Those who argue that all sin is the same need to take another look at Scripture.
11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.” John 19:11 (ESV)
There is an emerging, deadly argument that is growing in strength among Christians when confronted with issues of holiness and repentance in our culture.
As I write this, the Christian world is abuzz about the recent news that Christian music artist Lauren Daigle failed to renounce homosexuality. You can read my two-part article on that situation, where I both cheered Lauren on in hopes that she would make a course correction in her life and dealt directly with the danger she created for her millions of followers:
The argument that so many Christians use in defense of Lauren and her position is quite revealing. It reveals a lack of biblical understanding, but that’s not what’s most troubling. The argument often manifests through people conditioned by the spirit of the age that rejects everything that isn’t tolerant, permissive and, as they would say, loving. The idea is that we must never confront or expose error if the person in question would risk being troubled by the process. Their definition of love is misguided. It’s false-love.
From my article, The Great Love Deception: A False Love Movement is on the Rise:
Keep in mind that false or tainted love doesn’t flow mostly from an evil, debased heart. It also doesn’t mean that there is nothing about the argument or viewpoint that is true. A person who craves pure love can, in their zeal or in their weakness, allow impurities into their expression of love that twists and compromises it. The reason I needed to say this is to encourage you if you’ve been hit by the false-love spirit. Your desire for manifested love is very probably true, yet the enemy can come in and confuse the process.
Those with a strong mercy gift often have a tender heart and function from a strong desire to minster one-on-one to an individual. They desire to protect and encourage them. This is a valuable, pastoral gift that can bring much life and healing to people. However, as with other gifts, there are blind spots that must be addressed. While they are focused on the individual, they tend to overlook the resulting risk and/or damage to others. In the situation with Lauren Daigle, they want to protect Lauren and rally around her, which is good. We all should be doing that. The expression of love must not stop with Lauren, though. There are millions of others who are now at great risk due to Laruen’s comments. If they do not see the church bring loving correction to the situation, they will automatically presume that Lauren’s position is valid and that the issue of homosexuality isn’t urgent enough to have a biblical position on.
At this time, Lauren has yet to publicly repent and clarify her position. I pray that it happens quickly for herself and the sake of her millions of fans.
THE BIBLE CLEARLY TEACHES THAT ALL SIN IS NOT THE SAME
I have yet to reveal just what the argument so many are using in defense of Lauren and others who are in sin or in error is. Here it is:
All sin is the same. Those who practice or affirm homosexuality are no different than those who worry or gossip. Those without sin should cast the first stone. Who are we to judge?
Those are actually two or three distinct arguments that are often grouped together when defending those who are in sin or error. (I believe sin and error are not always one in the same. One can be in error without realizing it, and without being in sin. Their response to correction, however, does matter. That’s where error can morph into sin quite quickly.)
Some would also argue that Jesus never confronted sin in anyone except the Pharisees. That also is woefully inaccurate. The New Testament is filled with various dealings with sin in the lives of Believers.
Further, many insist that dealing with sin or error is unloving. They suggest the only appropriate response is to pray for them and to approach them one-on-one, in private. Again, we must contend in intercession for those in error, and if we are in relationship with them in a local church setting, and their sin is against us personally, there are absolutely steps that must be taken (Matthew 18). However, the church has no option but to step in as the moderator when public failures put others in harm’s way. Love demands that we do.
Matthew 18 protocol would not be in effect in this scenario since it’s not a sin against a person in a private setting. Public situations demand a public response. Of course, it must be done rightly, with great grace, humility, love and with redemption as the goal.
The focus at its core is two-fold:
- See redemption come to the violator
- Protect the innocent who have been put at risk due to the individual’s sin
According to the Gospel of John, the Pharisees, in an attempt to discredit Jesus, brought a woman charged with adultery before him. Then they reminded Jesus that adultery was punishable by stoning under Mosaic law and challenged him to judge the woman so that they might then accuse him of disobeying the law. Jesus thought for a moment and then replied, “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her.”The people crowded around him were so touched by their own consciences that they departed. When Jesus found himself alone with the woman, he asked her who were her accusers. She replied, “No man, lord.” Jesus then said, “Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more.” ~Dictionary.com
Correcting error either privately or publicly, as the situation demands, does not automatically equate to casting stones. In fact, we see God correct error time after time, cover to cover, from Genesis to Revelation. Further, God’s leaders, prophets and apostles did the same thing. We must understand that error correction and confronting sin are core responsibilities of the church for the sake of the one in error and the ones under their influence.
Jesus was in no way teaching that we should not deal with sin publicly. He was revealing to us the appropriate model for doing so.
When dealing with people in sin, hatred can manifest as a desire to see the sinner destroyed. This is how demonic accusation works. Redemption is not the goal.
On the contrary, Jesus loved the woman caught in adultery in three specific ways:
- He saved her from those who would attempt to hurt and kill her.
- He acknowledged the accusations were true, but forgave her instead of punishing her.
- He commanded her to repent.
Many who are conditioned by false-love tend to only focus on protecting and forgiving. In the face of undeniable evidence, they may casually admit the accusations against the person in question are true, but then quickly dismiss them as irrelevant as they rush to their defense.
Unfortunately, all too often, they miss the third point: We must call for repentance, making it clear that such behavior will only bring destruction.
In fact, the Bible makes it clear that we as Christians have a serious responsibility to judge. Jesus modeled a brilliant and righteous justice session with the woman caught in adultery. We must judge just as he judged.
24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” John 7:24 (ESV)
DIFFERENT TYPES OF SIN
I believe most would agree that different types of sin result in a variety of natural repercussions. If we gossip, the result will not be as severe as if we were to murder someone. It makes sense to all of us that some sin, in the natural, will have minor impact while others will put you in jail or on death row.
The point of disagreement comes when we talk about the spiritual repercussions. This is where so many rush to the defense of a homosexual or someone like Lauren Daigle who, as of this writing, is entertaining serious theological error. They argue that their sin is no different than the sin of lying, apathy or fear. They argue that all sin is the same. They are wrong.
There are most definitely different types of sins that have significantly different outcomes:
BLASPHEMY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
28 I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. 29 But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.” 30 He said this because they were saying, “He has an evil spirit.” Mark 3:28-30 (NIV)
The sin of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is much more common than many believe. This sin has radically different impact than other sins as it eliminates any possibility of salvation. When someone resists Jesus to such a degree that they determine that he is demonized, they have ventured very close to the line, if not over it. The Holy Spirit will stop drawing them and they will grow darker and more hateful toward God. In fact, I’ve written before that one’s eschatology comes into play here as well. Those who don’t know God accurately, those who presume he only functions in a positive way, will accuse him of being demonized, or Satan himself, when he begins killing millions in the end-times. They would argue that a loving God would never do this. They would be wrong. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is very much at play in this scenario. This is a topic of discussion for another day, but suffice it to say, we as Christians can’t presume we are exempt from committing this sin. We are not.
HOMOSEXUALITY PRACTICE AND APPROVAL
26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. Romans 1:26-28 (ESV)
The sin of homosexuality is an abomination and it comes with much more severe judgment than most other sins. There’s no way we can say that the sin of worry is anywhere near being the same as homosexuality.
God abandoned them to the operations of a mind incapable of reflection. ~Adam Clarke's Commentary
The result of being turned over to a debased, or a reprobate, mind is that God abandons them and they no longer reflect on or consider the possibility of truth. This is terrifying. But, it gets even more serious, and this is why the issue with Lauren Daigle and others who are on the fence regarding homosexuality is so urgent.
32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. Romans 1:32 (ESV)
Giving approval to this abomination is a severe violation, and the person who does that is in grave danger.
18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 1 Corinthians 6:18-19 (ESV)
Sexual sin has much greater, more devastating effects than most other sins. It violates the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. I understand the graphic nature of what I am about to say, but consider the disgust and filth of committing sexual sin in your church, at the altar. Friends, this is something that occurs in Satanic churches. The defilement goes beyond anything that most of us would ever understand.
Sexual sin is a violation of the church, of the temple, where the Holy Spirit dwells. It violates us, personally in a deep, deep way. Sexual sin overtakes and defiles the temple, inviting the Holy Spirit to leave. That is a major, life-destroying decision.
Further, refusal to repent from sexual sin can result in one of the most terrifying judgments:
4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 5:4-5 (ESV)
The person is to be publicly given over to Satan himself so his flesh may be destroyed! This is God’s last ditch effort to, hopefully, convince the violator to confess his sin and turn back to him.
LYING TO THE HOLY SPIRIT
1 But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2 and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. 6 The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him. 7 After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” 9 But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. Acts 5:1-10 (ESV)
I don’t think most Christians realize how common the above scenario is today. My belief is that it happens often. We may be part of a church, invested in the vision and ready to give, serve and participate, yet if we lie and put God’s name on it, we are at risk of immediate death. The Bible makes it clear that this resulted in great fear coming upon the church. We need that fear to return today!
How often do people say, “God said,” or “God told me to…” when they are simply attempting to give validation to their own fleshly desires? How common is it for people to prophesy out of their soul and finish by saying, “Thus sayeth the Lord?” Common. Very common.
When we do this, we take God’s name in vain. We lie to the Holy Spirit. At times, when people do this, they have no time to repent. They are taken, and what they are up against in eternity is something none of us ever want to experience.
WRONGLY RECEIVING THE LORD’S SUPPER
27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 1 Corinthians 11:27-30 (ESV)
I doubt most people genuinely stop and consider the condition of their heart prior to eating the wafer and drinking the grape juice at church. I’ve led communion in such a way where most people in the church were actually hesitant to receive the elements! The repentance was powerful and the examination of hearts deep. When we approach God casually, with hearts that are not fully surrendered and tainted by sin, we have to know that our well being is compromised.
Fear and trembling must return to the church and sin has to be eradicated. If we aren’t in a good place in God, we really shouldn’t partake in the extremely holy sacrament of Communion.
SIN THAT DOESN’T RESULT IN DEATH
16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death. 18 We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. 1 John 5:16-18 (ESV)
God understand that sanctification is progressive, and if we are living a repentant life, the sins that we wrestle with will not cost us our salvation. This is the sin that is not unto death. So, if we slip up the moment before death, there’s a chance that God will count the sin as one that doesn’t result in death. However, I sure don’t want to risk an unnecessary analysis of the last moments of my life. I believe it’s much better to leave here with purity in our hearts and praise in our hearts!
Verse 18 is key: our wrestling match with the same sins should not be open ended. We should not continue in sin. Victory after victory should be the pattern of our lives as we leave old sinful patterns behind forever.
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14-15 (ESV)
I believe unforgiveness is a specific sin that has unique penalties. God’s forgiveness of us was so precious, so valuable, so driven by love that our refusal to do the same for others is a violation more extreme and vile than most others. If we refuse to forgive someone, we can’t presume to be saved. We can’t presume to be forgiven. The verses in Matthew are crystal clear.
Consider Corrie Ten Boom. You may have read her story in the book The Hiding Place. She was a general in the faith as she and her family hid Jews during the Holocaust. Eventually they were discovered and were put into a concentration camp. She ministered Jesus in inhuman conditions. She was faithful in a time where all faith was lost. Ultimately, after torture at the hands of one particular guard and countless horrors, her entire family was killed. The war ended and Corrie was released.
Shortly after Corrie was walking down the road when a man approached her. He said, “Excuse me, you were in the camp, weren’t you?” Corrie affirmed that she was. He continued, “After the war I gave my life to Jesus. I prayed that he would allow me to find one person that I hurt so badly in the concentration camp.” It was the guard—the one who brutally tortured and killed her family. He said, “I told God that I wanted to seek their forgiveness. Would you please forgive me?”
Corrie, in her own words, shared her reaction. She said that she simply could not forgive him. As that thought consumed her soul, God spoke to her. He said, “Corrie, if you don’t forgive him, I won’t forgive you.” She knew, as a general in the faith, if she refused to forgive that man than she herself would die in her sins. Hell was her future. She then looked at the man who brought so much horror to her and took his hand and said, “I do forgive you.”
She said the love of God shot through her hand into the former guard’s.
Tragically, so many Christians today presume they are exempt from such truths in Scripture.
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14-15
Watch a powerful, tear inducing video about Corrie Ten Boom and read more about the danger of sin in the lives of Christians in my article, Unsaved Christians—Thoughts on Sin, Hell and Following Jesus in an Unsaved Condition.
33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:33-37 (ESV)
The condition of our heart will determine how we live, and what we say. If we yield good fruit, we can expect a glorious judgment. If we yield bad fruit, only a terrifying judgment can be expected. The words that come out of our mouths can be a great barometer of the condition of our heart. If we are speaking life, good fruit is sure to be there.
CONTINUAL, DELIBERATE SIN
26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? Hebrews 10:26-29 (ESV)
I firmly believe the doctrine of eternal security is false. I understand the arguments, and there are many wonderful men and women of God who subscribe to this theology. However, my personal opinion, based on what I see in the Word, is that it’s a very dangerous and false belief system. This passage in Hebrews 10 couldn’t be more precise. If we continue in sin, the sacrifice of Jesus will no longer have effect for us. We will be counted among God’s adversaries.
False-grace teachers would argue that Jesus no longer sees our sin. This verse, however, makes it clear that such a belief actually outrages the Spirit of grace.
Continuing in sin will, without question, result in our names being removed from the book of life.
15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:15 (ESV)
5 we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. Daniel 9:5-6 (ESV)
10 And the people of Israel cried out to the LORD, saying, “We have sinned against you, because we have forsaken our God and have served the Baals.” 11 And the LORD said to the people of Israel, “Did I not save you from the Egyptians and from the Amorites, from the Ammonites and from the Philistines? 12 The Sidonians also, and the Amalekites and the Maonites oppressed you, and you cried out to me, and I saved you out of their hand. 13 Yet you have forsaken me and served other gods; therefore I will save you no more. 14 Go and cry out to the gods whom you have chosen; let them save you in the time of your distress.” Judges 10:10-14 (ESV)
We know what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah. Righteousness didn’t prevail, and God’s judgment destroyed the cities. There are too many examples to cite of God’s judgment coming to a city or a nation. The actions of the whole can bring either blessing or judgment to all. This means that I will feel the impact of the sins of others. Will their sin impact me eternally? No, not if I remain intimately surrendered to Jesus. However, national sin will result in such great pressure that many will reject God, others will turn from him and eternities will most certainly be affected.
We need an on fire, praying church to rise up in repentance, holiness and with a prophetic call to awaken!
1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Revelation 3:1-2 (ESV)
5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ Revelation 3:5-6 (ESV)
The Bible tells us that the lukewarm will be vomited out of God’s mouth. The above verses in Revelation are sobering. Those who are apathetic, dead and dying, are at great risk of having their name blotted out of the book of life and spending eternity in Hell. I believe passion for Jesus is one of the most important elements of a Christian’s life. We must wake up on fire, live our lives on fire, sleep on fire and enter eternity on fire!
7 Our fathers sinned, and are no more; and we bear their iniquities. Lamentations 5:7 (ESV)
I’m keenly aware that my five children and their children are at risk of bondage to any sins that I choose to embrace in my life. This keeps me sober and broken before the Lord. The thought of my wonderful, beautiful children feeling the impact of any sin that I would entertain simply wrecks me. There are sons who are destroyed by lust because of their father’s secret life of pornography. Daughters who are hooked on drugs because of the pattern of addiction in the family line.
We can break the cycle by living a consecrated life, fully surrendered to Jesus.
DECEPTION & FALLING AWAY
12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 2 Timothy 3:12-13 (ESV)
12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:12-13 (ESV)
When we entertain immorality, we are at great risk of falling away. Unbelief can creep into a Christian’s life very easily. Sadly, many will fall away. We must actively develop a life of purity and faith as we combat doubt and compromise.
PLEASURE IN UNRIGHTEOUSNESS
11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 (ESV)
This passage is brutal. Those who are taking pleasure in unrighteousness and who are rejecting truth can end up spiritually dead long before their names are written in an obituary. This sin can result in God actually sending a strong delusion so they will, as a result, actually believe what is false. God will not ever allow them to receive the truth they so aggressively rejected.
This is why I believe we must promote radical holiness in this hour. So much of the church today is carnal, enjoying the very things that required the slaughter and murder of the one they say they love. They take pleasure in unrighteousness by watching movies and television that are filled with foul language, sexual situations, coarse jesting and other impurities. They pump immoral music into their ears night and day. They are no different than the world. Those who reject truth and enjoy immorality are at risk of being the recipient of delusion, making it impossible to ever turn to Jesus.
Sin is not all the same. We can’t treat it identically. Of course, we don’t want to commit any sin, but we must also be keenly aware of the greater sins, the impact on our lives and the cost to our nation and millions of people if we don’t confront and correct it.
When sin is affirmed or error is proclaimed by people, whether in a local setting or on the public stage, the church cannot stay silent in the name of love. Such an apathetic act will result in millions being offered the fruit of deception. Many will eat that fruit and blood will be on our hands.
Let’s love well, confront evil, expose darkness, rebuke when necessary, speak life and be the prophetic voices that God is calling us to be.
11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. Ephesians 5:11-12 (ESV)
11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. Ephesians 5:11-12 (ESV)
People are leading ministries and churches all while the Bible instructs us not to even eat with them. It’s time for a house cleaning.
Facebook is a great, if unscientific, medium for discussions about culture and Scripture (and kittens, food, vacations, etc.). I’ve participated in many such discussions online and I constantly find myself shaking my head when supposedly solid, Spirit-filled Christians flat out reject clear, simple truths found in the Bible. We have declined into a church that all too often employs human reasoning in favor of biblical principles.
As an example, when is the last time you heard a pastor teach on the issue of divorce? At best they may suggest it’s negative and painful while fully ignoring what God himself has to say about it.
Right in the middle of Luke chapter 16 we see the following:
“Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery. Luke 16:18 (ESV)
We have a bunch of people in our churches today who are living in adultery because they divorced and remarried without validation. We need a mass movement of repentance for wrongful divorce and remarriage! After getting remarried, there can be redemption and forgiveness, but that is a process that must be completed. Divorce rates in the church should be near zero. I say near zero because there are legitimate and approved reasons to initiate a divorce. There are times when it’s fully appropriate to get remarried as well. God is in the restoration business, but we must submit to his process and follow his protocol.
The point on divorce was simply one example as I begin this article on discipline in the church. We have to agree that Scripture rules. We must stop minimizing it, modifying it, ignoring it or rewriting it.
Before you attempt to crucify me for being cruel and unfeeling regarding divorce or the other issues I’ll address in this article, I want to challenge you. First, my heart is broken over sin in the camp. Second, why do you presume you have the right to dismiss clear directives in Scripture? You don’t. Neither do I. I believe it’s an act of love and humility to trust God’s wisdom as we deal directly with sin in the church. God has given us a measure of stewardship over his holy church, and we are failing, especially in regard to holiness.
IT’S TIME TO CLEAN HOUSE
Take a moment and let the following verse sink in:
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 (ESV)
Sin in the camp is defiling the house.
The above passage reveals that God judges the unsaved, the lost, those in the world. It also reveals that we have been mandated to judge those within the church. This, friend, rarely happens and that is a key reason revival is not near.
Please remember, we don’t have the right to exercise mercy that’s not endorsed by the Word of God. We don’t have the freedom to let someone off the hook when God demands we deal with their situation.
You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. Galatians 5:7-9 (ESV)
One immoral person in a church can compromise the entire congregation.
LOVE THEM OUT THE DOOR
It’s time to express love, with tears in our eyes, by inviting people to leave our churches. Multiplied thousands of professing Christians must be shown the door—and fast.
If they profess Christ and are guilty of sin, we cannot even eat with them. This is severe, and it is necessary. It’s also literal.
Are there any people attending church today who are greedy? We can’t go grab coffee with them. Is anybody involved in porn? Do they get intoxicated? Do they have idols in their lives? Are they abusive? We must deal directly with them for the sake of their souls and those of everybody in the church! Why? Check out a verse that’s strangely similar to what we read in 1 Corinthians 5 (it takes it to a whole other level):
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (ESV)
While so many are welcoming these offenders into church services and functions every week, God has determined they will not be welcomed into Heaven. We are celebrating the people God is rejecting! We are confirming those God is calling out!
Allow me to make this point very clear: If anyone who names the name of Christ is guilty of these sins, they must immediately repent while bearing fruit or they must be removed from fellowship. Period.
Yes, most youth groups will be wiped out. Elders in the church will have to go. Many pastors will have to relinquish their positions. Churches will decline significantly in number as they lose those guilty of sin AND their sympathizers!
What will be left? A holy, remnant church that can finally move in power, unity and purity.
TURN THEM OVER TO SATAN
Sexual sin is especially destructive. If anybody tells you all sin is the same, don’t believe them. It’s not true. For example, one type of sin cannot be forgiven. Other sins are not unto death. Sexual sin is one that demands a more severe response. Again, the response is rooted in love, not revenge. It’s to protect the church and to awaken the offender.
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 1 Corinthians 5:1-7 (ESV)
The world has the right to accuse Christians of hypocrisy. When sin happens, it’s swept under the rug. It’s ignored. It’s certainly not dealt with. It’s rarely judged.
The instruction is clear and cannot be modified. The one who is guilty must be turned over to Satan. They must be excommunicated. They are a danger to themselves and to the church.
The purpose of discipline is twofold:
- The restoration of the person—God, in his wisdom, knows just what it will take to give people the greatest chance of restoration. Biblical discipline is a part of that process.
- The protection of the body—A little leaven leavens the whole lump. We must insist on a holy church for the sake of the innocent and unsuspecting.
…deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” Hebrews 12:6 (ESV)
For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. Hebrews 12:10 (ESV)
When restoration works, the Bible tells us that we will win our brother. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out the way we’d prefer, but it’s imperative that we try as Scripture demands:
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Matthew 18:15-17 (ESV)
Keep in mind that severe church discipline must follow earlier attempts at restoration.
And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 (ESV)
The first step isn’t removing them from fellowship. It’s calling them higher, exhorting them to live righteously and patiently yet invasively, uncomfortably, demand they respond to the correction of the Lord. Walk the walk with them until their rebellion or repeated failures would cause you to violate the Word to maintain fellowship with them. That time comes sooner than we typically presume.
GOD DEMANDS THAT HIS CHURCH IS HOLY
John L. Dagg said this:
“When discipline leaves a church, Christ goes with it.”
Ichabod is posted above the doorposts as the presence of God vacates a once holy church that’s inundated with immorality.
The question is simple, do you want God to remain or the unrepentant offender? You can’t have both.
Christians are playing the God card during this election season. Could it be the Trump card?
WATCH A VIDEO BY JOHN BURTON ON THIS TOPIC:
The American Christian church has ventured into dangerous ground over the last several years. This current political season is making that quite evident.
The number of Christians who are using the God card to support their personal endeavors today is troubling. I’ve been in some form of Christian leadership for over 25 years, and I never stop being shocked at how casually someone can attach the name of God to their own opinions and desires.
Doing so is a serious violation. Stating that God endorses our personal desires when he in fact does not is taking his name in vain.
When immoral preachers announce that God said you’d receive a blessing if you sent them money, that’s taking the Lord’s name in vain.
When we prophesy over someone by saying, “God told me to tell you…” when you are selfishly advancing your own agenda, you are taking his name in vain.
Before you dismiss me as one who is opposed to the prophetic, I need to make it clear that I believe we need to hear God’s voice much more regularly in the church today. God absolutely is talking to us and we not only have the opportunity but the responsibility to know him intimately and receive what he is communicating to us. I am unapologetically a prophetic minister and I actually believe it’s quite impossible to follow God in fullness without being a prophetic people.
From my book Revelation Driven Prayer:
To default to human logic in neglect of the present voice of God Himself is a very average, not to say dangerous way to live.
The issue we have today is not the fact that we need people to dive deeper into a prophetic life, it’s the way so many are jumping in.
I'm hearing more and more people saying they are following the leading of the Holy Spirit, or that God said this or that…while ignoring truth that's already revealed in Scripture. It's time we stop using the God card and get back to the timeless principles in the Word of God. If Scripture doesn't support our mystical revelations, we have to throw them out.
I don’t know how many times in my life I’ve heard people attach a nearly indefensable excuse to a decision they are making: God said. That’s it. We are expected to accept their decision or behavior simply because they declare that, “God said.”
Except, so often, he did not.
I know, it’s extremely offensive to be challenged on our ability to hear God’s voice, but we have to be okay with some scrutiny for the sake of the health of the church, our nation and ourselves. We must stop stating what God is telling us to do unless we have firm biblical support to back us up.
People that use the God card to accomplish what they desire are very often the same people who barely have a prayer life, aren’t in the Word of God as they should be and who rarely hear God giving input on anything other than what personally benefits them.
God told me it’s time to leave my church without the blessing of my pastor.
God said it’s okay to leave my wife.
God said it’s okay to watch immoral movies since I’m mature enough to handle the smut.
The Holy Spirit wants more freedom in my church, and he chose me to give this information to so I can tell the pastor.
God said I don’t have to do this.
God revealed I can do that.
God said Donald Trump is his man of the hour.
If I lost you, I’m sure I have your attention again.
THE TRUMP CARD
I need to make a point extremely clear so there is no confusion whatsoever. God has not told me that Donald Trump is the one he has chosen to lead our nation. God has also not told me Donald Trump is not the one he has chosen. I think we must come back to sensibility regarding one of the most important decisions we as voting Christians will make over the next four years. We must be based on the Word of God as the plumbline, not a subjective sense that we call prophetic. Is it possible for God to speak in the moment to us personally about this issue? Of course. However, he will do so with clarity and without compromising principles in the Word.
Quit using the God card when it comes to the political future of our nation. Doing so just may be the trump card for Donald Trump’s campaign.
It’s a sad, revealing picture of today’s church when some truly amazing children of God are absolutely ignoring or dismissing clear and troubling issues just so they can promote the person they want for the office of President.
“Men acting under the belief and awe of God as their inspector and judge, to whom they consider themselves accountable for their conduct and whom they fear to offend.” Matthias Burnet, 1803 election sermon
“Nothing will so surely, so rapidly bring on the dissolution of society, and the loss of the liberties of a people, as a want of virtue and integrity in their rulers.” ~Chandler Robbins, 1791 election sermon
It's shocking how many Christians are using the excuse that we aren't electing a “Pastor in Chief”. What a strange argument! How can we be so eager to elect someone who does not know God? Would it not be preferable to have an anointed pastor running our nation? What a glorious four years that would be!
Prov 29:2 When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked rule, the people mourn.
We have a duty to choose godly leaders. How is it so many are using the God card by saying that we are to ignore that scripture by choosing an ungodly authority? It’s been said that Donald Trump may be the most vulgar man ever to run for President! How can anybody not see the conflict? We had two Christian men in Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio to choose from, but the evangelical church has rejected true children of God for a more popular secular leader.
So many are presuming God will work through an ungodly person, a Cyrus as it has been stated, more effectively than through a godly one. That, friend, doesn't hold scriptural muster. It's nonsense.
Our Forefathers must be turning in their graves. Why would we not want a godly man or woman in the nation's highest office?
I don't believe anyone can rightly govern without a legitimate relationship with Jesus Christ. I don't think it's possible. Yet, it seems millions of Christian men and women of God are rejecting that reality in favor of one who has achieved success by secular, worldly means. We can't afford an ungodly person leading our nation no matter how brilliant, bold or innovative they may be.
“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” – George Washington
“Americans should select and prefer Christians as their rulers.” – John Jay, The first Supreme Court Justice
“There are a good many problems before the American people today, and before me as President, but I expect to find the solution to those problems just in the proportion that I am faithful in the study of the Word of God.” – Woodrow Wilson, 28th President
God said to vote for Donald Trump? If he really told you that, simply back it up with Scripture.
I would agree that God may want Donald Trump in office, and that he may desire to establish him as authority over our nation, but it would most probably be as a means of judgment, not blessing.
God has done that in the past. Scripture reveals that quite clearly.
On the contrary, God may one day move powerfully on Donald Trump’s heart and we could have quite an amazing leader.
However, that has yet to happen, and voting for him in hopes that it does is irresponsible, in my opinion.
After the election is over we will all have the opportunity to serve our leader with passion. That will be an honor.
For all of those who oppose Donald Trump as President, you better be ready to become his biggest advocate and servant in intercession should he get elected. That won't be a time for arrogant pouting, but rather for undergirding and prayer. Does that mean you should vote for him? No, not if your values would be compromised. But you must love him and go to battle for him for the sake of his soul and our nation. Pray with such humility that your position of opposing him is proven to be wrong.
In closing, in the midst of this unparallelled political season, we must remain humble and full of life.
If you aren't able to honor and bless others while discussing politics, you should stop the conversation. If you lose your joy, get angry, get offended or want to divide away from another brother or sister in Christ if they disagree with you, something's not right. Keep smiling. Rejoice always. Stand for truth. Love deeply.
I’m on a personal journey to discover God—as He truly is—and what I discover will certainly trouble me.
It will trouble me because I'm absolutely confident that his fear is going to hit me more than it ever has… and I will have to guard my heart from offense when the parts I so value are revealed as a distortion of who he truly is. But, in the end, it will be glorious!
We have to put on our big boy and big girl pants and have a tender heart covered by very thick skin as we eagerly welcome calibration to God’s Word.
We must read the Word as it is, in context! I’m shocked at how quickly very clear scriptural truths are dismissed without reason by those who are threatened by what it says.
For example, how can we not read Revelation 9:15 and not have it violate the common, modern definition of Godly love?
So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, were released to kill a third of mankind. Revelation 9:15
That’s an offensive verse! How does that mess with your definition of a loving God? He killed mankind throughout biblical history, OT and NT, and that greatly impacts how we view God!
I so crave to read verses like this and devour it, let it get deep into my spirit so my understanding of God can be made more vivid. If I resist that process of study, I put my position in Christ at risk as I replace him with a misrepresented version of him.
The Bible tells us to test ourselves to see if we are in the faith. ~Paul Washer
I regularly talk to God about this. Am I truly in the faith, or have I bought into religious superstition and tradition that satisfies my desire for spirituality?
In this journey I’m quickly discovering that the Word of God will radically offend me if I don’t allow it to enlighten me. The God of the Bible is strikingly different than his representation in much of today’s church.
When you preach truth, it will cause people to either thank you or hate you. Pure truth is costly to handle and receive. It’s dangerous. It’s freeing.
The very traditions and perspectives that we have grown up with in the American church must be placed on the altar as we allow God to reeducate us. We must have the knowledge of God, and it’s time that we finally get deep into God’s Word again!
And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! Mark 7:9
thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.” Mark 7:13
This journey has ramped up for me over the last two years, and my message and mission have become so clearly defined that I have had to repent in tears over leading a church with a care-free culture that was devoid of the fear of the Lord. I was shocked to life and brokenness during a Bay of the Holy Spirit event in Detroit—and it was then, as a vision of millions of people hanging in the void between Heaven and Hell opened before me, that I knew everything was going to change for me and my ministry—drastically.
Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Romans 10:1-3
Romans 10:1-2 sums up the short period of time when I was leading a vibrant church here in the Detroit region that was electric and experience driven. We launched Revival Church correctly, and experienced some phenomenal moves of God, but I distinctly remember thinking at one point well into the church planting process, “People are so locked in to the happy, care-free culture of celebration that we better just ride this wave for a while.” That is what I had to repent for. I was irresponsible for perpetuating a culture of positivity while ignoring God’s severity. What was resulting was no longer God moving as much as we’d like to think. I believe we became inward focused, looking for spiritual high after spiritual high.
What people call a great move of God is often just emotion. ~Paul Washer
Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. Romans 11:22
We have to embrace both God’s kindness and his severity. I was focusing on his kindness while forsaking his severity, for this short period of time, and I became so broken and convicted that I simply could not continue that way.
The shift resulted in a focus on the core DNA of my heart, and a fuller acknowledgment of scriptural truth.
That shift is continuing for me, and it has me in the grips of God’s empowering grace—I am yearning for revelation not based on experience first, but on the timeless, pure Word of the Living God. That’s the journey that will cause trouble as it already has and will certainly continue to threaten the sacred cows in the church today.
SOURCES OF FOOD AND LIFE?
In Hinduism, the cow is revered as the source of food and symbol of life and may never be killed.
The sacred cows in the church are going to be violated when truth in scripture is trumpeted, and that has already and will continue to cause problems. These sacred cows are relied on by many Christians as their source of food and life, of feelings of security, safety, love, etc.
Since I started this journey of biblical study, my eyes have been opened afresh, and my spirit awakened as God has revealed violations of clear, orthodox biblical truths that the church has embraced with much eagerness. As one who fell into the trap of perpetuating a culture of positivity at the expense of the highlighting the cost and God’s severity, I understand how seductive it can be.
It’s time, with a humble spirit, to tear down our father’s altars. When we do that, people’s source of food and life will be threatened, and the reaction will be extreme, no matter how humble our heart is.
When the men of the town rose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was broken down, and the Asherah beside it was cut down, and the second bull was offered on the altar that had been built. And they said to one another, “Who has done this thing?” And after they had searched and inquired, they said, “Gideon the son of Joash has done this thing.” Then the men of the town said to Joash, “Bring out your son, that he may die, for he has broken down the altar of Baal and cut down the Asherah beside it.” Judges 6:28-30
Most people will shrink back from such a bold approach due to the cost. It’s difficult when the accusations start flying. After all, such a seemingly arrogant move stinks of personal ambition and hatred—when in fact Gideon was acting in love, according to the instructions of God. I’ll talk more about the radical misunderstanding of what love is below.
Do you understand the cost I must pay to say that American Christianity is almost totally wrong. ~Paul Washer
Because our gospel message has been deficient,our disciples are now deficient & the American “born again” Church is deficient. ~Michael Brown
THE FALSE-GRACE REACTION
By far, the teaching that resulted from my journey in the Word that has elicited the greatest number of comments is on false-grace.
Many times a day, most every day, I’m receiving emails, Facebook messages and other comments on this message—and about 95% of them are positive. People are thanking me for sounding the alarm. I’ve received many testimonies from people who have been set free from this deception. That makes it worth it for sure!
It’s so important that we don’t hold back truth out of fear of accusation. People who are buying into false-grace are literally in extreme and immediate danger!
We care more about our friendships than we do about our friends. We hold back truth to save those friendships. ~Francis Chan
Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. Romans 11:22
The remaining 5% or so of those who respond to my articles, videos and comments on false-grace, sadly, are often extremely aggressive and even hateful in their communication. The reason? They have put their faith in an unscriptural sacred cow instead of the fearful truth of Jesus.
They have so identified with their sinful nature that they cannot imagine Truth actually setting them free. Their only hope seems to be a grace that covers up their failures. In fact, accusations are often hurled saying the rejection of the false-grace message reveals one’s hypocrisy since they are trying to call people to a standard that they have determined nobody can reach. Teachers of true grace are called legalists, though all they are doing is letting people know the standards Jesus himself established.
Grace enables us to obey. It really does. It’s empowering, not burdensome.
And, thanks to God’s mercy, when we do fail, we can respond to God’s love and get back up! We should never refuse to preach truth and affirm the biblical standards because we struggle living up to it! It’s in our weakness that he’s made strong! When we admit that we cannot do it in our own strength, God is glorified!
One of the most difficult parts of repentance is to repent of your good deeds – it is much harder than repenting of your bad deeds – to repent of your self-righteousness, which is far more offensive to God than your unrighteousness. ~David Pawson
It’s actually God’s mercy, not his grace, that covers our failures. It’s an expression of God’s deep love for us! It’s true grace that enables us to live a righteous life.
The false-grace issue is volatile enough to split churches right down the middle, and I believe that it will actually be the distinguishing factor that reveals clearly the authentic and the false church in the end times.
THE FALSE-LOVE CONFUSION
Love. We don’t understand it.
There's been an overemphasis on the love of God (in teaching). It was not the message of the apostles. Only 35 out of 35,000 scriptures in the Bible are about the love of God. ~David Pawson
I have been increasingly troubled in my spirit with the misunderstanding of what true, biblical love really is. I mean, my friend, it is so radically different than we understand it to be—in fact, God’s expression of love can very often look like hatred! This is biblical truth, and it’s hard to handle.
I wrote another article on the false-love movement, so I won’t rehash it here. But I do want to speak to it to a degree.
I was so appreciative of a short video I stumbled upon by David Pawson. I am including it here, and the seven minutes it will take to watch it just might change your understanding of just what love is. Please, by all means, watch it. Everything he’s saying is what has been jumping in my spirit for months. He just does a much more brilliant job of communicating it!
After watching the video, you are provoked I’m sure.
This is the type of scriptural revelation that I’m talking about! We misunderstand God which results in misrepresenting God!
Entire churches and movements are sitting on a compromised foundation that’s made up of misrepresentations of God and his Word!
We really don’t know God! We must humbly admit this!
We’ve grown up in churches that have taught about God’s love in massive portions, so any movement that doesn’t focus on it in that way seems unloving, and is dismissed. My God!
We must dive into the Word of God again, as if we’ve never read it before.
Just today, my wife was reading through John chapter 3, and was taking note of the severity of God. (Very interestingly, she read it just before she watched the above video!)
She then read the commentary in the sidebar that was written by an extremely popular author. The author was actually contradicting what the passage was revealing! This isn’t surprising since John 3:16 specifically is so often misapplied, but it does give us a sobering mandate to study to show ourselves approved.
My wife said, “Maybe I need to stop reading the commentary and just read the Word.”
Yes! Read it first, and then use commentary and various Bible helps to see if they either confirm and illuminate what the scriptures reveal OR contradict it.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15
THE JOURNEY CONTINUES
We must return to orthodox Christianity. It’s time we read the Word as it is. As I do this, it’s stunning how contrary we are to it. I’m wrecked and I’m being transformed.
As we are in the Word, we will discover often disturbing but always liberating insights on fear, eternity, Hell, grace, love, God’s nature, his feelings toward different types of people, salvation and much more.
We must break off the gods of personal satisfaction, selfish ambition and personal gain that so many of today’s theologies have empowered.
Any impatience, self-will, religious ambition, the compulsion to do for God, and the need to be recognized and acknowledged, will never be a glory unto God. -Art Katz
Our hearts must be continually inspected and pure, humble, broken…as we dive back into the Word and see just what God originally communicated.
I challenge you to read the Word, in context, without the lenses of pop-theologies of today, and see how different God ends up appearing to you!
When that happens, tell the world. It’s time to shine light on our hearts first, and then on the religious darkness in America.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
An overwhelming experience in God’s presence is coming—and that is going to produce some issues in the church.
I often say that a 2 Chronicles 7 church is coming—and it is going to be shocking when it does.
As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house. When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” 2 Chronicles 7:1-3
Now, that’s a good church service!
I am definitely wired to appreciate and crave encounters with Jesus that leave people wrecked and rocked. I’ve experienced visible glory clouds, manifestations of gold dust and oil and indescribable encounters that left me absolutely floored in the glory of God’s presence. I believe one second in God’s presence is enough to convince the most resistant skeptic and it’s enough to free people from years of demonic assault.
However his presence may not feel like what we think it might.
“I just want to feel Jesus.”
I was compelled strongly by the Holy Spirit in a recent season at Revival Church to call everybody back to the raw, elementary truths of Christianity. I shifted from teaching mostly on experience and encounter to the tenets of our faith for several weeks when I started to become troubled with the lack of maturity in the camp.
In fact, I was deeply grieved when I discovered one young lady who had connected with us and absolutely loved to worship and pray was actually steeped in extremely demonic New Age teachings. That was a wake-up call for me. How was it that we had a culture of experiencing God’s presence and someone could blend in who was so radically deceived? I knew I had to shock our culture with a fresh understanding of what God’s presence truly is—and it starts with his Word.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1
My experience there was priceless—I had to gain an understanding of the risk that will accompany the coming moves of God that will result in unprecedented manifestations of his presence. Many fiery Christians will shrink back when God’s true presence manifests.
When we shifted, I began preaching and teaching on the hard topics of salvation, Hell, repentance, the cross and the blood of Jesus. I have to admit I was stunned at the fierce resistance that came as I was communicating the elementary tenets of the Christian faith. I believe it’s possible to experience God’s presence and be so undisciplined and focused on personal experience that one isn’t even saved. This is the main reason this topic has to be addressed. Is it possible some of the most fervent worshipers and wildest dancers weren’t saved? I don’t know. I tremble at the thought of it.
In this critical season, instead of a careless, party atmosphere that had become common at Revival Church, the bar was raised as I called everybody into intentional steps of maturity, repentance and brokenness before the Lord.
What followed broke my heart—and confirmed my suspicions.
With the happy, dancing, party dialed down as we invited God to reveal himself to us in a deeper way, I saw sad faces and disengaged people.
Someone said, “I just want to feel Jesus again.”
What they didn’t realize is that Jesus was actually moving in greater power than he had previously, even though those prior encounters were something to behold. God was calling us deeper, beyond the entertainment and warm fuzzy feelings that are very much Holy Spirit initiated, but limited greatly. There was more—and for those who are addicted to happy feelings, more with God can feel like less.
“I want you to give me your life.”
I understand the struggle with feeling God’s presence removed.
In the early 1990’s God had absolutely overwhelmed my life day after day. I wish I could communicate how remarkable that season of my life was. God was overwhelming me with his presence and I became a different person literally overnight.
After work every day I’d go to the church, by myself, and pray for hours. That’s all I craved to do! God met me there continually, and I was rocked over and over again. My entire life revolved around the prayer room and enjoying God. Nothing compared.
One night my life changed forever. In the midst of my amazing daily encounters with Jesus, I found myself in a prayer room at a youth lock-in in Dayton, Ohio. While 300 students were playing volleyball and basketball I was alone in a dark, glorious room overlooking the skyline of the city. God was waiting for me when I waked in.
I paced around praying and worshiping as the presence of God swirled all around me. I never wanted to leave.
Suddenly, as I was enjoying God, walking back and forth in his manifest presence, I heard a voice, “John, I want you to give me permission to take your life tonight.”
I was irritated. My focus on loving Jesus was interrupted by someone with what felt like a terribly different agenda. Little did I know, it was an agenda to grow me up and gauge my devotion.
I shook off that distracting voice, and attempted to enter back into the glory realm. I prayed and worshiped, but the presence of God was completely gone—or so I thought.
Again I heard, “John, I want you to give me permission to take your life tonight.”
Though I clearly understood I was being asked to give my life for Jesus, my emotions were negative. I was distraught, irritated, lonely and even afraid. My enjoyment was gone. However, what I didn’t realize was this—my feelings were not sufficient to analyze the situation. God’s presence had actually increased exponentially in that room of destiny, not dissipated. The fearful judge had arrived and he meant business.
You see, the contrast in experiences was so stark that I actually wondered if the voice was coming from Satan! My lack of maturity in spiritual discernment and biblical truth resulted in a misdiagnosis! This is the risk of the presence movement!
I ended up rebuking the voice that was speaking to me! I was rebuking God as if he were Satan! The lesson is clear—our analysis of the situation must include sources much more comprehensive than feelings alone.
After all, would Satan ask me to lay my life down for Jesus? My feelings should have been shelved in that critical moment in lieu of applying the Word of God.
Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? Matthew 12:22-26
Though I tried to enter back into worship again, it was futile. I heard the voice one more time, “John, I want you to give me permission to take your life tonight.”
I didn’t realize it that night, but the reason I couldn’t enter back into worship is two-fold:
- I wanted to worship a God of my own design. I wanted to enjoy God conditionally. I cringed when he decided to reveal another part of his self to me, and since it wasn’t what I expected, I rejected him, at least temporarily as I was wrestling that night. God demanded that I worship him as he is, not as I presumed.
- I was resistant to embrace the costly, troubling part of Christianity—potential martyrdom. I was all in when the glory was on me, but I was quick to hesitate when something negative was required of me—my death.
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:39
Finally, in a state of lonely desperation, I realized I couldn’t live my life without the fire of Jesus burning within me. I needed him. I wanted him, even if it meant the loss of my physical life.
Understand, I was convinced that I was going to physically die that night. It was very real to me.
I told God, “I can’t live without you. If my death will result in the advance of your Kingdom, I give you permission to take my life tonight.”
The moment I said that, his manifest glory flooded the room about one hundred times greater than I had experienced it before. I had experienced the glory and the severity of God, and I was forever changed.
When the person said, “I just want to feel Jesus,” they didn’t understand what they were asking for. In my experience I felt Jesus in a variety of ways. My problem was that I presumed happy feelings equaled Jesus and difficult feelings equaled Satan. Boy was I wrong. Happy feelings can be Satan and difficult feelings can be Jesus! We can’t discern emotionally, we must discern spiritually. Confirmation must come from the Word.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105
Spiritual discernment bypasses feelings and our human senses and draws from the truth of Scripture.
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:14-16
The Rhema and Logos of scripture must drive us. We can’t allow ourselves to check in and out based on what we are sensing. Our commitment is unconditional and it can’t waiver based on what we perceive. We always return to the Word.
We must lean on Jesus and his revealed will in the Word of God.
Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding? Isaiah 40:13-14
The point is that our counsel must come from the Counselor. Our discernment must come through the spiritual truths found in the Bible. As we yield to the Word, the Holy Spirit can awaken revelation to us as it is needed.
We must move beyond the subjective statements about what we feel God is saying or doing and truly understand his revealed truth.
It’s all too common to hear personal opinions about what someone feels God is saying or doing, and how they feel led to respond, while their discernment is simply off or incomplete.
As we mature we become less reliant on nebulous senses and more reliant on both God’s clear voice and what he reveals to us in scripture.
This issue of leaning on feelings can impact us negatively in many ways. It’s easy to feel like God doesn’t love us due to the lack of, well, feeling him, even though the Bible makes it clear that he does love us. It’s so sadly common to hear about people who struggle their whole lives with this issue. Does God even love them? It’s a black and white question with a black and white answer. Yes. Their feelings have led them astray and it affects their entire life!
The answer is to simply believe! That belief doesn’t come from an experience or a feeling. It comes from reading text on paper (the Bible) and believing it. We don’t have to feel it to believe it!
Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29
I often tell God that I want to worship him with my belief.
Back to the discussion about my season of teaching on the tenets of the faith. They didn’t result in a euphoric sensory overload. It wasn’t a glory teaching. So, some withdrew when the feeling wasn’t happy even though the information was truth. It was important truth. It was time to go to school and to the altar with tears in our eyes, and not a time of dancing.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; Ecclesiastes 3:1-4
Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber. Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep and say, “Spare your people, O LORD, and make not your heritage a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’” Joel 2:15-17
The risk of the coming presence movement is that people will reject anything that doesn’t feel like glory, even when it is God.
The cry of our heart must be for God’s true presence to be with us always, regardless of the form it takes.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Psalm 51:10-11
His presence will hit us with truth as our hearts are cleansed, as we are consecrated. His presence can be glorious and it can be fierce.
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. Psalm 97:5
Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, Psalm 114:7
God will be raising up key prophetic and apostolic leaders who will be leading people into the presence of God and into the missions of God. There will be many focuses that don’t feel like God (note my experience of being asked to die above) that God’s leaders will call the people to. Will the people respond? What if they don’t sense the Holy Spirit on it? Feelings and senses are wildly subjective. I personally value counsel that’s directly from scripture much more than I do personal, subjective experiences or supposed discernment. That doesn’t mean I don’t at all value personal discernment, but that revelation almost always ends up on the shelf as I await confirmation.
Keep in mind, I radically affirm prophecy. I promote encounters and experiences. I believe in dreams and visions. I have an intercession team that evaluates prophetic data on an ongoing basis. But, the point remains—we see in part. And, we can often see wrongly. It takes humility to admit that.
Sometimes we are so in tune with our own historic personal encounters with the spirit realm that we can lose sight that we are human! I’ve had a lot of amazing encounters and I have a high level of sensitivity in the spiritual realm. I also know that I’m human and that I’ve been wrong in the past. I much prefer to submit prophetic data for evaluation and for confirmation in scripture. Just because something feels right doesn’t mean it is right. Feelings sit on the lowest shelf of the confirmation process. More revelation and confirmation is necessary to trust our feelings.
Apostolic leaders will call you to action very often in ways that are contrary to what you are sensing. Are you ready to respond regardless? Or will you declare that God isn’t in it and hold back?
Read the following point from my article “Five Reasons NOT to Leave a Church.” The reason I’m including it is to highlight how important it is to promote scripture over feelings:
When NOT to leave a church? When God tells you to. OK, I’m sure you are awake now! Have you ever played the God card? As a leader I’ve heard many times, usually through the grapevine, that, “God told so and so to move to another church.” Really? That’s odd. I was entrusted as their leader, which is a very serious position, and God just forgot to tell me about this? He left me out of the loop? Maybe Hebrews 13:17 isn’t what we think it is? The church I’m leading isn’t important enough for people to honor the mission?
I hope you are getting the point.
We are called to submit to authority—even ungodly authority like judges, elected officials and our bosses at work. Certainly it makes sense that God would include our godly authority in a decision making process as important as leaving one family and one mission for another.
The point is this—God wouldn’t just tell you to leave without your leader being involved in the process. In fact, can I just be blunt? It’s extremely disrespectful, presumptuous, rude and self-serving to abdicate your responsibility in your current church by leaving without honoring the authority in your life. Your pastor has every right to participate with you in your process.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 (ESV) 12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.
Why was it important to include that portion of the article? To show how critical it is that we are biblical Christians. We can’t presume a feeling or a discernment exempts us from biblical protocol. I’ve felt on many occasions that a leader in my life wasn’t hearing God, and that I was, but in humility I had to surrender my opinion and follow my leader—and often I realize that my sense was in fact wrong or incomplete. We can’t gravitate toward what is easy, happy, glorious and enjoyable and away from what is troubling or negative by using the “God card.” God will often call us into his fearful presence, and we have to be unified with others who are being led in that direction.
Do you remember the Exodus? The Israelites were famous for analyzing their various situations based on their feelings. They felt alone and abandoned, so they crafted a new god made of gold. They presumed that the absence of God’s manifest presence meant something was off—yet, little did they realize one of the most astounding events in history was taking place up on the mountain! They then ended up dying in the desert when they presumed God was all about their comfort and happiness—and were indignant when he was asking them to put their lives on the line in a land of Giants—and a land of Promise.
I want to challenge you to get ready for a great outpouring of God’s presence. It will feel very different than you expect. It may be a glory cloud or it may be in the midst of a fiery furnace.
Ask yourself how you react to your feelings now. Do they drive you? Do you presume any negative feeling to be from the enemy? Do your feelings and emotions drive your decisions?
You need to wrestle with this now so you are ready to receive Jesus when he shows up. I am certain—he will manifest in ways we’ve never experienced before.
On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the LORD had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the LORD to look and many of them perish. Also let the priests who come near to the LORD consecrate themselves, lest the LORD break out against them.” Exodus 19:16-22
by David Wilkerson
There is a portion of Scripture that convicts me deeply. Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. . . If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:2, 6).
I have read and re-read these powerful words of Christ, and I cannot escape their convicting power. The Holy Spirit has impressed upon me the importance of understanding these words, “My Father is the husbandman . . . every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away.”
This matter of Christians bearing fruit is not optional with God. He watches over His vine and all the engrafted branches with great jealousy and concern, patiently waiting for the branches to bring forth fruit. He stands beside it with pruning knife in hand, lovingly watching for the slightest evidence of corruption, blight or disease which could hinder growth. God expects fruit from every branch.
Without fruit, it is impossible to honor and glorify Him or be a true disciple of Christ. Jesus said: “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples” (John 15:8).
Bearing fruit has everything to do with pleasing God-fulfilling our mission in Christ- and with having our prayers and petitions answered.
Jesus said, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you” (verse 16).
Actually, bearing fruit concerns what we are becoming, rather than simply what we are doing. I am bearing fruit when there is nothing hindering the flow of the life of Christ into me. That is what Jesus meant when He said, “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3). He is saying, “Because you believed My word-trembling over it, letting it reveal every hidden secret, bringing to light every dark thing, allowing the Word of God to purge you-the hindrances are all gone!”
© 2013 World Challenge – a registered trademark of David Wilkerson
Five Shifts at Revival Church: You’ll want to know what our fresh focuses and key changes are!
FIRST: Listen to a key message on core doctrine and the risk of deception in the church from this past Sunday. I deal with the law, homosexuality, tithe, shellfish and more! I’ll include my notes at the bottom of this message. Listen here:
As many of you know, God has hit me hard regarding the crisis of the cross-less church this year.
There has been an awakening at Revival Church as I’ve refocused our attention to the foundations of scripture, including the call to the cross, to surrender and to repentance. The Bible tells us to judge ourselves now so we are not judged later. It’s time to take a microscope to our hearts and allow God to reveal every hidden thing for the sake of love and healing.
Orthodox Christianity has been compromised by a desire for something new—and this is a serious threat to the mission of Kingdom advance on the Earth. If the new thing ever minimizes the old thing—the eternal thing—the gospel, you can be sure that there is error in the message. We do want the new wine, but the new will always emphasize the ancient and non-negotiable truths of the Bible. The blood, the cross and our call to die daily must be in front of us night and day.
I have received remarkable reports from people who have been deeply convicted, troubled and awakened by these messages. Especially provoking and liberating for many was my XPmedia teaching on the False Grace movement. I want to STRONGLY recommend you block out one hour and watch this video that deals with the sober reality of our eternity. Watch it here: http://www.xpmedia.com/JK9d86jAPOyr
- SHIFT ONE: Revival Church will be more intent then ever on solid and deep foundational teaching of the Word. I believe a true prophetic ministry is one that is rooted in scripture and allows the truth to explode out of us with power. Prophetic ministries are also to be alarms and warning systems that alert the world to eternal danger, and I am more devoted than ever to slow the flow to Hell.
- SHIFT TWO: theLab Prayer Events have shifted on Friday nights! We are developing teams that will be hitting the streets most Friday nights through the summer on strategic prayer assignments. This is a GREAT way to connect in what I consider the most vital ministry of the church. At 10pm at Port Detroit (most Friday’s, see the schedule at www.revivallab.com) we start in violent and fervent corporate prayer as we overlook Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, Canada, and then we break up into our teams, led by some amazing captains, and hit the streets! We are collecting spiritual intelligence so we can pray and act in a much more focused fashion.
- SHIFT THREE: Social Networking! Not Facebook or Twitter… old school, face to face relationships! (What a brilliant idea!) We value friendships and want to make it EASY for you to thrive at Revival Church! The third Sunday of every month is our Meet, Greet and Eat social event right after service. We also are having a blast with our new softball teams and I’m very excited about our Culture Groups which are a great way to grow deeper in the Lord with other men and women of God!
- SHIFT FOUR: theLab School of Fire is being reworked as a six month school (and ultimately a nine month school). This year I am investing in training a team of about 20 leaders every Thursday and Friday night. This infusion of Revival Church DNA and vision into this phenomenal team of leaders will be carried and released into our next class of students in January, 2013!
- SHIFT FIVE: Our prophetic mandate is, with love and tears, to trouble people into freedom. I’m humbly embracing the call of God to awaken the church and sound the alarm regarding anything that keeps people away from God. Over the last couple of years, every single prophetic dream I’ve had has been quite sobering, severe and troubling. God is preparing the church to react when crisis comes to our nation and the world, and this demands we live as prophetic alarmists. This is driven by a deep love and passion for people—many of who think they are safe yet are in extreme danger. We must see them saved.
So, I want to INVITE and ENCOURAGE you to run this fun and important race with us! We will do everything we can to help connect you and enjoy your church family! You are valuable!
Revival Church meets at CENTRAL CHURCH, 1529 E. 12 Mile Rd, Madison Heights, MI 48071.
Here’s my personal notes that I used to teach from this past Sunday. Again, you can listen to the teaching here: media.johnburton.net/2588973
i. The word Bible simply means ‘book’. (biblos)
1. It’s also called scripture and the Word of God.
2. 66 books, 55 of which it’s clear who the authors are.
a. 39 OT books
b. 27 NT books
c. Over 40 different authors
d. Moses authored the most OT books. (first five, the Pentateuch)
e. Paul wrote the most NT books (14, over half of the NT).
f. The NT was canonized in 375 AD.
g. It became the collection of books or writings accepted by the apostles and leadership of the early Christian church as a basis for Christian belief.
h. The KJV isn’t the original Bible!
i. The first English version was translated in 1382 A.D., by John Wycliffe.
j. The Holy Bible has been translated into 2,018 languages.
k. The Bible was printed in 1454 A.D. by Johannes Gutenberg who invented the "type mold" for the printing press. It was the first book ever printed.
3. Jesus wrote it all.
4. 2 Tim. 3:16—"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God." (God breathed)
5. "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth" (Ps. 33:6)
6. 2 Pet. 1:21—"For not by the will of man was prophecy brought at any time, but being borne by the Holy Spirit, the holy men of God spoke."
7. The Holy Ghost was especially and miraculously present with and in the writers of the Scriptures.
8. FofPT: God is a God who desires to reveal Himself. He does not remain silent like the gods of the heathen, both ancient and modern. The Lord takes pleasure in making Himself known to His creatures. He is pictured as a God of love; love must always communicate itself, and that revelation must come from God Himself.
ii. The word testament means covenant.
iii. By the end of the 2nd century, the terms OC and NC were established.
iv. The Old Testament deals with the record of the calling and history of the Jewish nation, and as such it is the Old Covenant. The New Testament deals with the history and application of the redemption wrought by the Lord Jesus Christ, and as such it is the New Covenant.
1. Now, it’s a serious mistake when we presume the OT is no longer valid.
a. We’ve discussed that God is the same yesterday, today and forever.
b. He didn’t change OT to NT.
c. He has always loved, has always been just, has emotions of anger, has always wanted us to know him intimately.
2. When considering what was fulfilled and is no longer applicable, ask whether it’s part of the Mosaic ceremonial, moral or civil laws or not. Ceremonial and civil laws no longer apply. There are moral laws in the OT that absolutely do still apply.
a. This is critical!
i. The call to morality doesn’t cease in the NT—it increases!
ii. Remember, in the OT you couldn’t commit adultery. In the NT you can’t WANT to commit adultery!
b. The Mosaic law came 430 years after the Abrahamic covenant. This is the law that was fulfilled.
3. Some people try to interpret biblical laws with this rule: "Old Testament laws are valid unless the New Testament specifically says they are not." But this rule is not true. It’s opposite. It is proven false by Hebrews 8:13.
a. Hebrews 8:13 (ESV) 13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
b. "If righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" (Gal. 2:21)
4. Michael Morrison The laws we keep today may be in the old covenant, but if so, we keep them not because they are in the old covenant, but because they are also in the new.
a. For example, both homosexuality and the eating of shellfish were prohibited in the OT.
i. Leviticus 18:22 (ESV) 22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.
ii. Shellfish: Leviticus 11:11 (ESV) 11 You shall regard them as detestable; you shall not eat any of their flesh, and you shall detest their carcasses.
iii. In the NT Jesus ended the prohibition of shellfish, but reaffirmed sexual morality.
iv. Mark 7:14-23 (ESV) 14 And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” 16 17 And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” ( Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
v. Also: Acts 10:9-16 (ESV) 9 The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. 10 And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance 11 and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” 15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.”
vi. God wanted him to eat snakes and lizards! (Alligator is great!)
vii. So, the OT law on sexual purity remains.
viii. 9 of the 10 commandments remain. (some people get tripped up about the Sabbath.)
5. The OT is critical for us to understand holiness.
6. In fact, in the NT we see that all scripture… which includes fulfilled laws… is profitable for instruction in righteousness:
a. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV) 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
b. Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV) 20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
c. The Bible cover to cover reveals how to live, while the NT reveals that we are empowered in Christ to actually fulfill the mandate.
d. Jamieson-Fausset-Brown: The Law elicits the consciousness of sin and the need of redemption; it only typifies the reality. The Gospel, on the contrary, actually communicates reality and power from above
7. The law of Moses included laws of ritual purification, prophecies about the Messiah, rules about treating livestock, and civil laws about penalties for religious crimes.
8. The Abrahamic covenant was characterized by God’s promise while the Mosaic was characterized by God’s law.
a. The law was temporarily necessary to deal with sin… it revealed how common sin is…
b. Romans 7:7 (ESV) 7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”
i. This is powerful! The OT helps us with analyzing our lives, being aware of sin.
ii. There’s a skewed teaching out there that says we must not have sin consciousness, but this is in opposition to what we see in the Word of God.
iii. It’s the law that is good, and sin that is bad, not the other way around.
iv. Today we hear that the law is bad and that sin is not an issue!
v. Just because the law cannot sanctify does not make it sinful or unnecessary.
vi. The law reveals sin, then the applied blood of Jesus heals us of it.
1. The law is the xray or the MRI and then the blood of Great Physician deals with that issue.
c. Matthew 5:17-20 (ESV) 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
i. Here’s an example of how sin can be dormant instead of eradicated… and how the OT brings revelation to that issue:
ii. Romans 7:8-9 (ESV) 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died.
iii. Sin lies dead means that sin was latent rather than nonexistent.
iv. Revelation of God’s commands are critical! Is there any dormant sin in us that would surface if we let the Word of God deal with us?
1. Life Application Notes: Where there is no law, there is no sin, because people cannot know that their actions are sinful unless a law forbids those actions. God's law makes people realize that they are sinners doomed to die, yet it offers no help.
2. Dake: I do not blame the law, for it is just and good in its demands.
b. Now see how the fulfillment of the law is addressed by Jesus in Matthew…this is a long passage, but Jesus felt it was important to explain this clearly:
a. Matthew 5:21-48 (ESV) 21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. 31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. 33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil. 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
d. The part of the OT that was addressed in the NT is quite limited. The law of Moses, with its worship rituals, civil laws and other customs, was temporary. In the NT, the ceremonial law was dealt with by Jesus.
e. The clearest way to understand what still applies is by studying to see what is re-emphasized in the NT. What OT law was reaffirmed in the NT?
f. Example: Tithing was both pre-law and affirmed in the NT:
i. Matthew 23:23 (NIV) 23 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.
g. Nine of the Ten Commandments were reaffirmed in the NT (all except to keep the Sabbath).
i. For example, in the OT, stoning was the penalty for those caught in adultery (based on the Mosaic covenant)…
1. Leviticus 20:10 (ESV) 10 “If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
ii. …but in the NT Jesus affirmed that the sin of adultery was not acceptable, but he would be the one to take their punishment… if they repented.
1. In the OT, physical death was often the most obvious penalty… in the NT, spiritual death is.
iii. In the OT, wrath of God was on that person. In the NT, Jesus took the wrath on himself… UNLESS the individual is unrepentant!
1. John 3:36 (ESV) 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
2. Living without Christ in the NT is very similar to living pre-Christ in the OT.
h. The OT is an excellent resource to learn how God feels about certain activities, sins, behaviors.
i. God never changes. He still hates sin. He hates murder. He hates adultery. He hates sexual sin.
ii. However, his wrath was placed on Jesus instead of us, which should compel us to make Jesus our Lord and Master with expedience!
i. In the OT if you see regulations and ordinances that are a part of the law, you can be sure they no longer apply—unless they are either reaffirmed in the NT or are covered by the Great Commandment—to love God and others.
This song will move you to tears as the presence of God envelopes you.
Jenn Johnson from Bethel Church in Redding, California starts by explaining how the song was birthed, and then behind a piano sings it over the people. She calls it “The Mom Song.” Click the player below to listen.
We’ve been experiencing a surprising ‘open Heaven' the last couple of weeks at Revival Church, and with a great deal of expectation and desire we are setting tonight’s regular agenda aside.
Tonight is a night to soak as the Holy Spirit swirls over us like a whirlwind.
We’ll be soaking, reading scripture and stirring a prophetic atmosphere as God readies Detroit for a supernatural visitation of epic proportions.
BRING YOUR BLANKET (seriously!), a pillow, comfy clothes and find a place to camp out next to the fire of the Holy Spirit.
It starts at 6pm.
As usual, we meet in the First United Methodist Church building at 24036 Greater Mack in St. Clair Shores, Michigan.
ALSO, it’s time to REGISTER for the upcoming Michele Perry meeting!
Head on over to www.detroitrevivalchurch.com/events.
See you TONIGHT!
(Here’s another soaking ministry pic from Revolution Church in Manitou Springs)