for exploitation and human trafficking as well. Then Paul mentions perjured persons. This term encompasses lying in general but also perjuring by giving false witness against a person, such as in trials or under oath. Liars will not inherit the Kingdom of God. We also know that God’s commandments include the prohibition of stealing as well and stealing is also a crime according to human law.

    As we see these are laws that are, almost all, enforced by most if not all governments. By doing so the government is indeed God’s minster to execute justice on those who commit evil and those who live a lifestyle designed to be injurious and to be harmful to others. This also is a legal human way of helping all of society to respect each member which belongs to society.

    We see therefore that, even though it is not the substitution of God enforcing His law it is used by God on earth to also do so. Let’s say the governing authorities are to be the enforcers of God’s law and justice on earth.

    So the government on earth is God’s instrument of justice and judgment, or it should be when it functions properly, while the church is the instrument of God’s mercy and forgiveness on earth. It is to the church that God gave the ministry of reconciliation and not to the government.

    2 Corinthians 5:18-20 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

    It is quite ironic that the world seeks the government to give clemency instead of seeking it form God Himself and through the work of the church on earth. What they do not understand is that, even though at times the government for valid and not ordinary circumstances can and will extend clemency and mercy, but the government is on earth to execute justice and do it according to law. There is no mercy in the law. If a person breaks the law it cannot and actually should not expect mercy, they should expect swift justice and judgment.

    God can and will extend mercy but we must not confound God’s mercy with paying the consequences of lawlessness, even when a person receives God’s mercy. Just because God may forgive a truly repentant person it is not guaranteed that He will lift the human judgment and the consequence of the person breaking law.

    In other words, for example, God may even forgive a person of murder but if that person is condemned to death by a just execution because that it is the law of the land, God is not obligated to take away the consequence of that person’s sin. It’s entirely up to God but let’s not confound God’s will with man’s will.

    In addition the government is not to be the giver of welfare. The church should be the entity that helps the poor and especially the poor and needy within her. Good works belong to the church as a body and people as individuals. Welfare is not at all what God designed government to be and to do.

    The government provides justice and protection through police and military. Justice, law enforcement and military and law making. Those are the only and true functions of government.

    So Paul because he understands the proper role of the governing authorities warns and commands the believers to submit and obey the authorities, because they should definitely, when they function properly enforce the laws which should guide the people living in society respect all people and keep law, order and peace so that all people can live peaceably and with dignity respecting all.

    Paul and God warns believers that if they disobey and disrespect the authorities to expect to be treated a evil doers and indeed God would view us as such. We as believers are to live on earth as representatives of God’s Kingdom therefore we are to live as honest and law abiding people. As we said in most cases obeying the law of the land is as we were obeying God’s law because human laws usually and for the most part reflect God’s law and are designed for the well being and respect of all people.

    Law breakers and anarchists are not seen with favor by God. We did explain that the only time God actually desires that we disobey the governing authorities is if and when the laws and ordinances of the same impede the Christians to obey God and His word. In any and all other circumstance we are to always obey the laws and rules of the government under which authority we live.

    In many cases as in our case living in the USA there is legal recourse to change a law so we can and should use the process to do so.

    In some cases civil disobedience is our only option when and if as we said the laws impede us to obey God. Yet even in these cases for the most part we can use the court systems and the Constitution that actually aid us, or should aid us to have the freedom to practice our faith without governmental interference and indeed in these cases laws are unconstitutional and they should be struck down and abolished. However, we know that in order to even go through legal channels unfortunately we see that often we end up suffering even arrest and to be treated as law breakers while instead we are not. The ironic thing is that in many cases the governing authorities act in an unconstitutional manner and they end up dragging us through legal hoops in order to prove that our Constitutional rights have been violated and that the supposed law we broke is indeed unconstitutional.

    These however are not at all what Paul is saying here. Paul is saying we should not act as evil doers and break laws that are good and righteous or at least neutral when it comes to God’s law. In those cases e are always to submit to the governing authorities.

    When a government works well and in accordance with God’s purposes and His will they are punishers of those who do evil and rewarders of those who do good.

    Romans 13:4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

    We are used to see the use of the word minister in a church setting. In the Bible a minister is a man that ministers in the church, a pastor/elder, a deacon and such. So now we see that the governing authority is also a minister of God. As we already mentioned the governing authorities are ministers of God on earth for rule, justice and judgment as the pastors and elders are ministers of mercy, forgiveness and rule in the church. The word minister is the Greek word diákonós from which we derive the term deacon. Deacon actually means servant. As a deacon serves in the church the governing authorities are servants of God.

    It is ironic as we know that those who work in just about all parts of government and law enforcement are actually called public servants. In reality they are servants of God. They answer to God, and they serve for the good of the people. It is to keep law and order and to assure the safety and the wellbing of all people in society.

    It is very correct when we see the words serve and protect on police logos, it s exactly their job as ell as all who work in all branches of government. They aren’t to usurp their call and position by elevating themselves as despots and dictators and little kings and queens as many unfortunately do.

    They like pastors, elders and deacons in the church indeed have authority given to them by God in the positions and the duties they hold yet they all are to have servant attitudes and hearts and not lord it over the people they serve.

    The people are to recognize their authority and respect it as it should be in the church as well, respect that authority as it does indeed come from God in the position they have and yet they are to remain humble before God and serve God and therefore the people by doing their God given job.

    As we said many times, with authority comes responsibility and with higher authority comes even more responsibility. The governing authorities are to serve within their God given mandate and not to go beyond their call and in a perfect world, in which we don’t live, they should be serving as they served God Himself. Yet, it is so just the same, God still considers governments as their ministers on earth. Think about this, we did mention even before that when Paul wrote this letter he wrote it to the Roman church, the church which lived in Rome. Rome was the superpower of the day, Rome was a ruthless, violent, conquering empire, Rome is depicted in Scripture like this:

    Daniel 7:7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.

    In Daniel 2, in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, the Roman Empire is represented by the metal iron which was the least precious and the hardest and strongest of the metal represented in the dream and relating to the various kingdoms the metals represented.

    So Rome was no slouch of an Empire, by all intents and purposes it was the worse one of them all and the one through which the Antichrist would emerge.

    Yet even in all of its hardness and ruthlessness it was the governing authority of the day in which Paul wrote this epistle, and by God’s word Rome was at the time God’s minister. Imagine that? Hard to imagine and for many even hard to accept and most definitely hard to accept for those Christians who lived under that rule at that time.

    Yet, when we examine history, we find that it has been like this in the case of every conquering empire. The Babylonians for example, were probably pretty close to the Romans in term of ruthlessness and harshness and yet God’s people found shelter and favor in Babylon and so it was with every other empire that conquered them. Yet Rome, ended up being the worse one in history when it came to God’s people, both the Jewish people and especially the Christians.

    Still God considered the Roman rulers His ministers of law and order and justice and not only, but God commanded the church to be respectful and obedient to their laws and rule and He expects the same of us today.

    In a way this was yet another way for God to tell His people not to try and revolt against the government because that was not His will and intention for His people.

    There could have been misunderstanding on part of God’s people and attempts made to organize and try to overthrow Roman rule in order to establish God’s Kingdom on earth because they recognized only God as their ruler.

    This was another way of God telling them to stay put and not rebel against the government. Why? Because they would end up being in violation of God’s will as God actually desired them to remain submissive to it. This also helps us today to understand the same concept that Paul was transmitting to them at the time.

    We also have to understand that the form of government they lived under in those days was in many ways different from many of the forms of government that exist today.

    Nevertheless, there are times in the course of history when God favored a people to revolt against a ruling dictatorship and oppressive and tyrannical rule.

    It did happen even in Hebrew history, we see this giving a special look at the revolt of the Maccabees, that happened during the infratestamental period, in other words during the 400 years between the Old and the New Testament.

    The story of the Jewish revolt is found in the Apocryphal writings of I and II Maccabees.

    The books of the Apocrypha are not considered canonical by the way. Both Jews and the church did not consider and accept these books as Scripture, in other words, word of God.

    The Roman Catholic church by the way, inserted the Apocryphal books in its Scriptural canon in spite of the fact that both the Jewish and the church for centuries always considered the Apocryphal writings not inspired word of God but only historical books.

    In most other cases however, God does not endorse rebellion and revolting against a government.

    Let’s take for example the times in which the Romans ruled. What would also be another reason why God would not have wanted His people, both Jewish or Christian to revolt against the Romans?

    Because He knew that if they did the Romans would have squashed the revolt and that would have caused a great destruction of God’s people, even grater than the great Roman persecution caused.

    Submitting to ruling authorities even when they are evil is also required because usually, if one tries to revolt the more powerful force will destroy them.

    We saw that happening in the year 70 A.D when the Romans in fact destroyed the temple they also squashed the Jewish insurrection and slew many in the famous battle of Masada.

    There was however another time when the Jews fought to self preserve themselves and this time were successful, why? Because they actually did not revolt against the government, they did so with the ruling authority’s endorsement and that episode is recorded in the book of Esther. It was not a real rebellion against authority because the king had been deceived by Haman and for that reason put out an edict against God’s people which edict could not be reversed. That could have caused their demise, however the Jews by defending themselves did not rebel against the king’s decree for two particular important reasons.

    The first reason was this one: that actually the the ruling government at that time later gave them the right to defend themselves even though the king did not reverse his previous edict. This was not rebellion against the governing authorities’ decree rather it ended up being in obedience to the second one that gave them the right to defend themselves against the first one.

    This brings us to the second reason, in other words, self defense! Self defense in fact is a God given right not inherently a human government authorization although many governments also give the rights ti its citizens to defend themselves from potentially deadly harm.

    We will see how, in fact, indeed according to God, the proper and just punishment for first degree and premeditated murder is the death of the person that commits the murder.

    Just because a government decides to abolish the death penalty in a nation or state it does not mean that it’s actually God’s perfect will. In fact it will be, in that particular case, an unjust side of that government which does not exercise the proper justice according to God’s will.

    The lack of true justice according to God’s will, will also draw upon that particular nation or state God’s judgment. Why? Because God Himself will avenge the shedding of innocent blood if the governing authorities do not. God will bring about His judgment on a nation or state and even persons who do not practice the right kind of justice.

    God warned His people about this very fact, and believe me, even though many do not believe so, He holds all people, not just Israel, accountable to His will and His brand of justice.

    Deuteronomy 19:10-13 That innocent blood be not shed in thy land, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and so blood be upon thee. 11 But if any man hate his neighbour, and lie in wait for him, and rise up against him, and smite him mortally that he die, and fleeth into one of these cities: 12 Then the elders of his city shall send and fetch him thence, and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die. 13 Thine eye shall not pity him, but thou shalt put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with thee.

    Deuteronomy 21:9 So shalt thou put away the guilt of innocent blood from among you, when thou shalt do that which is right in the sight of the LORD.

    Numbers 35:30-34 Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die. 31 Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death. 32 And ye shall take no satisfaction for him that is fled to the city of his refuge, that he should come again to dwell in the land, until the death of the priest. 33 So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it. 34 Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit, wherein I dwell: for I the LORD dwell among the children of Israel.

    As we clearly see God will not hold anyone guiltless for murder, in other words if a murder is not justified according to God’s word and will, that person and even nation who does not practice God’s true justice will be held guilty before God and will eventually bring about God’s wrath on that particular nation.

    Many, even in the church think erroneously, that these particular rules regarding murder, the shedding of innocent blood, are only for Israel however, as I said before is entirely not correct.

    Some will say that since that was part of Moses’ law it applies only to Israel and not to the Gentile nations.

    Let’s think about this for a minute. Why would God make two sets of rule one for the Gentiles and one for the Jews when it comes to His moral, not ceremonial, but moral law? He would not do this and in fact He does not.

    God told Noah these very things thousands of years before God gave His law to Moses:

    Genesis 9:5-6 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. 6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

    Think about this for a moment! This was indeed the precursor of the commandment God later gave His people in Exodus 20, thou shalt not murder! It is also the precursor of the instructions He gave Israel regarding the justice man needs to enforce and execute in a case of murder.

    We must note some important things about the passage in Genesis 9.

    The first one is this one, Noah and his children are the precursors and ancestors of every nation that exists today and not only Israel. This is a very important issue regarding the fact that the declaration in Genesis 9 was given to all the people of the earth.

    For this one very reason alone, we can ascertain that this commandment and warning is given to all people.

    In addition this declaration is exactly the very first institution of the death penalty or even part of the Lex Talionis, also know as the law of retaliation or retribution, known also as the eye for an eye law.

    In that particular law God tells His people that true justice, which is what God desires man to execute always, is to punish a person for a crime committed, in a commensurate way regarding the crime that was committed. In other words the punishment must be equal to the crime. This is why God said:

    Exodus 21:23-25 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, 24 Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

    This is not revenge, this is true justice and it is a guideline to be used as a measure of equal punishment for the crimes committed.

    There is nothing else that one can give in exchange for a life they have taken if not their own life.

    This is also the second point we find in Genesis 9, not only it was given to all humanity and not only to Israel but this is also the institution of the death penalty as a just retribution for taking a life in an unjustified way.

    There is a big difference between killing someone out of hatred and anger and executing justice through the death penalty on a murderer. The death penalty as a form of justice is indeed God’s will, in fact it’s the only true and real just punishment for murder.

    This by the way is essential to understand in the study of the next verses of Romans 13.

    Here we are just talking about the fact that God instituted the death penalty as the only way He desires that justice be enforced in the case of shedding blood innocent blood.

    We are saying all this because no matter what we may think the governing authorities are placed in the world to be God’s ministers to punish evil, to enforce the laws and justice and keep law and order.

    According to God’s perfect will they are here to protect form evil and punish evil doers and also to reward and be friendly to those who do good and abide by the law.

    That is actually what the government is for. We do know that unfortunately many times the governing authorities may greatly stray from these godly responsibilities.

    We must understand something very important that has happened in history, as nations have been positively affected by the spreading of the Gospel we witnessed also very positive changes in how the governments became more and more lined up with God’s will and purposes.

    In other words, the more a nation is permeated by the Gospel the godlier that nation and government will be; on the other hand, as a nation is less affected by the Gospel the less that nation will reflect God’s will and purposes. This will therefore be true of the governments in those nations.

    Here we see again one very important clue as to a reality the church often does not want to face or believe, never mind practice a very important function.

    It is worth mentioning again that Jesus commands believers to be salt and light in their society. Let’s quickly examine what it means to be salt and light. To do so, we must ask ourselves what is the function of salt and even light. Even better, what were the functions of these two elements in Jesus’ times.

    Salt was used, as it still is howbeit less, as a preservative. Fish and meat in Jesus’s era could not be refrigerated as refrigeration and electricity did not exist. However, salt was the element that was used to conserve and preserve meats and fish. The meat and fish were dried and salted in order to preserve them for lengths of time. Even today in some cases this process is still used.

    In order to thoroughly preserve fish and meat it had to be desiccated and thoroughly salted. Not lightly salted but fully impregnated by the salt.

    In other words then, when Jesus is referring to believers to be the salt of the earth, He is saying He wants us to thoroughly permeate our culture and society, like the salt needs to permeate thoroughly meat and fish. Think about what this means.

    This means God wants His people to become an integral part of all and any important part of our society and to affect them in a godly and positive way. As a conservative element the believer has the duty and the power given them by God, to keep the society in which we live from decaying and becoming corrupt.

    What is one of the best places in which believers as salt can permeate in order to preserve a society form decaying and becoming ungodly?

    Government, that is where. Government would be a place and should be a place in which the believer should permeate thoroughly to affect it in a godly way and maintain the government and that nation in a state of godliness and righteousness. In this way the government that, like Jesus says, contains much salt, in other words many believers, will be a good government, a government that will reflect more its God given responsibilities and by consequence the way the laws in that country are established and enforced will also reflect God’s will more. Therefore in a nation where the government is godlier the citizens will be also. I want to make sure we understand one clear issue, just because there are more Christians in government and the nation is governed in a godlier way it does not mean that all people who live in that nation and society are saved, born again Christians. It is not the government’s job to save people, it’s the church’s call to evangelize. Nevertheless, it is the government’s duty to be a minister of God for good and against evil.

    In order to do this in the proper way though the government itself is not the church it must be godlier in nature and content. In other words, the more Christians permeate a government the more it will do God’s will and also the nations will be in many ways more righteous.

    If a government is less godly and not permeated by Christians both the government and the nation will be less godly.

    Nevertheless in both cases, most if not all governments, do uphold and enforce many laws that reflect God’s law, even as we did mention before. In many, if not all cases they also keep law and order. This is in essence what God wants the government to do.

    Salt also is a natural disinfectant, salt was used to disinfect babies bodies after they came out of the womb by rubbing it on the babies’ bodies. As an old remedy for sore throats, heavily salted water was used to gargle, often this remedy is still being used. As salt therefore we are to bring healing where we are. We can understand as believers that healing, especially spiritual healing can and will occur only through God’s salvation and regeneration and this is through the Gospel and God’s word. How can this work though in government? As we did specify before, the function of government is not to do what the church is called to do, however, when Christians and God’s law have an abundant presence in government we find that in an indirect way the healing that comes from God is also brought into the society by the Christians walking in the Gospel, remembering what Paul said in

    Ephesians 6:13-15 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace

    As we see, the believer no matter where he or she is, even in government, should walk, live in the Gospel and bring it wherever they go. This by consequence will bring God’s healing in society.

    We recall the passage given by God to Israel which is found in:2 Chronicles 7: 14

    As we see to heal the nation it is imperative that the people of God do certain things, which unfortunately seems that the church today never wants to do, why? Because the church as the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3 believes that it is right with God. But we know very well what the Lord said the church was not at all right with Him.

    The healing of the country does not come only from the government by itself, but from government that obviously reflects what the passage of 2 Chronicles says. It is obvious that, if the government is predominantly, filled with believers the healing of the country would be inevitable. Many would not agree that the government be governed by the church, but this is not a matter of governing a country in a theocratic way, that is governed by the church or by any particular church or denomination.

    We are talking about having a majority of beleivers who belong to different denominations who would keep watch so that good and just laws are passed and preserved and applied for the good of all that society. This is a duty of the believer that has been abdicated and neglected.

    Even in the United States, a nation where the government had been created to be this way, today because believers have abdicated their civic duty and their God given responsibility, society and most of the government have become not only pagans but Antichrist at least half the country and three quarters of the government in the United States are pagan and Antichrist.

    Thus for this reason the people desire unjust and wicked laws rather than good and just ones because the people no longer fear the Lord. Laws and unfair and wicked government policies like the people who want them become obvious. When they vote they will vote for people who will do what they want, pass laws they desire. If they do so by the desires of their sinful anture they will desire and want sinfil and unjust laws.

    The saddest thing is that, a big, too big a part of the church actually votes for the same people for whom the wicked vote, people who live contrary to God.

    This is why the passage from 2 Chronicles 7:14 is not solely and exclusively required of the church to be done privately behind the four walls of the church building or only individually, certainly it must begin there, but then it must be demonstrated that it has occurred in society itself. . How do we verify that the church has repented from its evil ways? When justice according to God occurs again in that country or nation. How does it occur? When believers stop voting and supporting pagans and wicked people and when believers begin to have the courage to candidate themselves for various offices of government. Governments are and remain pagan and unjust if the candidates who are elected are all pagan and ungodly. They will not govern as God wants and if the candidates are almost all pagan and wicked of course many believers either do not vote at all or even worse they vote for the worst candidates who are then elected and govern in a pagan manner. In the end, in a country, especially the USA, if the government is pagan and Antichrist is ultimately the fault of believers who have ceased to be salt and light in that society.

    You see, being salt and light is much more than being honest in society, it means that we must become involved in society in a godly and righteous way, this we see includes politics.

    It’s naive and actually quite simplistic especially today for believers to say that polirics and goverment is corrupt and evil and therefore we should totally not be a part of it. No! We should not be partakers of the unfruitful works of darkness but it is our responsibility to be salt and light and serve God in all and every sphere of society. We often act in a self righteous manner when we take a complete belligerant stand aginst politics and government because if they are evil and unrighteous and society is rotten and corrupt it is in the end the believers’s fault, we ceased to be salt and light, and as we said before salt is a preservative and it prevents corruption and decay.

    Another function of salt is to give flavor to insipid foods. In the same way Christians are to be and bring the aroma or the flavor of Christ everywhere. It is obvious that God desires that we function like salt in society not in the church only. In fact Jesus gives us the reason why God desires that we be like salt in the world as He says:

    Matthew 5:13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

    Jesus is saying that He wants us to have His flavor, being godly and Christlike in all aspects of life, thoughts, deeds and words in every and all aspects of life, including government. Jesus warns that if we cease to do so we become actually good for nothing but to be cast out, in another passage He says that we become good for nothing but to be thrown unto the dung hill. Here He says that if we lose our godliness we will be trodden underfoot by men.

    This is in fact the very sad position Christianity faces in a society like ours. We had the opportunity in this country to be salt of the earth and light of the world but we lost our godly flavor and we ceased to permeate society, including government and now indeed for the most part the church has been trampled underfoot by men, now for quite a long time. This is not being persecuted for righteousness sake or because we are such godly Christians that the world hates us for following Christ faithfully.

    There are parts of this going on in society because the world, the unsaved, the religious, the pagans, the atheists hate the real faithful Christian. Yet, for the most part today the church is being trampled underfoot by society because it actually has lost its saltiness and has hidden its light. The church thought that by doing so she could be liked by the world and it would be able to affect the world in a positive way, instead the opposite happened. Instead of risking the world’s persecution for righteousness sake it came to compromise its faith and became unfaithful to God but the world instead of liking her is trampling her underfoot and the few true an faithful Christians are now being persecuted even more because of the fact that salt and light ceased to be salt and light.

    A great reason why true believers are persecuted in so called free and democratic societies is the fault of the greater part of the church that has ceased to be salt and light and has compromised itself with the world.

    This is a very important fact, for by abdicating its salt properties, by staying out of government and by not wanting to affect it as salt of the earth, the government has become more and more ruled by ungodly people and more and more the government is losing its true function given to it by God.

    The other element Jesus described in the Matthew 5 passage besides salt is light. This element is to be understood and seen in the same way as salt. It has to produce the same results.

    Now we must understand that Jesus Himself is the light of the world, even as He declares about Himself: John 8:12;

    in John 9 Jesus says this: John 9:5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

    This statement is interesting, He says that as long as He was physically in the world He was the light of the world. However, we know that Jesus left this world and went back to the Father.

    Yet, He sent His Spirit to abide in the church, in every believer. That is why He told believers to be the light of the world.

    As believers live in this world we have the Holy Spirit living in us, He is the Spirit of Christ and of truth and we are called to let Christ live and work through us by His Spirit.

    So what does it mean to be light of the world? What does the light do? Light is designed to do many things.

    The first thing it does is, it gives, yes, that is correct, light. It illuminates clearly the way or the place in which or upon which it shines. Light cuts through the darkness and it basically takes its place, it replaces it with light. Light actually overpowers darkness.

    So from these two functions we understand that as the light of the world we believers must reflect Christ’s light through us by His Spirit and truth and be used by God to overcome, what? Yes, overcome the darkness, be in its place.

    We are to continue the work of Christ on earth and if we truly do so this means we are to think like Him and act like Him. Jesus is the way the truth and the life and the only way to the Father, is He not? John 14:6, which He claims He is.

    We can then say that a way, a path, a road to be clearly seen and traveled must also be lighted.

    Jesus therefore, is the only clear and brightly lighted way that leads people to God and into God’s ways; so when we follow Jesus we therefore do not walk in darkness and we also are able to clearly see and know where we are going and see any and all obstacles in our way.

    Jesus said this about Himself and those who would follow Him:

    John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

    Jesus is the light of life that leads to God and clearly shows us God’s will and His ways.

    In addition, as we said a great function of light is to dispels darkness. When light comes, darkness flees. Light exposes darkness and it actually dispels it.

    When we talk about light and darkness in a biblical way we see that we are talking about good and evil, God and Satan.

    There are many passages that confirm this fact:

    2 Samuel 22:29 For thou art my lamp, O LORD: and the LORD will lighten my darkness.

    Proverbs 2:12-14 To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things; 13 Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness; 14 Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked;

    Proverbs 4:19 The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.

    Isaiah 5:20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

    Matthew 6:22-23 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

    Luke 11:35-36 Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. 36 If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light.

    John 1:5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

    John 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

    John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

    John 12:35 Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.

    Already we clearly understand through these passages that the biblical meaning and the difference between light and darkness, it is a synonym of good and evil, God and Satan, God’s Kingdom and Satan’s kingdom.

    In the last passage read it is interesting to see a very important thing mentioned by Jesus, when we walk in Him and His ways we walk in the light, we walk in God and in His truth and by doing so darkness is not upon us, Jesus then specifies that those who actually walk in darkness do not know where they are going.

    It is true a blind man, one who lives in perpetual darkness cannot see where he goes. So is a person who lives and walks in the darkness of evil, one who belongs to the kingdom of darkness cannot see.

    This will open up another very important issue, in other words this one: that walking in the light is synonymous with walking in God’s truth. Jesus indeed is the light of the world and He is truth, God’s word also is light and it’s truth.

    Psalms 119:105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

    Proverbs 6:23 For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:

    John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

    We can clearly see that Jesus as well as His word are both light and truth and they are basically functioning in a symbiotic and unified way. In other words they are intermingled and never operate apart from each other. This is because although God has many attributes in His character and person they all make up who He is and like the fact that God is one yet He is also three distinct persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, yet they are all three fully and completely God and although distinct and having varied functions they still operate in unison and all have the same exact attributes.

    Jesus is indeed God’s word made flesh, John 1:1-14: Jesus therefore being God’s word is also God’s truth because as we have seen God’s word is truth and Jesus said He is the way, the truth and the life,

    He is the truth because He is God’s word, and the Holy Spirit also is the Spirit of Christ and He is fully God, Jesus calls Him the Spirit of truth: John 14:17; John 15:26; John 16:13.

    Like love and truth are always found together in God’s word so are God’s word and truth and light are often found together as well.

    God only operates His love in truth as well as only operating light and truth together as we have seen they are all inseparably connected and only function together.

    Now that we understand all this I hope we are beginning to see more clearly what Jesus wants from us when He declares that we are to be the light of the world.

    As the light of the world we ought to operate in this world to dispel and destroy the works of darkness, as light we are to illuminate the path to God by pointing to the true light of the world Jesus Christ, as light we are to replace darkness everywhere we go, like light we are to expose the unfruitful works of darkness as we bring them under the light of God’s word and truth.

    Ephesians 5:6-17 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them. 8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. 12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. 13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. 14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. 15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

    This is such a rich and deeply intense passage and would deserve it’s own full exposition that’s what it really deserves, for time sake however, we will look at the main points and connect them to what it means to be light of the world as Christ commands us to be.

    First and foremost, God does not want us to be partakers of evil, verses 6-7. Why? Because, we were darkness, as you see darkness is synonymous with evil, we were once evil, belonging to the kingdom of Satan, the kingdom of darkness. This is also why Paul says this in:

    Colossians 1:12-14 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

    As we see, God delivered us by the power of darkness, in other words the power of evil and Satan and translated us into the Kingdom of Christ.

    We once belonged to evil and were evildoers, but now that God transferred us from darkness to light and from evil to good, we are to walk and live as children of light Ephesians 5:8; and how do children of light live? In the Spirit, we walk in the light which means to walk in goodness, righteousness and truth, Ephesians 5 verse 9.

    Once again, we see that what I said before, that truth and light are synonymous, is true. Being light is walking in truth and the truth is a person, Jesus and Jesus is God’s word and God’s word is truth. Also this means wlking in and by the Holy Spirit of God.

    So walking in step with and in obedience to God’s word is being the light of the world. In short this is how we walk in the Spirit.

    According to the Ephesians passage and God’s word in its unity of thought, we see that walking in the light, walking in His truth and in His Spirit is walking in accordance with God’s word, His truth, but not only.

    Paul specifies that children of light prove what is acceptable to God and also they not only do not partake in the unfruitful works of darkness rather they expose them.

    This and the following verses are a beautiful rendition of the believers’ function in the world as what we are to do as light of the world. Not only we do not commit evil and walk in evil works but we must, must, expose them, denounce them and condemn them publicly, not only behind the four walls of the church.

    Hence, this is exactly what Jesus warned about hiding the light under the bushel or under the bed. When we keep the light in the church building we are indeed hiding it. Many erroneously think that just because the pastor preaches against the unfruitful works of darkness that is enough to be counted and considered being the light of the world. Really? It is a grave error to think in such a way. It’s also like keeping the salt in the salt shaker.

    This is indeed hiding the light under the bushel. It’s what we are used to say in the church lingo, preaching to the choir. I will concede that there are many, too many professing believers who live with a non renewed mind that are in dire need of hearing stuff preached in the church as well; however, it is not enough and we are indeed hiding the light and keeping it in and for the church only. Yet, that is not what Jesus commanded us to do when He told us to be the light of the world.

    He stated this:

    Matthew 5:14-16 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

    Clearly He states, do not to hide the light but make it shine before men. Let’s put thing into perspective here, He says to be the light of the world not the church, the church is the light and it should be such for the world or for men so that they may see our good works and glorify God.

    This is not only doing works of charity, in fact in accordance to what we read in Ephesians 5 part of the good and righteous works was denouncing the works of darkness and exposing them to the light and truth of God’s word. This is indeed the prophetic ministry of the church, which is a long lost art today.

    The church as the prophets of old should call everyone back to righteousness and call people to repentance and back to God, as the prophets of old she is to be the voice that upholds the truth of God and upholds good and condemns evil.

    Even Paul said this about the church:

    1 Timothy 3:15-16 but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

    The church is the pillar and ground of the truth, the church is supposed to always guard and protect the truth of the word of God. The church unfortunately, for the most part, has betrayed this responsibility and as the passage says, if the church is to be the pillar of the truth and then it btrays God’s truth, it ceases to stand because once the pillar and the gorund crumble the entire edifice falls. This is what has ahappened to a very big part of the visible professing church. It has fallen because its foundation has crumbled, the pillar and the gorund which is God’s truth have been removed and threfore the entire structure has failed. Remember that the foundation of the church are the Apostel and prophets and Jesus is the corner stone. If you remove the doctrines, in other words the truth they taught from the church what you have is a construction without foundations and without stability, it will crumble and fall and crumbled and fallen it has.

    In case anyone thinks that this is not God’s intent for the church that the church be the prophetic voice in the world, in case we still believe the error that it is not the place of the church to do all this, in case we don’t think it’s Christlike, then please read the following statement which Jesus told His brothers:

    John 7:6-7 Then Jesus said unto them, My time is not yet come: but your time is always ready. 7 The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.

    Did you see that? He testified that the world’s works are evil. Aren’t we to do the same? If we are to believe the adage of “What would Jesus do?” There is the answer!

    Jesus also said to Pilate that He had come to bear witness of the truth, to testify of the truth.

    John 18:37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

    Should we not do the same work? You see, this gives us a whole new insight into the meaning of what Jesus meant when He said to be the light of the world and not hide it but to let it shine before men so that they would see our good works. In Philippians 2 Paul calls us believers to do this:

    Philippians 2:15-16 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; 16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

    Now aren’t these also part the works God has created government to perform? Yes, indeed. So again, where would Christians better serve God in this prophetic capacity? By permeating the government Christians could be not only obedient to the mandate found in Matthew 5 and Ephesians 5 but would indeed perform more diligently the work God has entrusted to the government as His minister.

    Remember that this is the context in which we are studying this concept, government’s duty before God, the God given function of government. We clearly understand then, that if Christians everywhere, but especially permeated their government, all these commandments that God gives us as well as the proper function of government would certainly be exactly the way God desires it to be.

    It certainly would not be perfect, but it would be absolutely and without a doubt much better than it is today. In addition today even our nation, which is gradually ever so quickly slipping and sliding into hell, would fear God more and howbeit still filled with sinners it would nevertheless indeed be acting in a godlier manner. This has been true for centuries within the history of our country, today not so much anymore.

    If our government today is not functioning properly, and it and our nation are becoming more and more ungodly, it’s not because that is “how it was supposed to be.”

    Indeed God wrote it would be so, but why? Because He knew that the church would in the end fail and become disobedient to Him and compromise with the world. It is in the end our fault, we abdicated our responsibility to be salt and light and sadly we have become good for very little, if not for nothing at all.

    Indeed if the church, if God’s people called by His name, will not humble themselves, pray, seek His face and turn from their wicked ways, God will not hear from heaven and our land will not be healed.

    Let us not forget the words Jesus spoke to the last church that will exist in the last time, or at least how the church will mostly be in the days preceding His return, in other words the sins that will prevail in this church,

    Revelation 3:14-22 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth. 17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

    As we see this brings us back also to the subject at hand when we even learned what it meant to be salt of the earth, we said that salt has medicinal and healing properties which when applied to infections and wounds, although it may burn and sting yet it heals. Even so, applying ourselves as salt in our government and society we would also bring healing to our land.

    If the church is not salt and light abundantly, even and especially in our government, the land will not receive the healing God wants to deliver. We always hear about division, hatred and how we need healing in this land, well now we know what the remedy is, are we willing to apply the cure? So far it does not look like it! We seek the answers to these things from our government, yet we neglect to permeate the government with Christians. It’s sad to think that an ungodly government can bring about the healing of the nation when God calls His people to do it. The only way the government will do it is if it’s filled with righteous people who put into practice being salt and light.

    So we understand that at the end of all this, God established government to be His minister, His minister to punish evil and reward good but we also understand, hopefully, that when and if a government remains for the most part made up of unbelieving and ungodly people both the government as well as the nation in which such government exists will not reflect God’s will and function for that government and that nation.

    Therefore we Christians, whether we want to admit it or not, have a great duty and responsibility and it is up to us to permeate our government institutions so that we can establish good and punish evil properly, so that we can make and promote righteous and just laws and enforce them, so that we can condemn and denounce the unfruitful works of darkness so that our nation can be healed.

    This my friends is not a Theocracy in any way, it is just allowing the government to function as government in the right way, the way God intends it to function. A theocracy would be if a particular church or religion was the government. Our government and most governments on earth are not as such and would not be even if every single member of the government were believers.

    For example Islam is attempting to govern in their own kind of theocracy, where their religion’s clergy run the state, where Sharia laws, in other words, religious law governs the people.

    Our form of government as many others are not like that and even if it were permeated by Christians would never be a theocracy, unless even they were run by actual churches or clergy and imposed church law on everyone.

    That is not what our country is all about, we are not in the business to turn our government into church but on the other hand, we should affect common laws in such a way that they are just and righteous and in line with the will of God. There are also many laws that we can call neutral, in other words, if a law does not confront a violation of human God given rights, as even delineated in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution or if laws do not involve moral issues and do not violate such, then the laws are neutral in their substance.

    God designed government to punish evil, to protect its citizens form enemies and to protect life and liberty. This is also the scope and duty of our government.

    Unfortunately, our government as many others, has involved itself in too many nefarious activities and even in too many cases involved itself and got sucked into many activities that were never what God designed government to be and to do.

    In fact our government and many others as well, with the excuse of taking care of its citizens has actually slowly and gradually ceased to do what it is truly designed by God to do and instead has been placing itself in a position to replace God in the life of its citizens.

    Unfortunately, even the church has fallen into this subtle trap. In many cases the government even in this country has overstepped its boundaries and has invaded the religious freedoms of its people. Freedoms which are patently protected by the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, which is the law of the land.

    I did mention before that in the US under the Constitution we have protection form attempts of our rights being usurped on the part of any governmental institution. Instead the government who is supposed to protect us from such has been for many, many decades the very culprit of these attempts, often even successful attempts to take away our freedoms, especially the one of practicing our faith without governmental interference.

    This is another very important reason why believers should permeate all sectors of government, in order to prevent these things from happening. In great part, the loss of any human right, including the right to practice our Christian faith in a country where this issue should not even exist is due to the believers’ unwillingness to become an active part of our government and also for not standing up in defense of any attempt to usurp our God given rights. At best the church’s attempts to avoid this have been dismal and weak.

    Again, why did this occur? Two main reasons, the unwillingness on part of believers to be actively and abundantly involved in government and the consequence of it, basically the take over of our governmental institutions by atheist, Antichrist and Anti-God individuals and individuals of religions who do not embrace Giudeo-Christian values.

    It is obvious that a government made up of people who hate God, Christ and the church will strive to do all they can to destroy the church and deprive her of her rights. They will also become increasingly Antisemitic in nature because let’s face it and even if someone does not believe in the Bible as the word of God but at lest as a historical record together with many others we can clearly see that the attempts to destroy the Jewish people and later on even Christianity are blatantly clear and evident.

    So, government’s duty given to it by God is mainly given to punish evil, law enforcement and protecting its people form invaders and those who may want to harm them. You can say that one of the main God given duties of government is the defense and preservation of human life and not its destruction and abuse.

    So besides punishing evil in a just and fair way, the government’s duty it is also the defense and protection of life and of the weak. We can clearly see today especially, that most governments have, some a lot and some perhaps a little less, abdicated and evaded this main responsibility.

    In many cases governments have been ruthless oppressors in their quest to dominate its citizens. Even in a free society as the USA and in other parts of the so called free world, the government has become increasingly godless and oppressive with its citizens. While it is mainly insubordinate to God in its mandate to punish evil and to operate in a just and fair way, nowadays the government is becoming increasingly wicked. It justifies and promotes and many times defends evil while it punishes good and righteous behavior. It endorsed godless behavior and defends it while it suppresses the faith of people and oppresses those who are trying to practice good and righteous behavior and uphold and enforce righteous laws.

    The laws today’s governments pass are increasingly unjust while the good, just and righteous laws are being disregarded and ignored even abolished. This is a sign that the society has been gradually becoming more and more ungodly and wicked and therefore it chooses a government to rule over it that is basically the same as they are.

    The government is becoming corrupted and it is bribed in many ways to do and to approve things that are evil and that only benefit some at the expenses of the majority. In most cases it has to do with the unfettered search of becoming powerful and wealthy, in other words the love of money, and we know, hopefully, that God has declared to us that the love of money is the root of all evil.

    God had a stern warning to a people and also a government which operates in these ways, we find this warning in:

    Isaiah 5:20-23 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! 22 Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: 23 Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!

    What we have described here is an account of God’s decreed judgment on a society and therefore a government that has gone astray. When a government and consequently a society cease to be godly and just these are the things that happen.

    The government begins to reward evil instead of good and begins to define good as evil. They begin to uphold wickedness and evil instead of godliness and honesty. They place more interest on things that embitter people rather than help make their life better, this by the way is a description of oppression. It begins to look for understanding and knowledge as it perceives it without considering God’s wisdom and His knowledge, this in the end becomes the deification of mankind. They regard drunkenness and today drug use as a thing that is beneficial to humanity and attempt to decriminalize such behaviors. This is what we see a lot in governments gone bad, they justify the wicked by bribery and punish the innocent taking away their rights and transforming them into criminals.

    One of the ways that the government also justifies the wicked is by pleading down crimes. Making deals! Plea bargaining is a form of justifying the wicked and it’s actually withholding true justice and it is another way of taking away justice from those who have been victimized by those crimes.

    It is no wonder why God gave His people the lex talionis, the famous eye for an eye law. That is true justice, when a crime or a wrong is committed the punishment must be equal to the crime committed.

    Deuteronomy 19:11-13 But if any man hate his neighbour, and lie in wait for him, and rise up against him, and smite him mortally that he die, and fleeth into one of these cities: 12 Then the elders of his city shall send and fetch him thence, and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die. 13 Thine eye shall not pity him, but thou shalt put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with thee.

    Deuteronomy 19:21 And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

    In this chapter of Deuteronomy God is giving His people His directives as to how righteous and just judgment is to be practiced in law enforcement. Let’s understand this correctly, this is how God desires all governments to execute justice. This is not a question of church rules and regulations. This is civics one o one, this is justice one o one. The church is not the government and the government is not the church, the church was not even established yet when God gave these rules to Israel.

    Let’s remember and not forget that Israel was and is a nation not only a religious institution.

    What God is doing here is, He is informing them as to how a nation, a government judges and rules in matters of law and justice. He is informing His people how a government ought to operate according to His will.

    Let’s remember that God is the ultimate and perfect judge. He is the maker and giver of law, it’s not man that created law, although that is what most believe. No, God is the One who created the law from which all human laws derive. We already mentioned this before, but let’s think about this again. God is our creator and He created us in His image and likeness,

    Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

    We also know, or at least I hope we do, that after mankind fell into sin through Adam and Eve’s disobedience and rebellion every single person from that day on is born into a condition of spiritual death. In other words, we are born physically alive but spiritually dead. We are actually living dead, we are literally like zombies. Because we are spiritually dead our nature is a thoroughly sinful one. This actually means that although we retain some semblance of the fact that God created us in His image and likeness, our nature is so corrupted by that sinfulness that we are not able nor willing to obey God and do His will.

    We are unable and unwilling to obey God. Nevertheless, we still have within us residuals of the image and likeness of God, everyone has this in them. However, as we said we as sinners, enslaved by sin and loving sin and rebellion, we do not care about the vestiges of godliness that are in us. Sin did not erase all of the image and likeness of God in us, Romans 1:18-19.

    One big thing that exists in every person is God’s law written within that person, the other thing God gave man to reveal His law written in the heart of man is the conscience.

    Romans 2:14-15 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

    As we see written here Paul says that the Gentiles, that is those who weren’t and even today aren’t Jews did not receive God’s written law and did not know it for the most part. We have seen before that the written law was given to Israel not to the nations, in other words the Gentiles. However as we read above God has written His law in the hearts of all men.

    All this to say that, God wrote His law in man and that is exactly where the laws that humans created came from, even though they did not have been given the written law. In other words the majority mankind’s laws are indeed based on God’s law.

    These laws end up staying in effect for the most part and are enforced best when the persons’ conscience remains soft and malleable. However this usually stays that way only when God’s people affect those governments in one way or another.

    When God’s people, both in the history of Israel recorded in the Old Testament and through the history of the church in New Testamentary times including today, become apathetic and compromising and disobedient and cease to be, as we mentioned before salt and light, then by consequence the conscience of that society hardens and the government and society become more and more ungodly and wicked. When this happens we have the exact result as it is described in Isaiah 5 that we read previously.

    In addition, when a society begins to reject God and either lives in open idolatry or it abandons God’s ways, if previously known, then the results are horrendous and these are listed in Romans 1:18-32.

    In this passage we find the description of a society that decides to abandon the truth regarding God and giving itself to idolatry and wickedness.

    For these very reasons the passage claim that God abandons that society and allows it to reap the consequences of its own rejection of God and He abandons them to deal with the unavoidable gradual fall of that society into wickedness which then causes its own results and consequences, which are in the end God’s righteous judgment, as the passage mentions in verse 18 of Romans 1.

    One of the unavoidable consequences of a society that abandons God is its plunging itself into the open and accepted practice of homosexuality.

    This is plainly explained in the following passage:

    Romans 1:24-28 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.

    In case there might still be an issue as to whether this is God’s judgment or not, the words used are clear enough in this passage, yet in the beginning of this passage in verse 17 where Paul clearly specifies that what follows is indeed God’s wrath and judgment on people who have openly rejected knowing God and His ways;

    Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

    By the way, even though Paul is writing to the Roman church exhorting believers there and everywhere even today, to submit to the governing authorities, yet what Paul wrote here in this entire passage of Romans 1 actually denotes clearly what ended up happening to the Roman Empire.

    The Roman Empire in which these believers lived was their governing authority and Paul tells the church to submit to them, when the governing authorities did not violate God’s law, yet we see that God indeed ended up holding Rome under His judgment and wrath as this Empire ended up exactly how Paul described it in Romans 1:17-32.

    Rome had the opportunity to believe in God and Christ but in reality, even after the so called conversion to Christianity by Constantine, Rome truly never bowed before the Lordship of Christ but became in very nature Antichrist and continued to be so through the Roman Catholic religion and the papacy. (Hence Roman).

    Rome in fact collapsed from within and that was indeed God’s judgment on an evil Empire who rejected Him. All the signs Paul wrote about were present then and are present today in any society and civilization that ends up rejecting God and Jesus Christ.

    As we said one of the greater signs of God’s judgment is the preeminence and prevalence of homosexuality as a normal practice of society. In addition to this in the closing verses of the Romans 1 passage we clearly see that a society that is abandoned by God into His judgment becomes almost entirely wicked as Paul later on in the passage tells us:

    Romans 1:28-32 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

    The society and culture that finds itself in this condition is definitely defined by the behaviors herein described.

    Let me say this explicitly and clearly, I will say this but I do not be misunderstood. In America’s political landscape we clearly find, by honest examination regarding the character traits of the people representing our two main parties, that predominantly most Christians are found in the conservative wing of the political spectrum and most non believers and God haters are found in the liberal democrat political spectrum.

    Having said this, God in reality does not particularly side with a political ideology, yet, what we interestingly find is that the conservative ideology more similarly reflects God’s ways and is more in line with God’s word. What we disturbingly find is that what we call the leftist ideology is actually almost perfectly in line with all who approve and practice the behavioral patterns of wickedness and godlessness mentioned above by Paul.

    Obviously there are exceptions, for example, not all conservatives in ideology are believers, in fact there are many unbelievers and people who behave in such wicked manner that are conservative in ideology. Also, not all leftist leaning people are unbelievers, in fact I would say that there are far too many professing Christians that support leftist ideologies, which ideologies are actually all godless and wicked.

    There are no leftist ideologies, none, that actually agree or coincide with God’s word and God’s law. In examining closely the two political philosophies or parties we then can conclude that not all conservatives are Christians but most Christians are conservative in their ideals, while, even though some Christians or professing Christians are liberal Democrats, however most God hating wicked people are liberals as well.

    Why you may ask? Because, as we sad the two ideologies are antithetical one to the other. Most leftist liberals love godlessness and wickedness and if and when a Christian follows the leftist agendas they are at best greatly deceived or in a worse case scenario they aren’t even born again. They may be religious but sadly they are not saved.

    We see therefore that those who stay on the left actually mostly behave and support the behavior that Paul mentions. They are filled with all kinds of wickedness and their political ideology espouses and promotes wicked and ungodly behavior.

    You see, even though conservatives aren’t all saved and all believers, however they believe in a ideology that believes in freedom and civic respect and responsibility, all thing the left despises.

    Those on the right believe in the Constitution which in turn even if they don’t believe in God they still honor and respect the document that gives the right to believe what one wants to believe, the left despises the Constitution or at best likes it only when they can manipulated, misinterpret it and use it to their ends and only in order to garner power and keep their ideological adversaries under their rule and reign.

    The Constitution to them is merely a document that they can change and manipulate to keep their own rights unaltered but also use it to deprive them and take them away from anyone who disagrees with them.

    Don’t take this next thing as dogmatic but it is to say at the very least it is a coincidental irony that even Jesus mentioned right and left to signify His own and to describe evil people who did not belong to Him As He describes His people as the sheep on His right side being those who belong to Him and to whom the kingdom belongs and those on the left the goats, the evil wicked people who do not belong to Him and to whom the kingdom does not belong.

    Matthew 25:32-34 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

    Matthew 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

    At the very least it’s highly ironic that the predominantly wicked people identify with the left side of things while the predominantly justified people identify with the right side of things.

    Anyway, why have we said all this? We said it because it is important to understand and see that a society and culture in which the church ceases to be salt and light and avoids to permeate any and all parts of society especially government, becomes a society with a government that becomes godless and wicked, it becomes a government and a society that will hate God, hate the church, will trample the church underfoot, will oppose it and try to silence her at best but eventually try to destroy her.

    Without believers involved as salt and light in government it will, without a doubt, become godless and wicked and as we have seen the left ideological wickedness will take root and hold and eventually will become the majority’s ideology. The sad thing is that this is happening in our nation as I write this.

    Paul says this in the last verse of the Romans 1 passage:

    Romans 1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

    These people know the judgment of God, yet not only they do not fear God and His judgment, they still love to practice wickedness and also have pleasure in them that do the same.

    Scripture also delineates this concept we are talking about in:

    Proverbs 28:4 They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them.

    Proverbs 29:27 An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked.

    By these statement we quickly realize who is who even in our political landscape.

    We see therefore that the governing authorities have a great responsibility before God to perform a certain job. The biggest requirement God expects from the governing authorities is to enforce the laws and punish those who transgress the laws. The other main responsibility is to protect its citizens from criminals and from outside invaders who may wish to bring harm to the people of that particular nation. Basically an army should mainly be for the self defense of the nation and its borders.

    In reality that is all that government should do. Unfortunately we have seen how far, far away even our government has gone from its duties before God. The governing authorities in reality are not called, at least biblically, to provide anything else but just law making, law enforcement, punishment of the law breakers and border protection.

    Welfare was not and is not ever intended to be the government’s responsibility. In reality, the sad reality is that welfare should have been and is one of the church’s responsibilities.

    We clearly see even in the Old Testament, where God gave His people instructions about His law and how He desired His people to behave, that He did not tell the governing institution to provide for the poor but He laid the responsibility on the individual and the corporate part of Israelite society.

    Exodus 23:10-11 And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof:

    11 But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy oliveyard.

    Leviticus 23:22 And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God.

    As we clearly see the commandment to provide for the poor is not given to the government rather to the individual and or the so called agricultural or corporate part of society.

    Now some would say, that since the government is the people that even if the government takes care of the poor this is in the end an organized way for the people to support the poor by helping them through their tax money.

    Yet God’s word did not ever tell any governing authorities to collect taxes to redistribute into a welfare program.

    Welfare in God’s economy consists in the end of giving work to the poor, paying decent wages for the work done and helping the poor by providing them with food to eat, not to provide all kinds of amenities as the government does in our country and in others.

    God’s intention is not and was not to allow everyone to become equally poor, however unfortunately in the way most governments operate today that is exactly what is happening. Overtaxing the people to give to the poorer people makes people want to become and remain dependent on the government and in the end not on God and the mercy and care of God’s people, nor seek to find work to do in order to lift oneself out of poverty.

    Yet we see how the church has instead chosen to abdicate its own responsibility before God, to be the giver of care for the poor and the destitute and has comfortably laid it upon the government. Then complain about the misuse and waste of tax money and complain about high taxes.

    What a healthy society needs to do is, provide decent working capabilities for everyone so that eventually people can provide for themselves. Unfortunately in almost every case the fact that the government gives hand outs too easily actually creates a society that becomes dependent on government provisions but creates a society that never wants to become independent from the government and it promotes laziness. This also causes people to dependo on Government for their needs rather than the faithfulness of God and dependong on His promises and power and it causes in a sense the government to become in the place of God.

    Very well, now that we went out on that trail, let’s get back to the God given responsibilities of the governing powers.

    Paul says: Romans 13:4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

    It’s worth repeating again, the government’s main responsibility is to punish evil and should also reward good citizens, but we have also seen that the more corrupt and wicked a government becomes the more a government will side with evil and with corruption and end up even punishing those who actually try to do good.

    We have a pretty good example of this in our own government which legalized abortion nationally. We know that this is a wicked abomination in God’s eyes but now the government actually enforces this as a so called law, which is not a law but which is actually lawlessness in God’s eyes.

    In this our government practically rewards evildoers who kill unborn babies and even subsidizes abortions while at the same time considers anyone who opposes abortion to be treated as a law breaker.

    Many Christians and other people who are anti-abortion have been treated as criminals and evildoers because they defy an evil deed that the government unfortunately has passed as lawful. The same thing is happening with whoever opposes the pro-homosexual push which the government is now greatly supporting.

    Now there have been many attempts to pass so called hate speech laws in order to punish whoever speaks against homosexuality, are being presented in state and federal legislatures. In Canada and other countries such laws have already been placed into effect.

    In addition, regarding this subject, the government forces businesses, for example as bakeries to make cakes for same sex marriages and or other occasions. They do so by treating the bakers in question as criminals or law breakers. Yet the Constitution clearly states in the First Amendment that no law can be passed that interferes or that forces the church and Christians to do things that violate their faith and beliefs. This is one instance where the government is defying its own rules by rewarding the wicked and treating the innocent as criminals. By the way, there even has been an instance where a Christians city clerk was arrested for not wanting to issue a same sex marriage license. Both cases were then reversed by the Supreme court however many State governments still try and attempt to continue in prosecuting and persecuting Christians for upholding their beliefs.

    In addition to all this if it wasn’t bad enough, for decades there has been a great push to make any semblance of Christianity illegal in all of society but especially outlawing it in government facilities and any place that is connected with anything governmental, even in our schools. This has been in effect, as I said, for decades. The government in reality under our very own Constitution has no right at all to disallow or to make prayer and any type of demonstration of Christian faith or any faith for that matter, illegal. Yet they do and they do it with a special emphasis against Christianity more so than against other faiths. In fact, they would never, almost never, behave this way for example with Islamic religion. In fact, they seem to always accommodate the Islamic religion.

    In addition to all this, the government in its law enforcement and department of justice and judicial branch often plea bargains with criminals while lessening sentences and by doing so they cheapen and corrupt justice. Also the abolition of the death penalty is a very bad decision on part of any government because the death penalty is the only right justice with which to punish murderers. We have already seen that the Bible tells us that in many parts of it, it is God’s perfect will and whoever opposes it, Christian or not does not understand God and His will in that department.

    In fact, the fact that actually confirms this is also found in the very passage we are studying, Paul says that the government bears the sword and it does so for a reason.

    Actually, it is exactly why an evil doer will fear more the governing authorities, because they do bear the sword and they use it to punish murderers.

    Getting rid of the death penalty is as if the sword is taken away from the government, it’s basically disarming the law enforcers while allowing the criminals to defy justice while they remain armed the government is disarmed of their sword.

    Think about it for a moment, if you take the sword away from the government what will the murderers fear? Life in prison, often with reduced sentences and finally parole? That is not at all a deterrent.

    On another note, how much does it cost tax payers to house a murderer in a jail for life? Even from a financial aspect it makes no sense at all. However, it’s not at all a financial issue it’s a justice issue.

    The death penalty for murderers is actually God’s will, this is evident from Scripture. God is the same yesterday, today and forever, He does not change at all which means that even in the New Testament He did not ever abolish the death penalty. I cannot understand where Christians actually think they find that God’s will is that murderers be spared their lives.

    Even Jesus told His disciples this:

    Luke 22:36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.

    Think about this for a moment, why does Jesus tell them to sell their garment and buy one? Why would Jesus tell His disciples to buy swords if God did not approve of owning weapons and having to use them in certain cases. Specifically in this case it is evident Jesus is talking about self defense and protection. This is more than evident means that God does indeed approve of using lethal force in cases where persons, even believers, need to defend themselves. God is obviously not anti weapon or anti self defense and therefore not anti death penalty. Think about it, if God does not mind people using lethal force to defend themselves and others why would God be anti death penalty? He obviously isn’t and we see extensively in Scripture.

    God is indeed merciful, He is merciful upon whom He will be merciful, Romans 9:15, and yet in His word He also clearly states that for murder there is no other lesser punishment than to take the life of the murderer.

    This fact is quite evident by many passages we find in Scripture, let’s look at some:

    Genesis 9:5-6 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man.

    6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

    We already previously talked about this passage but it’s a very important one. This passage in fact is indeed the basis of capital punishment.

    We clearly see that this declaration was given by God before He even gave His law to His people. In fact because this declaration precedes the law, it is essential in the proper understanding of the fact that this is a universal declaration of God.

    In essence, Israel was still in Noah’s children’s loins, Israel was not even created yet, yet God declares this fact establishing it as universal. This is given to be a divine edict for all people. Let’s remember that this is declared to Noah and His children from where later all the people in the world derived: Genesis 10:1-32, therefore it is a divine directive to all mankind not only to Israel.

    In the law, which God gave His people, He gave increased information as to how He desired that capital punishment should be exercised. What we see here is God giving additional revelation of His perfect will to His people.

    In the law God specifies however that He wants murder punished by the death of the murderer and nothing less. God is very specific as to how and when the death penalty needs to be enforced.

    Exodus 21:12 He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.

    Leviticus 24:17 And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death.

    Numbers 35:20-21 But if he thrust him of hatred, or hurl at him by laying of wait, that he die; 21 Or in enmity smite him with his hand, that he die: he that smote him shall surely be put to death; for he is a murderer: the revenger of blood shall slay the murderer, when he meeteth him.

    In this chapter of Numbers from whence derive the above passage, we find a clear distinction that God makes between premeditated, first degree murder and accidental manslaughter.

    This in fact was the reason why God told His people to assign cities of refuge. These were cities in which people who killed another person without malice or intent or accidentally could go and live and be spared the death penalty.

    These cities actually were very similar to being under partial arrest as the person had a certain amount of freedom in living and even thrive in that city. The person in question was not however under arrest as in a prison or cell or even home arrest, yet the person had to, in every way, remain in that city if they wanted to avoid being executed.

    In those days they had the equivalent of what we know today as bounty hunters who were called avengers of blood and who would execute murderers if and when they found them. God gave a way out in His mercy to those who would kill but not with hatred and intent, yet they had to remain in the cities of refuge until the death of the High Priest and that actually could be for a very long time.

    Perhaps most people would end up even dying in the city where they sought refuge yet they had complete liberty of life within these cities. So to equate this to a prison sentence is an exaggeration and it is not at all the same thing.

    However, in regard to a murder not committed for hate and not premeditated this was the only thing that could be compared to a prison term, the difference, however, is that for premeditated murder and committed by hatred and malice there was no penalty or prison but only the execution of the guilty.

    Numbers 35:22-28 But if he thrust him suddenly without enmity, or have cast upon him any thing without laying of wait, 23 Or with any stone, wherewith a man may die, seeing him not, and cast it upon him, that he die, and was not his enemy, neither sought his harm: 24 Then the congregation shall judge between the slayer and the revenger of blood according to these judgments: 25 And the congregation shall deliver the slayer out of the hand of the revenger of blood, and the congregation shall restore him to the city of his refuge, whither he was fled: and he shall abide in it unto the death of the high priest, which was anointed with the holy oil. 26 But if the slayer shall at any time come without the border of the city of his refuge, whither he was fled; 27 And the revenger of blood find him without the borders of the city of his refuge, and the revenger of blood kill the slayer; he shall not be guilty of blood: 28 Because he should have remained in the city of his refuge until the death of the high priest: but after the death of the high priest the slayer shall return into the land of his possession.

    Clearly this process was just and fair. The person would be tried and if not found guilty of murder they would be relegated to live in a city of refuge. The so called avengers of blood would be the equivalent of what Paul calls the magistrate who held the sword, in this Romans 13 passage.

    I hope we understand that it is indeed God’s will to punish evil doers and that it is definitely His will that murderers be executed.

    There are still many more passages that define and describe God’s will toward murderers:

    Deuteronomy 19:11-13 But if any man hate his neighbour, and lie in wait for him, and rise up against him, and smite him mortally that he die, and fleeth into one of these cities: 12 Then the elders of his city shall send and fetch him thence, and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die. 13 Thine eye shall not pity him, but thou shalt put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with thee.

    As we see God wants no pity for those who are murderers, if they are not elected to salvation it will be evident as God will not allow them in the end to be forgiven and the consequences of the bloodshed they caused will be with them and upon them all their life.

    In fact a murderer can escape earthly justice but will never escape God’s judgment and they will be fugitives all their lives and will be judged eternally for their crimes and sins.

    Proverbs 28:17 A man who is laden with the guilt of human blood Will be a fugitive until death; let no one support him.

    I hope we understand what this passage is saying, any person who is guilty of shedding innocent blood will be a fugitive all their life. Fugitive from the authorities and from God, yet God does not want that they receive any assistance or help or sympathy.

    This is another very important reason why God does not want the life of a murderer to be spared, unless it His prerogative to do so. In the majority of cases though God wants a murderer to pay with their life. Let’s think about this for a moment. Even if God wanted to save a murderer, it will be His prerogative to extend a reprieve for the consequence of the murder committed. In other words, if a murderer gets apprehended, according to God they should be executed, yet in His mercy God may decide through the church and the Gospel to reach that person and save them before they die.

    If they believe in Jesus and repent they receive God’s mercy and forgiveness, right? Let me ask now, is God obligated to keep that person alive because He forgave them? The answer is no! God saved His soul but it could very well be that that person may still have to pay for the crime committed with his or her life. Opportunity to believe and repent should always be given, even to murderers but God says that they must pay with their life for the life they took.

    God grants His salvation but let’s remember, His salvation is first and foremost of one’s soul and in no way is God obligated to save the person’s physical life. Even a forgiven murderer will receive a new body in the resurrection. God’s mercy does not always include sparing a physical life it does always include the soul and the spirit of a person. Remember the man on the cross when Jesus was crucified?

    He indeed asked for forgiveness to God and he received it, but his life was not spared. He still was executed, yet he received mercy. So as we see this whole humanistic idea, which has taken over even the church, the idea that it is not at all God’s will and that is unmerciful to execute murderers. The church often adopts humanistic do good ideologies and philosophies while it completely ignores God’s word.

    Let me make something clear, the church is and should be a vehicle to bring God’s mercy to sinners. So the job of the church is indeed to have mercy on sinners including murderers. That is why I believe prison ministries are an essential ministry and prisons are indeed a mission field where the church has to bring the Gospel of salvation. It’s the church’s job to preach God’s mercy and forgiveness through the Gospel but it is the government’s job to enforce and execute laws and sentences, including the death penalty which we have seen is indeed God’s will in a case of murder.

    The government’s job is not to have mercy rather to enforce and execute the laws. Law knows not mercy, the law should be fair but it is not merciful. That’s the church’s job, God has mercy through the Gospel through the church not the government.

    It s not and should not be the government’s job to water down the power of the law in order to be more merciful. A king, a president or a governor can exercise mercy by commuting sentences and pardoning people if and when they desire or there are good reasons to do so. Yet it is not otherwise the government’s job to show mercy to murderers and God made this more than clear in His word.

    Instead Christians, many Christians actually erroneously believe that God desires that the death penalty be abolished. In other words they dispute the word of God that clearly shows that it is God’s will instead.

    This happens is mainly because of Scriptural ignorance and human stubbornness.

    Many Christians refuse to believe that God desires that a murderer be executed they believe instead that God wants to have mercy on everyone and that we must give the chance to people to believe and repent and that the person must have their life spared in order to give them their entire life to do so.

    In addition they believe that because God is the giver of life and He is the only One who has the final say as to who lives and dies that man can never take a life. They claim that since God is 100% an unapologetic pro-life supporter as the creator and giver of life that He cannot be pro death penalty. Although all this on the surface may sound right, it’s actually not right at all, or I should say it’s only true in part.

    The part that is true is that God is definitely pro-life and indeed He is the only One who has the right to give and take life, it is also true that God is just and that He loves justice and that as He chose the church as the instrument of His mercy He also chose the magistrate, the governing authorities, to be the instruments of His justice and judgment on evil doers.

    This is exactly what Paul is explaining here in Romans 13:4. The magistrate for that reason does not bear the sword for nothing. He bears the sword to execute justice and judgment on evildoers, particularly on murderers.

    Execution of a murderer is not the same as shedding innocent blood, in other words killing a person that did not merit death, at least from God’s word’s standpoint. God hates the shedding of innocent blood and He requires that innocent blood be avenged. God clearly claimed this in many places and we have seen it written in Genesis 9:5-6.

    There are others though that clearly explain to us that God requires justice be executed in the case innocent blood is shed.

    The very first time this is explained to us was after the very first murder in human history was committed. Cain hated his brother Abel and killed him. This is what God said to Cain:

    Genesis 4:8-11 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. 9 And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper? 10 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground. 11 And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand;

    Other passages come later as God speaks to His people and gives them His law.

    Deuteronomy 21:9 So shalt thou put away the guilt of innocent blood from among you, when thou shalt do that which is right in the sight of the LORD.

    2 Kings 24:4 And also for the innocent blood that he shed: for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; which the LORD would not pardon.

    This last passage is very disturbing and it should be very sobering and it should help us understand how God views the shedding of innocent blood.

    In this particular case, the episode is particularly similar to the situation that exists in many countries including ours. In this case, as it was happening often throughout the history of Israel and Judah, children were being sacrificed alive to false gods.

    This closely if not perfectly mirrors the modern practice of abortion. Who is more innocent than a baby? Who is even more innocent than unborn babies? No one!

    Manasseh king of Judah was responsible of so much child sacrifice that the Scripture says, he shed so much innocent blood to fill Jerusalem, and the very fearful thing is that it says that God was not willing to pardon what he did.

    This called down on Judah God’s severe judgment, they did not get away with it. So let’s think about that for a moment.

    In the US since 1973, when abortion was legalized, about sixty million children have been killed by abortion. So how are we to equate all this to what is described in the above passage?

    Our government, in many ways with the approval of the church, has legalized murder. Not just any murder, but the murder of the most innocent human beings in existence. In addition to this as if it was not bad enough, many states in the union have also abolished the death penalty for any murder.

    Sadly even in the states where it is still being practiced, in most cases they do not enforce it and people languish on death row for years and often do not get ever executed.

    Look at what the word of God says about delayed justice:

    Ecclesiastes 8:11 Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.

    We get a very good idea from this verse that indeed this is a big part as to why today the hearts of men are fully set in them to do evil.

    This is also another big reason why people lose the fear of God. In case someone still did not understand properly, the death penalty is a huge deterrent and the abolition and even the delay and eventually not enforcing the death penalty as the given just sentence, actually creates more evil not less.

    What we see therefore, from a societal standpoint, that not executing the death penalty and not enforcing the law and executing it justly is the least merciful thing a government can do.

    It’s unmerciful why? Because it will undoubtedly bring God’s judgment upon that entire society. So in reality if there was any way whatsoever in which the government can practice mercy it is by not having mercy on the guilty and by executing and enforcing the law in a just way, without weakening it in any way.

    What we are seeing today instead, is total disregard for God’s brand of justice in this country as well in many others. What we are seeing is murder being decriminalized and allowed to be practiced on the weakest human beings in our society and not bringing the full measure of justice upon the guilty. In reality our government has become the greatest supporter of child murder and murder in general.

    According to God’s word and His will there is no justice in this land and whatever measure of justice exists is greatly corrupted and this in he end is not justice at all. Let’s also remember the old adage

    justice delayed is justice denied”

    However, we can say that laws not enforced to the fullest are also not justice at all! At least not from God’s standpoint.

    What should God do to this nation because of all this? What will He do? If we do not cease with all this corruption and injustice and return to execute real and true justice, according to God, God will not have a choice, He will have to judge us severely and trust Him, He will!

    Therefore as we see the governing authorities, as Paul calls them, the magistrates, they hold the sword and that not for show or just to threaten but to use it in the punishment of evil.

    We see that today the governing authorities do not really have a sword any longer. It’s obvious the field officers in those days carried swords, today they carry fire arms.

    Weaponry also has evolved in something more dangerous and deadly and yes even easier to use. This has also placed the evildoers in a position of being able to commit more evil and do it more easily. It placed evildoers in the position to be able to execute more damage and be more dangerous than ever before. The sword today for us is just a symbol and yet the meaning is the same, lethal force and death is what the magistrates must use in the fight against evil. It was true then and it is today!

    Unfortunate as it is, death is the only deterrent and the only protection people have in the fight against evil. Evil unfortunately often, mostly, does not care about using lethal force in order to accomplish it’s evil intents so even the magistrate must fight in like manner in order to stop and deter evil.

    There is no other way! That is what Paul is telling us but it’s actually what God has communicated to us throughout mankind’s history.

    In Old Testament days we find that God tells His people Israel, actually He commands them that when they go into the promised land they must destroy, annihilate completely the people that lived in that land.

    To many people, even for Christians, all this is incomprehensible and not possibly coming form a gracious merciful God that supposedly loves every person the same way.

    Well, we need to actually understand this concept very well in order to have the proper knowledge as to why God commanded such a thing to His people.

    On the surface it seems that God may be cruel and unmerciful. Many have rationalized and tried to find excuses to try and justify such divine directives by claiming that God changed His ways after the cross.

    They say that since today the world is under grace and that Jesus, since He died for everyone, therefore they claim that Jesus died for the forgiveness of every single person that ever existed and that will ever exist, therefore because of this fact, God is more merciful and gracious now then in Old Testament days.

    They claim that the only ones that will be deemed evil and will be judged are those who will be judged by their refusal to believe the Gospel and therefore by doing so and rejecting Christ’s sacrifice thereby rejecting the only way that they can be saved. This very fact is only true in a very small way but erroneous for the most part.

    Let’s try to briefly respond to these justifications and erroneous doctrines and thoughts.

    First of all, God did not ever change, He did not become a softer and more merciful God after the cross than He was before it. In fact the truth may be shocking to many. God is the same, always, He does not change, God Himself claimed this many times and Scripture confirms this in many other of its parts.

    Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

    Malachi 3:6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

    Hebrews 6:17-18 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: 18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie,

    Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

    There are many other passages but for the sake of time I only picked four of them.

    One of God’s many attributes is His immutability, God never changes, ever. What He deemed sin before the cross He deems sin after it. The seriousness of sinfulness and its consequences never changed after the cross. All of God’s attributes are linked one to another and they are all affected one by the other. Since God is immutable so are all His other attributes. God does not change His mercy nor does He change His righteousness or His judgments, His love does not change, they way He loved in the Old Testament is how He loves in the New Testament.

    The way He has mercy also does not change today as opposed to the way He did in the past. Let me say that all the law God gave to Moses He did it to give Israel as a revelation of Jesus the Messiah who was to come. God always sought faith from His people, always!

    God always expected and expects faith in His promise of redemption through Messiah, who in the Old Testament was represented before the cross symbolically in and by the Levitical priesthood and the law.

    Many Jews understood all this and had faith in God and His promise of redemption through Messiah, yet many others did not and they sought instead self righteousness by the deeds of the law.

    However, God did not change at all, in fact Paul clearly informs us of this fact in:

    Romans 9:13-16 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. 14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

    This passage, is not the only one to explain this fact by the way, anyway, this passage puts to rest the notion that God loves everyone unconditionally in the same way and it also puts to rest the notion that in doing so God is unjust, no, God is not unjust in His choosing to have mercy on some, because if He did not none at all would be saved.

    In fact Paul explains that God told Moses, ( Old Testamentary law era), that He would have mercy (and love) whom He would and He would be compassionate on whom He desired. It depends on God’s choice to have mercy and not man’s or any thing a person can do in order to earn God’s mercy and compassion.

    In fact, this entire passage describing when God told Moses these things is found in:

    Exodus 33:19 Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”

    Let’s take a look at what God says after when He later walks before Moses to show Moses what His name means and who God is:

    Exodus 34:6-7 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, 7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

    In the previous passage God told Moses that on whom He would have mercy depended solely on Him and His decision to do so.

    Later God goes on qualifying and quantifying that statement, even better, He says that He is indeed merciful and gracious, but as He said, it depends entirely on Him, He is very patient and He abounds in goodness and truth toward those He decides to have mercy and He keeps that mercy.

    He also adds the word thousands to describe the fact that He abounds in grace and mercy. This means that God is not stingy in giving His mercy and to those He gives it He forgives iniquity, transgression and sin.

    Yet, God will by no means clear the guilty but He will visit and judge the iniquity, the sins of unrepentant sinners even to the fourth generation of a family.

    So after seeing all this what do we come out with? We should understand that God’s mercy and therefore His love is indeed demonstrated upon the people whom He previously decided to demonstrate them and not on any other sinner. He will indeed judge unrepentant sinners and they will remain evil and will definitely incur His judgment.

    God does not change ever, how He did things back then He does them today. However let me say one thing, although God does not change in any way, being under grace, in other words living after the cross through which God gave the clearest and most complete revelation of His love and grace through Christ and because of this greater demonstration of His love and salvation through and by His Son Jesus Christ whoever rejects Him whoever does not believe in Jesus and rejects the Gospel, will indeed incur a greater punishment, Hebrews 10:29.

    The greater the revelation of God’s mercy and salvation, in this case and point Jesus Christ, John 3:16-21; Hebrews 1:1-2, greater is the responsibility of a person in responding to it and because of this the less will God regard the ignorance of any excuse about His salvation, judgment and punishment.

    Acts 17:30-31 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: 31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

    Paul calls the times before Christ times of ignorance, why? Because it was before the full revelation of God’s love, mercy and forgiveness and truth, His Son Jesus Christ, especially to the Gentiles.

    Paul says that God winked at those days preceding the cross. Wow! God winked, in other words God had more understanding of the ignorance of people regarding His person and His salvation, but now, today, after the cross, He no longer winks at it and He commands ALL men EVERYWHERE, get it?

    The Gospel is a commandment and not an invitation as many call it. That is why the Bible makes references to the fact that people must become obedient to the Gospel, 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8; 1 Peter 4:17.

    God today is commanding men everywhere to believe in Christ and repent. He did in fact appoint a day of judgment in which He will judge the world through Jesus Christ whom He raised from the dead.

    Again, what in the world does this have to do with what we started talking about before, in other words God ordering His people Israel when they went into the promised land? What does this have to do with destroying and annihilating the inhabitants of that land? Everything, really!

    We had to clearly establish all this so that we could understand that even today it is not simply the fact that God judges people simply because they reject Christ, in other words the Gospel.

    Today the Gospel of Jesus Christ is indeed the only way through which people will obtain His mercy and salvation, it is the only vehicle by which a person believing in Him will be saved today.

    However, God’s judgment of people does not simply depend on the rejection of the Gospel although many think it is so. God’s judgment always depends on the sinful state of a person and the amount of eternal judgment a person receives depends on the amount of revelation the person have regarding their own sin, the law and the Gospel.

    The severity of God’s judgment but not the judgment itself depends on the amount of revelation and knowledge a person has. Jesus put it this way:

    Luke 12:45-48 But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; 46 The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. 47 And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

    This how Jesus explains very simply and clearly how God’s eternal punishment works. Here we find that the context is about the servants or people, who behaved a certain way such as they, beat the menservants and maidens, and eat and drink, to be drunken. Jesus says these will receive eternal punishment. The punishment is based upon their sin and it is eternal. He also describes that there are two types of people in this category, those of the two who knew God’s will, in other words who had more revelation and knowledge regarding the master’s will, in other words God, and disobeyed it and others who were not as aware of God’s will and still disobeyed it because of their lack of knowledge regarding God’s will.

    Jesus goes on saying that the person with the greatest amount of knowledge of God and His will, in other words, those to whom God’s law and the Gospel are given and then reject them, continue not believe and therefore disobey them knowing them, in other words remain unbelieving unrepentant sinners, these people, will be punished eternally with, as Jesus says, more stripes. This means that these people’s punishment will be eternal and will be greater.

    Those instead who did not hear the Gospel and did not know God’s written law, will still be punished eternally but they will with a lesser punishment. Nevertheless, the punishment in both cases is the eternal punishment of the unbelievers and it’s eternal in both cases. In fact, Jesus at the end of all this says:

    For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

    What Jesus is actually saying here is this, that if to a person is given more knowledge and revelation regarding God and His will, God will require much more responsibility from those persons to accept and obey and believe and therefore to become obedient to the Gospel, which is the greatest, complete and only revelation of God of His salvation and His will. Jesus is the complete revelation of God and not believing in Him is rejecting the only and greatest revelation of God.

    Therefore, the more a person knows regarding the Gospel the more God holds them accountable and responsible to believe and accept it. The less a person knows about God’s truth and the Gospel the less responsibility God will account to that person, nevertheless they will still be punished for their sins. Why? Because God judges all people according to their sinful nature not for accepting or rejecting the Gospel.

    Believing the Gospel is the only way God will forgive anyone, nevertheless not knowing the Gospel will not at all exonerate a person from God’s judgment. It will be lesser than the person who heard and rejected the Gospel, but even that person will indeed be subjected to God’s eternal judgment.

    So now that we established this very important point we can go back to what we were talking about before and you will understand better why we had to learn all this.

    God told Israel that when they went into the promised land they would have to destroy the people living in that land, they were supposed to kill everyone, men, women and children. Wow, as I said before, that sounds so cruel even in many Christian’s minds and it becomes for them very difficult to reconcile all this with God’s so called unconditional love.

    At least that’s what a lot of Christians have been taught, erroneously I might say. In other words that God loves all people the same way with unconditional love.

    Well, I hate to rain on their parade and burst their bubble but that is erroneous doctrine. God does not love every individual and single human being with the same unconditional love.

    We clearly understand this by God’s word when Paul says the following things in Romans 9.

    Romans 9:12-13 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. 13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

    Without getting to deep into the explanation of all this, suffices to be said that God did not love Esau as He loved Jacob. Yet, God’s love and hatred has nothing to do at all with anything any of the two men did, how good or bad they were, even as Paul distinctly confirms:

    Romans 9:11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)

    God’s love for Jacob did not depend on the two brother’s behavior, one being better than the other rather it depended on His own choice of love and mercy. God chose to love Jacob because He chose Him, He did choose Jacob for salvation while He did not choose Esau.

    Because of these very important facts we can clearly understand that God does not love all people in the same way, nor did Jesus die for all of mankind, in the sense of dying for every single individual, as many instead continue to assert.

    God has placed and places His love and mercy upon those whom He chose to have mercy upon regardless of their future or present behavior. Jacob was a sinner just as Esau was, no more no less.

    In fact we clearly see that he was a deceiver as in fact His name means just that, deceiver.

    Yet God later changed Jacob’s name as He named him Israel. This is because God saved Jacob. In fact Paul confirms all this by saying:

    Romans 9:14-16 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

    Paul wants to make clear that the readers don’t even remotely think that because God loved Jacob and hated Esau that in deciding so God was unjust. He categorically denies that God is unjust and unrighteous because He chose to love Jacob instead of Esau. In fact it says that God hated Esau.

    Now what does all this mean? How can God hate? Well first of all God hates sin period! Now I know we have also heard said that God hates the sin but not the sinner. Well, that is only true in part! How? It works like this, everybody is a sinner, everyone without exception was, is and will be a sinner, see Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:10-18; Romans 3:23.

    We are all born in sin and we are all sinners. God though, in order to save many, had to choose to love and save many sinners but not all of them.

    God, yes, loved and loves sinners, but not all and not all unconditionally. There are several conditions as to how God loves sinners and why He has mercy on them. The conditions are these, God’s love and mercy are only demonstrated and are unconditional exclusively through His Son Jesus Christ.

    God loves His Son unconditionally because He has no sin and did not and cannot sin. Making a covenant with His only begotten Son in eternity passed, the Father in order to save a part of mankind had to choose many members of mankind through out all ages and based upon the decision He made together with His Son to save such, He decided and chose to love those chosen or elected persons. Doing this He could demonstrate His grace and mercy to them.

    It is important to understand that God still had to reconcile His grace, mercy and love He wanted to have for sinners with His hatred of sin and also with His holiness and His righteousness and judgment and wrath.

    Therefore, He, after having agreed with with Jesus His Son, who by the way always existed in the Godhead, at the appointed time Gal 4:1-5; sent His Son on earth to live a sinless life and to die and pay the judgment and wrath in the place of all those whom God had chosen before the foundation of the world Ephesians 3:4-14; Romans 8:29-30.

    God this way was able to have mercy and save many, but He did it first and foremost because of the love He has for His Son and it is because of that love that He loves all those He gave to His Son to save, see John 6:37-39; John 6:44-45; John 6:65; John 10:27-30; John 17:1-3; John 17:11; John 17:24;

    Acts 13:48.

    If you take the time and effort to read all the listed above passages you inevitably will conclude that only those whom the Father has elected to be saved are the ones that He ultimately gave to Christ to save. These and these only are the ones whom God decided to save, love and to whom show mercy.

    Why say all this? If you haven’t understood yet, God hates sin and He also hates sinners, the sinners whom He has not chosen to save. If He hadn’t chosen to love many through Christ, in spite of their rather our sinfulness in the end, He would have hated all sinners, all of them, every single one.

    God however has mercy on whom He will have mercy and shows compassion on who He will. He says it Himself, I’m not saying it, God says it!

    If you do not believe that God hates unrepentant sinners then you would have to deny the veracity of Scripture and you would then be calling God a liar.

    Psalms 5:4-6 For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. 5 The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity. 6 Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the LORD will abhor the bloody and deceitful man.

    As we clearly see from all we have studied thus far, from God’s own words in telling us He hated Esau and now in this last passage hopefully we come to understand that God has no pleasure in any wickedness nor shall evil dwell with Him. The fools, who are the ones who reject God

    ( Psalms 14:1;Psalms 53:1) these sinners will not stand in God’s presence, then here it comes, the shocking news of the ages, God hates ALL workers of iniquity. Meaning God hates ALL sinners.

    It does not say here that God hates the sin and loves the sinner. God never said that,ever! God hates sin and sinners, those who do not believe in His Son and repent. God loves a sinner in Christ but not and never outside of Christ.

    The passage goes on saying that God will destroy all those who speak falsehood, the Lord abhors, by the way, to abhor is another word used for hate, God hates the murderer and the deceitful men.

    I do not believe there is much room to rationalize with these words. When we understand that God’s love and mercy have to do with His prerogative to choose upon whom He will have them, when we understand that His mercy and love before and after the cross are both only based upon His own choice to have mercy and love only through His Son and the judgment of Christ on the cross, then we begin to understand better God’s hatred for sin and for sinners.

    Understanding all this, we now turn once again to Israel and the people living in the land of Canaan.

    We needed to understand all this in order to understand better why God would give Israel such a seemingly harsh and cruel commandment, in other words, to completely destroy these people.

    God loved His own people, He chose them and redeemed them from Egyptian oppression, He constantly showed mercy to them. He promised them through Abraham that they would conquer and occupy the land of Canaan. God promised this to Abraham and through him to Israel:

    Genesis 15:13-21 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; 14 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. 15 And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. 16 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full. 17 And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. 18 In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: 19 The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, 20 And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, 21 And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.

    God tells Abram that his seed, Israel, will be a stranger in a land not their own, that would be Egypt. God tells him that Israel will be servants, slaves in Egypt and that they would be afflicted there for four hundred years. Then God tells Abram that He would judge Egypt for the mistreatment of His people.

    So it was indeed. God also told Abram that Israel would be delivered and would come out of Egypt with great substance, and so it was indeed. He tells Abram that, after exiting Egypt they would go back to the land in which Abram lived, the land of Canaan, the land in which Isaac and Jacob lived. However, they would go back in the fourth generation and indeed Israel was detained in the wilderness for forty years. God then makes a very interesting statement, He says that the iniquity of the Amorites was not yet full.

    Now this is crucial in order to understand even better why God told Israel to destroy all the people in the land of Canaan, in other words the Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites are the people who occupied the land God promised to Israel, that land was the land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.

    These people were extremely wicked in all their ways. God described to Israel, before they entered the land to possess it, how wicked these people were. God prohibited His people to engage in the same abominable behaviors and practices of the inhabitants of the land in which God was sending them to conquer.

    Afterward God lists all the iniquities and depraved and sinful behaviors and practices of the people of Canaan, He does this in Leviticus 18:1-23; in the verses after these God warns His people by saying this:

    Leviticus 18:24-30 Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: 25 And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. 26 Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you: 27(For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;) 28 That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you. 29 For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people. 30 Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God.

    God’s warning to His people eventually went unheeded and Israel and later Judah encountered God’s punishment for engaging in the same practices as the inhabitants of Canaan and in addition they did not destroy them utterly as God commanded, indeed not only they engaged in the same idolatrous and abominable practices, but they also married and mingled their seed with these wicked people.

    We see that later even as late as King Solomon’s reign by the very fact that they disobeyed God in His commanding them to destroy the inhabitants of Canaan, led King Solomon astray and this happened because of his many marriages and unions with the women of these wicked people.

    Solomon ended up committing idolatry and evil in God’s eyes:

    1 Kings 11:1-11 But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; 2 Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. 3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. 4 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. 5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 6 And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. 7 Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. 8 And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.9 So the LORD became angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned from the LORD God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, 10 and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not keep what the LORD had commanded.

    11 Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, “Because you have done this, and have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant.

    By the way, just to clue you in as to how evil these people were, in verse 7 it says that Solomon built a high place for Chemosh and Molech, these altars and high places were where Israel and Judah, later sacrificed their own children to these idols. They would immolate their children alive by throwing them in the fire that burned before the altars of these false gods.

    So, anyway, these people as we can see were evil, thoroughly wicked and they did abominable things and God hated these things, and actually as we said before, God hated these people for what they were doing.

    This is exactly why He told Israel to completely destroy and annihilate these people and to destroy their gods and their altars. This is why God did not want His people to befriend and marry these people.

    God knew the spiritual devastation these people could wreak upon His people and He also knew that He would have to also severely discipline His people for their disobedience and for becoming as wicked as those people. He knew that they were going to end up corrupting His people and God was actually trying to spare His people His own punishment. God warned them over and over again that He would punish them severely is they practiced the sins of these people.

    Anyway, these were the reasons God told His people to completely destroy those people. Now, you might still think that that is too cruel. If you do, then perhaps you are still failing to thoroughly and completely understand how seriously God considers sin and wickedness.

    I can understand the world, the natural man, the unsaved and biblically uneducated person, to think that God’s commandment to destroy these people was a cruel sentence. Let’s face it the unsaved, natural man, sinners do not think that God’s judgment is ever fair because they actually think that their sinful behavior is not big deal.

    Still though, I remain amazed, even puzzled at Christians who still fail to understand how serious sinfulness and wickedness really is. These people, as many people do today, were practicing such wicked things that God could no longer put up with it.

    God knew these people had no intention whatsoever to turn from their wicked ways, they were too far gone in their sinfulness that God at that point had to destroy them. After all God did the same thing so many years before in Noah’s days Genesis 6-8. He did the same thing with Sodom and Gomorrah. Why now the shock? God knew that if He let them live, children would grow and become even worse than the previous generation, God knew that the women would be tempting and alluring and end up seducing His people, it had already happened to Israel even before; Numbers 25:1-9.

    In this above episode The people of Israel committed adultery and fornication and became corrupted with women of Moab. Phinehas the high priest actually killed a man of Israel and his lover catching them in the act. Later on it says that 24,000 of the people of Israel were judged and lost their life because of that sin. So we see that the Israelites were vulnerable to the pagan women. God knew the extent of this problem much better then the Israelites did and He wanted to prevent His people of falling into great sin and corruption and Idolatry. We saw before that because they did not do so later on these people became the source of Israel and Judah’s fall and subsequent judgment.

    Another reason why God told Abram that the sin of the Amorites was not yet full was that it still had not reached the point for which God had to judge them. By the way this is also because of God’s mercy, God is slow to anger, yet one day it would happen, God would judge them severely for their wickedness because they were unwilling to repent!

    All throughout Scripture we understand that there are levels of wickedness in which mankind lowers itself that causes God to no longer be patient and no longer tolerate these practices and that this causes God to judge severely these people.

    We have seen this happen in Genesis 6-9, we have seen it as He dispersed mankind and changed their languages Genesis 10-11. We saw it in God’s terrible judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah Genesis 19. We saw it with God’s judgment on Egypt because they became wicked, continued in idolatry and oppressed and mistreated, even murdered God’s people, Exodus 4-12.

    After we have seen all of the judgments God poured out in these people throughout history, why do Christians cringe when God tells Israel to destroy the inhabitants of the land He is sending them to possess?

    I believe that for many believers, as long as God does it on His own, like in the previous cases mentioned above, then God’s judgment is acceptable, but when God commands or uses man to do it then somehow it becomes a cruel thing.

    Many believers actually think that man killing man is always wrong no matter what. Obviously as we see it written in Scripture murder is always wrong, there are cases though that even though still not a good thing but yet the killing in those cases can be and is justified.

    So let me put it this way, God saves people and it’s all Him that does it, He uses the church to evangelize and bring the Gospel of salvation to men. Therefore is it more or less righteous or effective if God uses men as vehicles to do His will in this case?

    Many who actually firmly believe that God saves using the church, in other words men, then cannot understand why God can use men to bring judgment as well, this is incomprehensible. This is also a valid point as to how God judged and still judges people and nations.

    This is why, in the context of Romans 13 we must understand that God not only established governing powers but avails Himself of these powers who are obviously men to bring about His own justice and judgment. So just like He avails Himself of human beings, the church, to preach the Gospel and bring His salvation to men He does the same to judge and punish. This is the crucial point to understand why government authorities are in fact ministers of God to practice His justice and His judgment on the mafactors.

    God is not at all limited to do all things Himself and by Himself. The error we still make as believers is to think that just because it’s God who does it and wants it that if in any way men are involved then it’s no longer the same or it is no longer valid.

    It is very important to note that through biblical history and beyond even to the end of time, God almost always, availed Himself of men to bring about His will. Men and women, righteous or not, saved and not, God even often used wicked people to bring about His wrath and punishment even on His own people, see the Assyrians and the Babylonians, the Greeks and the Romans.

    So why could not God avail Himself of His own people to bring about His wrath and judgment on the inhabitants of Canaan?

    Also, as I said before for many believers and unbelievers as well, God’s judgment and wrath seems cruel, that is because those who see it that way don’t fully understand the seriousness and also the danger of sin. Understanding this, that sin is so serious that God had to sacrifice His own Son, upon whom He reversed the punishment reserved to the elect, the ones God chose and decided to love and save.

    If we understand the cross we then must also understand the gravity and the seriousness of sin.

    By the way, Jesus is God, but Jesus is also a man, therefore God still availed Himself of a man in order to bring about His salvation, by the way a Jewish man, in case there be animosity and bias toward Jews on part of Christians and we know that there are such in certain circles and denominations.

    Therefore, we clearly see that God often, almost always, used men, people, in order to bring His judgment on other people, whether it was His people who were bringing God’s judgments or other nations who even disciplined His own people.

    We cannot ever detach world history from God’s dealings, in fact if we believe that God is sovereign over the affairs of man, and He is indeed, then we cannot detach man’s history including every single war ever fought from God’s will and His plans and intentions.

    Scripture is more than clear on this, even God Himself tells us that He is sovereign in His involvement in mankind’s affairs.

    Let’s look at the following passage and we will understand this concept better, I at least hope.

    Habakkuk 1:5-12 Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you. 6 For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwellingplaces that are not theirs. 7 They are terrible and dreadful: their judgment and their dignity shall proceed of themselves. 8 Their horses also are swifter than the leopards, and are more fierce than the evening wolves: and their horsemen shall spread themselves, and their horsemen shall come from far; they shall fly as the eagle that hasteth to eat. 9 They shall come all for violence: their faces shall sup up as the east wind, and they shall gather the captivity as the sand. 10 And they shall scoff at the kings, and the princes shall be a scorn unto them: they shall deride every strong hold; for they shall heap dust, and take it. 11 Then shall his mind change, and he shall pass over, and offend, imputing this his power unto his god. 12 Art thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O LORD, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction.

    Briefly, this is the context of this passage. God chose to reveal His people’s future judgment to Habakkuk. In verses 5 to11 God describes to Habakkuk that He Himself would raise up the Chaldeans, that would be the Babylonians, to bring about punishment on the iniquity and disobedience of His people. In verse 12 we find the prophet responds to this revelation and in his response to God he proves that he understands God’s purpose in raising the Babylonians. He understands that it is God that ordained them for judgment and established them for Israel’s correction.

    So right here we see that it is always God who ordains judgment and correction upon nations and people. Often, we misunderstand that wars, revolutions and conflicts between men, nations and people are indeed God ordained, God established. What purpose do they have? Simple, the answer is in the passage itself, He permits, even ordains and establishes these people to bring judgment and correction.

    One very important issue we must understand clearly is this however, that even though God may exercise His sovereignty by bringing judgment and correction upon nations and people, since He is absolutely just and righteous and He is completely separated, transcendent from every form of evil, He will punish even the very same people He ordains to bring about His judgments and correction when these people are wicked and ruthless. God will indeed use them for His purposes but He will indeed punish them for their own wickedness.

    This fact is also clear in Scripture, even about the Babylonians themselves. God used them to bring judgment upon His people and yet God would judge them also.

    Jeremiah 51:47-49 Therefore, behold, the days come, that I will do judgment upon the graven images of Babylon: and her whole land shall be confounded, and all her slain shall fall in the midst of her. 48 Then the heaven and the earth, and all that is therein, shall sing for Babylon: for the spoilers shall come unto her from the north, saith the LORD. 49 As Babylon hath caused the slain of Israel to fall, so at Babylon shall fall the slain of all the earth.

    As God foretold the discipline and correction of His people at the hand of the Babylonians, so He foretold the judgment of Babylon by the Medes and Persian Empire for their ruthless evil and wicked behavior perpetrated against Israel and not only, let’s also remember that God judges and punishes all idolatrous nations, we have seen this happening to Egypt.

    Egypt was judged not only and exclusively for its oppression and violence against God’s people but also for its idolatry. With God it’s always a double whammy, He judges for wickedness, idolatry and the mistreatment of His people.

    There are many other references in Scripture that indeed confirm these facts even further, too many to mention now, however, let’s look at some passages that clearly explain that God is absolutely sovereign over mankind, over history and over people and nations.

    In other words, everything that occurs in history is permitted and ordained by God because it is all a part of His overall plan for humanity. I know that man, even some believers hate the idea that everything is basically predestined and planned, even those who in the end are saved. Man hates the idea that someone else, greater and more powerful than they calls the shots and that indeed it’s not them.

    In reality there is indeed a degree of mankind’s free will but it’s limited in its scope, limited by God. God permits men, demons and Satan to do what they want to do, God permits but limits, overpowers and overrules their will and their power. Satan and his demons may be permitted to exercise their evil deeds and mostly they are permitted to control the will and the lives of those they own.

    Yet God sees to it that in their sinful free will they still operate within the limits of His will and His plan. God does this to limit and control evil and also to work all things together for the good of His children and His people.

    Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

    Let’s remember that the carnal man, people that do not belong to God never want to do God’s will and always exercise their own free will but completely controlled and enslaved by their sinful nature and they respond only to the will of their father the devil and of their own sinful desires.

    Ephesians 2:1-3 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

    God delivered the elect, us from that situation, nevertheless, many, the majority of mankind will remain in that condition.

    God calls these people the children of disobedience, those who walk according to the course of this world, in other words obeying and doing the will of the devil because they desire what he desires from them, these are they who have their conversation in the lust of their flesh and live to fulfill the desires of their flesh and of their corrupt mind and are by their own very nature, carnal and sinful and because of this they are and remain children of God’s wrath.

    Even Jesus spoke about this human condition when He rebuked the Jews in His days but this is also true always and for all people throughout all ages.

    John 8:23-24 And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

    John 8:42-45 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. 43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. 44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. 45 And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.

    As we see the carnal, unsaved, not born again man, cannot and will not respond to God and to His will and clearly as Jesus said, it is the will of the devil that such people desire to perform.

    Yet, in spite of all this, God overpowers all evil and all evil doers in order to work all things to the good of His children and His people and to bring about His plan in spite of all the demonic powers and demonically sin controlled humanity. He therefore proves to them all, that He is indeed sovereign over all and that no one, no one, can and will thwart His will and His plans. Scripture tells us also this:

    Proverbs 16:4 The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.

    So now let’s look at some other passages that show us how God is sovereign over history and man’s affairs, all of them!

    Deuteronomy 10:14 Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD’s thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is.

    Deuteronomy 32:39-40 See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand. 40 For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever.

    1 Samuel 2:6-10 The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. 7 The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. 8 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s, and he hath set the world upon them. 9 He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail. 10 The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the LORD shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed.

    As we see from this last passage, at least in those days there were believers that knew and understood this concept, probably much better than most do today.

    Psalms 75:6-7 For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. 7 But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.

    Isaiah 40:22-23 It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in: 23 That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity.

    Jeremiah 27:5 I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto me.

    Daniel 2:20-21 Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: 21 And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:

    Daniel 4:34-35 And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: 35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?

    The incredible thing about this above passage is that here we see a king, a king who has recently experienced a conversion to the true living God, and that he understands God’s sovereignty much better than many professing believers do today.

    Romans 9:18-23 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. 19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? 20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? 21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? 22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,

    We can hopefully begin to understand that the concept of God’s supreme sovereignty is more than evident throughout Scripture. These passages are by no means exhaustive, in fact, there are so many others but it would be impractical to mention them all now.

    These however, are sufficient to clearly establish the incontestable fact that God is sovereign over all and over everyone while He remains always and completely separated from all evil.

    In reality it should be very comforting to us believers to rest in God’s sovereignty and have peace and comfort in His almighty power. To know that although God permits evil to run its course yet He still controls it and does not allow it to go beyond what He permits, this should be comforting to us. We should find comfort in the fact that even though we must coexist with evil and with evil doers, yet for us who love God and are called according to His purpose, all things God will work for our good and God will always work in order to bring about His perfect will, regardless of who opposes Him.

    Even Psalm 46 gives us this notion and comfort:

    Psalms 46:1-11 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. 4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. 5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early. 6 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. 7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. 8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth. 9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. 10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.11 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

    We should take comfort and strength in God’s sovereignty and His almighty power.

    Now, having said all this, let’s connect it all to what we were talking about.

    Because God is completely sovereign over all of mankind’s affairs, because He is sovereign over history, we begin to understand, hopefully, that things just don’t happen by chance.

    Things don’t happen only and exclusively because of the power of mankind’s will or even exclusively by the power of evil which controls mankind. Certainly all this has a bearing on the happenings of history but God allows all of it to happen and He does it, as we have seen, for a variety of reasons.

    What we need to take away from all this, if we boil it down to a few facts is this:

    God will bring about His judgment upon evil and upon evildoers in the world and He has more often than not used man to do so. God uses natural disasters to bring about His judgment and He uses men to do it as well.

    Evil does not care who evil takes down. Think about it, the devil and his angels own all unsaved mankind and they hate God but they also hate the very humanity they own and enslave.

    Trust me, Satan and his demons are opposite God, God loves those He owns, Satan and his demons although they own mankind yet they hate those they own. All they care about is to use them and then destroy them.

    Therefore their intention is to bring as much death and destruction as possible.

    Even Jesus stated this fact when He said:

    John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

    We clearly see here the difference between what Satan wants to accomplish and what God does.

    God uses mankind to do His bidding, Satan and his demons also want to do the same. There is a a bif difference though between how God uses people and how Satan use them.

    Ultimately, human history in the end is a manifestation of the battle that Satan, his demons and unsaved mankind are waging against God and His people.

    In spite of the seemingly overwhelming amount of evil in the world, in spite of the fact that evildoers almost always outnumber God’s people, God will always win, and His people in spite of all the evil that exists and comes against them,will indeed overcome, even Jesus and John said:

    John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

    1 John 5:4-5 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

    And as we said before, all things, all, not just a few or only the good ones, all things will work for the good of God’s people, Romans 8:28

    In the end this means that all things work to bring about God’s perfect will and the fulfillment of His plans. God has the power to turn good out of any evil and He often does it, but He does it only to bring glory to His name and in the process to bless and benefit His people but not the evil doers.

    The Bible tells us so:

    Genesis 50:19-20 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? 20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

    As we understand from the story of Joseph and his brothers, his brothers hated him, they envied him and they planned and plotted to kill him. Yet God always overrode their ideas, because of this instead of killing him they sold him as a slave into Egypt and faked his death. They thought they rid themselves of him by doing this. Their evil intent hurt Jacob their father so deeply, yet they continued to fake Joseph’s demise even after seeing their father suffering, they had no pity in him either. We can safely say they were wicked at that time.

    Yet, God had a plan, His plan was not their plan, Isaiah 55:8-9, although God allowed them to do what they did, God was working out another plan, His plan.

    Most of us know Joseph’s story, even after several setbacks God raised him up to be second in Egypt, second only to Pharaoh. He became governor of Egypt. God also allowed a serious and long famine to hit Canaan and Egypt and Joseph’s brothers had to go to buy grain in Egypt.

    In Egypt, after a series of tricks Joseph played on them, he revealed himself to them, his brothers repented of their evil doing and Joseph with Pharaoh’s blessing brought the entire clan of Israelites to live in Egypt and thrive, to be blessed and to grow in great numbers.

    As we read before, Joseph understood that God turned his brothers’ evil works planned against him into good. God blessed Joseph and also worked out his brothers’ salvation and their repentance as well as giving blessings to Jacob and blessing the people of Israel in Egypt for many years. This whole thing by the way was how God brought to pass His plan revealed to Abram in Genesis 15:13-14.

    We also observe that God allowed Joseph’s brothers to execute their evil free will yet God by His power overpowered and overturned and also limited all the evil they planned against Joseph, planned both by his brothers and later even by Potiphar’s wife in Egypt.

    By these facts we understand that no amount of evil, no matter who plans the evil, even Satan and his demons, cannot withstand God’s will and His power. God will do what God wants to do regardless of any interference and any attempts by anyone to thwart His plans. This also proves that mankind’s free will is actually utterly powerless to ever be a force that can withstand God’s power and the execution of His perfect will.

    After taking this journey in these great facts we can better and more clearly understand why God had therefore ordered His people Israel to completely destroy the inhabitants of the land of Canaan. He did it because their wickedness had reached the point of no return. Their wicked deeds had reached the limit of God’s patience and tolerance. In addition they did not want to repent of their evil doing. God in fact, gave them 430 years of time to repent but they did not want to do so, they in fact got worse and worse and in the end God judged them and He used His people to do it.

    God often will use more righteous people to judge the more evil ones although when the righteous become evil then God often uses even more wicked people to judge and correct the ones who were righteous but became evil. This is exactly what happened to Israel and Judah.

    In America today we live in a very high risk, we were once a righteous and godly people, not perfect yet we were much better than we are today. We have gradually become more and more evil and we are now in grave danger of God’s judgment, in fact His judgment on our nation has indeed already begun, we could reverse it by turning back to God and to His ways.

    The question is will we? So far there is little indication that we are willing to turn from our wicked ways and return to do things God’s way. The church has deceived itself into thinking that she’s in good standing before God while instead she is not.

    The greater part of the church in this nation is in the spiritual condition of being lukewarm before God and Jesus warned the lukewarm church in:

    Revelation 3:14-22 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

    This is where we mainly are today in the church, the Lord is very displeased with the behavior of most of the church in America. Because of this we are also in national danger of losing all the blessings God has bestowed upon us as a nation.

    I will say it and repeat it, it will be the church’s fault in the end if this happens.

    However, now that we understand that God used His people to extirpate and uproot evil from the land of Canaan, we also understand better God’s will for the government’s responsibilities and actions.

    We therefore cannot balk at the fact that God allows the magistrates, the government, law enforcement to have the sword. It is His will to punish evil and evildoers in the world and to use men, government to do it. As believers therefore, if we want to think as God thinks and agree with Him we need to accept God’s will and understand that is severe when it comes to punish evil. The sword, is a death sentence for evil. This is done through the justice system that God has established on earth, namely the governing authorities. As we already said, the death penalty for murderers is God’s will and the governing authorities should enforce it and the church should be in agreement.

    Listen, we don’t have to like God’s will all the time, although we should achieve the renewal of our minds in order to do so, yet we must understand it and we must agree with it. Just because God hates sin and wickedness and even sinners, it does not mean at all that He finds pleasure in His judgment. In fact God says He does not find pleasure in executing evildoers, He wishes they could repent and turn from their wicked ways.

    God said:

    Ezekiel 18:23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?

    Ezekiel 18:32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.

    Ezekiel 33:11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

    However, God knows that all evildoers will not repent and He must do what He dislikes doing, why? Because it is the right thing to do according to His person and what His character demands.

    By the way, in the context of the above passages God is specifically speaking about physical death, He may be also inferring to spiritual death, but in the precise context of these Scriptures He is specifically speaking about physical death. Just as we are when it comes to murderers, just as we know that the wages of sin is death, Romans 6:23.

    Nevertheless, we know that an unrepentant, unbelieving sinner will not only endure the death of the body, but will endure the second death, which is eternal damnation and punishment of their eternal souls.

    Revelation 20:14-15 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

    Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

    So there you have it, the governing powers have sword and it is a sword that is ordained by God to be used to punish evildoers. This is not only human justice, it’s divine justice as well because the governing powers are indeed ordained by God and justice is God ordained as well.

    Executing evil doers is not a sin, it’s not vengeance, it’s justice, it’s God’s brand of justice. Man ends up becoming more and more unjust when the governing authorities no longer want to punish evil in the way God desires evil to be punished.

    The governing authorities’ sword does make people fear God more. One of the reasons why people do not fear God today is because the magistrates have voluntarily given up the use of the sword to punish evildoers. As we said before this also increases the probability of God’s judgment upon that society because innocent blood is not avenged and the guilty are not punished as God requires. We have seen that God warned Israel that if they did not execute His brand of justice, what He required, that He would judge them as well. If innocent blood was not avenged by justice the land was going to become polluted and in the end God would have to bring about justice and trust Him, it’s always worse for everyone if He has to do it.

    Deuteronomy 19:10 That innocent blood be not shed in thy land, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and so blood be upon thee.

    Deuteronomy 19:13 Thine eye shall not pity him, but thou shalt put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with thee.

    Numbers 35:33 So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it.

    By the way, these are not principles that apply only to Israel, these are principles that apply to all nations because of what God told Noah in Genesis 9:5-6. We already talked about that and established that it was a universal principle God gave mankind, as we saw all nations came from Noah’s sons so what God told them is for everyone. God then better explained to Israel how to better apply what He declared in Genesis 9. However, we can obviously understand that between God’s moral law written in mankind’s heart and the passing down of the instructions God gave in Genesis 9:5-6 throughout the nations that decree as I said was and is still valid today.

    These are the God given responsibilities the governing authorities have.

    When the governing authorities perform their duties as God desires not only they punish evil, as we saw they also do God’s will in avoiding that the nation incurs God’s judgment for not punishing evil and also that society will have more fear of God, which will prevent evil from growing.

    Romans 13:5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

    In this verse now Paul is explaining that is is because of what he previously said that we, Christians, must be subject to the governing authorities. In other words because they are God ordained and they must be feared because they will punish evil in society. In fact Paul now says that those are the reasons but we should not want to obey the authorities simply for fear of their punishment but also and I would add mostly because of conscience. In this case, in the believer’s case conscience is what is exercised by the Holy Spirit’s conviction and God’s word. In the natural, carnal not believing man the conscience only works by pointing out a violation of God’s law written in the heart, however the unsaved man rarely acts on obeying God’s law or His will, if they do it is not because they love or fear God, which is the motivation Christians ought to have, rather, the unsaved man if they ever obey either the law of man or of God is for fear of punishment and or to avoid personal shame.

    For example, the human conscience can lead a person to have remorse for a bad action committed, however usually the remorse is for selfish reasons and it is not repentance of sin because they have offended God. The believers’ conscience instead empowered by the Holy Spirit and God’s word leads the believer to godly sorrow which leads to true repentance.

    For example, in the Bible we see a couple of episodes that confirm this fact, the difference between Judas and Peter.

    Judas betrayed Jesus into the hands of the Jews and the Romans and that betrayal cost Jesus His life.

    Peter on the other hand also in sense betrayed Jesus by denying Him and denying knowing Him to save his own life, in case they wanted to implicate him as well in the conspiracy they used to condemn Christ.

    Now although slightly different these actions were also much more similar thane we think. Both actions caused Christ to be condemned and killed because Judas’ action caused the actual arrest of Jesus which later caused His crucifixion and it was done for greed, for money. Yet Peter’s action actually sealed Christ’s condemnation and death because he denied knowing Him and in the process He also eliminated himself as a witness that could have helped Jesus’ be released. Let’s make on thing very clear both these men acted upon their free will and yet both actions were wanted and also sovereignly overpowered by God. God and Jesus wanted these things to happen because they were God’s will they would happen.

    Peter in fact understood all this later on when he preached on the day of Pentecost:

    Acts 2:22-24 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: 23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

    As we see it was they who did it but Jesus was delivered into their hands by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God. It was God’s will this happen! Yet God holds all people involved responsible for the death of His Son.

    In addition let’s remember in Peter’s case, just in case someone would think that his denial was not as serious as Judas’ betrayal, that Jesus during His ministry said this:

    Luke 9:26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.

    As we see denying Jesus is a sin worthy of eternal damnation not just a simple little error.

    Peter’s denial was a very, very serious sin, yet there was a big difference still between what Peter did and Judas yet, the difference is not in the sin itself nor it was in the person per say. Both were grievous sins and both men sinned almost in an equal manner. So what was the difference between Judas and Peter?

    The same exact difference there was between Jacob and Esau. Remember what Paul wrote in Romans 9 about what God declared?

    Romans 9:11-16 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) 12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. 13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. 14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

    Is it therefore fair to say that both men, Jacob and Esau were sinners? Yes indeed! We know that every single human being, with the exception of Jesus Christ are born in sin and therefore by nature sinners.

    Therefore sin, more or less if it was not the factor God chose Jacob instead of Esau. In fact Paul is precise in saying this when he says For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) 12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.

    In fact, it was for that exact reason God later declares, Jacob I have loved and Esau I hated.

    What makes God love a sinner, we did explain this before, is only that He chose to show mercy to that person through Christ’s sacrifice. This is valid for all elect, both before the cross as well as after. The ones God chose before He chose in anticipation of the cross but they also were saved by grace through faith in Messiah’s promise. Obviously the ones chosen to be saved after the cross, were chosen to believe in Christ after His work of redemption.

    Anyway, this is also the difference between Peter and Judas. Peter was obviously a man like Jacob, chosen by God to be shown mercy, Judas was a man like Esau not chosen for mercy but for another purpose in God’s plan. We need to remember though that both Peter and Judas and Jacob and Esau were all sinners who deserved God’s judgment and wrath. None of them deserved mercy and salvation therefore to sit here and say that Jacob and Peter’s salvation was due to their own choice and free will is not understanding Scripture, God and man’s sinfulness. Instead Paul aptly explained that Jacob was loved because of God’s election not anything God saw in him or about him that made God chose him. In reality God sees in only sin in mankind, it’s all He sees, yet if we are to be chosen to be in Christ then God sees Christ not us or our sin and that is the only way God can and will love sinners.

    God had chosen Peter a sinner to be saved and to receive His mercy, God did not choose Judas for the same purpose and therefore Judas ended up doing what his evil heart wanted to do.

    Now, Peter also did what his sinning heart wanted to do when he denied Christ, yet because God chose Him for salvation God also made sure that Peter would be saved, God made sure that Peter, who had faith in Christ as opposed to Judas who did not believe instead, would be led to repentance by godly sorrow and by the removal of his guilt by Christ’s work of redemption through the cross.

    Judas instead had remorse for what he did but since Judas did not have saving faith he was not led by godly sorrow to repentance instead he had a guilt ridden remorse which is also know as sorrow of the world which does not lead to repentance rather leads to death.

    2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

    It is not the person who does this by themselves to repent but it is God who does it in the persons upon whom He has chosen to have mercy. In this case it was Peter and not Judas.

    In fact we see the difference between the two, Peter actually had godly sorrow that led him to repentance, Judas had human remorse and the guilt of what he did without God’s grace in his life crushed him and finding no hope he hung himself. This is exactly what this passage above claims. In Peter’s case godly sorrow let to repentance and therefore salvation (which was already God planned for him) while in Judas’ case it led him to have worldly sorrow which worked death in him.

    We must also look at the other essential issue going on in Peter’s life that is actually part of the only reason why he, Peter, a sinful man just like Judas ended up with a different outcome than did Judas.

    This following Scripture is part of the over arching reason why a person’s conscience works to bring a person to repentance and to eventually turn from their sin, actually, even the reason why a person actually believes in Christ and is saved.

    Luke 22:31-32 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

    Peter was a sinner as Judas was, the difference between the two was that Peter was a man chosen by God to receive God’s mercy and salvation. Peter was an elect of God and was a sinner God decided to love in Christ and for this reason the Father gave Peter to Jesus to save. This was not what God had in store for Judas. It’s not that Judas was chosen for hell, everyone without exception deserves God’s judgment and wrath and eternal damnation. It’s that Judas was just not chosen for mercy as Peter was.

    There are many, many passages, which we have seen often in our study of the epistle to the Romans, that confirm these facts. Here are some:

    First off, Peter had faith but his faith was given to him by God otherwise he would not have had it:

    Matthew 16:15-17.

    Judas did not believe in Christ as Peter did, Judas was not saved, IE: he did not have faith John 6:64-71; Judas continued to be sinful and was not like the other eleven John 12:4-6, Jesus called him a devil John 6:70, and the son of perdition John 17:12 (title for the Antichrist, see 2 Thessalonians 2:3)

    Secondly, Peter was chosen for salvation Judas was not: John 6:64; John 13:18; John 15:16-19 (please notice in this last passage that Judas is not present when Jesus tells the eleven He chose them to bear fruit for God) Romans 9:21-23, Peter and the other ten disciples but not Judas Iscariot, were given to the Father to Christ for salvation as well as all others who are the elect of God in Christ John 6:37-39; John 6:44; John 6:65; John 17:2-11.

    Thirdly Peter’s faith was supernaturally protected as such is the faith of all who believe in Christ:

    Luke 22:31-32; John 6:37-39; John 6:44; John 10:26-30; John 17:2; John 17:12; Peter fully came to understand this fact as he later wrote 1 Peter 1:3-9.

    All believers’ faith is God given as a gift of grace Ephesians 2:8-9 and God preserved and protected Romans 8:28-39;1 Peter 1:3-9; Hebrews 7:24-25.

    As we see then Peter was a sinner just like Judas and just like us. Everyone except Jesus is a sinner Romans 3:10-18 and all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God Romans 3:23 and the wages of sin is death but God’s GIFT is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord Romans 6:23.

    Yet, God had chosen Peter to show mercy to him yet God had not chosen Judas and Judas therefore remained in the same state he was in from the beginning. He went on sinning, stole money from the group’s money bag, was greedy of money and betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver and even though his conscience accused him and he had remorse that did not lead him to repentance and salvation rather to death and damnation. This is what happens to people whose consciences do not respond to God but only to shame and guilt.

    So we started off this whole issue about Peter and Judas to explain how and why the conscience of man responds and why it responds the way it does. If a person loves God their conscience responds to God’s Spirit and His word if a person is not saved and therefore does not love God, their conscience only responds to guilt but not to God. Often more than not, people who are not born again of the Spirit, who do not believe in Christ and therefore God try to suppress their conscience by burying its voice of condemnation by sinning even more. This is actually what is explained to us even in Romans 1:18-32.

    The passage starts by saying that God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.

    This is actually speaking of the fact that these people have been holding God’s truth in unrighteousness, why? Because God has made known to them things about Him and His law, where? In them! How do these things become evident to them? Through the conscience and through creation. Paul says that God judges them, not because they actually rejected the Gospel rather because they reject to make their conscience submit to any amount of the knowledge of God that He has made available, which is sufficient to bring a person to the point of acknowledging God’s existence and His laws, it says God hs shown them to them by revelation through the conscience and nature, Yet mankind still having enough evidence to respond to God is incapable to do so, and even tough not capable to so, unwilling to do so as well, this is why God holds them without excuse and responsible.

    Romans 1:21-22 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

    The response of all this is what we read in the beginning of this passage in other words that take all this revelation and knowledge of God they have and they suppress their consciences’ voices by burying them with more sinful behavior. As time goes on their consciences become more and more insensitive and less and less responsive to any divine warning.

    Only God can break through all this hardness and in insensitivity and sinfulness and only God can as His word says in Ezekiel 36:25-27 bring new birth in a person and take the stony heart out of a person and give them a heart of flesh, in other words a heart whose conscience will respond to God’s commandments.

    Ezekiel 36:25-27 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

    This is the description of Israel’s new birth but it’s also the description of every person who becomes born again from God. This is exactly what God has to do in order to make people’s consciences respond to Him. The stony heart is also an indication of a seared and hardened conscience as God’s law are indeed written in every man’s heart Romans 2:14-15. This is why a natural, unsaved, not born again man cannot and will not respond the right way to their consciences’ promptings, the heart is unresponsive toward God and it takes God to remove the heart of stone and give us a heart of flesh, that can respond to God and put in us a new spirit that can respond to the promptings of God’s Spirit who will also be in us and will cause us to walk in God’s ways. This is the description of a heart and mind and conscience that finally can and wants to respond to God’s law and His word.

    As we have seen all this now we can better realize what Paul is saying regarding our submitting to the governing authorities not only for fear of punishment but for fear of God and for conscience sake.

    Unbelievers are to obey mostly not out of a conscience that responds to God but normally they will submit to the governing authorities because they fear the sword and the punishment they will receive.

    This is why it is so important today not to allow our governing authorities to lose the use of the sword and not to water down punishment and not to undermine law enforcement and weaken it by tying its hands and not to allow the perversion of justice.

    As we have seen, unbelievers only respond to the fear of punishment but if we curtail and soften the punishment they will not fear at all and they will indeed end up not fearing the governing authorities. This is becoming more and more evident with all the lawlessness that is growing and spreading even in our country. This is happening because gradually but progressively law enforcement had been stripped of its authority and has been but almost disarmed by politicians, judges, magistrates, governors and mayors that have become corrupt and love lawlessness rather than law and justice.

    Many, who are often called bleeding heart liberals, but are anything but, have been giving passes for heinous crimes, ignore laws, shun the Constitution, take away the sword from the magistrates, abolish the death penalty, legalize child murder and enforce it and support it and even force it on people. They give orders to stand down to the police instead of protecting the citizens from anarchists and lawless thugs they not only give orders to the police not to intervene to quell the violence but they become accomplices to it by not only not stopping it but by actually inciting it and encouraging it to happen. Judges have corrupted the law and they disregard the law, they acquit the guilty and condemn the righteous and law abiding citizens. We are seeing more and more of this lawless behavior but you see, this is not only because they just despise the authorities and the law, no, not at all, this is because they actually despise the law maker, God! They hate God and they despise everything that reminds them of God and His righteous decrees. From this we clearly understand that governing authorities are indeed ordained by God. Yet, when lawless, wicked people take the reins and control of these positions of authority they do not respect or enforce righteous laws and equal and fair justice, rather they use the law as a tool to twist and manipulate in order to condemn all who oppose them and want to enforce true laws and real justice.

    Scripture is very clear on this concept as it states the following:

    Proverbs 28:4-5 They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them. 5 Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all things.

    Proverbs 29:27 An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked.

    Now you know why the wicked always seem to have no conscience and hate law and justice. In the end it is not only the earthly authorities they despise and no longer fear but they are despising God and His laws and righteous decrees.

    In fact it is exactly what Paul concludes the Romans 1:18-32 passage as he says:

    Romans 1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

    However, the Christian must submit to the governing authorities not so much for fear of punishment rather for conscience sake, in other words responding to God and the fact that the governing authorities are ordained by God. Once again we will repeat it again, we submit to any and all of the governing authorities laws and directives only when they do not openly violate God’s laws and word and when they do not indeed violate our consciences being that they are to respond to God’s commandments first and foremost.

    As it happens even in the church, God given authority remains such only when it remains obedient and submissive to the authority of God and His word. Once in any point it violates God’s word and commandments in that particular instance there is no more authority and in those cases and those cases alone we are not, I repeat it, we are not obligated or required to obey and submit.

    However, if the governing authorities make and enforce laws that either agree with God’s word or at least are neutral to God’s word, in other words they do not violate God’s law and His word, we are to obey and submit to all of them.

    In addition we need to respect the offices and the officers as they are ordained by God. We may not like people in government as they my be tyrannical and even Antichrist and we certainly must not like their behavior. What is wrong though is all that they are even doing today in many countries including ours.

    We see a virulent hatred for law enforcement and politicians, especially the ones that really want to do the right things. This is a symptom of a God hating society and culture.

    All the hatred there is for law enforcement seen today is the sign that people are in a very bad situation, when people hate law and order and law enforcement is actually described in Scripture as the behavior of ungodly people.

    Jude 8 Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.

    I realize that often even as believers we do become incensed and upset at some governmental representatives when they show wicked behavior and they are Antichrist, this is understandable, yet that is not what the above passage says. It speaks of people who act with hatred and become even violent to the point of becoming lawless themselves and they usually do so against the governing authorities regardless their behavior be godly or not.

    We see this happening in our country and in Europe, there is a very dangerous and wicked current of people who despise anyone in authority, especially those in authority who want to do things the right way.

    This is happening mostly in people who are not believers, or at least I hope that is the case, nevertheless Paul and God do not want believers to act this way. It is indeed easy to despise people especially if they are evil, yet our battle is not against flesh and blood by against the spiritual powers that control and animate people’s minds and behavior Ephesians 6:11-12 .

    Instead God want us believers to pray for all men and He desires that we respect positions of authority.

    1 Timothy 2:1-3 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;

    1 Peter 2:17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.

    Notice why God desires we respect and pray for people in authority, so that we, we Christians may have the opportunity of living a peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

    This passage by the way will work best, actually only, in conjunction with Jesus’ commandment to be salt of the earth and light of the world.

    We did speak of this concept before and it is not necessary to repeat it but we can understand why these prayers exhorted by Paul will only work if we actually are being salt and light in our society.

    Nevertheless, we are commanded to respect the governing authorities for our conscience sake and that is exactly that, since we have seen that the believers’ hearts respond to God and hopefully our minds are renewed so that they also can respond properly to the Lord’s will Romans 12:2. That is a conscience that responds properly to God’s word and will.

    So in order to keep a clear conscience before God we must obey the governing authorities and respect them because it is God’s will that we do so.

    As I said before, the unbelievers should fear the governing authorities because of punishment, yet the believer should not fear the authorities’ punishment for we are called to only to do good and so if we do we then respect them because of a good conscience before God not for fear of punishment.

    1 Peter 3:10-17 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: 11 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. 13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? 14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: 16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. 17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

    As we see God wants us to do good and refrain from evil. Whether we like it or not God is against those who practice evil. Peter asks then, who is that will harm us Christians if we follow what is good? Then he says but if we do suffer for doing right and for righteousness sake we should be happy and not afraid of that terror nor should we be troubled. We should be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks us of the reason of the hope that is in us and do it with meekness and fear, fear of God that is not of man. Again we see Peter mentions a good conscience, having a good conscience means to have it clear of guilt and wrongdoing, so that even if they do accuse us, they should accuse us falsely, in other words, even though they accuse us of wrong doing we instead are doing good and our conversation is in Christ. It is better that we suffer wrongly for doing good than for doing evil.

    This brings us back to the point Paul is making in Romans 13:5 that we ought to obey and respect the governing authorities not for fear of punishment for doing evil but for a good conscience before God and it is preferable that we do receive persecution from the government because we obey God and the government instead punishes us for doing good.

    As we said before, it is very possible that the governing authorities actually become Antichrist and godless and they will inflict upon Christians persecution for following God. That would be getting punished for being righteous and this happens when the governing authorities become godless and make laws that Christians must not obey or even defy. In that case, you can rest assured, when Christians obey God but in the process must disobey a godless government they will get punished by the government.

    For conscience sake we must obey the governing authorities, yet for conscience sake we must obey God as well and that sometimes, today more and more, means disobeying or opposing the governing authorities because they are unrighteous and unjust. Case in point, many, many people suffered imprisonment, torture, death because they defied and disobeyed unrighteous and ungodly governments.

    For example, this has happened in the cases with the Nazi totalitarian government and well as with the Communistic regimes in the Soviet Union and many others as well. Do you remember recently the massacre of students in Tienemen square in China? Simply for protesting the evil of a totalitarian communist government.

    Unfortunately, although in a much smaller way, and not yet comparable with those regimes for now, yet, slowly, subtly and progressively persecution against Christians by an increasingly godless and unrighteous government is happening even right here in the land of freedom, the USA.

    So this is what it means to obey the governing authorities for conscience sake, in one sentence is, obeying God always with respect of the government’s authority, because it is an institution created by God. In addition as Paul said in 1 Timothy 2:1-3 we must also pray for them so that we can live a peaceable and tranquil and honest life.

    Romans 13:6-7 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

    This passage is very important for Christians to really be able to clearly understand this concept as well as the previous one we talked about thus far and in fact they are inexorably connected.

    Paul opens this passage saying for this cause you pay tribute also. What cause? The cause already spoken of by Paul before and in fact he repeats it just to make sure we understand this concept, they are God’s ministers.

    Interesting choice of word here, God’s ministers. Wait a minute, I thought ministers were pastors in the church someone may ask. Yes, that is what we call them but what is the Greek word used for minister?

    The word is leitourgoí it is a word we also derive the word liturgy from. Although the word is usually used to describe pastors and or elders in the church, its meaning is in fact servant. So yes, pastors and elders are indeed God’s servants but so are the governing authorities. We already talked about this, the ministers in the church are the purveyors of God’s mercy and forgiveness of sin through the Gospel but the governing authorities are God’s purveyors on earth of God’s judgment and justice. Let’s remember that the law of God and His justice as well as man’s laws which we have seen are mostly based on God’s law, are also designed not only to punish evildoers but to point to Christ, God’s mercy and forgiveness through the Gospel through the church. You see, the two should actually work together on earth. This is why they are both, church and law, God’s ministers on earth. They have different jobs but God wants to use them together for the good of humanity.

    Even Paul, says this very fact in:

    1 Timothy 1:8-11 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; 9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; 11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

    This passage is explaining what we are talking about here now. The law of God and of man, when based and in agreement with God’s law is good and it has a lawful use. Yet, the law in reality is not made for the righteous man. Who is righteous? On their own, no one, Romans 3:10. Yet in Christ believers obtain God’s, Christ’s righteousness as an imputed thing, Romans 3:21-26; Romans 4:24-25; Philippians 3:9; Galatians 2:20-21; 2 Corinthians 5:21.

    So the only way a man can be righteous is if they are in Christ and not by any other means.

    The law therefore does not give righteousness to a person even if the try to keep it, why?

    James 2:10-13 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

    This passage says the same things, in other words, everyone at some point, no matter how careful they are, will transgress the law in one point or the other and God considers the fact that if we break His law even in one only point we are guilty of transgressing the entire law. So the law is indeed our judge, the judge of our sinfulness. The law is for judgment not mercy, the law does not or should not, at least God’s law, consider mercy, the law is not merciful.

    Yet, as God is so should we His children be. In the church we are to be merciful and give mercy to people because the only thing, the only thing that will overcome and triumph over the law is God’s mercy.

    James 2:13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

    The law, the magistrates on earth are not put here by God to give mercy but bring about judgment and enforce the law and bring evildoers to justice. This is why I do not believe it is the magistrate’s job to be lenient and merciful and I also believe that plea deals and unsatisfactory sentences are not the right thing to do.

    As we said before, many think that being merciful and lenient with criminals is a good thing to do, but in reality it is not. It is watering down justice and lessening the result of the consequences of crimes. It harms the people rather than help them and it also perverts justice.

    It’s the church and the Christians’ job to be merciful and preach God’s mercy and forgiveness through the Gospel. Yet the Gospel supports the law and still commands, even believers, to obey God’s law. In fact that is what Paul is saying in the last part of the 1 Timothy 1 passage, in other words, that the Gospel supports the law because it says this regarding, that is contrary to sound doctrine; according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God.

    So the law is called into account by the Gospel and the Gospel commands observance of the law, yet we are not to consider a person righteous by doing so, in fact our righteousness comes from Christ alone. The law is indeed for unrighteous and wicked people who are unsaved. That is what Paul is saying, the law condemns and brings judgment upon a person by highlighting God’s own condemnation of sin and in addition that such sins are deserving of punishment and that indeed the wages of sin is death.

    The same thing happens with the law that the magistrates enforce, they are God’s ministers on earth to enforce God’s law on earth, enforce it upon evil doers. You see how this all works now?

    Often many say, oh well, you know, now on this side of the cross God’s people don’t stone people or execute people for their sins like in the Old Testament. What do they mean by that? They seem to justify the consequences of sinful behavior by saying that since God’s people aren’t called to execute people for their sins that this in essence means that God has now abolished the death penalty.

    While it is true, that the church is not called to enforce God’s law and justice on earth but rather to bring God’s mercy and forgiveness through Christ yet God has not stopped His law enforcement and His justice program through His earthly ministers, the governing authorities.

    He uses His ministers on earth, the governing authorities, the magistrates. This is the point of this passage here, God never, ever wanted to lessen His judgment and His justice in the world just because Jesus died on the cross to bring mercy and forgiveness.

    In fact, there has to be a true and inherit need for God’s forgiveness and mercy, and indeed there is a great need for them, but people must know of their need for them and in order to know it one must know they are a law breaker and that they deserve death. However, there is a true need for God’s judgment and justice in the world. If people do wrong, God does not take away the consequences of their behavior.

    God holds everyone accountable for their behavior and even if a criminal and an evildoer might repent before God and get mercy and forgiveness from God by obtaining forgiveness of eternal consequences for their sins, yet they still have to pay their earthly consequences for their wicked behavior.

    God does not always, in fact almost never, take away the earthly consequences of people’s sins. In fact even in the Old Testament God always expected people make restitution for many of their evil deeds. He did this even though He provided forgiveness of their sins.

    Obtaining forgiveness of sins is not at all a pass in order to avoid consequences of sin.

    Let’s take for example, smoking. Smoking is in fact a sin, although many, even many believers actually do not view smoking as sinful. Yet it is indeed sinful. Why?

    Because it damages the human body and causes very serious illnesses and even death, as well as harming people who live around smokers and do not smoke. God is very clear on damaging the body and doing things that cause body damage and death as well. God does not want that we use substances that control our minds and our bodies and harm us.

    These facts are true even about other things like drugs, legal and illegal as well as alcohol. This is true about unbelievers as well as of believers. However, the warnings in Scripture are obviously given to believers.

    This is what God says about this subject:

    1 Corinthians 6:19-20 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

    This particular commandment is given to believer, the text is more than clear and evident. Yet, the principle is still for all mankind because after all whatever hurts believers also hurts unbelievers and if things are harmful for believers they are also harmful for unbelievers as well. If something is sin it is always sin for everyone.

    There is another similar warning in God’s word and it is found in:

    1 Corinthians 3:16-17 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

    Even though this last passage is referred more specifically to the church as a body of believers once again the principle is the same even here. See if we attempt to harm and defile the church or even our human bodies, which we have seen are the temple of the Holy Spirit, then God will deal with people in a very severe manner by saying that God will actually destroy that person.

    God has created every person and as the creator even though He may not be everyone’s Heavenly Father, He still is sovereign over every person’s life as their creator.

    This is also why Paul said this in :

    Romans 9:20-23 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? 21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? 22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,

    As we already studied before, God is sovereign over all of His creation and for that reason He actually holds all rights to it. In other words, even unsaved men are always accountable to God as His creation.

    People, all people, are not their own even if they are unsaved people, as creatures of God they still belong to Him and are fully responsible to God for all they do. This is exactly why God judges humanity for their sins.

    Having said all this, we see then that whatever a person does to damage their body by abusing them is sinful. This can even be done with food. Abusing food is what many people do, I believe this is actually one of the less noticed but greater sins among believers. Overeating is sinful because it causes people to become ill in their bodies. It is clear now even medically, that obesity and overeating causes physical damage, sickness and even death.

    As the fruit of the Holy Spirit God wants His children to have self control, temperance.

    Anything that instead controls us and overpowers us besides God’s Spirit is not good.

    1 Corinthians 6:12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

    Here Paul tells us we should not allow anything, even things that aren’t sinful to overpower us and control us.

    For example, drinking wine and alcoholic beverages is not sinful, yet drunkenness is sinful because it allows the substance to overpower and controls us rather than us having control of it and so is anything else that controls us.

    Ephesians 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

    As we see, even here it does not say that we ought never drink wine or that it’s a sin, but it tells instead us that we should not be drunk because that is excess, instead we ought to be filled, controlled, not by substances such as wine or any other, but be overpowered and controlled by the Holy Spirit.

    All this was to say that, many things people do and are controlled by are sinful, because they damage the body and cause illness and even death.

    We know such to be, as we mentioned, smoking, doing drugs and then there are some things that aren’t inherently sinful such as drinking wine or alcoholic beverages and food but the excess of them becomes sinful and the moment these things control a person they become sin and then cause damage to the bodies and even damage to the mind.

    Now, when we engage in these behaviors, whether sinful or not and we allow them to take control and damage us we run into automatic negative consequences.

    This is why we find this written in Hebrews 12:

    Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us

    So here we see that God is telling us not only to lay aside sinfulness but actually every other thing, which the passage calls weights. These so called weights are things in our life that aren’t inherently sinful but that bog us down, weigh us down to the point that they hamper our Christian walk, what the passage calls race, which is not a sprint but a marathon, it’s an endurance race. We know how hard athletes train to even participate in a marathon never mind running it and winning.

    As we said, smoking for example is very bad and dangerous as it causes many bad consequences. Sickness, death, bad financial stewardship, and harm to the people around those who smoke. Drugs and alcohol abuse do in essence the same thing.

    Now, regarding consequences, let’s talk about this subject again for a moment, does God take away the consequences of having abused any or all these things?

    Not always and certainly not all of them. In other words, if a person ends up getting ill because of their sinful habits, that is exactly a consequence of those habits. God does not always prevent these things form happening, in fact most often He does not prevent the consequences at all.

    If people develop one of these sinful habits and because of them they end up for example lacking money, that’s also a consequence. If someones’ second hand smoke makes a loved one ill or to die, that’s a consequence.

    Often the consequences of these sinful habits do not come to bear immediately but many of them can be irreversible and deadly.

    Often some of these sinful habits, such as drug and alcohol abuse can even cause many negative legal consequences and even these, God will not take away.

    If a person for example is driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol and gets pulled over they will get arrested, and even worse, if they injure or kill someone while under the influence there will be some very much more serious legal consequences.

    So the answer is no, God does not take away the consequences of our bad behavior. He forgives our sins if we repent, He takes away the eternal guilt and punishment of sin but He, more than not, may not take away some or maybe even none of the earthly consequences of sin.

    So even as believers we think we may get away with sinning because God forgives us and indeed He will, however, He may not, usually will not, take away the negative consequences.

    Let’s look at king David for example. David committed a series of very, very bad sins in a period of his life. He was indeed a man after God’s own heart but he still did some awful things. He committed adultery with one of his men’s wife, the woman Bathsheba got pregnant with his child, to cover it up David had her husband killed 2 Samuel chapter 11.

    God forgave David of his sins, 2 Samuel 12:13. However, God did not take away His discipline and the consequences of David’s sins, 2 Samuel 12:10-11; 2 Samuel 12:14.

    As we see, God forgave David, however David had to pay the consequences of his sins and this is true in everyone’s life. If a person is a believer like David, the Lord will forgive their sins but as we see the consequences and God’s discipline remain. If a person is an unbeliever and does not ever become a believer in Jesus, they will not only have to endure the consequences in this life but they will endure eternal punishment as well.

    So, to say that because God forgives a person their sins they don’t have to bear the legal and physical consequences of their sins is incorrect, and it is really not wanting to understand how God operates.

    This has a lot to do, actually everything to do, with the earthly governing authorities enforcing the law, bringing judgment and wrath upon evildoers. Why?

    Because justice is the earthly punishments and consequences for the wicked and as we learned, hopefully, is that they must bear the earthly consequences of their evil deeds even and when God may forgive them and take away their eternal and spiritual consequences.

    Therefore, the deal is this, God may forgive a murderer if they believe in Jesus and repent, but He does not take away the consequences that the earthly authorities give them. In fact, if the death penalty is the sentence and the consequence, and it actually should be anyway, why is it that even a lot of believers think that God must, or we must, if we act in a godly fashion, take away the God desired, earthly and physical punishment from that person?

    If God forgave that person they will go to heaven but they have forfeited their physical earthly life by committing a crime for which God requires death as an earthly and physical consequence. Remember, mercy triumphs over judgment nevertheless God’s justice within earthly justice and punishment remain just the same.

    In conclusion, about the subject of consequences, we see that earthly justice meted by the governing authorities is God’s justice and judgment and it concerns the earthly and physical consequences of many people’s sins, which in the world we are used to call crimes, nevertheless they are transgressions of God’s law.

    Therefore, because of the God ordained work of the governing authorities do on earth, they are indeed God’s ministers on earth an thy are supposed to do what God had created them to do, enforce law and justice by punishing evildoers, without mercy, mercy is God’s purview and it should be given by the church not the law. Because of the work of law enforcement and earthly justice, and because they are God ordained every person must be subject to them. As we saw, believers more so for a clear conscience before God and unbelievers for fear of punishment.

    Now, Paul says that because they exercise God’s justice and law enforcement on earth and because they are God ordained, we Christians must pay tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.

    So now, we have the answer to a very controversial issue that is often a contention on the church or among believers. The contention and the question is, should believers pay taxes, does God require believers to be responsible to pay taxes?

    Obviously we gather form this passage that the correct answer is, yes!

    Actually this controversy was raised by the Jews and they actually asked Jesus the question of whether or not it was lawful to pay tribute to the Romans.

    Let’s see what Jesus answers:

    Matthew 22:17-21 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? 18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? 19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. 20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? 21 They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.

    This answer from the Lord actually should have placed to rest the entire question, and yet, unfortunately still many, many Christians still think it is unlawful to pay taxes.

    Where they actually get this concept or theory is a mystery. It is more than evident that it is God’s will we pay taxes to the governing authorities. Let’s think about Jesus’ answer for a moment and let’s think about the surrounding context of the time in which this episode occurred.

    Israel is under Roman conquest and rule. Rome, while allowing some freedom to the people they conquered, such as partial freedom of religion and freedom of commerce and of basic life, still exacted very high and unfair taxation on the conquered nations.

    The Jews were obviously not very happy about the Roman taxation. Indeed who can blame them, it was unfair and it was very high. So we can understand their reluctance to be willing to pay it.

    Think about it, this is the context in which Israel exists at this time and it is in this context that they ask Jesus this question. Now, Jesus understands their trap in asking the question. He knows that they are asking not only with the interest of knowing if it was fair they should pay taxes but to try and entrap him and then accuse Him of insurrection against the Roman government.

    Nevertheless, instead Jesus just totally blows them away with His answer, He asks to see a coin and then asks them whose inscription is on the coin, in other words, whose currency were they earning and using and who owned the currency. The answer was Caesar, Rome, therefore Jesus tells them to render to Caesar what it his. In other words, Jesus is teaching them that they should pay taxes to the government in charge regardless of their ruthless and often cruel government, despite their unfair and excessive taxation. This clearly indicate to us that God’s will is indeed that we pay taxes, look, God knows unfairness and He realizes the hardship these taxes were putting on His people, nevertheless He tells them to pay the taxes regardless. He says to render Caesar what is his, taxes and respect and to render to God what should be rendered to Him. What does this mean? It means several things, yet the one we need to take away mostly is, obedience to His will and His word. So if God’s will is for us to be subject to the governing authorities and to pay them the taxes due then that is what we must do. You see, Caesar wants his money and God wants our obedience so there it is, when we obey God we pay taxes so that Caesar gets what he asks and God gets what He asks.

    Rendering to Caesar what is his according to God’s will, not in violation of God’s will and His word, is what God wants His people to do. Obedience to God is first and foremost always, so as we said before in this study, if Caesar commands to disobey God’s will and His word then we render to God obedience, however, if Caesar tells us to do what is acceptable and in fact what God commands us to do as well then we should obviously obey God by obeying the government. That is how it works!

    That is what Jesus saying!

    So now as we get back to our original text in Romans 13:6 we hopefully understand that, whether we like it or not, paying tribute, in other words taxes is indeed God’s will.

    Having said that, why is it God’s will? Because as we said even before, God has ordained these authorities to govern and to enforce law and justice on earth and they must pay to provide these services. If we desire that local, state and federal government first enforce laws and bring about justice and if we desire to have an army and law enforcement to protect our borders and keep us safe then we must understand that they have the right to tax people in order to provide these services, services that are God’s will. This is exactly what Paul is saying: attending continually upon this very thing.

    That is what they do, they attend continually to doing this very thing. This is also why we are to pay taxes, not just because God wants us to, which should be enough reason, but in addition they are God’s ministers and they need tax revenue to provide what God has ordained them to do.

    I realize and God does also that many times the governing authorities become corrupt and they overstep their God given duties and they also waste the tax money we pay to provide what God wants them to provide. I know that unfortunately the government even today and especially today has expanded its God given duties to provide things that are not at all in line with what they should be doing and therefore because of the increase in bureaucracy and other interests they have overstepped their duties and levied taxes in excess and they have become unfair in their taxation. Yet, God wants us to still pay our required tribute. We do have a great power, especially in this country that the Jewish people did not have under Roman oppression. First and foremost we do have the greatest thing in our advantage that even Israel had, we have God on our side but today we also have the opportunity, always with God’s help and not apart from it to reshape and change our government to make it better and more accountable. That is what God tells us also to pray for our governing authorities, see 1 Timothy 2:1-3 and also we have the freedom and the right and duty toward God and our neighbor to vote and elect a government that operates within the law and will of God. That is the church’s responsibility before God and by doing so we will not only be faithful to God but we will create a government that is more faithful to God’s mandate. Let us remember though, as I have already said before, we are to be salt of the earth and light of the world, remember? So if we cease to do so and we let the wicked rule and reign our form of government we alter really have no right to cry foul, it will be our fault!

    God has given us this great blessing in this country and it is up to us to keep it or lose it.

    Let’s think about this for a moment, God blessed many nations and especially the USA with a great blessing that has come from His grace, liberty and freedom. He has given us the opportunity to create, with His sovereign help a nation with a form of government that is unique. He has placed in the hands of the people of the USA, and even others in a different form, the opportunity to be free and happy, in other words, as the Declaration of Independence says, God has endowed us with unailienable rights, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Indeed to preserve life, to reamain free and to live in happyiness, there are certain conditions that we must pursue and maintain. The conditions are godliness , in a special way faithfulness to the living God and to His laws. Once again John Adams, speaking of the Constitution of the USA, which is the law of the land upon which all other laws should be based, besides God’s law of course; The Constitution is made for a moral and religious people!

    Our Constitution and form of government is made for a moral and religious people, and religious for our founding fathers meant the Christian religion supremely.

    For many years, about 150, our nation, not perfectly and still with many defects, however maintained godliness and morality and did pursue faithfulness to God.

    As the church in this country became less and less involved in government and more and more worldly, as Jesus said, it lost its saliness and light. Fore these reasons, society decayed just like meat and fish if not thoroughly permeated by salt and our society began its descent into darkness. As a society becomes morw and more ungodly so does the government of that society. Think about it for a moment! The church lost its infulence and stopped becoming an active part of the nation’s government but the church also became gradually more and more carnal and even sinful. All this has given way to the corruption and decay of that society. A society without God will create a government without God and this will only lead to its own demise.

    Without God involved in the government or a government who at least acts accountable to God and His law a government becomes wicked, tyrannical and oppressive and it will eventually take away all God given rights to its people, including the right to be free to worship God. However, in a free society like ours or even as Europe had been since the Reformation until about eighty years ago or so, when its people abandon God and ceases to respect God, morality and honesty, the consequence is devastating.

    These societies have chosen a form of government more similar to Communism or even Socialism and it is inevitable that taxes have become oppressive and unjust for many and it is also inevitable that these forms of government oppress Christians, because for these forms of government God must become non-existent or at least defenseless in public life.

    As those societies abandon God and His ways they become wicked and their governments will indeed reflect the wickedness of its own society. This happens because people will abandon God and by abandoning God the government becomnes wicked and tyrannical and oppressive, especially to those who want to love and respect and obey God.

    We can and will lose our God given rights, freedom and happiness and even life as we clearly see, life is no longer revered and protected today. John Adams was correct, the Constitution is hated and disrespected and disobeyed today by a great part of the population and an even greater part of the government, who is instead called to obey, protect and revere it. Many today want to change the Constitution because it is too godly and fair. They want to change it and make one that reflects all their wickedness.

    This is why, especially the Democratic party in the USA wants to load up the Supreme Court and all lesser courts with judges that actually misinterpret, change and modify the meaning of the Constitution. If they can’t change it directly they will render it ineffective by judicial Fiat.

    If the governments in a supposed free society are wicked, unfair, tyrannical and oppressive it is the people’s fault because in a Republican Democracy it is the people who are responsible to maintain their own freedom and liberty. If these are lost it’s the people’s fault and even more God’s people in those societies. We have seen this to be true even in the history of Israel and Judah, the more unfaithful to God they became the more tyranny and oppression they suffered, the godlier they were the more freedom and happiness they enjoyed.

    If we are paying unfair and excessive taxation it is a sign of an ungodly society and government and the sign of an unfaithful church living in that society.

    Romans 13:7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

    [Render therefore …] This injunction is repeated often in the Bible. We have seen it before when Jesus told us to render to Caesar that which was his and render to God what is due to Him. It is one of the most lovely and obvious of the duties of Christianity. Christianity is not designed to break in upon the proper order of society, but rather to establish it and confirm it. It does not rudely assail existing institutions: but it comes to actually put them in the right context before God. As we did mention it is indeed the high calling of the Christian to mold and shape its government and to diffuse a godly and pure influence over all of it and to secure our influence in all the relations of life as shall best serve and promote the happiness of man and the welfare of the community, especially to bring society to be more God fearing and respectful of the law.

    I will say it and repeat it , whoever unjustly and without cause attacks, does not respect and tries to subvert the government and its authority is actually attacking an institution created by God.

    This is why all this lawless and violent protesting we see going on in our country and even in many other parts of the world, is not simply an attack on government, it is not only not respectful to the governing authorities, when we look at what motivates all this we see that is it is Antichrist and Anti God lawlessness. It is not only an attack on government but an attack on God Himself. All people who are lawless in essence are that because they hate and disregard God and His laws because as we said, God’s law is what rules man’s laws for the most part as God has written them in man’s hearts. However the wicked hate God and His law and hate anyone and anything that reminds them of God and His law. This is why they are lawless. Also they do not want anything around them that remind them of the fact that they are transgressors of God’s law.

    You see, acknowledging the validity of law they acknowledge that there is a God and that His laws are righteous and that these laws condemn the lawlessness in their hearts and minds and they don’t want that. They don’t want to feel like law breakers because they will feel condemned and if condemned therefore guilty and if guilty therefore deserving judgment and wrath and if so then they may have to admit that they need a savior and that my friends would mean acknowledging first their guilt and the need for Christ.

    They want all of this removed so their conscience does not hear all the external accusations that the law brings against them, therefore if they can silence all the external things that condemn them then they can more easily suppress their conscience by suppressing the truth of God with massive amounts of unrighteous behavior and then searing their conscience so that after a while it becomes completely insensitive. Lawlessness and rebellion to government is rebellion against God not simply men.

    This is why the Christian is not to become lawless and rebellious to the government rather obey them and honor them and affect them positively by becoming part of them.

    Then Paul says to give them what is due to them. Give to whom it properly belongs by the law of the land, and according to the ordinance of God.

    This word by Paul is represented here as a matter of “debt,” as something which is “due” to the ruler; basically it’s a fair “compensation” to them for the service they render us by devoting their time and talents to advance “our” interests, and the welfare of the community.

    Taxes are to be considered a “debt,” a matter of strict and just obligation, they should be paid as conscientiously and as cheerfully as any other just debts, however contracted.

    Paul therefore is exhorting Christians to pay their taxes as a matter of obligation to pay for the services rendered to execute all the law enforcement, protection of the citizens and judicial duties the governing authorities provide. These taxes in essence are an obligation not of the government exclusively, but it is God who imposes on us to pay them because they are his ministers on earth to execute punishment on evil, to enforce law and justice. So the Christian cannot shrug off the responsibility of paying taxes because it is indeed God’s will.

    Now Paul tells us to pay custom to whom it is due. The Greek word is Telos.

    While the word “tribute” means, as has been remarked, the tax which is paid by dependent people and also is the tax imposed on land or real estate.

    The word here translated “custom” instead means properly the revenue which is collected on “merchandise,” either imported or exported or sold.

    Then Paul tell us to render fear to whom it is due. See also Rom 13:4.

    We should therefore stand fear of those who wear the sword, and who are appointed to execute the laws of the land. Since the execution of their office is designed to excite “fear,” we should render to them that reverence which is appropriate to the execution of their function. This means that we should even have a solicitous anxiety about wrong doing and lest we do anything to offend them.

    We have seen in depth why people should fear the authorities, we have studied even why people do not and we have seen that believers ought not fear the authorities because Christians should always and only be doing good. In a perfect world the authorities should reward good and punish evil, we have seen however that often power brings corruption and also as the believers shrink back from serving in these positions of authority the authorities become more and more corrupt and evil. When salt ceases to be salt then corruption occurs and evil pervades.

    Paul exhorts us to give [Honour] to whom it is due and the difference between this and “fear” is, that this rather denotes “reverence and respect” for their names, their offices, and their rank. It’s really the same as respect, the office they hold demands respect, it’s actually God that demands we respect the offices, the positions. The former, “fear”, should arise from the dread of punishment. Christianity recognizes to people all their just titles, recognizes their rank and function, and seeks to promote due subordination in a community.

    It was no part of the work of our Savior, or of his Apostles, to quarrel with the mere “titles” of people, or to withhold from them the customary tribute of respect and homage; see Acts 24:3; 26:25; Luke 1:3; 1 Peter 2:17.

    In this verse we find summed up the duty which is owed to magistrates. It consists in rendering to them proper honor contributing cheerfully and conscientiously to the necessary expenses of the government; and in yielding obedience to the laws. These are all part of the duty which we owe to God, and should be considered as enjoined by our faith.

    On the subject discussed in these seven verses, the following principles seem to come evident by the authority of the Bible, and hopefully are now understood,

    (1) That government is essential; and its necessity is recognized and created by God, and it is arranged by his providence. God has never been the patron of anarchy and disorder. Never! Those who are are not being obedient to God’s will and even in the church we must be careful not to have these traits of rebellion in us.

    (2) Civil rulers are dependent on God. He has entire control over them, and can set them up or put them down when he pleases.

    (3) The authority of God is superior to that of civil rulers. They have no right to make enactments which interfere with “God’s” authority nor are they to be obeyed above God if and when they usurp God’s law.

    (4) It is not the business of civil rulers to regulate or control religion. That is a distinct department, with which they have no concern, except to protect it. Yet we know that as they become more and more ruled and controlled by unbelievers this becomes a problem as they will try to suppress religion, especially Christianity as it is the only and true religion.

    (5) The rights of all people are to be preserved. People are to be allowed to worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience, and to be protected in those rights, provided they do not violate the peace and order of the community by actually inciting disobedience to God’s law and rule.

    (6) Civil rulers have no right to persecute Christians, or to attempt to secure conformity to their views by force. The conscience cannot be compelled; and in the affairs of religion man must be free. Although we know how this is often, way to often violated.

    In view of this subject we may remark, the following:

    (1) The doctrines respecting the rights of civil rulers, and the line which is to be drawn between their powers and the rights of conscience, have been slow to be understood. The struggle has been long; and a thousand persecutions have shown the anxieties of the magistrate to want to rule the conscience, and control religion. In pagan countries in fact, it has been conceded that the civil ruler has a right to control the “religion” of the people: church and state there have been one. The same thing was attempted also under Christianity. The magistrate, in this case the Roman Empire for first, claimed this right, and attempted to enforce it upon all. Christianity resisted this claim, and asserted the independent and original rights of the human conscience. We know that many a conflict ensued, and the magistrate resorted to persecutions in order to “subdue” by force the claims of a new religion and the rights of human conscience. We know and recognize a period of ten fiery and bloody persecutions of the primitive church. The blood of the early Christians flowed like water; thousands and tens of thousands went to the stake, until Christianity triumphed, and the right of religion to a free exercise was acknowledged throughout the empire.

    (2) This actually should be a matter of devout thanksgiving that the subject is now settled, and the principle is now understood at least in our own land (America) exists, for now and gradually and more quickly deteriorating, the illustration of the true principle regarding this great subject.

    Where the rights of the conscience are still regarded and the laws, now always less, peacefully obeyed, the civil ruler should understand his province; and Christians can yield a cheerful and cordial obedience to the laws of the land.

    The church and state do move on in their own spheres but they should be united and not opposed, in the purpose to make men’s lives peaceable and and good and respect the rights of all without interference.

    They are divided only as they relate to different departments, and contemplate, the government the rights of civil society and justice and law enforcement while the church the interests of eternity, mercy and God’s forgiveness. However they can be an should be united in righteous and just behavior and upholding what is just and lawful and when the government ceases to do so, the church must call the government back to law and justice, according to God’s standards, after all the church has a prophetic ministry and voice and let’s not forget, the governing authorities are indeed ordained and subject to God whether they want to admit it or not. In this there is absolutely no separation of church and state.

    In this the church is not saying that the governing authorities must be of a certain religious affiliation particularly controlled by certain denominations or other religions, but the church has to remind the governing authorities of their obligations before God Almighty and be warned of the dire consequences of becoming unjust, oppressing and wicked. This is exactly why it would be ideal that many Christians be actively involved in being a part of government.

    Every man should be able to worship God according to his own views of duty; and at the same time, render the most cordial and peaceful obedience to the laws of the land.

    Thanks should be rendered without ceasing to the God of our fathers for the wondrous train of events by which this contest has been conducted to its issue thus far and thanking God for the clear and full understanding which we now have regarding the different departments pertaining to the church and the state.

    In addition in this country, so far, we have a Constitution, penned by our founding fathers who, whether people want to admit it or not, nevertheless they did indeed write the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution with an understanding that this nation, this Republic would always be subjected to the law and the directives of the aforementioned documents, especially the Constitution, where in its Bill of Rights it declares that the government shall not ever infringe upon certain rights of its population. These rights, our founding fathers determined, were not given by the government but by God Himself, therefore the government has to be at all times compelled by and controlled by the Constitution itself, in order to make sure that in subsequent generations the government of this great Republic would not infringe upon and take away these God given rights from its own citizens.

    For this indeed, in essence, always according to our founding fathers, would not simply be a violation of rights that the government merely gave to its people, for it it were such then that government would have the right to give them as well as to take them away when it feels like it. Instead especially the Bill of Rights is indeed a document written not merely to protect the nation from falling into oppression and tyranny, but also this is a document which would hold accountable the subsequent governments of this Republic to God Himself and warn the government not to overstep its boundaries as to not to undergo God’s judgment and wrath. For indeed that is exactly what would occur.

    Basically, this nation is under a double whammy, because it is not merely held to account simply by a written document that holds legal value, it does hold a lot of value indeed, yet, the government of this Republic is held accountable by the document itself to God Himself. This particular passage we are studying here in Romans 13, indeed confirms that the authority of God does hold the governing authorities accountable to Him because He has ordained them anyway. Whether they indeed like it or not, God is their boss and to Him they must and will answer.

    So the governing authorities must be honored because of their God given authority and the believer better understand this and understand it well. The believers, even in cases where the governing authorities defy God’s law and even when they become oppressive, must absolutely, even though they may indeed defy ungodly laws but those only through civil disobedience, yet, believers must respect the ranks and the offices who govern over them.

    I will, give you several examples of what I mean. Let’s take for example the previous President of the USA. Many, many people did not like the man’s policies, abhorred his visible disdain and at times even hatred of Christians, law enforcement, military and his political opposition. Yet, for the most part, most people, even Christians who, as I said disliked and abhorred this President and his Administration and government, respected him, they did not incite violence and rioting, they did not publicly offend or disrespect him or any person who worked in his Administration. In addition let me say this, as citizens and even believers we have indeed the right, constitutionally and biblically to peacefully, let me repeat this, peacefully protest or complain if we think our governing authorities are unjust and even wicked. In fact as believers we are commanded to do so, Ephesians 5:1-14.

    The Constitution gives citizens of this nation the right to peacefully assemble and bring forth grievances to our government, this would include peaceful protesting.

    However, we have we are seeing since the election of this present President, an unprecedented amount of hatred publicly displayed by the opposing citizenry. Hatred that thus far has amounted to rioting, continuous open and hateful slander, disrespect, name calling, attempts to undermine and even remove him from office, literal violent and in some cases deadly attacks against anyone who works for or supports this President and his policies. All this has been occurring from all aspects of this country, from academia, from the political opposition and the media who for all intents and purposes are one slight step away from literal treason. Overstepping all constitutional boundaries, and unfortunately allowed to do so, the attacks are relentless, assassination attempts have been made on Republican lawmakers in an almost successful way. Law enforcement officers have been assassinated, physically attacked, offended with words, wished dead, rioted against. Private property has been destroyed, police vehicles burned and destroyed, authorities mocked and ridiculed even desired to be abolished and eliminated, lawlessness and evil has been embraced and encouraged, disdain for law and justice is running rampant. Citizens with opposing political and religious views are being even physically attacked and many more things could be mentioned.

    All this lawlessness, hatred and rioting and all this disdain and disrespect for law enforcement and governing authorities is ungodly behavior and it’s sinful and wicked. These people, all of them, are ungodly and evil and they hate law, justice and they hate the authorities placed over them, especially if they reflect more closely God’s law and justice. These people are defying God when they disrespect and dishonor and defy the offices and ranks of the governing authorities.

    For the sinning wicked and godless man all it is inevitable, they hate anything that is in agreement with godliness and with God’s law ,order and justice. Yet the Christian is called to respect and honor the authorities, all of them. The Scripture definitely commands believers to honor and respect the authorities and to pray for them.

    1 Timothy 2:1-3 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior;

    1 Peter 2:13-15 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. 15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:

    1 Peter 2:17 Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.

    Titus 3:1-2 Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, 2 To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.

    Honor is due to all who are in positions of governing authority. It is understandable, as it also is recorded in Scripture that honor must be given to them, yes indeed, nevertheless we do also understand that often times the actions of some may be evil and despicable and we see therefore, in Scripture that these types of people, although respected publicly were not at all respected internally by God’s people.

    Although it is rarely found in Scripture where God’s people actually publicly dishonored or even tried to eliminate the evil governing figures. An outward public respect was always given.

    Therefore, we as Christians, may disagree with political wicked and evil ideologies and we should, and we can and should attack the ideologies but never attack the persons. We may privately or among like minded people discuss our dislike of these people but in the public forum we should pay them the respect that their offices demand.

    The public hatred, slander, attempts to demean and even character assassinate our actual president and all that work for and support him, is evil and ungodly behavior which is practiced by people who love lawlessness and anarchy and support anyone who promotes lawlessness and evil ideologies. These people hold criminals in esteem, they hate law and order and true justice, they love immorality and unethical behavior and always and only apply morality and ethics in a hypocritical and out of context manner and only when it suits their slander and evil purposes. Basically it’s selective ethics and morality which they hate anyway. It’s basically all a show but no substance and no truth.

    Christians though ought not to be like that, we honor the office and the positions of the governing authorities while we can and should disagree with their policies if and when they are evil and wicked.

    It is obvious that it is not easy to like people who are openly against God and the church and who hate us and God. In fact I’m not quite sure we are called to actually like them at all. Loving our enemies is a pretty particular thing, it does not require liking them personally nor supporting what they do, however we are called to honor them, in this particular case, because of the office they hold. We honor them not like them, we respect them but we don’t have to like them personally. Loving pour enemies is demonstrated in three ways basically:

    One: By warning them of the impending peril their souls are in because of their unbelief and sin.

    Two: By preaching and offering to them God’s mercy and forgiveness in Christ through the Gospel.

    Three: If and when, let me repeat this fact, if and when on an individual basis any of these people, no matter how evil, wicked or odious or disliked by us they are, they are in a situation where they come in need and ask for help, we must help them.

    We have tackled this issue before in our study, in the previous chapter. The Scripture in question that commands us to do so is found in Proverbs, Proverbs 25:21-22 which was also mentioned by Paul as well in:

    Romans 12:18-21 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

    This is a very comprehensive passage, which we see is not at all lived and practiced by most of the leftist in this country. However, the church, the believers must obey these things, as much as it is possible with us, we must live in peace with all men, we should not avenge ourselves ever. Vengeance belongs to the Lord only, we must leave place to His wrath and He will eventually repay. However, see the magic word is, IF our enemies are in need and ask for help of us we are called to show Godly love to them by helping them. You see, we are not called to like them, but to do them good if and when they call on us for help. By doing so, we actually do not at all let them off the hook. You see, that is exactly what we do when we obey God and help them regardless their hatred for us we leave their judgment to God and in fact God is giving us the image of judgment by the heaping of hot coals on their heads.

    That is an indication of God’s judgment.

    So these are the three ways we are called to show love to our enemies. There is an actual difference between liking someone and loving someone the way God calls us to love.

    As we see then, loving the way God loves does not preclude we like someone but simply the way we demonstrate God’s love by obeying God in what He says we should do and leave the consequences to Him.

    In fact Jesus said:

    Matthew 5:44-46 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

    See, it is more than evident that all we need to do is obey these commandments and we will be loving our enemies by doing what God commands us to do but we aren’t forced to like them, in fact it says that if we love those who like us, who love us that’s what everyone does. This type of godly love is only possibly demonstrated when we obey God in doing what He tells us to do for those who hate us.

    We should therefore honor the offices of the governing authorities even when we dislike the persons who hold them. We must do what Jesus says we should do regardless.

    Therefore we do not honor the sins of the governance, we condemn them and do it publicly as the word of God exhorts us to do, Ephesians 5: 11-13, but this does not give us the green light to be able to hate the government and government offices.

    At the end of all this discourse Christians must not be against the government, Christians must not be anarchists, Christians must not be offensive to the government but must respect it and respect the governmental positions to which they are subject, why? Because God commands it and because the governing authorities are ordained by God. So when we hear Christians who say things like, they do not owe any alliance or respect to the government, that they should not commit themselves to obeying and respecting their governments because they insist that they do not belong to this world and are not citizens of this world but of the celestial kingdom when we hear all this we must understand that these do not understand God’s will regarding this concept and that in fact in this context they are rebellious to God not just the government.

    Romans 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

    This next passage opens up an entire new subject although it is also actively connected with the previous subject.

    This is because in the previous verses we saw that Paul, in other words under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, therefore God, wants believers to pay their taxes. It’s God’s will that we pay taxes, even, as we saw, when they are unfair. Let’s face it, today we are in so much better shape than the Jews in Roman times or even the colonies just before the revolution. Why? Why? Because we have the power as a people to change our government and even to reverse its unfair conditions. It’s hard, yes. but it is not impossible nor do we need an armed revolution to do it. As we have understood, I hope, that with the help of God and witrh the people of God placing themselves in the right spiritual condition, we can change the direction of our governments, it is really up to us to do it.

    Anyway, having said this, we can see therefore that God’s will is that we pay taxes, however, God’s will is also, as we see here in verse 8, God desires that as Christians we owe nothing to anyone.

    Now this statement is really easy to rationalize in this day and age because we live in a culture and society that already for many, many, years have placed people in a condition to buy things on credit too easily.

    This, together with consumerism and greed both on the side of the lenders than the side of the borrowers has opened up a great big Pandora’s box for the entire world and even for the church.

    This passage may lead us to think that borrowing money is a sin, and in sincerity at first I thought it was also. In reality borrowing in Scripture is not a sin in itself but before we cheer this fact in order to dismiss our behavior and justify debt on our own life, debt although not a sin in itself, is one of those things that needs to be examined thoroughly. Why? Because it becomes sin very quickly! Debt first of all becomes a great weight in the believers’ life and as such it prevents us to do what we are commanded to do which therefore becomes sin.

    Before we consider borrowing, we better make sure that the borrowing will not cause us to fall into sin and disobedience to God and His word. So we must use God’s wisdom and discernment and very carefully examine all options before we borrow money, especially great amounts. Remember one thing, although borrowing may not be sinful in itself, it is however never the best thing to resort to do. I will consent that in dire situations one may not have a choice and may indeed at all costs have to borrow, let’s remember though one very essential thing about our God, He is more than able to provide for us when we trust Him to do so. It may be that Go has other means to provide than to borrow or in the end it may even mean that we may have to borrow just the same. It’ like healing, it may be that God will provide healing by healing us Himself, while other times He may use doctors and medicine to do so as well. Borrowing for believers should be the very last thing we have to do. Often when we ponder our situations and options we will arrive at the conclusion that it may not be necessary to borrow money.

    It is evident that God calls us, His children, not to be conformed with the ways of this world. We have studied in chapter 12:2 that the ways of the world are, sinfulness, lust, greed, the philosophies and ideologies that the world adopts and transmits which are inherently opposed to God’s will and purposes.

    There are many things that seemingly make sense to the human mindset, especially things that lead down the path of covetousness and greed. Things that are even seemingly not sinful and in many cases are not inherently sinful but that Satan knows will inevitably lead to sinful behavior.

    These things contain traps and they are very well hidden traps.

    We know that Satan is the master in manipulation and deception and he is well aware as to how the human psyche works and how the sinful nature responds to his deceptions and manipulations. He also knows that even though a Christian does not have a sinful nature any longer, see Romans 6:6,

    Romans 7:22-23, 2 Peter 1:3-4.

    In the born again believer the old sinful nature, the old man is taken out of the way and a new man is born, internally. However, as we studied in Romans 7: 15-24, we understand that our bodies, our human bodies and our minds are still affected by sin and the desires of the flesh.

    This is why believers are commanded to renew their minds and to bring their bodies under submission to the Spirit and the word of God.

    Satan knows all this as well and he knows that in order to still make Christians disobey God or at least be deceived so he can still manipulate them, all he has to do is stop them from renewing their minds and then entice them through the desires of the flesh, meaning the sinful desires that still exist in the body.

    If Satan can control our minds instead of the word of God controlling them, then he can win the battle for our minds and still control a big part of our lives even if we are believers. This is his strategy, he knows we are forgiven and that we no longer belong to him, he knows that our souls are eternally saved and secure in God.

    The one thing he can do therefore is hinder our progress, stop our spiritual growth even just slow it down and he does this by controlling our mindset and thought process to make us remain carnal and therefore think, decide and act carnally instead of spiritually. By doing this, he can manipulate, deceive and even control part or even a lot of our behavior and life.

    You see, he does not have to be actively involved in everyone’s life, he has many, many servants who do his dirty work, demons and humans alike. All he needs to do is create ideologies and philosophies and then promote them as harmless and useful. Once these are not checked against God’s word and accepted as common harmless practice within the church, it’s game over.

    The ideologies later become strongholds, even in the church and they become very difficult to tear down and to avoid. As we said, consumerism and greed have been pushed and promoted in many different ways in society and sadly these harmful ideologies have affected humanity in a very negative way and even more sadly they have affected the church in such a way that these have become real and great stumbling blocks in the lives of believers.

    These are in fact designed to weigh us down in our pursuit of Christ likeness an in our pursuit of renewing our mind and achieve the mind of Christ in order to fully and properly understand God’s will. That is exactly the reason Paul wrote this:

    And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:2

    This is what the enemy wants to stop and avoid from happening in us in order to stop our Christian growth and our effectiveness in Christian life.

    This is also why the author of Hebrews wrote this:

    Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

    As we clearly see delineated here for us, the author is saying that we are surrounded by the example of many witnesses of God, witnesses of faith which were mentioned in chapter 11. Their lives are to be examples, their witness of their faith, obedience and faithfulness to God are to help us stay encouraged in our own attempts to imitate them and live as God’s witnesses in the same way they did. Seeing that we have so many excellent examples to follow, we are therefore exhorted to lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily defeats us. Let’s take a moment to think about this statement. First we are to lay aside every weight that hinders our forward progress. Weights here are clearly distinct, different from sins. Sins are also mentioned as things that hinder our Christian life and progress, yet weights are not sins.

    As it is intimated by the context of the passage, the author is obviously talking about the comparison of our Christian life with running a race, a marathon more specifically, not a sprint. The word patience, long suffering, denotes a long difficult and grueling race. Therefore, we are to get rid of things in our life that weigh us down so that we cannot properly run this race. Being weighed down is not a good thing when we are attempting to run a race. Can you imagine that? A marathon runner showing up to the startup line with so many weights around his waist, how could he ever think to be able to run this race efficiently to the end, never mind trying to win it? It would be impossible to run a marathon weighed down by superfluous weight, never mind winning. The other runners who are not weighed down would no doubt have a great advantage, but we would greatly struggle to get to the end of the race.

    We might even arrive at the end of the race but in what condition and with how much of a greater struggle the whole way. It is obvious that a runner in order to run a good race cannot carry extra weight.

    Sin also is mentioned as one thing that also hinders our race, it is a much greater hindrance yet what entangles and weighs down believers beside sins which control them, are those things that are not inherently sinful. Those things, those weights and and will often be much more difficult to detect and therefore to rid ourselves of them.

    Our enemies know this, and they also know that if we are tempted with sins we will eventually catch on to their detriment. However, if our enemies sell us belief systems that are not inherently sinful but that in the end weigh us down so much we cannot run our race effectively, then they will have obtained their goal. That is, stopping our forward progress!

    In fact these weights will be such that we will become so exhausted to carry them that we will voluntarily stop to progress in our Christian life. How many times did we hear or even say it ourselves, that we are tired, we don’t have time to do what God wants us to do, we lack the energy, the willpower, the means, the time, etc. etc.

    These excuses are brought about by the weights we have been told we must carry if we want the life we want in this world. Things that would otherwise be easy to carry and to do if we did not have to carry all the excess weight now become hard, difficult and cumbersome, why? Because we are carrying too much excess and useless weight.

    Usually what happens instead of losing the excess weight we instead give up our godly progress while we hang on and hold on to the weights. These weights now a days are the all the things the world order has been selling us and telling us that we have to have. We’ve been told that we need to have so many things in life, so many things that most of us under normal circumstances could not afford to have.

    Then they have brainwashed everyone in believing that we can indeed afford all these things because they will make it so that we can afford them by buying them on credit. All you need to do is charge them, get a loan and you can have all that you want. These credits have been made more and more easily accessible and available for just about everyone.

    Debt is one of those weights and we see that the problem with debt is that we have to repay it and how. If the debt is not quickly and expediently repaid great interest will have to get paid on top of the price of the item fro which we borrowed money. Now we begin to see how this whole world philosophy, this ideology that says buy now and pay later actually becomes one of the greatest encumbrances ever and these debts in which people fall become great weights, weights that most people will never be able to carry to the finish line.

    These methodologies of sale, in other words, buy on credit, borrow to own all you need and want are nothing but schemes that mostly create nothing but pain and destruction in people’s lives and unfortunately many, many believers have fallen prey to these trappings and their faith has been ship wrecked and their race compromised because these debts bring about many destructive things with them. One of the elements that they mostly destroy is people’s time. Time is our most precious commodity, it’s not even money, it’s time, in fact you all heard that famous saying although not biblical it is however true, time is money. Time in fact is most precious than money. We need time to pray, study God’s word, we need time to serve God, to go to church, we need time to teach our children God’s ways and the word of God, we need time even to rest and relax and recharge physically. This was why the Lord had created the Sabbath for His people Israel. It was for their spiritual, mental and physical well being not for Him, see Exodus 20:8-11, and also

    Mark 2:27-28 And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: 28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.

    Paul gave a very stern warning about seeking to run after what we want more than we actually need, he says:

    1 Timothy 6:6-11 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.

    As Paul says, having God, being a Christian in life and being content with having what we need is great gain. Think about what he’s saying here, if we learn to be happy with the necessities of life and not trying to chase some status or particular lifestyle, especially the one advertised by the world, that is great gain. In other words we gain something that we could otherwise not have. Just being saved, born again, just having received God’s grace and mercy is and should be the greatest gain a person will have, as even Jesus warned:

    Matthew 16:26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

    So having God and belonging to Him, having the salvation of our souls and God’s favor, is greater than even gaining the whole world.

    Therefore, godliness, and being content with it and content with what God has given us, having what we need to live, in all this we have great gain. Trying to move to the world’s level, to what the allure of the world offers, the lust of the flesh and of the eye these things get us in trouble and our enemy knows that even believers, unfortunately are negatively affected and attracted by these things. Therefore the enemy through his deceptions and his temptations and manipulation, will make even the believer fall in his traps. These are the traps of chasing excess in life, and Paul warned us that many people ship wrecked their faith and ended up piercing themselves with many sorrows by falling into these traps .

    All this can and will lead even believers and all of mankind to carry excessive weight in their lives to the point that they can no longer live and function properly and if not careful will be enticed also in many sinful behaviors. At the very least believers will be so weighed down that we no longer will have time to do all the that we should do.

    I repeat all the things we should do, not all the things we are either forced to do by society’s demands, not the things our flesh lusts after, for those things, even believers always seem to have plenty of time to do.

    I am talking about the things that God desires we do. Time to pray, to read His word, to study His word, to meditate His word. Time to teach our children God’s word and His ways, quality time to spend with the family. Time to serve God in whatever capacity He has called us to serve, time to help people and do good. Time to serve God in the church body, etc.

    Unfortunately, most believers lack the time to do all these things, why? Because usually they are too busy doing a lot of running around doing many other things that they deem important even essential but that aren’t. This is a sign that the believer’s priorities are not what they should be and it’s a tell tale sign that perhaps, in fact most likely, they are chasing the wrong priority in life.

    This entire concept is important to consider in the context of owing anyone, being in debt. Because as we said before our society and culture has become so materialistic and consumer oriented that it offers debt to people in order to afford things we otherwise couldn’t. In other words, spend in excess even when we do not have the money to afford the items we purchase on credit and then not even having the money to repay the debt. Whoever lends money expects interest on that money they lent if not paid within a certain time.

    Most people buy on credit and never pay off the debt in full in the allotted time, so what happens is the interest accrues on top of the purchase price and the amount to pay becomes larger and larger rather than paying the debt the person who lives doing this is imprisoned in a trap of risking to be in debt for life. People enter a vicious cycle of habit forming purchasing without ever having enough capital, ever, to repay all the debt plus interest they pile up.

    This behavior causes the persons who indulge in it, to have to work more and harder, to seek a second and even a third job in order to keep up with the interest alone, never mind paying down the entire principle of the debt.

    Can you begin to see why these persons who live like this end up lacking the time to do the more important things in life? Do you begin to see that this is a big reason why God does not want believers to owe a debt to anyone? Do you understand that having to invest most of a person’s time working in order to pay debts incurred because that person wanted to have things they could not otherwise afford, is a great detriment to their spiritual life and to their family relationships?

    This is one big reason, the biggest probably, why God does not want His children to be in debt. Yet, we disobey this commandment almost always and we end up plunging into the world’s ways and therefore Satan’s traps.

    Think of the idea of buying a house or a car. In our society we have been taught that we should own a house and even in Christian circles we have been taught that a mortgage is actually the only acceptable debt a Christian should have, yet, this is wrong and it’s not really God’s will. Think about it for a moment, if God tells us not to be in debt, wouldn’t that include a mortgage? Especially in the US but now a days almost in all of western society we also have been convinced that we need a car, and undoubtedly in a lot of cases being without one can be, is, detrimental, it can cause a lot of hardships and even prevent people to have better employment.

    However, let’s reason for a moment about all this. Why is it better to own a house than to pay rent and live in an apartment or rent a house? They tell us that it’s an investment, perhaps in some ways it can be true, but in the long run is it? Owning a house brings with it many, many additional expenses that living in a rental does not. For example, owning a house, one pays interest on the loan, pays property taxes, pays homeowners insurance and every and all repairs and expenses are fully the responsibility of the person who owns the house. It is also not always true that the house is an investment because the market dictates whether or not the house will have a greater value or not. Sometimes, the home ends up losing value and the person ends up paying more than the house is worth. If then an emergency arises and a person for various reasons has to sell the house, they will have to swallow a loss rather than make a profit.

    Now, let’s compare living in a rental, the owner is responsible for most of the repairs not the tenant, the tenant does not have to pay property tax, the tenant does not have to pay for homeowner insurance, may have to pay for renters insurance, which by the way is much less expensive than homeowners’ insurance. You may pay rent but you are not paying interest and this is the biggest advantage I believe, you have freedom to go and find another better rental situation or when and if you must leave the premises you are not tied down to have to sell the house or apartment nor do you have a loss for a bad real estate market.

    We have been brainwashed to think that it’s better to have your own home but in reality when you carefully examine the pros and cons, and you weigh all this against God’s will, which says not to be in debt, then it is evident, more than evident that renting for a believer is better than owning. No debt, less expenses and we are obedient to God’s commandment. In other words, do we have to own a home at all costs or can we save a lot of money and not be in debt by simply being content to rent a place?

    I know it’s not a popular way of thinking for believers, that’s because even we, including me, have been programmed to think a certain way and to always rationalize away the word of God in order to fulfill our own desires. In the long run though when we obey God’s word and we wait on Him and delight in Him rather than our own desires and understanding, He could even reward us in ways we cannot even expect, and He will indeed reward our obedience and faithfulness.

    Psalms 37:4-5 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. 5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

    This is exactly why in Romans 12:2 we read:

    And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

    You see that? It says be not conformed to this world, being in debt is the way of the world not of God, so when we give into the idea that it’s alright to get a mortgage to own a house and we even think that it may be God’s best will for us, we are sadly mistaking. We have conformed ourselves to the ideas and ideologies of the world and not of God’s word and His revealed will. We must be transformed instead in mind and behavior by the word of God. By doing this we will assure ourselves that we learn and prove God’s perfect will for our life.

    Therefore to know or prove if something is God’s will for us we must not think like the world thinks, if we have any doubts as to what it may be, we must seek God’s word and allow it to renew and change our way of thinking and line up our thoughts and our will to His.

    In this case it is really useless trying to rationalize going into debt to buy a house with the fact that it’s God’s will for us. Apparently as we are studying here it seems not to be God’s perfect will that we be in debt, so there you have it.

    The very sad issue is that we rationalize, justify our behavior and desires by ignoring what God’s word says. Even worse, instead of ignoring it, way too often we twist and manipulate God’s word to make it fit our own behaviors and desires.

    The concept of owning a car is much the same. The fact is that in most cases, almost anyone, if they lived within the means God has given them will be able to afford a car, the problem is that everyone wants to go for the newer better cars rather than looking for one can truly afford and in most cases thay do all this while going into debt by getting a mortgage to buy a house. It is never, ever right to disobey God, yet if anyone should prioritize and weigh their choices then it may be easier to get an inexpensive used car and even if one must at all costs borrow some money for a car at the very least try to repay the loan quicker than its length. If in debt we must go to buy a car, although it is better we should not anyway, but if our faith is so weak that we have to cave at least let’s try to do it within the other means God gives. We may, at least have a smaller and less significant debt than owing for a home and an expensive car with a high amount loan, just to have a newer better car.

    These are all situations we find ourselves in because we have, for years, decades conformed to the world rather than God’s word. Do we honestly think that God is so weak and impotent that if we obey Him and trust Him instead of leaning on our own understanding and acting in our own will and desires, that He will not provide for us? Maybe the reason because we must depend on man and on the world so much is exactly because we do not want to obey and trust God.

    This is indeed a very practical thing to study, God tells us to be in debt with no one, certainly it’s worth considering as it is always worth obeying God’s word. I believe this commandment is perhaps one of the most transgressed by believers and it is indeed one that ends up causing so many problems with our Christian life and growth. This is also, again, why in Romans 12:2 it says that the only way we can be transformed in behavior and not live in conformity with the ways of the world and knowing God’s perfect will for us is available only and exclusively by the renewal of our minds, our thought patterns and all things that cause ideological strongholds in our minds, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.

    When it comes to the subject of not being in debt, I believe we have somehow, almost all Christians, become guilty of letting borrowing become at the very last a weight that weighs us down and prevents us to grow as Christians, because as we said before, these weights will prevent us to move forward and often they will prevent us from doing God’s will which is in essence sin. We have allowed ourselves to embrace the philosophies of the world and in the end to disobey God, whether we want to admit it or not.

    If we get in debt there will be consequences we must endure. Debt can have many devastating consequences in the lives of those who fall into this trap. It can actually ruin people’s entire lives. It often leads people to escalate in their sinful behavior. Why? Because, people taken by desperation and drowning in debt will often resort to crime and sinful behavior in order to undo their debts and continue to live the lifestyle they have become accustomed to live. How you may ask?

    Simple, people may resort to fraud, theft and in some cases even murder to offset their debts and continue to live above their means. Debt has led many people down the path of destruction by thinking, erroneously, for example, that they could gamble and then win big to pay off their debts, when in reality it did nothing but make their debt more and more devastating.

    This is a very good biblical reason why gambling should be avoided at all costs. Many people, even believers try to justify gambling by saying that the Bible does not mention gambling as a sin and therefore it cannot be. This is a misconception, although the bible never mentions gambling at all, yet it mentions greed, envy, covetousness and being ungrateful and not content with what we have.

    These are all reasons why people gamble and these things are sinful. We always must check motivations and check principles in God’s word as well. By analyzing the two we will arrive a the conclusions that certain things although not sinful by themselves are big enablers to sinfulness. Gambling is one of them and so is debt and as we have seen both together have a great synergy and affinity and they work together to make people sin and become enslaved to both behaviors and habits and in the end lead to sin and to ruin the lives of those who practice these things.

    Debt and gambling in most cases will lead into a spiral and rut from which it often becomes impossible to get out. Gambling also causes people to lose everything, homes, assets, families and in the end even their own lives. Many people taken by desperation have ended their own lives, literally, committing suicide.

    This is why in God’s word being in debt is described as a very bad thing and this is also why God prefers we be not in debt.

    When debt is not the last resort and out of the greater necessity it is therefore advisable, by God, not to be in debt with no one.

    In the Bible for example when God speaks to His people about lending and borrowing, he says:

    Exodus 22:25 If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury.

    God considers charging interest as usury. God calls us to lend to others without expecting interest on top of what is borrowed. Here as Christians we must understand the meaning of this and that it is valid for us as well. Christians that are wealthy can and should lend to other believers without interest and should lend to the needy brothers, even Jesus said:

    Matthew 5:42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

    The wealthier members of the body of Christ should always help the more needy brothers and sisters, unfortunately what happens in the church is that often they will advice people to go and borrow money from banks or financial institution. Many times though wealthier believers are in the position to help needy believers but unfortunately they are often reluctant. Often because they don’t trust the others to repay them, however, let’s remember that when things are being done in the church and with the church leadership involved in the processes then the pastors/elders have the duty to keep the people accountable to the other believers. In such cases the church leadership keeps the borrower accountable to the lender. When things are done decently and in order and every member does his part according to the word of God there will usually be no issues or problems. Yes, we know, there are always exceptions but they are to be expected, nevertheless we are all called to obey God and do what He says.

    For example, look at what God says to rich and wealthy believers:

    1 Timothy 6:17-19 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; 18 That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; 19 Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

    As we see there are many, many things written in Scripture that in the church, especially the more modern church, are not being done and this is the reason why there are many problems in the Christian life of many.

    We saw even before in our study that in the beginning of the church’s existence Christians gave generously to the needy brothers and sisters.

    Acts 4:32-35 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. 33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. 34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, 35 And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

    There is no doubt, in the ancient church generosity and love were very well demonstrated in a very practical way. There didn’t seem to be a problem regarding the sharing of goods with the more needy believers to the point that the needs did not even have to be addressed and believers just gave generously of their own possessions. Every time I read this passage I ask my self, what in the world has happened to Christianity today. I have heard stories within the church that would make your hair stand up. The harshness and stinginess and greed that has infected the church is incredible. The church today will rather help people go on welfare rather than help them find jobs or help them in the meantime with the finances which are available in the churches.

    In the United States we live in such a way that poverty is actually how the middle class lives in some other countries. By all intents and purposes we may very well be, if not the wealthiest country in the world, definitely one of the top three. Yet, Christians are so reluctant to act as they did in the first church and we actually hear many saying that they want their church to be like the church of Acts,or we hear them say that the church needs to return to the way it was in the days of the Apostles and I agree with that statement. However, what most really mean when they say that, is not to go back to be like the church of Acts in every way including the passage we just read, where people were selling their properties to help the needy in the church. When they say they want to return to the way it was then is they want to perform signs, miracles and wonders and prophesy that’s what they really want it to be.

    Yet they will rationalize and justify their avarice and greed by stating that today the church does not have to sell their own properties to share them with the needy in the body. We can’t quite figure out why this act of love and generosity somehow was abolished and does not need to be practiced anymore in the church today. Somehow it seems that, according to many, God has repealed His commandments of love and generosity and provision for the needy but somehow has resurrected all the signs of the Apostles though. So let see, to perform miracles, wonders, healing and speak in tongues that is alright to go back to but to love and provide and be generous toward the needy, no?

    What kind of backward mentality is that? Hasn’t God sternly commanded us to love one another as He loves us? Has God not said this?:

    John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

    Hasn’t God commanded this?:

    James 2:15-17 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

    And this:

    1 John 3:17-18 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth

    We see a pattern emerging in the modern church, a pattern that clearly demonstrates abandoning the true and practical and generous love we should have for one another to practice selfish living, greedy living, a way where love in the church is no longer practiced God’s way. The modern church lives and acts in many cases and instances in an insensitive, unloving and worldly way.

    I would actually venture to say that in many ways and cases the world takes care of their own better than the church takes care of their own. In fact the church is pushing other believers to be taken care of by the world, by the government assisted programs while the church collects and spends most of the money they collect, especially in the big mega churches, but not exclusive to them, to pay for full time staff, their salaries and benefits, to pay for five star facilities in which the people meet, having to afford all kinds of modern amenities, such as screens, sound systems, computers, music instruments, etc. etc. in the end never having enough money to actually do God’s will. Churches have become entertainment centers rather than the living and loving body of Christ that invests their lives and assets in the care of each other and the promotion of the Gospel. In effect those are the only tow things that the church should be involved in when it comes to spend and invest its money.

    I say it and repeat it, and I realize that now it’s probably too late in time but, the church was designed by God to be a home based church for these very reasons. Imagine what a church in such a wealthy country as ours could do if it’s financial resources were spent only and exclusively for the propagation of the Gospel and the care of its more needy members. We wouldn’t have to preoccupy ourselves to spend millions of dollars in things that God never called us to spend them on. We are doing church like the world does its things and not as God desires.

    Look at what the Lord told the Laodicean church:

    Revelation 3:14-22 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

    For all intents and purposes this describes the prevalent, not the only but the prevalent condition of the church in the last days, right before the coming of the Lord. It is obvious that these letters to the seven churches are much more than simple letters written to these seven churches at that time and in that period. It has been established by many biblical scholars and I tend to agree with them that these letters are basically three dimensional. The first interpretation of these letters is that they were indeed written to hose seven churches at that time. The second dimension of the interpretation of these passages is that it also refers to individuals than and throughout church history until the coming of the Lord. We clearly denote this by the fact that the letters are addressed to the main elder/pastor of these churches. This indicates that the pastors/elders are mainly responsible for the way in which a church acts and behaves. Also the letters are to be understood that throughout church history not only the seven actual churches described here lived in certain spiritual conditions and a whole but this also translated to the various individual believers within those churches and within every church in every age. Various verses make us see that this is the fact, for example just breaking down this last passage alone, although it is true in every church described:

    Revelation 3:14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write

    The word angel is synonymous of messenger, so to the messenger of the church of Laodicea in this case. This is the head of the church, that it’s not an actual angel is noted by the way Jesus addresses them in the various letters. It is clear that the letter was written to the men in charge of these churches.

    Jesus also gives us the understanding that it goes beyond the leaders and unto the other believers as well when He says things like this for example:

    Revelation 2:10 the devil shall cast some of you into prison,

    Revelation 2:14 thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam,

    Revelation 2:20 because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols

    Revelation 2:24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.

    Revelation 3:4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.

    As we see, the references in these passages describe that Jesus is describing more than what He warns the pastor/elder of each church, He makes references to the behaviors, either negative or positive of other believers within those cities. This gives us clear evidence that when we examine closely all the spiritual conditions of these seven churches we see that they transcend space and time and that what Jesus is saying is said to all churches, all believers through all ages.

    The reality is that if we do observe the spiritual conditions and behavior of each church we do find many applications to the church through out its history form the beginning to the end of the age.

    Even this fact is evident by examining the spiritual condition of various churches through out all time and even today, we will find that depending on how they are led and governed they will have spiritual behavioral patterns similar to any of these seven churches. This is true about every single individual believer as well. We also see however, that even though various churches today have various similar spiritual conditions the main spiritual condition of most of the church today is the one described as the church of Laodicea. As I said, this is not true of all of them, many churches find themselves in the other spiritual conditions as well as all the individual believers.

    Let me give you an example, today most of the church is in the spiritual condition of the church of Laodicea, especially in America. Yet in the world there are many churches who are undergoing the same spiritual condition of Smyrna, a they are persecuted for their faith. There are other congregations, everywhere that are like the church of Philadelphia, in other words, these are small, not wealthy but they are faithful churches. And so on and so forth. In every church each individual believer may find themselves also in a certain spiritual condition that reflects what Jesus describes.

    This is the general and complete picture of how we should interpret these passages.

    Now having said this, we see that it is a reality that today, the mainstream modern Evangelical church, especially in America, finds itself reflecting the spiritual condition described in the church of Laodicea. Let’s see if this is true or not.

    Jesus says: I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

    Revelation 3:15-16

    This is really true about today’s church. It’s lukewarm, has not properties of heat or cold. It’s not zealous (heat) and it does not bring refreshment to anyone (cold). She’s lukewarm, this means that she’s apathetic, goes through the motions but in reality it makes Jesus sick to His stomach.

    Then He says this that reflects exactly even more the church’s condition in these days:

    Revelation 3:17a Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing;

    This is exactly how the church today is and how it sees itself. The church says she is rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing and that is actually true. However the church today is rich and wealthy and indeed has many great things yet, you know how Jesus sees her:

    Revelation 3:17b and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

    Jesus sees this church as wretched, miserable and here it is, poor, blind and naked. Actually He is referring His rebuke to the main elder of the church, but as we said already, the way the pastors go and are, you can rest assured the majority of the church will as well.

    Now if this is not a scathing rebuke I don’t know what is. Her spiritual condition is not good. It has a lot of worldly goods and comforts but in the Lord’s eyes she is poor. Even worse, she is not only poor, she is wretched and miserable. Imagine these nice big churches with thousands of members, with beautiful and ornate buildings, with all comforts such as five star hotels, in some extreme, but more common ways, these days the pastors and elders even live in mansions, have become millionaires and some even have private jets and yachts, and the congregations they lead in many cases reflect their own lifestyles as well and yet Jesus sees them all wretched, miserable and poor.

    Blind because she cannot see her real spiritual condition, She thinks she is alright with God but she is not. She is naked, she is clothed with her own riches and even her own self righteous attitude, but Jesus sees her as shameful as if she were naked. This happens also because even though she is rich in materialistic goods and she is propped up and looks good from the outside, Jesus sees its real condition and it’s opposite to how she sees herself. She is poor toward God.

    That is exactly the point of this entire subject and why I brought it all up.

    The church is exactly as Jesus describes her here. She cannot do the things God desires because she spends most of her money on material wealth but dose not really invest as much in the Kingdom of God and His righteousness first of all. She does not take care of the widows and the orphans and the poor in her midst as James says true religion is exactly that:

    James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

    As we clearly understand here if the church did what the church should do according to God. It would need a third of the money it needs and spends.

    Now you may still ask yourself what does this have to do with debt? Everything really! Why? Because even the church ends up having budget problems and often it has to get into racking up debt it never would have needed to rack up in the first place. If the church stayed as God had originally designed it, home based, meeting in private homes, if the pastors did not become so called professional career persons rather than vocational pastors, if the church did not want to force itself to have great big public meeting facility. If the church spent money only when it was necessary to really help Christians in need and to support the spreading of the Gospel in the proper way, then perhaps, as I already mentioned several times, the church would not need to rack up so much money just to run a local church facility and it certainly would not need to resort to borrowing money for building programs etc. as instead it often does. I have been part of a church that had to take out a mortgage to expand its building program. Once again, if the church operated as it did in the beginning there would have been no need for incurring in that debt.

    I did say already that perhaps it is now too late to revert course and go back to the way the church was in the beginning. I know that there are many home church style congregations that are being established for a while now. In fact that is the type of church I lead in our home.

    I feel that God will always be faithful to His promises and to His children even if they make a lot of mistakes along the way, that is what God’s grace does in the life of the church. It covers up our sins and our mistakes and God knows that they are many. This has been a big one, allowing the church to remain Roman like in many ways even after the Reformation has really wreaked havoc in the body of Christ. Financial distress in church life and even in the life of individual believers therefore is due mainly to these factors.

    As I said even before, the consumerism ways of society have indeed affected the church in a very negative way, this has led many, probably most believers to become selfish and self oriented. We have become very selfish as a whole society and the church has definitely kept up with it as well.

    This is exactly what happens when we become conformed to the ways of the world, this is exactly what happens when the church does not renew its mind and ends up not knowing God’s good, acceptable and perfect will. In a lot of cases it is not so much the fault of most believers, in other words they do not end up obeying God in many things because they have been taught so many wrong things for so long that many things become very difficult to discern as wrong and even sinful. God’s will becomes murkier and less discernible, it becomes difficult to discern and in a lot of cases it becomes even dismissed and wrong behavior becomes justified and even considered God’s will, because we have been so used to hearing something taught that is erroneous that in the end even when confronted by the truth of God’s word, it is the truth that ends up being dismissed rather than the lie.

    From this we understand how entrenched in the mind false teachings become. If we have a false teaching that gets paired up with the world’s ideologies and the lust of the flesh this ends up being what the Scriptures describes as fortresses or strongholds.

    However we are called, especially as pastors, but not only, to demolish those fortresses and strongholds in our minds. These are ideologies and belief systems that exalt themselves against the knowledge, truth and will of God.

    2 Corinthians 10:3-5 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

    Here we read that we must use God’s weapons ( Ephesians 6:15-18) in order to pull down strongholds and cast down imaginations, that is destroy, imaginations, think about this word for a moment. This words helps us understand that any and everything that is not God’s truth or that at the very least does not line up with God’s truth, is an actual imagination. It’s an invention, it is in reality not a real thing, or at least it should not be a reality in the life of the believer and in church life. These ideas are the creation of Satan which sows his imaginations in the minds of people and unfortunately these end up taking root and eventually become real fortresses of ideologies that become entrenched even in believers’ minds. This obviously happens first of all when believers are still unbelievers. That is when the mind becomes programmed by the sinful nature and sinful desires of the persons. However, the mind of the believer is not renewed automatically at the time of salvation, rather the mind becomes renewed little by little by the application of God’s truth and the greater reprogramming of the mind or as Paul calls it the renewal of the believers’ mind will occur only when and if the believers themselves apply themselves to this discipline. Our salvation and regeneration does in some ways cleanse and wipe out some of the bad programming sin has caused. However, the main thrust or the main renewal of the believers’ minds occur only if they allow God’s word and His truth to renew their mind.

    Although this sounds like a simplistic solution it is not simple at all to do. There are many, many obstacles in our lives that stand in the way of us faithfully executing this task.

    We have seen what many of those obstacles are in our study of the previous chapter. Just to refresh our memory let’s look at the main ones.

    The believers’ spiritual apathy and laziness that deters them from reading, studying and meditating God’s word. Usually this apathy and laziness is very low when a person is first saved, that is why usually we see a faster rate of growth in the recent converts. However, the growth begins to slow down mostly because of the difficulties and cares of life which are the first and foremost deterrent in the believers’ application of spiritual discipline

    The second big obstacle is the teaching of false doctrines and poor leadership in the church. This one paired with the first one becomes a great detriment to the renewal of the believers’ mind. False teachings, in other words lies, cement even more the first obstacle we have seen.

    Now the fortresses and strongholds become greater and greater and the believers’ minds are becoming more and more adept to hang on to the bad programming that sin and the flesh and the world have caused.

    The third obstacle is the world with all of its Satan generated ideologies and philosophies, which always and only appeal, not only to sinful nature but also the the desires of the flesh, which desires always fleshly, worldly, materialistic things not spiritual.

    These are the three main obstacles in the believers’ life that cause the strongholds, fortresses, and imaginations to take hold and cement themselves in our minds.

    It is only the truth of God that is able to tear these things down but in order to do so we must expose ourselves constantly to God’s truth in order for that truth to tear down the strongholds built up in our minds by wrong thinking and by false teaching and by the world and its habits, in which we think we can hang around all the time. Only the word of God can cast down the false notions, the imaginations and every thing, every thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. Arriving to the the knowledge of God, which is possible to know, the knowledge He has revealed to us in His word and the knowledge of His person as it is revealed in His word.

    So we see that these are reasons why the church and believers for example think nothing at all of adopting the ideologies and philosophies and ways of the world. Debt as we said in itself is not a sin but it easily and quickly leads there and debt is an established behavior which is a worldly ideology. Debt is almost demanded by society if a person is to be able to afford all the things that they cannot in reality afford to buy and have. We can therefore say that debt is a stronghold and a fortress and one of those things that end up exalting themselves against the knowledge of God.

    God does not want us to have any debts if and when it is all possible and when they are not absolutely necessary.

    So God says to owe no man any thing, that’s don’t rack up debts! Then God’s word says:

    but to love one another: for he that loves another hath fulfilled the law.

    Let’s look at the next part of this verse but to love one another.

    What Paul is saying here is that if we had any type of debt at all it should be to love one another.

    Why are we indebted by love, to love one another?

    It’s the love of Christ that constrains us to the debt of love we owe to God. In other words, we are and always have been and will be indebted to God for one reason or another.

    Before our salvation, the debt we incurred with God, was the fact that our sinfulness was indeed a debt we could not repay in order to be saved. In the study of chapter 2 of Romans we did actually look at this issue.

    In the study we saw this very fact described like this:

    This passage confirms that which is written in these two verses Romans 2:4-5. In other words, the hardness of a desperately wicked heart produces sin and that sin produces God’s judgment, which is exactly the accumulation of guilt for the day of judgment. This is a judgment of the guilt that accumulates like the balance on a credit card which can never get paid off. This is a balance that continues to accumulate into an account where a payment is never deposited because any type of righteousness we may be able to produce in God’s eyes is still sin and therefore without His righteousness no one can sufficiently pay off the debt.

    This balance remains always due and the interest, in other words the judgment for sins also compounds month after month, day after day for the lifetime of a person. The only sufficient payment for the balance caused by man’s sins would be eternal damnation.

    Such are the sins of the unredeemed and religious persons. Any person who is still dead in their sins and trespasses is in this condition and the people in this spiritual condition do not have within them any possible resource to be able to pay off their sinfulness and one day, on that judgment day, God will require the full payment of that balance form each person. This is a balance no man can ever pay, and the payment for that balance as we said, is eternal punishment in accordance with every unrighteous deed, word and thought of each person.

    This is the first great debt we can never pay off. This is exactly why God had to devise a plan that could take care of this problem. The plan He devised was sending His Son Jesus Christ to actually pay the debt we have incurred as humans.

    Only a changed heart can save a person, a new heart that can beat with God’s love and life and this can only occur if a person is regenerated by God Himself Romans 5:1-5. This is a person whose sins are forgiven, a person who is justified by God’s grace through faith and these things are not of man nor come from obedience to God’s law. These are all gifts of God, through the work of His Spirit that applies what Jesus Christ did, to the life of those who are chosen, those elected by God’s to salvation.

    In this case only, a person who is regenerated by God, is not required any longer to pay the balance of the accumulation of his or her sins because the debt is paid in full by Jesus Christ.

    Jesus paid it all and He has redeemed us completely, justified us Romans 8:28-39, because, as we said before, man in himself has no resources whatsoever to be able to make a sufficient payment on his own for the guilt of his accumulated sins.

    This is, in fact, even what Jesus is explaining to Nicodemus in John 3:1-19. This by the way was a thing that Nicodemus should have known and understood, God’s work of salvation and regeneration because it was indeed written and promised in the Scriptures of the OT, Ezekiel 36:25-27.

    The observance of the law cannot change the heart and the desires of a person, only the life of God, the nature of God can change these things Ephesians 2:1-10; 2 Peter 1:3-4. This as we have already seen can occur only when a person is regenerated and by consequence led to repentance. Without this divine intervention, repentance and the life of God are never present in a person and even a religious hardened heart can do nothing but accumulate guilt upon guilt, and this God will judge.

    This was exactly the reason that Jesus got angry with the religious self-righteous Jews, this was a righteous anger generated by His love for God’s righteousness, love for His word and love for them, because He desired that they would repent and believe in Him so they could have God’s life.

    It is humanly impossible for anyone even and especially religious people, to admit they are sinners and to admit they need only God’s grace and mercy in order to be saved, see John 5:38-47.

    Yes, and it’s exactly because God loves humanity that His love constantly pushes people to repentance, He calls people continuously, He actually commands people continuously to repent and to have faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, He commands people to become obedient to the Gospel.

    Such things Paul declared to the Greek idolaters, yes, they were were religious and idolatrous, but this this is also a principle for the religious Jews and any religious person, even a religion that has Jesus at its center like Roman Catholicism:

    Acts 17:22 Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious;

    Acts 17:30-31 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

    The love of God leads to repentance Romans 2:4, it leads to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the only way to achieve forgiveness for sins and the only valid justification before God for mankind. All this is the faith in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Romans 4:20-25.

    The religious people of those times, but even today, and especially the Jews, actually despised the love God demonstrated to them through Christ, yet it was a love which was leading them to repentance, John 3:16-20.

    Instead they continued to seek their own righteousness through the observance of the law,

    Romans 9:30-33.

    After all, even the religious people of today still do this in many different ways, they attempt to gain favor with God and the atonement for their sins by doing good works or obeying God’s law and by practicing religious rituals yet this cannot take away their sins so they still retain all their sins and their hard hearts remain unchanged.

    They mostly demonstrate unbelief in the only way that they can obtain real spiritual life and salvation, in other words through faith in the all sufficient redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Because of the hardness of their hearts and their unwillingness to believe in Christ they never are able to have their debt of sin canceled and they can only accumulate God’s judgment and wrath upon themselves.

    So, we all have a debt we can never repay caused by our sinfulness, Romans 3:23. No matter how hard we try to fulfill God’s law for example, we can never obey it all, all the time. This would be what is required by God to be able to be saved by the deeds of the law.

    In reality no one, ever can do this! There was only One man who could do this and did it, Jesus Christ the righteous, Romans 8:1-4.

    Only He obeyed God’s law and His will perfectly and for this reason and this reason only His righteousness can be imputed to all who believe in Him and trust in Him.

    This is the debt of love that the regenerated and saved people have towards God. We are no longer in debt for sin, that debt was paid in full by the sacrifice of Jesus, now it is the love for God that saved us by paying that debt that now constrains us.

    Even this is a debt that we can never repay! How can we repay God for eliminating our sin and guilt? We cannot ever repay Him for doing this, this is why we are now eternally in debt to Him for loving us and forgiving us and saving us and giving us eternal life.

    What a difference there is now! Where before we were indebted to God by our sins and guilt and could never repay that debt because we had nothing to repay it with and in so doing we just accumulated God’s wrath upon ourselves.

    Now, through God’s plan, through Jesus Christ’s work of redemption in our behalf, by receiving God’s grace and mercy in Christ we are again indebted to Him, by love for His love we are eternally indebted. This time though, even though we still cannot love God as He actually deserves and we still cannot love Him enough or do enough to pay Him back for His love and mercy, we love Him because we have been forgiven all our debt of sin. So it is better to owe Him the love we cannot still repay Him and having all our debt of sin forgiven and taken out of the way, than to owe for our sins and not be able to pay for our sins and endure His eternal judgment and wrath.

    2 Corinthians 5:14 says: For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:

    I would like to focus on the first part of this verse, it declares that the love of Christ constrains us.

    The word constrains us in this passage has a connotation of something that keeps us in a state of having to continually live for God, in a sense that it’s being in debt to God’s love, this love keeps us under that indebtedness and constraint.

    The word for constrains is the word sunechoo, properly means, to hold together, to press together, to shut up; then to press on, urge, impel, or excite. Here it means, that the impelling, or exciting motive in the labors and self-denials of Paul, was the love of Christ-the love which he had showed to the children of men. Christ so loved the world that He gave Himself for it.

    His great love for the world and for all who are saved is indeed a demonstration that people were dead in sins. We, are now urged by that same love, we are prompted to acts of zeal and self-denial to love God in the same fashion of love that He has for us and by that same type of love demonstrating it not only to God directly but in obedience to Him and therefore loving Him in this way we obey Him by obeying His commandments which command us to love our brothers and sisters in Christ as well as striving to advance the Gospel for the salvation of the elect.

    This is indeed the demonstration of the fact that we understand the debt of love we have toward God.

    John said this:

    1 John 4:19-21 We love him, because he first loved us. 20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

    Our love for God is therefore birthed only out of the fact that He loved us first. Not knowing God’s love through Christ or even not fully comprehending how much God loves His children are reasons why people either cannot love God at all or why they cannot demonstrate love for Him properly. This brings a person to misunderstand God and God’s motives as well as still fearing God’s judgment.

    This is exactly what John told us in the verses preceding the above passage.

    1 John 4:17-18 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

    This above passage does not describe only whether a person is saved or not rather whether a person who is saved understands the intensity and depth of God’s love.

    Not thoroughly understanding God’s love for us and not understanding it in the proper way leads us to misunderstand God’s person and His salvation and also leads us to know God in a wrong way. In this way we also end up fearing God in the wrong way. We end up fearing His judgment rather than enjoying His love and forgiveness. Yet John says, that the perfection of God’s love, in other words, understanding God’s love in its completeness, in its perfection, not our love, His love; casts out the fear of judgment. Why? Because we have indeed been forgiven forever and completely, we have been forgiven for all our sins, never to have any of them count against us any longer.

    This comprehension of God’s love will cast out fear of judgment for we no longer are under judgment rather eternally forgiven.

    How can someone enjoy thoroughly God’s love if they still fear His judgment? They cannot and will always live in a sub par type of Christian life, always doubting their salvation, which leads people who do this to always doubt God and even themselves. If we doubt God’s love, if we do not understand it fully we will doubt Him, His salvation and His motivations, we will not be able to trust Him. It is really a miserable kind of life to live.

    This in addition, will lead us to feel like we are in debt to still work for our salvation and this leads us to think we still have some debt for our sins, while in reality we don’t owe God for our sins any longer but we owe Him all of our love and obedience (to show Him our love).

    1 John 5:1-3 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

    Regarding this concept see also: John 14:21; John 14:23-24; John 15:9-14.

    We must feel that our debt is only to God’s love and forgiveness and not believe we still have a debt to repay God for the salvation He freely gave us and not to still think we are in debt to the guilt of our sinfulness.

    There was an episode that happened in Jesus’ ministry that pretty much explains what it means to understand God’s love and forgiveness and how one reacts to it in a debt of love.

    Luke 7:36-48 And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat. 37 And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment,

    38 And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. 40 And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. 41 There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? 43 Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. 44 And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. 45 Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. 48 And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.

    If we are not careful we can misunderstand this passage in the way it is written. This passage does not teach us that Jesus forgave her her sins because of her works of love toward Him, rather what we need to understand is this, that Jesus understood that the actions she was practicing in worship and love toward Him were the result of her faith and the understanding of who Jesus is and understanding that only Christ can forgive one’s sins. This passage shows us what we are learning here regarding being in a debt of love to God.

    This woman understood who she was and understood she was a sinner who did not deserve God’s forgiveness and love but she also came to the knowledge of who Jesus is and that He indeed is the expression of God’s love and forgiveness. Therefore understanding that her sins were forgiven led her to show Christ much love.

    Jesus explains this to the Pharisee who invited Him in his home. He tells him that she understood

    how much was forgiven her, also because she understood what a great sinner she was.

    It is ironic that those present when they saw this woman show love to Christ in her way, they thought of her to be a woman of ill repute. Indeed she was and she knew it, the difference is this one; they were focusing on her sins but God was focusing on the demonstration of her faith and repentance and therefore the debt of love she was demonstrating to Jesus. This was because instead of focusing on the debt of her sins, in other words, God’s judgment, she was focusing on the debt of love she had to God for the forgiveness that He was extending her. In fact, Jesus already had forgiven her.

    They were focusing on her sins and the judgment she deserved as a sinner while dismissing their own unrighteousness, which they still had regardless they thought to be holy and righteous before God by the observance of God’s law. They never focused on God’s grace and mercy but they always focused on their own works to make themselves right before God. They were trying to repay the debt of their sinfulness through works of righteousness, this is impossible to do.

    The woman in this episode instead sought God’s mercy and forgiveness and received it and for that very reason she understood God’s love and forgiveness and for that she loved much. She was repaying God with her love not her righteous acts. Although, as we said, in reality we cannot repay Him even with our love but that is the only debt we should have toward God. God knows this, but when we are in Christ and when we receive God’s love and forgiveness first, through faith in Him, like this woman did, God who accepted us in Christ now also accepts our love even if it is, so imperfectly practiced.

    Having understood God’s love and how great it is for us, we now love Him; and part of loving Him is no longer trying to serve God by our works in order to be acceptable to Him, instead loving God and demonstrating our love to Him, yes indeed through obedience to His word and commandments. This however is actually opposite of trying to serve Him by works and trying to be accepted and loved by God because of our own works.

    The sad thing is that there are a lot of believers who still think that they will be loved more by God because of their works and their obedience. This idea is wrong and it demonstrates that these believers do not fully understand the love God has for them.

    We cannot be loved more or less by God because of our works or by how much we do for God. Rather God loved us as much as He could and would have while we were still sinners.

    There is no greater love than loving us when we were still sinners and when we were still God’s enemies, when we were at our worse. This is the greatest example as to how God loved His enemies.

    Romans 5:6-11 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. 11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

    When we were yet sinners God commanded His love for us. How much more now that we are justified by His blood we shall be saved from wrath through Him. See that?!

    Understanding the great love God had for us when we were sinners means we know that we are justified. This means that, the debt and guilt of our sins are gone. Now we can be assured of His eternal salvation. This means we shall not ever have to fear God’s wrath any longer. Our debt of sin is completely paid for by Jesus’ life, His blood and His resurrection life.

    Paul also put it this way:

    Romans 8:29-39 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. 34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    This passage has so much to unpack but we cannot do it justice right now. Suffice to say that Paul here explains the completeness of our salvation, verses 29-30. He proceeds asking, what can we say about the things that he just finished talking about? Verse 31.

    In verses 32-39 he answers that question by saying that, if God is for us no one at all can be against us. He says that if God did not spare His own Son but delivered Him up for us undeserving sinners will He now, that we are His children, not give us all other blessings?

    Of course He will, that is the whole point exactly, saying that, if He loved us so much when we were sinners and God’s enemies then how much more does He love us now that we are His children?

    Paul continues assuring us of our salvation, he does this by asking, who will lay anything to our charge if it’s God who justifies us? The answer obviously is no one! Who can condemn God’s children when it is Christ that died for us and not only did He rise from the dead but ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God where He intercedes for us.

    Therefore, because of all these facts, the next question is, who can separate us from the love of God, the love of Christ? The answer as all the other questions asked in here is, no one and nothing!

    No one and nothing can bring a charge against us believers, no one can condemn us and nothing and no one can separate us from God’s love.

    Therefore, if God loved us so much when we were still sinners, so much so that He gave Jesus to die for us, how much more is He going to love us now?

    You see? He cannot love us more or less than before. Therefore there is absolutely nothing that we can ever do or not do to make God love us more or less than He already does.

    God’s love for us is so great, God’s love was given to us when we were at our worse and it continues as we become His children and when we are His children His love is unchanging and it is everlasting.

    This is our great God! This is His love, even as John declared in:

    1 John 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

    We therefore have a great privilege having been loved and being loved by God in such a way and we now no longer have a debt of sin that condemns us before God. However, now we do indeed have a debt of love toward God for His great love demonstrated to us through and in Christ.

    There is a very, very beautiful imagery that God gave in the Old Testament about His love and how the debt of love is represented in the life of servants and masters.

    Deuteronomy 15:12-17 And if thy brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman , be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee. 13 And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty: 14 Thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of that wherewith the LORD thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him. 15 And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the LORD thy God redeemed thee: therefore I command thee this thing to day. 16 And it shall be, if he say unto thee, I will not go away from thee; because he loveth thee and thine house, because he is well with thee; 17 Then thou shalt take an aul, and thrust it through his ear unto the door, and he shall be thy servant for ever. And also unto thy maidservant thou shalt do likewise.

    This is a wonderful passage that symbolizes God’s love and His redemption. The symbols are a person sold into servant-hood. This was us as well when we were slaves to sin.

    As redemption occurs, in this very case it is a real physical situation of a Hebrew person, but it also symbolizes God’s redemption plan. In the Hebrew’s case after a six year period of being a servant by constraint, just like a sinful nature does to people as it forces us and constrains us into sinfulness. although our serving sin is also voluntary and it is indeed something we want to do and find pleasure in doing.

    Nevertheless, here in Deuteronomy the master, after six years sets the servant, the slave, free.

    However, look at what happens. This is the perfect example of what God does with us. He sets us free from the slavery of sin and death and then just as the physical master did, God also does not set us free and just leaves free, but as if our freedom in itself were not enough, and it is, God decides to set us free and bless us with many blessings attached to our freedom. Just like the master did when setting his servant free. Look at what generally happened afterwards, the servant says: I will not go away from thee; because he loveth thee and thine house, because he is well with thee;

    This is the perfect image of a freed sinner, freed from sin and its burden and its guilt. God frees us completely from sin’s burdens and sin’s slavery. God redeems us and as the master mentioned in the previous passage, He gives us uncountable blessings. Now we are truly free!

    What happens now, in most people redeemed by God as with the servant in the episode, when we become overwhelmed with God’s love, the freedom He gives us instead of sin and guilt we feel greatly indebted to God as the servant felt deeply indebted to his master.

    The servant claims at this point, that he intends to become his master’s servant for life, the servant does this as the passage says, because he loves his master and his master’s household.

    By making this decision the servant becomes the master’s slave forever. This is exactly what God does, God sets us free and blesses us making us His adopted children. We in turn, overwhelmed by His love and His forgiveness actively set aside our rights as children of God, temporarily, and we choose to be God’s love servants. In other words, in a way, we did what Jesus did. Although He is God’s Son yet He chose to become a servant for a period of time even tough later He took back His place as Son.

    These things are described for us in:

    Philippians 2:5-11 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

    As we see written here, Jesus is God and God’s Son and is equal to the Father, yet He made Himself of no reputation. God’s Son, equal to God decided by His own choice to relinquish His rights as Son of God and voluntarily became a servant to the Father first of all and secondly He became our servant.

    Jesus Himself even told us this very thing in:

    Matthew 20:25-28 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. 26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: 28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

    Jesus did not come to be served but to serve the Father and to serve us. He is God’s sSon but chose to become a servant. He, also as Paul mentioned in the Philippian passage want us to be like Him, let the same mind as was in Christ be in us. We must know we are God’s children but we must choose to become God’s servants and each others’ servants as well.

    As it was in the Old Testament passage and in Philippians and in Matthew 20, we voluntarily become servants to the master who set us free and redeemed us.

    Yes, indeed we do have rights as God’s children, but we should be like Christ, who become a servant, and we like Him must let God act in our behalf, just like Jesus did:

    1 Peter 2:21-23 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:

    We should not demand our rights as children of God, we should be like Jesus instead, He had every right as God’s only begotten Son, but we saw that He made a conscious choice to relinquish those rights and to become a servant instead.

    We make ourselves servants even though we are sons and daughters. We do this as the servant did in the Old Testament, we love God for setting us free from sin and death and now we are in a debt of love to Him, so we choose to become God’s slaves for love. This is the description of what it means to be in a debt of love. We cannot repay God, ever! No matter how much we love God and how much we do for Him, we cannot expect or pretend to repay Him for what He has done for us, we just cannot!

    That is not what we are saying here at all! We are saying instead that we voluntarily and consciously make our selves God’s slaves because we love Him so that we just want to love Him, serve Him and obey Him out of love for what He did for us and not trying to gain favor with Him or to earn our salvation by trying to pay Him back, or thinking that the more we love Him the more He will love us.

    We already said it before, God cannot and will not love us more or less because of our obedience or disobedience. God loved us when we were still His worse enemies and not His children. The greatest type of love one can demonstrate is to love people who hate them and that is exactly what God did.

    So Paul is telling us to have no debt at all except a debt of love, to owe no man anything but love.

    We are called to be like God, to love as He loves, that is the debt we owe God and therefore it is the debt we have toward one another, especially in the church, among brothers and sisters.

    In fact, it is imperative that we understand that in this particular context Paul is indeed speaking to Christians and he is saying that in the church we ought to love one another. This exhortation is given to believers and it is mainly to be practiced in the church and among believers.

    Not that we aren’t supposed to love people in general, we are indeed! God is very specific in telling us that we even have to love our enemies, Matthew 5:44; Romans 12:20.

    However, it is also obvious that the love we ought to have for each other in the church is actually not to be shown and practiced in the same way it is to be shown and practiced on non believers.

    Love toward unbelievers is to be demonstrated first and foremost by first of all preaching the Gospel to them and warning them about the eternal and temporal consequences of their sin.

    The theory or doctrine that we ought to love unsaved people in the same way and with the same intensity we ought to love each other in the church is erroneous.

    Our love in the church must be intense and it must surpass the way we love others, even the members of our own families if they are not born again Christians.

    Remember what Jesus warned about in:

    Matthew 10:32-39 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. 34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

    Here He is referencing what He is declaring to show that we must love Him, must love God above all other people even the members of our own earthly family. Obviously Jesus is not telling us to hate them or disrespect them, no not at all, as we know the fourth commandment commands us to honor our father and mother. What Jesus is saying though is that there is an actual huge difference between honoring our parents and loving our earthly families and the love and devotion we must have for Him. This passage is in reference to people who deciding to be Jesus’ disciples and deciding to follow Him must carefully count the cost that this decision might require them to pay. You see salvation indeed is free, but then there is a high cost associated with belonging to Jesus, to God. That price may be that our very loved ones may turn against us and even try to get us to quit following Jesus. This unfortunately happens a lot. Husbands turn against their wives, wives against their husbands, parents against children and children against parents and so on. This was said to a Jewish audience and we know how against Jesus Jews were and still are. This however happens in every culture not only in the Jewish one. Muslim, Asian Buddhist and Hindu cultures, atheist and even pagan cultures and yes, especially the Roman Catholic religion as well. All people who decide to follow Jesus in the way God requires will find hostility coming from their family, friends and culture. So as we see, we have to love God and Christ and therefore the church, our brothers and sisters much more than those who actually in the end are not at all on our side and indeed in many cases, these people will truly become our real enemies and even end up hating us because we love God more than them.

    However we must to good to our enemies and show them charity and mercy when the situation occurs, yet it is nowhere stated that we are to always go out of our way to love unbelievers.

    Often, too often the church get this whole thing wrong and actually ends up loving unbelievers more than believers. This is a real problem and it is not acceptable.

    There are many passages in New Testament Scripture that teach us in what manner we ought to love each other in the church. There are way too many to look at but let’s look at a few, perhaps the ones that describe this concept better:

    John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

    This passage is also very important because it show us how the testimony of our love among believers is just that, a testimony that we are indeed Christ’s disciples. This is such an important key to unlock the Christian witness before the unbelieving world. It may even be a catalyst to attract people to the preaching of the Gospel and subsequent saving of souls.

    We are called to love each other in the church, this is what Jesus is saying, not to love the world, rather to love each other in the church, loving each other as He loved us.

    How did He love us? Giving Himself sacrificially for us and in becoming our servant. This is actually the broader context of the entire passage of John 13. Jesus actually just gave them and us an example as to how we are to love as He loved us. He, the master acted as a servant toward His disciples by washing their feet. He also said this about that very example of service done to them:

    John 13:12-17 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? 13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. 16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

    Jesus after washing their feet asks them if they understood what He did to them? Obviously they knew He washed their feet, so He could not have asked them if they knew that He washed their feet, that was obvious. He asks them if they knew what He did to them in what the foot washing symbolized and stood for. By washing their feet He gave them an example. The foot washing was symbolic of serving them. He, the master, even as He says to them in verse 13, where He acknowledges that He indeed is their master and Lord. Yet, He explain to them that if He, being their Lord and master acted as their servant, if He their Lord and master served them in such a way, then they should do the same for each other. He concludes saying that them and we are no better than our Lord and master, namely Jesus.

    If He served us in such a way then we should also serve one another in the same way. Obviously the example Jesus gave about washing His disciples’ feet was about serving them yet His serving them and us was as Philippians 2 says, the Lord and master becoming a servant and serving us by His sacrifice on the cross. This is the greatest service of love God, Jesus, could ever give us unworthy sinners.

    So as Jesus loved and served His disciples and us, we should also love and serve one another.

    John put ti this way:

    1 John 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

    Do we really understand how Jesus and even John are telling us we should love each other in the church?

    I believe that for the most part we are really clueless and really lacking in the practice of this kind of love and service we ought to have for each other, as Jesus says we should. I believe we are all too selfish and even way too carnal as Christians to be able to love and serve in the way we are commanded to do. It is a commandment by the way! Not a feeling or an emotion!

    John really says, as Jesus said, in other words, that as Jesus has loved us and laid down His life for us, we should also lay down our life for the brethren.

    Even though Jesus became our living sacrifice and did indeed lay down His physical life on that cross for us, we are commanded to follow His example, not so much as to giving our physical life for our brethren, although at times even this may be required by God, but in this context it is evident that John and Jesus are talking about laying down our lives in a sacrificial demonstration of love and service for one another.

    John in fact goes on explaining what it means as he goes on saying:

    1 John 3:17-18 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

    As we see here, John is indeed saying the same exact thing Jesus was saying, we must love each other, our brothers and sisters in Christ, in such an intense and very sacrificial way.

    Unfortunately this does not happen very often any longer in most churches. In some Christian circles love is practiced very well and in a biblical way, yet even in some of those circles the practice of such demonstration of love becomes biased and unfair.

    I will try to explain this concept in a very short way. This often happens, not so much at a local church level, although it does happen even there; but in a context of ministries and church movements.

    In these types of ministries we find a very great display of love demonstrated within its own members and this is truly great, it really is! It is great that people love each other in such a great and intense way.

    However, if and when other Christians who aren’t as involved in those ministries and movements and who kind of live on the outer fringes of these, these very people often become greatly ignored and passed by. In other words, the love that is demonstrated in these circles although genuine and often very much biblical in its essence is yet practiced in a biased way. In other words the love becomes selective in many cases!

    Why? Because not all people within these movements and ministries get to enjoy the same love others do. Basically these people always remain on the fringes and mostly become the more neglected part of that body.

    What we are witnessing in this case is a form of love that is not fairly and equally practiced on and for all believers in the same way. Many of the same people who are part of these movements receive a great amount of support and love from the other members, often though many of those same people who are on the receiving end of others’ love end up only returning it selectively.

    There is almost some type of hierarchy in the practice of love in these circles and while some get a lot of love others receive very little and even none even and especially from the ones who receive the most from everyone else. There seem to be inner circles and clicks that form in these groups which receive a lot but the same give very little, especially to those outside their inner circles.

    This condition is becoming much more evident and common today not only in such movements but also in local bodies and this is very, very preoccupying to me and it’s very wrong.

    Every member of the body of Christ must be treated equally and must be loved equally.

    In the church no one must be loved more or less than another.

    If and when we do this, this becomes known as favoritism, and favoritism is prohibited in God’s church, it’s actually a sin.

    James 2:1-4 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. 2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; 3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: 4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?

    James says we should have no respect of persons in the church. This entire passage is the primary example of what we are talking about here. There can be no favoritism ever in the practice of love in the church, we all must love one another in the same way and must never favor one person over another.

    We ought therefore love each other by serving each other. I have always said, even before in our study, that if every Christian actually took care to think of others more than themselves and to make other believers’ needs more important than their own, there would hardly be any problems in the church regarding loving one another.

    This is as Paul says in Philippians 2, having the same mind that was in Christ.

    Let’s look at that passage again:

    Philippians 2:1-8 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, 2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

    This passage is very self explanatory and clear as to how our love should be practiced in the church. We should have the same love for one another and we should be of one accord and of one mind.

    This means that we ought to have the same type and same practice of love for every single believer. This means to love without distinction of any type. We must have the same love for all believers.

    Being in one accord and of one mind means many things, this is indeed speaking regarding all believing sound and true doctrine, and it also speaks of the unity of the faith as it is stated in Ephesians 4:11-16, also it has to do as to how we ought to love one another.

    It is important to know that not being of one mind and one accord in the church becomes detrimental in the proper practice of the love that God desires we would practice in the church.

    Let me give an example that unfortunately we often find today in many churches.

    In the Pentecostal/Charismatic church people are unfortunately taught erroneous doctrines regarding many things. One of them is the erroneous teaching of speaking in tongues. We have studied at length this subject and we do not want to study it again at length.

    Suffices to say this: the practicing of this supposed sign gift in the church today leads many people into a thought process that becomes prideful and leads to favoritism and then to be less loving toward the people who do not display this so called spiritual sign gift.

    Let’s begins by saying that I do not believe that the sign of tongues as it is described and as it was practiced in Scripture still exists today. What we have today is a counterfeit of the original gift/sign of tongues.

    The very first thing we must understand is that speaking in tongues in a Biblical way was not an ecstatic incomprehensible language or a spiritual or even an angelic language nor was it a specific prayer language.

    What it was, it was a supernatural ability to speak in a foreign language, an existing human foreign language. Today what is practiced in churches across the world is not that at all.

    Secondly, the Pentecostal/Charismatic church teaches that tongues it is always the evidence that a person has received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and therefore every Christian must eventually arrive to the point of having this experience in their Christian life in order to be more effective in their Christianity.

    Once again, this is erroneous doctrine. The gift/sign of speaking in tongues although in several Scriptural episodes does denote the baptism or rather the coming of the Holy Spirit upon ethnic groups of people, still this experience was manifested as real languages in existence and not gibberish that no one can ever understand.

    In addition Paul clearly states in 1 Corinthians 12 that we all have been baptized in the Holy Spirit:

    1 Corinthians 12:13, and he also clearly states that not everyone in the church had the specific gift of speaking in tongues, we find this written in 1 Corinthians 12:30 in the form of a rhetorical question which answer is no! Not everyone speaks in tongues. Therefore not everyone in the church speaks in tongues. Yet, in the Pentecostal/Charismatic doctrine, it is taught that everyone is entitled to this gift, that it is the evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and that who does not have this in their life is really a weaker and less spiritually endowed believer. In addition they teach that we can ask for this gift,which is contrary to what Paul says regarding all spiritual gifts. He states that it is God’s Spirit who gives to each believer the gifts as He sees fit 1 Corinthians 12:11, and the entire context of

    1 Corinthians 12 negates that a person can prefer and ask for any specific gift of the Spirit.

    This as taught in some churches is very detrimental to the practicing of God’s love in the church. How and why? Because this becomes a typical situation in which people become spiritually proud and look down on other believers who, they claim are not like them because they do not display the same so called spiritual gift.

    This pride is veiled yet it is present and it simmers right below the surface however the Christians who practice this counterfeit gift see the other believer who do not practice it as inferior and less spiritual than they think they are.

    This leads them to often treat the believers who do not practice the so called gift in a different way than those who do. Therefore this becomes favoritism and it is something prohibited in God’s church. I believe that this indeed was actually what was also going on in Corinth at the time.

    Also, believers who do not speak in so called tongues, begin to feel inferior to those who do and because they believe erroneous doctrine they often are also led into beginning to speak in a way similar to the ones who already do, trust me it’s not the Holy Spirit, it’s them who desire so much to speak in tongues that they convince themselves to just have the courage to begin imitating the same sounds others are practicing. It’s a psychological conviction not a supernatural one. For example, I who do not speak in tongues (languages) in a supernatural way, know how to imitate those who speak in the so called unknown language spoken today. I could easily go into a Pentecostal church and they would never know the difference, because there is no difference. The modern counterfeit language spoken in the churches today is not at all what it was in Apostolic days. If the language cannot be translated or interpreted it cannot be ever verified as being real anyway, that is exactly why Paul forbids it in the assembly, no one can verify it’s real and no one gets edified by it.

    This means that now they are being led astray and are led into the same deception the others believers live in and they also begin to be spiritually proud. They become spiritually proud of a carnal work, it is already sinful to be proud of the true gifts of the Spirit, let us figure if it is not even more sinful to be proud of a carnal work.

    As we see this entire behavior is not loving at all because deception is never a loving thing and leading people into the practice of spiritual pride and then practicing favoritism because of the deception is not loving at all. Let’s remember who is the deceiver 2 John 7. Let’s remember who is the father of lies John 8:44.

    In fact that is exactly why Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 12-13-14. It’s not loving to want to do things to edify oneself nor is it loving to favor some believers better than others and it is not loving to lead others into deception and falsity.

    This is exactly why Paul says what he says in 1 Corinthians 13 regarding love. Let’s face it, every single spiritual gift is given by God as He sees fit to give and therefore every spiritual gift or gifts we have are all by God’s grace. If gifts are by God’s grace then we have absolutely nothing to be proud about but we have everything for which to be thankful. We should therefore appreciate what God has given us and appreciate the gifts of God’s grace in others as well. Love is not proud and Paul tells us this in his description of love written in:

    1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.

    As we see this passage and relate it to what we said regarding false doctrine we quickly understand that false doctrine is never conducive to the practice of love the way God desires we practice.

    Let’s look at this and let’s compare it with the false doctrine of speaking in tongues we see today. The teaching and acceptance of this error does indeed lead to envy for example. People begin to envy those who display this speech because they are taught that if they do not have it they are inferior to those who do.

    Envy is not only an unhealthy and sinful desire to have what others have, in other words covetousness but it is also a result of having an unrealistic expectation and so does this false teaching.

    In addition this error leads people to parade themselves in the showing off of this speech and it renders those who practice it puffed up in their pride. Often this even leads to rude behavior that is practiced toward those who cannot speak it. Love also does not seek its own and yet this erroneous doctrine is only and all about oneself because it really does not edify anyone in the church.

    Those who practice it continuously state that they can practice this speech because the Bible says that it edifies the person who practices it. This also is absolutely erroneous and unloving because the Bible tells us instead that spiritual gifts are for the common good of the church and for the edification of others, 1 Corinthians 12:7.

    That is why Paul writes these three chapters and shows that it is love that must motivate all that we do in the church. Our spiritual gifts therefore are for the good and the edification of others and the gifts of others are for our good and edification.

    This is also why Paul wrote what he did in chapter 14 exactly regarding proper and loving behavior in the church, including the explanation of how and why the gift of tongues was to be practiced in the church.

    Our Pentecostal friends insist that Paul actually gives them authorization of speaking in tongues for self edification. It is not at all what Paul is saying!

    Paul is actually prohibiting them to speak in tongues always unless it is done with translation or interpretation. The fact that Paul makes this next statement in the context it is found does not at all give authority to anyone to speak in tongues in order to edify oneself.

    1 Corinthians14:4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.

    If we take this statement out of the context in which it is found, then we can certainly think that Paul is authorizing them to edify themselves by speaking in tongues. Yet if we understand what Paul is saying in the entire context of chapters 12-13-14 then we arrive at the conclusion that Paul is not at all saying that it is OK for us to seek self edification through any of our gifts, or better stated it should not be the motivating factor.

    We may receive edification in an indirect way through our gifts but we should never use our own gifts for selfish motives and in this case self edification would be a selfish motivating factor.

    We are always to use what God has given us for the good of others and not for ours. It is not loving to seek our own good above the good of others, this is what Paul is saying and that is exactly what he is saying also in the Philippian 2 passage.

    Lastly Paul describes love as not rejoicing in iniquity bur rejoicing in the truth. Even in this we understand that since error and false doctrine are not truth it is therefore not loving to lead others in deception and false doctrine.

    We see this concept even stated in:

    Ephesians 4:11-15 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

    Therefore, if we are not all of the same mind, if we are not in one accord, if we are taught and therefore believe false doctrines we are not acting in love and we will have a much more distorted view and therefore distorted practice of love in the church.

    Again, even looking at this concept we see how unloving false doctrines really are and we also see that we must seek others’ good above our own and this is precisely the point Paul is making in

    1 Corinthians 12-13-14 as well as in Philippians 2.

    In all things we must seek the good of others above ours, this is what it means to serve and love each other. This is exactly what Jesus was saying through the foot washing He practiced and then explained to His disciples. He did not seek His own good, He served them and also served us by allowing Himself to be put through the worse possible things, the humiliation, the shame, the pain and suffering both physical as well as spiritual when He endured what He did for them and us. He did it for them and us and regarded not Himself instead He sought our good above His own. In this same way God desires, in fact commands us to love each other.

    All this is the debt of love we owe God and therefore the debt of love we owe each other as well.

    This is what Paul means here as well as in the verse we are studying.

    Now the following part of this verse and following two verses he says:

    Romans 13:8c-10 for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law 9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

    This passage is echoed as well in other parts of New Testament Scripture and it is indeed very important for us to understand. Paul is telling us that when we love God and each other we fulfill God’s law.

    OK, now let’s specify something right off the bat here, this does not at all mean that we can obtain salvation through the deeds of the law. This exhortation is given to believers saved by grace through faith in the finished work of redemption completed and finished by Jesus Christ.

    In fact Paul in this epistle, even prior, explained that the law could not do what Christ did and therefore attempting to obey the law solely for the purpose of obtaining a righteous standing with God is actually useless.

    In simplistic terms, one cannot be saved, one cannot be justified by trying to obey the Ten Commandments nor even by obeying God’s word. We do not obey God in order to be saved! We obey God because we love Him for what He has done for us.

    Romans 8:1-4 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

    As we clearly see written here, as Paul says, the law could not do a certain thing that we instead need done. We needed to be set free from the law of sin and death.

    Paul says that the law could not do such a thing, because the law is weak through our flesh, but what the law could not do Jesus did. He became flesh and He became sin for us, even though He knew no sin He became sin for us so that in Him we may become righteous in God’s eyes, that is what

    2 Corinthians 5:21, says.

    Our sin was therefore condemned in the person of Jesus Christ and was placed on Him and judged in Him on the cross. Christ became the curse with which the law had instead cursed us, and by doing so He took our curse and our sins out of the way, Colossians 2:13-15.

    Galatians 3:11-13 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. 12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. 13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

    Therefore Jesus has redeemed us from the curse of the law and by doing so, as well as living in perfect obedience to God Himself, He fulfilled the requirements of God’s law in our behalf, (Matthew 5:17).

    This is what Paul is also saying in:

    Romans 8:4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

    For born again of the Spirit believers, Jesus has fulfilled the righteous requirements of God’s law, so that in Him God’s law may actually be fulfilled in us. So because of all this, if we attempt to obtain salvation and be justified before God by practicing the works of the law, all this, is basically useless.

    We couldn’t do it even if we tried with all we are and have. Rather Jesus did it for us. So why try to do it ourselves? All we have to do indeed is believe in Jesus and through Him and in Him and by Him we have fulfilled God’s law. We did not do it or cannot do it us and by ourselves but in and by and through Him alone.

    Having seen all this we can also echo what James says when he says this in:

    James 2:8-11 if ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: 9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. 10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.

    Even James says that by loving we fulfill the law, verse eight, loving our neighbor as ourselves we fulfill the law of God. However you see even here, if we practice love in favoritism we sin and we are transgressing that very law and this is committing sin. James also says what we have been saying all along, in other words, that if we even kept the entire law but transgressed it in only one point we become guilty of transgressing it all.

    So, what James is saying here does not at all contradict or oppose what Paul said in Romans 8:1-4.

    James in reality is actually saying what Paul is teaching us in Romans 13:8, in other words that love is a way that we can now fulfill God’s law, yet even now when and if we fail to do so we are sinners and transgress God’s law. However, now our sins are forgiven and taken out of the way completely and forever by Jesus’ sacrifice.

    It is in this way that we are completely covered and we are never found uncovered in our sinfulness. Our sinfulness, spiritually speaking, was taken out of the way completely and forever by Jesus’ death in the cross.

    Nevertheless, God still calls us to fulfill His law, but how? By loving Him and loving our brothers and sisters in Christ.

    We are therefore in the process of fulfilling God’s law, not to become saved and justified and righteous by our attempts rather to be imitators of Christ, to be like Him.

    However, if and when we fail to do so we are forgiven and we are still considered righteous in Christ. Why? Because He is our righteousness! Because He fulfilled the righteous requirements of the law otr us and applied His perfect righteousness to us while taking away all our sins and guilt.

    Therefore when we love we are fulfilling God’s law, when we love we keep God’s commandments and when we keep God’s commandments we love. This is how we love God and our brothers and sisters.

    Therefore, the keeping of God’s law, except the ceremonial law and the Levitical sacrifices which are also part of the law, are not to be considered as things we need to practice. Jesus in fact has fulfilled all those requirements as well and let’s remember that the ceremonial and Levitical requirements were given to Israel in the Old Covenant.

    Now in Christ and through Him the entire law even the moral law is fulfilled and its righteous requirements have been imputed to us, Jesus did it all on our behalf. Yes, now it’s as we, who are in Christ have perfectly fulfilled the law in our life as well.

    However, in essence, we have been given a new commandment, remember? Jesus said so!

    John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

    John writes the same thing in his first epistle as well:

    1 John 2:8-11 Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. 9 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. 10 He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. 11 But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.

    So, why is this a new commandment? It’s new because the Covenant is New and its conditions are different than the Old one.

    In the Old one, the commandment although was still in essence the same, if we look at it it’s boiling down the entire law into one commandment and it was this one:

    Deuteronomy 6:5-6 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:

    Even Jesus gave confirmation to this very commandment:

    Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

    You see what Jesus is saying here? On these two commandments hang the entire law and prophets.

    However, now the commandment although it always was there, even in the Old Covenant, yet now in the New one even this commandment is also new. Why?

    Because, we actually already explained this concept before. Seeing and understanding God’s love displayed in Jesus Christ and seeing and understanding His sacrifice on the cross in our behalf for the remission of our sins, in other words, for the complete taking away of our sins, understanding God’s great forgiveness displayed in His Son, His love and forgiveness displayed on the cross, now we are bound into God’s love and not in His law or in our own works of righteousness.

    We now love God because He first loved us in and through Jesus Christ.

    We love God with our heart because now our heart is changed through the new birth, through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit.

    This concept was also described in the Old Testament when God spoke of a New Covenant He was going to make with His people. God’s intention was to bring Israel into the New Covenant and it still is His intention and He will do it. Israel as a chosen nation at that time rejected the New Covenant. They did so because the New Covenant is in and through Jesus Christ alone and no one can enter into it outside of Him. John 14:6. By rejecting Christ they rejected the New Covenant, however the rejection is only temporary, read study of Romans 11.

    The Covenant is rendered valid through Jesus’ sacrifice and by His sacrifice alone.

    God had described the New Covenant to Israel very well in:

    Ezekiel 36:25-27 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

    This passage is indeed the description of the spiritual new birth of the nation of Israel and yet it is also the description of every individual’s new birth in Christ. This is the description of the regeneration of the Holy Spirit.

    This is exactly what Jesus was talking about with Nicodemus when He told Him that a person must be born again of the Spirit and water. This is why Jesus raised an objection in the form of a question when Nicodemus expressed his doubts as to how a person can be born a second time. Jesus asked Him how it was that he, Nicodemus, being a teacher of God’s law to Israel, did not know what Jesus was talking about. In fact he should actually have known very well what Jesus was talking about, because he, Nicodemus, should have known the meaning of the Ezekiel 36 passage.

    Paul explained it this way in his letter to Titus:

    Titus 3:4-7 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

    As we see here in many ways the language although not identical to the language we find in Ezekiel 36, it is indicative of the same thing.

    God is the One, who by His kindness and love in Christ and by His mercy saved us. We were not and cannot be saved according to our obedience of the law or any works of righteousness we could do, the law basically. We are actually saved by God regenerating us and by the renewal of the Holy Spirit, this is exactly what Ezekiel 36 says.

    It is by and through Jesus Christ and sending His Holy Spirit who was abundantly shed upon the elect. This fact, in both passages, is the description of the new birth by the Spirit which Jesus described to Nicodemus.

    Now, because of all this, because God has made us born again and has given us a new heart and taken away our stony heart, because God has now washed us thoroughly from our sins and has given us new life in Christ, because God has given us a new spirit and has placed His Spirit in us it because of all this that He causes us to obey His commandments.

    You see, as new creations in Christ with a new heart we can and want to love and obey God and His commandments, not because we try to obtain righteousness by doing this, but because in reality we have already obtained righteousness in and through Christ’s work of redemption. For these reasons we want to love God and we want to do it by obeying His commandments.

    Therefore, even though Jesus fulfilled God’s entire law for us, in our behalf, and even though God has applied Jesus’ righteousness to us and has justified us, we are still called to obey God’s law and His word and fulfill them, but we do this not to obtain salvation or be declared righteous.

    Rather we ought to fulfill God’s word and His law because we cannot and should not persist to be transgressors of God’s law. God’s grace in Christ indeed covers us completely and forgives us when we still fail so many times to obey God.

    Yet being under grace does not at all mean that we ought not avoid sinfulness.

    If we remember Paul already taught us about this in:

    Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

    Also, just because we are not bound to seek our position of righteousness before God by obeying the law, and just because for that very reason we are no longer under the law, it does not mean that we are not to still obey God’s law.

    Romans 6:15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

    Basically the law itself is nothing but an injunction to manifest love in all relationships and all circumstances.

    The fulfillment of the law is also found in what Jesus said in:

    Matthew 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

    This is in essence what Paul is saying here in Romans 13 as well. Loving our God and our neighbor is indeed not doing any harm. Obviously we cannot in reality harm God, although we have in a way harmed Him when He had to be crucified to forgive our sins. In essence we did harm God in the person of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless we ought do no harm to our neighbor nor should we do any harm to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

    This is what Paul is stating. When we love we do no harm, that is what it means to love and by doing so we also fulfill the law.

    As I said before, love is the new commandment because love is Christ and the New Covenant is in Him. Jesus and God are love and have loved us with such a love as we have already described at length before.

    God demonstrated His great love for us, that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us

    Romans 5:6-10.

    Forgiving our sins forever through the suffering death of His innocent Son was the greatest demonstration of Dod’s love ever.

    So as we are bound and constrained by this great love we also love God and because we love God we also love our neighbor and our brothers and sisters in the Lord.

    Because we love God we also live all those who are born of Him:

    1 John 5:1-3 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.

    In the end we demonstrate our love through our obedience to God. God tells us many things to do and not to do and our demonstration of love is actually our obedience to Him.

    New Testamentary Scripture is more than clear on this:

    John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

    Many of Jesus’ commandments actually came after the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost and He declared all the things Christ wanted to communicate to them and to the church through out the ages by the Spirit’s inspiration of the Holy New Testamentary Scriptures.

    John 16:12-15 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. 15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

    John 14:21-24 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. 22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? 23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.

    So what Jesus is saying regarding obeying Him is loving Him is not exclusive only to what He commanded them before the cross.

    Once again, this language is unambiguous and clear. Who has God’s commandments and keeps them is he that loves Christ, if a man loves Christ he will keep His words. Those who do not keep Christ’s word are those who do not love Him.

    Even in the next chapter Jesus says this:

    John 15:9-10 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

    Again, Jesus is more than clear here. The Father loved Him and because of that He loved them. He then commands them to continue in His love. He explains to them that it if they kept His commandments they would indeed abide in His love, just as Jesus showed His love for the Father and for them by keeping His Fathers commandments and therefore in abiding in His love by doing so.

    This is a very interesting passage, where Jesus is actually saying that they and we, should continue in the love of Christ, in other words we ought to express the same type of love He expressed by obeying His word, in doing so we abide, live, walk in His Love which is God’s love anyway. Jesus demonstrated His love for the Father and consequently for us by obeying His Father’s commandments, it is in that way that He lived in the Father’s love.

    Obeying God is all about love and love is all about obeying God. It is only this that we must do. I realize that it is easier said than done, nevertheless that is how we are commanded to love one another and love God.

    The love God wants from us is not essentially an emotion, it can and it will contain emotions at times but it is a love motivated and demonstrated by obedience. It is more a decision and an action than an emotion. God’s love cannot be motivated by emotions, at least not always.

    Let me give you an example! God says love you enemy right? So let me ask: how many people do you think would actually love their enemies if they had to feel like doing it? No one would really!

    This is rendered clearer when Paul wrote this:

    Romans 5:6-8 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

    We were God’s enemies. This was when we were yet sinners and that is when Christ died for us! This is how God loved His enemies.

    However, look at what Paul says, he says that God commanded His love toward us. He commanded His love toward His enemies how? He commanded His love for us to Jesus, His only begotten Son, to come and live and die for His enemies. God’s love was not begged, it was not felt through emotion, it was commanded and it was done yes out of mercy but also out of sheer necessity for us.

    Christ’s obedience to that commandment is how He and how God loved us. Obeying this commandment, to love us by the cross, is how Jesus loved the Father and us.

    Love indeed is all about obedience to God. How can we love an unloving person? Must we develop the right emotions and feelings before we actually can love them? No! We do it because we love God and because we love God we obey God and we do what God tells us to do. By doing so,we demonstrate our love for Him and in so doing, by obeying Him we end up loving the unlovable.

    If there is any positive emotion in loving our enemies it will be toward God not the enemy

    This is the only way we can truly love. I realize it’s not always easy, in fact I would say that often it requires that we actually put ourselves aside and serve others in the way Jesus served us. Selflessly and sacrificially, that’s how He loved us. He had to put Himself aside and do what the Father told Him to do.

    Scripture also says that Jesus learned obedience through suffering,

    Hebrews 5:7-8 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; 8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;

    What this passage is referring to mostly when Jesus was suffering in Gethsemane. Let’s look at that passage for our sake:

    Luke 22:39-44 And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. 40 And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. 41 And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, 42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. 43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

    In this episode we see how loving us, undeserving sinners, enemies of God, was not at all an easy task even for the Son of God. He is God’s Son and yet Scripture says, he learned obedience through what He suffered.

    In the Luke account we see that He was in agony and He sweat, sweat mixed with blood. This is a real physical condition called hematidrosis. This condition seems to be caused by extreme distress or fear, such as facing death, torture, or severe ongoing abuse.

    This is how much happiness and joy Jesus had when He loved us by suffering and dying for us. Obviously I am being sarcastic! He obviously did not at all have good feelings and great swelling emotions of bliss in obeying the Father Who commanded Him to love us by going through the cross.

    We are used to see love always as a positive emotion, in reality love is very positive, however the type of love God commands us to practice often does not unleash great blissful and positive emotions.

    The love we are accustomed to see or want is only the part of love that unleashes the positive and happy and blissful emotions. True God like love, Agape love, though, doesn’t always unleash these positive emotions.

    Obeying God, as we see is loving Him and by doing so we show love to others but often this will be a trying and difficult experience. Doing God’s will is not always easy, obviously, ask Jesus if it was easy to get through Gethsemane. Ask Jesus how easy it was to obey the Father and to love us, being innocent and without sin He had to endure the Father’s wrath in our behalf.

    Ask Him how loving us was easy while He was flogged almost to death and how easy and pleasant it was to love us while He carried His cross and was so weak that another person had to carry it for Him.

    Ask Jesus how wonderful and blissful it was for Him to love us and be mocked and jeered and spit upon and stricken on the head and on His face.

    Ask Him how easy it was to be tied and nailed to a cross and lifted up in such a position that He had to pull Himself up with His arms nailed to the post and push Himself up with His nailed feet just to be able to take a deep breath.

    Ask Him how great it was to feel the pain He felt and the thirst and to feel the dryness of His parched mouth and lips just in order to hand on that cross to love us. Ask Him how pleasant and easy it was to have His Father whom He was obeying and whom He loved turn His face away from Him for us being a thing He never ever experienced! That’s how Jesus loved us! It was not easy and blissful positive emotional love. It was hard loving us! It was not positive it was suffering and humiliating and agonizing. You see my friends, this is true love, real love and it didn’t feel good at all to love us. If we want only easy and pleasant love we will have no love at all!

    So when Jesus said this to His disciples and to us:

    John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

    I hope we understand better what He meant, when He said to love one another as He loved us. Now do we understand better that we are still not at all obeying God in this? Jesus says that others will know that we are His disciples if we have, that kind of love, the love as the love with which He loved us. He is not talking about the pseudo type of love we show to each other even in the church.

    People aren’t recognizing that we are His disciples because we lack this type of love. We are not willing to love each other till it hurts, we are not willing to even suffer agony to obey God in this commandment, we are not willing to suffer wrongs done to us in order to love God first and then one another. We are perfectly comfortable with the TV version of love and we do not really know how to love God’s way.

    Love, God’s type of love is indeed the fulfillment of God’s law. Loving God we obey Him because we love Him not to obtain righteousness before Him, as we know we can only get that by faith in Jesus Christ. Obeying Him we show love to God because first of all we understand how much He loves us and then we do not want to offend Him by our sinfulness.

    In addition in the same way we love one another for the exact same reasons. In loving one another we fulfill the law because in so doing we do not hurt each other in any way.

    In fact keeping the law is also loving ourselves. How? Why? Because God’s law is also like a protective boundary for our own well being. You see, when we obey God’s law not only we do not offend God and show Him love, not only we don’t hurt others and therefore show them love but we also do not hurt ourselves and therefore we love ourselves.

    Remember God’s law tells us to love the Lord God with all our heart, strength and mind and love our neighbor as ourselves. This actually shows us that to love others is indeed by doing them no harm and that this is also obeying the law, however to be able to love our neighbor as ourselves we must also obey the law in order not harm ourselves.

    Disobeying God’s law, in other words sinning, is not only hurtful to others, but ultimately is hurtful to us.

    The consequences of our sinfulness harms us first of all. There are always negative and harmful consequences for transgressing God’s law. Even for us believers who are eternally forgiven.

    The consequences of sin for believers are not eternal but they are definitely temporal and physical and they can be severe. Let’s remember that our bodies, our members, our flesh, are still not redeemed, our body is the part of us that still has sin in it and it is still affected and susceptible to the ravaging power of sin, Romans chapter 7.

    Our bodies are still prone to sickness and eventually to death because of the sin present in them. After all, the wages of sin is death, always, even for those of us who were eternally forgiven, physical death is not avoided for believers, Romans 6:23.

    As believers we will avoid what we know as the second death, that is eternal death, yet we all probably will have to taste physical death, that one, unless we are still alive when Jesus returns and transforms our mortal bodies, we cannot escape physical death.

    However, sin not only harms us physically, it harms us also emotionally, it harms our relationships, it harms us financially and it harms us spiritually. Spiritually, as I said not in the eternal sense, but harms our fellowship with God and with other believers, it harms our spiritual growth and it limits our blessings.

    In addition we will not always avoid sin’s consequences. God forgives believers for their sins, all of them and always. God forgives the eternal consequences of our sins and does not ever again hold them against us eternally. Yet, God will, most often, not remove the temporal and earthly consequences of most sins.

    This is also part of the process called discipline and correction. God will indeed allow the consequences of our sins to remain so that we will learn not to practice them any longer.

    This entire concept is very well clarified for us in Hebrews 12.

    Hebrews 12:5-13 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. 11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

    12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; 13 And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.

    I cannot stand it, when Pastors teach and say that God does not punish us for our sins as believers. This passage in fact totally contradicts the false notion that God does not punish us for our sinfulness. He sure does!

    He does not punish as He punishes evil doers who do not believe in the Gospel and repent of their sins! He will not punish us eternally for our sins, but He certainly will give us consequences for the sins we still commit.

    Psalms 103 says: 103:8-13 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. 9 He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. 10 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. 13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.

    God is indeed merciful and gracious because He is slow to anger and abundant in mercy. This is for sure! He did forgive us, who believed by faith in Jesus Christ, we have eternal forgiveness and He has indeed removed our transgressions from us. He has not rewarded us as our sins deserve, He did this by giving us eternal forgiveness and eternal life. However, look at what the passage says in verse 13.

    As a father pities his children so the LORD pities us that fear Him. However, in Hebrews 12 the passage says that as a Father God also chastises us. It says that as a Father He disciplines us and, yes He punishes us for our bad behavior. Like our earthly fathers punished us, so does God.

    Look at the use of the words in the Hebrews’ passage that are used to describe God’s discipline.

    Chastening, rebuke and scourging. These are the three words used in the passage to describe God’s correction and discipline. Let’s look at the meaning of each one.

    Chastisement or chastening: Disciplinary correction.

    Rebuke: Suggests a sharp or stern reproof.

    Scourging: To flog, whip, beat, horsewhip, lash, flagellate, strap, birch, cane, thrash with leather belt.

    As we can see there are three things God does when He punishes us and corrects us. He gives us disciplinary correction, that is done in order to teach us. He rebukes us, in other words He sharply reproves us. So far these two things are not just placing us on His lap and having a calm little chat with us. In fact they both delineate things that are not of a pleasant nature for us.

    I do not know anyone who loves to undergo heavy disciplinary action. Even when it is done as training, which is also what God does, it is not pleasant in nature. I was watching a documentary of Marine soldiers’ boot camp training. It is not a pleasant experience as one goes through it, yet this fierce disciplinary training makes ordinary people into fierce and effective soldiers. So even the training part of God’s discipline will not be a pleasant experience for our flesh but it will be necessary to our spiritual growth.

    Also, elsewhere in Hebrews it claims that Jesus Himself was trained by suffering:

    Hebrews 5:7-8 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; 8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;

    If the Son of God learned obedience through suffering, do we think we will escape the same fate?

    No,we will not, God will put us through training and it will be difficult. If the Marines go through great lengths to become great soldiers what kind of training do you think we will have to endure to become like Christ?

    If He went through suffering to learn obedience so will we. Jesus was perfect and flawless in His learning process, we on the other hand, are not and we end up failing and sinning. God forgives us our sins but the more we stray, the more His discipline will be hard.

    God’s discipline by the way is always a teaching discipline, that’s what discipline should always be, a learning and training experience. However, in God’s training we also often find harsh rebukes. When we fail by sinning God rebukes us and that often is a harsh experience to go through.

    God rebukes us through His word and even through church leadership. Often through God’s word’s teaching and preaching we are convicted of our sins and wrongs and that becomes a rebuke. Sometimes pastors have to rebuke believers as well and church leadership sometimes has to enforce ecclesiastical disciplinary correction on rebellious Christians.

    God also scourges us as the passage says. Ouch! We know what that means! We remember when our parents, hopefully, whipped us or spanked us. It did not feel good when we went through it and yet it was necessary. God indeed takes us to the wood shed and scourges us when we go astray and we sin.

    The Bible is clear, even as godly parents we must discipline our children with the paddle or the belt or the whip. Proverbs 19:18; Proverbs 22:15.

    Proverbs 23:13-14 Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. 14 Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.

    Proverbs 13:24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

    As we see if we spare scourging our children it actually means we hate them. Imagine how different this is from what we hear psychologists teach today regarding corporal punishment. They teach that it is wrong and that it is not loving to do such a thing. This is a worldly philosophy that erects itself against the knowledge of God. It is indeed loving, in fact if we don’t do it God says we are actually hating our children and not loving them. If we love them we won’t spare the rod, in fact the word of God tells us that in doing so we will deliver their souls from hell. Imagine that? Now we know why there is very little fear of God in the younger generations today and why they are actually so far away from God.

    In fact, the Hebrews 12 passage says:

    Hebrews 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

    God treats His own children with love if and when He chastens them and look at that, He loves us when He actually scourges us. In most people’s mind scourging does not register as a loving act. As we said before, the ways of the world, the philosophies of the world and of human psychology have been telling us for decades now that corporal punishment of children actually damages children and accomplishes nothing good. Well, as we understand instead from Scripture these philosophies and theories are actually the ones that create damage in children.

    This is also why God tells us in the beginning of the previous chapter that we must not live in conformity with the ways of the world and instead to be transformed by the renewing of our mind, Romans 12:2.

    Our minds, as believers, need to be renewed and to become aligned with God’s mind and His will. As we have seen previously, His word tells us that believers, at least believers, must chastise and scourge their children when they are rebellious and disobedient.

    Not always and not every act of disobedience needs to be punished by scourging but in many cases it is be advisable. We are obviously not advocating child abuse here. Corporal punishment must be done in the right way and for the right reasons and must be applied with the right attitude and not in a state of anger.

    Anyway, let’s get back to God, so, we as believers must be imitators of God and must mirror God in our decisions and behavior. If God chastises and scourges His children, we must do the same.

    As I said before, God punishes His children not to harm them, this type of chastening and scourging is not the same exact thing as judgment and wrath. God’s judgment and wrath leaves no other consequence but to destructive. Both. God’s judgment and wrath on unrepentant and unbelieving people will be temporal but it will also be eternal and these are not remedial, they are instead true punishment with no remedy in the end.

    God judges and pours out His wrath only on unbelievers and unrepentant sinners Romans 1:18, not His children. When God punishes His children He does it in love and mercy and He does it to bring us back on His path and for us to see things His way and learn righteousness. He does it because He loves us and He instructs us and teaches us in His ways. You see, unrepentant and unbelieving sinners cannot be taught God’s ways as they will not ever comply with God and His will. God’s children in most cases will eventually do so, it may take a lot of scourging, but in the end most of the time God’s children will comply with God’s will.

    Now, there is to say this as well, since we are talking about God giving us consequences for our misbehavior, if we, even as believers, remain hardened and rebellious to God and persist in our sinfulness, His scourging and chastening will become worse and worse and more and more severe.

    In extreme serious sins and rebellion God may cause believers to become sick and even die, physically though, not eternally! 1 Corinthians 5:5

    This is confirmed by Paul also in:

    1 Corinthians 11:28-32 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

    This passage is very clear and sobering. Paul says that it is for unchecked sin that believers can become sick and even die. Paul says that it is God that chastens us not with the same judgment with which He judges the world, instead He chastens us Himself in our flesh, but not eternally.

    One big example of God punishing a believer, even a very good believer by giving him grave consequences to bear because of His very serious sins is king David. You know the story, or may be you do not! However it is found in 2 Samuel 11. The story goes like this:

    David is in Jerusalem, he does not go to battle as it would have been customary for him to do in that period. One night he can’t sleep and he’s out on the roof terrace of his palace and he looks down and he sees a beautiful woman bathing. He sends for her and she acquiesces to go to see David. Her name is Bathsheba. She is the wife of Uriah, one of king David’s men. We don’t know all the details as to how the seduction goes but her and David have sexual relations. Some time later she tells David she is with child, she’s pregnant of him. Obviously it was his child because her husband was away at war serving the king. By the way, this is king David, the descendant of Messiah, the man which the Bible says was a man after God’s own heart. Good old righteous David.

    Anyway, David now is very worried about the scandal that would hang on him if anyone ever got wind of this situation. So David comes up with a plan. He sends for Uriah Bathsheba’s husband from the battle field, and tells him to go be with his wife. Davids’ scheme was the idea that after many months in battle, he figured Uriah would be pleased to go and be with his wife and have relations with his wife. Instead the plan does not go as planned as Uriah refuses to go be with his wife as he actually has such loyalty to God, to David and even his brothers in arms. This is what he says to David:

    2 Samuel 11:11 And Uriah said unto David, The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? as thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing.

    David now is at a loss, so he plans to get Uriah drunk so that in his drunken state he might go and spend time with his wife. Even this plan falls through. Now David is desperate, all attempts to make Uriah go and have relations with his wife have failed and so is his plan to hide his misdeed.

    So Uriah goes back to battle and David instead of swallowing his pride and take responsibility for his sinful acts, still devises yet another plan. This one new plan is even worse than the first one. This is what he does:

    2 Samuel 11:14-15 And it came to pass in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. 15 And he wrote in the letter, saying, Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten, and die.

    So, this is what David did. Let’s examine how many sins he committed. The very first one was coveting Bathsheba Exodus 20:17 and most likely committing adultery in his heart Matthew 5:27-28 even before he actually did it. Then he committed adultery, Exodus 20:14, then he planned deception and bore false witness before Uriah Exodus 20:16. Then he planned murder and actually succeeded in it Exodus 20:13. These are many and very serious sins!

    After Uriah dies and Bathsheba finishes her mourning period David marries her.

    Now, let’s take a look at what happens after this. Some time goes by and God sends Nathan the prophet to confront David with his serious sins.

    God confronts David and He says these things to him:

    2 Samuel 12:9-14 Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon. 10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife. 11 Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun. 13 And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. 14 Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.

    This is exactly the point of this entire thing we are studying, the chastisement and punishment of the Lord.

    We see that God forgives David of his guiltiness and his sins yet God does not take away the consequences of these sins. The consequences of David’s sins are indeed very bad and severe.

    This is exactly the point, God will forgive His children’s sins and will spare them eternal damnation but He will not spare His children His discipline, chastisement and scourging. In the previous passage we see how God gives David serious and grave chastisement and consequences.

    By the way, the punishment God speaks about here, in other words, that the sword would never depart from David’s house is a very serious and hurtful punishment for David because it meant that three of his sons would be killed by the sword and also one of his daughters would be raped by one of her own brothers, 2 Samuel 13:1-20. These are very shameful and hurtful consequences that David had to endure within his own family. Absalom killed his half brother Amnon because he raped his sister

    2 Samuel 13:21-33. In addition God’s consequences he gives David regarding his wives taken from him and given to his neighbor in reality is something his own son Absalom did to him after he actually took over the Kingdom and made David flee, and Absalom embarassed his father by placing tents on the roof of the palace so people would see when he went in to the tents to have sexual relations with David’s concubines. Later as David regains the Kingdom, Absalom gets killed as well,

    2 Samuel 15:6 to 2 Samuel 18:33. David was betrayed by his own son, was chased out, was embarrassed before the entire city of Jerusalem, he ended up losing the baby he had with Bathsheba, he and lost three sons by the sword and had to endure the pain and embarrassement of one of his sons raping his sister in other words David’s daughter. Later on the third of David’s sons Adonijah also gets cut down by the sword after trying to take over the Kingdom after it had been promised to Solomon, the second of Bathsheba and David’s sons, 1 Kings 1:1 to 1 Kings 2:1-25.

    This ought to make us think very deeply about committing serious sins, actually any sin at all. Because, just because God forgives us and no longer gives us eternal consequences and judgment, He will definitely give us temporal and physical consequences.

    That’s God’s way to chastise, scourge and temporarily punish His children. As we said before, God’s punishment is not designed to harm us but to teach us and to bring us back on the paths of His righteousness. God’s punishment is designed to heal us not to harm us, it’s designed to make us holier and to spare us from repeating our sins and in addition God through His punishment will teach us to fear and respect Him more and better. That is exactly what the passage of Hebrews 12 teaches us.

    We need to take stock in this for ourselves and to learn how we must and should discipline our children. The scourging is only valuable if it is done out of love and in order to teach them to be righteous, and to fear and respect God and even us. Nevertheless, we should never avoid giving children the right consequences for their misdeeds or they will actually grow up rebellious, disrespectful and entitled and they will not fear God nor respect us.

    Is it any surprise at all as to why many generations today are just like that, rebellious, disrespectful, entitled, without fear of God, actually they’ve become God haters.

    There is no surprise at all because, as we even mentioned before, most people have bought into the lie of the world psychologists who have been teaching for decades that corporal discipline is harmful to children.

    We found out instead that the opposite is true, it is harmful not to discipline our children and that is what God says in His word. Today we have the proof about who is right and who is wrong! God is never wrong!

    Today we have some of the most entitled and rebellious generations of young and even not so young people, even in the church. This has happened because parents have never disciplined their children in the way God commands us to do and in the way He disciplines us.

    Let’s remember that God disciplines, chastises and scourges us because He loves us and wants what is best for us. In reality God’s discipline as well as parents discipline (done properly), does not feel good while we go through yet it produces the proper results.

    Hebrews 12:11-13 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. 12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; 13 And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.

    As we see, it does not feel good, but it yields fruits of righteousness in those upon whom it is exercised. This means that as believers we are therefore called to stay encouraged when we are disciplined by God, that is exactly what verse twelve means.

    We should not be all discouraged and limp when God disciplines us rather we should begin to walk in the straight paths, this means to begin to walk in obedience to God in the very thing He is disciplining us for. Whatever the sin or situation we need to abandon God will show us and we will be able to walk in God’s straight paths. Why? Because otherwise God says, that our condition instead of improving will degenerate more, instead God exhorts us to be healed, to be made whole again rather than get turned out of the way.

    Once again, this does not have anything to do with eternal punishment or damnation, it has to do with our temporal and physical life. God can and will punish His children very severely if they persist in their sinful behavior, He could cause very, very severe consequences, to the point of sickness and even physical death,1 Corinthians 11:30-32.

    God wants the punishment of His children to be instructive and not destructive. He wants it to produce righteousness and to make us walk in His paths not to be something that will instead cause us more pain than He actually wants to inflict on us.

    In conclusion then, we have seen that Paul is telling us to only owe love. We owe it all to God but we are bound by God’s love to obey Him and in turn show love not only to Him by obedience but to love first and foremost our brethren in the church, also our neighbor and even our enemies.

    By doing this we will be fulfilling God’s law and. We must strive not to sin and the easy way to understand this is loving means causing no hurt or harm to others and even to ourselves. This by consequence will actually lead us to obey God’s will.

    Romans 13:11-12 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.

    Paul now switches gears completely! He spoke so far about the relationship between believers and government authority, between believers and men and believers and believers. He spoke of loving our brothers and sisters and fulfilling the law through love and obedience to God and love toward people.

    After all this, Paul says and that knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep for now our salvation is nearer then when we believed.

    Let’s examine this statement and see what it means. It is interesting to notice that Paul says that we know the time. What time? What should we know as far as what time it is? This demonstrates that even the Apostles and the writers of New Testamentary Scripture were expecting that Jesus’ return was very imminent. The fact that Paul is implying that we know what time it is definitely relative to knowing that he is referring this to the time of Christ’s return. Many passages of New Testamentary Scripture indicate that the writers taught and also expected that the Day of the Lord was at hand and that it would occur in their own life time. This gives also evidence that they did indeed believe in the actual bodily, physical return of Jesus Christ on earth and that for that very reason they definitely believed in the Millennial doctrine. They believed that Jesus would return, would defeat all His enemies, would save Israel as a nation would establish His Kingdom on earth and restore the promises God made to Israel regarding an earthly kingdom and the possession of the land God promised to them.

    You see, God is faithful. God made many promises to Israel in the Old Testament and in spite of what many erroneously teach, He will fulfill them all literally. The promises God made to Israel are not at all symbolic in nature and they are not to be spiritualized or made into metaphors.

    The promises are literal, they are made to Israel, Abraham’s seed in the flesh. We have studied extensively tin chapter 11 that Israel was not at all replaced by the church in God’s plan of redemption. Therefore, we will not get into this subject extensively again.

    If you are interested and or missed that teaching I invite you to make reference to the study of

    chapter 11.

    Here we are simply establishing the fact that the writers of New Testament Scripture expected Christ’s return during their life time. The looked forward to it but really did not know the exact timing of it. However, they spoke as if they expected it to happen at any time.

    We see this evidently written even in the very beginning of the Apostolic ministry. Peter speaks of the Lord’s imminent return as soon as Acts 3, that is very, very soon after Pentecost, even before the Samaritans and Gentiles would be added into God’s salvation. Let’s take a look at this passage because it says some very important things.

    Acts 3:18-26 But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. 19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; 20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. 22 For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. 23 And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. 24 Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. 25 Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. 26 Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.

    We start this passage in verse eighteen but in reality I want first look at how Peter begins this entire discourse. In verse twelve Peter starts addressing his speech like this Acts 3:12a And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel,

    Peter is addressing men of Israel not Gentiles but Jews only. The seed of Abraham according to the flesh. This is clearly delineated by Peter’s opening address and the the context of the speech.

    Let’s put thing into perspective now. Peter as we said is addressing Israel as a people and he says to them that they rejected and crucified and killed the Holy One, the anointed One of God the Messiah, Jesus Christ the Lord. He also tells them in verse 15 that God raised Him from the dead. Peter says that the things, which God before had showed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.

    Let’s think about that statement for a moment. He says that all the things God spoke through the prophets regarding the Messiah’s suffering, God fulfilled. This is an important statement as it clarifies that God has thus, until that moment, fulfilled what He said about Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection but Peter did not mention that God had fulfilled all other Old Testament prophecies regarding Israel, in fact Peter clearly explains that in order to fulfill the remaining OT Scriptures regarding Israel some other things needed to occur.

    Peter says in fact, that the nation of Israel has to repent of its sins and believe in Jesus in order to receive all of God’s promises made to them through the prophets. Peter clearly explains this in the rest of his speech.

    Therefore, whoever teaches that Israel was indeed saved entirely back then, in the Apostles’ times and that insist in saying that the church is therefore spiritual Israel and because of this fact physical Israel is no longer recognized and no longer a recipient of God’s promises made to it; these people, are wrong and do not interpret Scripture properly.

    It is more than clear that Peter is stating that when and if Israel would recognize Jesus as Messiah and repent of their sins, especially the one of unbelief, which incidentally is what they always struggled with and which is, even now, the reason why Israel has not received all of God’s promises yet.

    Yet Peter is indeed preaching to the nation that if they indeed believed in Jesus their Messiah and repented then that would be the time we are used to know as Millennium, a time that precedes the last and final judgment and the creation of a new heaven and a new earth and therefore the eternal Kingdom of God.

    Look at what Peter says: Acts 3:19- Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; 20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things,

    The time of refreshing that come from the presence of the Lord is indeed speaking about the time when Christ will return to this earth. Indeed the Lord has to be present and not spiritually as some erroneously interpret. The Lord will return and will establish His Kingdom on earth and will, after that Israel repents and believes, bring regeneration of this earth and of Israel and then all of God’s promises to Israel will be fulfilled. Israel as a nation must enter into the New Covenant in order to receive God’s promises made to them. This also proves that the Lord has to be present bodily to bring the refreshment about which Peter is talking. Why is this so? Because look at what Peter says after that, Israel must repent so that God will indeed send Jesus Christ which was being now preached to them, and then he says that Jesus must stay in heaven until the times of restitution of all things.

    Wow! So what we have here is the proof that Jesus is alive in heaven awaiting the time in which Israel will be ready to repent and believe in Him, at which time He will return to bring with Himself the times of refreshing and to bring about the time of restitution of all things.

    This is also mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:21-28.

    Make no mistake, Jesus will indeed return, in spite of what all the mockers say, even some who claim to be Christians, but who in fact deny the Lord’s bodily return.

    Peter warns us of these people and these times:

    2 Peter 3:3-8 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, 6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. 7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

    These also deny the literal one thousand year reign of Christ on earth and who deny that the kingdom will indeed be given back, or better yet to stay in exact context of what Peter says, the promised kingdom and the land will be given back to Israel who forfeited them by not believing in Christ when He first came.

    The words and context are clear and undeniable. Jesus died by the hands of the Jews, He was crucified and died and rose again exactly as the prophets had prophesied. He arose from the grave and He ascended into heaven from where He will once again return, this will happen when Israel will be ready to believe in Him and receive Him.

    After which He will regenerate the earth with His presence and He will give back to Israel all that God has promised them, the kingdom and the land.

    This is exactly what Peter is saying!

    There are many, many, passages in the NT as well as the OT that confirm all this.

    Jesus will indeed return but not until Israel is made ready to receive Him.

    Here are some of the passages.

    Zechariah 12:8-10 In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them. 9 And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. 10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

    A NT parallel passage of this one is found also in:

    Revelation 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

    Other specific passages of the Lord’s return on earth in body are parallel as well, and these are the passages:

    Zechariah 14:3-4 Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. 4 And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.

    Acts 1:9-11 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

    Incidentally, but not really, nevertheless, the place from which Jesus was taken up into heaven is the same exact place described in Zechariah 14:4. This is the Mount of Olives! As we clearly see Zechariah says that His feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives and in Acts one the angels tells the disciples that He would return in that exact spot.

    There is not doubt at all, Jesus will indeed return in body to this earth. He will return to save Israel from their worldly enemies but also from their sins Romans 11:25-26; and at that time, as Zechariah claims, Israel will repent and believe in Him whom they have pierced, Jesus the Christ!

    These Scriptures speak indeed about the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus and not the First one.

    So, what Paul is saying, when he says that we know what time it is, he is referring to the fact that even they knew at that time, that they were living in the so called last days.

    However, God has a conception of time that differs greatly from ours. As I stated before, the NT writers knew that the times in which they were living were the last days and they all waited with trepidation and fear the return of the Lord. They preached this and they taught it and wrote about it.

    Paul had written about the day of the Lord’s return in several of his writings. The most descriptive writing Paul wrote regarding this period of time, also known as The Day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord is not only and exclusively a twenty four hour period although it is in fact the specific day of Christ’s return.

    From the OT as well we understand that the term Day of the Lord is also a period of time, brief but a period nevertheless and not only a day. It’s a period that describes God’s judgment and a judgment that always involves the nation of Israel in some way.

    This is the best description of the term the Day of the Lord:

    It is a common Old Testament term. It denotes the consummation, or fulfillment of the kingdom of God and the absolute cessation of all attacks upon it (Isaiah 2:12; 13:6,9; 34:8; Ezekiel 13:5; 30:3; Joel 1:15; 2:11; Amos 5:18; Zephaniah 1:14; Zechariah 14:1).

    It is also called the “day of visitation” (Isaiah 10:3), or the day “of the wrath of Yahweh” (Ezekiel 7:19), or the “great day of Yahweh” (Zephaniah 1:14).

    The entire conception described in the Old Testament is usually dark and foreboding, but it also does lead in the end of it to Israel’s redemption, salvation and restoration.

    The New Testament term of this day is indeed similar as the OT version and it is also pervaded with elements of hope and joy and victory. In the New Testament it is referred eminently to the day of Christ, the day of His coming in the glory of His Father.

    The very conception of Him as the “Son of Man” points to this day. John 5:27: “And he gave him authority to execute judgment, because he is the son of man” (compare to Matthew 24:27,30; Luke 12:8).

    Even in the New Testament version there is, as there is in the OT description, a dark background to the brighter outcome, for it still remains the “day of wrath”. (Romans 2:5-6), also the “great day” (Revelation 6:17; Jude 6), the “day of God” (2 Peter 3:12), and the “day of judgment” (Matthew 10:15; 2 Peter 3:7; Romans 2:16).

    Sometimes it is called “that day” (Matthew 7:22; 1 Thessalonians 5:4; 2 Timothy 4:8), and again it is called “the day” without any other qualification, to intimate that it is the only day worth counting in all the history of the world and of the human race (1 Corinthians 3:13).

    For the unbeliever, even the New Testament depicts it as a day of terror, judgment and wrath; to the believer instead, as a day of joy, victory, glory and complete redemption.

    It is on that day that Christ will raise His own dead, the bodies of those that believed in Him-“that of all that which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day” (John 6:39; 1 Corinthians 15:51-57; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17).

    In that day He comes for His own, Christians and Jewish remnant (Matthew 16:27), and therefore it is called “the day of our Lord Jesus” (2 Cor 1:14),“the day of Jesus Christ” or “of Christ”

    (Philippians 1:6,10), the day when there “shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven”

    (Matthew 24:30).

    All of Paul’s writings are especially filled with the longing for the so called “parousia,” the day of Christ’s glorious manifestation.

    The entire conception of the day of the Lord therefore centers in Christ and points to the everlasting establishment of the kingdom of heaven, from which sin will be forever eliminated, and in which the antithesis between nature and grace will be changed into an everlasting synthesis. Therefore The Day of the Lord thus comprehends specifically the closing phase of the Tribulation (last 3 and a half years) and extends through the millennial kingdom, Revelation 20.

    Apocalyptic judgments (Revelation 4:1-19:6) therefore precede and introduce the Day of the Lord.

    2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 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; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

    This is also in reference to what Paul is referring to when he says that we know the time, or we know what time it is. This is the time they were expecting then, and now, today, it is even more the time we are expecting.

    Paul in this passage gives a very detailed, clear and yet harrowing description of the Day of the Lord.

    Once again in this passage we see the contrast between the comfort and victory this day brings to believers and the severe and total distress and judgment unbelievers will have to undergo. Paul is telling them and us what to expect will happen before that Day! He makes reference to the coming of our Lord saying: by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.

    First of all it is worth mentioning that he mentions the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together unto Him. So we clearly see that the Lord is coming back, in spite of all the lying heresies that have been and are spread even today which say that the Lord has come and will not come again any longer, He will come! It is prophesied and every eye will see Him and they will weep and wail, when He does come!

    Revelation 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

    You see that this verse ends with two very important statements, that is, with a yes and an Amen!

    In 2 Corinthians 1:20 Paul writes: Because the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was among you preached by us, that is, by me, by Sylvanus and by Timothy, was not “yes” and “no”, but is was “yes” in him. 20 For all the promises of God are “yes” and “Amen” in him, to the glory of God through us.

    God has made many promises to Israel and to the church and will keep them and fulfill them all in Christ and through Him.

    As we also see here, Paul says that all the promises of God, all of which are fulfilled by and in Christ, have in him the yes and the Amen! It is a promise of God and Christ that Jesus will return to the earth to destroy all His and our enemies and establish the Kingdom of God.

    The yes of God is a certainty and in Christ the Amen of God, the word Amen has an important and particular meaning, for example,

    In Isaiah 65:16 the Lord is called “the God of truth”; but the original Hebrew means

    “the God of Amen”.

    This is how Isaiah declares that the Lord is the one who remains eternally truthful, the one who can always be invoked and believed. In the New Testament, the same title is given to our Lord Jesus Christ: “the Amen, the faithful and the true witness” (Revelation 3:14). He too is eternally truthful, faithful and reliable.

    Even Jesus himself, declares what He was saying was of extreme importance, when He says: Verily, or He often said, verily, verily or I tell you the truth.

    But if we read these passages in their original language, we read: Amen, or Amen, Amen!

    The word Amen is therefore a very important statement because it emphasizes that what is said is certain and true. We must therefore be very careful when we make this declaration at the end of a prayer, a sermon, a teaching or a declaration because if we say Amen we are stating that what is said is true. Often in churches there are many falsehoods and false doctrines and also a lot of prayers that are offered in a way that is not in harmony with the will of God and unfortunately there are too many people who say Amen too easily, without ascertaining that what is said, taught and prayed is indeed true and that it is the truth according to the word and will of God. This is indeed very serious!

    However, for our study‘s sake now, the important thing is to understand that John in

    Revelation 1: 7, describes the visible return of the Lord and confirms this by saying yes, and then confirming the truth of his statement by adding Amen. The second coming of Christ will therefore be one episode, it will be visible to all and it is certain! Anyone who says that the second coming of Christ is not true and physical and will not happen are false and false teachers, they are the mockers that Peter talks about, 2 Peter 3: 3-4 First of all you must know this, that in the last days there will be some mockers, who will walk according to their own desires, 4 and they will say: “Where is the promise of his coming? Since in fact the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as from the beginning of creation “.

    Now, back to the Revelation 1:7 passage describing thereturn of the Lord, I want to just briefly mention this in passing here, there are different versions of the Lord’s coming taught in the church today. The doctrine is better known as the doctrine of the “ rapture”.

    All that rapture means is being caught or as Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 2:1 gathering to the Lord. He also mentions this in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17.

    There is one camp of teaching in the church which teaches this doctrine of Christ’s return or rapture stating that it will occur before the period known as the Tribulation period. This teaching breaks down Christ’s return in two different episodes. The first episode of the Second coming of Jesus will be, according to them, secret and stealth and that time the dead in Christ shall rise and those who are still alive at this time will be transformed and gathered to meet the Lord in the air and be with Him. Again, all this will be secret and stealth. Then they claim that Jesus will come again bodily to deal with Israel and not the church because the church will have been removed as they teach at the secret and hidden return mentioned. It would actually take too long to look at why they claim all this. Yet this is a teaching that is actually fairly recent ( about a little over 100 years old). Nevertheless, this version of interpretation does seem to conflict with many passages of Scripture and to make this doctrine fit one must work diligently to make it fit.

    There is a less widely known rapture doctrine which is similar to the pre-tribulation version and it is the mid tribulation version. This one, in some way is similar to the previous one and it also teaches Christ will return once secretly for His church and to give the first resurrection to the dead in Christ, this one also claims the removal of the real church from the world as the previous one teaches. This mid tribulation version would, as the name indicates, occur in the middle of the seven year period known as the tribulation period. So it would occur at the three and one half year mark. This version is even more difficult to match up with Scripture than the pre-tribulation version.

    The third view is the post tribulation version which states that there is but one return of Christ at the end of the tribulation period and it is then and only then that the gathering of the saints to Him will occur and that it is at that moment that the dead in Christ shall rise first and then who is a living believer at that time will be transformed and be gathered to the Lord.

    This last version seems to decisively be the truest and most accurate version which is true to the Scriptural description of the event and to Christ’s coming.

    I cannot get into a deep exegesis and expository teaching and comparison between the three versions.

    Let’s just stick with the third one though as the one we will use as I said being the one that is truer to the literal interpretation of Scripture and the least one for which we need to undertake biblical calisthenics in order to make it fit the text.

    The Day of Christ seems to clearly be one day and there is only one gathering mentioned and that this gathering would occur when Jesus returns to earth. The 2 Thessalonians passage we are examining give us some clues as to when the Day of Christ would occur. Paul states that some one had been, even in those days, sowing false doctrines regarding the day of Christ. It seems that the believers in Thessalonica had been perturbed by rumors that they had missed the Day of the Lord. Now this is actually interesting because in reality to think one would have missed it one would actually have to assume that it had happened secretly. Which actually would cast even more shadows on the doctrine of a secret or hidden rapture. Why? For different reasons. One reason is that the day of Christ and the gathering are one episode and Paul or anyone else does not teach that it would occur in two one hidden and one visible. Second reason is all writings depicting Christ’s return or the day of Christ are written in agreement even with the OT prophecies in Zechariah which we saw earlier, where it states that every eye shall see Him. So His return seems to be one, on one specific day and every eye will see Him returning. It’s not a hidden or secret event in any case! Paul also identifies the falsehood of what the Thessalonians were told by stating that in order to witness Christ’s return or His Day a certain chain of events had to occur.

    He explains that there had to first take place an apostasy, a great falling away from the faith. This means that a large segment of Christendom would have to abandon the real Gospel ans believe other versions of it, in other words abandoning the original faith and the only Gospel. Paul actually mentioned this event also in 2 Timothy 3 and 4 where he stated these facts.

    2 Timothy 3:1-5 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

    2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

    As we see Paul is clearly telling us that in the days (last days) preceding the day of Christ people will be very, very wicked and they will have a form of godliness, religion,yet they will deny the power of it. What is the power of godliness? The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe, Romans 1:16. Who is the power of the Gospel? Jesus Christ! This can only mean that in appearance there will be a form of religion that will also include the person of Jesus Christ but He will be represented in such a way that His deity, His sovereignty as Lord and even His power will be denied or corrupted. This occurs in the church when sound doctrine becomes replaced with the doctrines of men and with worldly ideologies and philosophies. Even if, as Paul calls them fables, contain some vestige of the person of Christ, yet Christ’s person and God become made into man’s image and likeness. All this is falling away from the truth. It is first subtle and gradual but in the end it leads to a landslide of defection. This defection from the truth of the Gospel and subsequently of all of God’s word is called apostasy or falling away!

    All of these writings depict indeed the time to which Paul is referring in 2 Thessalonians 2, time that precedes the Day of Christ.

    Jesus in His own words echoes what Paul is saying. In Matthew 24 Jesus describes the times preceding His return and what He says mirrors almost perfectly all that Paul has written in the previous passages.

    Matthew 24:14-44 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. 15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) 16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: 17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: 18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. 19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: 21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. 23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. 24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. 25 Behold, I have told you before. 26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. 27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. 29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. 34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. 35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. 36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. 37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. 43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. 44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

    So let’s break this down a little and look at what Jesus is referring to as He parallels all this to the other NT writings regarding His Second coming.

    First of all the Gospel need to be preached to all nations verse 14. We know that this as of yet has not yet occurred. They could have thought it did back then but we know today that the entire world is much bigger than what they at that time estimated it to be.

    Therefore the day of the Lord will occur only when all nations of the world will have heard the Gospel. This is confirmed also by the fact that in heaven all the people of the world will be present and have representatives:

    Revelation 7:9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;

    Now, look at what an elder in heaven asks John and listen to the answer he gives to John:

    Revelation 7:13-14 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

    See that? The elder tells John that these are those who came out of the great tribulation who were saved during this period. Let me ask now, when did Jesus say He would return? After the Gospel would be preached in the entire world. Here we have representatives of all the people of the world and it says that they came out of the great tribulation. What is the only means by which a person can be saved? God’s grace, yes, by Christ alone, yes, by faith yes, faith in who? Jesus Christ! The Bible tells us that only the Gospel is the power of God to salvation for all who believe, Romans 1:16. The Bible tells us that God has chosen to save the elect out of the entire world by the foolishness of the preaching of the Gospel.

    1 Corinthians 1:21 and that saving faith comes from the hearing of the preached Gospel,

    Romans 10:17. So if Jesus won’t return until all the world has heard the Gospel and in Revelation it tells us that these will be saved during the great tribulation, how can Jesus return before and take out the church, whom by the way was given the duty to preach the Gospel?

    It does not end here though! Jesus also says in verse 15 of Matthew 24 that something else of great importance has to occur before He returns.

    Matthew 24:15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)

    Jesus here makes reference to Daniel’s prophecy found in Daniel 9:26.

    This is the same reference Paul makes in: 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 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; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

    This is the same event Jesus talks about. Jesus however in Matthew 24 is speaking in a strictly Jewish context while Paul is also speaking in a Christian context, nevertheless these are the same event.

    It would be to long a thing to mention this in detail now, but I want to briefly mention this.

    In God’s OT prophecies we find that there often is a near fulfillment and a far fulfillment of the same prophecies. So when we interpret prophecies in the OT we must understand this, the near fulfillment was to occur in a time closer to when the prophecy was given and the prophecies only involved Israel. The later in time fulfillment is in relation to the fulfillment of the same prophecy but fulfilled in and by the person of Jesus Christ. Therefore it would have to occur either at Christ’s first advent or before or at His second advent and even after but even in this case the OT prophecies are in relation to Israel and in relation to Messiah. However, all these prophecies will also overlap into the church age as well and in many cases will involve the church as well. Yet they will all be in relation to the Jewish people and the fulfilling of the prophecies concerning them. The prophecies that more closely affect the church are the prophecies that clearly are relative to the church and these are found only in the NT.

    As I said before, the OT prophecies will all have an overlapping involvement of the church but they are mostly related to Jesus as Messiah of Israel and to Israel. This is why Paul uses a slightly different language when He describes the same episode Jesus describes regarding Daniel’s prophecy and the abomination of desolation.

    Matthew 24 is still in relation to usurping God’s position and authority but in the Jewish temple context; in other words it is a context understood better by Jews.

    Paul in 2 Thessalonians refers to it in a Christian context, he still mentions the temple of God to render it clear this is the same episode Jesus and Daniel are describing, yet Paul uses a more ecclesiastical language to describe the fact that this Antichrist’s usurpation of God’s sovereignty and authority will indeed affect both Jews and Christians.

    This incident, as Jesus continues to describe it in a Jewish context will usher in or better it will be the beginning of what is known as the Great Tribulation,

    Matthew 24:21-22 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.

    Jesus is saying that this period will be relatively short in length of time. In fact, this period is known to be only three and a half years. This is also the period spoken of by John in:

    Revelation 12:14 and to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.

    The period in question mentioned here is a year (a time) two years (and times), and half a year

    ( half a time); that is, forty-two months, three and a half years. This also is referred to in a Jewish context.

    The three and a half years are also mentioned in a Jewish context in:

    Revelation 11:1-3 And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. 2 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. 3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.

    Here also the three and a half years is mentioned twice, once in the form of forty teo months and the second in the form of one thousand two hundred and sixty years.

    Finally in the context of Antichrist’s reign, power and authority we see that indeed he also will be in this power for forty two months, in other words three and a half years:

    Revelation 13:4-8 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? 5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. 6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. 7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. 8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

    This by the way is what Paul describes in 2 Thessalonians 2 and Jesus mentions in Matthew 24.

    This is the period known as the Great Tribulation, the period Jesus mentioned. There has never been nor will there ever be a period of such evil and tribulation. Therefore one can sit here and try to say, as many do, that this period has somehow already passed or has been fulfilled already. No! That is historically impossible! Why? Because Jesus claims in Matthew 24 as Paul does in 2 Thessalonians 2, that this period will immediately precede His return to earth and we know that He has not yer come back.

    Reformer theologians insist that this period has already come and gone, in other words fulfilled! It’s not factually possible because they miss a very big issue, Jesus’ return to earth.

    Jesus describes this, in fact in:

    Matthew 24:23-31 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. 24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. 25 Behold, I have told you before. 26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. 27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 28 For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together. 29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

    This passage will illuminate us clearly regarding the Lord’s return and the period immediately preceding His return!

    You will see that none of these things have occurred yet, nor are they already fulfilled. It will also, I believe clarify when our gathering to Christ will occur.

    Jesus says that during that period, the three and a half years, the Great Tribulation, there will be attempts, as there had been even before, to point out false Messiahs. During this period, even as John describes in Revelation 13, when there will arise false messiahs and false prophets to deceive people greatly. Jesus says that if it were possible, but it is not, the miracles and signs these people would perform will be so great and powerful that even the elect would remain surprised almost to the point of being deceived.

    As I said, John mentions this:

    Revelation 13:13-15 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, 14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. 15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.

    Jesus then doubles down and again warns those who will be living in those days that people will try to say that He, Jesus Christ is in various places, this is what He says:

    Matthew 24:26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.

    This gives us understanding into the fact that a secret appearance of Christ may very well be a deception. He says to not believe those who insist in saying He is appearing in secret. Instead He says this regarding His return:

    Matthew 24:27-28 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

    Jesus is saying that as a person clearly sees a lightning light up the entire sky so His return will be clearly seen by all. Then in verse 28 He speaks language that mirrors exactly the language we find regarding His coming found in:

    Revelation 19:11-21 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. 17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; 18 That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. 19 And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. 20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21 And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.

    Jesus in Matthew 24:28 mentions that the eagles will gather where the carcasses will be and in Revelation 19 we see exactly this happening, the fowls, including eagles will gather where the carcasses of those whom Jesus will slay with the sword of His mouth and this is exactly what Paul spoke about also in the 2 Thessalonians 2 passage:

    2 Thessalonians 2:8-12 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

    This is exactly what will happen, literally not symbolically or metaphorically or as some say spiritually! This will happen as it is declared by our Lord and the other Scriptures that, as we clearly see confirm all this is real and literal.

    So Jesus speaks this regarding the day of His return and the days immediately preceding. However, then He gives us even more details regarding what will occur right before His coming as He says:

    Matthew 24:29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

    Jesus shows us what will happen immediately as that period of tribulation will end, this means right before He appears and returns to earth, He says that the sun will become dark and the moon also will not give light and the stars will fall from heaven and the powers of heaven will be shaken.

    This is also all prophesied in several passages. The first one I want to look at is Joel’s prophecy also mentioned by Peter in Acts 2.

    Acts 2:19-20 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:

    As we see, even Peter knew what time it was, because if you have forgotten that is what we are discussing here, what Paul meant in saying that we know what time it is. As we see even Peter was expecting the Day of the Lord to occur in his life time.

    The episode of which Jesus and also Joel and Peter spoke, is prophesied in:

    Revelation 6:12-17 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; 13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. 14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;

    16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: 17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

    Immediately right after the sun and the moon darkening and the stars falling and the powers of the heaven being shaken Jesus says, as He also confirms Peter and Joel’s words about His day and also confirms the previous passage we just read, Jesus says this:

    Matthew 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

    Clearly Jesus has demonstrated to us that His coming will be preceded by many signs and events and also now again He tells us the same things we also have seen previously regarding the day of His coming. Jesus shall appear, not in secret but very much visibly, He is coming in the clouds with power and great glory. We have seen even in other passages that every eye on earth will see Him and they will mourn. Zechariah 12:10; Revelation 1:7. He will come with power and we have seen that when He does come He will destroy all His enemies by the power of His word, the sword that proceeds out of His mouth, see also Revelation 19:11-21; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12; Jude 14-15.

    Then Jesus says this:

    Matthew 24:31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
    This passage here describes what also happens at Jesus’ return. This episode is indeed the same episode we find described in:

    1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

    Another passage that describes this event at Christ’s return is found in:

    1 Corinthians 15:51-52 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

    As we clearly see, the event of Christ’s return and our gathering to Him occur at this time, it occurs at His visible return. It is so much so visible that Scriptures state that every eye will see Him. It appears that the doctrine of the secret pre-tribulation rapture is not accurate after all.

    We looked at all this information to establish that Paul and the NT writers all expected all these events we studied to occur in their life time. They all expected that Jesus would return in their days. They did not realize how much time had to pass, to them it all was going to occur in their days.

    In fact, even John was convinced that they lived already in the last days and that the day of the Lord was imminent.

    In fact John is even furthermore saying that not only he believed to be living in the last days but he stated that even at that time they were in the last hour:

    1 John 2:18 Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.

    Here John is expecting the revelation of the person of Antichrist as described by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2.

    So, now we know for sure what Paul meant when he said that they knew what time it was then, so just think, what time it is today. We know even more today than they did then, that the day of the Lord’s return is at hand. It is the hour!

    Romans 13:11 says therefore: And that, knowing the time, this is what we studied thus far, we know the time, it’s the last days and Jesus might return imminently. As we said, they thought even then that the day of the Lord was at hand. Let’s also remember that, at this point here in history the book of Revelation was not yet written, in fact, it was still a long time coming.

    Now, Paul says: that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.

    Because of the fact that we know the time of the Lord’s day is at hand that means that it is also high time to awake out of sleep. In the Greek language the word high time actually is translated “the hour”.

    Paul is saying that we know the time, that now it the hour to awake out of sleep. We did mention already that even John claims that, even back then, it was the last hour: 1 John 2:18 Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.

    Because it is the last hour, it was back then, so I would venture to say that today we are living in the last minute, and because of this Paul, well, God in reality exhorts us to awake out of sleep.

    This statement actually makes me think right away to the parable Jesus told regarding the ten virgins.

    Let’s take a look at it, it is incumbent on us to arrive at the true meaning of this parable and how we can also apply it to the church.

    Matthew 25:1-13 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. 2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: 4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. 7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. 9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. 11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. 12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. 13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

    I want to begin the exposition of this parable by lining up the first and the last verses. Jesus begins by saying Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened this is the beginning of the parable and it ends saying: Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

    Jesus begins by saying then the kingdom of God, then is when? Obviously if you look at the sequence of the things Jesus is talking about, we see that all this is following what He just finished saying about the last days, the days preceding His return, and indeed we see that it is the case because He ends this parable saying that we know not the day nor the hour when He will return. Jesus will return! He did not tell us the exact day or hour but He has been telling us already a lot of what things will be like immediately preceding His return. We can ascertain the approximate time of His return by all the information He has given us in and throughout the Gospels and the rest of NT writings. In fact in Matthew 24 He states this:

    Matthew 24:32-39 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. 34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. 35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. 36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. 37 But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

    We will look at verses 37 to 39 later on ahead in our study, for now let us just say that here Jesus is giving us a very good idea as to what the world will be in the days preceding His coming, the entire chapter 24 described times and events and now Jesus is saying that as we can tell summer is coming by observing the fig tree. So we can tell the time of His return is imminent when we observe what He just told us would unfold. In fact He doubles down by telling us that His coming will occur when the times will reflect or parallel the days of Noah. We will look at that in greater detail as I said later, just think though, how were the days in which Noah lived? Wicked days, wicked people who did wicked deeds and unprecedented flood, no pun intended, of evil was in the world and so it will be right before Christ’s return. Days of darkness as we will see in the next portion of our study.

    Anyway, so we ascertained that the parable of the ten virgins is depicting the condition of the Kingdom of God on earth in the days immediately preceding Jesus’ second coming.

    Let’s observe another important issue regarding this parable. This specific parable is found only in the Gospel of Matthew!

    Now, why do you think that it is only found in this particular Gospel and not in the others as well?

    To better understand this we need to understand that the four Gospels are written in such a way that they all are individually written and directed to certain audiences. One other very important thing regarding what we know as the Synoptic Gospels, in other words, Matthew, Mark and Luke; they are especially written to describe the Kingdom of God in respect to Jesus first coming as Messiah of Israel and offering the promised Kingdom to Israel. They also contain the rejection of Messiah on Israel’s part and the uncovering of the mystery of Christ as savior of the world. In fact the Gospel of John is known as the Universal Gospel and even though it contains many Messianic references regarding Jesus it also speaks greatly to the nations and describes Jesus as the Savior of all the elect from all nations.

    This is clear from the very beginning of this Gospel and through out and all the way to the end of it. See: John 1:1-14; John 3:1-21; John 20:31.

    In any event, every Gospel must be read and understood mainly in a Messianic context and mainly in relationship to Israel and the offer of the Kingdom promised by God to the Jewish nation.

    The Gospels are before the birth of the church, before Pentecost and even even afterwards for a distinct period of time the understanding of God’s Kingdom was always in relationship to Israel and God’s promises to them as a nation, see :

    Acts 1:1-8 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: 3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: 4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. 6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

    He spoke to them for forty days speaking things pertaining to the kingdom of God. This is not, as many could and do erroneously intend to mean the church. In this case Jesus is not speaking to them things regarding the church rather the kingdom of God in a Jewish and Messianic context. This is clearly understood by the fact that they understood clearly what Jesus was speaking about, because they ask Him if in light of all He spoke about to them, if it was at that time He would restore the kingdom to Israel. Jesus responds that God would indeed do so but it was not for them at this moment to know the times and seasons God has placed in His own power. Instead they were supposed to wait for the Holy Spirit and receive power to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the rest of world.

    In order to understand the fullness of God’s plan of redemption, the birth and purpose of the church, the true nature of the New Covenant and indeed God’s dealings with Israel they had to receive the Holy Spirit who would be their teacher and then ours as well through the Scriptures.

    In fact Jesus had told them exactly that in:

    John 16:12-15 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. 15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

    They and we have indeed received all the things Jesus wanted to communicate to them and to us through their writings which occurred after the Holy Spirit came and birthed the church. All NT Scripture was written exactly how God wanted it to be written only after the Holy Spirit came and inspired the NT writings we have today in the Bible.

    Regarding the Gospels now, getting back to them. They also were written after the Holy Spirit came and yet event though written in the NT era they are written about a period that actually precedes the actual and technical NT period. We are used to see them and to consider them NT writings. In one sense they are because they are written in the NT era and they describe Jesus as the testator of the New Covenant and the savior of the world and the one in whom the New Covenant is sealed.

    Yet for the most part they describe a period of time that still precedes the NT. Why? Because the NT did not technically and in reality begin until the death and resurrection of Jesus and in reality not until He sent His Spirit to give new birth to His body, the church!

    Until then Jesus’ ministry, for a long period of the three and a half years He ministered on earth, He did so in relationship to Israel. He stated this very fact several times, such as in: Matthew 10:5-7; Matthew 15:24. He was sent to preach the Kingdom of God to Israel, He came to be their king and Messiah. That was the first and number one task He came to perform. Yet we know that it did not turn out like that: John 1:11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

    His own, being His own people in the flesh, the seed of Abraham according to the flesh, Israel. They rejected Him and by doing so and putting Him to death ny the hands of the Romans and after three days raising again He became the savior of the world, anyone who would believe in Him in the entire world would become a child of God through Him: John 1:12-13; John 3:15-17.

    So the Gospels speak mostly regarding the relationship between Messiah and Israel and most of the context of the Gospels are in relation to the kingdom of God in a Messianic context. Out of the three Synoptic Gospels, Matthew is the most Jewish of them all. The context is entirely Jewish and seen entirely from a Jewish standpoint. Mark and Luke are seen in a Jewish context as well but influenced by the writing style of Mark who wrote it in a context that would relate more to the Roman audience and Luke wrote it in a context that would relate to the Hellenic, Greek side of the Jewish population.

    Therefore when we read Matthew we need to understand His writing is inspired to speak to a Jewish audience and the context is therefore entirely Jewish. In addition, besides this very important issue, when we interpret Scripture we must interpret it in its immediate context and also when we do this we need to be very conscious as to who it is addressed.

    Therefore we understand that the parables in Matthew 25 are in a strictly Jewish context, they are spoken to the Apostles who are Jews and understood, usually with Jesus’ help, that Jesus is speaking to them in their ethnic and historical context and with language that reflects that very context.

    As we noted the parables in Matthew 25 of the ten virgins and the one after as well are both in a Jewish context and told to twelve Jews and are only found in Matthew.

    Now, we must look at the parable of the ten virgins in the proper context and how and if we can also apply it to us today.

    The general context of the story here is the fact that these ten virgins were awaiting a marriage feast to occur and the arrival of the bridegroom. It is obvious form the context given to us by the Lord Himself that He is the bridegroom. We know this from the fact that Jesus is speaking of His return and the days immediately preceding this event.

    The marriage in question is also mentioned in:

    Revelation 19:6-9 And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. 7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. 9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.

    Even by this passage we understand that the language used by Jesus in the parable is reflective of last day events as it parallels this language. We are indeed talking about the same event. The marriage supper of the Lamb. The bride of the Lamb is nonetheless the church. The church is His wife who has made herself ready. She is arrayed in fine, clean and white linen, which is the righteousness if the saints. However, the righteousness of the saints, the church, is not their own righteousness rather Christ’s own righteousness imputed to us saints of God. Many passages teach us this very fact:

    Romans 3:21-23; Romans 4:20-25; Romans 5:18-19; Romans 8:2-4; Corinthians 5:21; Revelation 1:5; Revelation 5:9; Revelation 7:13-14.

    It is Christ’s righteousness that becomes ours and it it His blood that cleanses us and makes us clean, it is His blood that has washed and made our robes white and clean. Our righteous deeds are in reality His deeds ans not inherently ours done on our own.

    We must then ask ourselves, if the bride of Christ is the church,

    Revelation 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

    Who are the ten virgins in the parable? Are they a reference also to the bride? Yet, Jesus does not say that it was the bride awaiting the bridegroom and why is it that every time the bride is mentioned in other passages it is referred to as a singular person? Although we know that the church, the bride of Christ is made up of many members, yet we know that it is always mentioned in the singular person.

    As we said, the context is Jewish and the audience is also Jewish, so we must look at what Jesus is telling them and us in a strictly Jewish way.

    So who are the Ten Virgins? This is a beautiful story lifted from the contemporary Jewish marriage custom. It is however been interpreted by some evangelicals in widely varying fashion. Some explain the virgins as the professing members of the Church awaiting the return of Christ. Others apply the parable to the Jewish remnant in the Tribulation. The central theme of the parable is the one of watchfulness and it is indeed applicable to either group. I believe however that in a stricter context the latter interpretation meets the demands of content and context more precisely.

    1. Jesus places the parable within the frame-work mentioned in Matt 24:29 and 24:40. The kingdom of heaven. The Ten virgins therefore went forth to meet the bridegroom.

    Jewish weddings had two phases. The bridegroom went first to the bride’s home to obtain his bride and observe religious ceremonies. Then he would take his bride to his own home for a resumption of the festivities.

    The parable gives no intimation at all that the virgins (plural) expect to marry the bridegroom. This is not a polygamous wedding. Rather we understand from Jesus context of Matthew 24 that at the end of the Tribulation, Christ will be returning to earth after taking to himself the Church as his bride in heaven.

    This understanding is reflected in the Western text of this passage, which says, “to meet the bridegroom and the bride.” Counter reference also Luke 12:35-36, “when he will return from the wedding.”

    Hence the Church as such is not in view here. The parable’s interest centers on the virgins who wish to participate in the wedding feast. This therefore most likely is representative of the professing Jewish remnant (Revelation 14:1-4).

    Five virgins of the ten are foolish. The lamps or torches, each had a wick and a space for oil. They had no oil with them. Oil, regularly in Scripture is symbolic of the Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4; Isaiah 61:1). Here it is a reference to the possession of the Holy Spirit in regeneration (Romans 8:9). All ten virgins appeared outwardly the same, all were virgins, all had lamps, all slept and underwent similar activity, but five did not partake of the Holy Spirit, which at this time has been given to Israel that they might be ready for Messiah (Zechariah 12:10).

    These ten virgins therefore more than the bride represent ten maids who were attendants at the wedding and are all indeed invited to the wedding. They therefore must be ready to meet the bridegroom when He arrives.

    Let’s not forget that the first phase of the wedding was the actual betrothal of the bride. Basically that is the phase in which the church lives as it awaits the bridegroom for the actual consummation of the marriage, that will occur when Jesus returns for His bride. As we have seen that is what is also called our gathering to Him and it will occur at His second coming as described in other passages we already have seen previously.

    The bride is actually in the same place the ten virgins find themselves, in fact, the virgins are supposed to meet the bridegroom just about as at the same time He comes to take His bride. This helps us understand that first of all there is a difference between the bride and the virgins but that they are indeed all together awaiting the arrival of the bridegroom.

    Hence, the language and the custom of the Jewish wedding negates that the virgins are the church. The virgins are the attendants to the wedding and by default they must be indeed indicative of the Jewish remnant. Let’s face it, the Jewish nation even today is also awaiting the arrival of Messiah, they still are waiting even as is the church awaiting her bridegroom. The Jewish nation however is still in denial as far as Christ’s concerned, yet unbeknownst to them He is their Messiah just the same. By the way, the whole story of Joseph is indeed the story of Jesus if you observe it and study it in its entirety in a detailed way. Joseph was sold (like Jesus was) he went away, like Jesus did, his brothers (Israel) did not recognize him, they thought he was an Egyptian, a stranger, yet eventually he made himself known and they recognized him and loved him. The response Joseph gave them was indeed indicative first of all of God’s almighty power and sovereignty in any human action but it was also indicative as to what Israel did to Jesus and how God took it and turned it all around to save mankind and in the end Israel.

    Genesis 50:18-20 And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants. 19 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? 20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

    This is indeed what God did, He took Israel’s evil deed committed against His Son, their King and Messiah and He turned into good to save much people. Paul describes it like this:

    Romans 11:11-12 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. 12 Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?

    Romans 11:15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?

    Romans 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. 26 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:

    And just like in Joseph’s history, Jesus saved the Gentiles first from their spiritual famine (Egypt) because they accepted Joseph as the Gentiles accepted Jesus and are saved. Joseph dealt with his brothers at a later time and they accepted him as they recognized him. That indeed is the story of Jesus in relation to the Gentiles and then later to Israel.

    When the church, the bride of Christ, will be gathered to the Lord, that will be the consummation of the wedding of the Lamb; Revelation 19:6-10, in order for this to occur there must be the resurrection of the saints and the transformation of the living saints in glory 1 Corinthians 15:51-55;

    1 Thessalonians 4:13-17.

    The passages above depict the consummation of the marriage between Jesus and church. Taking her to Himself, the bride, and giving her the complete and full salvation and glory in Him and to be with Him forever.

    Many proponents of the pre-tribulation rapture say that the Revelation 19:6-10 passage confirms that in order for the church to return together with Christ as they claim Revelation 19 in the later verses shows, the church would have had to be with Christ already for some time and they claim that indeed the language of Revelation 19 proves that this is so. I actually beg to differ about that claim! Why?

    First of all the bridegroom takes the bride, the church to Himself, this is the actual parallel of the two spouses consummating the marriage. The dead in Christ shall rise first then all believers living at the time of Christ’s return will also be transformed. This is the marriage supper of the Lamb or the celebration of the marriage. There would be no discrepancy at all in the believers meeting Christ in the clouds and then returning to earth with Him. We do not know how long this process is, but we know from Paul’s language that the resurrection and transformation of believers will occur in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, 1 Corinthians 15:52. Therefore the being caught up, or rapture will be very fast, so fast that the human eye cannot perceive it, that’s how fast the twinkling of an eye is.

    In addition to all this the episode describing the Lord’s actual return to earth to destroy His enemies and to establish God’s completed Kingdom on earth for one thousand years, says this:

    Revelation 19:14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.

    As we see described here, the language does not teach as many say that this army of heaven who follow Christ are believers coming back with Him. Believers are never, ever depicted as army of heaven, however angles are. Angels are indeed heaven’s army, God is called Lord Sabaoth, which means the Lord of hosts, Psalms 84:1 or of heaven’s army.

    Jesus is the commander in chief of God’s angels Joshua 5:14-15, who all do God’s bidding; Genesis 32:1-2; 1 Kings 22:19; Psalms 103:20-21; Luke 2:13; Hebrews 1:6-14.

    The proponents of the pre-tribulation rapture also say that these coming back with Christ are believers because the passage says they are clothed in fine linen white and clean and that this description is the same as what it states in Revelation 19:6-10 and others where the saints, the believers are described as wearing white and clean fine linen. It is true that it reflects the same type of language and at first it may appear to be a correct interpretation. However, if we analyze it in a deeper way we find that the language does not reflect only the clothing believers but also the clothing of angels. As we already saw, the armies of heaven are always angels not believers. By this fact alone we can pretty accurately interpret these as being angels not believers. However, giving the benefit of the doubt to the wearing apparel let’s see if these are angels or believers. Matthew 28:2-3; Mark 16:5; Luke 24:4; John 20:12; Acts 1:10; Acts 10:30.

    In all these passages the description of angels is depicted as having white and bright and shiny clothing. So what we understand from the Revelation 19 passage of the Lord’s return it becomes evident that the Scripture is not describing believers but angels.

    In the Book of Jude we find a similar passage to the one described in Revelation 19 regarding the coming of the Lord:

    Jude 14-15 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, 15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

    In this passage, we observe that Jude making reference to Enoch’s prophecy uses a different word, instead of army he uses the word saints. Now this could indicate believers as they are mentioned often as saints. However, since this is a mirror passage of Revelation 19 and we clearly saw that the passage indicates angles coming with Christ and not believers, we must also see this passage in the same way. However, since there are always people who will insist that because the word saints is used it must be believers he is talking about. The Greek word for saints is hagiais.

    The translation of this word is holy ones, the word is used interchangeably in the New Testament to describe believers as well as angels.

    We wanted to talk about all this because it is important to establish the Lord’s relation to His bride at His return and the His relation to Israel at that time. We are looking at all this in the context of a marriage because that is indeed the context of the parable of the ten virgins.

    We know that Jesus is telling that parable and it is indeed describing the end days and it is describing Jesus as the bridegroom who returns to take His bride and it is indeed at that point that the remnant of Israel will also be saved.

    The remnant of the Jewish nation that will be saved is represented in this parable as the five wise virgins and the part of the Jewish nation that will be left out and will perish is represented by the foolish virgins.

    We therefore understand that the ten virgins are not a representation of the church as some claim.

    Let’s remember Jesus is speaking before the birth of the church, He is speaking to an entirely Jewish audience and He is using language that Jewish people at that time clearly understood. The fact that this is still before His death and that He still did not officially enact the NT is a very important issue in the understanding of what Jesus teaches in the Gospels.

    As I said before, the Gospels are the story of Jesus’ life and ministry and that He is the Lord and Savior and Israel’s Messiah. The Gospels describe the offer of the Kingdom to Israel, in order to accept the Kingdom however they had to accept the King, the Messiah! Yet Israel rejected the King at that time and therefore forfeited the Kingdom as well. This is a temporary forfeit by the way! This is what we must understand about the Gospels.

    The Gospels do not contain strict church doctrine or let me say it this way, the Gospels have Kingdom commandments and principles to which the church must adhere fully but the Gospels contain very little doctrines directly given in a church context as the church was not yet born and in addition the church has received its doctrines through the Epistles.

    The church is a part of God’s Kingdom but not all of God’s Kingdom. God’s Kingdom will be completed only when Israel will be also saved and after Israel will be placed in the New Covenant.

    So, many, many things described in the Gospels are Kingdom principles and to be observed by the church as well however since they are pre and will be post church age they involve Israel as the main recipient of the things Jesus was teaching.

    These are very important issues that determine the context of the relationship between Jesus and Israel.

    John the Baptist at a certain point made a very important statement when he said this:

    John 3:28-29 Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. 29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.

    Even here we see the relation between bridegroom and bride and we know this is the relationship between Jesus and the church. However, we understand even in John’s words that the relationship between Israel and Christ in the Kingdom sense is a different one.

    I believe John is speaking prophetically and as it is customary in prophetic utterances the prophet most times did not understand fully the meaning and significance of His utterances.

    Yet, John prophesied things that indicated Jesus as the savior of the entire world for example:

    John 1:29; John 1:36. Once again, I would like us to notice that these statements as well as the prior are made in John’s Gospel but not in any other. If you remember before I already mentioned that John’s Gospel is contextually different from the other three.

    John’s Gospel is known as the Universal Gospel, it is described as such because it does not describe Jesus mainly as Messiah of Israel only, but as Savior and Lord of all and it is the Gospel which demonstrates even more than the others the deity of Jesus Christ. Being a universal Gospel it gives us indications that are much more tied to the spiritual aspect of the Kingdom than the earthly or rather less Jewish but more spiritual and more closely related to the church.

    Therefore, it is in this Gospel and in this more spiritual context that John the Baptist prophesies regarding Jesus as the Bridegroom. We know that the church is the bride! John the Baptist is in this case a representation of Israel in relation to Old Testament and New and he claims that he is merely the bridegroom’s friend. You can then say that since the bride is the church made up of Jews and Gentiles that the final days’ remnant of Israel is considered therefore the friend of the bridegroom not the bride!

    Check out this scripture in Zechariah:

    Zechariah 13:5-9 But he shall say, I am no prophet, I am an husbandman; for man taught me to keep cattle from my youth. 6 And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. 7 Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones. 8 And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. 9 And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.

    Jesus therefore was wounded in the house of His friends, not the bride! Israel is therefore considered His friend but not His bride. In the last days after that the Shepherd, Jesus has been smitten, verse 7, in the land of Israel two parts of the Jewish nation will be cut off and will die but one third will survive. This third will be the remnant that God will save at the coming of Christ. They will believe in Christ, the One whom they have pierced and they will enter into the New Covenant. This will be what Paul describes in Romans 11.

    Therefore even John the Baptist is giving us a glimpse into these relationships. Christ has the bride, the church, John, Israel is the friend of the bridegroom so the relationship is different. It is a very important thing to notice that the church is made up of Jews and Gentiles so Israel has not been and is not left out of being the bride of Christ. However, the nation has rejected its king so it has forfeited the privilege of fully becoming Christ’s bride.

    Now we can proceed properly with looking into the end of the parable of the ten virgins. As we said, they represent the totality of the nation of Israel and a part of the nation will be ready to meet the bridegroom when He comes while the other part will not be ready and will be left out, in other words they will not be allowed to enter into the Kingdom of God.

    Why? Because they will remain in unbelief and will not be regenerated spiritually and therefore will not be a part of the New Covenant promises God made to Israel.

    This could be interpreted in line with the Zechariah 13 passage we read before.

    All ten virgins had things in common. They are all virgins, they all have lamps, they all fall asleep.

    However, the five wise virgins had oil but the five foolish ones did not have oil. Typically oil in Scripture is a symbol for God’s Holy Spirit.

    So it is safe to understand that the five wise will be regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit,

    Ezekiel 36:25-27, this is the description of what occurs in the salvation of Israel also described in Zechariah 12:10. The sleeping demonstrate that for a period of time they all persisted to be in the same condition yet some were regenerated, therefore they had the oil but the other five did not have the Spirit and ended up being the ones cut off and left out, meaning they were destroyed as Zechariah describes!

    So in summary, the ten virgins are a representation of Israel in the last days, immediately prior to Christ’s return, this is the context of Jesus’ discourse and parables in Matthew 24 and 25, the days preceding His return and even the day of His return and even afterwards. Five will be saved but five will not. All ten slept which means that for a period they were not paying attention as to what was happening or even what time it was getting to be.

    In fact that is the warning Jesus is giving here is indeed the one He gave many times before, to pay attention, to be looking for the return of Messiah, stay awake and be discerning as to the time it was going to be. Jesus gave many signs so that the imminence of His return can be deciphered. However, if in this case the Jews but also the church is not paying attention and is slumbering and sleeping then they will be caught by surprise. That is exactly what Jesus is warning about. The warning was given to Israel but we can also draw from His warnings because that is exactly what Paul is saying in the passage of Romans 13 that we are studying.

    By the way a very important ascertainment we need to see regarding a passage that can be controversial.

    This is the passage:

    Matthew 24:36-42 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. 37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.

    Here we see that Jesus, always in a Jewish context, says that right before His coming the world will be identical to how it was in the days of Noah. We will get into that in the next part of our study. Then Jesus says: shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.

    This passage seems to describe the taking of one and the leaving behind of another and its a parallel description of the ten virgins. Because we are talking of fifty percent, on out of two is the same as five out of ten. It is evident that Jesus is talking about the same event here that He was describing in the parable of the ten virgins. The event described in Matthew 24 by the way is not a description of the rapture yet a description of what Jesus is speaking about regarding Israel’s redemption and the judgment of a part of the Jewish nation.

    There is another prophecy regarding the last days and the day of the Lord in which the Lord says this:

    Zechariah 14:1-2 Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. 2 For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.

    That this is what Jesus is talking about is pretty evident, in fact the passage of Zechariah continues saying this:

    Zechariah 14:3-4 Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. 4 And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.

    It is actually very interesting to notice that the Lord’s return when concerning the church is a gathering of her in the sky, while when speaking of the Lord’s return to save Israel is described as the Lord physically coming to earth. Just an observation of the difference between church and Israel. Church a heavenly kingdom, redeemed Israel an earthly kingdom, both redeemed, both regenerated, both in the New Covenant, yet there is a considerable difference in the promises and rewards each receive from the Lord.

    So as we see Jesus is speaking of Israel in the last days immediately preceding His return and all the things He speaks about are not in relation to the church.

    However, Jesus’ warnings are applicable to the church and we understand this by the various times that even the church is exhorted to wake up and to understand the times. In fact we can and should take Jesus’ warning to heart even though they were given in a Jewish context. As I said before, Kingdom principles are to be heeded even in the church.

    This is exactly the exhortation Paul is giving the church in this Romans 13:11passage now it is high time to awake out of sleep:

    There is therefore the same warning we should heed as the one Jesus gives in the Jewish context we just examined. When and if we understand the times we must wake up.

    Jesus warned often of this:

    Matthew 24:42-44 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.

    43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

    Mark 13:35-37 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: 36 Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.

    Luke 21:34-36 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. 35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

    What else I want us to notice, as a part of what we said before, that we find this written only in the three Synoptic Gospels but not in the Gospel of John. Therefore this helps us further understand that these declarations regarding the Lord’s return are given in a Jewish emphasis and context. Because as we said before the three Synoptic Gospels were written with a much greater emphasis in Jewish context than the Gospel of John, which is considered the Universal Gospel, where Jesus, yes is still seen as Israel’s Messiah, still there are a lot of Messianic references but it is also the Gospel that relates to Jesus’ deity in a much detailed way and it also relates much more to a Gentile audience. We therefore must understand that the things written in relation to the Lord’s return in the Synoptic Gospels are declared predominantly to warn the Jewish audience of the reality of the Lord’s return and therefore the warnings to be ready. That readiness is the same that is exhorted and warned about in the parable of the ten virgins.

    Nevertheless, we clearly see, the Lord warns His audience and us to be careful, to live with watchfulness, to take heed, to watch in prayer and to be ready. Let’s focus on this last verb Jesus used, be ready!

    It is exactly the warning He is giving in the parable of the ten virgins, five were found ready, prepared for the time and the event, the other five were unprepared and not ready to face the situation at hand; which is the Lord’s return.

    Yet, Jesus is not the only one that warns to be prepared and ready and watchful in anticipation of the day of His return. Other NT writers warn the church as well to live in this world with the anticipation that the Day of the Lord is imminent.

    There have been many points in history that made people think that the time of the Lord return would be at hand. Yet, Jesus, Paul and John especially in the prophecy of the book of Revelation gave us many facts that lead and precede the Lord’s return. In fact even the Lord’s return itself is described in great detail both in OT and NT Scriptures. We have seen and read some already so there is no need to go over them again.

    The Lord warned His disciples and even the church that in history the days immediately preceding His coming would be themselves preceded by many things and many events, but that those would not be the end of days.

    Matthew 24:4-14 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.

    5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. 6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows. 9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

    As we see, many of the things that have been happening is history until now have been the beginning of sorrows. The event that will launch the last days preceding the Day of the Lord is the event described by Jesus right after this passage we just read, in other words:

    Matthew 24:15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)

    This is also the passage described by Paul in:

    2 Thessalonians 2:7-10 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

    Paul tells us also that in his days the mystery of iniquity was already at work but that it would not reach its fullness until the wicked one would be revealed, that is also what John describes in Revelation 13.

    That event is what launches, as we have seen before, the final three and one half years before the return of Christ, the Day of the Lord. This, as we said already all these things are literal events not symbolical or spiritualized ones. It is really obvious that the prophecies in Revelation regarding this period are literal not symbolical because as we saw three and one half years is clearly described in years term Revelation 12:14, in months term Revelation 13:5, and in day terms Revelation 11:3; so as to not be confused, so we understand this is a literal time period as we know time not a symbolic one.

    Even John in his first epistle tell us that they were awaiting the coming of the Antichrist but that even then they realized they were, as he says in the last hour 1 John 2:18. In fact, John wrote his epistles after he wrote the book of Revelation, so he was already aware of what the Lord had revealed him.

    In conclusion the parable of the ten virgins is indeed the depiction of the condition of Israel at the time of the last days preceding the Lord’s coming. This is the immediate context of the parable and all the warnings in the Gospels. Yet, we can, as we mentioned before, apply the principles of these things to the church also because on the rest of the NT Epistles the church is given many similar warnings. We also must understand that even the church is made up of people who are regenerated and born again as well as people who are not. In other words even in the church there are people who have oil (Holy Spirit) in their lamps and people who do not. Yet the warnings are given to all regardless, because even true born again believers can be unprepared and slumbering as they await the Lord’s return.

    In fact we said all this just to make the point that Paul is making in the verse we are studying. We therefore know the time, or should know and if we did not hopefully we know now. Paul is therefore warning the church that it is high time to awake. It is indeed high time to awake out of any type of slumbering and sleep.

    It is evident if we have even a little bit of spiritual discernment that a lot of the church is indeed asleep right now

    So the call to wake up is twofold, one part of the call is given to believers who are still living in this world in a carnal way and not in a way wholly worthy of their Lord. They live as 1 Corinthians 3 says, yes building their lives on the foundation of Christ but with wood, straw and stubble and not with precious things like precious stones, gold and silver. These are descriptions that Paul writes to explain that there will be believers who are in Christ but who will live in a carnal and non-spiritual way. That is, they will not have God’s Kingdom and spiritual things but earthly things as a priority. These are the believers who are actually sleeping and doing so do not discern what time it is.

    They are not paying attention to the signs of the time and in reality are demonstrating that they are not really awaiting with excitement and trepidation the return of the Lord. They are not paying attention to it at all. I am not saying that we need to be so heavenly minded we become no earthly good, but a good balance is to work for God’s kingdom priorities on earth while soberly living awaitng His return.

    Many Christians for too long have given up being Kingdom workers also because they resigned themselves to be fatalists regarding this world. In other words they think that because everything is already written in God’s word and that God already established how everything is going to be, that they just sit around impatiently and anxiously waiting for the Lord’s return while putting up with evil, letting it win and complaining about it. That is not how God want us to be living, in fact the closer we get to the return of Christ the more we should live in such a way as to redeem the time we have because the days are indeed evil. Scripture is clear as to how we are to live such a life. Just remember that all the Apostles in those days already were awaiting the imminent return of the Lord in their days. That is why they placed urgency in their exhortations in regard.

    Look at what Paul writes about how we are to live awaiting the Lord’s return, not as fatalists doing nothing but waiting but this way:

    Ephesians 5:8-17 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9(for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 14 Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.” 15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

    Even here, Paul is talking to the church as to how we ought to live as God’s children and even in this passage we find language that parallels what he is exhorting in Romans 13. In other words, even beginning in verse 9 he speaks of what it menas to walk as children of light, he mentions the fruit of the Spirit is goodness, righteousness and truth and these are traits of being subjects of the Kingdom of God and living in this world as such, see also:

    Romans 14:16-19 Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.

    You see working toward the priorities of the Kingdom of God is living in goodness, righteousness and peace, serving Christ in these things is God’s will.

    In fact in the Ephesiand passage then Paul says also this: 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.

    As we see here, it is not only by not living as the world does itàs also exposing its evil works and in another translation it states denounce in the place of expose. Also this it what it means to be light of the world by the way. Exposing and actively fighting evil in the world.

    We are therefore to live righteously but also we are to actively be engaged in fighting evil in the world.

    Even Jesus said this about Himself:

    John 7:7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil.

    And the world will hate us when we do the same. By the way now you know why many Christians do not want to actively testify agianst and combat evil in the world, they do not want to be hated by it.

    Then it is astounding because even in this Ephesian passage says this:

    14 Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.”

    This is very similar language to what Paul says in:

    Romans 13:12-13 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly, as in the day,

    Then look at what Paul says continuing in the Ephesian passage, not only we are to behave in a rigtheous and good, godly manner, not only we must not be partakeres of the unfruitful work of darkness, and let’s remember today there are many more idologies, schemes, strategies and methods that Satan has used and disseminated in the world and even in the church. So to say that it is important to know all of them is an understatement, it becomes essential that believers understand whet they are oinorder to avoid to be partakers first of all and then inorder to be able to denounce them publicly and vehemently.

    So now Paul speaks of bringing the deeds of darkness to the surface, to be exposed and to be placed under the light of God’s word so that they may be recognized as evil. However, then Paul suggests that in order to do this a person must be awake, Paul is exhorting the Ephesian chruch to awake. As we see this is the same exact exhortation he gives in Romans 13. Now, let me say this, to be awake it may actually have a dual meaning. The first one is aimed at believers who are slumbering in their spiritual walk, the other is an invitation to awake from the dead, in other words to become born again. Especially in this Ephesian passage we see that Paul is also wanting that those poeple who were just hanging around the church but hadn’t yet had faith in Christ, to become alive in fact he says to arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.

    This is also parallel to the parable of the ten virgins in a very real way. The virgins are the Jewish remnant, they all slept, but they woke up and yet some had the light of Christ and the others did not. Even Pauls says to wake up first but then he emphasizes that they needed to arise form the dead, in other words become born again in order to have the light of Christ. There is indeed a stunning association to what Paul says and what Jesus is saying in the parable of the ten virgins.

    Let us also remember, in the church of that time there were many Jews, who apparently had believed and believed in this new faith, this new way, but even though they were aggregated to believers yet they were not there in sincerity of heart, faith and mind and in reality they still did not had faith in Christ only. They still adhered to their old religion and did not wish to abandon it, in fact many later turned away from the church, 1 John 2:19, the entire book of Hebrews addresses this very issue. Surely there were also many Gentiles also who did not fully believe in Christ, as there are even today many, many, too many people, who did not and do not believe in Jesus. Today probably there are many more people who are not believers than in those days, those who have infiltrated and sit in the church.

    This is why Paul says in Ephesians 5, to the sleeping believers to wake up from their slumber but to those seated in the church who are not believers, both Jews and Gentiles, tells them to rise from the dead so that Christ can give them His light and His life.

    But look what Paul says after he says all that.

    Ephesians 5:15-18 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

    Paul now is giving us a very important exhortation but this exhortation is given by saying see then, in the light of what he said before, becaise only people who have awakened will actually obey this exhortation. We who are awakened must seek to walk with circumspetcion not as fools but as wise. And we must do so redeeming the time because the days are evil and we must undrstand what God’s will is.

    This is how we live in the light and in the understanding that we are in the very last days.

    Then Paul said this which is even truer today than in those days:

    Romans 13:11c for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.

    This part of this verse is as clear as ambiguous as can be, why? Because, one thinks and rightly so that we have already been saved so why is Paul saying that our salvation is closer than we believed? Didn’t we get saved when we believed?

    One may ask: “ don’t the Scriptures say that to be saved we just need to believe in Jesus?”

    Indeed many passages of Scripture do say this and it is a fact. We are indeed saved when we believe! Yet, our salvation is not complete until we are transformed in other words glorified.

    In reality our salvation is indeed completed already yet it isn’t! How? This is not a contradiction as we should know by know there are no contradictions in Scripture.

    However there are paradoxes all over the place. What is a paradox? A paradox is the following:

    a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained is proven to be well founded or true.

    A paradox therefore is when we read in Scriptures passages that indicate that once saved always saved but then we read other passages that seem to instead indicate that one may either stop believing or fall away from the faith. When we closely examine this paradox we find that indeed once a person believes is saved forever and there is an overabundance of evidence that confirms this, yet we see that people indeed seem to leave the faith or stop believing after they did, however after further careful examination we see that those who do seem to fall away from the faith actually never had it to begin with. In other words they never really and truly believed and when their so called faith is proved they fall away because they actually do not have faith at all.

    Therefore, being saved completely at the moment of our belief does not at all mean that we have received in full all the benefits of our salvation in ourselves. We will receive them for sure because we are saved but our salvation is a completed fact in God’s reality it is not completed in ours. We have been saved, are being saved as we exist and will be completely saved when Christ’s returns. Receiving the completeness of our salvation is called being glorified. This is described for us in many instances throughout NT Scripture.

    Let me just say this as briefly as I can; we are completely saved even now in our spirit. The Bible says:

    2 Corinthians 5:6-8 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7(For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

    Paul is saying when we are at home in the body, think about this for a moment. Being at home in the body precludes that we are in reality spiritually redeemed beings, born again spiritually, but we live in a body, in other words our body is our home away from home. This actually means that our real home is not our body or this world, or better stated our bodies are for the moment our temporary home.

    This is because our eternal bodies cannot be the same as these bodies we have now. In other words to live in eternity and in God’s presence we must have different bodies and not these.

    Why? Because sin still dwells in our mortal bodies but it will not and cannot dwell in our redeemed bodies, in other words, our eternal and glorified bodies.

    Sin dwells still in us, in our bodies now not in our spiritual being. That is in fact what Paul is describing for us in Romans 7:18-25. That is why in Romans 6 Paul exhorts us to make our bodies submit to the will of God and God’s word, he tells us to make our members, our bodies submit to the will of the spiritual man who wants to do the will of God. He exhorts us to make our bodies reflect our saved interior person, the born again us by submitting and overcoming the sinful desires of our flesh.

    In Romans 8 he makes sure we understand that there is no condemnation at all when we are born again of the Spirit of God but that our physical mortal bodies must die because of the sin that is in them. In other words, God has indeed redeemed the spiritual man forever but not natural physical body or as Paul calls it home. In reality God has redeemed that also but our bodies as they are cannot inherit heaven. Paul describes all this very well for us in:

    1 Corinthians 15:42-57 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

    This entire passage is very clear. We must shed our earthly, mortal and sin corrupted body because that is the part of us that is still connected to Adam by sinfulness. As Paul says it is earthly! So it must be sown into death and in corruption but it must be raised up incorruptible! It is sown into death in dishonor but it must be raised up in glory.

    Hence from here we get the term glorified bodies. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. Spiritual body but nevertheless a body! We do not remain just abstract spiritual beings but we will indeed have bodies that will live eternally, bodies created for eternity.

    Paul explains that the first man, Adam was made into a living soul but the last Adam, who is Jesus Christ by the way, was made a quickening spirit. Therefore whoever is born again from the Spirit of Christ is indeed a part of the new race born of the last Adam. Our born again spiritual man is created in Christ’s image and will have to bear the image of the One that gave it life, namely Christ.

    So as we bear the image of the first natural and earthly man Adam, we also will bear the image of the spiritual and supernatural man, Christ Jesus.

    The first man Adam is of the earth, earthly, the second man Jesus is the Lord, from heaven.

    Then Paul drops the bomb when he says:

    Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

    Our earthly bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God nor can corruption inherit incorruption.

    Let’s remember that our bodies are mortal and they are such because they have sin dwelling in them Romans 7:23, and the wages of sin is death, Romans 6:23. This is the reason we still die physically even though we are redeemed believers.

    Yet, look at what Paul says: 1 Corinthians 15:52-57 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Once more, this is the description of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and this episode is also the day of the resurrection of the dead in Christ and the transformation of the living saints. This is what we also call the glorification of the saints. This is when the believers will be changed, either dead or living.

    Dead believers will rise up and the corruptible body will put on incorruption, our mortal bodies will put on immortality. The living saints will also be transformed, their corruptible and mortal bodies will also be changed into incorruptible and immortal bodies. For believers this will be the final defeat of death, this is our victory in Christ.

    This is indeed what is referred as the glorification of the saints and known as the completion of our salvation.

    You see, our salvation is not final in the real sense until we are either raised from the dead and transformed or still living and transformed as well, and both things will happen only at the return of Christ.

    There is indeed an eschatological prophetic reason for this to happen at Christ’s return and it has to do with the nation of Israel’s conversion at the end of the age. Israel will be converted only at Christ’s return and Israel’s conversion is also related to the completion of the Kingdom of God as well as the resurrection from the dead.

    Romans 11:12-15 Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? 13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: 14 If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. 15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?

    As we see here, Paul is saying that the fall and the diminishing of Israel’s importance in God’s plan, mind you, diminishing, not utter cut off; is indeed the riches of the world how much more will their fullness be? If the temporary casting away of Israel is the reconciliation of the world to God, wen they will be received again, in other words, Israel’s conversion will be life from the death, in other words, the resurrection.

    The Lord’s return will therefore signify the conversion of the nation of Israel and the restoration of the Kingdom and land to them promised by God. It also will signify the resurrection of the dead in Christ, in other words the completion of the salvation of believers of all ages. This is not only the completion of our salvation but it is the completion of the Kingdom of God on earth.

    So what Paul is talking about when he says that our salvation is nearer then when we believed, this is what he means. In the context he is saying it, he is saying that we ought to be awake knowing that the time of our final and complete redemption is nearer then ever.

    Just think what this means, even back then they were expecting that God will fulfill all the things He needed to fulfill in order that Jesus would return and the resurrection would occur and Israel would be saved and God’s Kingdom on this earth and in this heaven would be complete. Let’s remember that there is a new heaven and a new earth that will be created after the final judgment and the destruction of the ones we know now, Revelation 20:11-15; Revelation 21.

    So Paul is referring to the fact that the coming of our Lord was even then and it is even more now, two thousand plus years later. Today the Lord’s return is much nearer than ever before so because of this we must heed Paul’s next exhortation.

    Romans 13:12-14 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. 13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. 14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

    Paul believed that the day of the Lord was at hand and all the Apostles believed in the imminent return of Christ. They all believed that the known world was about to be reached with the Gospel and as Jesus said in Matthew 24:14 when the Gospel would be preached in the whole world the Lord would return.

    Also when they witnessed the destruction of the temple in AD 70 they actually thought that was the episode Jesus and Daniel spoke about and that Paul spoke about also in 2 Thessalonians 2.

    However, as we said several times before, prophecies in the Bible more often than not, have a multiple fulfillment, in time, usually two separate fulfillments.

    One fulfillment is usually in the immediate future and one is in the more distant future. In a way when some bad interpretation of Scripture is practiced, like in the case of the Reformed Theology in the subject and context of eschatology, we find that they only apply only one fulfillment to the prophecies and in almost all, if not all cases it’s the first and closest one to the original moment in which the prophecy was given.

    For example, let’s take Matthew 24 and let’s look at it in light of the prophecies regarding the days preceding the Day of the Lord and after. The Reformed Theology interpreters claim they already all have come to pass, they claim that they are all fulfilled. However, we cannot reconcile the actual return of the Lord as described by Himself with the Reformed Theologians who actually say that all the events that Jesus described have already come to pass. They have not! Let’s take a quick look at Matthew 24 and let’s see if they are right or not.

    What has happened is that in part they were fulfilled, but the entire fulfillment of the prophetic events still have to occur.

    Jesus says in Matthew 24:1-2 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. 2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

    This episode that Jesus is referring to has already occurred. When? When the Romans destroyed the temple.

    After Jesus says this, the disciples ask Him this:

    Matthew 24:3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

    As we see the disciples ask Him two separate and distinct questions. It’s not just one question, it’s two separate questions.

    The first one is the following: “when shall these things be?” What things are they referring to?

    What Jesus said before, in other words “when will one stone not be left one atop of another and thrown down.”

    Jesus answers as He often did, He gives them a cryptic answer. It’s not a direct answer yet He first describes the events that do surround the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD. However, as we will see, as He prophesies He is actually going beyond the episode of the destruction of the temple.

    Jesus answers and says this: Matthew 24:4-14 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. 5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. 6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows. 9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

    Now, we must interpret this section in an objective and common sense manner. We know today through history, and even they learned in their lifetime, that most of the things that Jesus is mentioning here did not occur immediately during the Apostles’ life span.

    For example, not many in their days were running around saying they were Christ. During this period the Roman Empire lived in a state of relative peace, in other words there were no wars or rumors of wars.

    Jesus says these are all things that must precede the last days, the end is not yet. In fact, He states that nation must rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. Again, none of this occurred during the life span of the Apostles. Neither were there famines, pestilences or earthquakes. These events sound a lot more as the events that have thence been happening even to this day and yet they did not happen during the Apostle’s life span.

    The beginning of sorrows have been in effect for almost two millennia even to date, yet Jesus says these are not the end times.

    Then Jesus says that they would be delivered up to be afflicted, and to be killed and hated of all nations for His name’s sake. Many also will be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.

    Now these things have indeed happened to them and to many, many subsequent Christians in history after them. But let’s think for a moment at what Jesus says, He states that His followers, Apostles first, would be hated of all nations. Well in that day they mostly were hated in the Roman Empire and not in all nations. Therefore we know that Jesus is extending this prophecy beyond the Roman Empire period. This is an extended prophecy as we were saying before, it has a near fulfillment but it also extends into the more far away future. Even the fact that many would be offended and betray one another and hate one another, this also is an extended prophecy.

    Jesus then mentions that many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

    These things even though happened to a degree in the Apostles’ life times they continued to increase in time and through time to this day. So even this one is an extended prophecy.

    Then Jesus says this: And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

    Now, as we said even before, in those days, except for Jesus being the creator of the world, men did not know that there was a world beyond the Roman Empire.

    They did not find out about much of the new world until 1492 when Columbus discovered the American Continent. In addition the Continent of Asia and beyond were not influenced by the Gospel until many, many centuries later, actually for almost two thousand years. So when Jesus is saying that the end will come only when the Gospel will be preached to all nations He must mean all nations not just the ones existing in their days.

    Look at what the word of God says about this in:

    Revelation 5:9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;

    Revelation 7:9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;

    Let’s make no mistake, the church will be made up of people from all existing nations, tribes, tongue and people. Therefore the Gospel, which is the only power of God for salvation Romans 1:16, must be preached to all people and all nations.

    For God so loved the entire world that He sent His Son Jesus to save the entire world and for this to occur the Gospel must be preached to all. Jesus as the creator of all people knew even then that all nations went beyond what the Apostles knew that all nations were back then.

    After this, when the divine set number of all Gentile people from all nations has been saved, then Israel will be saved Romans 11:25-27 and the end of the age will come and the Lord will return Revelation 19:11-21.

    So that prophecy is actually still not fulfilled to this day.

    Then Jesus says this:

    Matthew 24:15-22 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) 16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: 17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: 18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. 19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: 21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.

    Jesus just finished saying that the Gospel must be preached to all nations before the end would come. Therefore Jesus is now beginning to speak about the end days and He states that it is at this point, after the Gospel is preached to all nations that this event He now mentions will occur. We can understand this from the language and the progression of the discourse. He uses the words; when you therefore see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel. Now, we must understand again that prophecies are a complex matter of study and they cannot be interpreted superficially. We must study and look at them in a very careful way. Even the prophecy Daniel makes has several fulfillments in time and not just one. The prophecy in question is found in:

    Daniel 9:26-27 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. 27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

    Look at this prophecy it is very important and very interesting. Even here we see that the prophecy has a dual fulfillment. First fulfillment, is immediately after Messiah’s death. The prince of the people will come, the Romans would destroy the city and the temple. This is what Jesus was referring to when He said that none of those stones would be left one atop another. Also when He mentions the abomination of desolation actually even that has a multiple fulfillment. It is after the first destruction of the temple that the one described as the son of perdition or Antichrist will make an agreement for seven years, but in the middle of the week or the seventh week as described, the middle of seven is three and a half. This is the same description as all the three and a half years we mentioned even before in the book of Revelation; Revelation 11:3; Revelation 12:14; Revelation 13:5. Now, if we consider that the book of Revelation was written approximately in AD 96 and the temple was destroyed in AD 70 we must arrive at the only conclusion that what Daniel is talking about in his prophecy, what Jesus is mentioning and what Paul writes in 2 Thessalonians 2 are not in reference to the destruction of the temple in AD 70.

    As we said, when Jesus mentions the prophecy of Daniel He not only mentions the first part of it but He is mentioning it in its entirety, that is why He says let the reader understand. In reality there was even a previous episode when the sacrifices were interrupted in the temple and this is always called the abomination of desolation. The first episode occurred in Daniel 11:31-36. The language is in line with the Daniel 9 prophecy and Matthew 24 and 2 Thessalonians 2 and Revelation 13. However, there was an episode in Israel’s history when Antiochus Epiphanes a Greek (175-163 B.C.) is introduced as a vile person. His wicked persecution of the Jews and desecration of the Temple are described by a contemporary witness in I Maccabees, which ought to be read by every student of Daniel. His action is predicted also at Dan 8:13, and his deeds furnish a the pattern for those of the wicked “prince that shall come” in other words types of Antichrist.

    So the very first fulfillment of the desecration of the temple also called the abomination of desolation happened before the Romans had control of Israel. However, the language used in

    Daniel 11:36-37 And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done. 37 Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.

    This is almost the same exact language we find in 2 Thessalonians 2 and Revelation 13. Therefore we understand that the prophecies and the language used and the episodes described are actually multiple fulfillments of the same prophecy. In Scripture we see that there are mentions of Antichrists, plural. Therefore we must understand that there are many types of Antichrist before the main one comes upon the scene. The previous ones are prototypes and they provide a pattern for us.

    Therefore because of all these facts we must understand better what Jesus is referring to when He mentions the abomination of desolation spoken of Daniel. He is definitely referring to it as a dual fulfillment prophecy just as even Daniel described it. The first fulfillment is as Daniel says, after Messiah is cut off. We find the first abomination of desolation occurs as the Romans destroy the temple and a part of Jerusalem.

    This is the first fulfillment, but for the Reformed theologians this is the only fulfillment of this prophecy. According to them that’s it, it is all done and nothing else has to occur.

    However as we have seen, that violates all kinds of prophetic hermeneutics’ laws of interpretation. Their version for example, cannot be reconciled to most of the rest of Scripture describing events of the end times. In addition they neglect to take into consideration that most prophecies have at least two separate fulfillments. In fact Daniel’s prophecy has not only a dual fulfillment it actually goes beyond.

    The second part of the prophecy in Daniel 9 is indeed speaking of a later abomination of desolation other than the one the Romans caused. The only reason why the Reformed Theologians say that this prophecy is already fulfilled with the Roman destruction of the temple is because they do not take into consideration the dual fulfillment of prophecies and they neglect to see that the Daniel prophecy actually has two phases to it. The first abomination of desolation in AD 70 indeed has been fulfilled but the second one has not been fulfilled.

    We must however understand that in order for the second one to occur there are a whole lot of things that have to occur. The first one is that a new temple must be rebuilt in Jerusalem. Now many Reform Theologians say that that is the reason why the prophecy has been fulfilled and will not have another fulfillment, because of the lack of a temple in Jerusalem.

    However, Scripture tells us that there will be another temple in Jerusalem in the days preceding the Lord’s return.

    Revelation 11:1-2 And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. 2 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.

    Therefore we see that it is not only possible ti will indeed happen that way. We already said that we see there is a period of seven years, which is the covenant week the Antichrist will make that is decreed by the Daniel 9 prophecy and that prophecy says that in the middle of that week, three and a half years or as Revelation 11:2 says forty two months, the Antichrist will go back on the covenant and he will install himself in the temple of God and declare himself to be God. This is precisely what Jesus is mentioning as well besides the Roman destruction of the temple in AD 70, Daniel 9:26 (first fulfillment), the second fulfillment and what Jesus is also referring to the second abomination of desolation Daniel 9:27. The Antichrist will be revealed as Antichrist as he will desolate the third temple in Jerusalem and he will declare himself God and will persecute Jews and Christians, he will do that in the middle of Daniel’s week, three and a half year mark. This is the same exact event as we said described it Revelation 11:2-3, Revelation 12:14-17, Revelation 13:5 and also 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. All these episodes encapsulate Jesus’ and Daniel’s prophecy. We have seen that even through a pretty cursory examination of Scripture we can understand clearly what Jesus was declaring Daniel’s prophecy to be.

    We have taken this parenthesis explaining Jesus’ Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24 to understand better that in Apostolic days they were expecting all the things Jesus mentioned to happen and they were therefore awaiting His return and therefore the salvation of Israel, the resurrection of the departed Christians and the transformation of the living ones as well as the complete establishment of God’s Kingdom on earth.

    These were all important issues back in those days and they are even more important in our days as even as Paul in his day told these believers that salvation was closer than when they first believed. This and what Paul is saying in these verses we understand that he believed the return of Jesus was very imminent. Obviously today we know it was not as imminent as they thought but as even Jesus warned God expects every generation of believers to be watchful as they did not and do not know the actual day or hour of His return. However, today we have what they did not have back then, in other words the gradual revelation of future events that would precede the Lord’s Day.

    Jesus gave us a lot of information in Matthew 24, then Paul gave us a lot more information but Paul dis not have all the information we have because the book of Revelation was not yet written. In addition, as we said, the Apostles and subsequent generations of believers for many, many centuries did not realize that there were still many, many people in the world as much of the world was not known. This was an essential thing to be known in order to understand that the Lord’s return could not have been as imminent as they thought it would be. So, many events necessary for the time of the Lord’s return were not in place then, but they thought they were, yet some are still not in place even today, however today they could all be fulfilled in our lifetime as opposed to the days of Paul.

    Paul is therefore writing these verses we are studying with a limited and partial understanding, however for us today these verses take much more life and shape as we can look at history today and know that indeed the night is almost over, it is almost far spent. Paul was expecting the dawn of the Lord’s return to be around the corner even in his days, with the knowledge he had at that time.

    That is exactly the image that Paul is giving in writing this, the darkness of the world’s evil and Satan’s kingdom was passing away and is now passing away more quickly than ever. Then they believed and knew that Jesus had come to destroy the works of the evil one 1 John 3:8, and the same John declared the following:

    1 John 2:15-18 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. 18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.

    John says that the world and its lust and evil is passing away. This is a process, it is passing away, it has not yet passed away. As time goes by as we said, the dark deeds of evil are passing away. Even John back then claims that they lived in the last times and he prophesies as Jesus and others as well that Antichrist was to come yet he says that even then there were many prototypes or types of Antichrists, and we know that since then there have been and there are still many. John knew even then, expecting that he was living in the last days. Today we know that much more time had to pass, yet the night is indeed almost over and the dawn of a new age is near. Jesus Christ is near, our redemption draws near and indeed even for all of us it is closer than when we first believed.

    Many people will say that even though the world is very evil and very dark and it has been and it is increasing in evil and darkness how can we say that the day is at hand. It is very interesting to note that even in nature a few hours before the light of dawn is when the skies are at their darkest.

    This is true even in this case! This is the picture that Paul is painting for us, right before the dawn of Christ’s return the world will be at its darkest, the world will be at its most evil and most wicked ever, nevertheless, the night is always passed.

    Jesus, actually told us in Matthew 24 that this was going to be the case.

    Matthew 24:21-22 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.

    The world will be in such a state as it never was since the beginning of the world nor shall it ever be. The times will be so wicked and bad that God will limit them otherwise no one would survive. Yet, it is only for the sake of God’s elect that those days will be shortened.

    Jesus also said this in Matthew 24:

    Matthew 24:36-39 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. 37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

    This passage actually has various things we need to take into consideration. Jesus is saying that the day of His return will occur in a time similar as to the days of Noah. Jesus is saying that the day of His return will take place in a time similar to the days of Noah, but Jesus also told us before that the time before His return will be so terrible that it has never had precedents. So the similarity to the times of Noah is exactly that, a similitude, since the days will be so terrible.

    Jesus must use a time when times were almost like those that will precede His return, but it is only an example to shed light on how evil the people will be in those days, even more than in the days of Noah.

    Jesus says that even then, in the days of Noah, people lived in such a way, really unawares of God’s judgment that was coming upon them, just as it was until Noah entered into the ark. They did not have a clue of God’s judgment until it was too late and the flood came and it destroyed all living creatures, except those in the ark. Jesus says so it will be in the last days preceding His return.

    There are more things we need to look at about both times, Noah’s days and the days preceding the Lord’s return. There are parallels and similarities we need to understand. First of all, let’s look at the days in which Noah lived. As we said they preceded God’s fierce judgment, so it will be in the last days. God’s judgments will be raining upon mankind even prior to the Lord’s return, we have ample evidence of this in the book of Revelation.

    The parallels therefore are that, even as Jesus said previously, the days will be so terrible like never before. God’s judgments will not only be the reason the days will be terrible, for God’s people God’s judgments will not be a factor. As in the days of Moses, God judged Egypt severely yet His people were untouched by all of His judgments. God protected and shielded His people from His judgments, so it will be in the last days. In fact, in the book of Revelation we have evidence of this very fact:

    Revelation 15:1 And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.

    Yet the word of God says this about the church and God’s wrath:

    Romans 5:9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

    1 Thessalonians 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

    This, is my belief , has to do with eternal judgment however, Scripture shows us that it also refers to God’s wrath in the last days. This is confermed by the fact that the wrath of God will be upon those who took the mark of the beast and worshiped the image of the beast, not upon His children:

    Revelation 14:9-11 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: 11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

    Revelation 16:1-2 And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth. 2 And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.

    As in the days of Moses, God’s children even during these days will enjoy God’s protection because as the people of God back then, today we are under the blood of the Lamb of God. We are not appointed to wrath because of His blood. As the Passover lamb and its blood for the Jews, Jesus is the prefect Lamb of God and His precious blood protects us from the wrath of God exactly as the Passover lamb’s blood protected the people of Israel back then. The Passover is indeed a symbol of Jesus the lamb of God.

    So what we are looking at in terms as to what Jesus said in Matthew 24 is that the days will be terrible for unbelievers because they will endure God’s wrath but the children of God will be saved as Noah and his family was because as they entered the ark of salvation, we also have our ark of salvation, Jesus Christ. Being in Him as Noah and his family were in the ark during God’s judgment, we will be safe from God’s wrath. Yet, those days will be terrible for believers also because even though they will not endure God’s wrath they will have to endure Satan’s hatred and his wrath and persecution, Revelation 12 and 13.

    Remember? Jesus said that the days will be so terrible that is He did not shorten them no flesh would survive. This includes both, saved and unsaved people. Remember, it is God and God alone that has absolute power and sovereignty to limit and restrain evil.

    Jesus also mentioned the similarity between Noah’s days and the last days before His return and so to understand better let’s also see what the days of Noah looked like.

    Genesis 6:5-8 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. 7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. 8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.

    This is a snapshot of how Noah’s days were! Man’s wickedness was great in the earth and EVERY imagination of the thoughts of his heart were evil continually. Now, as awful and wicked these days were, so much so that God decided to thoroughly destroy mankind, the times preceding Jesus’ return that Jesus Himself said that they will be like the days of Noah. Exceedingly wicked! As in Noah’s days God will bring His severe judgment upon mankind. However, as terrible as His judgment was in Noah’s days, that He only spared eight people, in the last days God’s mercy will be immense even in the midst of terrible wickedness and great wrath, days the likes of which we never saw before; in spite of this terrible judgment Scripture tells us God will reap a great harvest of redemption:

    Revelation 7:9-14 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. 11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, 12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. 13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

    This passage says there was a great multitude which no man could number of all nations, kindred, people and tongues. These as John writes are they which came out of the great tribulation . The redeemed of all nations as we can observe will be such a great multitude. The great tribulation is the period of three and a half years form when Antichrist takes power and the return of Christ. This is the time Jesus says would be so terrible that if God did not make it short no flesh would survive. This is the period in which the persecution of Jews and Christians will be so terrible that it will have no precedents. This period will make what Hitler did look like child’s play! This period will be the terrible period also of God’s fierce wrath on mankind. Yet, in Noah’s days God only saved eight, in this period God will redeem a great multitude.

    God in His judgment remembers mercy, even Habakkuk called upon God to remember mercy in His judgment:

    Habakkuk 3:2 O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.

    Even Jeremiah during the siege and destruction of Jerusalem remembered God’s faithfulness and mercy:

    Lamentations 3:21-24 This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. 22 It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. 24 The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.

    What we are seeing then is what Paul is saying, the night is far spent and even though the darkest hours must come to bear upon humanity, the morning is at hand, Christ’s return is evermore imminent and we know that when these things will come to bear upon the world, we must not despair, rather we should find comfort in the fact that our redemption draws near.

    Because of this very fact Paul now commands, exhorts believers in this way:

    Romans 13:12-14 let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. 13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. 14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

    Therefore, because the day of the Lord’s return is at hand, because even though we will have to go through the darkest moment of human history, because our salvation, our redemption and the redemption of Israel and the completion of the Kingdom of God is closer then ever and closer than when we first believed, because of all this then we must live in a certain way, casting off, getting rid of, the works of darkness and putting on the armor of light.

    Casting off the works of darkness, is a violent word, casting off exudes a violent action.

    Jesus once said this: Matthew 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

    This means that the kingdom of heaven suffers violence such as the violence with which the tax-gatherers and pagans, whom the scribes and Pharisees thought have no right to the kingdom of the Messiah, were instead filled with holy zeal and earnestness, seized at once the mercy of the Gospel, and so took the kingdom as by force. From who? From those learned doctors who claimed for it themselves and claimed the chiefest places of the kingdom. Christ himself said that the tax-gatherers and harlots would go before them into the kingdom of God. See the parallel passage, Luke 7:28-30. He that will take possession of the kingdom of righteousness, of peace, and spiritual joy, must do it in earnest because all hell will oppose him every step he takes; and if a man be not absolutely determined in giving up his sins and evil companions, and have his soul saved at all hazards, and at every expense, he will surely perish. This requires a kind of violent earnestness through out.

    This is what Paul is saying, we must violently cast off from our life the works of darkness. Satan will attempt to assault us with all he has, demons, the world, and manipulating our minds and manipulating our fleshly desires in order to divert our path, in order to disqualify our testimony, our witness and our service. Notice, I did not say salvation ad he has not power over that yet he could make it so we become even useless in God’s service, that is being disqualified. He can make it so that he can cause us to lose our heavenly rewards.

    Even though all this sounds as if we are talking about eternal salvation, we are not! Let us remember, salvation is a gift of God’s mercy and grace not a reward. A reward would assume that we have done something to merit and deserve a reward, we did not and cannot ever merit or deserve salvation. You cannot call a gift a reward! Our heavenly rewards therefore, although contingent upon the fact that we are indeed saved, these are not our salvation. The rewards are contingent upon our obedience and faithfulness after we are saved.

    In fact that is what Paul says in different passages, such as these:

    1 Corinthians 3:7-8 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. 8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour

    As we see here the reward is not salvation rather according to one’s labor in the Lord. If salvation were the context then salvation would have to be by works or given in exchange for labor. However, we know we are not and cannot be saved by works Romans 3:27-28; Romans 4:6; Romans 9:11;

    Romans 11:5-6 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

    Make no mistake, salvation is by God’s sovereign election, by God’s mercy and grace, Ephesians 2:8-10 and never ever by works. Therefore the rewards are not salvation rather rewards God gives us for our faithful labor and service and obedience to Him as already saved children.

    So when Paul says this:

    1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

    Paul is speaking about rewards not salvation here. He says that he makes his flesh, his body submit, he brings it into subjection to God’s will, to God’s righteousness and holiness, so that by any means, after he preached to others, he himself should become a castaway or disqualified. Here Paul is speaking of service and of rewards not salvation.

    We have an ulterior confirmation that this is indeed the fact as he says this:

    1 Corinthians 3:12-15 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. 14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

    This is the nail in the coffin of the doctrine of the believers losing their salvation. Paul says that if a Christian decides to live a mainly carnal life and is not as much concerned in building their life on the foundation of Christ, their works will indeed be judged, tested by God’s judgment fire. The eternal and faithful work and service and obedience to God will stand God’s judgment and these will be rewarded, if the works are human, temporal and carnal they will be burned up by God’s judgment and they will not be rewarded, suffering loss is losing the rewards and there it is, but he himself shall be saved. The person shall be saved.

    Peter said that the righteous is scarcely saved and it is so true, we who are saved are saved by God’s grace and mercy and we certainly do not ever deserve salvation, we deserve God’s wrath and judgment.

    1 Peter 4:17-18 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? 18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

    This passage is actually saying what Paul was also saying. In other words, God will judge the works of the believers and because of this some will be scarcely saved, this means that their works will be burned up in God’s judgment but they will be saved, this is the equivalent of being scarcely saved. If we are saved and we get few or no rewards then we will indeed be scarcely saved. If God’s judgment of the believers’ faithfulness is a reality then imagine what kind of judgment the ungodly sinners will endure. It will be eternal and fierce.

    However, we cannot be saved by works ever; but after we are saved, our works if founded in Christ, the works that are done for the glory of God, the works of when we seek His Kingdom and righteousness first, those works are reserving for us heavenly and eternal rewards.

    Now that we have ascertained that we cannot lose our salvation, but we can lose our rewards, Colossians 2:18; let us then go back to our study text where Paul is exhorting us to cast off the works of darkness from our life. As we said this takes a willing effort that is likened to a violent act.

    This is how determined we must be in our daily battles against sin, both in our individual lives, as well as in the church and even in our society.

    Let us remember that in this chapter Paul is writing to tell the church how it should behave toward the governing authorities and therefore this chapter is also a guide for the church as to how we are to behave in society.

    We are called as believers and as a church to denounce all the unfruitful works of darkness

    Ephesians 5:11-13. In our own life as well we have to to the same,

    Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us

    Once again, the author of Hebrews as Paul uses a race metaphor to describe our Christian life, Paul used this metaphorically in several occasions: 1 Corinthians 9:24-25; 2 Timothy 4:7.

    It is very difficult to run a race as it states in Hebrews 12, with weights and sins that beset us we cannot obviously easily run a race. The example is of a racer that tries to run a race while weighed down and it will be extremely difficult to run it compared to others who will diligently cast off the sin and weights out of their lives. The words easily besets us in this context, in the Greek language means this:

    thwarting (a racer) in every direction.

    Therefore we have to violently cast away the works of darkness from us in every possible way. We need to become combative about eliminating sin out of our lives, we cannot be passive. This is why Jesus said that we must seize the Kingdom of God by violence. This does not mean that we must be violent people, or use violence toward others. It is rather a figure of speech to describe that we actually must use a great amount of effort and sacrifice to fight off sin, in a very similar way as if we were in a real battle, because we indeed are in a real battle.

    In combat when soldiers remain passive they become easier targets and are more easily defeated. In combat often a defensive position, not always, but more often than not, eventually becomes a liability rather than an advantage.

    In combat it is action, courage, effort and yes, violence that brings about victory not cowardice, fear and passivity.

    So as Christians we must be ready for action, not passively stand by and allow the enemy to dictate the pace.

    Scripture in many, many places tells us believers to be ready and active not passive:

    Jeremiah 1:17-2:1 Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them. 18 For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land. 19 And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee.

    This is a very appropriate passage to describe exactly what we are talking about here. God tells Jeremiah the prophet to gird up his loins and arise. What in the world does this mean? To gisr up the loins is a term that denotes readiness and swift action. In Biblical days, even in some Middle Eastern cultures today, the men wear a long gown, long to the feet. We can understand that wearing a long gown will impede fast movement as the gown will bind the legs in such a way that it will only allow the person wearing it to take small quick steps. However, in order to be able to run a person would have to pick up the gown to their waist so that the legs could have freedom to move with a long stride or to run without the gown impeding them. You can see that it would be impossible to run with such a garment impeding and limiting one to be able to run or walk fast. This is what grid up your loins means in a technical and literal way.

    In a spiritual way it means to be ready to action, to make oneself ready in such a way to be able to move swiftly and without impediments. It is obvious that God is telling Jeremiah to gird up his loins and arise in a spiritual sense. He is commanding Jeremiah to make himself ready and to move swiftly to do what God told Him to do. If Jeremiah obeyed God would make Him victorious. When God commands us to make ourselves ready and act we have two choices. Either we disobey and remain passive and then bear the consequences of our disobedience or we will become ready and active and obey and God will give us success. This is the meaning of this passage!

    When it comes to cast off the works of darkness from our lives we need to be ready and willing to do so with violent action and readiness. The longer we allow sin to linger in our life the worse our situation will get. It’s a consequence of either our action or our passivity!

    Even Peter says the same exact thing:

    1 Peter 1:13-16 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

    Peter is exhorting us to make our minds ready. In a way he is saying to us what Paul said in

    Romans 12:2, not to be conformed to the ways of the world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Peter tells us to make our minds ready, ready to be sober. A sober mind is a mind that is not confused or inebriated. To have a sober mind is to have a renewed mind, renewed by the word of God. To have a mind that is controlled by God’s word a mind that exercises spiritual discernment and godly wisdom. To avoid sinful behavior a mind renewed by the word of God is essential. That is exactly what it means not to be conformed to the ways of the world but to be transformed instead through the renewal of our mind. A renewed mind is a transformed life, a renewed mind means to exercise spiritual discernment and godly wisdom. This indeed happens when we can identify and discern the difference between good and evil in a Scriptural way.

    This is what the author of Hebrews says:

    Hebrews 5:12-14 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

    In this passage the author is writing to an audience of Christian Jews. In this assembly many people did not reach the fullness of the faith. Some people who hung out with these Jewish believers remained stumped in their Jewish religion and traditions and they did not fully embrace salvation in Christ by grace and faith alone. For these reasons we find a lot of passages that seem to say that a believer could fall from grace and lose their salvation. In reality the entire book of Hebrews is a letter that makes distinctions between those who fully embraced salvation in and through Christ alone and by grace and faith alone and those who still teetered on the proverbial fence by wanting to still keep their Jewish religion and the OT law and embrace Christ. However, one cannot add Jesus to a religion and be saved. It is all by grace and faith or it is not salvation at all. Others in this Hebrew community did not fully accept Christ, they were exposed and were witnesses of the power of the Gospel but they still did not want to fully embrace Jesus Christ. They were experiencing Christianity in an external way and never experienced Christ in a real and internal way, in other words they did not experience new birth, they all remained out looking in and after having seen the power of God in an external way they were ready to reject Christ and to fully go back to the law of Moses. Therefore, there are many, many passages that warn of the danger of rejecting Christ and salvation through Him by grace and faith alone and to go back to a dead religion that cannot ever give salvation.

    In this context therefore the author is telling those in this assembly that did not want to fully embrace Jesus but were thinking to remain or return to the law, that after all the millennia they received the word of God they should have been teachers of the word of God, experts of it and in so being they could therefore recognize Christ and their need of Him. They should have known that the Law, the prophets and the Psalms spoke of Him, they should have been teachers instead they needed to be taught still, even the rudimentary and basic tenets of God’s word.

    In this passage the author gives us a very important insight that we all must understand and mostly put into practice. This passage also gives us light as to why many, many Christians, real born again Christians even today still have a hard time in understanding spiritual truths.

    There are many, many believers today that are in the same spiritual condition of spiritual immaturity and this is exactly why these believers cannot feed on the meat of God’s word, in other words, they cannot understand or accept the deeper and more mature things of the word of God. These are the believers that continually do not grow well spiritually and have problems in their Christian growth. They cannot see, understand or are able to handle the deeper truths of God. Hence, they can only digest the milk and not the meat. This occurs though for a very good reason.

    These believers do not gird the loins of their minds, they do not renew their minds by the study of God’s word, and because of this they often cannot discern between many things that are good and evil according to God.

    That is what this means For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

    Those who can only digest milk, in other words understand only the basic things of God are this way because they are unskillful in God’s word, they are babes, immature in their faith. The deep things of God’s word belong to those who can understand them because they are exercised by the practice of the study of God’s word, these have their senses, or mind, exercised to discern good and evil.

    It is important to understand that the understanding, the discerning of the true difference between good and evil must be in accordance to God’s standards not according to man’s standards. This is why it is essential to be exercised in the mind, gird the loins of our minds, to be able to truly recognize good and evil from God’s word’s standpoint not our understanding of it, because often our minds are still very much affected by bad programming, even as believers many bad thought habits linger on for years.

    In fact, the casting off of the works of darkness greatly depends upon the right discerning of good and evil according to God’s word and according to His mind. Therefore, to cast off the works of darkness we need to understand all of them very well, even the more subtle and disguised ones. In fact, one of the ways strongholds become such in the believer’s minds is not always and only due to the old programming of the world and sinful nature we once had but also and often through false doctrines.

    Believers are very susceptible to believe false doctrines because these doctrines are mostly hidden carefully within God’s truth. Long term exposure to false doctrines create strongholds in the mind of believers which then create very bad situations and very bad mindsets in believers. One of the main problems with false doctrines is that they stunt the spiritual progression, growth and maturity of those believers.

    The other evil and very bad thing false doctrines cause, is to have an erroneous image of the person of God as well as an erroneous comprehension of God’s truth or better they subvert the real understanding of God’s truth.

    The subtlety of false doctrines is of great detriment and damage to the church body. Many believers think that false doctrines are innocuous and not harmful. They think that at most they are simply a divergence in Biblical interpretation, when in reality they are much, much more than that. Certainly part of the issue of false doctrines is indeed bad interpretation yet it’s much more than that. False doctrines are also adding false things to the text of Scripture and also taking out or omitting parts of God’s truth.

    Listen to how Peter addresses the issue of false doctrines and then tell me is it is supposed to be taken as a serious issue or just something to balk at or ignore.

    2 Peter 2:1-3 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. 3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

    As we can clearly understand false doctrines are indeed very dangerous and nothing to dismiss at all. There is only one correct interpretation of Scripture. There is only one body of truth and truth is one truth as God is one and He is truth. There cannot be different versions and various interpretations and various meanings of God’s word. Only one and only one correct one!

    So for the believer things are actually doubly difficult because we are to cast off the works of darkness of the world and also the work of darkness and deception within the church through false doctrines.

    Paul tell us to cast these works of darkness off, out of our life, sinfulness and false doctrine. The Pastors and the elders should be the guardians of the church and should be the ones to help believers to cast off the works of darkness from their lives and help them form their life in Christ instead.

    Paul has used military terminology to describe the Christian casting off the works of darkness and fighting the forces of darkness in our life.

    One passage that clearly show us this fact is found in:

    2 Corinthians 10:3-6 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

    Let’s look at this passage. Paul says that although we walk in our bodies made of flesh we do not wage war in a human or carnal way. Here we notice that Paul uses the words waging war. As I said already several times, when Paul told us to cast off the works of darkness, as I said, he is using language that denotes the use of a violent act. In order to cast off the works of darkness, whether sinfulness or doctrines or mindsets we must do so using a violent act. However, what we find in this passage is that the violent or warlike acts are not human effort, they are not waging war against these things in a human and carnal way. Our acts of warfare or of violence must be done spiritually and they are spiritual weapons as Paul says: the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God.

    Our weapons are not carnal, they are mighty through God. Our weapons are spiritual and have their source and power in God not in ourselves. We cannot cast off the works of darkness simply by sheer human willfulness, we can’t cast them off by positive thinking or having a positive attitude. We cannot do it through natural means. Our battle is not against flesh and blood but against evil and dark forces, so that we cannot battle them in a natural and human way. Paul in Ephesians 6 is pretty clear and concise on this:

    Ephesians 6:10-13 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

    11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

    Even here Paul explains to us that we must be strong, find strength in the Lord and the power of His might and not in ourselves. Paul tells us to put on the whole, the entire armor of God in order to stand against the wiles of the devil. What are wiles? This is the definitions of wiles: It means to lure and entice, it means, devious or cunning stratagems employed in manipulating or persuading someone to do what one wants and tricks, ruses, ploys, schemes, dodges, maneuvers, subterfuges.

    Satan has constructed an entire network in this world to get us to do his bidding. Satan knows that in order for us to sin all he needs to do is entice us and manipulate our mind and our emotions and our carnal desires and we will indeed sin. Also Satan creates a network of ideologies and philosophies and false doctrines to also manipulate and persuade someone to do his bidding and also to end up in sin. All of Satan’s wiles lead into sin is people give in to them.

    Therefore, in order to avoid to go down Satan’s devious paths, or to avoid to be trapped into the ideologies and mindsets Satan sows in the world and in the church through false doctrines or by somehow pushing worldly ideologies to be accepted in the church, we must put on the entire armor of God. That is what Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 10 as the weapons of our warfare being mighty through God. Let’s quickly look at these weapons without getting deep into the exposition of these weapons. If you want to look at them in greater detail I would encourage to look at them in the study of the previous chapter, Romans 12 as they are delineated and explained there.

    Paul mentions the armor of God consisting of: God’s truth, that’s our belt. Christ’s righteousness as well as us walking and behaving righteously according to God’s truth and His will, that is our breastplate. The Gospel of peace, in other words the Gospel of Jesus Christ as our foothold, that upon which we stand firm, it is the power of God for salvation and therefore our power in this life and the next. The true Gospel that is, not false Gospels. Our shield is our faith in God and His promises, with which we can out out all of the fiery lies and accusations of the devil. Our salvation, or rather, the assurance of our salvation is our helmet, what does protect our thinking. If we lose the assurance of our salvation all of our thinking about God and His promises will be erroneous and fear, doubt and even unbelief will arise and damage our Christian growth, maturity and faith. In fact Paul told us that God has not given us a spirit of fear but of love, power and a sound or disciplined mind, 2 Timothy 1:7. Love also casts out fear and doubt we we are assured of God’s love and His eternal salvation, 1 John 4:17-18.

    Our mind must be protected by the truth of God’s love demonstrated to us in His mercy and grace in our salvation because our minds will affect our emotions and our behavior. The word of God is our sword, our attack weapon as well as defensive weapon and in order to make it most effective we must know it and how to use it. This is the sword of the Spirit, why? Because the Holy Spirit inspired it to be written and He gives us the power to understand it and use it properly. Imagine a Roman soldier or gladiator going into battle without a sword. It would mean a definite and inevitable defeat. Without the word of God as our sword we will be defeated all the time for it is the word that gives true strength to all the other parts of our armor. Last but not least, prayer! These are the weapons of our warfare, these are mighty through God.

    Then Paul tell us in 2 Corinthians 10 that these weapons are indeed to be used to wage war against the fortresses, the strongholds of the devil’s ideologies, which he was able to build in the minds of people through his network disseminated in the world. By placing his minions, described in Ephesians 6, in high places. These high places are not only and exclusively in the heavens but they are high places of influence, such as government, academia, media and entertainment and yes, religion. Placing his servants in important positions in these institutions he can have control over the minds of many.

    In this fashion he is able to spread his ideologies and even false doctrines into the minds of people, even believers. These ideologies and false doctrines establish, construct, actual thought and ideology fortresses, strongholds into the mind. These strongholds are very difficult, not impossible, but difficult nevertheless to be destroyed and torn down. However, tear them down we must!

    As we see therefore, as Paul says we must cast off, violently, that is why Paul always uses military terms to describe our Christian fight. We must become militant, use spiritual violence and power, through God and His power and His weapons in order to cast off the works of darkness no matter what they are. Deeds of darkness or ideologies of darkness,strongholds created by these ideologies must therefore be cast off violently out of our lives, minds and churches and we also must attack and defend God’s truth in the public square. This is exactly what the passage in 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 is saying and that is also what Paul is telling us to do here in Romans 13.

    In fact the parallels between this passage and Ephesians 6 account are astounding. Paul continues in fact exhorting us to put on the armor of light.

    This is the same exact meaning of what Paul says in Ephesians 6. There is no great need to repeat ourselves regarding this subject, let me just say however that the term armor of light is the same as armor of God.

    God is light and there is no darkness in Him,

    1 John 1:5-7 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

    God and light in reality are synonymous. Jesus is the light of the world:

    John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

    As we see, Christ is the light of the world, therefore as He says, those who follow Him shall not walk in darkness but in the light of His life.

    Even God’s Kingdom, Christ’s Kingdom is referred to as light:

    Colossians 1:12-13 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

    We see also that every time God and light are mentioned darkness is also as a contrast. Let us cast off the works of darkness and walk in light that is exactly what we are commanded to do in Scripture.

    We are commanded to walk in the light of God and to be light ourselves and not to partake in the unfruitful works of darkness and actually denounce them, John 8:12; John 1:7; Ephesians 5:8;

    Matthew 5:14-16; Ephesians 5:11-14.

    The armor of light therefore is indeed the armor of God, God is light and we must be also, we must walk in the light of God. All this is consistent with being godly and walking in righteousness.

    The armor of light, or of God indeed is what Paul describes as the weapons of our warfare which are mighty through God for the pulling down of strongholds and fortresses in the mind and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.

    These are our weapons and we must wear them and use them. If we do not then our enemies, darkness will make strongholds in our minds through the ideologies they sow in the world and false doctrines.

    Let’s remember that these are the enemy’s weapons, the ideologies, mindsets and false doctrines! These are the number one weapons of choice of the enemy, those weapons that affect our mind. Why? Remember? We studied this in the previous chapter, because the enemy knows that the battle is won or lost in the mind and that is the true battlefield upon which we really fight the war against the enemy of our souls. The devil knows that if he can sell us his lies, as he is the father of them, John 8:44, if he can construct his ideological fortresses in our minds then he can control us better. As we studied, if he can control our thoughts then he can more easily control our emotions and our behavior. He does the same thing with false doctrines, if he can make us believe false things about our faith, about God and about us then he can much more easily manipulate our walk and make us go astray from the truth. In addition all this will indeed cause us to sin against God in many ways.

    One of the first things that happens is, if he can sell us a false image of God for example, he will cause us to commit the sin of idolatry. How you may ask? Easy, not believing in God exactly the way He is and the way He reveals Himself to be in Scripture will cause us to worship another image of God that we make in our mind that is not God at all. If we construct an erroneous image of God and worship that one that is still idolatry.

    It is incumbent on us to seek God in His word so that we know Him as He is! This is a subtle and deceitful way the devil does it. It is in a way what he did when he tempted Eve. Same principle, make us first doubt God’s word as it is, then work on that doubt by depicting God as different from how He really is and then by enticing our senses and desires in order to make us sin. Rebellion in the end is also the sin of idolatry, even Samuel told that to king Saul when he disobeyed and rebelled against God’s instructions.

    1 Samuel 15:23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.

    Rebellion and stubbornness in essence are connected together because being rebellious is indeed being stubborn in wanting to do things our way and disobeying God’s word. This is exactly what Samuel is saying. Rebellion and stubbornness are as witchcraft, iniquity and idolatry.

    In addition, as I said before, worshiping another image of God is indeed idolatry and it is a very serious sin. We must know God for who He truly is, as He reveals Himself to be in His word. This is another reason why false doctrines are so dangerous. They induce us into seeing God differently than He is. This also causes all other kinds of sins in our life. It cause us to become faithless, to doubt God’s word and not believe what God says and promises. These also are serious sins!

    Indeed, for example, the false doctrine that teaches us that we as born again believers can lose our salvation or as some call it fall from God’s grace.

    Let me just say, I will not do an in depth study on this subject, let me just say that this false doctrine does so many bad things and it cause us to fall into so many sins and have many problems in our spiritual life.

    For example, believing this doctrine places us at odds with Jesus’ word and promises. It cause us to have to actually question what the Lord says and in the end call Him a liar. Even though those who believe this false doctrine will never come out and say the Lord is a liar ( He is not!), in their beliefs they do claim that Jesus lied because Jesus made specific claims regarding salvation that cannot be questioned and cannot be therefore disproved. Let’s look at some just to make the point!

    Let’s start with this passage:

    John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

    The language that Jesus uses here is an indication of a certainty regarding salvation. He says, he that believes His word and who sent Him, has everlasting life, has it, now not later or if they somehow live a good life. But not only do we have everlasting life but we shall not be condemned. This is a statement of certainty, it’s a promise of God. We have passed from death to life never to die again, spiritually.

    Let’s look at the next passages as well:

    John 6:37-40 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. 38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. 39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. 40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

    Jesus says, ALL God gives Him to save WILL go to Him! It’s another certainty. Those who go to Jesus, He will never cast away. The Father’s will in fact is that ALL who He sends to Christ and gives Him to save, of these He will lose none. He will lose none but in fact raise them up in the last day.

    Again, we see that these are God’s promises and they are all delineating certainties. The will of God, verse 40, is that all whom God sent to Christ, of which ones He will lose none but raise them up in the last day, those who will believe in Him, will have everlasting life.

    These are all promises and certainties and saying otherwise is the equivalent of calling Jesus and God a liar.

    Let us look at a final passage about the certainty and assurance of salvation:

    John 10:26-30 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and my Father are one.

    As we clearly see it is more than evident, Jesus says that those who belong to Him, they shall never perish. Then to make things even more sure, He says that no man will be able to pluck them out of His hands nor out of the Father’s hand.

    These are statements of certainty not doubt or uncertainty. To say that one may lose their salvation is an uncertainty. People who aren’t sure if they can be saved or not will always live in fear of God’s judgment, which is not for His children;

    Romans 5:9; Romans 8:1; Romans 8:29-39; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:9.

    Clearly we are not appointed to wrath but to salvation. Therefore, either we believe what the Lord and His word says or we believe the lies of the devil, in the guise of false doctrines.

    The problem with the false doctrine of losing one’s salvation or falling from God’s grace stems from, obviously Satan, who wants to discredit God, mock Jesus’ sacrifice, render it to have the semblance of not being able to be sufficient to keep someone saved, it paints God with a different image than what He is, it attempts, as if it were possible, to weaken and discredit His person and attributes. It also makes believers who believe in this false doctrine weak, fearful in the wrong things, not trusting God fully for one’s salvation and often renders Christians spiritually prideful and makes them religious and trusting in their own works rather than in Christ’s.

    This doctrine encourages, actually created in the church salvation by works. It is in the end a case of Scriptural misinterpretation in most cases. It is caused by the misunderstanding of the subject of salvation. It is based in the wrong understanding of how sin affects people, it is based in the erroneous understanding of man’s free will and it is caused by the misunderstanding of God’s love and His sovereign election or predestination doctrine. In addition it is based on the erroneous understanding of the passages describing the certainty of salvation.

    The misunderstood part is the belief or faith of the person. Without real faith, real belief one is not saved. On the other hand all that truly believe are those who God gives and sends to Christ to be saved. If a person goes to Christ for the right reason and with the right motivation, truly believing in Him and therefore in the One who sent Him, these will be saved indeed and they will be saved for sure and forever. This is God’s promise, period! Therefore, those who do not believe to the end, or those who seem to stop believing at one point or the other in their life, were never saved and never had saving faith. That is what makes people seem like they stop believing but in reality they never did;

    Matthew 13:19-23.

    If we examine closely the passages we read, we see that the recurring theme is the distinctions Jesus makes between those who belong to Him and who truly believe and those who do not belong to Him and for that reason do not believe. That is the sole reason! See the following passages as well:

    John 6:63-64; 1 John 2: 19. Jesus told us therefore that the reason why people seem to believe but do not, or do not believe at all is because they do not belong to Him to begin with, which means that, as He says the Father did not give them to Him to save, see also John 17:2 and Acts 13:48.

    So in the end we ended up doing a pretty good study on the assurance and permanence of salvation.

    Nevertheless, remember why we initiated this study? We were saying that the helmet of salvation is a piece of God’s armor that Paul mentions in Ephesians 6:17 and we also said that the armor of God or of light as Paul mentions it here in our Romans 13 study.

    Our weapons. as Paul says, are not carnal but mighty in God 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, and they are designed, as Paul says in Ephesians 6 to stand up against the wiles of the devil and these wiles as we find out in 2 Corinthians 10, mainly the wiles of the devil are the fortresses he builds up in people’s minds, even ours, ideologies, philosophies and every high thing that exalts themselves against the knowledge of God.

    Therefore, the devil’s greatest weapons and wiles are used against our thought processes and belief systems. This is exactly why the helmet of salvation is so important to protect our thinking processes and beliefs. If we understand and view our salvation in an erroneous way it is like the helmet has been removed and our entire thought process, as believers becomes tarnished to the point of actually destroying almost completely all other Christian beliefs.

    Bottom line is that in the evil day, in the last days Paul is mentioning, both here as well as in Ephesians 6, we must be wearing the proper armor of God in order to stand firm against the devil’s devices.

    Ephesians 6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

    Let us remember that even by Jesus’ and Paul’s accounts, in the last days the devil will be exerting great deception in a very powerful way.

    Matthew 24:21-24 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. 23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. 24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

    There will be great signs and wonders done by false Christs and false prophets that if it were possible even the elect would be deceived. That’s how powerful the deceptions will be.

    Paul said this about these times:

    2 Thessalonians 2:8-11 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

    Peter warned us also, not only about false prophets but regarding false teachers:

    2 Peter 2:1-2 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.

    We know that false teachers and prophets have been at work since those days, however, in the last days the deceptions will be greater and more intense and powerful. We also know that there has been an increasing falling away from the true faith and true Gospel and in the last days there will be a greater and intense falling away, or as we know it commonly called apostasy. In fact, Paul says that it will be in the midst of this great apostasy that the Antichrist will be revealed:

    2 Thessalonians 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;

    We are therefore warned in so many different ways as to what signs and things will be happening in the very last days, preceding the Day of the Lord, the Second Coming of Jesus.

    There is a parallel passage to this one here in Romans 13 and we find it in:

    1 Thessalonians 5:3-9 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. 7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

    Astounding parallel passage, which actually even more detailed than the Romans passage we are studying. Even this passage is speaking about the days preceding the Lord’s return, the Day of the Lord. This passage is most likely referring to the noted covenant that Antichrist will make with Israel and later violate and break which will lead to him declaring himself god, Daniel 8:9-13; Daniel 9:26-27 and persecuting God’s people, both Jews and Christians, Revelation 12:13-17; Revelation 13:5-8.

    Paul is referring to the judgment that is to come upon the world in the last day, but Paul referring to believers says that we are not in darkness, this is also why we must cast off the works of darkness, because we are not in darkness so that those things coming upon the world should surprise us and overtake us. We are indeed children of light, children of the day not of the night and of darkness. Since then we live and walk in the light and in the day and not in darkness and in the night, we should therefore not sleep. Sleeping in Scripture can mean, sleeping as in really sleeping, it is also used to signify the death of the saints or the state of the believer’s body while dead, awaiting the resurrection. However, sleeping ans slumbering also means to live as Christians without spiritual discernment, to live as mere carnal men and women. It means to live without having much spiritual instruction and not living in a Biblical way. Basically by not placing all their trust in God and leaning on their own understanding instead of God’s wisdom and instruction, not seeking God’s Kingdom first in their life.

    Slumbering and sleeping in this case is the last meaning of the terminology. We have seen that meaning when we examined it in the parable of the ten virgins. Jesus also stated it like this:

    Matthew 7:24-27 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

    A person that is asleep is unawares of what is actually going on around them. Being asleep in this case means not having a sufficient amount of spiritual discernment and wisdom. Even Jesus in the previous passage says so, the wise person is the one who takes into consideration God’s word and puts it into practice. That is how we gain spiritual discernment and wisdom, through putting into practice God’s word, as we said before see also: Hebrews 5:12-14

    As we clearly see, that in order to have spiritual discernment we must spend time in God’s word and putting it into practice. We need God’s word to make us gain spiritual discernment. Spiritual discernment give us the right understanding in order to discern good and evil according to God and not what we think it may be or not be. This fits perfectly into what Paul is saying regarding how we must walk in awaiting the last day. We therefore need to know what the works of darkness are in order to cast them off and we need to know God’s will to obey it.

    Therefore because of all this Paul now exhorts us to do this:

    Romans 13:13-14 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. 14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.

    As the last days are approaching therefore, not only we are to cast off the works of darkness and put on God’s armor but now Paul is actually telling us again to walk in a righteous way, as if it was the actual day of the Lord, so if He were to return, He would find us walking in righteousness.

    Paul says not in rioting and drunkenness nor in chambering or wantonness. Now these words need some examination so we can understand better what these terms actually mean.

    Obviously I hope we do know what it means to walk honestly. Most people know what honestly means, although it seems that even a lot of Christians pretend to not know the full meaning of the word. Believers know that we must avoid sinfulness and usually we know how to avoid the big sins. However, the word honesty denotes something besides plain old known main sinful behavior. Walking honestly means more than that. It means to do things or avoid things which a lot of believers either pretend to not know or know but do not practice.

    For example, walking honestly means not to be cheaters, in any way. No cheating in any way is honest.

    Believers know for example that lying is dishonest, in fact, the Ten Commandments forbid bearing false witness Exodus 20:16, another way to say lying is forbidden and yes, dishonest. Most believers know lying is forbidden, however a lot and I mean a lot of believers lie often. They justify the type of lies they say by giving them some sort of grading. In most cases they refer to the acceptable lies as little white lies.

    Let me put this into perspective for us by asking a series of questions. Why did Jesus die on the cross? To forgive us all our sins, for our sins He shed His sinless and precious blood. Is lying a sin? Yes it is, we have seen God forbids it. Did Jesus die for all the sins we committed? Yes He did! He died for our sins He did not sit there and go through our sins and dismiss the ones we consider little ones or less serious ones. All sin is sin and it’s serious enough that Jesus had to die for them.

    So, it is never acceptable to lie, period. Lying is being dishonest and it’s sin. All sin in serious and grievous, all sin offends God and makes us fall short of His glory. Just because Abraham and Isaac lied and it’s recorded in the Bible does not make it acceptable, not even to protect oneself or a family member. We should always obey God, always and leave the consequences of our obedience to Him.

    So, no, it’s not alright to lie to our children by telling them about fictional characters like Santa Claus. We should certainly never lie to our children because they will think that lying is acceptable.

    For a believer there is a great responsibility and privilege when Christmas rolls around to tell their children the story of Jesus, which is the real story of Christmas, it’s the Gospel. Rather than lying and making up some stupid story of Santa we should tell our children the true meaning of what we celebrate. Children learn behavior and if we justify even the so called white lies they will indeed learn that lying is OK. No lie is harmless because lies are sin and no sin is harmless. Honesty however is much more than what we think it means.

    Often people, even too many believers think they are justified to do certain dishonest things. For example not keeping one’s promises and one’s word is not only dishonest, it’s actually a subtle form of lying. Another dishonest thing many believers do is cheating the government out of taxes. We studied before that it is God that demands we pay tribute to the government, whether we like it or not, whether we think it is just or not. Often we have, what I call the Robin Hood syndrome. We think that it’s acceptable to actually cheat and steal from the unjust rich in order to make our own justice for ourselves.

    This is also dishonest and sinful behavior. Let me explain something to you, although we think and actually believe that Robin Hood was a good guy, he was not. He was indeed a thief in every sense. God sis not at all justify his behavior or consider him some hero as we might.

    We are never to repay evil with evil, it’s not alright to steal from thieves because otherwise we become thieves ourselves. It is never alright to cheat in our tax returns, it is never alright to cheat our employer out of any of the time we are hired to work. This last one is a very common one for most people. It is indeed dishonest behavior to use any amount of working time to do personal things. We are contracted to work ex amount of hours, may it be four, six or eight, whatever the amount of hours we are hired to work, those hours belong to our employer not to us.

    So as we see, being honest or walking in honesty actually goes beyond what we actually think it means.

    Therefore, we are to cast off the work of darkness out of our life and then walk in the light, walk in righteousness and honesty.

    In terms of righteousness, we are commanded to live in such a manner if indeed we are believers.

    In fact one of the pieces of the armor of God is the breastplate of righteousness, Ephesians 6:14.

    The righteousness in question is twofold. Christ is our righteousness 2 Corinthians 5:21. It is Christ’s righteousness, the righteousness of God that is imputed to us as ours and not our own. This is our justification before God, being considered righteous through and by the merits and virtues of Jesus and not our own. This righteousness is what protects our heart, our emotions from being hijacked and derailed by Satan’s lies and accusations.

    In fact, in Revelation 12 we see that the accuser of the Christians, Satan is defeated, how?

    Revelation 12:10-11 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. 11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

    It is Christ’s salvation, it is God’s strength and the power of His Christ, Jesus that casts down Satan, the one who accuses the Christians. Christ has overcome him for us through the power of the cross and His resurrection. However, how is it that we overcome his accusations? When we sin Satan condemns us. Remember, Satan is not like God omnipresent. Satan can only be in one place at one time. When we say that Satan condemns us and accuses us we mean that it is which ever demon he has placed in charge to oppress us and also he does it mainly through the thought processes he built and often we allow him to build in our minds. Often times the devil’s accusations come from within ourselves and the way we think. These lies and thought patterns are placed in our minds by him through deceptions, wrong thinking and false doctrines. Basically he has deceived us and then we just do the rest.

    This is why we need to renew our minds and develop a true biblical mind.

    Anyway, how do we overcome his accusations? In Revelation 12 it says, by the blood of the Lamb first of all! Our victory in everything comes from and by Jesus Christ’s work and merits not ours.

    Therefore we need to be sure in Christ’s righteousness in order to overcome Satan’s accusations. Therefore His righteousness will indeed guard our hearts, or emotions from being deceived and affected as a breastplate protects our vital organs.

    However, it is not exclusively Jesus’ righteousness that acts as protection, it is our own righteousness as well. We must also walk in righteousness. We are commanded in God’s word to do so.

    If we are righteous in position, in Christ, we must walk also as He walked.

    1 John 2:4-6 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. 6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

    1 John 2:28-29 And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. 29 If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.

    This last passage is actually telling us almost exactly what Paul is exhorting us to do here in Romans 13. Paul says to walk honestly as if it were the day, John tells us to walk in righteousness so that we will not be ashamed at His coming, which is the day. Whoever is born of God should therefore walk in a righteous way. We have been commanded to do so and indeed when we are touched and changed by God’s grace, God’s grace through His Spirit in us and His word becomes our teacher, our tutor that teaches us to walk and behave righteously.

    Before God’s grace and faith in Christ, the law was as a tutor, only to teach people they are unrighteous and that we need Christ for salvation, Galatians 3:23-26.

    We needed something even greater than the law. The law was and is external but internally there was no spiritual life. Through Christ’s redemption and His life we have spiritual life, we have God’s grace and faith and His Spirit dwelling in us. As I said God’s grace teaches us to be righteous not to justify and practice sin.

    Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

    God’s grace through Christ has appeared to all men, in the person of Jesus Christ and those men, all men and women who believe by faith in Jesus and are born again, to those people, to us who believe in Him, God’s grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and it also teaches us to live soberly righteously and in godliness in this present evil world, as we look for the glorious appearing of our great God and savior Jesus Christ.

    Then Paul says that Jesus gave Himself for us, to redeem us from all iniquity. This first part of salvation shows us the redemption we have from sin, our forgiveness, the removal of our guilt and deliverance from the eternal consequences of sin.

    Yet, our salvation does not stop at that only. Jesus not only gave Himself for us to redeem us from all the eternal results and consequences but He gave Himself to purify unto Himself a special people who is zealous of good works.

    As we understand therefore, that God desires that we reflect our position of righteousness in Christ by living righteously. Our so called sanctification process is to become increasingly transformed into the image of Christ, not only after our resurrection in eternity but also in the here and now of the life we live in this world.

    So we see what Paul is saying to us here is what he always says throughout all his letters, we are to live righteously and honestly, he also commands us always, as he does here to avoid certain behaviors. As we began saying before, let’s look at the meaning of these next words.

    Paul is commanding us not to walk in chambering, let’s look at what this word means.

    The Greek word for chambering is: koómois. This word means, carousing and reveling, the best literal translation signifies letting loose. Carousing means to party hardy, especially in the drinking realm. This is hearty partying accompanied by heavy drinking.

    The word of God does not forbid drinking alcoholic beverages at all. If that were the case Jesus would have sinned as well as He did drink wine. In addition He would have definitely sinned as well when He turned water into wine.

    Now, I know that to justify not drinking at all some Christians and many Pastors try to do exegetic calisthenics to prove that the wine Jesus drank did not have an alcoholic content and some say that it was just about not fermented grape juice.

    I hate to burst their interpretative bubble but that is not really an accurate interpretation as to what and how wine was in those days.

    Some pastors really try so hard to demonize wine and even strong drink, meaning alcoholic beverages. Some of these are even famous Pastors, some of which I highly esteem as good interpreters of Scripture. Unfortunately even they some times, in order to make their own personal beliefs coincide with Scripture create and look for all kinds of things in order to fit their narrative.

    Scripture is so logical that often we do not need to seek too much additional information in order to understand it. It makes itself understood pretty good, the main thing is we need to meditate and actually think about what we are reading.

    There are times when we need to really dive into the cultural context to better understand the text and the meaning, there are many other times, when we get to understand a topic or a subject throughout the entire counsel and context of the word of God and by using logical common sense which comes from the text itself.

    Throughout Scripture we clearly understand that wine had to be fermented and certainly have the potential to make one drunk.

    All the way back from the book of Genesis we see this to be the case:

    Genesis 9:20-21 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: 21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.

    Noah became a farmer. He planted a vineyard. He drank the wine, not the grape juice, drank fermented wine and he became drunk. So we see that in the wine described here there was indeed the potential for one to become intoxicated.

    2 Samuel 11:13 And when David had called him, he did eat and drink before him; and he made him drunk: and at even he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but went not down to his house.

    In order to convince Uriah to go be with his wife, after she became pregnant by David through adultery, David makes Uriah drunk. Once again the wine in question did indeed contain amounts of alcohol sufficient to make one drunk.

    Jesus also said this:

    Luke 5:39 No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.

    In this verse we clearly understand that Jesus is referring to older, aged wine being better tasting and better in quality than the newer wine. This can only be true if the wine is indeed fermented and aged. We all know that aged older wine is usually of better quality than newer wine. We also know that in order for wine to age well it must indeed be fermented and as it ages it will also become stronger.

    Therefore, based on this statement and knowledge of how wine is made and how it ages, we clearly understand that the wine in question had indeed alcoholic content and it could indeed cause drunkenness and intoxication.

    Jesus also stated this:

    Matthew 11:18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil.

    Jesus is mentioning John the Baptist and He says that John did not eat as most people ate,

    see Matthew 3:4, and he was forbidden by God to drink or eat any fruit of the vine, Luke 1:15.

    Gabriel the Archangel told Zachariah, John’s father, that they were going to have a child, John. Their child was forbidden to drink both wine and strong drink.

    Let’s think about all this for a moment. If wine was not alcoholic as some say and if drinking is forbidden entirely as some say, why did Gabriel have to command Zachariah that John sould not drink wine and strong drink, which is booze?

    If, as some say, drinking alcoholic beverages is sinful then why does Gabriel specify that John should not drink them?

    If drinking alcholic beverages is inherently sinful then why does Gabriel need to specify that John should not. If drinking is sinful it woould be known already by all and there would be no need to forbid John to drink.

    In Scripture we clearly see that it is drunkenness that is a sin and is forbidden. We also clearly see that drinking wine and strong drink is not inherently sinful when it is done moderately and when we do not not turn it into drunkenness and as Paul says, a way to carouse, to party and get drunk and intoxicated.

    Jesus also said this:

    Matthew 11:19 The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.

    He is saying that He, differently from John, ate and drank as anyone else did.

    In fact because He did so and He was accused by the self-righteous Pharisees to be a glutton and a drunkard.

    Let’s think about this for a moment. If the wine Jesus drank did not have the potential to make Him drunk, why would they accuse Him of being a drunkard? Think about it, we want to be Biblical experts and scholars and we should be so, however would they, the Pharisees who lived in those days, and knew how the wine was and that indeed it could make one drunk, otherwise they would not, actually could not even accuse Jesus of being a drunkard if the wine He drank was merely grape juice as some say.

    Once again the Bible teaches us that drinking in itself is not sinful until it causes us to be intoxicated and out of control.

    The fruit of the holy Spirit among many others is self control. We should not be out of control. We should not be intoxicated with alcohol rather under the influence of the Holy Spirit, that is what Paul says in:

    Ephesians 5:18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,

    Once again we see that it is not drinking wine that is forbidden but being drunk is indeed sin.

    Drinking alcoholic beverages in a controlled and moderate way is not a sin, in fact even describing the qualifications of pastors, elders and deacons we see that it is not drinking that is forbidden but the way one does it that may become sinful, that is forbidden.

    1 Timothy 3:1-3 Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness,

    1 Timothy 3:8 Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine,

    As we understand here the drinking in itself is not forbidden or sinful. The qualifications are not to be drunkards, not indulge in a lot of drinking. The pastors, elders and deacons must be temperate in all things and not partiers.

    So Jesus drank but was not a drunkard, church elders drank but were not drunkards. Drunkenness is sinful drinking is not.

    Paul even tells Timothy to drink some wine for medicinal purposes:

    1 Timothy 5:23 Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.

    As we see, Paul would have never told Timothy to drink wine if it were a thing that is prohibited or inherently sinful. Why would he? He wouldn’t!

    In conclusion let’s see what the word of God forbids, we see that it does not forbid controlled and moderate drinking of alcoholic beverages rather it forbids drunkenness, carousing, debauchery, chambering. This is referred to partying with a drunken behavior and a loss of moral control.

    The Bible is clear about this concept even back in:

    Isaiah 5:11-12 Woe to those who rise early in the morning, That they may follow intoxicating drink;

    Who continue until night, till wine inflames them! 12 The harp and the strings, The tambourine and flute, And wine are in their feasts; But they do not regard the work of the LORD, Nor consider the operation of His hands.

    This written here is the perfect example of what we are talking about. This is the description of the behavior and lifestyle of those who Paul is referring to when he forbids Christians to walk in rioting and drunkenness, and not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.

    These people described in Isaiah are those who party hearty and who become intoxicated, they party until wine inflames them.

    They party from the morning until they lose total control and become controlled by the alcohol and by the partying.

    Today we may see this as drinking excessively, going to clubs and discos and or parties and just letting loose, letting go of all restraints. You probably remember the days in your sinful past when you indulged in these unseemly behaviors and hopefully it is just a thing of the past.

    So, drunkenness and letting go of all restraints is what Paul is forbidding the Christians to do. We are not to live as the pagans do. They are controlled by their carnal desires, their lusts.

    The lust of the flesh lead people into being out of control and to be strictly controlled by their lustful desires. Usually all this leads to immorality.

    Sexual immorality is more often than not what accompanies the drunkenness and the intoxication. We know the two more than not go hand in hand and that is exactly that of which Paul is telling us to steer clear.

    Alcohol abuse, in other words drunkenness almost always leads to sexual immorality and even worse. We all know the ravaging power of drunkenness, it brings a person to do evil things and to also ruin many lives in the process. Not only it ruins the lives and the health of the person who abuses alcohol, but often it causes the injury and death of innocent persons through drunken driving accidents.

    In concluding the topic of alcohol abuse the Scripture gives us a very graphic image and warning of people who abuse alcoholic beverages.

    Proverbs 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

    Proverbs 23:29-35 Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? 30 They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. 31 Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. 32 At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. 33 Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. 34 Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. 35 They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.

    This passage is very descriptive of what we have been talking about. First of all we see the questions are important, who has woe, woe is a word that describes pain and torment and even destruction, it is a word used in the Bible to describe the everlasting pain and destruction of God’s wrath.

    Who has sorrow, we all know what sorrow is. Who has contentions, this means who finds themselves in arguments and brawls. Who goes on babbling on and on senselessly, who ends up getting hurt for nothing and who has blood shot eyes all the time? The answer as we see, is not who drinks wine or alcoholic beverages in moderation and self control; rather those who linger a long time at wine and that seek constantly after booze. This is an indication of being always under the influence of these, being drunkards and alcoholics.

    In verse 33 as we were saying before, it explains that those who give in to drunkenness are in the end led into sexual immorality and to have a perverse heart.

    Paul in fact is mentioning these things as a prohibition for believer. Now that we have explored and studies the entire biblical concept of drinking, we have learned, if not experienced it even in our own lives before we were saved, that this behavior leads to sexual immorality. This is exactly what Paul is forbidding believers to do. Don’t give into drunkenness and to not indulge in sexual immorality or as the Bible also calls it, debauchery,chambering and wantonness.

    The Greek word translated chambering in English, is the word koitais which means by extension cohabitation; by implication, male sperm.

    Think about how descriptive this word really is. It encompasses a cohabitation with sexual connotations. We can clearly understand that fornication in a Biblical sense is having sexual relations out of wedlock, it is also the word from where we derive the word coitus, which means sexual intercourse. As we clearly see this word wraps up two menaings that relate very closely to immoral sexual activity outside of marriage! It’s cohabitating with sexual immorality!

    In case anyone has any doubts regarding fornicating and cohabitation outside of marriage being sinful, I bring to your attention what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman regarding the subject:

    John 4:15-18 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ 18 “for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”

    In case anyone was still wondering if indeed it is a sin just because Jesus did not directly come out saying it was sin, we must view what the Lord says, as well as we should all of Scripture, in and trough several contexts relating to the subject we are studying. In this case we already know how Jesus, God view divorce and adultery. They are sin. Malachi 2:14-16; Matthew 19:3-9; Exodus 20:14.

    The Lord is indeed telling the woman she is living in sin, first because of her five previous divorces and remarriage and secondly because the man she was living with was not married to her. Remember Samaritans were much more licentious than the Jews. Let’s remember that the Samaritans were half breeds, basically Hebrews mixed with Gentiles and much of their lifestyle was pagan and Gentile. In other words, it would have been much less scandalous for that woman to live with an unmarried man and perhaps no scandalous at all. Jesus however, without direct condemnation points out her sins and pricks her conscience. Indeed, Jesus is claiming that the woman was living in sin.

    So, chamebring means, living in sexual sinfulness. Believers ought not to indulge in sexual sinfulness and cohabitation outside of marriage.

    Let’s look now at the word wantonness, in Greek the word is: aselgeia encompasses the meanings of licentiousness which means: lacking legal or moral restraints especially: disregarding sexual restraints and behavior marked by disregard for rules of correctness.

    In addition it means: filthy behavior and lasciviousness.

    Lasciviousness means the following: lusts, wine-bibbing, revelings, carousing, and abominable idolatries, filthy conversation, lewd behavior.

    So again, believers should not indulge in these types of behavior.

    In addition to all this, Paul says that believers ought not behave in envy and strife.

    Envy ans strife are works of the flesh and God’s word strictly prohibits believers to practice these and many other works of the flesh.

    Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like

    Romans 1:29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife,

    1 Corinthians 3:3-4 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?

    1 Timothy 6:3-4 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, 4 he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions.

    As we see, the terms envy and strife are not only found in the same lists of the works of the flesh and that is indeed what they are, however, we clearly see that not only they are in the same list, they are just about found mentioned closely together in the list. Perhaps it may be just a coincidence or perhaps not. I think they are placed together where they are for specific reasons. I will explain why I believe this but before I do, let’s look at the meaning of these words.

    Envy is relatively known as a meaning to most people, however let’s look at the meaning of it nevertheless.

    Envy: a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck. Desire to have a quality, possession, or other desirable attribute belonging to (someone else)

    As we see, envy is not only a feeling it’s actually a feeling that leads people to have certain sinful behaviors, the behaviors can be very wicked and outright dangerous, both for the person practicing envy as well as for the person who is on the receiving end of the person practicing envy.

    Envy is, a product of or even the equivalent of covetousness. To covet actually means: to feel inordinate desire for what belongs to others.

    So as we see, envying and coveting are closely related if not the same thing. To covet is prohibited in the Ten Commandments:

    Exodus 20:17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

    Believers are prohibited to covet or to be envious of what others have.

    Envy causes the person who lets it fester and take control to become hateful toward those whom they envy. In many events when envy becomes uncontrolled and intense and it is given full control in a person’s life, it causes hatred, it causes people to become thieves and defrauders and in some cases even leads to murder.

    Proverbs 14:30 A sound heart is life to the body, But envy is rottenness to the bones.

    What we understand from this verse is that envy is actually the symptom of a ill heart. In fact here we see that the author of Proverbs writes that a sound heart is life to the body, this is not only a sound heart as in the organ but also the heart as the seat of human emotions.

    Having a sound heart is indeed having a healthy emotional life, or healthy emotions which are submitted and controlled by the Holy Spirit and God’s word. Envy is a product of a sick heart, a product of emotions controlled by the desires of the flesh. This is why we find envy written in this same verse. Our emotions controlled by God’s Spirit and word will actually keep us physically healthy; while an ill heart, emotions controlled by carnal desires will bring sickness even in our bodies.

    Not always, but often, unbridled sinfulness causes physical illness. After all sickness is related to death which is related to sin. Sickness and death are products of sin. The wages of sin is death and that is spiritual death and also physical death.

    Envy will cause rottenness of the bones. This is not a figure of speech, it is a real physical cause of unbridled envy in a person’s life.

    As I said before, envy not only is dangerous for those whom it is practiced against but also to those who practice it. This is one of the dangers, it causes the person who practices it to become physically and emotionally ill, and obviously spiritually ill.

    Envy is not only dangerous to the person who indulges in it but it causes the victim of it to be in danger. How? Because the person who practices envy often develops ill feelings toward the person of which they are envious. This can cause the person that is envious to steal, to defraud and in some extreme cases even to murder the other person or persons whose goods they covet.

    There are several examples of the destroying power and consequences of envy in Scripture.

    One Biblical example of this is found in:

    1 Kings 21:1-16 And it came to pass after these things that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard which was in Jezreel, next to the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. 2 So Ahab spoke to Naboth, saying, “Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near, next to my house; and for it I will give you a vineyard better than it. Or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its worth in money.” 3 But Naboth said to Ahab, “The LORD forbid that I should give the inheritance of my fathers to you!” 4 So Ahab went into his house sullen and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him; for he had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.” And he lay down on his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no food. 5 But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said to him, “Why is your spirit so sullen that you eat no food?” 6 He said to her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite, and said to him, ‘Give me your vineyard for money; or else, if it pleases you, I will give you another vineyard for it.’ And he answered, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’ ” 7 Then Jezebel his wife said to him, “You now exercise authority over Israel! Arise, eat food, and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.” 8 And she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters to the elders and the nobles who were dwelling in the city with Naboth. 9 She wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and seat Naboth with high honor among the people; 10 and seat two men, scoundrels, before him to bear witness against him, saying, “You have blasphemed God and the king.” Then take him out, and stone him, that he may die. 11 So the men of his city, the elders and nobles who were inhabitants of his city, did as Jezebel had sent to them, as it was written in the letters which she had sent to them. 12 They proclaimed a fast, and seated Naboth with high honor among the people. 13 And two men, scoundrels, came in and sat before him; and the scoundrels witnessed against him, against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, “Naboth has blasphemed God and the king!” Then they took him outside the city and stoned him with stones, so that he died. 14 Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, “Naboth has been stoned and is dead.” 15 And it came to pass, when Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, that Jezebel said to Ahab, “Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money; for Naboth is not alive, but dead.” 16 So it was, when Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, that Ahab got up and went down to take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.

    As we see written in this story Ahab is guilty of covetousness which leads him to envy and have an unhealthy desire to have Naboth’s vineyard. We see in the story, in verse 4, how envy causes a person to become very much physically and emotionally ill.

    Envy then quickly escalated into planning to obtain the vineyard even by murder. This is actually what happens many times when someone is completely eaten up by envy and desire to have something that belongs to others at all costs. In this case we have theft and murder as a plan to have what belonged to Naboth. Even though it was Jezebel that came up with the plan nevertheless Ahab went along with it and was as guilty as Jezebel.

    This is a very sad story but it’s what happens when a person is controlled entirely by envy and covetousness.

    There is another very clear example of how destructive envy is and we find it in

    Genesis 37:3-5 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours. 4 And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him. 5 And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.

    Here we see that Joseph brothers hated him, hated him! Get it?! They hated him but in a few verses later we understand exactly why they hated him.

    Genesis 37:11 And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.

    His brothers hated him because they envied him, that was the cause of their hatred of Joseph. Later on they planned to kill him, later they instead decided to sell him to a caravan of merchants headed to Egypt. They hated him but then realized that they could monetize from their hatred and sold him as a slave for twenty pieces of silver.

    This sinful behavior also ended up bringing an immeasurable amount of pain to their father as well.

    Envy destroys the people who practice it and also everyone else around them.

    This is exactly why God forbids believers to be envious because it leads a person into very serious sinful behavior.

    In the life of the believer we also find another side of envy besides the common one that can affect everyone, and it’s spiritual envy. Now, what is spiritual envy? It’s being envious of other believer’s spiritual gifts and positions and blessings.

    This is a very serious problem in the church, a problem that really causes a lot of problems in believers’ lives and then often ends up contaminating the entire church where it is practiced.

    Let’s examine this problem together. Many, many believers become unsatisfied and ungrateful about the spiritual gifts God gives them. Often they see their spiritual gifts as less impactfull or less glorious than others and they become unsatisfied with them.

    Let me just add something very important to all this. This was a problem that even Paul was facing especially in the Corinthian church.

    Many Corinthian believers as many believers today had a very serious problem with the acceptance of their own spiritual gifts. They did so much so because they were envious of the more visible and flashy gifts. One of the problematic gifts was speaking in tongues. It seems that beside the abuse of the use of the genuine gift, many in that church were actually counterfeiting the gift, rather faking it to appear more spiritual.

    This is exactly why Paul wrote chapters 12-13-14 of 1 Corinthians. He wrote them to put the church in order regarding spiritual gifts. He described the priority and the use of the gifts in the church as well as the most important thing about spiritual gifts, in other words that they are to be used for the mutual spiritual growth of all believers and ought to be motivated only by love and not envy or selfish ambition.

    In addition to all this Paul brings up some very good points, especially in chapter 12 of 1 Corinthians.

    The outline of the chapter is that Paul recognizes that there is ignorance about spiritual gifts. The whole chapter is to explain to them the use and the motivation of spiritual gifts in the church.

    One very important thing he writes is that all gifts of the Holy Spirit first of all all come from God for the edification of the church:

    1 Corinthians 12:4-7 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:

    The other very important fact, that many believers do not realize is, that all and every gift God gives to each believer are all given exclusively by sovereign choice of God:

    1 Corinthians 12:11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

    These facts are of the utmost importance to the subject we are talking about, in other words, spiritual envy.

    This problems occurs because, as we said, believers become unhappy or unsatisfied with the gifts God gives but it is God who gives every gift as He wants not as we want. Therefore, it is a useless practice for believers to desire and ask for gifts they do not already have.

    The gifts are sovreignly given by God’s Spirit and no believer can choose which gift they want. As God saves by sovereign choice and election, He also gives gifts in the same way. Since the Holy Spirit is indeed God’s ultimate gift to believers and the entire church, since it is the Spirit of God that gives gifts He does so at the moment of salvation. In other words, at the very moment the Holy Spirit comes to indwell a believer at the moment of salvation that is when the gifts are given to each believer.

    It often takes time after salvation to become aware of what gifts the Spirit gives each person. Some may become evident immediately while others may take more time to discover. However any delay in the discovery of a gift or gifts does not mean that the gifts have been given or will be given later on in the life of a believer. The gifts of each and every believer are all present at the moment of salvation.

    One main reason why many believers erroneously believe that they can request a specific gift is twofold. The first reason is they are erroneously taught that in many cases the Holy Spirit comes to a person to fully indwell them at a later time, they are taught that this can occur even many years after salvation. This is false and deceiving, it is not at all true.

    We all receive the fullness of God’s Spirit, gifts included at the moment of salvation and never later on. This erroneous doctrine is predominantly spread by the Pentecostal movement and their habit of erroneously interpreting Scripture.

    Paul, in fact makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 12 that this cannot be the case when he says:

    1 Corinthians 12:12-14 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free–and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.

    It is clear that when we read this passage properly we understand that all believers in the church as Paul says, were baptized into Christ’s body. Paul uses the past tense to explain that it is an event that has occurred and that the use of the word all defines the fact that no one believer is left out. This can only be true if this happens to a believer at the moment of salvation. In fact, then Paul doubles down by saying that we have all, again using the term all have been, past tense again, made to drink into one Spirit.

    So what we have here is the death blow to the Pentecostal doctrine previously mentioned. Paul is actually saying that we have all been baptized by the Holy Spirit and we have all been filled by the Holy Spirit as well. When? At the moment of salvation not later on!

    All this is said to explain that at salvation we receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit and every gift of the Spirit as well.

    The second reason many believers believe that we can ask for a specific gift is the misunderstanding of this next passage:

    1 Corinthians 12:31 But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.

    If this passage meant that we can desire specific gifts and ask for them then what Paul said in the entire chapter would be invalid and useless. Paul’s explanation in the chapter is clear, it is God who gives gifts as He pleases and that every believer has to accept their gifts and not envy and seek to have gifts that were not given them. It’s the entire context of the chapter!

    So what does 12:30-31 really mean?

    This sentence, “but earnestly desire the best gifts” in the indicative mood reads: ye do covet earnestly. It has to be understood in this mood because it would be a contradiction after the apostle had been showing that these gifts were not at their own option, and that they ought not to emulate the gifts of another, or aspire to superiority it would be translated to command them to seek specific gifts.

    The same view is as the Syriac renders it, “Because you are zealous of the best gifts, I will show to you a more excellent way.”

    So the best translation should read because you covet the best gifts I will show you a more excellent way and then he writes about love in chapter 13. All we do in the church should be motivated by love and not by selfishness and envy. We must accept God’s gifts and ministries that are dispensed by Him by sovereignty and we must not be envious and desire the gifts and ministries of others.

    We should be satisfied and content and grateful to God for what He gives us!

    This was indeed a big problem in the Corinthian church and it’s a big problem in the church today.

    Spiritual envy cause indeed a lot of strife in the church and that is why often they are mentioned closely together. In fact Paul is warning the Roman church not to walk in envy and strife. Among the many other sins that the sin of envy causes, one of them it always causes is strife.

    This is exactly why I believe they are always closely placed together in the list of the works of the flesh.

    Anyway, in the church spiritual envy, envy of other people’s spiritual gifts and ministries is a very common sin, much more common than most think. Yet, it’s not a new thing, even in Paul’s days the situation was indeed common.

    There were many who even in those days were trying to counterfeit the Apostles positions and ministries and trying to usurp their position.

    2 Corinthians 11:12-15 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. 13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.

    Now, this passage is explaining a much more grave situation than what normally happens between believers in the church, however we must remember that this all happens manly because of envy.

    There is another passage we find in Acts 8:9-24, where a man named Simon was taken by envy desiring to have the same power the Apostles had but not for the same reasons and with the same motivations. Simon coveted the Holy Spirit’s power for lucre and his own glory. All this is a product of envy.

    The Corinthian believers had a problem with spiritual envy as well. This was the reason why there was a big desire in the Corinthian church to covet the more evident and flashy gifts such as speaking in tongues. This is exactly why there seemed to have been a big push to counterfeit the gift. This is why Paul had to write three chapters about spiritual gifts, their functions, the motivation and proper use in the church.

    That envy was a big issue in the Corinthian church is evident immediately in the opening chapters of Paul’s First Epistle to the same church.

    1 Corinthians 3:1-3 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?

    The envy here referred to, was that which arose from the superior advantages and endowments which some claimed to possess or possessed over others. Envy everywhere is a fruitful cause of strife.

    Most contentions in the church are somehow usually connected with envy.

    This is still today, one of the main reasons why people, especially in the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements counterfeit the gift of speaking in tongues and also prophecy and speaking words of wisdom and knowledge. These so called manifestations are indeed accepted and encouraged and when practiced are never subjected to the scrutiny of Scriptural accuracy and genuineness.

    These manifestations in the majority, if not every case are not genuine manifestations of the Holy Spirit.

    They are practices of carnal believers who in order to appear and even feel superior to others conjure up a counterfeit manifestation.

    All this is mainly actually caused by spiritual envy, wanting what one does not really possess to the point that in a chaotic type of movement as in the Pentecostal/Charismatic ones it would be virtually impossible to determine if these manifestations be real.

    Biblically speaking, today they are not real because as we, know or should know these gifts have either ceased or have been incorporated into the preaching and teaching of God’s written word. I have extensively covered this subject in previous studies of God’s word and will not again do an exposition of the subject.

    Suffices to say that in these movements there is nothing but chaotic behavior when it comes to these things and that is precisely why even in Paul’s days, when the gifts and manifestations could be real, there had to be order in the services. It was not an option as it may be in many churches today, it’s a commandment proceeding by God through the Apostles, especially Paul.

    1 Corinthians 14:26-37 How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. 28 But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. 30 But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. 32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 33 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. 34 Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. 35 And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church. 36 Or did the word of God come originally from you? Or was it you only that it reached? 37 If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.

    This passage is very clear and demonstrative, that even in those days, when the gifts and manifestations could be real, but also could be fake, being especially the point Paul is making in chapters 12 and 14; there had to be first of all guidelines to practice certain gifts, such as tongues and prophecy. In addition Paul calls for orderly conduct in the church and not chaos and disorder.

    Within chaotic behavior fake manifestations would go unnoticed and could be used to continue to practice a fake manifestation to gratify one’s envious carnal practices and also to deceive the church.

    Indeed that is what happens today in virtually every case.

    This type of environment is actually the perfect environment to promote false doctrine and to deceive people. Think about it for a moment!

    If a person speaks in tongues today, for example, no one at all knows what is being said, because typically there is no one who interprets them, even because nothing is being said in reality. However, it is a deception because the persons who practice these types of tongues not only are just acting carnally trying to forfeit a gift that has not been in use for almost two millennia, but also are in reality in a more subtle way accrediting their work of the flesh to God, therefore calling God a liar.

    This is another reason that Paul forbade the use of even the real gift of tongues without interpretation and even if the manifestation of said gift was a real one, it had to be done in a certain order and décor. It had to be done one at a time and not more than three people in a row.

    The gift of prophecy even then had to be tested by established prophets in the church. These prophets, the ones who held the official ministry of prophet, were under Apostolic authority and had to subject any prophetic utterances to the scrutiny of Apostolic doctrine. Even then prophetic utterances were not taken for granted and for genuine until they were proved.

    Today in most, almost all, Pentecostal/Charismatic churches so called prophecies are never even put under scrutiny or tested. Even though it would not really be necessary because they are not real manifestations today, unless they come from the written word of God.

    Prophecy today is no longer foretelling in the old way bit it’s forth telling.

    Prophecies have already been all recorded in the written word and we no longer need to know the future as it has been already written for us in Scripture. No believer needs prophecies to be uttered upon them or their lives. Today we have the entire and complete written word of God, the Scriptures.

    Just look at what Paul tells Timothy:

    2 Timothy 3:15-17 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

    God no longer speaks through direct revelation as in ancient times, He now speaks through His completed revelation, His written word. Paul says all Scripture, not all prophecy by utterances, is profitable to make the man of God complete and thoroughly equipped.

    Today, we can confidently say that so called prophetic utterances we hear are false carnal works practiced by people who want to exhibit a gift they do not have. In most cases this occurs because they are in reality spiritual narcissists. They envy and covet gifts they do not have and therefore must find an environment that enables them to practice the works of the flesh.

    Attributing to God what God dose not say or do is a very serious sin. Taking the name of the Lord in vain and calling Him a liar are serious offenses. Unfortunately the Pentecostal/Charismatic churches thrive in these behaviors and are causing a lot of sin and a lot of false doctrines to be spread, When a person hears and obeys a false utterance even if the utterance sounds in line with Biblical principles, it is still a sin and within these utterances unfortunately exist many hidden deceptions as well.

    All this is to say that in almost every case the persons who practice these things are doing so for their own promotion, they do it because they want to be, they think, more relevant and they desire to be heard and feel important. This has all to do with envy as they envy other people’s gifts and ministries and therefore conjure up one so that they feel equal and even better than other believers.

    In actuality the Pentecostal/Charismatic movements foster and promote spiritual pride and also envy because they claim the unless a person speaks in tongues they are not baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit. This unfortunately allows and causes people to fake the gift in order to appear more spiritual and in reality the same happens with prophecy.

    As we already said before, envy, whether it is spiritual in the church or if it’s over material goods and or talents of others almost, always inevitably leads to strife between people and certainly internal strife; especially in the person that is envious.

    Strife is one of the fruits of envy! Strife has these definitions: vigorous and/or bitter conflict, discord, or antagonism, quarrel, struggle, or clash even leading to an armed conflict. Competition or rivalry.

    This is what envy causes and as you see it’s all serious stuff. I want to also focus on the last part of the definition of strife. Competition and rivalry. This fact is a major result of spiritual envy! It causes people to be in competition with each other even in the church.

    This was exactly what I was saying before, believers become competitors rather than team players. In the church we are not supposed to be in competition trying to outdo other people’s ministries or trying to outdo other believers’ spiritual gifts. This is exactly why people fake having certain spiritual endowments, it’s to compete with others and to feel more relevant and important.

    There even seem to be competitions between churches and pastors as to who will have the better, bigger and relevant church and congregation. Today many pastors measure their worth and success by the size of their church and congregation in terms of sheer numbers.

    The success of a church is not measured by the number of congregants rather by the maturity and growth into Christ likeness of the member it has few or many. What we know as the Great Commission, mainly is used to say that the church’s mandate is to evangelize, in other words convert people. However, although conversion is the beginning of the Christian life it is not the destination.

    The destination is Christ likeness or becoming disciples of Jesus Christ by learning all that the word of God teaches us. The great commission is making disciples of Christ not merely amassing people in a building to be entertained or amused by pseudo Christianity mingled with worldly entertainment and ideologies and philosophies of the world.

    Unfortunately, many church leaders adopt pragmatism and entertainment to attract people in church because the competition and the rivalry they practice and they adopt human and fleshly ways of enticing people to join a church. Unfortunately all this may cause a church to grow in number but not in Christ likeness, in fact these methods do not even cause anyone to become born again, because only the preaching of the Gospel can convert people, Romans 10:17.

    The majority of stuff taught and done in a lot of churches today is not conducive to make a person more spiritual rather more carnal and in many cases not even born again.

    Therefore, today we have a great part of the church whose goal has become entertaining goats (unsaved people) rather than feed the sheep of God.

    The so called Great Commission states:

    Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

    As we see, if a church does not go forward in the power and authority Christ has and delegates to the church on earth, the latter part is not possible to obtain.

    The New Testament Scriptures teach us that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe, Romans 1:16. It also says that God has chosen to save those who believer by the preaching the Gospel; 1 Corinthians 1:21. I truly believe that if and when the church ceases to preach the unadulterated Gospel and replaces it with other things or even a hybrid type of Gospel, in other words to mingle humanistic thing and entertainment to the Gospel in order to render it, as many claim more appealing to the world. At that point the church ceases to have power and authority from Christ.

    Without the power and the authority delegated by God the church becomes powerless and at that point it can only recur to humanistic and entertaining approaches to attract people, however, in this way people will never become born again and neither can they grow in Christ likeness since they have no spiritual life.

    Only when the church operates in God’s power, in obedience to His word and that alone, which is in essence operating in the power of the Holy Spirit, then they will have power and authority to make disciples of all nations. However, making disciples does not end at a person being converted, even genuinely converted. The church is called to use the same power and authority which is found in God’s word to teach believer the word and to obey the will of God, therefore thus and only thus making disciples of Christ.

    This is the great commission. Stopping short of all this is not obeying it at all, it’s partially obeying God which is disobeying. If you do not believe me, check out 1 Samuel 15:1-24.

    Unfortunately many evangelists and missionaries use the great commission as their mandate but they only use it to advertise their ministries and gifts, which usually is the preaching of the Gospel purely for conversion purposes and solely for the propagation of the Gospel in the world.

    Even though this is a part of the Great Commission it is not it in it’s entirety.

    They unfortunately often fall short of the entire scope and purpose of the commission, which is to build up the church in the likeness of Christ, see Ephesians 4:11-15.

    In the so called five fold ministry we read about in the Ephesian passage we see that the goal of the church and therefore of the great commission is not merely the conversion and the propagation of the Gospel in the world but it’s the edification of the entire church into the stature of Christ and to bring every member of the church to the unity of the faith.

    If you read and notice the passage says that God has given certain ministers and gifts to the church, these are Apostles and prophets as the foundation of the original church, to whom God gave the doctrines for the church, see Ephesians 2:20-21.

    Then the Evangelists as they bring the Gospel to people and nation and bring salvation through the preaching of the Gospel, then the pastor/teachers whose task is tot make disciples and all these working together build up the church and supposed to bring its members to the unity of the faith and to become like Christ.

    I am saying all this because this what the Great Commission is. It’s primary, actually the only mandate the church has is to make disciples of Christ by teaching them God’s word. However, strife, disagreements, competition, rivalry which are all caused by spiritual envy causes the church to lose the power and authority of Christ (not because Christ loses it, but because He does not extend it to disobedient churches) and consequently a church without Christ’s power and authority can only end up acting in the flesh and therefore using carnal ways rather than spiritual.

    Therefore, spiritual envy, all kinds of envy for any reason at all, always cause disagreement, even hatred and eventually as it is in many churches/movements today, cause the church to become very spiritually ill because of sin and it loses all of its power and authority.

    In any event, envy, whether it is of material goods, of talents, of gifts or of spiritual things in the church always causes spiritual illness in those who practice it, because it’s sin and as we have seen always causes strife, disagreement and even hatred. Hatred in some extreme cases can even cause actual murder. We know though that even hatred is murder in one’s heart, so says Jesus, Matthew 5:21-22.

    John says this:

    1 John 3:10-15 In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. 11 For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, 12 not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. 15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

    Hating is murder even when the actual act of murder is not practiced, that’s how God sees it. It’s like committing adultery in the heart as Jesus says, is actually adultery just the same, Matthew 5:27-28.

    This is why envy is always closely related and mentioned together with envy. Envy causes strife which causes hatred which causes murder in the heart.

    Most sins committed in the church are internal and committed in the heart and mind rather than committed outwardly. However there are evident signs and symptoms one can see and notice and strife is the most evident, so when a pastor or elder notices strife in church immediately they must address it and in most cases envy and jealousy are the cause. Envy and strife must be addressed immediately and rooted out as soon as possible before they become rooted and then end up destroying people’s lives and sadly even entire churches.

    This is why envy and strife are prohibited in the church, they have a great destroying power if left unchecked and as we saw they can lead to very serious sinful behavior.

    Romans 13:14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

    Paul now concludes this chapter by exhorting us, commanding us to put on the Lord Jesus Christ and to make no provision for the flesh in order to fulfill its lusts.

    Let’s break down this last verse of chapter 13. What does putting on the Lord Jesus Christ mean?

    One may ask: “ I thought that we already had Jesus and that we are in Him and He in us? I thought we were already baptized into Christ?”

    Indeed all that is true for every believer, so what does putting on Jesus mean?

    As we stated already, we are all in Christ if we have believed in Him, we have become born again of His Spirit, have been baptized in Him, in His body the church.

    See the following passages regarding this subject: John 7:37-39; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Colossians 2:11-12.

    However even in some of the above mentioned passages we see the concept that Paul is also making here. Yes, we are baptized in Christ, yes we have the Holy Spirit in us, yes we are baptized in His body, yes we are saved and saved forever.

    However putting on Christ is not exactly something God does as much as something we must do. It is Christ, God that baptizes us with the Holy Spirit, it is the Holy Spirit that regenerates us and give us faith to believe and it is the Holy Spirit that baptizes us in the body of Christ and fills us. God does all this on His own, by His sovereign election and by His sovereign will, Ephesians 1:3-14.

    Now that God has done all this for us and in us however, now we also must cooperate with God and do something also. The something we must cooperate in doing is, the process of sanctification.

    Now, there is a lot of misunderstanding regarding the process of sanctification in believers. Many think that our salvation also hinges on whether or not we sanctify ourselves or not. However, this is not correct!

    The proper view of sanctification should be this one, that we are the ones who sanctify ourselves, or rather, we cooperate with God in the process. Because we are in Christ and we desire to do so.

    What the author of Hebrews says is true, that without holiness no one will see God,

    Hebrews 12:14.

    However, the verse in question actually says a lot more than just a person sanctifying themselves. The peace and holiness in question in the Hebrews’ passage speaks of being at peace with God and having His holiness, the holiness we can only receive by and through Jesus Christ’s merits and virtues.

    Let us remember that the context of the book of Hebrews concerns salvation by grace through Christ alone and not by any kind of work, especially the religious works required by the law of Moses.

    Therefore all our attempts as Christians cannot add anything to the complete work of Christ. Seeking to sanctify ourselves therefore does not add holiness or righteousness to our life, as the Roman religion teaches, for example. The Roman religion and Pentecostalism both teach that, yes it is true that we receive the grace of God in Christ, but that without our true commitment to the justice of God the grace of God in Christ is not enough to provide for our salvation, that if we do not practice the righteousness of God, we will fall from grace and from the salvation already received. These are heresies and false doctrines. Scripture does not teach these things at all.

    Those who are truly born again however do endeavor to pursue sanctification, holiness and righteousness because they love God and it is God who gives us the desire and even the power to do so:

    Philippians 2:12-13 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

    Paul in the letter to the Philippian church already had stated the following:

    Philippians 1:6-7 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

    To the Thessalonian church he wrote this:

    1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.

    We clearly understand that it is indeed God through His Spirit in us that will complete the work all the way to the coming of the Lord, it is also God that will indeed give us the desire and the ability to do what He desires for us to do it in our life.

    It is indeed God however, yes there is a however! Although God does this, even though God gives us the desire and the ability to seek sanctification and pursue it and He is the One who will bring it to pass in us, we have also a duty toward God to apply ourselves in doing it.

    When we become born again, God’s children, our spiritual and moral free will is restored. Before being regenerated our free will was not free at all, although many insist that it is. Our will was held captive by our sinful nature to do and to practice the desires of the flesh, all of our will was enslaved to sin and to the spirit of Satan:

    Ephesians 2:1-3 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

    Romans 6:5-7 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.

    As we see when we were saved we have been set free from our slavery to sin and one of the first thing that gets freed is our will. Our old nature (old man) has died with Christ and we are no longer slaves to sin. Our sinful nature is indeed taken away.

    The entire argument Paul makes in Romans 6 is to exhort believers who now have been freed from the slavery of sin, especially in their will, to become obedient to God as becoming slaves of righteousness.

    Romans 6:17-23 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.

    Paul however anticipates our doubts and questions regarding us as believers because we continue to sin even when we have been regenerated and born again. He anticipates the questions that no doubt all of us at one time or another have asked about ourselves.

    Questions such as: “ if I am saved and regenerated and have a new nature and love God and want to serve Him and obey Him why do I still sin?”

    The fact that Paul, that God’s word continues to exhort and command us to stop sinning and live a holy and righteous life is an indications that we still can sin and unfortunately still will do so. Why then do we still have the propensity and even the desire at times to sin?

    The other question that Paul anticipates after writing Romans chapter 6 is thus one:

    If I still sin how can I be saved, am I really saved or could I lose my salvation because I still sin?”

    That is exactly why Paul went on writing chapters 7 and 8, to answer those implicit questions he expects believers to have when reading his letter.

    In chapter 7 Paul explains why we still sin even though we are believers and born again.

    Romans 7:15-23 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

    You see, Paul is explaining that we can not understand why what we want to do, God’s will, but we do not practice it and still often do what we hate doing. When we do this, we agree with God’s law, when we agree with God, in the Greek the word agree is actually what we translate in the word confess. We agree with God that what we are doing is not good and His law is good.

    Let’s understand that the carnal, unsaved man never feels this way, the carnal man has no regard for God’s law, so it is evident that Paul here is speaking to believers about believers. Yet, Paul is saying that when we do sin as believers although God still holds us accountable and responsible for our sins, still it is not the born again man and woman that sins but it is because of another reason that I still sin. In other words our sins are not done to condemnation of the spirit part of us but only by the body, the part of us that still is carnal, fleshly, earthly and solely human.

    Our bodies Paul claims, are the cause of our sinfulness now, not our sinful nature,which was caused and made alive by our spiritual deadness. He explains that is why we still do what we do not want to do and not do what we ought to do. He explains though that this is because it is sin which still dwells, not in our nature, that he dealt with in chapter 6, now the sin is present in the part of us that is still tied to our carnality, our bodies.

    Paul says that evil, sin, is still present in us, in our body, therefore, with the inward man, the born again part of us, we delight in God’s law but sin in our bodies wages war against the law of the spiritual mind and unfortunately this too often makes us fail in obeying God.

    So the born again man wants, desires to do God’s will, but the carnal part of us still wants to do the desires of the flesh which have been programmed into our minds through and by our sinful nature.

    That Paul is speaking about Christians here is evident when he says:

    Romans 7:24-25 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.

    You see, it’s our body that is still attached to sin and death, in fact that is what Paul is saying here, our body is indeed a body of death, it’s the part of us which will still die even though we have been saved. We will have to inherit a new and different body and this will occur on the day of our resurrection. Jesus has delivered us from sin and death even the sin and death our bodies still cause in us.

    Even in the next chapter, chapter 8 of Romans, Paul says this:

    Romans 8:5-7 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.

    As we see then, Paul is indeed speaking about believers in chapter 7 because here he states that the carnal man, the one who is not born again of the Spirit, which is the theme in the chapter 8 passage above, the unsaved man, has a mind that is enmity against God, Paul stated this also in:

    Colossians 1:20-22 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.

    Therefore when Paul in Romans 7:25 says: So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.

    He must be talking about believers because as he mentions that with the mind we serve the law of God but our body is still wanting to serve sin which is present in it.

    Therefore, as Paul says our victory over sin and our deliverance from the sin still present in us is Jesus Christ. Romans 8:1-4, and not indeed our own efforts in attempting to sanctify ourselves.

    This indeed does not at all mean that we should not to renounce and avoid sin, in fact, the word of God keeps telling us that even though we are indeed saved and will not incur eternal judgment because of our sinfulness, past, present or future, we must seek sanctification, we must bring our flesh, our bodies into submission to God’s Spirit and word.

    That was exactly the point Paul was making in chapter 6 and the point, he and the other writers of New Testament Scripture are making throughout their writings.

    Therefore, our sanctification has all to do with how well we actually heed Paul’s exhortation in Romans 12:1-2.

    In fact, what he is saying there is exactly what we are saying here now. Presenting our bodies, the parts of us which still want to indulge in the desires of the flesh, to be living sacrifices is exactly what he was saying in chapter 6 when he says that we ought to render our bodies slaves to righteousness rather than sin. We should therefore present our bodies to God as living holy sacrifices so that even our flesh may become acceptable to God. Paul says that is actually our logical, sensible worship to God.

    Therefore we worship God not only in church on Sunday, not by singing hymns and spiritual songs only, rather by living for Him always and in all ways, through out every aspect of our life.

    In order to do that, Paul says in verse two of chapter 12, that in order to sanctify ourselves it is imperative then that we become involved in the process to do so and sanctifying ourselves means to renew our mind. This is our sanctification or putting on the Lord Jesus!

    It is an excuse to continue sinning, to say that since it is God the One who must sanctify us, therefore we do not have to do anything.

    True it is that when it comes to our salvation and regeneration is all done exclusively by God, however if we are honest with ourselves and even with Scripture, in that process God makes us participate.

    Notice, I said He makes us participants. He saves us by grace only, by sovereign election and by His choice only, yet He desires that we become participants even in His salvation, voluntary participants.

    He does this all by giving us the will and the power and the faith to be saved. All of these things all come form Him, they are all His gifts and are given to us, however it is indeed us who believe in Christ, it is us who repent from sin and confess it, it’s God’s power in us but it involves us in an active way.

    The same thing happens with our sanctification, the difference between our salvation and our sanctification is that our salvation is powerfully created in us by the power of God because God needs to give us spiritual life, whereas in our sanctification our wills are freed from the slavery of sin and God now desires that we become actively and voluntarily involved in doing what God’s word tells us to do regarding our sanctification.

    In fact our sanctification is commanded and exhorted always relentlessly and in a dual way, in the New Testament Scriptures.

    In a dual way because our sanctification is indeed not sinning as believers, but it is also changing our minds regarding many things beyond simply openly sinning, it is getting to know God as He is and to develop the mind of Christ and getting to know His will.

    This is why Paul commands, exhorts us not to be conformed to the ways of the world rather to be transformed by the renewing of the mind.

    Notice the words Paul uses, he says, it is us who must not be conformed to the world’s ideologies and sinful ways, remember that the Scriptures teach us that it is God who transforms us, in other words, sanctifies us, yet there is always a human element tied to how God does it, God will transform us indeed, when we do not conform to the world and renew our minds.

    It is our God given duty not to conform to the world but to renew our minds. When we do this, God will transform us and He indeed does it through His word and Spirit.

    If it was only and strictly God to sanctify us without us being actively involved in the process there would not be hundreds of exhortations and commandments about doing it.

    So now that we understand all this we understand what it actually means to put on the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Putting Him on means we must do what Ephesians 4 says:

    Ephesians 4:10-14 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

    Even here we see that in order for us to become equipped for the work of the ministry and the edification, the building up of the church and to bring all believers to the unity of the faith and to grow in the measure and stature of Christ, this is sanctification, Christian maturity and growth, becoming like Jesus, there is a human involvement.

    It’s God through His Spirit and the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit through men chosen and endowed by God that helps us to grow in Christ.

    So our sanctification, putting on Christ, is, as I said before dual, it’s done by Him but through different ways and through different ministers (pastor/teachers) in addition to our own involvement and efforts.

    Again, the term putting on Christ Jesus means to live a life of sanctification. What Paul is saying is that we should walk in righteousness, Christ is the only righteous One 1 John 2:1; and those who bear His name should walk as He did.

    1 John 2:6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

    1 John 3:2-3 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

    There are many other similar exhortations and declarations in the New Testament.

    Ephesians 4:19-24 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

    This passage in essence is telling us to do the same thing as Romans 14 does. Even here Paul is speaking about putting on the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Here Paul says, that we have not learned Christ in that way. This means that the Apostles taught Christ as the righteous and holy One, so they learned Christ not by persisting in sinful behavior,

    see also Titus 2:11-14.

    How did they hear from Christ and been taught of Him? Is Paul actually saying that these people to whom he was writing had known Christ and had been under His teaching while He was alive on earth? No! It does not mean that at all.

    If you remember not long ago we spoke about the Great Commission. In it the Lord commanded His Apostles to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and to teach them all things He taught them.

    Let’s make something very clear, what Jesus taught them was not exclusively what He taught them when He was alive on earth with them; it is also what He taught them by the Holy Spirit later, this by the way included what He taught Paul as well, see also Galatians 1:11-12; Ephesians 3:3.

    That this is true is made evident by what Jesus also said in :

    John 16:12-15 I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.

    This is a passage that is misunderstood many times and many interpret it in an erroneous or at least partially erroneous way. This passage does not tell us today that the Holy Spirit will take things from Christ that are unknown today and unknown to others and make it known to us in order to tell others about these things.

    This passage also does not give leeway to pastors and preachers, as many unfortunately do, as well as many Christians believe, that God through His Spirit gives particular insights and or facts otherwise not known by other believers so that they can be communicated through a sermon or some type of prophetic utterance or through some word of knowledge or wisdom.

    It’s true that today the Holy Spirit through the properly taught, preached and read word of God speaks to believers however, all believers have the same unction from God, the same revealed written word of God and if and when we apply ourselves to learn by being taught and learning on our own we all can have the same exact knowledge. We do not need so called special revelations, they are all special but they are all available to every believer without exception, if we want to hear what God is saying and teaching we can all hear.

    In the Apostle’s days while the foundation of the church was formed and all the New Testament doctrines for the church were not yet all completed and written and communicated, then prophetic utterances, words of wisdom and knowledge were still given, however, always under church and Apostolic scrutiny and confirmation.

    In fact, what Jesus is saying, He is saying indeed to His disciples, who would eventually become the Apostles, that when the Holy Spirit would come, ( Day of Pentecost) He would lead them into all truth, the Holy Spirit is the One who would hear things from Christ take them from Him and make it known to them.

    The Holy Spirit would indeed speak to them and let them know things to come (prophetic Scripture such as book of Revelation and others).

    The Holy Spirit will always glorify, speak of and lift up Jesus Christ and not Himself. This passage, does not mean that all this occurs today as it did then.

    This passage means that Christ did this by giving all the information He wanted to communicate to the church to the Apostles and prophets of those days, they and they only are the foundation of the church, To them and them only Jesus Christ gave the doctrines, the teachings and prophecies of things to come for the church. The New Testament Scriptures and what they teach and command and communicate to the church are the foundation upon which the church has to be built upon. These already revealed and written things are what is taught, preached and read today to the church.

    So all this was said to explain what Paul was telling the Ephesian church and also telling us today when he says: you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus:

    This obviously does not mean that they learned from Christ and had heard Him and been taught by Him in person when He walked the streets of Israel. This confirms though, that Paul believed and we also should believe that the word of God they were communicating to them by word and by writing was indeed Christ’s teachings, His word, so when they heard God’s word spoken and written to them by the Apostles, they were indeed hearing Christ and learning of Him and by Him and were indeed taught by Him.

    Paul always taught that what He spoke and wrote was Christ’s word and indeed it was and is. We need to believe this as well, we are learning Christ, hearing Him and being taught by Him as He indeed is the truth and the truth is in Him and His word only; John 1:14; John 14:6, John 17:17.

    Let’s be clear, only the written word of God is God’s word today! The foundation has been laid, the teachings and doctrines and prophecies for the church have been given and recorded in the New Testament body of Scripture and that is all the church needs and all it should listen and obey and use, nothing else.

    Scripture is sufficient we need no other words today:

    2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

    Christ’s truth, Christ’s word has been given to us by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to the church in the complete, inerrant and sufficient written word of God called Scripture.

    Jesus is the logos of God, the word of God, and God Himself, John 1:1-4. Therefore as He is God’s word and the truth and God’s word is the truth, John 17:17; Scripture is the living word of Christ, not the paper and the ink but the words written therein.

    Therefore, when we are properly taught Scripture is indeed to hear God’s word, it is indeed to hear Christ’s words, it’s to hear God’s truth, it’s to be taught by Christ Himself through the Holy Spirit living in us which helps us in communicating the real and proper interpretation of God’s word through God ordained, chosen and enabled pastors/teachers and thus we can attain the true meaning of God’s word and yes in that case we are directly hearing from Christ Himself, we are taught by Him through His word.

    We also can attain to the hearing and teaching of Christ through His word by ourselves, when and if we prayerfully apply ourselves to diligently read, study and meditate His word.

    John says these words, which also have been conveniently misinterpreted and misunderstood too many times in the church:

    1 John 2:20-21 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.

    1 John 2:27 But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.

    First let me specify what this passage does not mean, It cannot mean that believers automatically knows all things just because they have the Spirit of God. Nor does it mean that because they have the anointing from the Spirit that believers do not need to be taught God’s word.

    If it were so, if a believer could know all things on their own, then there would be no need for pastors/teachers in the church and certainly there would not be so much Biblical ignorance in the church. There are way too many biblically illiterate believers in the church and way too many who sadly believe they know everything and do not think that anyone needs to teach them God’s word.

    These passages first of all, taken in the context in which they are written are speaking of deceivers and false believers in the church, who were trying to deceive the church.

    John calls them Antichrists. They were denying the truth of God, they were denying the Lord and His deity and many other things regarding God’s truth.

    Therefore John is telling them that the real believers have the Holy Spirit, the anointing from God that helps them remain in the truth and know the truth and also to know the deceivers and the lies they were promoting. However, this does not mean at all that believers automatically even know all this and instead they do need to be taught God’s truth in order to now the truth.

    The Holy Spirit helps us in knowing all the things pertaining to Christ and God, however, way too often believers because of their own spiritual laziness and undisciplined spiritual life become indeed in danger to be deceived and to believe false doctrines.

    If a person remains in the truth of the Apostolic doctrines, the foundation of the church, they will not be deceived but if they do not, the possibility of being deceived increases by a lot.

    This actually confirms that indeed believers need to be under the teaching of sound Apostolic doctrine in order not to be deceived by lies.

    Many believers instead use these passages as excuses not to study God’s word, excuses to justify false prophetic utterances and fake words of wisdom and fake words of knowledge and propagating false doctrines and mostly excuses to not be under the authority of God’s true word and the authority of elders and pastors. In fact many believers actually have used these passages to even avoid being a part of a local church.

    There should be no lone wolf Christian, but unfortunately there are. Unfortunately, however, we must say that the climate that exists today in this world makes it very, very difficult for believers to be part of a local community that supports and teaches a healthy apostolic doctrine. Even the churches that today reflect these doctrines more closely are becoming less and less apostolic and increasingly worldly. So I understand that for some believers the fact is not that they do not want to be part of a local community but the fact is that there are very few good communities, at least as far as healthy apostolic doctrine goes, which is not a thing to be overlooked at all!

    This situation indeed makes it more difficult for people who really want to dwell in the truth and in a church that more closely resembles the early church in doctrine and life style.

    However, there are ways around all this if one truly desires to be in a church like that. We,as Christians should try very hard together to create the right church environment, however, unfortunately most believers, including pastors and elders seem to be afraid and reluctant to do God’s will in line with Scripture and they seem to instead like to hang on to the status quo and accept anything in the church.

    Many believers prefers not to even go to church because they can’t find a church that wants to live the way God wants. Somehow, however we must find a way not to forsake the assembly of ourselves together, especially as the Lord’s return draws nearer:

    Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

    Believers cannot do this if they are not a part of a local body. However, as I said many believers today choose to remain isolated and not be part of a church not really because they want to be a part of the right church and can’t find one but just because they do not want to be under any spiritual authority at all.

    These usually are also the ones who most often claim that they do not need anyone to teach them and use those passage we mentioned to justify themselves for saying that and for staying out of fellowship. All this is wrong and it’s taking Scriptures out of context for their own selfish motivations.

    There are some who say this and so stay in churches for a time but they are some of the most controversial people to have in a community as they try often to usurp the leadership and authority in those churches. No doubt we all have had to deal with people like that, you know the ones to whom God always speaks to and tells them all the problems in the lives of others so that they can run around trying to change everyone, those who always have a word from God, those who are always prophesying and who want to always be everyone teachers instead of learning from the teachers in the church. These are the believers that always think that God only teaches them directly and that they don’t need anyone to teach them because they are taught by God. Usually they aren’t even talking about learning the written word rather they almost always mean getting revelations and words of knowledge and wisdom and visions and dreams. This is how they say that God teaches them and why they do not need no one to teach them.

    Certainly God teaches us by the Holy Spirit through His written word. But as we read in Ephesians 4, God gave the church pastor-teachers for the ministry and the edification and teaching of the church. Not wanting to submit to these men and what they teach means not wanting to submit to the word of God. I am not saying that believers must blindly submit without confirming with the word itself that what is taught is actually the truth. In fact, too many believers blindly believe and accept what they are taught, and in fact this is a great reason why people often believe in false doctrines, because they do not confirm and prove what they are being taught.

    However, the teaching of sound Apostolic doctrine and the word of God properly interpreted should not be rejected or despised. In fact, Paul says that we should not despise the teaching of the word of God and not despise those who teach.

    1 Thessalonians 5: 20-21 Do not despise prophecy. 21 Try everything, consider all that is good. 22 Refrain from all appearance of evil.

    Now someone could accuse us today, we who no longer accept the direct prophetic revelations, that we are the ones who despise prophecy. However, again, we need to qualify what this meant at the time and what it means today.

    In Paul‘s days, as we should well know, the written word, that is, the entire body or canon of the New Testament was not yet complete and therefore God still used prophetic revelations to bring His word to the church. However even then, as we see written here, they were called to prove everything, and the prophecies must all have been proven and confirmed that they were in perfect harmony with the oral and written doctrines of the Apostles and the Lord Jesus.

    Today, since the canon or the body of the New Testament word is complete, this is how God speaks to the church. So today the prophecy is actually the written word because the word of God for the church is complete and there is nothing else to add, but God tell us through it what He has communicated to us already!

    Sadly, many today believe this is even a blasphemy of the Holy Spirit and an offense against God, because they assert that we are actually limiting the power of God by thinking and believing this way. In reality it is they who offend God because they continue to speak carnally and attribute their expressions and words to God while God did not speak at all in those cases.

    God today speaks to the church through the teachings and prophecies in the written word, yes the prophecies, since the whole word of God and of Jesus is indeed prophetic in nature, look at what this following passage says:

    Revelation 19:10 Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me: “Beware of doing this, I am yours and your brothers who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! Because the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy ».

    See that! The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy!

    God’s word is more than two-thirds prophecy. So what is the problem in declaring the written word prophecy? There is no problem. Only now the prophecy contained in the written word must be preached and taught and this is how it is prophesied today.

    Therefore, today we can still observe the exhortation Paul gives in 1 Thessalonians 5, and we can interpret what Paul says by not despising the word of God taught and preached but as he also says, we must try and prove everything we are taught.

    Also to Titus Paul says:

    Titus 2:15 Teach these things, exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.

    You see, we must not despise the ministers, the teachers of doctrine and the teaching and the preaching of the written word (prophecy). In fact Paul actually gives a commandment to Titus not to let anyone despise him for teaching, exhorting and rebuking with all authority. As minister we must actually quell and squash dissention, rebellion and despising of authority in the church. Of course there is a process and a method we must put in place to do so.

    But sadly many believers do so. As I have said and I repeat it and Paul also said it, we must try everything that is taught and preached to us if for some reason it does not seem to us in line with Apostolic and the Lord Jesus doctrine.

    All this is to say that, what Paul is saying to the Ephesians, he is also saying to us today.

    The written word is the word of Christ, it’s therefore Christ teaching us His truth and when we hear God’s word taught, read and studied and meditated properly it is Christ speaking and teaching us. Of course all of it can and will be understood only through and by the Holy Spirit.

    Yes, indeed the Holy Spirit is integral and essential for the proper teaching and understanding of God’s word and indeed without Him no one at all can know or understand God’s truth, because God’s word is only understood with and by the Holy Spirit; 1 Corinthians 2:10-16, after all it is He who inspired all the Scriptures to be written, 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21.

    The bottom line is this, putting on Christ is done by us putting an effort into allowing God to sanctify us. God will sanctify us indeed, it is His work, however, as I said before, God expects us to want to be a part of Him doing His work in us.

    We do this by cooperating with God in the process of our sanctification. God desires that we become actively involved in His work, this is why He keeps us on earth. He wants us to be His partners in His work on earth, even the work He wants to do in us. Ephesians 2:8-10

    Let’s take evangelism for example. How does evangelism work?

    We know that it is God and God only who saves people. We know that God planned salvation even before the foundation of the world. God put His plan together, God chose His Son before the foundation of the world and to be the One who would fulfill the Father’s plan, 1 Peter 1:20-21; Revelation 13:8.

    God did this by making a covenant with His Son and included all those who He elected to be in His Son and to become a part of that covenant Ephesians 1:4.

    We know this as the Eternal Covenant, also known as New Covenant. The actual and only human part of this covenant is the person of Jesus Christ, Jesus the man and God as well. This was done so that God did indeed made a covenant with mankind but only through His Son, as the perfect man who obeyed perfectly God’s law and was the only perfect sacrifice to remove and forgive man’s sinfulness.

    Therefore, all those who God chose before the foundation of the world to be in Christ, elected out of all nations and people of the world, they are in Christ and in a perfect and everlasting covenant with God. God planned all this and He also completed His redemption plan, in addition God applies all that Jesus did through His Holy Spirit.

    This is how we become born again of God’s Spirit and how we believe. It is all God’s doing, however, He does all this 99% of the time by using the church to bring and preach the Gospel to the elect whom He saves, Romans 1:16; Romans 10:14-17;1 Corinthians 1:21. God chose the way, Jesus, God chose the people He wanted to save, God also chose the vehicles to apply His salvation, in other words, His Spirit, the Gospel and the church. In reality God does not need the church to do His work but He wants to involve His church in His work as well.

    Therefore much of His salvation plan has human involvement even though it is He who actually does the saving.

    So much of His plan of salvation has a human involvement even if it is He who really saves. In fact the great mistake that has ever been made, as we can say, is to try to improve evangelism, believing that it if we make it easier it would thus be easier for people to be saved.

    In fact, this is where we make a big mistake! The way that has been given us to evangelize cannot be improved. In fact, to evangelize means to preach the true and only Gospel and to be preached by evangelists chosen by God and not by anyone other believer. If not what purpose would evangelists in the church serve? Thus we see that the mistake in the church is placing this burden on all believers anf placing on them a greta guilt trip whent thye will then inevitably fail in that intent.

    Moreover, the other fundamental error, besides preaching a false or incomplete Gospel which is already the worst mistake one can make; however, the other mistake that often today is almost always made, is the one of trying to attract people to Christ with methods of entertainment and human pragmatism. These are in fact the human elements that God does not want us to practice but that too often are the mistakes we make.

    We must evangelize as God wants us not how it seeems ritght and good to us. God wants to use us to do it but He wants us to do it as He wishes.

    God has also chosen to sanctify us in the same way in which He spreads the Gospel, in other words through the involvement and cooperation of the church. Ours and that of the ministers in the church.

    Therefore our sanctification has nothing to do with whether or not we do it to be or remain saved. Our salvation does not depend on our sanctification, but our sanctification does depend on our salvation.

    Unsaved people do not desire nor do they attempt to sanctify themselves.

    Therefore it is evident what the author of the book of Hebrews means when he says this:

    Hebrews 12:14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

    When we are saved we do become involved and cooperate with the process of our sanctification. This is what God wants from us. We cooperate with God in our sanctification by renewing our minds by and through the constant exposure of the word of God. This is indeed the only way we become sanctified, there is no other way.

    Yes, prayer must be involved, and yes, God will be the One who does it, however He does it by us renewing our minds which is done through the constant reading, studying, meditating and being taught God’s word by the called and chosen ministers of the church.

    This is exactly what Romans 12:2 and Ephesians 4:11-16 say.

    Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

    Ephesians 4:11-16 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head–Christ– 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

    Sanctification therefore is what it means to put on Christ, to become more like Him, to achieve the mind of Christ and to think like God about all things, to agree with Him in all things, to reject sin in our life, this is also what is known as the edification of the church.

    Every member must be edified, in other words, come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of Christ, to become complete men and women, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

    Look in the passage at what Paul says, regarding our sanctification, one of the main reasons He desires us to do so is to become mature in our spiritual growth in order not to be deceived by false doctrines and again, to grow up in all things into Christ. This however cannot happen when believers are steeped in false doctrines. This is how serious it is not to be under the teaching and influence of false doctrines, they impede our sanctification and make us ineffective.

    Therefore, to become sanctified means to grow and mature spiritually besides rejecting sinfulness, even because, rejecting sin and the ways of the world really depends a lot on our spiritual growth and maturity and on the renewing of our minds, from carnal minds to spiritual minds. Being exposed and deceived by false doctrines stunts and blocks our spiritual growth and therefore the process of our sanctification.

    What we are talking about here, is that, we are indeed responsible in great measure for our sanctification. We cannot blame God if we do not grow up spiritually, if we do not grow or grow little it’s our fault not God’s fault. It would be too easy to expect God to be responsible to sanctify us without our involvement and then blame Him for why it isn’t happening.

    In reality, God does sanctify us even in spite of us even when we are resistant and even reluctant to do so. The exception is that, when we resist God and do not cooperate in the process of sanctification God will discipline us and the process can be slower and more painful for us.

    We indeed are the ones who must put on Christ, must be actively involved in the process of sanctification. This is why Paul says that it is we who must put on Christ.

    It was indeed Paul’s goal to work tirelessly in order to help believers become like Christ or sanctify themselves:

    Galatians 4:19 My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you.

    Getting saved was indeed all Christ’s work and His alone. Becoming like Him involves the work of many others, the church and the individual believer. This is how God chooses to do it. The church must preach the Gospel, God will save the elect but the church must preach the Gospel to the elect. God will sanctify but the church and the individual believers must actively apply themselves to do so.

    In concluding chapter 13 Paul says to put on Christ, in other words to sanctify ourselves and in order to make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lust.

    This exhortation as well as the one we find in Romans 12:1-2 and even other places in Scripture, is what I call a symbiotic exhortation. In other words, the things that are exhorted are all dependent on each other to be practiced. Let me explain what I mean.

    Here Paul says that we ought to put on Christ and to make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts. In Romans 12:1-2 Paul exhorts us to present our bodies a living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God and also not to be conformed to the ways of the world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. All of these exhortations or commandments are all dependent one on the other in order to successfully practice them and become successful in bringing them to fruition.

    So let’s examine what I am saying. Paul exhorts us to :

    Romans 12:1 beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

    However, to do this in an effective way we must do what Paul says to do in the next verse, in other words:

    Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

    Presenting our bodies as living sacrifices means in essence what Paul is saying in:

    Romans 13:14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

    Presenting our bodies as living sacrifices is doing just that, it means to make our bodies submit to the will of God and not giving our bodies the control of our lives and emotions, in other words, not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

    However, all this will not be effective is we do not put on the Lord Jesus Christ, in other words, if we do not transform ourselves by the renewing of our minds.

    If we do not make a real and concerted effort to renew our minds and therefore be transformed in the image of Christ and achieve the mind of Christ it will be that much more difficult not to be conformed to the ways of the world and all that more difficult to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, which is not fulfilling the lust of the flesh and making our bodies submit to God’s will.

    However, to really know and accept and obey God’s will, once again we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds as Romans 12:2 says.

    So as we see we cannot do one thing without doing the other. This is why when believers fail to do do any of these things it is because they are failing to do at least one of them. In other words, we can try to present our bodies as living sacrifices, but if we do not renew our minds and therefore be transformed by doing so, it will be very difficult if not impossible to make our bodies submit to God’s will and also not be conformed to the ways of the world, which both mean not to fulfill the lusts of the flesh.

    As we see, in order to sanctify ourselves we must become like Christ because if we do not we will fail in not fulfilling the lusts of the flesh and our attempts to avoid and reject sin will become almost futile.

    Desire to reject sin and to be transformed is not enough in order to have spiritual success in this endeavor. We must become transformed by the renewing of our minds, this necessitates more than desire, it necessitates effort and hard work.

    Let me give you a human example. A person may desire to lose weight and get in physical shape. However they will not achieve the goal just by desiring it. There are many who sincerely desire to lose weight and be in shape, but they do not, why?

    Because in order to do so the person will have to adjust their diet and they will have to also join a gym and actually go to it and actually work out. In fact, we can do all of this and still be unsuccessful.

    First of all, a person must not only be disciplined in their dietary adjustments and stick to them not only they will have to join the gym and yes they will have to go to the gym and actually work out. Even in the work out part of a person eventually that person will have to step up their work out routines if they want to achieve the results they expect.

    If the person does all this they will probably achieve some and maybe all the results they want. However, if the person just has the desire only and does not do any of the other things all they will have is just wishful thinking.

    In reality one may even be successful in their diet and lose some weight but if they have a specific goal in also achieving certain results in fitness they must do more but even if they just go to the gym and only put in minimal work outs, they will never achieve all the results they desire. I always say it, if one always lifts ten pounds for years they will eventually stop getting results and pretty soon unless they do not step up their workout routine.

    Now a person may have in mind they want to look like a body builder, however, if they do not assume the lifestyle of nutrition and exercise and stick with it they won’t achieve the results they want.

    A body builder for example has a very strict regimen of work out and diet and most people cannot sustain them because it requires a lot of work and sacrifice on part of those who want to achieve those results.

    Just think about it for a moment, if it requires much sacrifice and work to become Mr. Universe, and let’s face it, many attempt it but never are able to reach that goal, how much more difficult, how much more work, how much more sacrifice will it take for a believer to attempt to become like Christ?

    In other words, even in spiritual growth or sanctification we get out of it what we put into it. God will reward our efforts not our desires alone.

    We may desire to be like Jesus, but we won’t be if we don’t work at it. Many believers will object to this interpretation regarding of our sanctification but unfortunately for them this is what Scripture teaches us.

    Scripture exhorts us to do it, God wants us to work hard at obtaining Christ likeness which is in other words sanctifying ourselves.

    Let’s face it, being like Jesus is an extremely tall order! Being like Jesus in this life and be like Him always is actually and virtually impossible. So, it it’s impossible why should we keep trying? Because God wants us to do so! The more we try and the harder we try the more we will be consumed in the effort that we will eventually grow and mature as believers. We will never become perfect like Jesus in this life, nevertheless God does not want us to use that as an excuse not to try to be like Him and to give up trying!

    That is what Paul says in:

    Philippians 3:12-16 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. 16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

    Here Paul is not talking about salvation, He is not saying that we did not attain salvation yet, that would be inconsistent and in contradiction with the rest of what Scripture teaches regarding salvation. Paul is speaking about attaining Christ likeness and completeness, or rather spiritual growth and maturity, not salvation by efforts or works. Paul says He follows after seeking to be transformed in the image of Christ because that is the reason for which Christ apprehended him and by the way us. Paul say that he still is far from being like Christ but this he does, forgetting all the things in which he failed in the past, he reaches unto those things that God has placed before him to do and to be. He says that he presses on toward the finish line, the prize, which is the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

    Once again the prize, the goal is not salvation, that Christ obtained for us, God gave us His righteousness, made us righteous by faith in the finished work of Christ. Paul had already declared this openly previously; Philippians 3:8-9.

    Paul cannot be contradicting what he said, he is indeed claiming that he, and we, are saved by faith in Christ only but becoming like Christ though does take effort on our part. So now he says that he and we must press on toward the prize of Christ likeness. The efforts we must put into becoming like Jesus is indeed our sanctification or spiritual growth and maturity, shedding carnality and becoming more spiritual.

    Paul here uses the image of someone running a race and striving with all their strength and effort to reach the finish line. In other words, our victory in the end is not whether or not we become perfect in this life but whether or not we strive to become like Christ with all our effort, until God keeps us here on earth.

    In eternity God will perfect us and give us a perfect sinless body and then we will as the word of God says, be glorified as our Lord is as well.

    Scripture does tells us that it is God that does this in us, so what is true then, is it God or us? It’s both! God will do it if and when we do it or else He will discipline us even severely until we comply with Him and do what He wants us to do. Nevertheless, He wants us to work at becoming like Jesus, being transformed by the renewing of our minds.

    Even in the Philippian 3 passage in verse 15 where he says:

    Philippians 3:15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.

    Here he is saying that, those things in which we have been made to agree, we must be like minded if and when in anything we be otherwise minded God will eventually reveal it to those who do not agree, as long as we do what Romans 12:2 says. At the end of the story it always come back to the renewal of how we think, even as we understand this to be the case in Philippians 3:15.

    Secondly, the amount of spiritual growth or sanctification we achieve will be in accordance to our efforts. Less efforts, less growth, more efforts more growth. God will help us in our feeble and weak efforts and attempts only if and when we actually make efforts and attempts.

    It is again imperative to repeat, that our salvation is not the reward the Scriptures speak about, our salvation does not depend on the amount of spiritual growth we achieve on earth.

    However, our eternal rewards, not our salvation, are contingent on our faithfulness to God in our life on earth and upon how faithfully we pursue spiritual growth, in other words our sanctification,

    1 Corinthians 3:10-16.

    In fact, God will indeed do it in us but God won’t do it for us, that is the difference. God does give us the desire but we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling, when we do then God gives us the power to grow Philippians 2:12-13.

    In fact, the very fact that we work toward our sanctification is actually faith in action, which in reality is obedience.

    When we do what God says God blesses us. This is how it works. We cannot sanctify ourselves without God’s power doing it in us yet God won’t give us the power to do it if we do not obey Him and put the effort in into the process of our sanctification, period!

    We are commanded to put off the works of the flesh and put on the Lord Jesus Christ as we live and wait for the day of His return, Paul concludes this chapter by saying:

    Make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

    As we renew our minds with and by the word of God, God will empower us for transformation. This transformation as we have seen in other parts of our study is called sanctification. This process will be impeded greatly by several forces. There are three main obstacles to our spiritual growth and maturity.

    These three are: the world and its ways and ideologies, the devil and his demons and human servants and finally last but absolutely not least our flesh.

    In fact, out of these three in reality our greatest obstacle is our flesh. As we have studied in precedence, our flesh, for us believers is our body made of flesh. The part of us which is not born again of the Spirit, the part of us which is still attached to Adam and to the earth. As we learned, our sinful nature is eliminated when we become born again, that nature Paul describes like this:

    Ephesians 2:2-3 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

    By our sinful nature we were children of God’s wrath even as all other people are.

    However, Paul does not stop at verse three but continues by saying this in verse four:

    Ephesians 2:4-5 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

    God who is rich in mercy by His great love with which He loved us, even when we were spiritually dead in our sinful nature made us alive together with Christ as we are indeed saved by grace.

    Therefore our sinful nature,when we were regenerated spiritually was taken our of the way for good.

    This is exactly what Paul describes for us in Romans 6 when he says:

    Romans 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

    What Paul is describing here is the old man, our old nature which was dead in sinfulness, is crucified with Christ and it’s dead now. This is also what Paul is saying in Ephesians 2:1-4.

    In addition Paul says that the body of sin might be destroyed and henceforth not serve sin.

    Here Paul is saying that since our sinful nature, our old man is now dead, taken out of the way, this now helps us to make our mortal body that still contains sin in it to be destroyed and henceforth not serve sin that still dwells in it.

    Paul explains all this concept in Romans 7 where he says this:

    Romans 7:19-25 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

    20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

    Here Paul clears all this up for us. We still sin even though we, as born again believers, desire to serve and to obey God, and even though our sinful nature has been taken out of the way, now we still have to deal with the sin that is present in our bodies.

    In fact, even here Paul calls our bodies, bodies of death. Death is indeed related to our bodies in which we live because of sin, this is why we still die physically even when we are born again. Sin is still present in our flesh, in other words our bodies and because of this, since the wages of sin is death, our bodies which still cause is to sin will die. Sin and death a re related and inseparable. This is why, as born again believers, forgiven of all our sins, we no longer die spiritually but we still die physically. Wherever sin is alive there is death. Since we have been forgiven all our sins and we received spiritual life and since the part of us that lives forever is our soul, we no longer die spiritually nor eternally.

    Believers only die physically and this is still because of sin still present in their bodies. This is actually the entire context of most of Romans 7 and chapter 8.

    Paul asks at the end of Romans 7, who would deliver him, and us, from this body of death? Paul is asking how can we be delivered from the sinfulness still present in our bodies? Through Jesus Christ we have the victory over the sin we commit in our mortal bodies because God still forgives us of all our sins and because He will give us a new immortal, sinless and glorious body

    1 Corinthians 15:50-57 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

    This indeed our final victory, although we are born again and will not endure spiritual and eternal death, we will have to either endure physical death or in the best case, physical recreation and transformation at the coming of our Lord Jesus. As we see here Paul explains that our corrupt and mortal body must undergo a change. In actuality, recreation! Our sinful and corrupt flesh cannot inherit heaven, it cannot enter heaven. Nothing containing sin and death can enter heaven. This is exactly why, when a believer dies, the souls, spirit immediately is with the Lord. That is the part of us that is indeed regenerated and saved. However, our mortal and corrupt body still must undergo its change or regeneration.

    That is our resurrection, that is what it will do, that is when our salvation will be complete. Our bodies are almost a mirror image or a parallel of Israel. In other words, as the kingdom of God will not be completed until the salvation of the Jewish nation and their readmission into the New Covenant, so our salvation will not be completely formed in us until our bodies are recreated into the image of Christ.

    This will occur only at our resurrection and the transformation of the living saints at the Lord’s coming, which incidentally will all correspond with the salvation of the nation of Israel. So, at that point the entire and complete Kingdom of God will be a reality.

    Our victory over our bodies of death is Jesus Christ. As we see then Paul does confirm in Romans 8:1 that indeed there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. There is no condemnation why?

    Even though we still sin, our sins are committed in our bodies only, for which they will die but in the end even our bodies will be part of our redemption and will be redeemed. That is indeed the entire discourse Paul makes in Romans 8:2-11.

    At this point however, it is, as I have done in the past when talking about this issue, clarify one very important, actually essential point.

    Just because our sins are all forgiven, just because we only sin in our bodies and not our spirit, let us not even remotely think that we can go on sinning.

    We cannot be like some of the heretics of the Apostles’ days that taught erroneously that since our spirit was saved and therefore only our spirit was the good part of us and that matter, in other words our flesh, our bodies are evil and not redeemable, therefore a person could do what they pleased with their bodies and live in all kinds of sinfulness and debauchery.

    This is heresy and it is indeed something no Apostle taught. In fact they taught the opposite. They all taught that even though we have been redeemed and forgiven of all our sins we should no longer live practicing them.

    The New Testament Scriptures are filled with commandments and exhortations to believers to stop sinning, to no longer sin. There are so many passages that we can’t even mention them all.

    The fact is that even here, in Romans 13 Paul is clearly commanding believers not to sin any longer.

    Let me just mention two of them that just encapsulate this very concept.

    Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

    In fact the entire chapter 6 of Romans talks about this concept.

    The second passage I want us to look at is:

    Titus 2:11-15 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. 15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.

    As we see God’s grace in Christ teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and live soberly righteously and in a godly manner in this present age. Awaiting the return of our Lord and Savior.

    God’s grace does not teach us that it is alright to continue to sin and to live in a carnal way. It does not teach us to live in the way we used to live before we believed, we do not live like the pagans and ungodly live.

    Instead the passage shows us how we ought to live as we wait for Christ’s return. Christ gave Himself for us, not for us to go on sinning but to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify us unto Himself.

    This concept is essential to understand. Jesus redeemed us from all iniquity, in other words, He delivered from the guiltiness of sin, not to continue in it but to purify us from the sinfulness. To purify us also means, to sanctify us, set us apart from sin unto God for good works. This is exactly what Paul is saying here.

    God’s grace in Christ does not teach us that we can continue to sin instead it teaches the opposite and anyone who teaches God’s grace must teach this concept, that is what Paul says in verse 15, these things we must speak and exhort and rebuke with all authority. Unfortunately many in the church today despise those who teach these things.

    Even in Paul’s days there were some false teachers that taught to use the grace of God as an excuse to live in a sinful manner and not to strive for holiness and righteous living.

    Jude as well as Peter mention these false teachers, and they both use very strong condemnatory language to describe such false teachers.

    Jude 4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Jude here warns that these false teachers crept in the church unawares to the rest of the church. These are false believers and false teachers. They are false not genuine, they crept in the church but they don’t belong to Christ. These are not real brothers which later fell from grace, no! These Jude says were ordained, chosen to be who they were, ordained to condemnation. Jude says they are ungodly men who turn the grace of God into lasciviousness.

    The word lasciviousness means: lewd · lustful · licentious.

    Licentiousness means: obviously to give license, in this case it means license to sin. These people teach to have no restraints when it comes to sinning. They taught that it was alright to continue to sin and to live in a carnal way.

    Lasciviousness also has great connotations to the acceptance and practice of an immoral lifestyle.

    Jude says that, whoever teaches this lie is ungodly and condemned already, they are false teachers and by teaching this falsehood they are actually denying the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

    You see, when a person teaches that God’s grace is a license to keep sinning, these people are reprobates and they in essence are denying the Lord Jesus. They are denying the Lordship of Christ.

    Jesus isn’t just our savior, He’s the Lord! As Lord and God Jesus deserves our obedience and our faithfulness. In fact, I would be remiss if I did not say that not only Jesus deserves them, as Lord He demands our obedience. However, let’s realize that if we love the Lord Jesus, it’s because He first loved us,

    1 John 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

    1 John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us.

    As we see, it’s all about love. When we are indeed touched by God’s grace and love in Christ we love God and we demonstrate our love through our obedience.

    Jesus and John clearly confirmed this very fact: John 14:21-24; 1 John 5:1-3.

    So those who truly consider Jesus their Lord obey Him, but not because they fear judgment but because they understand who Jesus is, that He indeed is the Lord and He deserves obedience but all this is understood through and by God’s love in Jesus Christ. Indeed we love Him because He first loved us. When we understand all this we obey God both out of reverence for His Lordship as well as the love we have for Him because we truly understand God’s love and grace toward us.

    Therefore, if and when we are touched by God’s grace and taught by God’s grace in Christ we grow in love toward God and we do reject sin and we do strive to live righteously.

    God’s grace indeed teaches us to obey God and to reject sin not to keep living in it. We do know that while we live in this body in which sin dwells and in this world that keeps pulling us and pushing us to sin, that we unfortunately will at times, too often, succumb to sin, however, we should not and cannot use these realities as excuses to give up and allow sin to rule us. Righteousness and holiness should rule us, not sin and unrighteousness. The Lord Jesus and His will should rule us, if indeed He is our Lord.

    Even Peter, as we said before, claims the same thing as Jude regarding this subject; 2 Peter 2:1-20.

    In conclusion therefore, as Paul says, as we await the day of the Lord’s return, we should cast off the works of darkness, we should put on the armor of light, we should walk honestly as children of light, not in rioting and drunkenness, not in wantonness and in chambering, not in strife and envy, instead we should put on the Lord Jesus, we should live a sanctified, holy and righteous life, we should grow in the image of Christ and make no provision for the flesh.

    As we said even before, our flesh wants to be fed and it wants to dominate our desires and emotions. This is sin at work in our bodies, especially what was programmed in our minds by our sinful nature and the world. Therefore, to make no provision for the flesh means that we must not feed, fuel our flesh. We must put to death the flesh. This does not mean we should harm our bodies, in fat we should take good care of our bodies as they are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we should treat them as such,

    1 Corinthians 6:19-20 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

    God does not want us to neglect and abuse our bodies at all and God wants us to take good care of them

    There are way too many so called Biblical scholars and believers who unfortunately do not really interpret God’s word properly and they like to use Scriptures taken out of context to justify things that they do not want to do.

    One of those passages is the following:

    1 Timothy 4:1-9 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: 5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. 6 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. 7 But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. 8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. 9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.

    Many believers use this passage, especially verse 8 to justify why they do not stay in good bodily shape and use this passage to justify their lack of physical exercise.

    However, this passage is not reaching that physical exercise is not profitable, because we actually know that it is indeed profitable to keep healthy. The same people are the ones who often actually abuse themselves with overindulgence and abuse themselves eating excessively.

    Let me make it clear, overeating because of gluttony is actually making provisions for the flesh. It is not exercising to stay healthy and in good physical condition that is making provisions for the flesh.

    These believers unfortunately have it backwards. We should eat the right foods and the right amounts of food and we should stay physically active and even exercise as good stewards of the bodies God gave us and as we said they are the temple of the Holy Spirit and therefore we should take good care of them and not abuse them in any way. Anything we do to harm our bodies is sinful, anything!

    The passage in question is not saying that bodily exercise is unprofitable, that is not the context of the passage at all.

    The context is, the teaching that certain physical ascetic practices make a person godlier and more holy.

    This is a big deal in many factions and movements of Christendom today. Many such movements erroneously teach that the process of our sanctification and certain ascetic practices add righteousness to our lives, actually they teach that we must do all these things in order to add holiness and righteousness to our already imputed holiness and righteousness. This my friends is salvation by works not by grace and faith alone.

    It is not that fasting for example for certain reasons and in certain situations is not helpful in and for our spiritual life and growth, yet it does not at a shred of righteousness and holiness to our lives. Nothing can add to what Christ has already done and imputed to us, nothing!

    We aren’t more holy and righteous than others if we fast all the time. Fasting can greatly help us ion certain situations but it does not add any righteousness to our life, we are already as righteous as God wants us to be in Christ. Again, that does not mean that we don’t have to live righteously, we do! We must strive to become like Jesus but we still cannot add anything to our righteous status in Christ.

    So what does this passage teach. It teaches exactly that, in other words, all the ascetic practices one can practice aren’t as important as holy and righteous living. This is what Paul was teaching here. He is saying that in the days to come some would desert the faith, the real Apostolic doctrines and would instead teach to practice actual doctrines of demons.

    We see, that the things which Paul mentions here are closely related to some movements and religions. In Paul’s days he had to contend with the Judiazers, who taught to abstain from certain foods and taught salvation by works. However, Paul here is making references to something that would occur in future days, in fact he says: “ in the latter times”. This is a future time, and indeed in the latter times we find the Roman Catholic religion for example that has taught for 1500 years to abstain from certain foods, like meat especially on certain days of observance, such as Fridays and Wednesdays and during certain periods such as Lent, when they teach fasting and in many cases they obligate people to observe these practices. In addition the same religion has forbidden their clergy to marry. This is in perfect harmony with Paul’s prophecy. However, the Roman religion is not the only one, for example even the Seventh Day Adventist religion forbids its members to eat meat and forces them to practice a vegetarian lifestyle. Once again these religious movements fall under the purview of what Paul is declaring in this passage.

    So when Paul says bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.

    He is not talking about physical exercise in the sense a lot of believers interpret it to be, Paul is not saying that going to the gym profits little, he is referring to the physical exercise of ascetic practices, like abstaining from certain foods or not marrying in order to be holier.

    Although, it is true that in the spiritual sense even physical exercise profits little compared to the fact that we should focus on our spiritual life instead, however, this passage is not teaching that going to the gym or exercising is to be avoided and or it is not important.

    It’s not as important as growing spiritually and not as important as exercising godliness, for sure, yet for many Christians this passage becomes the excuse not to stay in good physical shape and also the justification to overeat. There are way too many physically obese believers and although they do not think so, this indeed most often has to do with an undisciplined spiritual life.

    Why? Because we should not let anything control us except the Holy Spirit. If and when we abuse our bodies with any substance, be it food, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, legal and illegal, all of these things can become and or are already sin.

    Let’s take these few substances and look at them Biblically. Let’s start with the ones that are already sinful on their own.

    Illegal drugs: We know that the fact that these are called illegal makes them already a sin when one uses them. However, it does not mean that just because something is legal it cannot become or even be sinful. Illegal drugs are all mind controlling and mind bending substances. They often cause a sinful lifestyle, just to obtain them a person must break the law of the land, which, as we have seen previously in the study of this chapter, in most cases a believer and not must obey. The entire system behind illegal drugs is criminal and evil in nature. Many people end up dead, murdered because of drug dealing, even many innocent people. We know this just by observing through out time what a deadly scourge illegal drug dealing causes. In addition, all illegal drugs as we said before cause people’s minds to become altered in a harmful and negative way. Scripture teaches us that we must love the Lord God with all of our being.

    Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

    Although this commandment is given to believers, in this case Israel, but obviously applicable to all believers; God’s law is given to all living human beings to observe. We know however that unbelievers do not care about God’s law at all, see:

    Romans 8:7-8 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

    As we see we are commanded to Love God with all our emotions (heart) with all our soul (spirit and body) and all our mind.

    Our minds have to be devoted to love and obey God not being altered and ruined by drugs. Same with our bodies. As we know drugs wreak havoc in our bodies, drugs destroy a person’s physical health, it destroys a person’s mind and it certainly damages spiritual life if the person that uses them happens to be a believer.

    In addition, drugs damage relationships with other people as well, it destroys families, it hurts many innocent people who do not use them but who are in some way connected directly or indirectly with the consequences of drug use and drug dealing. This is therefore a violation of the second commandment Jesus mentioned; to love our neighbors as ourselves. People who use drugs do not demonstrate love to God, to themselves nor to their neighbors.

    Legal Drugs: Legal drugs are just that legal and they are controlled, or should be controlled by prescription and by doctor supervision. Unfortunately more often than we would like it to be, these drugs are often abused and also trafficked and sold on the black market making them illegal.

    When legal drugs are abused they become illegal in almost all cases. Many of these drug also are mind and physically altering and damaging. These also cause the exact same problems and consequences of other illegal drugs. The black market of these drugs, which in this case become uncontrolled and illegal, also are the cause of many people’s lives being ruined and a lot of crime being committed.

    One of the big problems we have in this country especially on our southern border is indeed drug smuggling. Drugs being smuggled in the US through our US/Mexico border are both of the basic illegal kind, such as heroin, marijuana, cocaine as well as other pharmaceutical grade drugs such as Oxycontin and Fentanyl, which get sold on the streets because people have become addicted to them, most often through prescription abuse.

    This drug smuggling is causing great amount of crime and many lives of users and their families as well as innocent bystanders are being ruined and even taken. This is a grave problem we are facing in this nation and yet, unfortunately many, too many of our so called representatives in the government are absolutely obstinate and unwilling to do what is necessary to secure our southern border.

    This unfortunately indicates that the money flow of these drugs coming into our country is benefiting people in high places. There can be no other reason otherwise why they would not want to stop the flow of drugs coming into this country. They will spend 6 billion dollars trying to address the opioid crisis in this country well knowing that it is wasted money unless we actually stop the inward flow of these drugs into our country by hardening and securing our southern border; which they are unwilling to do. In this case as well as many others our very own government is complicit in the devil’s evil agenda. As we said before in this study, the devil has places his servants in high places and government is indeed a very high place. The same thing by the way is happening regarding the scourge of baby killing called abortion. Let us remember, the thief, ( Satan and his servants) only comes to kill, steal and destroy, John 10:10. Anyone who does this is serving Satan.

    Indeed drugs and abortion are killing, stealing and destroying countless lives and whoever takes part in all of this, and even whoever turns a blind eye to these things and who votes for the people and party that supports all this is serving the devil and not God.

    1 John 3:4-10 Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. 5 And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. 6 Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. 8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. 10 In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.

    One last consideration on illegal drug use and legal prescription drug abuse. In the Bible we find, especially in the book of Revelation, the word and term that is often translated in English as sorcery.

    Revelation 9:21 Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.

    The next passage I want us to focus on is the following:

    Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

    In both passages we see that the word sorcery and sorcerers is mentioned as a sinful practice. So sinful that who practices this behavior will have their part in the lake of fire and brimstone which is the second death, eternal hell.

    We are used to the meaning of sorcery or sorcerers to mean witchcraft and those who practice it. It actually does mean that as well. However, the Greek word used for sorcery is:

    Farmàkoon, Farmàkois.

    This is the meaning of the Greek word: pharmakeus (far-mak-yoos’); from pharmakon (a drug, i.e. spell-giving potion); a druggist (“pharmacist”) or poisoner, (by extension) a magician:

    Let’s think about this term for a moment. The book of Revelation is a prophetic book. It tells the church what will be occurring in the world until the end of the same. It describes for us the days that precede the coming of the Lord. John sees future things that will be happening in the world and even in the spiritual realm. He understands what he sees with the knowledge he has at the time, including the language he uses to describe the things he sees.

    The word used here as we can clearly understand is the word form which in English we get pharmacy and pharmaceuticals, in other words drugs. I believe with out a doubt that John sees all the drug abuse that would come to be in the future, especially in the last days, the days in which we live. There is no doubt that we have a drug abuse scourge in the world. Drug users, drug pushers, whether they are users and abusers of illegal or legal drugs will be held responsible by God for all the evil and harm that all this causes. Drug abuse, not legal controlled substances taken only as prescribed but abuse of these drugs that creates sin, crime, destruction, disease and death. Drug abuse that is destroying the lives of all who uses them and many, many innocent people who must bear the consequences of this evil.

    Let’s remember, these are indeed substances which in all cases alter the minds of people, causes people not to reason in the right way, they seduce people into becoming addicted, to control them, their behavior making it easier to be controlled by all evil practices. In a sense it is a type of witchcraft. In addition they seduce people away from trusting God while trusting the substances themselves. In the end it’s a Satanic ploy to control and destroy. Meanwhile those who deal them, even the pharmaceutical companies themselves, the doctors, the illegal pushers who allow all this to happen for filthy lucre have blood ion their hands and are indeed sorcerers. The love of money is indeed the root of all evil! Let us beware then of the meaning of this term, it is indeed sorcery and witchcraft, as these drugs stupefy and bewitch those who use them, these drugs are mind altering drugs which render people more and more susceptible to be controlled and manipulated in their minds by demonic falsehood.

    So when people tell you that drugs aren’t mentioned in Scripture or that God’s word does not say anything about them, you can easily show them that indeed God’s word does tell us and warns us about the evils of drug abuse.

    Let me make a very important statement at this point, I know many of you a this point must think that I believe that all drugs and medicines are evil or that God claims they are. I do not think all drugs are evil or that God is against medications.

    Medication and medicines are a blessing in most cases, notice I am talking about live saving and health producing pharmaceutical medicines not illegal or uncontrolled legal drugs. Every good substance, every one, even food which we need to live can become bad if used in eccess and in ways that produce unhealthy situations and then become sinful. Medicines used as prescribed can be and often are a blessing of God for humanity and a way through which He decided to bring merciful healing in people.

    What we are talking here is the improper, illegal and abusive use of those drugs, the over prescription of them for filthy lucre. What we are also talking about are the drugs that actually affect the mind and the emotions of people, these are also overprescribed and abused by people to the point that these drugs become dangerous, they control peopleàs minds and emotions in a very negative and even sinful way.

    So powerful narcotic and illegal drugs are all sinful as they totally cause the mind and body and emotion control of people, they are indeed sorcery and those who sell them are sorcerors.

    Look at the term, one cannot not denote by the word itself that it is as making people spellbound, just as if they were enchanted, seduced by magic, people become as if they were under a spell thay cannot free themselves from.

    Tobacco: Tobacco is one of those substances that is legal in our society. However, is it legal according to God’s law and word? I realize that in Biblical days even tobacco was not ever mentioned and most likely not used. I also realize that for most people the idea of something being legal from the standpoint of human law makes them think that it is therefore alright for a believer to indulge in tobacco use.

    Unfortunately it is not so, tobacco is not even like alcohol, it is far more worse an far more dangerous.

    Although people can develop a habit in the use of alcohol and end up being controlled by it, it is nevertheless only a possibility. Developing an addiction regarding tobacco use is not only a possibility it is an almost certain fact. Tobacco is a far more dangerous drug than alcohol. While we cannot downplay the negative effects of alcohol abuse as it indeed causes and has caused many lives to be ruined and even innocent lives to be destroyed and taken, yet tobacco use in reality is greatly downplayed in our society compared to alcohol. Why? Because its devastation is less dramatic than alcohol abuse. Alcohol abuse may cause a person to cause fatal and very harmful automobile accidents which involve many innocent people including children. These accidents are dramatic and they greatly impact how others view alcohol abuse as a scourge and indeed it is. However, although in the past thirty years the consciousness of the havoc tobacco use causes has greatly increased, even though we have become painfully aware of the great damage tobacco use causes it has not received the same attention as the damage alcohol abuse causes. Yet, the damage is almost worse than that of alcohol abuse. Alcohol abuse at the very least gets considered unlawful and it is an act that is prosecuted by law and the offenders receive even severe legal consequences.

    Tobacco use instead is not considered by society in the same way and yet it probably is more deadly and causes more damages than alcohol. Because its damages are usually slower and less dramatic than those cause by alcohol abuse therefore it is considered a lesser evil than alcohol and yet it is not so.

    As we said before, tobacco use will almost always cause addiction, alcohol will not. Although many think that tobacco use, especially smoked tobacco only impacts the user it does not. It is become greatly evident for quite some time now that second hand smoke, smoke inhaled by non users due to the proximity of the users actually causes more harm to the non user than the user.

    It is a fallacy to think that smoked tobacco use only affects the person that smokes it. It will indeed ruin the health and often the financial well being of the user but it will indeed impact negatively the health of those who live in close proximity of the smoker.

    The statistic are staggering, the following statistics are given by the CDC:

    Cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the United States. This is nearly one in five deaths.

    Cigarette smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causes many diseases, and reduces the health of smokers in general.

    • Smoking causes more deaths each year than the following causes combined:
      • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
      • Illegal drug use
      • Alcohol use
      • Motor vehicle injuries
      • Firearm-related incidents
    • More than 10 times as many U.S. citizens have died prematurely from cigarette smoking than have died in all the wars fought by the United States.

    Smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to develop heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer.

    Even people who smoke fewer than five cigarettes a day can have early signs of cardiovascular disease.

    It is more than evident that smoking tobacco is a much greater scourge than all other causes of death in the US.

    Yet, because all this damage is mostly self inflicted it is not considered a crime or something necessitating criminal prosecution like driving a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, yet it cause more deaths than alcohol use and fire arm related incidents. Yet part of the government tries desperately to ban fire arms while they cause less deaths than smoking tobacco.

    Secondhand smoke exposure contributes to approximately 41,000 deaths among nonsmoking adults and 400 deaths in infants each year. Secondhand smoke causes stroke, lung cancer, and coronary heart disease in adults. Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, middle ear disease, more severe asthma, respiratory symptoms, and slowed lung growth.

    In addition, this following statistic should alarm all Americans and answer part of the question relating as to why health insurance costs are so high.

    Each year, the United States spends nearly $170 billion on medical care to treat smoking-related disease in adults.

    As we clearly see the fallacy of many smoking Christians that smoking is just a bad habit but not a sin is just that, a fallacy!

    Smoking and even chewing tobacco, although chewing it much less harmful than smoking it is indeed a sin. It is a sin against oneself, it is, if you want to be realistic about it, slow suicide, in addition it harms everyone. It harms others physically and it harms everyone financially not only the users.

    It also hurts others physically and damages not only the smokers who have to suffer financially, as we have clearly seen the economic impact that medical assistance linked to the ills of smokers costs everyone. So whoever smokes not only does not love himself but also does not love his neighbor.

    The Lord told us this:

    Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

    It is clear that all those who use illegal drugs and abuses legal drugs, abuse alcohol and use tobacco especially smoking it are not obeying this commandment. Notice I said if a person uses illegal drugs or abuses legal ones, I said abuses alcohol and uses tobacco. We must differentiate among these. Using illegal drugs is always a sin, against the law of the land, against oneself as they are harmful and mind altering. Legal prescription drug use is legal and usually safe when done in a prescribed manner and not abused. Alcohol, as we did tackle that subject in the life of the believer, is not a sin until it is done in an abusive manner and it causes drunkenness, drunkenness is a sin, not moderate self controlled use. Tobacco use although legalized is always a sin against oneself and others. When we violate the use of any of these substances we sin and violate the above commandment. We sin against God because we are not worshiping Him with all of our selves. If we lose control we are not worshiping God with our minds because our minds must be controlled by God’s Spirit and His word.

    So it’s not only a sin in and of our body but also of our minds because we are not worshiping, in other words serving God with our mind, body and eventually even our emotions will be affected by the lack of control. God’s word is clear, when we are controlled by the Holy Spirit and not by our flesh we have self control and a disciplined and controlled mind.

    Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control.

    2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

    In addition God’s word also says this:

    1 Corinthians 6:18-20 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that commiteth fornication sinneth against his own body. 19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

    In the passage above although Paul in context is speaking about fornication being a sin committed against one’s body, we can however apply the concept Paul is making here with all and anything that causes damage to our physical bodies. The concept is exactly that, that any and all things that cause harm to our bodies and obviously harm to others as well is sinful. Paul is in fact explaining that, even though sin still is present in our flesh, our bodies, see Romans 7, our physical bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in us and that we indeed are no longer our own but we have been bought with a price, therefore God wants us to glorify Him in and with our bodies as well as our spirit.

    The believers’ bodies are not their own to do with them what they want and desire but they belong to God now and therefore we must honor God and not harm or dishonor our bodies in any way.

    In addition as we already said, the use and abuse of aforementioned substances can and is in many cases a sin against our neighbors as well because we harm them as well, in the ways we already mentioned.

    We ought to love our neighbor as ourselves, but those who harm themselves aren’t practicing self love at all and in the process they do not love their neighbors even because their sinful behavior causes great harm to others.

    So we must not make any provisions for the flesh at all, we cannot and must not feed the flesh in any of its sinful desires and we must be very careful in all things not to be controlled by anything except the Holy Spirit and God’s word.

    1 Corinthians 6:12-13 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. 13 Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.

    We must be careful not to misunderstand what Paul is saying here. Indeed he is not saying that absolutely everything is lawful for us to do. We know that many things are indeed sinful and in fact I can say that many, too many Christians, use this passage to justify certain bad sinful habits they have, such as even smoking for example.

    As we see however, not all things are lawful, many things are sinful and there are many things that many try to justify that are indeed sinful. Yet what I want to focus on regarding what Paul is saying here is this; first of all that he is clearly talking about foods being lawful here. As you know, there was a whole issue at that time, one he actually addressed in chapter 8 of 1 Corinthians regarding the use of meats offered to idols, of whether or not a believer should have eaten them.

    In addition there was great talk and speculation around the Jewish imposition of the Mosaic law regarding clean and unclean foods and whether or not those were lawful to eat.

    Paul and Peter both, have addressed the issue regarding foods, even in the following chapter, Romans 14.

    Meats, foods, Paul says are for the belly and the belly for the foods, so what Paul is referring to here is not that sinful behaviors are lawful for Christians now, no, he is saying that all foods are lawful, see also 1 Timothy 4:3-6.

    However Paul is also referring to other things, including foods, in other words that we ought to opt to indulge in things that remain on the side of being lawful, in other words not sinful and opt to indulge in things that are instead expedient because many things may not be sinful but they also may not be expedient to spiritual growth.

    In addition, he states that we can indulge in lawful and expedient things or even things that are perhaps not so much expedient for spiritual growth however we must never let anything rule us or control us. As we said before, God wants us to be ruled and controlled only by His Spirit and His word not by anything else.

    It is one thing to do things and even use indulge in things that are not sinful but we must not let them control us more than God and His word should because otherwise they can become a snare to our spiritual growth and in many cases can indeed lead us into sin.

    As we said before God’s word commands us to be controlled by His Spirit and we have seen that part of the fruit of the Spirit is self control or temperance. We must exercise self control and not become controlled by anything or anyone other than God, His will and His word. That’s how Jesus was and that’s what Jesus did. He was always in control but He was always controlled by the Spirit and by the Father’s will.

    John 4:34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.

    John 5:19-20 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.

    John 5:30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

    John 9:4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.

    Luke 22:41-42 And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, 42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.

    As we clearly see Jesus was completely invested in doing the Father’s will in every and all circumstances. Jesus never did anything on His own or by His own decision or accord, He always obeyed the Father and His will and His works He did.

    Jesus was completely obedient and completely controlled by God’s will. We should strive to be the same as our master. We should not be controlled by substances, foods, habits or any other person but God’s Spirit and His word.

    In order to do this we must be diligent and fully committed not to make provisions for the flesh. The flesh must be denied and cut off and we must make our bodies submit to God’s will and word.

    The New Testament Scriptures command us constantly to put to death the deeds of the flesh, this is another way to say make no provision for the flesh but to walk by the Spirit instead, which means to obey God’s word and live a righteous sanctified life.

    2 Corinthians 7:1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

    Colossians 2:11-12 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,

    Making no provision for the flesh is like saying that we must starve our flesh so that it cannot have any fuel to continue to sin. This is how we put to death the flesh. Let me make clear that starving our flesh or putting it to death does not at all mean that we ought to actually starve our physical bodies of physical food, it does not mean that we must make our physical bodies die or in anyway damage our bodies in any way, that would actually be sinful.

    Putting to death our flesh means to not give it the possibility to have its way and sin.

    Galatians 5:13-25 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! 16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, also walk in the Spirit. 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us walk by the Spirit.

    This passage clearly explains how we are to put to death, or make no provisions for the flesh. The way we do it is by walking in the Spirit. Walking in the Spirit is in reality obeying God’s word. When we obey God’s word we are walking in the Spirit, God’s will. Paul says: “ if we live in the Spirit” this means, if we are born again, if we have been made alive by the Spirit, then we must

    walk by the Spirit” in other words obeying God’s will and not obeying the desires of the sinful flesh.

    This is how we do it! This is how we make no provision for the flesh.