Sunday, March 27, 2016

Does God Mind Our Pagan Ways?

Today (March 27, 2016) is what Christians around the world refer to as Easter. Everyone is celebrating the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. But is it? Is it the anniversary of our Lord's resurrection? The Lord was crucified on Passover, and rose on the Feast of Firstfruits, which is the Sunday following Passover (no matter what day of the week in which Passover has fallen). In most years, Easter and Passover seem to be very near each other, and in fact many times Easter falls on the Feast of Firstfruits. But this year, Easter comes a whole month before Passover. Why is that?

In the Jewish calendar, there are normally twelve months, but these twelve months have 29 or 30 days in them, which leaves them short of the 365 days in a year. After a few years, they need to insert a thirteenth month to get the calendar reckoned up again. This happens to be one of those years, so the first month of the year Nissan, comes later than usual. That means that Passover is later than usual, or in this case, it will fall on April 22.

On the other hand, Easter (named for the pagan goddess Eostre) is determined by three things. It falls on the Sunday (the pagan worship day), after the first full moon, after the vernal equinox, which is set at March 21. Now as God's holy days never have anything to do with the equinoxes or solstices, but pagan holy days do, one has to wonder how it came about that in 325 A.D. the Council of Nicea (not a group of true Christian believers, but a group of men (cronies) appointed by Constantine - who was responsible for veneering many pagan things with Christianity - to be the religious leaders) decided to use this system to determine when the resurrection would be celebrated. And what transpired for it to end up being called Easter?

According to Bede, an eighth century English monk, during a month around April, pagans held feasts in Eostre's honor, but the tradition had died out by his time to be replaced by the Christian celebration of Easter. So what he is saying is that instead of celebrating the Lord's resurrection based on when Passover occurred, it seems that pagan traditions were replaced by Christian celebrations, (or maybe more accurately Christian meanings were placed upon pagan traditions) keeping the time of the celebration the same, the name of the goddess intact for the holiday, and adding things to the Christian celebration such as bunnies (fertility), eggs (Easter eggs were a part of an Eostre game that was played by the pagans), and today, chocolate candy in the shapes of those things. Also the celebrations of an Easter Sunday sunrise service comes not from the disciples running to the tomb, but from the celebration of the dawn by Eoster's followers, as she was the goddess of the dawn. They would light bonfires and dance in her honor at the sunrise.

So we can see that the Christian(?) celebration of Easter has nothing to do with the Jewish Passover as far as when it is celebrated, but has everything to do with the pagan celebration of Easter, including many of the traditions that went with it. In fact, the Christian celebration has little to do with the Jewish Passover at all, except that Jesus is the Paschal (Passover) Lamb. All of the ceremonies attached to Passover have been lost to the Christian Church. Most Christians do not even realize that what we refer to as the Lord's Supper is in fact a part of the seder meal at Passover. The wine representing Christ's blood is the third cup that is drunk during the meal, called the cup of redemption.  Appropriate is it not? And the bread that represents his body that is broken is what is called the afikomen. Three pieces of unleavened bread  (representing the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) are put into a single bag that has three compartments. During the course of the seder, the middle piece (the Son) is taken out, broken in half, and one half of it is hidden (buried) to be hunted for and found (resurrected) later. It is this piece of bread that was presented to the disciples by Christ during the seder as His body which would be broken for them. This then was the Lord's Supper - a part of the Passover seder.  Also appropriate, do you not think? And the irony of it all? The Jews have no idea what this tradition of the afikomen stands for. Only Christians understand its significance. Yet the Church, right form the start separated itself from this very important tradition and therefore Christians do not have a complete understanding of the elements of the Lord's Supper when we take it. It would seem that the Church only has half the story, just as Jews only have half the story, because each one has repudiated the teachings of the other.

So now, knowing what Easter is all about, and knowing what the Passover is all about, which should we actually be celebrating? Do you think perhaps God would prefer we not incorporate paganism into our celebrations, or merely put a Christian veneer over pagan celebrations and relabel them Christian? He certainly had enough to say to Israel about taking up pagan ways and traditions, didn't He. Do you suppose He has changed His mind on the subject? Think of how harshly He punished Israel. The northern ten tribes known as Israel went into captivity to simply disappear. The southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin, known simply as Judah went into a seventy year captivity under Babylon and then Persia. There were many other punishments of individual tribes and people along the way, but these two captivities were the greatest punishments as they took in the entire nation.

We could look at Christmas and find the same problem. Christ was not born December 25. Most scholars agree that the evidence points to Him being born during the Feast of Tabernacles in the autumn. I even saw someone posting an article that was celebrating this Easter saying that Christ was conceived on this day, since he was born December 25, so we had a double celebration this year. Obviously since Christ was not born on December 25, He was not conceived on March 27. December 25 is in fact the birthday of another pagan god, Mithras. And it is around the winter solstice. And look at all the associations Christmas has with it, decorated trees, holly and mistletoe (which in and of themselves are not pagan but merely flora, but the pagans use them in their worship), and Santa Claus, which people think is just based upon a Saint named Nicholas, but the Santa Claus that is popular these days is based on a completely different person. I am sure there are many more pagan associations with Christmas, but it is unnecessary to list them all. They come from many countries. And let us not even get into the greed and materialism associated with it.

So for Christ's birthday celebration, we should be celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles, which incidentally just as the spring Feasts of God were foreshadows of Christ's first coming, the fall Feasts of God are all foreshadows of His Second Coming. So we see that the fall and spring Feasts of God actually hold all the significance for a Christian, and all that is associated with those Feasts is approved of by God, because He created them. And the holidays that Christians do celebrate instead are pagan celebrations with a Christian facade or veneer, with all the associations that go along with the pagan feasts, which God disapproves.

What is very distressing to me is while I can almost understand people turning a blind eye to Christmas, because nobody seems to be aware when Christ was actually born, and the Church has brainwashed people over the millennia to believe it is the actual birth of Christ they are celebrating, everybody knows that Christ was killed at Passover and clearly Passover was not this weekend. Not even close. Why is nobody disturbed about this? And I know many are not disturbed about this, because I posted something on Facebook addressing this problem, and the many Christians that I am connected to completely ignored it and had much to say today about how we are celebrating the Lord's resurrection. NO we AREN'T. His resurrection is to be celebrated on the day it occurred, on the Feast of Firstfruits. Why is nobody bothered by this? Do people really think God does not mind? When He has so much to say about paganism in the Old Testament? Things have not changed that much. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and He will never approve paganism.

And while we are at it, Sunday is not the Sabbath. That too is a pagan worship day, but that argument can be found in my article on the Sabbath in the archives. It is not that we cannot worship God on Sunday, of course we can. We should worship Him every day of the week. But Sunday is not the Sabbath. The Sabbath is the seventh day of the week, from the first week of creation, that God set aside as holy unto Him, and God never changed it. Man may have decided to, just as he decided to change all the other celebrations, but God never has and never will, for it was a covenant sign between Him and His people for perpetuity. That means forever.

Note that in the millennium the feast that is incumbent upon everyone is the Feast of Tabernacles, which will be the anniversary of the marriage of the Lamb to the Bride. Nowhere do we read about Easter, or Christmas being celebrated. It all goes back to the Jewish ways. The Sabbath will be on Saturday, the temple will be the center of worship, and the Feasts of God will be the only holidays. Now what is that telling us?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Are You Wearing the Whole Armor of God?

Of late I have spent more time than usual (which is a lot to begin with) thinking about the days ahead and what we are soon going to be experiencing. It is clear that the end times are are getting very close and that the spiritual warfare has stepped up its game. I look at the Christian friends that I have who are aware that we will not escape these things that are coming, and I see them suffering tribulations that stretch on and on with no relief. I see them striving harder and harder to be obedient and get back to what the Bible really teaches, and yet there is no relief for them from these things which are assailing them.

I long ago realized that I was a soldier in a war. All Christians are, if they are walking with the Lord. There is always spiritual warfare going on around us. Even if we are not under attack at any given moment, we can look around and see that someone we know is. There is no relief, because the spiritual world is ramping up for that last hurrah. There is more activity now than ever before, because mankind is feeding these spirits by rampantly sinning. We are told that before Christ's return it would be as in the days of Noah, and truly it is in many ways. Violence is becoming a natural state of affairs for everyone. It is no longer safe for anyone, anywhere. Then there are the sexual activities -  not only fornication, adultery, and prostitution, but perversions, pornography, sex trafficking etc. It is so common that people do not even blink an eye to see these things being acted upon in public. Addictions to substances and activities such as gambling are prevalent. There is a war going on. A war in which the prize is our souls, yet most Christians are not on the battlefield, nor are they even dressed for battle. They (at least the Christians in America and some of the other more prosperous countries) are lounging in the officers' lounge, enjoying the good things that life has to offer, completely oblivious to the battles that are going on outside that lounge.

Before a Christian can engage in battle, they have to learn how to wield their weapons and put on their battle armor. Most Christians ignore or are completely ignorant  as to even how to use their weapons, even if they put on a piece or two of their armor. So what is our armor, and what are our weapons? They are listed for us in a very familiar passage, and while people know the passage, they do not take seriously the directive to apply it to their lives.

Ephesians 6:10-18 "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.  Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  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.  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.  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;  And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;  Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:  Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints."

Before we are told what our armor and weapons are, we are told to be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Paul is not speaking of our physical abilities of strength, but of our spiritual attitude. The first thing we have to do is to switch from a defensive attitude to an offensive attitude. By offensive I do not mean that we should offend people, but rather than waiting for the enemy to attack us, we should go on the attack against the enemy - the spiritual enemy. Next Paul tells us that we must put on the entire armor of God, not just one or two pieces, to be able to withstand the deceptions of the devil, for he will attack us in every possible way. We dare not leave a spot uncovered or it will be our Achilles heel.

It is then made clear to us that the enemy that we are fighting is not the flesh and blood neighbor who annoys us, or the colleague who takes advantage of us or manipulates us, or the loved one who cheats on us, or any of the people in our lives that leave us hurting and scarred. Our fight is with a more formidable foe. It is with the spiritual entities who speak into the ears of these flesh and blood people. The spirits who encourage and influence people to evil. People are sinful and prone to enough sin themselves without the help, but with it people will do even worse things than they might have otherwise. Multitudes of people are opening the doors to let these spiritual entities into their lives to control them. They do it not only in ignorance, but a great many people do it willingly.

Our battle is against not just one type of spiritual entity, but all sorts of entities. Just as there is a hierarchy of God's angels, there is a hierarchy of fallen angels and demons with different assignments, agendas,and sins. The first thing that must be done to understand this passage in Ephesians is to understand the spiritual world of the wicked. Scripture delineates a difference between fallen angels and demons or as some verses say, devils or unclean spirits. We know from accounts in Scripture such as when the angels visited Abraham and then went on to visit Lot in Sodom that they have the ability to manifest themselves in human form. So much so that the men of Sodom wanted them turned over to them, so that they could have homosexual relations with them. Genesis 19:1-5 "And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant's house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night. And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat. But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them." 

There was a time even earlier when these fallen angels manifested themselves in human form. in Genesis 6:1-2, 4 "And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,  That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown."  These fallen angels were called the sons of God and they could not only take human form, they procreated with human women producing hybrids which are called nephilim.

On the other hand, demons, devils, or unclean spirits seem to be unable to manifest a body and have to inhabit the body of someone or something else. This allows them to control the person or thing they inhabit. They also can inflict mental disorders, illnesses, unusual strength, and the like. Jesus cast demons out of people when He was on earth.  For example, He cast Legion out of the demonic and they begged Him to let them go into a herd of swine. Mark 5:1-13 "And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.  And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,  Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:  Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.  And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.  But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,  And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.  For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.  And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.  And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country.  Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding.  And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.  And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine:"

As a piece of non-biblical information which cannot be held to be on a par with the Scriptures, the book of Enoch teaches that demons are actually the disembodied souls of the offspring of the fallen angels and women from before the Flood, otherwise known as the nephilim. It is taught in Enoch that these souls did not go to hell, but remained in a sort of limbo until Judgment day, being forced to wander the earth without bodies, which is why they seek them.

So now we look at the verse in Ephesians that lists some of these entities. "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."  There are several types of spiritual entities listed. First are the principalities. The Greek word for "principalities" is "arche" which means chief, magistrate, or ruler. The definition of principality is "the state, office, or authority of a prince; the territory or jurisdiction of a prince.We find an entity of this type mentioned in Daniel. Daniel prayed for three weeks before an answer was sent via an angel of God. This passage is evidence of why our prayers sometimes take a while to be answered.  Daniel 10:12-13, 20 "Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy word. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come."  This tells us that there are entities over kingdoms and nations who are princes. As this would appear to go along with the definition of a principality, both in the English and the Greek, and as the angel and Michael had to fight this prince of Persia and then the prince of Grecia, it would appear that these are fallen angels, and very powerful ones to require that the archangel Michael come to join the fight. They are the chief rulers and commanders of the kingdoms and nations and those entities which operate in those places. They would be in political control of the nation and the human leaders who are not under God's rule.

The word in Greek for "powers" is "exousia," which are those who are in authority or have jurisdiction. Jurisdiction means to have official power to make legal decisions and judgments.  They probably are the ones who make the judgment decisions and give orders to the rest of the evil hosts under them. As fallen angels and demons are not omnipresent, most likely this group oversees either territorial areas or organizational entities. What sin the power is mainly over (although all places have all sins, some sins are more prevalent in some places than in others) can probably be discerned by the major sin of an area or the major focus of the group. For instance, there are some areas and places that are known for the sin of gambling. There are some that are known for their sexual debauchery. There are some that are known for their love of money and greed. There are some that are known for their paganism or anti-Christian religious zeal. There are some that are known for their faux Christianity, or apostate Christianity. Then there are human organizations that deal in these same sins - false religion, sexual debauchery, drugs, murder, illegal weapons, human trafficking, etc. These powers would have jurisdiction over these things and the demons who actually do the dirty work. It would seem likely that the ability to have jurisdiction would fall to those who are more powerful, thus the possibility that these are fallen angels, but ones who are not as powerful or as high on the ladder of hierarchy as the principalities.

Rulers of darkness are the next mentioned in the verse. The Greek word for "ruler" is "kosmokrator." This is defined as world ruler. In fact this is an epithet for Satan. The word "darkness" is "skotos" which means "shadiness, obscurity, or darkness." This group are not restricted by political geography, the entire world is their playground. They can roam the earth and spread their evil wherever they want. Nor does it seem that they are confined to specialize in a particular sin. They are simply truly evil for their sins are perpetrated in darkness or in secret. And they rule over those who influence people to these sins. This would seem to be the kinds of sins which take place in secret, or at night, or in obscurity. Rape, murder, pedophilia, etc. As people often seem to be possessed when they commit these type of sins, and since the demons roam the earth, it would seem that these rulers of darkness might be demons or devils.

The last entities mentioned are spiritual wickedness in high places.The Greek word for "high" means "above the sky", and the word for "places" means "everywhere." While the other evil entities seem to be earthbound, this group is not. Their depravity or wickedness can reach out into space. We have no idea what our governments have put in orbit. And it would seem that all of these UFO sightings are not all human in origin. It is very possible that these demonic entities are responsible for many of the "alien" sightings, and interactions. It is also quite possible that these are the entities who possess people. Many of the people who claim to channel spiritual entities say that the entities claim to be aliens from another star system. Other people manifest possession as mental illnesses. I believe the wicked human powers that control this earth (financially, politically, militarily) are possessed by demons. They answer to Satan directly.  While Christians cannot be completely possessed by demons, they can open doors to parts of their lives which give the demon great amounts of influence, if not complete control over that area of their lives. Unfortunately Christians have been taught that demons can't control them. Of course Satan would tell that lie. It puts Christians to sleep so that they are not on their guard to close doors that get opened. I have known many Christians who have played with ouija boards, or read horoscopes, or played games such as Dungeons and Dragons. And I doubt that there are many Christians anywhere who have not listened to rock music in their life. Even objects can be cursed, so that if you bring them into your house and use them, a door is opened. All of these and many more things open doors to demonic influence. The list is endless of the doors that are opened every day unless you virtually live as a hermit. We have to constantly be aware that we have to close those doors and pray for forgiveness for allowing those doors to be opened. We also need to bind and rebuke in the name of our Savior any spirits that might have come through those doors.

Now that the obvious doors of sin have been addressed, there are a few more dangerous doors of which Christians are completely oblivious. The first is that there are a vast number of people who call themselves Christians and think that they are heaven bound, because they are fairly good people. They are not born again and do not have an intimate, personal relationship with the Lord, so they have no protection from evil spirits, as the only protection we have comes from the blood of Christ which has been applied to our lives. These people are as open to possession as the Satan worshiper. The next kind of Christian is the one who is carnal and living in sin or walking the fence. This Christian has forfeited protection by making his relationship with Christ a non-working one. When we have sin in our lives, it hinders our prayers and our relationship, so we cannot expect God to honor any actions that we try to take against these spiritual powers. Another problem is the apostasy in the Church with all these false doctrines and New Age teachings that have infiltrated it. When we pursue lies with itching ears, we leave ourselves open to Christ's chastisement, not His protection. All of these doors will allow a Christian to be unprotected and open to the influence of evil spirits. It is imperative that Christians get their lives in order and make sure that they are living holy lives in order to fight the enemy. 

As a side note, one must be careful about trying to help people who are believed to be demon possessed. Christ told us that in casting out demons it leaves a void that must be filled, and if the person does not immediately fill it with the Holy Spirit, the demon can come back with more demons in its wake, and the person's state becomes worse than it was to begin with. Matthew 12:43-45 "When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation."

As these unclean spirits are all assigned particular sins, it is helpful to look at the Scriptures that list some of the sins to see where we need to be vigilant.  1 Corinthains 6:9-10 " Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,  Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God."   Galatians 5:19-21 " Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,  Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." Revelation 22:14-15 " Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.  For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie."

These are some of the enemies that we face, so now we need to see what armor to put on to defend ourselves. The first piece of armor is truth. Satan is the father of lies, but Jesus is the truth, the way, and the life. Much of what is being taught these days in the Church is not the truth. In fact there is one really big lie that has been around for a century that is only recently being challenged and it is one that will lead many Christians to their death, and some to the loss of their salvation. It is the pre-trib lie. We will not be gone, and those who are unprepared for what lies ahead will find themselves very unprepared. A great many other teachings such as "name it and claim it" are replacing the truth of Scripture. We cannot fight lies with lies. We can only fight lies with truth, so we have to study and learn what the Scriptures actually teach so that we can recognize the lies and not be deceived. Hosea 4:6 "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children." 

The next piece of armor is the breastplate of righteousness. We have no authority in Christ's name if our lives are filled with sin. We need to be obeying God's commands and living holy lives. Only then is there no obstacle between us and God that can cause a chink in our armor.

Our feet need to be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. We need to have a thorough grounding and confidence in the gospel of Christ's sacrifice, which brought peace to mankind. Not peace in the sense that the world will be at peace right now, but the peace that passes all understanding when we have a relationship with Christ, so that no matter what the battle brings, we have an assurance of the final outcome of the hope of the peace that will exist in His kingdom. We need to stand firm (hence our feet being shod) on the knowledge of the power of that gospel.

To finish covering the body with armor, we need to put on the helmet of salvation. If you are not born again, you can't even begin to put on the rest of the armor. Our head is the center which runs the rest of the body. It is the place where all of the lies and garbage of Satan should get filtered out, because we have the Holy Spirit to teach us the truth and knowledge in the Bible. By putting on a helmet, we have the ability to reject the blows and lies that Satan would throw at us.

Now that the body is covered, we need to pick up the weapons. One is defensive and one is offensive. Our defensive weapon is our shield. With a shield you can ward off the blows or darts that Satan throws at us, no matter what part of the body he tries to attack. Our faith is our shield in that if Satan can't pierce our belief in God, he cannot win against us no matter what he does. The stronger our faith, or shield, the more impenetrable our armor becomes.

The last piece of armor is the offensive weapon. It is the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. God's Word is a powerful weapon against Satan. Christ quoted Scripture at Satan when He was in the desert for forty days. It has the power to stop evil in its tracks. Swinging the sword of God's Word can make demons flee. That is why God commanded us to study His Word. 2 Timothy 2:15 "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." Knowing God's Word is both an offensive and defensive weapon as mentioned above when discussing truth. As it says in Hosea, God's people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. That knowledge is knowledge of God's Word that prevents us from being deceived. Then having studied and learned how to rightly divide it to protect ourselves, we can wield it as a sword against the enemy who would try to attack us. That is why Satan has spent a lot of time getting Christians to not pick up their Bibles and study. If they are inclined to feel they should read it daily, he has them just read through it in such a way that they can state that they have read through the Bible "x" number of times per year and feel that they have done well by God. Reading is not the same as studying. You can read through the Bible hundreds of times and learn nothing. Studying is required to really learn something.

Lastly, while this is not a piece of armor, per se, prayer is a very powerful weapon. Just as God's Word can be used as protection from the enemy or to attack it, prayer can be used to ask for protection, and it can be used to ask God to take offensive measures against the enemy. It is an incredibly powerful weapon, yet it is a weapon that Christians seldom seem to use. And that makes Satan very happy. He works overtime getting us to not use this weapon, because he knows that if we used it often and regularly, he would always be losing the battle. It is a weapon that he has to get rid of. Notice that the only two offensive weapons we have, the sword or Word of God and prayer are the two things that Christians neglect. They may go to church, they may tithe, they may be involved in multiple ministries, but they tend to neglect studying the Bible and most all Christians I know will admit to not spending very much quality or quantity time in prayer.

The war has been waging since the beginning of creation, but it will reach it's pinnacle far too son. God's army is not prepared at all. As the little boy in "The Emperor's New Clothes" says, "But he hasn't got on any clothes." Christians are going to be fighting the battle wearing no battle armor and carrying no weapons, because they have been too busy enjoying life and worshiping God in a way that pleases themselves, rather than pleasing God. If they do not wake up soon, it will be too late. Unfortunately it seems that prophecy tells us that this is exactly what is going to happen.

Revelation 6:9-22 "And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:  And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?  And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled." Revelation 7:9, 13-14 "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;....And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?  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."  Jesus told us "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." in Matthew 24:21. It will be the worst slaughter of God's people that has ever been since the beginning of time.

In Revelation it said that those who came out of the tribulation (by death) are a great multitude that no man could number. Too many Christians are naked and unarmed. Too many are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Too many are not obeying God's commandments.  Do not let yourself be one of them. Study to show yourself approved, and to rightly divide the word of truth. Put on the armor of God and pick up your sword and shield. and as Christ says, "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." Luke 21:36.  Revelation 14:12 "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." Revelation 3:10 "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth."  Isaiah 3:10 "Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings."

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Are Christians Mocking God?

Recently while corresponding with a new friend, she mentioned that God had told her that Christians mock Him, and that she should study up on the subject. Ever since she told me that (thank you, Bobbie) I have not been able to get that thought out of my mind. When something continues to bother me like that, I take it as a sign that I should look into the situation more thoroughly. It is not that I was unaware of the problem, but I needed to spend more time meditating upon it. I look at my own life and I look around at other Christians and I see that we are not taking God's instruction to live holy lives seriously enough.We need only look to Israel and see that God had very little tolerance for sin and breaking His laws. The excuse is given time and time again that we are under grace, (see my articles here on law vs. grace .
and ) and that God does not deal with us the way He dealt with Israel. We  supposedly have a different relationship. The truth is,  He may tolerate our sins with less harsh consequences at the moment, but He does not like our sins and the way we mock Him, and the Church is going to pay a heavy price for that just as Israel and Judah did. God demands holiness from His people, whether they looked to the future for the coming of the Messiah for their salvation, or they look back to it. 

First we should get an idea of all the forms that mocking can take. The word "mock" is defined in this variety of ways.

To laugh or make fun of
To criticize and laugh at as being bad, worthless, or unimportant (not that it necessarily is)
To treat with contempt or ridicule
To disappoint the hopes of
To mimic or resemble closely
To imitate in fun or derision
To act in an insincere or pretending manner
To deceive, disappoint, or delude
To defy or frustrate
To imitate or substitute
A sham or counterfeit

There are many ways to mock God. And in the Old Testament mocking God brought immediate and harsh consequences. A few examples are given below.

2 Chronicles 36:12-20 "Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned eleven years in Jerusalem.  And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD his God, and humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking from the mouth of the LORD.  And he also rebelled against king Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God: but he stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart from turning unto the LORD God of Israel.  Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the LORD which he had hallowed in Jerusalem.  And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place:  But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy.  Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age: he gave them all into his hand.  And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king, and of his princes; all these he brought to Babylon.  And they burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof.  And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia:"

The cost of treating God's prophets with contempt, mocking and despising His Word, and substituting the real worship of God with a poor imitation or counterfeit religious worship of false gods was to be conquered by Babylon and to go into captivity for the length of an entire generation. This fell upon the entire land of Judah. There were those who escaped and remained in Judah, because there were righteous among the nation, (Proverbs 14:9 "Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favour."), but that did not negate all of the consequences for them either. They lost the temple, so there was no place to worship. They lost their freedoms, as they came under Babylonian rule. They most likely found themselves lacking the necessities of life, as they were the conquered and oppressed. Nothing would ever be the same for the people who lived at the time this happened, even if they were the righteous. The rain falls on the just and unjust alike.

Following God's commands halfway does not constitute being obedient. To defy or treat as unimportant a direct command of the Lord, only obeying it to an extent is mocking God. Saul found that out when he was told to slay the Amalakites and kill every man, woman, child, and animal. 2 Sam. 15:9 "But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly."  The consequences of a half obedience was that God took the throne from Saul. He had Samuel anoint David to take his place. While Saul did not readily give up that throne, and it took a while for David to ascend to the throne, the situation was that God walked away from Saul and no longer blessed him.

Intentions, no matter how well meant, if they defy God's commands, is still disobedience and God hates it that His rules are treated as unimportant and with contempt. When the ark was being brought back to Jerusalem, the cart that it was on was not steady, so when it looked as though the ark might fall off, a man named Uzzah reached out to steady it. Now God had commanded that the ark only be carried by Levites and they were only to lift it by using the poles that were inserted into the rings on the side of it. Nobody was to touch the mercy seat of God upon pain of death. Uzzah's intentions were not bad. He thought he was doing something good and was trying to save the ark from harm, but because of disobedience in how it was carried, and his disobedience in touching it, God immediately slew him. His intentions did not count. Intentions do not outweigh disobedience where God is concerned. There was quick and merciless justice upon Uzzah for his disobedience. 2 Samuel 6:3-7 "And they set the ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah: and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drave the new cart.  And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab which was at Gibeah, accompanying the ark of God: and Ahio went before the ark.  And David and all the house of Israel played before the LORD on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals. And when they came to Nachon's threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it.  And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God." 

Again in another incident, we see that substituting, imitating, counterfeiting, and treating with contempt something of God's does not suffice. Good intentions do not count when one mocks God, His ways, and His things. In the tabernacle God had specified that the incense had to be a very specific mixture offered in the prescribed manner. God was adamant about this. But in the usual human way of thinking that we can offer God whatever we like and He must think it is okay, because we have decided it is okay, Aaron's sons found out differently the hard way. Leviticus 10:1-2 "And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not.  And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD."

These are but a few examples of the many that we can find where God's people mocked Him. If one thinks that this is strictly an Old Testament way of God reacting to being mocked, Christians should beware, for God treated some of the early Christians in the same manner. I'm sure most Christians have heard the story of Ananias and Sapphira.

Acts 5:1-11 " But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,  And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.  And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things."

This did not occur during the "time of the law." This occurred during the "time of grace," as so many like to call this era since Christ. Should that not scare us enormously?  They tried to deceive or delude God, as if one could do that. Galatians 6:7 "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."

Knowing that God does not suffer our mocking lightly, should we not take a good look at the things the Christian Church is doing these days to see how we endanger ourselves?  We were told in advance that in the last days, mocking God would be a serious problem in the Church as well as the world. Jude 1:18 "How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lust."  2 Timothy 4:3 "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; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." In the end times (in which we are) Christians will not endure....what a harsh word, Christians will not endure sound doctrine. Another word for "endure" might be "tolerate." How terrible is it that we are told that God's people will not even tolerate sound doctrine or the truth of God's Word. Does this not sound like Israel? They will run after their own lusts and fables. How many times have I heard a Christian say in response to my statement that something is not pleasing to God, that God looks at their intentions, so whatever they are doing is acceptable to Him, no matter what it might be. If they are offering it to God, then He must accept it as good, because their hearts mean well. So did Uzzah and Aaron's sons mean well. It did not save them.

Knowing in advance that we have been told that the Church would turn its ears away from truth, and follow after their own lusts, should we not take a really good look at the Church to see what it is doing and how it is mocking God, so that we can take a stand against it and try to turn people back to the truth? Before actually looking at the churches and their practices, let us first take a look at the churches of Revelation to see what problems Christ had with them.

Revelation 2:1a, 4-5 "Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write;.............  Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent." Ephesus is accused of leaving her first love. What is a Christian's first love? It is that heady feeling of love that could be compared to falling in love. It is the overwhelming sense of loving and being loved in a way that no other being can love or be loved, for God knows our innermost secrets and still loves us. We know that He has sacrificed all for us, and we love Him to the extent that we want to do nothing but make Him happy with us. Ephesus is told to remember that love, for they have forgotten it, just as married people tend to forget how much they loved each other when they first married. Their works that they do at the first are solely inspired by love, not by duty or obligation, or for the praise of man, which is how so many works of the Church are done these days. Ephesus is told that if they do not repent and return, their candlestick will be removed, and indeed I understand that there is no longer a Christian church in Ephesus. At least not this one. This is a serious punishment which we should not take lightly. So just having the right kind of love for God is the first thing we should look at in our lives and our churches. And we see that while there is lip service given to loving God, and even works done in God's name, the true love for God and our fellow Christians does not really seem to be there. What we see is a lot of self-love. I want, I want, I want. I want the Church to entertain me. I want the Church to provide for my spiritual needs. I want to worship the way I want to worship whether God approves of that way or not. I want the Church to make it an enjoyable experience for me and provide support for all my addictions I have to get over. I want to do and say what I want, and pick and choose what I want to believe out of the Bible. I don't want to be told the truth that makes me uncomfortable, I prefer to be told that I am fine. This self-love is what has replaced the first love. And the consequences will be that the candlesticks will be removed if we do not start repenting of this self-love.

The next church to be addressed with condemnation is Pergamos. Revelation 2:12, 14-16 "And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; ..... But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.  Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth."  The sin or sins here are holding to the doctrine of Balaam and the Nicolaitans. Balaam advised corrupting Israel by sending in the women to corrupt the men. In so doing, paganism became rampant among the Israelites and they abandoned the truth faith in favor of serving false gods. Who the Nicolaitans are exactly is not known, but their doctrine was in opposition to God's doctrine, which would then be some form of paganism or worship of Satan. One theory has it that the Greek derivative of the word means “overcoming the people”, They take this to mean that there developed a clergy who lorded it over the people with such teachings as: the laity couldn’t understand the scriptures, the clergy had to tell them what it meant, they had to confess to the clergy, etc. This was a problem in the first century as there were those who believed they had divine authority over others. So this is a possibility. There is another possibility of who these people might have been. There was at the time a deacon called Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch. (Acts 6:5) As this is the only other scripture reference that would give us any idea as to what this passage is about, we must assume that it is the clue we have been given to help us understand. That and the warning in Acts to the Ephesians. It was said by Paul that men would arise from their own ranks that would speak perverse things to draw people away from the truth. We don’t know exactly what these perverse things were, but obviously someone named Nicolas (hence the followers being called Nicolaitanes) was teaching something that was bad. It is quite possible that he was one of these people who thought he had divine authority.            

 Do we see anything like this sin today in the Church? Is there any paganism or false or even Satanic doctrines infiltrating? Well, one of the first things that happened back in the early church was that laws were passed that people should worship on the pagan worship day of the sun, or Sunday, instead of the day set aside by God as holy, the Sabbath. Then the feasts of God were replaced with the pagan alternatives - Easter the spring celebration of the goddess Eastre, and Christmas, the birthday of Mithras. Many other things were added that originally were pagan such as the pantheon of saints, adopting the use of symbols and icons, and putting them around the churches or on top of them. (the church steeple is otherwise known as an obelisk or phallus). The Church has brought the music of the world into our services and say that it is worshipful, when in fact it is blasphemous in many cases. Even the lyrics are all about us, and not praising the Lord in many cases. The Church has adopted many New Age teachings in place of Biblical ones. Contemplative prayer, which is the Eastern mysticism practice of transcendental meditation is making inroads in the Church.  The doctrines and theologies being taught are so far from truth anymore that it is barely recognizable as Christianity in some cases. The consequences here were that Christ would fight against them with the two-edged sword of His mouth. Revelation 1:16; 19:15 "And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: ............And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations:"  To have Christ wield the double-edged sword which cuts both ways  against you would mean that you were cut asunder and sent to perdition. Again, the Church is being warned that God is not mocked and what we sow, so shall we reap.

In Thyatira, Christ is very plain what will happen to those guilty of their particular sin. Revelation 2:20-23 "Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, 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.  And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.  And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works." Jezebel was the name of a very evil woman in the Old Testament. In this church she is called a prophetess who is seducing the congregation into committing all kinds of sexual sins, and to involve themselves with idol worship. The Church is having a serious problem with adultery, sexual perversion, pedophilia, pornography addictions, and idolatry of all sorts of things from money to fame. The consequences of not repenting of these sins are to be thrown into the Great Tribulation. Yes, the one that occurs in Daniel's 70th week, where Christ says He will kill them.  While some Christians might read this and think that they do not commit these sins, therefore they are fine in this respect, I would like to address a major problem these days - the internet.

The internet has enabled people to sit at their desks or at their tables and commit sins. We know that pornography is a major problem with people. It is not just men that struggle with this either. But possibly this is not your problem. Maybe you just like to go into chat rooms, or you have an online buddy of the opposite sex that you tell all your troubles to. If you are both single, that is not a problem, for many romances and even marriages have started by correspondence, long before the internet came on the scene. The problem comes when married people find a stranger online (or sometimes a person from their past) with whom they begin a correspondence. This can lead to an emotional affair, if not a physical one. Now, a person may not be guilty of this either, but there is an even more subtle and insidious way that Satan is getting people to sin and people, if confronted with this sin, will emphatically deny that it is even a sin. I am speaking of the social media of Facebook and Youtube. I watch how the people I can observe use these media sources. Some are very circumspect and treat it with the caution it deserves and use it as a way to spread God's Word. Others use it as a venue to give free reign to their feelings and inclinations, some which are not very godly. There are several practices that I have seen that Christians need to stop practicing.

The first sin is getting into nasty arguments with others. While differences of opinions and debates are not sinful in and of themselves, when one starts name calling and making unproven accusations against either known people, or perfect strangers, a line has been crossed. This tends to go on more on Youtube than Facebook, although it happens there too. Also spreading gossip or revealing personal information that is not yours to divulge is a sin. I have seen people use Facebook to vent feelings about family issues. This is not the place to do it. We are to confront the person face to face if we have something against them or they have offended us in some way.

The next thing which I see, which I am sure many will dismiss as not a sin (for I have mentioned this to some Christians who just dismiss my concern as being petty or ridiculous), is the exhibitionism and flirtations. I see women posting selfies of themselves in provocative poses. Often they are scantily clad. This is not just unbelievers doing this, which is bad enough, but I have seen Christian girls and women doing this. We are not to present ourselves in a way that promotes lust in the hearts of men (unless it is in your own house with your own husband). On the other side, I see some Christian (or those who call themselves Christian) men reacting to provocative posts (whether from Christian women or unbelievers) in totally inappropriate and sinful ways. They deny that it is lusting or flirting and justify it by saying that they are only being nice, giving a compliment, or just touching base with the person. Really? Would you care to stand before God and see if He buys that excuse?

First of all, on Facebook one can "like" and now "love" something. Now many people think this is nothing of importance and just "like" every single thing that is posted on their timeline. They somehow are under the mistaken belief that this is necessary to show their friendship. They are being foolish and using no discernment, for every "like" is telling people that we are putting our seal of approval on whatever is posted. Christians should be very careful what we publicly (and privately) put our seal of approval on.  Think of the witness this is giving. This is particularly true when there is a photo of a woman, who is showing off her endowments, who is not their wife or girlfriend and a man "likes" it. The message being sent, which is probably a reflection of what they are experiencing given men's responses to this sort of thing, is to tell the world that they are looking upon that woman with lust, for that is the reason she has posted that picture. To get that response. She wants to be admired and lusted after. And if a man actually responds with a comment such as "Looking GOOD!!!!" or "LOVE the way you look!!!" or "HOT stuff, lol !!! or some equally inappropriate response (which I see a lot), it is telling the woman who posted, and the world of his friends of Facebook, that she has achieved her goal of making that man lust for her. He has made his sin public. It is also telling his wife or girlfriend that he is looking at someone other than her for his satisfaction. Thus is not only a public sin, but it is publicly insulting and degrading the wife/girlfriend, for he has just said that he has just put someone elses feelings (the woman getting the response) above their feelings (that they are not the only object of his heart). And he has stated this publicly for all to see. This is not how love acts. It is a slap in the face of God and the woman he purports to love. It is not, as I have been told, just saying "hi" to the person. If it is so necessary to say "hi" to the person, just send them a message saying "hi" or wait for them to put up an appropriate post which you can respond to in an appropriate manner. While everyone knows that men are excited by visual stimulation, just as with any sin that pops into your head, you should never entertain it further by acting upon it. By "liking" the photo, by making an inappropriate comment, a man is sinning against God in lusting, and also against the women he supposedly loves, if he is not single.Matthew 5:28 "But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."

While I realize that many will scoff at this, saying I am making much ado about nothing, the fact is, I am not. It is these "little" sins which we dismiss that lead to bigger sins. It is perfectly acceptable for a man to compliment a modestly attired woman by saying "You look very nice." Nothing is lustfully implied in a compliment such as that, but when a man even thinks to compliment a woman who is deliberately dressed to attract lust, he is perilously close to sin. And when the compliment is one that implies a lustful reaction, he has sinned. Period. Even punctuation (!!!!) and emphasizing certain words, or the way a comment is phrased implies something, and we are to even to be careful about appearances of evil.1 Thessalonians 5:22 "Abstain from all appearance of evil." Godly Christian men should just turn away or turn a blind eye to women who are trying to provoke a lustful response. The last thing they should do is respond to it. Proverbs 1:10 "My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not." Proverbs 6:25-26a "Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids. For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread:"

This sort of behavior does not only apply to men about women, this also applies to women who do the same to men who are posting inappropriate pictures of themselves. And this does not only apply to sexually provocative pictures. This applies to "liking" or making supportive comments of pictures of people participating in vices or things that promote Satan (such as rock music, or New Age medicine or activities). One should also not "like" establishments or groups that promote vices, or Satan's agenda (even if it is not overtly promoting him) or even religious organizations that are apostate. One should not even be connected to them on Facebook, for what does righteousness have to do with the ungodly or the apostate? It is not only a bad witness, it is in disobedience to God. We should not show support for what does not please God or is blatantly against Him.  We should not make ourselves a partner to those things. Psalms 1:1-2 "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night." 2 Corinthians 6:14 "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?"

As one last comment on this subject, I also know Christians (lots of them) who collect people of the opposite sex as friends on Facebook by actually pursuing people that are complete strangers for that purpose. Sometimes they do this by friending a stranger who is known to someone with whom they are friends, or they run into a stranger someplace and randomly start a conversation, then ask them to Facebook friend them. What exactly is the purpose in that? There is something amiss with people who do this, for social media such as this gets quite personal at times, and they are inviting these perfect strangers to be part of their intimate lives. This can be very dangerous, not to mention that in some cases it can be a sin depending on the situation. The computer has become an idol for some and these social mediums places of worship. We are to act in a wise manner, not in foolishness.

The next church whose sin is mentioned is Sardis. Revelation 3:1b-3 "I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.  Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.  Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee."

Sardis had a name that they lived. They were known as a church in which God was alive and well and productive. They were probably well-known and bringing people in by the score, enlarging their church into a mega church. They probably had many ministries going on to serve the people, for they had works. But they were not alive, they were dead. And their works were not perfect. Why would that be? It is because they were not doing things for God, they were doing things for themselves, and in their own power, not in God's. They did not have a vital personal relationship with God from whom our works come.  Ephesians 2:10 "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." The works that we do have been prepared for us in advance, so that we are doing God's work and will. Churches nowadays are doing their own works and expecting that God will credit them with them, since they are doing them in His name. Even if we are doing things in His name, it does not mean they are His works. Matthew 7:21-23 "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." So many people think they are doing things for the Lord when in fact, they are doing them for themselves, thinking that God will credit their account with these works. Again it is self-love at work. That is because they do not have a vital relationship with the Lord. They are not hearing Him when He tells them what works He wants them to do, because they do not really know Him. Their faith is actually a dead faith, for it is not based on a relationship with Christ.

The last church that Christ chastised was Laodicea. Rev. 3:15-20 "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.  So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.  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:  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.  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.  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."

Laodicea was a wealthy church. They had everything materialistically that one could need and then some. What they did not have was Jesus. They were wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked in every spiritual way. The worst part was, they did not know they were in this state. They had literally kicked Jesus out of the church, because He was standing outside the door knocking and asking to be let back in. They were full of pride. Pride in their accomplishments, pride in their wealth, pride in their lives, which were doing nothing for the cause of Christ. They were even unaware that Jesus was warning them, for pride blinded them. This group was truly in trouble, for they did not even have Jesus. They were naked, and blind, and would stand before God in judgment that way. This is a perfect description of most of the American churches. They do not see their need for holiness. They see all their wealth as God's blessing. They do not realize it is not coming from God, for He sees them as paupers. They erroneously believe that they are so great in God's eyes that He would never let them suffer, so they believe the lie of a pre-trib rapture. They are completely blind to the state they are in. Unfortunately this describes far too many Christians, at least in this country.

Beyond these mentioned problems, far too many Christians are simply living carnal, worldly lives. We are assaulted by the carnality of the world every day through the media and other ways. Television, movies, radio, internet, books, magazines, newspapers, shopping centers, how people are dressed, how people behave (sexually overt public behavior), etc.  have so numbed us to sin that it does not even bother us. Some have even stopped thinking of some things as sin, such as homosexuality. We start to accept sin and even act upon some of it. Holiness is a thing that is not even preached in the churches. Nor is God's wrath. All that is preached is God is love, and God wants you to be happy and have everything in life. As if God is some kind of sugar daddy who lets you do whatever you want and have whatever you desire.

Proverbs 14:9 says "Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favour." Christians today are foolishly mocking God with all their sins. They do not even know what living holy lives means, much less live that way. Lying, cheating, and gossiping are all sins, and unfortunately are things that people do without even thinking about it as sin. People who are coming to the Lord out of lives of sin and/or debauchery are not being shown that they have to leave the past behind and stay away from the old friends and old haunts, because continuing to spend time in those places with those who do not love the Lord will soon corrupt the good intentions of living for the Lord.  1 Cor. 15:33 "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners." Proverbs 26:11 "As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly."  For those coming out of a life of drugs, alcohol, promiscuity and such, to continue to habituate the places and hang out with the people with whom these things were once enjoyed will lead them right back into that life again. A break must be made and a whole new mindset must replace it. Psalm 1:1 "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful."  Romans 12:2 "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." Ephesians 4:23 "And be renewed in the spirit of your mind." Colossians 3:10 "And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him." A new man with a new mind and new life needs a new environment with new friends. Ones that lead him to godly living, not a return to the old life.

One of the definitions of mockery was to "disappoint the hopes of." Christians need to stop mocking God. We need to stop disappointing Him and treating holiness with contempt. We need to humble ourselves and study the Word to see what holy living is and then start living that way. We need to spend time in prayer and Bible study. Most people do not spend a tenth of the time in those pursuits as they do watching TV. How many hours a day do  you, the reader, watch TV? Or listen to worldly music? And throwing some Christian words onto an ungodly piece of music does not make it Christian and good. (see my article on music here).

Satan's followers are spending much more time in pursuit of his business than we Christians spend in pursuit of God and His business. Imagine if we dedicated as much of our time to God as they do to Satan. We might actually turn the tide and start winning the battle. How many people have ever fasted when they have prayed? This is a powerful weapon against darkness. I have not studied as to why this is yet, or even know if the Bible explains why it is, but I can say from experience that it seems to magnify prayers. Possibly it is merely because it allows God to see how serious we are about our prayers.

The people mocked Christ on the cross. We think that was horrible. But we are doing the same thing. We need to stop, get on our knees, and beg God's forgiveness for mocking Him.