Site Information

Site Age
11 Yrs, 55 Days, 23 Hrs, 45 Mins

4/18/2022 - 25 Users Gained !

Site Info
Bookmark and Share

Bitcoin Stuff

Bitcoin Donations



Last 25 Shouts:


Hidden In Him

March 02, 2022, 01:44:01 PM
What a beautiful Spring day! Glory to God!

Hidden In Him

January 07, 2022, 06:49:10 PM
Alive and well!  :)

Happy 2022! This is gonna be a good one. I can feel it, Lol.


December 30, 2021, 05:29:20 PM
You alive Chris ?


October 14, 2020, 06:17:44 PM
But ya, any PM's sent they should be made aware of via email, if they have notifications set for receipt of a PM.

But even if so, my newsletter blast can ignore such settings so anyone registered will at least get my message. But I can name them specifically in it for *** & giggles.


October 14, 2020, 06:15:17 PM
Still need to check some things but that will be easy enough to do via PM.

When the site is re-opened. It is now, but tech locked down... but when it's "back". I can send out a newsletter, anyone who has an email attached that they still use will be made aware / be able to come back if that's what they choose to do.

Hidden In Him

October 14, 2020, 05:56:59 PM
You're kidding... That would be something. Any way to contact ShadowKen and Indybones? And maybe Pineapple, LoL. I suppose if it's all intact I could just message and it would go thru to email.


October 14, 2020, 01:53:33 AM
@HIM: The MP is back, but it will need to remain in maintenance mode until I can re skin it / fix some of the underlying addons, But it is loading again... all data should still be intact.

I've already alerted spddmn's wife to let him know ;-)

Hidden In Him

April 27, 2020, 06:37:28 PM
And after checking, it wasn't done yet, LoL. Looks like it is now (hopefully).

Hidden In Him

April 08, 2020, 10:37:46 AM
This one's pretty good, LoL. Should be fun to put on video some day.  :)

Hidden In Him

March 10, 2020, 12:43:23 PM
 :) :) :)


March 10, 2020, 07:02:44 AM
Everything happens for a reason, even if it's rewriting old works ;-)

Hidden In Him

March 07, 2020, 07:12:18 PM
My wife dislikes the idea that I'm rewriting studies rather than writing new ones, but the Lord is now opening up Colossians to me like never before, and some work needs to be redone. Very excited about the new insight!  :)

Hidden In Him

February 29, 2020, 02:19:44 PM
...get back to making sure studies were ready to put on camera when the time comes.  :)

So how's life with you?  

Hidden In Him

February 29, 2020, 02:18:44 PM
I noticed you were still lurking around, LoL. Glad to see I'm not the only one happy about it.  :) Hard at work converting the garage into a recording studio & music room. Gonna be nice! The soundproofing is going to be work and money, but a lot of it is already purchased. In the meantime, I had to


February 29, 2020, 01:59:43 AM
 :) :) :)

Hidden In Him

February 28, 2020, 05:43:50 PM
I'm officially going back to writing! Glory to God Almighty!! Having fun again already, and going to be going to work improving and the adding to the set on Colossians.

Blessings in Christ to all who visit,


November 02, 2019, 02:37:56 AM
I rarely ever used Tapatalk to log in to the site. Not sure if anyone ever actually did as the issue of it not working was never reported.

But for our mobile uses, certain things like this chat box will not be available through the app as this chat box is an addon itself. But all boards within the forum are available and currently confirmed working.

Ty & my apologies !

Hidden In Him

August 05, 2019, 03:21:06 PM
An excellent passage I am now writing a study on in the Book of Colossians.

"And I am now rejoicing in [my] sufferings over you, and filling up in my flesh what is lacking of the afflictions of Christ for His body's sake, which is the church, of which I became a servant

Hidden In Him

August 05, 2019, 03:20:49 PM
... of which I became a servant according to the administration of God having been given unto me, for you to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations but which has now been made manifest to His saints, to whom God wished to make known what

Hidden In Him

August 05, 2019, 03:20:34 PM
... the abundance of the glory of this mystery is among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory, whom we preach, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom that we may present every man perfected in Him.

Hidden In Him

August 05, 2019, 03:19:58 PM
An excellent passage I am now writing a study on in the Book of Colossians.

"And I am now rejoicing in [my] sufferings over you, and filling up in my flesh what is lacking of the afflictions of Christ for His body's sake, which is the church, of which I became a servant

Hidden In Him

August 05, 2019, 03:19:21 PM
... of which I became a servant according to the administration of God having been given unto me, for you to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations but which has now been made manifest to His saints, to whom God wished to make known what

Hidden In Him

August 05, 2019, 03:18:57 PM
... the abundance of the glory of this mystery is among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory, whom we preach, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom that we may present every man perfected in Him.

Hidden In Him

August 05, 2019, 02:57:00 PM
An excellent passage I am now writing a study on in the Book of Colossians!  :)

"And I am now rejoicing in [my] sufferings over you, and filling up in my flesh what is lacking of the afflictions of Christ for His body's sake, which is the church, of which I became a servant

Hidden In Him

August 05, 2019, 02:56:30 PM
... of which I became a servant according to the administration of God having been given unto me, for you to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations but which has now been made manifest to His saints, to whom God wished to make known what

Show 50 latest

Recent Posts


February 2023
Feb 2: Groundhog Day
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?
February 02, 2023, 01:22:48 PM

Login with username, password and session length

  • Total Members: 9
  • Latest: ugibak
  • Total Posts: 302
  • Total Topics: 224
  • Online Today: 6
  • Online Ever: 827
  • (November 19, 2019, 08:59:00 PM)
Users Online
Users: 0
Guests: 2
Total: 2

Recent Posts

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 10
Study #1 / 1 Corinthians 8:1-13
« Last post by Hidden In Him on Yesterday at 03:06:16 PM »
Endorsing The Worship Of Demons, Just To Gratify The Flesh

     We now come to yet another way in which some members in Corinth were letting their flesh once again dictate their "theology," and cause them to engage in practices that were leading their own brethren to potentially fall from the faith. Regurgitating axioms like "foods for the belly, and the belly for foods" was not just leading some deeper into sexual sin, it was also influencing some to sin against their own God directly, and leave them stricken in conscience over it.
     It was widely known throughout the ancient world that the God of Jews and Christians was a jealous God, and would have no other gods before Him. Nevertheless, some in Corinth were entering the pagan temples and eating meats sacrificed to the Greek gods. While their theology justified doing so without conviction, it appears that those with weaker consciences whom they had influenced to do likewise now feared that they might have committed an unforgivable sin before God, and were guilt-ridden over it in retrospect. Yet again, the biggest problem here was that some in Corinth were attempting to fashion a version of "Christianity" in their own image; one which conformed to the indulgence and carnality of their own culture.
     Modern archeology shows that ancient Corinth was extremely religious, and worshipped a pantheon of gods as it were. As one source puts it:

     The Corinthians were exceptionally pious, as excavation finds testify. Archaeological excavations have brought to light the ruins of temples and sanctuaries, ceremonial vessels and votive offerings that “revive” the city’s religious life. The Corinthians worshiped Aphrodite, Athena, Apollo, Demeter and Kore, Hera, Poseidon, and Asklepios. They even venerated the city’s mythical heroes, such as Bellerophon and the children of the sorceress Medea, Mermeros and Pheres. (Venerating Gods And Heroes, Corinth Museum.Gr)

     To set the stage and give context to what Paul will teach, it was believed that blessings could be obtained from these various gods if they were appeased. Since the three largest temples in the area surrounding Corinth were to the gods Aphrodite, Apollo and Poseidon, I will give details for these in particular as examples.
     Poseidon was appealed to for obvious reasons. He supposedly had the power to tame the seas of the Mediterranean, but could also destroy humanity by stirring them up if they angered him:

     Poseidon was god of the sea... He possessed the power of causing at will, mighty and destructive tempests, in which the billows could rise mountains high, the winds become a hurricane, land and sea become enveloped in thick mists, and destruction assail the unfortunate mariners exposed to their fury. On the other hand, his alone was the power of stilling the angry waves, of soothing the troubled waters, and granting safe voyages to mariners. For this reason, Poseidon was always invoked and propitiated by a libation before a voyage was undertaken, and sacrifices and thanksgivings were gratefully offered to him after a safe and prosperous journey by sea. (Poseidon, Ancient

     Aphrodite could supposedly grant beauty to women, the power to win over someone's hand in marriage, and even provide things like sexual fulfillment, hence the use of the term, "aphrodisiacs" to this day. As one source put it, sensual and romantic fulfillment was her "business," if you will. Below is a recreation of the temple as it might have looked back then, based on what remains of the ancient ruins:

     The essence of Aphrodite's power was her ability to provoke desire. Sexual allure was long an intrinsic aspect of Aphrodite, and erotic pleasures were referred to as ta Aphrodisia, "the business of Aphrodite." (Aphrodite, Getty Education, Art, and Exhibits)


     Apollo in turn was the god of prophecy. His cult grew out of the city of Delphi, which became the most famous and frequently visited oracle in the ancient world. The prophecies given there were said to be inspired by Apollo himself and delivered by a local woman he used as his vessel. His priests interpreted these utterances and translated them for the people. Thus, in practical terms, Apollo had the ability to tell you if you would have good fortune in earthly affairs or not, and also the ability to grant the gift of prophecy to anyone whom he chose:

     Apollo gave some mortals the gift of prophecy or the ability to see the future. As Apollo was capable of seeing the future, he would grant this to some mortals, although often this ''gift'' came with severe consequences, typical of Greek mythology and tragedy. (What Gift Did Apollo Give To Some Mortals, Homework


     The way a person identified as a worshipper of one of these gods was to partake of their sacrifices. Unlike in modern society, meat was primarily served only in the temples, so for those who loved to eat meat, partaking of the sacrifices was virtually unavoidable. And each god had his or her own specific offerings they preferred. Doves were sacrificed to Aphrodite, bulls to Poseidon, piglets to Demeter, cows to Athena, ewe-lambs to Hera, and so on. But these gods rarely manifested themselves to the people in visible form for reasons I will get into later, and because they could not be seen by mortal eyes, statues of metal and stone were built to represent them, and placed within the inner sanctums of their respective temples and shrines.
     Even the Greeks fully understood that these idols were nothing but representations of the gods, but as Paul would point out to the Corinthians, for a Christian to use this "knowledge" as an excuse to partake of their sacrifices was to make a gross error in judgment, and walk very irresponsibly towards their own brethren in Christ:

     Regarding meat sacrificed to idols, we know, for we all have knowledge. Yet knowledge [only] egotistically inflates, but love edifies. If anyone presumes to know anything, he has known nothing yet as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him. Concerning the eating of meats sacrificed to idols, then, we know that an idol is actually nothing in the world, and that there is no God but one. For even if there are those called "gods," whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many "gods" and many "lords"), to us there is one God, the Father, the Source of all things, and we submit to Him, and one Lord Jesus Christ through whom all were created, and we exist through Him. Not all walk in [this] knowledge, however. Some out of custom still eat the meat as something sacrificed to an idol until now, and their conscience being weak is being defiled. (1 Corinthians 8:1-7)

     There were some in Corinth who once worshipped these "gods," and always believed themselves to be engaging in acts of worship whenever they ate their sacrifices. And because meat was such a delicacy in ancient times, seeing another brother reclining in a pagan temple to eat it was such a temptation that it pushed some over the edge into thinking, "Maybe it's ok." Thus, they too began entering the temples and eating the sacrifices as well, only to afterwards become stricken in conscience for having let the flesh get the better of them. Though they had once given themselves to the True and Living God (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10), they had now in effect returned to worshipping the old gods, and in the process rejected the True God of Heaven and Earth.
     This is why Paul now warned that the faith of some was being destroyed by it, for they were being "scandalized" in conscience, and worked over by the Devil for having committed what they feared might now be an unforgivable sin. So Paul was now scolding those who had been influencing them irresponsibly, for while it was true that Old Testament sacrifices like the Passover were no longer relevant to God's people, sending someone to Hell by indirectly tempting them to eat pagan sacrifices, as if these too were now also irrelevant, could result in them having blood on their hands in eternity:   

     Meat will not commend us to God, for we do not fall short if we do not eat, neither do we excel if we do eat. But beware lest this right of yours becomes a stumbling block to the weak. If anyone sees you who have knowledge reclining in an idol temple, will not his conscience, being weak, be emboldened to eat things sacrificed to idols? And by your knowledge the brother whom Christ died for is being destroyed, being weak. But by sinning against the brethren in this way, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if meat scandalizes my brother, I will not eat meat till the end of the age, that I not scandalize my brother. (1 Corinthians 8:8-13)

     As will be shown, what made matters worse was that it was being demonstrated by the early church that the "gods" the Greeks worshipped were actually demons, and nothing like the beautiful and handsome beings the great artisans of the ancient world were making them out to be.


The Hideousness Of The "Gods"

     It had been long understood by the Jews that the "gods" operating behind the idols whom the Gentiles worshipped were actually demons. As the Psalmist wrote even back during Old Testament times, when the Israelites served the gods of Canaan, they were actually just serving demonic spirits:

     They yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor, and ate sacrifices offered to lifeless gods... They did not destroy the peoples as the Lord had commanded them, but mingled with the nations and adopted their customs... They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons. They poured out innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan. (Psalm 106:28, 34–38)

     Paul will reiterate this point to the Corinthians, telling them, "the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I would not that you should have fellowship with demons." (1 Corinthians 10:20). But if the legends are true, the early church was doing more than simply preaching this. When God sent the apostles out to evangelize the known world, some eventually proved it out to the nations by exposing these demons for all to see.
     Such was the case with Bartholomew, listed as one of the twelve in the Gospels and in Acts (Matthew 10:3, Mark 3:18, Luke 6:14, John 1:45–49, John 21:2, Acts 1:13). Bartholomew is believed to have had extraordinary gifts in the area of casting out demons, and the following is the early church account of what transpired in India just before his death:

     Bartholomew took up his quarters in the temple of Astaruth, and lived there as one of the pilgrims and the poor. In this temple there was an idol called Astaruth, which was supposed to heal the infirm, but rather the more injured all... But it came to pass that while Bartholomew stayed there, Astaruth gave no response and was not able to do curing. And when the temple was full of sick people, who were sacrificing to him daily, Astaruth could give no response, and sick persons who had come from far countries were lying there. When therefore not even one of the idols was able to give a response in that temple, and was of no benefit to those that sacrificed to them nor to those who were in the agonies of death, they were compelled to go to another city where there was a temple of idols, where their great and most eminent god was called Becher. And having there sacrificed, they demanded, asking why their god Astaruth had not responded to them. And the demon Becher answered and said unto them, "From the day and hour that the true God, who dwells in the heavens, sent His apostle Bartholomew into the regions here, your god Astaruth is held fast by chains of fire, and can no longer speak nor breathe."

     Bartholomew also healed the demon-possessed in this region, and when word of it eventually got back to the king, he called for Bartholomew because he also had a daughter who was demon-possessed and cutting herself, and thus in severe need of deliverance.

     And Polymius, the king of that country... had a daughter who was a demoniac, that is to say, a lunatic. And he heard about the demoniac that had been healed and sent messengers to the apostle, saying, "My daughter is grievously torn. Therefore I implore you, as you have delivered the man who suffered for many years, so also order my daughter to be set free." And the apostle rose up and went with them. And he saw the king's daughter bound with chains, for she used to tear all her limbs in pieces, and if anyone came near her she used to bite, so no one dared to come near her. The servants said unto him, "Who is it that dares to touch her?" The apostle answered them, saying, "Loose her, and let her go." But they say to him again, "We have her in our power when she is bound with all our force, and you bid us to loose her?" Yet the apostle said unto them, "Behold, I keep her enemy bound, and are you even now afraid of her? Go and loose her, and when she has partaken of food, let her rest. Early tomorrow bring her to me." And they went and did as the apostle had commanded, and thereafter the demon was not able to come near her.

     Because his daughter had been miraculously healed through the power of God, the king thereafter sought out Bartholomew to reward him with silver and gold, but could not find him. When Bartholomew finally appeared, he told the king that he had no interest in earthly things, but wanted him to hear the gospel. Upon sharing it, he informed the king that God would confirm it to him by ridding his city of the demon that had been controlling his people, telling him:   

     "The demon sitting in your temple, who makes responses to you, is kept in chains through the angel of the Lord who has sent me. If you shall be baptized, and wish yourself to be enlightened, I will make you behold Him, and learn from how great evils you have been redeemed. At the same time hear also by what means he injures all those who are lying sick in the temple. The demon himself by his own art causes the men to be sick and then again to be healed, in order that they may the more believe in the idols, and in order that he may have place the more in their souls, in order that they may say to the stock and the stone, "You are our God." But that demon who dwells in the idol is held in subjection, conquered by me, and is able to give no response to those who sacrifice and pray there. And if you wish me to prove it is so, I will order him to return into the idol, and make him confess with his own mouth that he is bound, and able to give no response."
     The king said to him, "Tomorrow, at the first hour of the day, the priests are ready to sacrifice in the temple, and I shall come there, and be able to see this wonderful work."
     And it came to pass on the following day, as they were sacrificing, the demon began to cry out, "Refrain you wretched souls from sacrificing to me, lest you suffer worse for my sake, because I am bound in fiery chains and kept in subjection by an angel of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, whom the Jews crucified... I implore you, therefore, supplicate Him on my account, that He may set me free to go into other habitations"...
     Then the king gave orders, and all the people brought ropes and crowbars, but were not at all able to take down the idol. Then the apostle said to them, "Unfasten the ropes." And when they had unfastened them, he said to the demon dwelling in it, "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, come out of this idol, and go into a desert place, where neither winged creature utters a cry, nor voice of man has ever been heard." And straightway he arose at the word of the apostle, and lifted up the temple from its foundations, and in that same hour all the idols that were in that place were broken to pieces...
     And suddenly there appeared an angel of the Lord, shining brighter than the sun... and said, "Thus says the Lord who has sent me, 'As you have all been purified from all your infirmity, so also shall this temple be purified from all uncleanness, and from the demons dwelling in it, whom the apostle of God has ordered to go into a desert place,' for so has God commanded me, that I may manifest Him to you. And when you behold Him, fear nothing..." Then he showed them the demon who dwelt in the temple, who was black as soot like an Ethiopian. His face was sharp like a dog's face, thin-cheeked, with hair down to his feet, eyes like fire, and flames coming out of his mouth. And out of his nostrils came forth smoke like sulphur, with wings that were spiked like a porcupine, and his hands were bound with fiery chains and he was firmly kept in. And the angel of the Lord said to him, "As also the apostle has commanded, I release you. Go where no voice of man is heard, and remain there until the Great Day of Judgment."
     And when he let him go, he flew away, groaning and weeping, and disappeared. And the angel of the Lord went up into Heaven in the sight of all. (The Martyrdom of Bartholomew, New

     Though some might doubt the veracity of this account, it matches well with a similar account given in modern times by Rebecca Brown, whom the Lord used to deliver a former Bride of Satan out of the Brotherhood back in the seventies. This woman related that while she was still a High Priestess, she was ordered to participate in a ceremony where she was to invite a demonic spirit to enter her body, and how this demon at first appeared to be one thing on the surface, but manifested as something far different when the mask was finally taken off.

     The next major demon I summoned was Mann-Chan... I drew on the floor with chalk a very large pentagram, then drew a circle around it. Carefully I placed a back candle in each corner of the pentagram, and then a much larger candle in the center. All six were lit. A table with a hot plate on it was set up close to the side of the pentagram. The contents of a kettle had been prepared earlier by the high priest. It was filled with desecrated holy water, that is holy water from the Catholic Church which the high priest then urinated into. He had also taken a dog and killed it and drained its blood into a special jar...
     I sat on the floor staring into the black candle in the center of the pentagram, murmuring, "Oh great Satan the power and builder and creator of the universe, I beg thee, give me a demon to be the guide and light of my life - to give me all wisdom and knowledge. My beloved, Oh master, grant to me my tosh!" At that point the high priest spoke the name Mann-Chan to me.
     I then said, "Mann-Chan come, you are welcome into my body. I bid thee arise from your hiding place"... there was a woos and a huge flame. The candle disappeared in blinding white light. As the flame died down over the next few seconds, I could see the figure of what appeared to be a handsome young man He had coal black hair and piercing black eyes that radiated intelligence. I hurried to my knees beside the pentagram. With a rag, I wiped away the chalk to form a clear path through the pentagram.
     The young man, who was actually the demon Mann-Chan in a physical form, stepped through to the outside of the pentagram on the pathway I had made. He spoke to me in perfect English in a gentle manner and with what seemed to be great love. He told me that I was to be inhabited by him and he promised that no harm would come to me... I agreed, very much awed by his beautiful countenance. He then walked straight into me. But in the instant before he entered, he changed from the human form to the demon he really was. HIDEOUS!
     He was naked, and his face had changed from beauty to hideous cruelty. The beautiful coal black locks of hair had become dull brown, and were course and sparse and stubby like pig bristles. His eyes were incredibly dark and evil, his mouth open to show long sharp dirty yellow fangs. He had very long arms, and his hands had stubby fingers tipped with long sharply-pointed nails. He uttered a horrible hideous loud laugh of triumph as he stepped directly into my body. (Brown, He Came To Set The Captives Free, P.44-46)

Eating And Drinking Judgment, And For What?

     All things considered, instead of binding these "gods" and exposing them before all as demonic spirits bent on deceiving humanity, members of the church in Corinth were reclining in their temples and partaking of their sacrifices, and for what? A belly of meat? And what made matters even worse was that by doing this they were essentially making the God of Heaven out to be just another "god" in the eyes of onlookers. They were eating doves at the temple of Aphrodite one day, bulls at the temple to Poseidon the next, and then taking communion with the church of the Living God the following week. What exactly was this saying to those who were watching? It said that Jesus Christ was essentially just another god, and you could partake of His body and blood just as you could the meats sacrificed to Apollo, Poseidon, Aphrodite, Demeter, and any other of the Greek "gods" in Corinth.
     This explains why Paul warned them that they were eating and drinking judgment upon themselves when they were taking communion in sin. They were making themselves liable to the church of the Lord, yet "not discerning the body of Christ." Paul said this was causing many among them to become sick, and some were even dying because of it.
     As will be shown in a later study, part of the reason for it is because they were also inciting divisions within the church, but as Paul had already warned, influencing others to eat meats sacrificed to demons was "destroying" the faith of some, and this could bring destruction from God in return:

     Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells within you? If anyone brings the temple of God to corruption (i.e. destroys it), God will bring him to corruption, for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. (1 Corinthians 3:12-17)

     By partaking of demon sacrifices and the Lord's supper, some were in effect eating and drinking judgment upon themselves, not realizing the price they could pay for taking both to be mere superficialities. Their actions were revealing an utter ignorance of the situation, and just how far off their thinking actually was. And as Paul would eventually warn them in the letter, they needed to take better account of their actions before daring to partake of the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. They were communicating by this act that they were part of the body of Christ on earth, and as such would be held accountable for it:

     Let a man prove himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For the one who eats and drinks, not discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment unto himself. Because of this, many among you are weak and sick, and many have fallen asleep. But if we would discern ourselves we would not be judged. But being judged, we are chastised by the Lord, that we not be condemned with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:28-32)

     Again, the problem in Corinth essentially went back to the fact that some in the congregation were attempting to develop a "theology" that made room for their pagan culture, and made excuses for indulging in the pleasures of the flesh rather than bringing the body under submission, in particular through fasting. It is why Paul has already warned them twice in this letter that idolaters will not be inheriting the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 5:11, 6:9), and why he will soon be reminding them again in no uncertain terms that they must "flee from idolatry" (1 Corinthians 10:14-11:1).

Links to sources:

Study #9 / 1 Corinthians 7:25-40
« Last post by Hidden In Him on January 26, 2023, 03:43:22 AM »
Why Soldiers Don't Entangle Themselves In Worldly Affairs, Part 2

     Part 1 of this study focused how Paul's teaching on marriage was actually a practical application of the saying, "a soldier must not entangle himself in the affairs of this world." As Paul explained in a previous passage, marriage at least for those not specifically called to it, could be paramount to making oneself a "slave of men," and in process leave you no longer free to serve the Lord Jesus Christ without hindrance.
     In the context of discussing remaining single vs. marrying, this was essentially Paul's point in telling the Corinthians the following:

     20 Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called. 21 Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it. But if you can be made free, rather use it. 22 For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought at a price. Do not become slaves of men. 24 Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called. (1 Corinthians 7:20-24)

     Paul urged believers to remain single if at all possible, for several reasons. As I related in the previous study, there have been visions given by the Spirit of God which have revealed that many believers with strong callings in our time have nevertheless squandered their opportunity by marrying the wrong person, or marrying when they weren't supposed to. As a result, they have spent their entire lives failing to fulfill the call of God, and are now in old age still hoping they can accomplish His will.
     But in our next passage, Paul will now relate some additional reasons why remaining single was preferable. These are a little more grim, but were nevertheless very relevant to the Christians of his day. They may not seem as relevant to us today, but prophecy suggests they will become increasingly relevant as we move deeper and deeper into the end-times, and conditions become ever more severe.
     As he will now tell them: 

     25 Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26 Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is. 27 Are you pledged to a woman? Do not seek to be released. Are you free from such a commitment? Do not look for a wife. 28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this. 29 What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; 30 those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; 31 those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.

     What was the "present crisis" Paul was referring to here, and why would he say that married believers should be living as though not married because the time was short? The Greek word translated "distress" here was occasionally used in reference to compelling others by means of violence and torture. Thus it appears Paul was referring here more specifically to the persecution they were enduring at the hands of the authorities, who were attempting to coerce them into silence. But why would he say the time was now short? The reason is because a lot was going on in the early church era that suggested the return of Christ was already at hand, and they needed to prepare for His coming.
     Increasing persecution and the subsequent increase in expectations of the Lord's return are conditions the end-time church will have to deal with, and as that day approaches, the church will need to again take a closer look at Paul's reasons for why it was a good idea to remain single. Investing in the dream of a happy home, a good marriage, and a white picket fence is certainly something many give themselves to today, and it can come with many blessing when it is truly ordained of God. But such dreams may become less and less relevant the more deeply we move into the end-times, and the increasing distress of persecution, spiritual war and suffering make Paul's teachings evermore relevant by the day.

Why The Apostles Believed Time Was Short

     The widely held belief during New Testament times was that the Lord's return was imminent, and it was not just the apostle Paul who believed this but all the New Testament writers. Both James and Peter made statements to this effect as well:

     Be long-suffering, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the Farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being long-suffering over it until it receives the early and the latter rain. Therefore you be long-suffering also. Firmly establish your hearts, because the coming of the Lord has drawn near. (James 5:7-8)

     The time having past is sufficient for us to have worked out the will of the nations, having walked in licentiousness, lusts, wine drinking, revels...  but the end of all things has drawn near. Be sound-minded therefore, and watchful unto prayers. (1 Peter 4:3, 7)

     Why did they all believe the Lord's return was at hand? Because many of the prophesies spoken by our Lord appeared to be on their way to fulfillment, leading the entire early church to believe the time was now short, and that the "mode of this world was now passing away." For starters, the stage already appeared set for the Antichrist to assume power in Rome. Once he did, it was believed he would march on Jerusalem, set up an image of himself in the temple as a god, and then outlaw worship of the one True God on threat of death. There were already false Christs in the earth as well just as Jesus had promised in Matthew 24, when He told the disciples the following:

     The disciples came to Him privately saying, "Tell us, when shall these things be, and what shall be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" And Jesus answered and said unto them... "Nation shall raise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there shall be famines and earthquakes in diverse places. But all these are the beginning of birth pangs. Then they will deliver you up to affliction, and will kill you. And you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake... When therefore you shall see the abomination that causes desolation standing in the Holy Place, that having been spoken of through the prophet Daniel, then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains... for then shall be great tribulation such as was not since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall be. And if those days were not shortened, no flesh would be saved, but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. Then if anyone says to you, 'Behold, the Christ is here, or there,' do not believe it. For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and they shall show great signs and wonders so as to mislead if possible even the elect." (Matthew 24:3-4, 7-9, 14-16, 21-25)

     All the above appeared to be on its way to fulfillment. For starters, the phrase "the abomination of desolation" referred to when the Antichrist would eventually conquer Israel, take his seat in the Jewish temple, and thereby demonstrate that he was for all intents and purposes "god" now. It was also believed he would outlaw the observance of Jewish Law, by which he would earn the title "the lawless one," and by 54 A.D. Paul was warning that this "mystery of lawlessness" already appeared to be on its way to realization.
     As he would tell the Thessalonians:

      No one should deceive you in any way if the apostasy has not yet come first and that man of lawlessness has been revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above everything that is called God or is worshipped, so as for him to sit down in the temple of God, exhibiting himself that he is God. Do you not remember that when I was with you I was telling you these things? And you know it yet remains for him to be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already on its way to realization, only he is holding back at present until he manifests out of the midst, and then shall that lawless one be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus Christ shall annul with the breath of His mouth, and depose with the brightness of His coming. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-8)

     Another thing that seemed to further suggest His return was imminent was the presence of false Christs, whom Jesus also said would precede His coming. For more on this, see 2nd Thessalonians Studies #8, #9, and #10. For additional detail on fears that the Antichrist was potentially only years away, also see 2 Thessalonians Studies...

The "Present Distress" Christians Were Facing

     Along with witnessing the unfolding of end-time prophecies that suggested Christ's return was imminent, the early church was suffering persecution just as Jesus had promised as well. Paul spoke of this to the Thessalonians, encouraging them that what was happening to them was no coincidence, for it was happening to everyone who was choosing to live godly in Christ Jesus:

     You became imitators, brothers, of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus, in that you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, who both killed the Lord Jesus, and the prophets, and drove us out... But you yourselves know that we are appointed unto this, for even when we were with you we were telling you beforehand that we were about to suffer affliction, even as it came to pass, which you know. (1 Thessalonians 2:12-15, 3:4)

     The epitome of a soldier on the front lines was the apostle Paul himself, who in enduring beatings and floggings refused to stop preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. As he told the Thessalonians in this same letter:

     For our good news did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit, and in great assurance, even as you know what type of men we were among you for your sakes… For you yourselves know, brothers, that the entrance we made unto you was not in vain, but having been treated abusively and made to suffer at Philippi beforehand, we were nevertheless bold in our God to speak the gospel of God to you amid great contentiousness, even as you know. (1 Thessalonians 1:5, 2:1-3)

     In a succeeding letter, Paul would catalog for the Corinthians the full gamut of what he was enduring at the hands of persecutors, telling them:

      I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked. I spent a night and a day in the open sea. In traveling frequently I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles, in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea, in danger from false brethren, [serving God] amid labor and toil, frequent sleeplessness, hunger and thirst, frequent fastings, and cold and nakedness. (2 Corinthians 11:23-27)

     Given the persecution that he and others were suffering through at the time, it didn't seem to be the best or wisest environment to be starting a family in, and it is especially difficult to envision a soldier of Christ like the apostle Paul having to see to a wife and children. His entire mindset was in advising Christians to adopt the same mindset he had; that they were soldiers awaiting return of the Lord Jesus Christ from Heaven, and needed to remain ever alert and watchful for the events that would precede it:

     We who are of the Day should remain sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of deliverance, for God has not appointed us unto wrath but to obtain deliverance through Him who died for us, our Lord Jesus Christ, that whether you may watch or we may sleep, we may live together with Him. Therefore exhort one another and edify each other, even as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:8-11)

As We See The Day Now Truly Approaching

     The apostles turned out to be mistaken, and Christ's return did not come in their lifetimes. But it is becoming evident from the way world events are taking shape that the day may indeed be approaching now, and this time for real. Israel is surrounded by Muslim nations, and Islamic leaders over the last several decades have cited Muslim prophecy that the day is coming when the Jews will be exterminated as a race, and completely wiped off the map. And when the Antichrist does finally assume power, Christians will fair no better, for it is prophesied that when Satan realizes he cannot completely exterminate the Jews, he will turn against the Christians instead (Revelation 12...)
     Kathryn Baxter received a prophecy concerning this, and the conditions that will exist after the Antichrist has assumed world dominion:

     The beast and his followers will persecute those who refuse the mark, and will kill many of them. Whatever pressures they can bring to bear will be used to force believers of the true God to be marked. Children and infants will be killed before the eyes of the parents who refuse to take the mark. There will be a time of great mourning...
     Some of you will weaken and surrender to the beast and receive his mark in your hand or forehead. You will say, 'God will forgive. God will understand.' But I will not repent of My Word. I have warned you repeatedly through the mouths of My prophets and ministers of the gospel.... If you do not obey the beast and refuse to take his mark, I will take care of you. I do not say that many will not have to die for their faith in these times, for many will be beheaded for trusting the Lord God. But blessed are those who die in the Lord, for great will be their reward... Fear not what man can do to you, but fear him who can cast your soul and body into Hell. (Baxter, A Divine Revelation Of Hell, P.196-197).

     Jesus also warned concerning this time that those who are weak in the faith will betray fellow believers to their deaths, not being willing to pay the ultimate price for trusting in the Lord. As He told the disciples:

     You will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of Me. At that time many will turn away from the faith, and will betray and hate each other... and because of the increase in wickedness, the love of many will grow cold, but the one who stands firm until the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:9-13)

     All things considered then, there will be numerous reasons why marrying may involve greater risks during the end-times. Should a believer be married to someone who isn't strong enough to stand for Christ, they may find themselves being betrayed into the hands of the authorities by someone they entrusted with their very lives. As a result, those wishing to give themselves completely to the Lord's service may forego marriage, choosing instead to focus exclusively on fighting the good fight of faith with whatever time they have left.   

Study #8 / 1 Corinthians 7:6-24, 32-40
« Last post by Hidden In Him on January 21, 2023, 10:53:24 PM »
Why Soldiers Don't Entangle Themselves In Worldly Affairs, Part 1 

     Very little focus is usually given in our time to Paul's teaching on the value in remaining single. In forty years of Christianity, I believe I've only heard or read it taught on once, and this was in reading the works of a very powerful deliverance minister. In other words, the only time I've read it taught on was by a serious soldier in Christ, and I believe this is because only those of like mind are going to see things from the same perspective the apostle Paul did. Paul had a habit of approaching issues from a very militaristic mindset, and this included the subject of marriage. As he would tell Timothy, anyone who enlisted as a soldier must not allow himself to become entangled in the affairs of this life, or he would not be able to please the one who enlisted him.
     This then was how Paul was approaching the subject of marriage, and why he would now urge unmarried believers in Corinth to remain single if at all possible. While it certainly had its benefits, marriage could potentially entangle them in all sorts of earthly responsibilities, and those determined to be soldiers in Christ needed to remain free of every hindrance and distraction to serve the Lord, though he would also acknowledge that not every man was called to forego the marriage relationship:   

     6 I say this as a concession, not as a commandment. 7 For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that. 8 But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am, but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than be burning with desire... 32 I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs — how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world — how he can please his wife — 34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world — how she can please her husband. 35 I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord. 36 If anyone is worried that he might not be acting honorably toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if his passions are too strong and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married. 37 But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin — this man also does the right thing. 38 So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does better. 39 A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord. 40 In my judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is — and I think that I too have the Spirit of God. (1 Corinthians 7:6-8, 32-40)

     The apostle Paul admitted in the above passage that marrying would certainly be better than being consumed with the desire for it, for this already constituted a powerful distraction from the things of God. But what sorts of "problems" was he trying to spare them from in urging them to remain single, and how specifically could marriage potentially become a spiritual hindrance to a soldier of Christ?
     Paul already alluded to one of them earlier in the Chapter. Christians were being encouraged to seek the greater gifts during New Testament times, for it was the power of God that was confirming the word with signs and wonders following, and fasting and prayer was being encouraged as the means to receiving them. As mentioned in a previous study, proof of this can be seen in how some have given themselves to fasting and prayer in modern times and had the power of God manifest through them in ways that have changed entire nations. The problem, however, was that married Christians also had a responsibility to meet one another's sexual needs, and fasting weakened the sex drive, leading Paul to conclude that married couples should only fast by agreement and only for a time, lest Satan tempt them with infidelity for not having their sexual needs met.
     His teaching in the following passage is often clouded over by poor translation, but this is what Paul was teaching in 1 Corinthians 7:1-5:

     But concerning the things you wrote to me about, it is good for a husband not to touch a wife intimately. Yet because of sexual immorality, let each husband have sexual relations with his own wife and each wife have sexual relations with her own husband. Let the husband render due benevolence unto the wife, and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife has no authority over her own body but the husband, and likewise also the husband has no authority over his own body but the wife. Do not deprive one another except it be by consent for a season, that you may be unoccupied for the sake of engaging in fasting and prayer, and then come together again that Satan not tempt you because of your incontinence. (1 Corinthians 7:1-5)

     Because of the effects of fasting on the sex drive, a married soldier in Christ lacked the freedom to simply give himself to fasting and prayer whenever he wanted to, for his body was not his own. He might greatly desire the greater gifts and have a willingness to fast and pray, but if his spouse was not happy with the situation it would cause conflict, and sisters in the Lord had to be cognizant of these obligations as well, for it was often the men whose sexual needs were the greatest. When it came to married sisters, Paul may have been alluding to another potential problem as well, and that was the desire for a higher standard of living. If the wife was more materialistic and longed for a better earthly life, this might require more working time from the husband, and could ultimately result in him finding himself living with someone who for all intents and purposes was an enemy to the call of God on his life.
     This two part study will be dedicated to discussing the pros and cons of marriage in light of the spiritual war, why we've already paid a high price for ignoring Paul's teaching on it, and why the end-time army will need to correct this mistake if they hope to fulfill the purpose God has for them.

Spiritual Men Entangled In Issues And Hindrances

     It is in part because we have failed to maintain the teachings of the apostle Paul on marriage that many find themselves in the situation they are in today. As Kathryn Baxter related in A Divine Revelation Of Prayer, many men in particular who have had great callings on their lives have nevertheless squandered such opportunities by allowing themselves to become entangled in the affairs of this life:

     For several years now, I've been having visions in prayer of God raising up men and women for His glory. I want to focus on what He has been showing me about the men. It appeared to me as if the men were entangled with all kinds of issues. Galatians 5:1 came to me: "Do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage." It seemed as if they had yokes of bondage around them, and all types of hindrances. The roads before them were full of obstacles, such as money problems, problems in their homes, and difficulties on their jobs. Those who were married faced many issues they could not resolve, but every so often I would see a few of them raising their hands, praising God, and being set free. The bands would just fall from them.
     The vision repeated on and off for a little more than five years. As I traveled and talked to people, I learned that God had called a number of men who had never fulfilled their spiritual callings. Because of this, there was an empty place in their hearts. They knew and understood their callings, but it seemed there was nothing they could do about them because Satan had thrown so many roadblocks and hindrances in their paths. For some of them, their marriages had ended in divorce. They could never get along with their spouses, and there were so many arguments and so much strife going on in their homes that they could not get anything done.
     I began to have a heart for these men - that God would bring them out of captivity, that they would obey God, that their families would be blessed, and that the Lord would bring healing to every issue in their lives. It seemed to me that so many little children were involved and hurt in these relationships that had not been ordained by God... His call was very strong on many of them, but they didn't know how to break free from their bondages.
     As time went on, I'd see the same men in visions. Years would go by and they never could accomplish the call of God. Then I began to understand how the Devil the works. He wants to keep things from happening in our lives, and to hinder us from understanding the call of God upon us. The Devil wants us to make impromptu decisions based on emotions rather than on the Divine will of God. (Baxter, A Divine Revelation Of Prayer, P.201-204)

     In a related vision, she also saw men of God who were trapped in a woods, entangled in branches and unable to see their way out. Yet by the grace of Almighty God, their eyes were eventually opened to see how to escape the bondages they were in.

     Later, I had visions of men who were in a wooded area, standing in dry brown leaves and twigs. They were looking up, but their eyes were closed. They seemed to be isolated from one another in this wooded area. I could see an aerial view of them, and I noticed that they were similar to the men whom I had been seeing on and off in the visions for more than five years. I could see that she were old men and others were young; they were of all ages. In fact, one man looked like he was in his eighties, and I thought, "Dear God, they've struggled so long and so hard. They just can't seem to get out of this wooded area and these bondages." It tore at my soul.
     I prayed and then called a friend... she said, "Let's pray." We prayed for God to bring these men out, tones them free , and to heal them, because there were so many deep wounds in their hearts. I perceived in the Spirit that some of them were alone now with hardly any money. Some had lots of money but no family, and it was so sad.
     Then I saw drops falling on them. The drops were blue with white light in them. Several drops would fall on the men's faces, and wash around their eyes. I began to weep and cry out, "Jesus, please set these men free and let them come forth as a mighty army in the land!" As I looked at the washing of their eyes, their eyes suddenly popped open. My prayer partner asked, "Do you know what I see?"
     "No," I said. "Tell me what you see and then I'll tell you what I see."
     "I see God crying and teardrops falling on these men's faces," she began to explain. "I saw the teardrops come on their eyes and begin to wash them - huge teardrops! I thought it was a strange-looking kind of rain"...
     Then I saw the twigs, the branches, and the entanglement fall away. There the men stood in this shadowed area, still isolated, their right legs raised, ready to march forth out if this darkness and into the light. (Baxter, A Divine Revelation Of Prayer, P.205-207, top)

     The Spirit of the Lord then gave a prophecy that these men were to become part of the great end-time army of God. Though I will not quote it here, other prophecies likewise state that the end-time army will consist of those who in the past were misunderstood, mistreated, abused and rejected:

     I shall speak to this army of men and they shall arise. They shall come out of their caves, their mountains, their wildernesses, and I shall use them in these latter days to do a work that will amaze you.. They shall march as a mighty army in the land, and they shall proclaim My destiny and My word. For these are men that I am raising up through all their hardships. They've kept their eyes on Me. They've tried their best to do My will. But now I have sent My angels to destroy the hindrances that are around them: the briars, the thorns, the dried twigs. And I shall bring them out of this wilderness, and they shall proclaim My word. They shall march through the land and they shall take it. (Baxter, A Divine Revelation Of Prayer, P.207-208)

Though Married, A Slave Is The Lord's Freedman

     Can it still be beneficial in the spiritual war, then, for a soldier in Christ to be married? Most certainly it can. When both a husband and a wife are on fire for God and fully dedicated to His service, this becomes a very problematic situation for the Devil. The closeness created by the marriage bond is unparalleled in human experience, and in the spiritual war this is important. Satan works tirelessly to play divide and conquer, so solidifying the bonds of marriage has the potential for making a marriage relationship virtually unbreakable, and this makes both partners exponentially stronger together then they would ever be apart. As scripture says, one can put a thousand to flight and two can put ten thousand (Joshua 23:10, Deuteronomy 32:30). So, too, is it taught in the word of God that children in the Lord are arrows in one's quiver (Psalm 127:3-5).
     This is why God commanded Christians not to divorce, and why Paul now reminded the Corinthians of it. Even if the spouse was an unbeliever there still existed the possibility for a great victory in the Lord, which is why Paul now urged them not to separate from unbelieving partners unless they themselves requested it:

     10 Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. 11 But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife. 12 But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. 15 But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. 16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife? 17 As God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. And so I ordain in all the churches. (1 Corinthians 7:10-17)

     Granted, it must be said that woe be unto the man who foolishly enters into a marriage assuming his unbelieving wife is going to get saved or vise versa. Such naive believers are sowing to the wind and will in all likelihood reap a whirlwind. But should they find themselves in such circumstances by happenstance, the marriage has already been formed and should therefore not be abandoned. The potential exists for the two to become a powerful combination in the Lord against the forces of darkness, should both come to abide in Christ.
     This said, Paul will now yet again urge the Corinthians that it would be better for the unmarried if they remained in the state in which they were called, and that soldiers in Christ might make a terrible mistake if they voluntarily chose to make themselves slaves of men:

      18 Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him not be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God. 20 Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called. 21 Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it. But if you can be made free, rather use it. 22 For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. 24 Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called. (1 Corinthians 7:18-24)

     How, then, should the soldier of Christ conduct himself in a marriage with an unbeliever, or in one where he is the stronger partner spiritually and therefore unequally yoked? The key here is in understanding what Paul meant by the phrase, "a slave is the Lord's freedman, and a freedman is the Lord's slave." This simply meant that while a slave had responsibilities to his master, his master nevertheless did not OWN him, and once his obligations had been met, his time and service belonged to the Lord and the Lord alone. More simply put, a Christian husband needed to fulfill his marital obligations to his wife, spiritually, sexually, emotionally and materially. But once those obligations were met, he was not a slave to any man, and his time and energy now belonged to the Lord. This applied to Christian wives as well. If an unbelieving spouse didn't like such an arrangement, they were free to separate, but a soldier in Christ was never to compromise his calling regardless of whether an unbelieving spouse liked this aspect of the relationship or not. Such marriages would inevitably be uncomfortable for both parties anyway, so in such situations the soldier in Christ needed to pull harder in the direction God was leading him than his partner was pulling in the opposite, albeit lovingly. Should it come down to the unbelieving spouse growing tired of the situation and leaving, this would be far better than for the soldier in Christ to allow himself to compromise His calling in Christ, and potentially waste what might end up being the majority of his life.

Study #7 / 1 Corinthians 7:1-5
« Last post by Hidden In Him on January 17, 2023, 11:28:02 PM »
Prayer And Fasting: Keys To Greater Spiritual Authority In Christ
     Now we come to yet another one of those passages I believe gets clouded over by inaccurate translation. Paul begins Chapter Seven of First Corinthians by saying it is "good for a man not to touch a woman," which is usually taken to mean it is better for unmarried Christians to remain single rather than marry. While Paul certainly teaches this later on in the Chapter, as I will explain in a moment, the subject matter being addressed here was not actually single Christians but married ones, and whether they should be refraining from having sexual relations with one another or not.
     What is not widely known is that the words "man" and "woman" can just as easily be translated "husband" and "wife," with the immediate context being the only determining factor. And since the rest of the passage clearly deals with married Christians not single ones, the passage in its entirety should actually read as follows:

     But concerning the things you wrote to me about, it is good for a husband not to touch a wife intimately. Yet because of sexual immorality, let each husband have sexual relations with his own wife and each wife have sexual relations with her own husband. Let the husband render due benevolence unto the wife, and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife has no authority over her own body but the husband, and likewise also the husband has no authority over his own body but the wife. Do not deprive one another except it be by consent for a season, that you may be unoccupied for the sake of engaging in fasting and prayer, and then come together again that Satan not tempt you because of your incontinence. (1 Corinthians 7:1-5)

     Part of the confusion here stems from the verb "to have," which can have sexual connotations in Greek, such as when Paul earlier discussed a man who was "having" his father's wife. To "have" in that context meant the man was having sexual relations with his step-mother. Thus, the phrase "let each man have his own wife, and each wife her own husband" likewise meant that they should continue having sexual relations and not deprive one another of it.
     But why would the Corinthians even be asking such a question? It appears that some of the married believers among them wanted to know if they should be engaging in fasting and prayer, even if that meant spending less time together intimately. Fasting and Prayer were being practiced in the early church, but these disciplines came with a down side for married couples: Fasting decreased the sex drive, especially in men, which meant it would lessen the amount of time they could spend having intercourse. It's why Paul replied that if a couple determined to fast, they should do so only for a time and only by agreement, then come back together again lest the Devil tempt them, and one spouse potentially get seduced into committing adultery because the other partner deprived them of sex for too long.
     I provided some quotes in a previous study demonstrating how the ancients believed very clearly that fasting lessened the sex drive, but it needs to be understood that this was not just some ancient theory that had no basis in fact. Studies have been done in more recent times which have proven it to be the case. The effectiveness of John Cassian's fasting regimen in decreasing the sex drive was put to the test back in the 1940s by researchers at the University of Minnesota, led by Aline Rousselle. As Teressa Shaw explained in her work, The Burden Of The Flesh:

     John Cassian, Jerome, Gregory of Nyssa and Basil of Ancyra all understood the benefits of ascestic fasting to include the slowing of the processes that lead to sexual desire. Aline Rousselle demonstrated that modern research on the effects of food deprivation confirms the ancient theory to some extent... One of the marked and common effects of prolonged food deprivation - in the Minnesota experiment as well as numerous studies of starving populations in war or famine - is a weakening or loss of sexual desire and activity. The researchers at Minnesota found that by the end of the twenty-four weeks of semi-starvation "sexual feeling and expression … were virtually extinguished in all but a few of the subjects." They also report that "masturbation and nocturnal emissions ceased or were greatly reduced in frequency. Sex fantasies and sex dreams were reported to have decreased in number, and when present they were much attenuated." During the rehabilitation period, the sex drive returned only very slowly. The researchers attributed the decrease in sexual desire in starvation or semi-starvation in part to the body's own "adaptive mechanisms protecting the individual organism from nonessential energy expenditure." Experiment results also showed a marked decrease in the production and excretion of male sex hormones (ketosteroids) as well as a reduction in semen volume and changes in its morphology. (Teresa Shaw, The Burden Of The Flesh, P.126)

     Returning to our passage, the question being asked of Paul then was essentially this: "Is it good for Christian husbands and wives to refrain from sexual contact with one another to give themselves to fasting and prayer or not?" to which Paul responded, "Yes, but because of the potential for infidelity, married couples should only fast when it is by agreement, and only for a set amount of time."
     Of what benefit, then, would fasting and prayer have been to early Christian couples, such that they would be willing to forego intimacy? This is where you get into another subject few teach on these days, and that is the value prayer and fasting has in attaining greater spiritual authority from God, especially via the granting of greater supernatural gifts. As Paul will state later in this teaching, "Each man has his own gift," and being able to have sexual intimacy with a husband or wife is certainly a wonderful gift of God. But there were spiritual gifts that also lay in wait for those willing to pay the price for them in fasting and prayer, and for those whose eyes were set on receiving greater rewards in eternity, even the teachings of Jesus Himself suggested these were practices that were well worth engaging in.

Scriptures On The Rewards Of Prayer & Fasting

     Though not often recognized as such, Jesus taught very clearly that prayer and fasting would be rewarded with the power of God to move in signs and wonders, healings and miracles. He taught this early in the Sermon on the Mount, in discussing the coming of the kingdom of God. As He would tell the disciples:

     When you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, for they love to pray in the synagogues and on the street corners, that they may be seen of men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward. But when you pray, enter into your room, and having shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you in the open. (Matthew 6:5-6)

     Two verses later, Jesus gave them an example of what they should be praying for specifically, telling them not to pray for mundane things like earthly needs, but for the kingdom of God to be made manifest on earth:

     Your Father knows what things you have need of before you ask Him. Therefore, pray like this: "Our Father who is in Heaven, Holy is your name. Let Your kingdom come, let Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day the bread we need, and forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors also, and lead us not into trials but deliver us from the Evil one, for Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, unto the end of the ages." (Matthew 6:8b-13)

     From start to finish, this prayer encapsulated what the apostles as soldiers of Christ needed to be praying daily. The opening request was for the coming of the kingdom of God, which as I will demonstrate in a moment meant praying for the supernatural power of God to be made manifest in their lives. But manifestations of the power of God have throughout history always brought retaliation from the enemy, and this is why they needed to end with requests that He not lead him into trials and persecution but deliver them from the Evil one.
     How do we know the coming of the kingdom would be associated with manifestations of the supernatural power of God? Because this is clearly implied in His teaching in Luke Chapter 10. As Jesus would tell the disciples before sending them out with the power of the Holy Spirit:
     "Into whatever city you might enter and they receive you, eat the things set before you, and heal the sick in it, saying unto them, 'The kingdom of God has drawn close to you.' And into whatever city you might enter and they receive you not... I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom in that day than for that city. Woe unto you, Chorazin! Woe unto you, Bethsaida! For if the works of supernatural power had been done in Tyre and Sidon which have been done in you, they would have repented long ago, sitting in ashes and sackcloth"... And returning, the seventy said with joy, "Lord, even the demons are subject unto us through Your name!" (Luke 10:8-17)

     From this passage it becomes clear that the coming of the kingdom of God was associated with healings, miracles, and the casting out of demons. In Matthew 12 Jesus likewise told the Pharisees:

     "If I cast out demons by Beelzebul, then by whom do your sons cast them out? On this account they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you." (Matthew 12:27-28)

     In teaching on prayer, Jesus also promised the disciples that just as they knew how to give good gifts to their children, their Heavenly Father would give them the empowerment of the Holy Spirit if they prayed to Him persistently for it:

     Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him bread because of friendship, yet because of his persistence he will surely get up and give him as much as he needs. So I say to you, ask and it will be given to you. Seek and you shall find. Knock and the door will be opened unto you. For everyone who asks receives, the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. If a son will ask bread of any of you who is a father, will he give him a stone?... If therefore, you being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" (Luke 11:5-13)

     In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught the disciples that unlike the Pharisees they should pray in secret rather than on the public streets, and that if they did so the Lord would reward them "in the open." In other words, all the Pharisees would receive for putting on a performance was mere religious recognition, but those who prayed in secret would receive a far greater reward from the Father in having the power of God manifest through them supernaturally, and that this reward would manifest "in the open" before all. 
     And what else did Jesus say would bring such rewards from God? Fasting. As He added not a few verses later:

     And when you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you in the open. (Matthew 6:16-18)

     Thus, the same things He said about prayer applied to fasting, which is why both working together in tandem made for a powerful combination. Prayer and Fasting would bring rewards from God in the form of supernatural empowerment, so long as they were not doing either simply to be seen by men.

Modern Witnesses To The Power Of Prayer & Fasting

     Two of the strongest proponents of fasting in modern times have been Derek Prince and Mahesh Chavda. Prince mentored Chavda, so both taught essentially the same thing on the subject. I will quote Derek Prince below on how Jesus was set forth as our example even in fasting, and that those wishing to walk in the power of the Spirit of God will have to emulate the same steps He took in order to get it:

     Here’s the account in Luke 4:1–2: “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the Devil. He ate nothing during those days and at the end of them he was hungry”... Now, I want you to notice the result of the fasting in the life of Jesus. It’s stated in Luke 4:14: “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.” There’s a very significant difference in the two phrases used. When Jesus went into the desert, it says He was “full of the Holy Spirit,” but when He returned from the desert after forty days of fasting it says He went “in the power of the Spirit.” In other words, it’s one thing to be full of the Spirit, it’s another thing to be in the power of the Spirit. The Spirit was there from the time of His baptism onwards, but it was His fasting that released the power of the Holy Spirit to flow without hindrance through His life and ministry. Again, I believe this is a pattern for us.
     Let me remind you of the words that Jesus Himself said later in John 14:12: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do: because I go to the Father.” (Derek Prince, Fasting Practiced By Jesus)

     Mahesh Chavda taught the same thing in The Hidden Power of Prayer and Fasting, and both not only taught it but demonstrated it in the field. Multiple testimonies could be shared here for each, for Prince was a powerful deliverance minister and Chavda a powerful evangelist. Due to limited space I will quote a little of Chavda's testimony. Speaking with regard to one of his evangelistic campaigns in Africa, Mahesh had this to say about one of his more extraordinary manifestations of God's power during that trip:

     Some years ago I traveled to Central Africa, to Kinshasa, the capital city of Zaire. Upon arrival, I found myself in the middle of a mighty visitation of God. Night after night I saw miracle after miracle as thousands of Africans came forward and placed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The crowds grew in size every night until, by Friday, attendance exceeded 130,000. That night, the local pastors who had been working with me said, “Brother Mahesh, this is a weeknight. The main crowds will come on the weekend.”
     The next morning, I heard the Lord say to me, “Tonight you will do a mass deliverance service.”
     “But Lord,” I protested, “tonight is when the biggest crowd will be coming!” I still remembered the time when Brother Derek Prince and I had held a mass deliverance service for 10,000 people. In that part of Africa, strongholds of witchcraft were so powerful that when we took authority in the name of Jesus, a couple hundred people fell down and started writhing like snakes and coming toward us. God miraculously delivered them. Now, years later, here I was with a crowd more than ten times larger.
     The Lord told me again, “Tonight you will do a mass deliverance service.”
     “Lord,” I replied, “if I do that, thousands of demons will manifest and we will be out of control!” I was all alone, with no trained staff to help me. A few local pastors were assisting me, but they were not trained in deliverance ministry.
     I asked, “How can You do this, Lord? I’m all alone.”
     He answered, “Tonight, hundreds of sorcerers will come and confront you.”
     This wasn’t getting any better. I felt like saying, “Thanks a lot! I wish You had never told me!”
     You have to understand that these African sorcerers are not the type who just play with Ouija boards or give astrological signs to people. They are the kind of sorcerers who place curses on people, and those people actually die. According to some, these sorcerers can supposedly change forms at night, and they are known to eat human flesh regularly. Far beyond your “garden-variety” sorcerer, these necromancers are completely devoted to the forces of evil and darkness. Because they have given themselves over to Satan, they possess demonic powers.
     And now hundreds of them were going to confront me? Again I tried to reason with God. “Lord, I’m all alone here, and You really want me to hold a deliverance service to cast demons out of thousands of people?”
     The Lord said, “This night I am sending you to break the yoke of witchcraft over this nation”...
     That evening, approximately 800 sorcerers from all over that region of Africa were among the tens of thousands gathered in that place. Although scattered throughout the crowd, they were easy enough to identify. Their bone necklaces and strange manner of dress set them apart from everybody else.
     The local African pastors came to me in fear and said, “These sorcerers are putting their curses upon us and upon the service! What should we do?”
     “Let them do it,” I replied.
     It is very difficult to describe, but as I began that night, I realized that I had walked into a highly-charged spiritual atmosphere. It was almost as though I could see the blood of Jesus Christ all around me. As I stood up to speak, something exploded inside me, and I said, “I know you are out there, all you sorcerers, and I want you to know that I am not afraid of you. Not one person here tonight needs to be afraid of the powers of darkness. Listen to me, sorcerers. I am not afraid of you, and I am not afraid of your demons. Tonight, God has shown me that one drop of the blood of Jesus Christ can destroy the kingdom of Satan!”
     As the Lord had promised, it was a true revelation for me. That night we bound the powers of darkness, and God brought a mighty deliverance. I said, “In the name of Jesus, I bind you demon spirits who have oppressed this people for centuries. I break that yoke of witchcraft. I release this people.” Even as I prayed, thousands of demons began manifesting. People fell to the ground. Sick bodies were healed, and blind eyes were opened. Many people who were involved in witchcraft renounced their sorcery. In addition to the miraculous physical healings, masses of people were transformed spiritually by the power of the blood of Jesus. The sorcerers’ powers were bound. The local pastors rushed up to me excitedly and said, “Brother Mahesh, we believe that as many as 25,000 people have given their lives to Jesus Christ tonight!” (Mahesh Chavda, 800 Sorcerers Delivered By A Drop Of Jesus' Blood, Destiny

     Speaking about another experience in the Congo, Mahesh related the following account as well:

     I was doing an evangelistic crusade in the city if Kananga in the Congo. It's a city of great spiritual warfare, in fact, one of the chief schools of sorcery was in the city of Kananga... When I did that evangelistic crusade, a lot of the sorcerers got together and were doing some ceremonies under what is called "the Sorcerer's Tree." Under that big tree they would have facilitation to do incantations, curse people, etc, etc. So they cursed my meeting, and at that time I was on the other side of Kananga, and the Lord said, "The witchcraft is strong. The sorcerers are gathered together and are cursing your meeting. Release the power of the Holy Spirit." So I said, "I am speaking to every principality, every evil spirit, and I command the spirit of witchcraft to be bound, and I release the power of the Holy Spirit. Come, Holy Spirit!" And as I spoke, fire came from the sky, and burned the Sorcerers Tree from the top down... We have a picture of the Tree. It burned from the top down, and it burned the eyes of the sorcerers. Then the sorcerers came and gave their lives to Jesus Christ, and asked me to pray for their eyes - I mean the eyes had almost boiled - and I blessed them and they received Jesus, and their eyes were healed. (Mahesh Chavda, Prayer & Fasting, Vimeo)

     Anyone interested in learning more can purchase their published material or search through videos on the subject. I point these stories in particular out because they do an excellent job of demonstrating how the kingdom of God wages war with the kingdom of darkness when His people give themselves to fasting and prayer, and how God's power delivers captive souls from the power of evil as a result. It is one of the greatest benefits - if not THEE greatest - of fasting and prayer, and why Paul would therefore be encouraging even married couples to give themselves to it whenever possible. As he would tell the Corinthians in a later Chapter, they needed to be seeking the greater gifts (1 Corinthians 12:31), and the same is still true of us today.

Links to sources:

Study #1 / The Journey
« Last post by Hidden In Him on January 15, 2023, 08:21:44 AM »
Escape From Christendom, By Robert Burnell, 1980

     The following is a brief commentary on Robert Burnell's end-time dream entitled Escape From Christendom. Each Chapter will be broken into sections so specific topics can be discussed in detail as they come up, but for those wishing to read the entire dream in its context without interruption, a complete PDF can be found here:

Chapter 1: The Journey

     In my dream I see the lone figure of a man following a road. As the sun sets beneath the hills, a city comes into view. Nearing it, the traveler sees what appears to be a large group of churches. Spires and crosses pierce the skyline. His pace quickens. Is this his destination? He passes an imposing structure, a neon sign flashing "Cathedral of the Future." Farther on a floodlit stadium supports a billboard boasting that fifty thousand people crowd into evangelistic meetings there three nights a week. Beyond this, modest "New Testament" chapels and Hebrew Christian synagogues cluster together on the street front.

     "Is this the City of God?" I hear the traveler ask a woman at the information booth in the central square.

     "No this is Christian City, "she replies.

     "But I thought this road led to the City of God!" He exclaims with great disappointment.

     "That's what we all thought when we arrived," she answers, her tone sympathetic.

     "This road continues up the mountain, doesn't it?" He asks.

     "I wouldn't know, really," she answers blankly.

     I watched the man turn away from her and trudge on up the mountain in the gathering darkness. Reaching the top, he starts out into the blackness; it looks as though there is nothing, absolutely nothing, beyond. With a shudder he retraces his steps into Christian City an takes a room at a hotel. Strangely unrefreshed, at dawn he arises and follows the road up the mountain again; in the brightening light of the sun he discovers that what seemed like a void the night before is actually a desert - dry, hot, rolling sand as far as the eye can see. The road narrows to a path which rises over a dune and disappears.

     "Can this trail lead to the City of God?" He wonders aloud. It appears to be quite deserted and rarely traveled.


     Many today operate under the assumption that all God requires is that you join a church and faithfully attend it, tithe your income, and maybe participate in a little ministry here and there. So long as you manage the typical church agenda and keep your nose clean, you can be assured that you are on the pathway to Heaven. But as the opening words to this dream suggest, those who take the common approach yet never truly give their hearts and lives to the Lord may be in for a shock. Much of Christianity today glosses over what Jesus referred to as the greatest commandment, and instead focus on stressing to believers that they need to give their time and attention to the church, insinuating that the two are essentially one and the same.
     However, the following comes to mind almost immediately in reading the opening words to this dream:

     Enter in at the straight gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter therein. But straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life, and few there be who find it... Not everyone who says to Me, "Lord, Lord" will enter into the kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in Heaven. (Matthew 7:13-14)

     The above passage is clearly alluded to with the words, "The road narrows to a path, which rises over a dune and disappears... It appears to be quite deserted and rarely traveled." The "narrow way" and the "straight gate" of scripture refer more specifically to the greatest commandment, which has never changed. The one thing believers are commanded to do above all else is to love the Lord their God with their whole heart, their whole mind, their whole soul, and their whole strength.
     Do most Christians focus on keeping this commandment today? Maybe the better question is, are they even being told to? I once saw a local preacher tell his congregation, "You need to be involved in church. Just like Jesus wants you to give Him 10% of your income, He wants you to give Him 10% of your time as well," implying that 10% of their time should be spent in church and/or in helping ministries that supported it. In essence, he was telling them that if they gave 10% of their time to the church, the rest was theirs to do with as they pleased. At first I assumed he might be joking, but he never broke a smile and never deviated from what he was teaching. He was serious, and this was a fairly large local congregation with hundreds in attendance.
     Looking back on it, that message I heard epitomizes what this dream prophesied would become of much of Christianity. In many cases, church involvement has become a substitute for truly consecrating one's life unto the Lord, and in the process it has become a very successful trick Satan is using to subvert true worship unto the Living God.
     Returning to the dream, the traveler is persuaded to "put down roots" spiritually, and avoid going to religious extremes:

     Indecision slowing his steps, he again returns to Christian City and has lunch in a Christian restaurant. Over the music of a gospel record, I hear him ask a man at the next table, "That path up the mountain where the desert begins, does it lead to the City of God?"
     "Don't be a fool!" his neighbor replies quickly. "Everyone who has ever taken that path has been lost, swallowed up by the desert! If you want God, there are plenty of good churches in this town. You should pick one and settle down."

     After leaving the restaurant, looking weary and confused, the traveler finds a spot under a tree and sits down. An ancient man approaches and begins pleading with him in urgent tones, "If you stay here in Christian City, you'll wither away. You must take the path. I belong to the desert you saw earlier. I was sent here to encourage you to press on. You'll travel many miles. You'll be hot and thirsty; but angels will walk with you, and there will be springs of water along the way. And at your journey's end you will reach the City of God! You have never seen such beauty! And when you arrive the gates will open for you, for you are expected."

     "What you say sounds wonderful," the traveler replies. "But I'm afraid I'd never survive that desert. I'm probably better off here in Christian City."

     The ancient one smiles. "Christian City is the place for those who want religion but don't want to lose their lives. The desert is the territory of those whose hearts are so thirsty for God that they are willing to be lost in Him. My friend, when Peter brought his boat to land, forsook all and followed Jesus, he was being swallowed by the desert. When Matthew left his tax collecting and Paul his Phariseeism, they too were leaving a city much like this to pursue Jesus out over the dunes and be lost in God. So don't be afraid. Many have gone before you."

     Then I see the traveler look away from the old man's burning eyes to the bustle of Christian City. He sees busy people hurrying hither and yon with their Bibles and shiny attaché cases, looking like men and women who know their destiny. But it is clear they lack something which the old man with eyes like a prophet possesses. In my dream I imagine the traveler turning things over in his mind.

     "If I do go out there, how can I be sure that I will really be lost in God? In the Middle Ages Christians tried to lose themselves in God by putting the world behind them and entering a monastery. And how disappointed many of them were to find that the world was still there! And the people here in Christian City who are preparing to go to some jungle or a neglected slum, maybe they're coming closer to what it means to be lost in God. But then, a person can travel to the ends of the earth and not lose himself."

     The traveler turns again to see the old person starting up the road for the narrow path down to the desert's edge. Suddenly, his decision mobilizes him and leaps to his feet, chasing after him. When he catches up, they exchange no words. The ancient man makes an abrupt turn to the right and guides him up still another slope which steepens as it rises toward a peak shrouded in a luminous cloud. The climb upward is very difficult. The traveler appears dizzy and begins to stagger. His guide pauses and offers him a drink from a flask hanging over his shoulder. Panting, he drinks it in great gulps.

     "No water ever tasted sweeter than this," he says with great feeling. "Thank you."

     "Now look there." The old man points beyond them to a vista not nearly as monotonous and desolate as it had seemed earlier. The desert below has taken on many colors and gradation. In the far distance blazing light is throbbing and moving on the surface of the horizon like a living thing. "There is the City of God! But before you reach it, you will have to pass through those four wildernesses you see."


     In spiritual imagery, seeing things from a great height is symbolism for seeing things prophetically from God's perspective. In the following excerpt from Anna Rountree's vision The Heavens Opened, the Lord Himself took the form of an Eagle for instance, in teaching that the testimony of Jesus with the Spirit of prophecy:

     Suddenly the wings of a large bird passed over me... He was powerful, fierce, and majestic in flight. I had never heard of a completely white eagle. “Stretch out your hands,” He said as He began His descent. The spirits bowed toward the Eagle. I did not know what to do but to stretch out my hands. The Eagle, as large as I, backed into me so that His eyes and beak were where my face was. Then just as quickly He was before me again, with His eyes piercing into mine. I gasped.
     Just as quickly, the Eagle changed into the Lord. He said, “This is so you may know that ‘the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Then He became the white Eagle again. “Come,” He said... We came quickly to an outcropping of rock near the top of a mountain. An eagle’s nest was positioned on this rocky thrust. The nest was large, perhaps five feet across, and made of strong tree branches. I climbed from His back and stepped down onto small, downy feathers within the nest. The white Eagle perched on the nest’s rim. The view of the circling mountain range and valley below was breathtaking...
     The great Eagle spoke, “So much of what is happening now in the body of Christ is like paper dolls—one copying the other.” The paper dolls disappeared, and an eagle of pure gold flew by. “I am looking for an eagle of gold, Anna - rare beyond measure.” As He spoke, power like a surge of electricity ran all over the eagle of gold. It became pure white, like the great white Eagle “The golden eagle becomes like Me,” He said.
     He continued, “There are many eagles, for I am generous with the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ But, Anna, I am giving you an invitation to become an eagle of gold.” Suddenly I saw a rocket blast off from the earth and shoot into heaven. The great Eagle continued, “The golden eagle’s nest is in heaven. The golden eagle does not even eat earthly food. It feeds above. The paper doll eagles catch fish, kill snakes, chase rabbits; but the eagle of gold breathes the ether above. It does not seek after or eat carrion. The golden eagle eats from the hand of God until it looks and smells and is like Me—pure white. There are many that look like Me, but you must eat from the hand of God to be like Me.” (The Heavens Opened, Rountree, P.45-47)

     This is why dreams and visions are exceedingly important to those aspiring to be soldiers in the end-time army of God. They lay out the steps that will need to be taken if one would be chosen for it, and not everyone will. Those who can't receive what the Spirit is saying to the churches disqualify themselves. Like the woman in Christian City, who had no idea what lay beyond the mountain in the dream, they simply cannot see what is coming prophetically. But dreams and visions will be the hallmark of the end-time church. Instead of continuing to resort to the teachings of men, they will eat from the hand of God Himself.
     As scripture itself promises:
     I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. And I will pour out My Spirit upon My servants and My handmaidens in those days. And I will show wonders in the heaven and on earth, blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and glorious Day of the Lord comes." (Joel 2:28-31 LXX)

     Returning once more to the dream, the messenger now gives him instructions on the four deserts he must pass through if he would truly make it to the City of God:

     "Directly below us is the Wilderness of Forgiveness." The traveler notices small, dim figures making their way slowly in the direction of the city, separated from each other by many miles.

     "How can they survive the loneliness?" Asks the traveler. "Wouldn't they benefit from traveling together?"

     "Well, they aren't really alone. Each one of them is accompanied by the forgiveness of God. They are being swallowed by the desert of the Lord God's vast mercy. The Holy Spirit is saying to them as they travel, 'Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!' They are made whole as they travel."

     Just beyond there is an expanse of blue. "Is it sea?" Inquires the traveler.

     "It looks like water, but it's a sea of sand. That's the Wilderness of Worship. Here, look through these glasses and you will see that people are walking there, too. Notice how they begin to group themselves here. They are having their first taste of the joy of the City--worship. They are discovering how they were made for the worship of God. It is becoming their life, the white-hot source of everything they do."

     "But don't people also worship back in Christian City? What's so special about that wilderness?"

     "Worship, that is true worship, can begin only when a life has been utterly abandoned to the desert of God's presence. Out there the heart begins to worship the Father in spirit and truth."

     Looking beyond the blue wilderness to where the desert rises in red and fiery mountains, the old man explains to the traveler that among those reddish mountains is the Wilderness of Prayer. "Passing through that wilderness travelers find it necessary to turn away from every distraction and concentrate on prayer. They quickly learn that there is no possible way for them to survive but by crying out to God continuously. By the time they reach the outer extremes of that wilderness, prayer is their consuming passion and their supreme joy. It appears at first that the City of God is just beyond the Wilderness of Prayer. But there is one more wilderness hidden by those mountains, which you will pass through before you reach your destination. It is simply called the Harvest. You'll know it when you reach it. And beyond the Harvest is the City itself. Your name is known there. Your arrival is awaited with eagerness. Come, let's begin our journey."

     "Nightfall doesn't seem to be a particularly propitious time to begin a journey like this," he says.

     "Don't go back to Christian City," the old man exhorts, gazing at him earnestly."

     "Not even at this hour? That way I could get a good night's sleep and start first thing in the morning," the traveler adds hopefully.

     "But your rest is out there," he urges. "Walk on now into the desert. The Holy Spirit will help you. Don't be afraid to be lost in God. You'll find your life nowhere else."

     Like many other dreams and visions being given to the church, this applies directly to the end-time army of God. Those chosen for it will eventually have the Spirit of God poured out upon them in great measure, and the works they do will bring about the harvest promised by our Lord to take place at the end of the age. (Matthew 13:37-39)
     As will be stated in the last Chapter:

     Dying men and women were being raised to their feet like the dry bones Ezekiel saw. They were being delivered from their diseases, their sins, and their spiritual prisons, merely by drinking the living, life-giving water and sharing it with others, bringing healing to them. As by a spreading fire or a surging flood, the sick ones were being swept to their feet. Laborers there who had spent years seeing limited results found that now it was taking no more than a single drop of water on a parched tongue to raise the dying to life, and each day the process was accelerating. Finally, I saw the last prone body raised to life. What once appeared a battlefield of defeat had become the camp of a mighty army.

     There is a difficulty those who are chosen for it will have to face, however, and it's mentioned here in this last section: Loneliness. Those who dedicate their lives completely to the Presence of the Living God are overwhelmingly in the minority today, with few who will share their perspective, let alone walk the path God is calling them to walk. To the contrary, because of what is commonly being taught, most don't even know it exists. And as this dream will also allude to, such circumstances present a certain danger to those who will attempt to walk it. Anyone who cannot withstand the loneliness involved may prove unable to persevere in these "deserts," which is symbolism for a harsh environment emotionally where isolation can sometimes lead to despair and even spiritual death.
     But the loneliness can be overcome, for the Lord walks with us, and this is what is being communicated by this opening Chapter. Paul endured persecution in preaching the gospel, and found that even his friends deserted him when he needed them. But he remained strong, saying "No one stood by me the first time I defended myself. All deserted me… but the Lord stayed with me and gave me strength" (2 Timothy 4:16). And those who wish to truly walk with God essentially have no choice anyway. As other visions state, only those willing to dedicate themselves to the Lord completely will qualify for the end-time army of God:

     "Behold, I am preparing a holy army. They will do mighty exploits for me and destroy your high places. They are an army of holy men and women, boys and girls. They have been anointed to preach the true gospel, to lay hands on the sick, and to call the sinner to repentance. This is an army of working men, housewives, single men, single women and school children. They are common people, for not many noble have responded to My call. In the past they have been misunderstood and mistreated, abused and rejected. But I have blessed them with boldness in holiness and in spirit. They will begin to fulfill My prophecy, and to do My will. I will walk in them, talk in them I and work in them."
     These are they who have turned to me with all their heart, mind, soul and strength. This army will awaken many to righteousness and purity of spirit. I will soon begin to move upon them to choose for My army those I desire. I will search for them in the cities and towns. Many will be surprised at those I have chosen. You see them begin to move across the land, and do exploits for My name's sake. Watch and see My power at work.
     "This army," said the Lord, "which was spoken of by the prophet Joel, will arise from the land and do great works for God. The Son of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings. He shall tread down the wicked, and they shall be ashes under the soles of His feet… This army shall fight against the forces of evil and shall destroy much of Satan's work. They shall win many to Jesus Christ before the day the evil beast arises," said the Lord. (Divine Revelation Of Hell, P.141-144)

Study #4 / 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 (2nd Study)
« Last post by Hidden In Him on January 07, 2023, 05:27:51 PM »
The Unleavened Bread, And The Leaven Corrupting It In Corinth

     I want to take one more study to address this passage, as in the first I dealt with how in the early church they were actually observing the Jewish feasts but only after a spiritual manner, given Paul's numerous references to not just Passover but the Feast of Unleavened Bread. But I never explained what the unleavened bread actually represented in this context, and what Paul was specifically telling them to remove from their midst.
     So taking the passage again, let's read it one more time:

     Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Purge out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover has also been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of integrity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).

     On one occasion, the Lord Jesus Christ taught that He Himself was the Bread of Life, and on another He warned that the teachings of the Pharisees were spiritual "leaven" that the disciples needed to beware of, for these might become a corrupting influence on them. Many teach that the brother who was sinning with his father's wife was the "leaven" they needed to remove from their midst, but that's not the real meaning behind the analogy Paul was using. He was talking about removing bad teaching from among them that was causing the problem, in keeping with what the Lord told the disciples in Matthew 16:5-12:

     And having come to the other side, His disciples forgot to take bread. And Jesus said to them, "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." And they were reasoning amongst themselves, saying, "It is because we took no bread." But knowing, Jesus said to them, "O you of little faith, why reason amongst yourselves that it is because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive, nor remember the fives loaves that fed the five thousand, and how many baskets you took? How then do you not perceive that it is not concerning bread that I spoke to you saying, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees"? Then they understood that He had not said to beware of the leaven of the bread of the Pharisees and Sadducees, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matthew 16:5-12)
     The question then becomes, in the context of discussing a man who was fornicating with his step mother, what sort of teachings might have been facilitating this sin, or at the very least keeping them from passing judgment on the man and excommunicating him? In answer, Paul will address some sayings that were circulating among them and apparently being adopted to justify engaging in the pleasures of the flesh. Paul will acknowledge that the body did indeed have needs, but clarify that such urges were not to be simply given into. As he would explain, the "truths" they were spouting could easily be abused, and turned into a license to sin: 

     "All things are lawful for me," but not all things benefit. "All things are lawful for me," but I will not be ruled over by any. "Foods for the belly, and the belly for foods," but God will bring both this and that to nothing, and the body is not for fornication but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
     God both raised up the Lord, and raises us up by His power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Having taken the members of Christ, then, shall I make them members of a prostitute? May it not be! Or do you not know that the one being joined to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, "The two shall be one flesh..." Flee fornication therefore. (1 Corinthians 6:12-16)

     Paul's clear answer was, "All things are lawful, but I will not be ruled over by any." Being ruled over by the flesh is what was leading them into many sins, including the sexual sins of this young brother, and Paul would now spend the next six Chapters discussing various ways in which such teachings were leading them down the wrong path. And the trouble for the Corinthians was that they didn't need any help. Their entire culture was practically based on the pleasures of the flesh. In the ancient world, if you wanted a place to go to celebrate bodily lusts, Corinth ranked very high on the list. There were said to be a thousand prostitutes in the temple to Aphrodite in Corinth, and lavish festivals were also held there every other year, on top of the already somewhat decadent lifestyle many in Corinth were leading. Ancient writers like Strabo and Pausanias recorded details about just how rich yet immoral their society was:

     The temple of Venus/ Aphrodite at Corinth was so rich that it had more than a thousand women consecrated to the service of the goddess, courtesans, whom both men and women had dedicated as offerings to the goddess. The city was frequented and enriched by the multitudes who resorted thither on account of these women. Masters of ships freely squandered all their money there, hence the proverb, “It is not in every man's power to go to Corinth.” The answer was related of a courtesan to a woman who was reproaching her for disliking work and not employing herself in spinning; `Although I am what you see, yet, in this short time, I have already taken down three distaffs.' (Corinth: Described by Pausanias and Strabo, Julian Spriggs)

     In other words, the prostitute had already made more money in a few hours laying with men than the other woman had in spinning for days. Business for the prostitutes in Corinth was clearly good, but in the worst way where Christian morality was concerned, for as another source put it eloquently:

     Corinth welcomed a continual throng of foreign maritime visitors who brought with them an intention to spend, but also a variety of vices and kinks that made Corinth the perfect storm for the development of a morally bereft and debauched society. The evenings were occupied by feasting, and foreign merchants and travelers sought pleasures of a more carnal kind at taverns, temples and along dark streets. (Ancient Corinth: Rich In History, Culture and Religion, Travel Europe)

     Being the richest city in Greece meant they also ate well, and the ancients were well aware that eating enhanced the sex drive, as can be seen from numerous sayings reported by ancient writers, such as the axiom, “in well-engorged bodies, passions reside.” Athenaeus stated concerning the goddess Aphrodite herself that she never visited the poor, or in other words she never visited those who ate poorly, for “in an empty body, no love of the beautiful can reside.” And Plutarch meanwhile remarked in a somewhat derogatory way that “intemperate intercourse follows a lawless meal, and inharmonious music follows a shameless debauch.”
     This then was the "old leaven" Paul was saying needed to be removed from the church in Corinth. Some were attempting to transplant the city's carnality into a version of "Christianity" that made room for fleshly indulgences, by spouting axioms like "the belly for foods, and foods for the belly" and other such tidbits of "wisdom."
     So what, then, was the good teaching, i.e. "the unleavened bread" Paul wanted them teaching instead? An example of it is set forth by Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:25-27. Early church teaching was that Christians needed to keep their bodies under submission, and be "temperate in all things" (v.25). This meant bringing the sex drive under subjection though intermittent fasting, rather than strengthening it by heavy eating.

     Do you not know that they which run in a race all run, yet one receives the prize. But everyone who strives to compete controls himself in all things; they indeed that they may receive a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible one. So therefore I run, not as uncertainly; so I box, not as beating the air. But I pommel my body and bring it under subjection, lest having preached to others, I myself might be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24, 26-27)

     What Paul meant by this was that, like a boxer who beat himself in the stomach to get his body accustomed to taking blows, Paul regularly fasted to get his body accustomed to being brought under submission. As early church writer Ambrosiaster wrote in his commentaries, Paul was specifically talking about fasting here:

     "To 'pommel the body' is to fast, and to avoid any kind of luxury. Paul shows that he disciplines his own body so that he will not miss out on the reward which he preaches to others." (Ambrosiaster, Commentary On Paul's Epistles, mid-380s A.D.).

How Christ Was Keeping The Church Unleavened

     Why did Jesus fast in the wilderness for forty days and forty nights? The answer is contained in the text itself, for Matthew states that Jesus went into the wilderness specifically to be tempted by the enemy:

     Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, He hungered. The tempter came to Him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” But Jesus answered, "It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" (Matthew 4:1-4)

     If Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil, it naturally follows that the fasting He was doing was in preparation for it. Now some would argue that Jesus was God and therefore didn't need to fast; that He could have withstood the enemy's temptations even if He hadn't fasted. But if this is true, it means He did so to set an example for us, of how WE should best prepare for temptation when it came along.
     Clearly the early church understood this, for fasting became an entrenched part of Christian tradition for several hundred years. In fact, it was Jesus Himself who instituted the practice when He told the disciples that WHEN they fasted they should not do so after the manner of the Pharisees, for religious hypocrites among the Jews did so only to draw attention to themselves and how "pious" they were before God. I will teach on it more in a later study, but the understanding was that fasting not only brought the flesh under, but as Jesus would inform them, it also brought a reward in the form of greater spiritual authority and supernatural empowerment from God:

     When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces so as to appear unto men to be fasting. Truly I tell you, they have their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that you not appear unto men to be fasting, but to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you in the open. (Matthew 6:16-18)

     For several reasons, then, fasting became the pattern set forth for the early church, and was especially practiced by the leadership during the early days of the New Testament era, such as when the apostle Paul was first commissioned by the Spirit of God to go preach the gospel to the Gentiles:

     Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon, and Lucius, and Manaen, and Saul. And while they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia and from there they sailed to Cyprus. (Acts 13:1-4)

     The men specifically mentioned in this text were following the New Testament pattern. The problem, however, was that not every believer was doing likewise, with the Corinthians being among them. This is because fleshly teaching and the parroting of little quips like "The belly for foods, and foods for the belly" were being used as justifications for doing just the opposite. Not coincidentally, the Corinthians were also engaging in a host of sins, from practicing adultery, to eating meat sacrificed to idols, to letting carnal strife and division potentially destroy the church.
     How, then, could the church at Corinth be said to be "unleavened"? In the midst of discussing these things, Paul told them, "Purge out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened." How so? What I believe Paul meant by this was that the Spirit of God was not allowing false teachers to continue among them forever, even if they were allowed to persist for a time in hopes they might come to repentance. But those who refused were being chastised by the Lord, and brought under judgment. As Paul would remind them several times throughout this letter:

     Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells within you? If anyone brings the temple of God into corruption, God shall bring him to corruption, for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. (1 Corinthians 3:12-17)

     So let a man prove himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For the one eating and drinking eats and drinks judgment unto himself, not discerning the body. Because of this, many among you are weak and sick, and many have fallen asleep. But if we would discern ourselves we would not be judged. But being judged, we are chastised by the Lord, that we not be condemned with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:28-32)

     Because of their closeness to Him, the Lord continued protecting the early church by bringing such false teachers under judgment. Unfortunately, the church began drifting farther and farther from the Lord to the point where He eventually had no choice but to distance Himself from them by their own design. Though they had originally set out living by the principle, "Draw near unto God and He will draw near unto you" (James 4:8 ), by the time several centuries had passed the church had settled into a growing stagnation, and this was no longer the case. 

Removing Leaven From The Modern Church

     Because these things are not taught in the modern church, the typical congregation especially in the West doesn't even need a justification for engorging themselves on a regular basis. Tell the typical congregation that there will be a big dinner celebration next week, and not only will the whole church turn out but you may see people make an appearance who haven't darkened its door in ages. Call the church to a corporate fast, however, and you will likely hear crickets chirp. Despite how God repeatedly told the end-time church to call a fast through the prophet Joel, most churches today will be lucky to get 15% of the same turn out.
     Sadly, the result of all this is that of all the major religions in the world today, Christians are among the least likely to fast. As one source states:

     Despite the massive participation we see from followers of Judaism, Islam, and other belief systems, modern Christians seem to have moved away from fasting. Christian scholar and author David Mathis cites a “massive majority” of Christians who have never truly interacted with the practice. While exceptions certainly exist, the absence of fasting in the West is undeniable; while other religious groups participate in ritual fasting, Christians are far more likely to sit out. This discrepancy raises the question: why don’t Christians fast? (Why Don't Christians Fast, Columbia

     Some expositors of the word today even go so far as to openly teach against it, just as some appear to have been doing among the Corinthians, and this is where you see just how far we have fallen from the original New Testament teachings. The following piece illustrates the depths to which some have now sunk in leaving early church tradition almost utterly and completely behind:

     When we come to the NT, there are a number of arguments brought up by the advocates of fasting to defend the idea that this is a recommended practice for Christians, to wit: 1. The early church fasted (e.g. Acts 13:2-13, 14:23). 2. Paul fasted (2 Corinthians 6:5, 11:27). 3. Jesus gave instructions on how to behave when you fast (Matthew 6:16-18). 4. Jesus mentioned fasting as a tool in exorcism (Matthew 17:14-21/Mark 9:14-29), and 5. Jesus Himself fasted (Matthew 4:1-2/Luke 4:1-2). While prima facie these points may seem to make up a good case for the practice of fasting, a careful examination of the totality of NT teaching on the subject will reveal the opposite... no one with a deep understanding of scripture can be advocating fasting for Christians. (NOT SO FAST: Why Fasting Is Unnecessary and Inappropriate for Christians, John Tors)

     It's too long to address en toto, but in the process of sharing his "deep" understanding of scripture, the above writer explains away a whole host of passages on the subject, yet nowhere addresses 1 Corinthians 9:25-27. He also dismisses out of hand the idea that Jesus might have fasted as our example. I've heard others teach something similar, claiming that "Jesus fasted, so we don't have to," as if there is virtually nothing of importance in our Lord's example that believers need to be emulating.
     He then closes with another false interpretation in addressing Colossians 2:23, concluding from his suppositions that fasting is in no way helpful to the Christian life:

     Finally, some will say that they find the self-denial of fasting to be helpful for developing self-discipline and focus. Does the Bible agree with this? Hear Colossians 2:20-23. "If you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh." So, no, fasting is not helpful for developing self-discipline and focus. According to the Bible, fasting (and other forms of asceticism) has an “appearance of wisdom,” which may be why so many who have only a superficial knowledge of the Bible promote it and think it is helpful. (NOT SO FAST: Why Fasting Is Unnecessary and Inappropriate for Christians, John Tors)

     In reality, the passage he quotes above teaches the exact opposite of what he is saying. The heretics Paul was warning against in Colossians were strict Jews who were teaching them that they needed to keep the unclean food laws, and Paul's answer to this was that abstaining from only certain foods because they were "unclean" while placing no limits on everything else they ate would completely defeat the purpose of "mortifying their members" (Colossians 3:5). Paul therefore described it as an approach that had zero value in actually bringing the flesh under submission. His teaching was actually a defense of Christian asceticism, which is what makes it such a shame that bringing the flesh under submission by such means is now viewed as "inappropriate and unnecessary."
     There are also churches that although well-meaning do something similar today. They observe what is called a "Daniel's Fast," where believers are supposed to eat only vegetables or no "pleasant foods" for twenty one days. Certainly this is better than ridiculous "fasts" like fasting one's cell phone, and when combined with prayer and done right, a Daniel's Fast can be beneficial. The problem, however, is that unless leadership stresses to the congregation that they should specifically cut down on calories, some will simply eat the entire produce department at Walmart out of business and end up worse off rather than better in the process of compensating for no longer being able to eat meat. I've seen this happen in Hispanic churches, and unfortunately the end result is often times an exercise in futility.
     All things considered, is it any wonder Christianity usually has the worst reputation among world religions when it comes to sexual misconduct? Sexual sin runs rampant in the church, especially amongst younger believers, but this is swept under the rug. Pastors and counsellors do their best to help under the circumstances, but the church's so-called "solutions" (which are usually psychology-based) often come up sorely lacking in actually keeping the flesh at bay, so it becomes a matter not many choose to discuss except in hush-hush tones during gossip.
    My intention is not to vilify nor bring shame upon the church for her sexual indiscretions. In fact, none of it should surprise anyone, given that sexual sin is a natural consequence of maintaining a strong sex drive through a continual high-calorie diet. The big problem today and the point I am trying to focus on is the same as Paul was in his day: The real culprit here is what is being taught. Spiritual leaven is again being taught at the expense of the unleavened bread both Christ Jesus and the apostle Paul taught and lived out by example, and this will have to change. Granted, fasting is not something every believer can do. It's unsafe for people with medical conditions like anorexia, and extensive, prolonged fasting is not to be recommended for anyone already underweight. But keeping the body under through fasting was the teaching of the early church, and those who teach against it teach against the entire message Paul was giving the Corinthians, from Chapter 5 all the way through Chapter 11. His main point was that carnal teachings were their real problem, for it was the "leaven" that was threatening to spread throughout the entire congregation and corrupt it, leading to a multitude of sins.
     For the most part, we appear to be slowly headed in the same direction today, which means that until proper teaching on the subject is restored to the church in earnest, we will continue to wallow in same problems the church in Corinth had some 2,000 years ago, and it will not be anything those with understanding view as being a coincidence. 

Links to sources:

Study #5 / 1 Corinthians 5:9-6:11
« Last post by Hidden In Him on December 30, 2022, 10:35:57 PM »
Discernment: The Key To Making Accurate Judgements In Christ

     We're now going to talk about something very important to the welfare of the early church, and that was their ability to operate in supernatural discernment. As will be shown, there were clear instances where the Spirit of God was protecting the church from spiritual harm by exposing religious charlatans for what they truly were. In the case of the Corinthians, however, they were currently being duped and exploited by a man among them who was swindling them out of money, property, and/or possessions, something the apostle Paul would now begin chastising them over for allowing it to continue. As we shall see, the Lord was laying all things bare during New Testament times, and bringing to light the hidden thoughts and intentions of the heart. And because the Corinthians were in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit they had recourse to the supernatural discernment of God that would have enabled them to know the man's motives and accurately pass sentence on him, thus removing him from their midst. Instead, however, they had now fallen victim, and were taking the matter before a secular court as if only the world could solve their problems.
     This now brought a rebuke from Paul, for it essentially insinuated that unbelievers could do a better job of judging the matter than the God they worshipped operating through the church. Even worse, before the eyes of the world they now appeared incapable of making even the slightest judgments themselves, whether it meant excommunicating a very sexually immoral man among them or a swindler who was now financially exploiting them. As Paul would now state, they should have already dealt with the man themselves, and shouldn't even be eating with him by now:

     I wrote to you in the epistle not to associate with fornicators, but not altogether with fornicators of the world, or with the covetous and with swindlers, or with idolaters, since then you would have to go out of the world. But now I wrote to you not to associate if anyone is named a brother and is either a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler. With such an man do not even eat. For what is it to me to judge those outside? Do you not judge those within? But God judges those outside, and you shall remove from amongst yourselves the wicked person. (1 Corinthians 5:9-13)

     In defense of his argument that they ought to have already passing judgment on it themselves, Paul now argued that if they were destined to judge the world and even pass sentence on angels who sinned against God in the great day of judgment (Jude 1:6, 2 Peter 2:4), why was it that they were incapable of passing sentence on the smallest of matters set before them in this life?

     Having a matter against another, does anyone of you dare to be judged before the unrighteous and not before the saints? Do you not know the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you yet unworthy of the smallest judgments? Don't you know that we shall judge angels? Perhaps, then, even the things of this life? If then you have judgments regarding the things of this life, appoint those who have been least esteemed in the church to judge. I speak shame to you, for is it so that there is not even one wise man among you who will be able to decide amongst his brethren? But brother is being judged together with brother, and this before the world. (1 Corinthians 6:1-6)

     That a swindler was specifically being addressing in these passages is made clear by how Paul next went on to reprimand them for not simply allowing themselves to be financially defrauded. Certainly they needed to walk in forgiveness, but they did not have to continue letting themselves get taken, for anyone deliberately swindling the faithful would have no part in the coming kingdom of God, and therefore should not be allowed to have a continued presence within the church either. With the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, a true brother in Christ would not be engaging in the deliberate financial exploitation of others:

     Indeed there is already a failure among you, that you have lawsuits amongst yourselves. Why not rather suffer the wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you do wrong and defraud, and this to brethren. Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be misled, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor the effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, not the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you, but you were washed, you were sanctified, and you were justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:7-11)
     What then should have happened? The apostle Paul will spell it out for them several Chapters later. Instead of speaking in tongues, they should have been seeking the Lord for the greater gifts, and especially the ability to prophesy (1 Corinthians 14:1). If they had, the Spirit of the Living God would have publicly exposed this man's sins before the entire congregation, and caused him to come under conviction before everyone present. Thus, falling on his face, the man would have declared that it was true, and that he had been deliberately deceiving them all along:   

     If therefore the whole church comes together in the same place and all should speak in tongues and unbelievers or the uninstructed come in, will they not say you are mad? But if all prophesy and some unbeliever or uninstructed person comes in, he is being convicted by all; he is being examined by all. The secrets of his heart become manifest, and thus, having fallen on his face he will worship God, declaring that God is truly among you. (1 Corinthians 14:23-25)

     It appears from passages like this that supernatural discernment was not supposed to be some rare occurrence in the church but rather the norm, and a powerful way to protect the church from religious and financial exploitation. Other passages suggest it was a regular occurrence, such as in Hebrews 4, where Paul likewise mentioned how Divine utterance was laying bare the thoughts and motives of men's hearts, and bringing the disobedient under judgment:

     We should be diligent therefore to enter into that rest, so that no one falls after the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is alive and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Neither is there any creature unmanifest before Him, but all things are naked, having been laid bare before the eyes of Him unto whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:11-13)

     This was stated in the context of comparing the New Testament church with the Israelites whom God delivered out of Egypt, the understanding being that many of the Israelites committed grave sins in the wilderness, some of which resulted in their deaths as the Lord pronounced and executed judgments upon them (see 1 Corinthians 10:1-12, where the same theme was expanded upon). Paul's overriding point was that just as the words being spoken through Moses were bringing judgments upon sinners in the wilderness, so too were they now bringing judgments upon sinners in the church age as well. And to be certain, in the case of things like swindling, the Holy Spirit's power to expose the inner motives of men's hearts was vital to making accurate decisions. Swindlers play on confusion, knowing their victims will ask themselves, "Does he truly intended to pay the money back, or did he deliberately deceive me and never had any intention of doing so from the start?," thereby lulling their victim into indecision and inaction. They know the average Christian may worry about judging someone too harshly if they don't know with absolute certainty he was guilty, which is why supernatural discernment played such an indispensable role in resolving circumstances like these. A wise man tasked with judging such a matter would have known to seek the Lord first, beseeching Him to reveal whether the man was engaging in deliberate deception or not.         

Examples Of Supernatural Discernment In New Testament Times

     More than once we see instances of supernatural discernment taking place in the New Testament church. The first is when Ananias and Sapphira chose to lie about a donation they were making to the Lord in the Book of Acts. The motives behind why they deliberately chose to test the Spirit of God are never explicitly stated in the text, but the subsequent sequence of events and the fact that Satan had filled their hearts to do it suggests they were actually enemies of the gospel and secretly trying to to discredit it. Whatever the case, the Lord took them to be a serious threat to the church, and decided to not only put an end to whatever scheme they had concocted but make an example of them to future enemies as well:

    Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”
     When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.
     About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” “Yes,” she said, “that is the price.” Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”
     At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events. (Acts 5:1-11)

     Another instance was when the Spirit revealed to Peter that Simon the Magician was not truly born again, but was in fact still subject to the same demonic spirits that had enabled him to convince the Samaritans he was a god. In this case, the language suggests that Peter's supernatural discernment may have actually come to him through a prophetic vision or a dream, as I will explain in a moment:

     Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.” They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery. But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.
     When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
     But Simon, having seen that the Holy Spirit was given by the laying on of the apostles’ hands, offered them riches, saying, “Give me this authority as well, so that on whomsoever I may lay my hands, he may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your riches come to ruin with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be obtained by riches. There is no part nor share for you in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Repent, therefore, of this your wickedness, and ask the Lord God if [this] thought of your heart may truly be forgiven you. For I perceive that you are subject to the poison of bitterness and the bond of iniquity." And having answered, Simon said, “Pray to the Lord on my behalf, so that nothing which you have spoken may come upon me.” (Acts 8:9–24)

     Early church tradition claims that Simon the Magician never truly got saved to begin with, and was merely faking becoming a Christian. His fascination was simply with the supernatural power being manifested through the apostles, which he himself lusted after and assumed to be another form of magic. As Ireneaus stated:

     This Simon, then — who feigned faith, supposing that the apostles themselves performed their cures by the art of magic and not by the power of God; and with respect to their filling with the Holy Ghost, through the imposition of hands, those that believed in God through Him who was preached by them, namely, Christ Jesus — suspecting that even this was done through a kind of greater knowledge of magic and offering money to the apostles, thought that he too might receive this power of bestowing the Holy Spirit on whomsoever he would... [But after being rebuked by Peter], not putting faith in God a whit the more, Simon set himself eagerly to contend against the apostles in order that he himself might seem to be a wonderful being, and applied himself with still greater zeal to the study of the whole magic art that he might the better bewilder and overpower multitudes of men. Such was his procedure in the reign of Claudius Cæsar, by whom also he is said to have been honored with a statue, on account of his magical power. This man, then, was glorified by many as if he were a god, and taught that it was himself who appeared among the Jews as the Son, but descended in Samaria as the Father, while he came to other nations in the character of the Holy Spirit. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, XXIII:1)

     What is interesting here is that when Peter said to him, "I perceive you are subject to the venom of bitterness and the bondage of iniquity," the picture these words paint suggests he may have been given a vision of Simon being bound up and entwined by serpents (corresponding to his demons), with the snakes biting into his flesh and filling him with poison. One of the Greek words used here translated into Hebrew with a word that described the poison of snakes. But however he came by it, the apostle Peter was granted supernatural discernment which informed him that Simon was not truly saved, but in reality still remained bound by the demonic spirits which had enslaved him to sexual immorality and bitterness towards God and man.
     It should also be noted here in passing that the hallmark of the end-time church will be that they will move in dreams and visions (Joel 2:28-31). Granted, dreams should only be accepted if they come from trustworthy sources, such as a mature leader in Christ or a believer with a proven track record of receiving dreams from God. But in the name of "playing it safe," any church which fears trusting in dreams and visions as a means of receiving Divine revelation from God may do so to their own harm. The enemy is constantly at work trying to deceive the faithful and has been since the beginning, and closing oneself off to the operations of the Spirit will only make churches that much more vulnerable to the enemy's deceptions, both in regard to finances and spirituality.

Do They Still Say God Is Truly Among Us Today?

     Is it still being said that God is truly among us today, or have we now completely reverted back to the flesh and to relying on fleshly means to handle the kind of situations the Corinthians were facing? There are numerous web pages today dedicated to the question of should a Christian sue another Christian. Most are connected to law firms, and these sites usually end up justifying the practice, with the argument being that Paul didn't want them going to courts simply because most legal disputes can better be handled through financial settlements. In the words of one such source, "When Christian brothers and sisters have a disagreement, the first place to head is not the Areopagus. Instead, the loving fellowship of the family of God should be able to assist them in coming to suitable terms."
     This is not, however, what Paul was talking about in First Corinthians. "Lovingly coming to terms" was not even in view here. Rather, he stated without equivocation that "no swindler will have any part in the kingdom of God" to emphasize clearly that if the Holy Spirit exposed someone as deliberately defrauding the saints, they were to be unceremoniously excommunicated, not settled with. Paul's driving point in this teaching was that if the Corinthians had been operating in the Spirit as they should have, they would have known what this swindler was up to and he would have already been removed from their midst by now, just as the man committing adultery with his father's wife would have as well.
     But it appears most churches have simply abandoned themselves to the courts now. The following are just a few examples, taken from the last two to three years alone, that demonstrate how financial fraud has been going on undiscovered in a surprising number of churches for years now, and how they are simply falling back on the courts to resolve matters once it is finally discovered:

     ONA, W.Va. (WCHS/WVAH) — "We are heartbroken," said Reverend Nathan Jude, Senior Pastor of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Cabell County. Church members are in disbelief, after finding out the church's former treasurer is accused of taking nearly a half a million dollars from the church. Robert Dale Adkins is charged with federal mail fraud. Court records say Adkins wrote checks from the church's bank account to himself for personal benefit and the benefit of others from 2012 to 2018. One of those checks was his car payment... A guilty plea hearing for Adkins has been scheduled for Feb. 10 in federal court in Huntington. (Former Church Treasurer Accused Of Stealing Half A Million Dollars,

     Patricia Ann Radich, 62, is charged in Olmsted County District Court with 12 felony counts of theft. She allegedly stole more than $400,000 from a Rochester church. The church treasurer is charged with 12 felonies after she reportedly admitted to church leadership that she had stolen money to fund her gambling addiction... A criminal complaint charging Radich with eight counts of theft by swindle and four counts of theft was filed in Olmsted County District Court on April 12, 2021. She made her first appearance in court on the charges Wednesday morning where Judge Pamela King set unconditional bail at $5,000. Radich's next court appearance is scheduled for July 20. (Rochester Accountant Church Treasurer Charged With Theft Of More Than 400,000 From Church,

     51 year-old Sandra Arreola pleaded not guilty last Friday to charges that she borrowed $2.1 million from church tithes and offerings and used the money for properties, bills, vacations and clothing. Pastor Mike Robertson of Visalia First Assembly of God Church says the church noticed about two years ago that something was fishy with Arreola’s accounting. “A few irregularities began to surface while testing the payroll system. Additional discrepancies in the handling of contributions came to light as a result of a further internal investigation in conjunction with a forensic audit...” Robertson says the church’s insurance policy will recover some of that money but that’s not the point. The church has since installed security cameras “to prevent fraud.” (California Church Accountant Who May Have Stolen 2 Million Pleads Not Guilty.

     I remember reading about a similar incident here in my city some 10-15 years ago, where an accountant at a larger Faith church was caught embezzling something like $600,000 from them over the course of several years. Thus, when I read the following the other day, I was of a mind to believe that what the writer states in the article is true. Because we have long since abandoned seeking the Lord for supernatural discernment and protection, we are now in the midst of an epidemic of sorts where church fraud is concerned, and theft on a large scale is now going on right under the noses of many church staffs:

     Many churchgoers may find it difficult to believe that churches are often the victims of embezzlement and fraud. One study from Brotherhood Mutual Insurance found that financial fraud in Christian churches was expected to reach the $100 billion mark by 2025. This means that the amount of money lost to fraud exceeds the amount that churches donate to charitable causes. Christian churches are not the only targets of thieves... Fraud and embezzlement schemes in churches have involved religious school cooks, pastors, people entrusted with counting the money collected in offering plates, priests and others in positions of responsibility, and a study that was reported by Forbes magazine found that 95 percent of the incidents of church fraud go unreported to authorities. (Church Fraud,

     Last but not least, it should be pointed out that churches are NOT the only ones who suffer when theft is allowed to go on indefinitely. The perpetrator himself is harmed as well, not realizing that the Lord does indeed see it all even if the church does not, and will repay him in eternity if he should never repent of it. As the following account demonstrates, there are pastors and leaders who thought they could get away with fraud and deception forever only to find out otherwise after death. It is why the apostle Paul argued for the excommunication of sinners "for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit might be saved in the Day of our Lord." Churches would do well to take that same position today, for while we are commanded to hate sin we must still love the sinner, and those underestimating the power of the Living God need to know they are making a terrible mistake while they still have time to repent.
     The following is from Kathryn Baxter's A Divine Revelation Of Hell, and records Jesus' words regarding corrupt ministers who currently think the Lord does not see what they are doing, and will not reward them accordingly unless they turn back to Him:

     "Listen to Me," said Jesus. "Take heed you ministers of the gospel, for these are faithful and true sayings. Awake, evangelists, preachers, and teachers of My Word, all of you who are called to preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you are sinning, repent or you will likewise perish." We walked up to within fifteen feet of this activity. I saw small dark-clothed figures marching around a boxlike object. Upon closer examination, I saw that the box was a coffin and the figures marching around it were demons. It was a real coffin, and there were twelve demons marching around it. As they marched, they were chanting and laughing. Each one had a sharp spear in his hand, which he kept thrusting into the coffin through small openings that lined the outside. There was a feeling of great fear in the air, and I trembled at the sight before me.
    Jesus knew my thoughts, for He said, "Child, there are many souls in torment here, and there are many different types of torment for these souls. There is greater punishment for those who once preached the gospel and went back into sin, or for those who would not obey the call of God for their lives." I heard a cry so desperate that it filled my heart with despair. "No hope, no hope!" he called. The hopeless cry came from the coffin. It was an endless wail of regret. "Come," said Jesus, "let's go closer." With that, He walked up to the coffin and looked inside. A dirty-gray mist filled the inside of the coffin. It was the soul of a man. As I watched, the demons pushed their spears into the soul of the man in the coffin. I will never forget the suffering of this soul. I cried to Jesus, "Let him out, Lord. Let him out." The torment of his soul was such a terrible sight. If only he could get free. I pulled at Jesus' hand and begged Him to let the man out of the coffin.
     Jesus said, "My child, peace, be still." As Jesus spoke, the man saw us. He said, "Lord, Lord, let me out. Have mercy." I looked down and saw a bloody mess. Before my eyes was a soul. Inside the soul was a human heart, and blood spurted from it. The thrusting of the spears were literally piercing his heart. "I will serve You now, Lord." He begged, "Please let me out." I knew that this man felt every spear that pierced his heart. "Day and night, he is tormented," the Lord said. "He was put here by Satan, and it is Satan who torments him." The man cried, "Lord, I will now preach the true gospel. I will tell about sin and Hell. But please help me out of here." Jesus said, "This man was a preacher of the Word of God. There was a time when he served Me with all his heart and led many people to salvation. Some of his converts are still serving Me today, many years later. The lust of the flesh and the deceitfulness of riches led him astray. He let Satan gain the rule over him. He had a big church, a fine car, a large income. He began to steal from the church offerings. He began to teach lies. He spoke mostly half-lies and half-truths. He would not let Me correct him. I sent My messengers to him to tell him to repent and preach the truth, but he loved the pleasures of this life more than the life of God. He knew not to teach or preach any other doctrine except the truth as revealed in the Bible. But before he died, he said the Holy Ghost baptism was a lie and that those who claimed to have the Holy Ghost were hypocrites. He said you could be a drunkard and get to heaven, even without repentance. He said God would not send anyone to Hell - that God was too good to do that. He caused many good people to fall from the grace of the Lord. He even said that he did not need Me, for he was like a god. He went so far as to hold seminars to teach this false doctrine. He trampled My Holy Word under his feet. Yet, I continued to love him... But he loved the easy life. I called and called him to repentance, but he would not come back to Me. One day he was killed and came immediately here. Now Satan torments him for having once preached My Word and saved souls for My kingdom. This is his torment." (A Divine Revelation Of Hell, Chapter 6, P.69-74, Baxter)

Links to sources:

Study #3 / 1 Corinthians 5:6-8
« Last post by Hidden In Him on December 22, 2022, 03:50:04 PM »
In What Way Were The Early Christians "Keeping The Feast"?

     Because things have changed so much since New Testament times, most Christians today are unfamiliar with what we're going to talk about next. But for reasons I will get into later, the Jewish feasts of the Old Testament were not nearly as foreign to the minds of early Christians as they are today. We are now in 1st Corinthians 5:6-8, and in this passage Paul made a very curious statement. In talking about the approach of the Jewish celebrations of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, he told the Corinthians, "Christ our Passover has been crucified. Therefore, let us keep the feast."

     Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover has also been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of integrity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).

     For a brief overview, Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were observed together by the Jews, making the two feasts essentially one big, week-long celebration, with the Feast of First Fruits also being celebrated during this time as well. And it's important to note here that Paul was not just encouraging them to keep the feast of Passover, but to keep it with "the unleavened bread of integrity and truth." This latter phrase suggests he was implying they should keep the entire celebration in some sense.
     The question, then, becomes this: If these feasts were to be "kept" by the Corinthians, in what way did Paul specifically intend for them to keep the feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits, seeing as how all these celebrations were distinctly Jewish in nature?
     One could argue he was simply telling them to partake of communion together, thereby keeping a Christian "Passover" of sorts. But his numerous references to the Feast of Unleavened Bread as well suggest something more. In light of the rest of the New Testament, however, one thing is certain: Paul did not intend for them to keep these feasts after the same strict manner the Jews did. This is clear from statements he made when Judiazers were starting to gain influence over certain congregations. In some churches, they appeared to be showing signs of potentially coming under bondage to Jewish Law because of it. In the case of the Colossians, an extremely strict sect of Jews known as the Essenes were entering into their meetings and judging them over how they were "keeping" things like the sabbaths, the new moons, and the Jewish feasts, yet Paul warned them not to be concerned about it. Only the church understood what all these Jewish customs actually were: Prophetic foreshadowings of events now taking place in the life of the church.

    Take heed that there not be anyone leading you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, in keeping with the tradition of men, in keeping with the principles of the world and not in keeping with Christ… Let no one but the body of Christ judge you in regard to food and drink, or in respect of a Feast day or a new moon or sabbaths, which are [merely] shadows of things to come. (Colossians 2:8, 16)

     As stated, it was being revealed to the church that customs instituted by God like the seven great Jewish Feasts had actually been prophetic foreshadowings of events that were now taking place in the life of the church. As a result, there was a deep fascination with all things Jewish, but the teaching of the early church was that Christians who "kept" these things needed to do so only after a spiritual manner, for they were not under Jewish Law, and this applied to observing things like the sabbaths as well.
     Writing around 110 A.D., Ignatius of Antioch stated as follows:
     Let us no longer keep the Sabbath after the Jewish manner and rejoice in days of idleness... But let every one of you keep the Sabbath after a spiritual manner, rejoicing in meditation on the law not in relaxation of the body... nor in eating things prepared the day before, nor using lukewarm drinks, nor walking within a prescribed space... And after the observance of the Sabbath, let every friend of Christ [also] keep the Lord's day as a festival, the resurrection-day, the queen and chief of all the days. (Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Magnesians, Chapter 9, 110 A.D.)

     In other words, early on they were observing both the Sabbath and then the Lord's Day, but they observed the Sabbath only after a spiritual manner and did not bind themselves to the same restrictions as applied to the Jews. The key was in simply not allowing the Devil to entice them into going overboard with things, and bringing themselves back under bondage to Jewish Law.

Those Feasts Which Had Already Been Fulfilled

     In reminding the Corinthians that Christ their Passover had been sacrificed, Paul's language suggests he believed they already understood that Christ had been prophetically represented by the Passover lamb the Jews sacrificed before leaving Egypt. But there was more to the symbolism than just this. The blood of the lamb on the doorposts inextricably linked this event with the Exodus of the Jews from the land of Goshen, and the same parallel was true of Christ's blood delivering the Old Testament saints from the depths of Sheol after His resurrection, something church tradition would later come to refer to as the Harrowing of Hell. Early church teaching was that after dying on the cross, the Lord descended to the Underworld where He proclaimed to the Old Testament saints being held captive there that the way had now been cleared for them to enter Heaven, for the perfect sacrifice had now been made on their behalf.   
      This is what Peter was referring to in describing the Lord's descent to the Underworld after His death: 

     For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring you to God, having been put to death in the flesh but made alive in Spirit, in which He went and preached to the spirits in prison who were once disobedient in the days of Noah, when the long-suffering of God waited as an ark was being prepared, into which a few, that is, eight souls were saved through water, an antitype of the baptism that now saves you. (1 Peter 3:18-20)

      Just as with the Jews who were in bondage in Egypt, Jesus had delivered them as captives from a "kingdom of darkness" and had translated them into a "kingdom of His dear Son," i.e. into the kingdom of Heaven. As Paul would also tell the Colossians:

      Giving thanks to the Father, the One having made you fit for a share of the inheritance of the saints in light, who delivered us from the authority of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love. (Colossians 1:10-12)

     So what of the Feasts of Unleavened Bread and First Fruits? Both were prophetically fulfilled at this same time, for unleavened bread represented the pure teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the revelation that He was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the earth is what Jesus preached to them in the Underworld before delivering them out. Moreover, if the Feast of First Fruits represented the first resurrection, the message He proclaimed to them in Paradise culminated in their rising from the dead with Him after His resurrection, at which time many of these Old Testament saints were seen walking the streets of Jerusalem (Matthew 27:51-53). Evidence that this event fulfilled the Feast of First Fruits can also be seen in how the priests sacrificed Passover lambs on the 14th day of Nisan, and the Feast of First Fruits was celebrated on the 16th, three days later. When did Jesus arise from the dead? On the third day after His crucifixion. And regarding Christ's resurrection, Paul would state, "Now is Christ risen from the dead, having become the Firstfruits of them that slept." (1 Corinthians 15:20). This means the Old Testament saints, after being preached to in the Underworld, became the first fruits of the great harvest that would take place in the end-times, when Christ would return in Power.
     The message He preached in the Underworld is apparently the same message He preached immediately after rising from the dead, for when He appeared to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, scripture says that, "beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself."

     Jesus Himself came up and walked along with them, but they were kept from recognizing Him. He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” “What things?” He asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel..."
     He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter His glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself... And when He was at the table with them, He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, and He disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the scriptures unto us?” (Luke 24:13-25)

     All the above explains why mention of the Harrowing of Hell appears so frequently in the epistles. It is easy to see why the crucifixion and how He "led captivity captive" after His ascent from the Underworld could became the meditation of the church during this time, for this is when the feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits were all fulfilled prophetically.

Feasts That Still Await Their Ultimate Fulfillment

     Some might assume that the Feast of Pentecost was prophetically fulfilled during New Testament times as well, but this is only partially true. Both Pentecost and the Feast of Trumpets were in the initial stages of beginning to be fulfilled, but their ultimate fulfillment is still set to take place in the end-times. These two Jewish Feasts were the next two in chronological order, and they represented respectively A. the outpouring of power upon the saints of God, and B. their subsequent call to war against the enemy, destroying the works of darkness and setting their captives free. The fulfillment of both in conjunction with each other was mentioned in the Book of Joel as follows:

     Blow the trumpet in Zion! Sound the alarm on my holy mountain!... Like blackness spread across the mountains, a great and powerful army comes. The like has never been seen from of old, nor will it be again after them in ages to come. Fire devours in front of them, and behind them a flame burns. Before them the land is like the garden of Eden, but after them a desolate wilderness, and nothing escapes them... As with the rumbling of chariots, they leap on the tops of the mountains... like a powerful army drawn up for battle. Before them peoples are in anguish, and all faces grow pale... The earth quakes before them, and the heavens tremble. The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining.... It shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh. And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. And upon My servants and upon My handmaidens in those days will I pour out of My Spirit. And I will shew wonders in heaven, and upon the earth, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and glorious day of the Lord comes. (Joel 2:1a, 2b-3, 5, 10, 2:28-31)

     Peter quoted this passage on the Day of Pentecost when the Spirit of God fell so strongly upon the church that tongues of fire came to rest upon their heads, and they went forth proclaiming the mighty works of God. But later verses in this passage he quoted - those concerning the sun being turned to darkness and the moon to blood - did not come to pass in Peter's time, meaning that their ultimate fulfillment was reserved for a later time, and there is a simple reason for this. According to Joel's prophecy, both a former and latter rain was prophesied to come, meaning there would be two great outpourings of the Holy Spirit, with the final one being even greater than the first, just as takes place in the natural in the land of Israel every year:
     Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God, for He has given you the former rain moderately, and He will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month. (Joel 2:23)

     Hosea was even more explicit, describing how the Lord Himself through the Holy Spirit would descend upon God's people as the former and latter rain:

     Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: His going forth is prepared as the morning, and He shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth. (Hosea 6:3)

     This strongly suggests that while both Pentecost and the Feast of Trumpets, linked by the outpouring and the prophecies of Joel, saw partial fulfillments during the early days of the New Testament, both still await their ultimate fulfillment during the end-times.
     In turn, the final two feasts - The Day of Atonement and the Feast of the Ingathering - represented the natural consequences going to war against the enemy: Satan's threat to exterminate the people of God, and a coming supernatural deliverance of the Lord from Heaven. In specific terms, these two feasts represented the Great Tribulation and the Rapture and Resurrection of the church respectively. Regarding the first, the Day of Atonement was a day of fasting, which meant from its inception this sacred day was associated with sufferings and hardship. There were ceremonies observed in it that suggested some of the saints were atoned for but others would fall away to the enemy. This was typified by the sacrifice of two goats. One was sacrificed to the Lord as a pure offering yet the other was given over to Azazel, whom Jewish tradition says was a demonic spirit that inhabited the deserts:

     And [the priest] shall take the two goats, and set them before the Lord at the door of the tent of meeting. And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats: one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for Azazel. And Aaron shall present the goat upon which the lot fell for the Lord, and offer him for a sin-offering. But the goat on which the lot fell for Azazel shall be set before the Lord alive to make atonement over him, to send him away into the wilderness for Azazel. (Leviticus 16:7-10)

     Prophetically, this will be fulfilled during the time of the Antichrist, when many are coerced on fear of death into betraying the Lord. Not only will they betray Him, but they will betray His people as well, attempting to save their own lives by exposing other saints as Christians to the authorities:

     Nation shall raise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there shall be famines and earthquakes in [diverse] places. But all these are the beginning of birth pangs. Then they will deliver you up to affliction, and will kill you. And you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. And then many will be scandalized and deliver one another up, and hate one another. (Matthew 24:7-10)

     Lastly, the prophetic fulfillment of the Feast of the Ingathering will be the Harvest, when the dead in Christ are raised to life and those who remain alive on earth ascend to meet the Lord in the air at His return. The angels of God will go forth to harvest from the earth all that God has worked for for 6,000 years:

     And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in the heaven. And then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:30-31)

     The Feast of the Ingathering was also referred to as the "Feast of Tabernacles," for just as tabernacles represented temporary dwelling places the Jews set up during the harvest, so too are our earthly bodies just temporary dwelling places in this life. This was again a reminder not to fear what men could do, but the God who could destroy both body and soul in Hell. Rather, the church was to stand strong until the end, clothed in the armor of God and awaiting His deliverance when He returned in Power from Heaven:

     But we who are of the Day should remain sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of deliverance, for God has not appointed us unto wrath but to obtain deliverance through Him who died for us, our Lord Jesus Christ, that whether you may watch or we may sleep, we may all live together with Him. (1 Thessalonians 5:8-10)

     Should then Christians be "keeping" the Jewish Feasts today as they did during New Testament times? It should be understood that no one is sinning should they choose not to keep them. That said, for those desiring to fully return to New Testament Christianity and relate to what was being said in the epistles, keeping the feasts after a spiritual manner is apparently what they were doing. As a last note, I should add that those who readily celebrate the secular holidays would certainly get more edification out of meditating on God's promises concerning the army of God and the great spiritual battle that will take place in the end times than on Santa Claus, Frosty, Rudolph, the Easter Bunny and all the other fanciful but spiritually meaningless stuff that fills our imagination during the holidays. There was a reason they kept the feasts in New Testament times, and it was because they brought to remembrance the great promises of God, many of which were already in the process of being prophetically fulfilled before their eyes.

Study #2 / 1 Corinthians 5:1-5, 2nd Study
« Last post by Hidden In Him on December 06, 2022, 01:57:05 PM »
Seeing In The Spirit, And The Consequences Of Cessationist Beliefs

     What are the consequences of believing the supernatural gifts no longer function in the church? This is a second study on this particular passage of scripture. In the first, I covered the subject of excommunication, and how it needed to be a work of the Spirit rather than just the decision of mere men, i.e. mere flesh and blood. But I left off discussing something else until now: The apostle Paul's mention here of his ability to see congregations in the Spirit during prayer, beholding their services and worship, and even rejoicing along with them during it, even though not actually present there himself in the flesh. This is what he was talking about when he told the Corinthians the following about being present with them "in the Spirit" during their services:

       Sexual immorality is commonly being reported among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles, such as for one to have sex with [his] father's wife. And here you are having become inflated with pride, and rather did not mourn because the one having done this deed might [soon] be removed from your midst!  For, indeed, I being absent in the body but present in the Spirit have already judged regarding the one having done this thing as being present: In the name of the Lord Jesus, when you have been gathered together in the power of the Lord Jesus, together with my spirit, you are to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit might be saved on the Day of the Lord Jesus. (1 Corinthians 5:1-5)

     How could Paul be "absent in the body, but present in the Spirit"? As we shall see, there is strong evidence from another passage in Colossians which suggests that, because he was an intercessor, Paul was supernaturally given glimpses of what was taking place in various congregations during his times of prayer, so that he could know their true spiritual condition and exactly what to pray for concerning them. This is why he could say he was literally there in a sense, despite not actually being there in the flesh.
     As we shall also see, there are some who operate in this gift today, though not all may believe such accounts. Yet this is in my opinion precisely the danger in subscribing to a theological bias when interpreting the word of God. Those who don't believe the gifts are still for today are called Cessationists, and they interpret this passage in an entirely different manner. To them, Paul's reference to "being in the Spirit" was just a figure of speech used to justify his right to make the determination on what they should do about their situation, despite not actually being there himself to know the exact circumstances.
     John Calvin for instance, a Cessationist from the 17th century, said the following in his commentary on 1st Corinthians:

     When he says that he had, while absent in body, already determined this, he severely reproves in this way the remissness of the Corinthians... Lest any one should allege that he acted rashly in forming a judgment when at so great a distance, he declares himself to be present in spirit, meaning by this, that the line of duty was as plain to him as if he were present, and saw the thing with his eyes. (Calvin's Commentaries, 1st Corinthians 5, 3.)

     This argument unfortunately explains away the power of God, and defies logic while doing so. If it was important for Paul to be there in order to make such a determination, and his figure of speech was attempting to cover for the fact that he actually wasn't, then by his own admission he was not qualified to make the decision, and was cheating the very principle he himself was endorsing that would have qualified him to. If he was talking about literally being present in the Spirit, however, the passage conforms with other statements Paul made elsewhere, such as in Colossians 2, where it is clear he was talking about literally seeing events taking place in a congregation, despite not being there, by supernatural means:

     For I want you to know what agonizing I endure over you... [praying that you] may attain unto all the riches of assurance that comes through understanding, and attain unto a recognition of the mystery of God, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this so that no one may delude you with persuasive teaching. For indeed if I am absent in the flesh yet I am with you in the Spirit, rejoicing and beholding your order, and the firmness of your faith in Christ. (Colossians 2:1-5)

     Notice how Paul specifically mentioned rejoicing with them in the midst of their worship, and "beholding their order," a word Paul used elsewhere to describe how believers were only to speak in tongues if an interpreter was present, and prophecy two or three and let the others interpret, so that all things might be done "in order," and the operation of the gifts be conducted in orderly manner.
     Here again, however, Cessationists try to explain this passage away by saying Paul was merely talking about conceptually "seeing" the Colossians with his "mind's eye" rather than literally. Quoting again from John Calvin:

     Lest any one should object that the admonition was unseasonable as coming from a place so remote, he says, that his affection towards them made him be present with them in spirit, and judge of what is expedient for them, as though he were present. Rejoicing, says he, "Because I see... inasmuch as distance of place does not prevent me from beholding you with the eyes of the mind." (Calvin's Commentaries, Colossians 2, 5.)

     How would Paul have known the Colossians were conducting their services in an orderly fashion if he was simply "beholding them with the mind's eye"? He would have been living in make believe land, and flattering them over something he had no genuine knowledge of, despite professing to.
     Another problem Cessationists face in interpreting such passages in a more humanistic way is explaining why, if the church operated in all the other gifts Jesus Himself did, why did they not operate in this particular one as well? They operated in raising the dead, healing the sick, prophesying, casting out demons, etc. yet when it came to seeing in the Spirit, for some unexplained reason this was off limits to the church. Scripture teaches very plainly that Jesus operated in it, as the apostle John made clear in his Gospel:

     The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (John 1:43-50)

     In Paul's case, seeing in the Spirit gave him the ability to protect congregations from harm and deception. Satan was constantly sending persecution against him to hinder him from traveling to the churches to protect them in person, but by seeing what was taking place while in the Spirit, he not only knew what to be praying for but also how to counsel them through the letters he was sending.
     But the question becomes, is this gift truly still operational in the church today, and if so for what purpose? As we shall see, while rare, there are indeed instances of seeing in the Spirit taking place today, and not coincidentally they are for the same purposes as described in scripture. While caught up in prayer, saints of God are seeing the circumstances of those who are in spiritual distress just as Paul did, and in others, saints are being enabled supernaturally to see advance people who will be open to evangelism, just as Jesus saw Nathaniel under a tree before they actually met in person.

Instances Of Seeing In The Spirit In Our Time

     I'm going to share a few accounts from personal friends. By the way, when I refer to seeing in the Spirit, I am not talking about seeing into the spirit realm. That is a different matter, where one is given the ability to see into the invisible realm. What we are talking about here is seeing the earthly realm while caught up in the Spirit during prayer. In the secular world they refer to this as remote viewing, but like with all spiritual things, the empowerment to experience such things can come either from God or the enemy, and one must always be wise to discern between the difference.
     The following was related to me by a Christian friend who earlier in his life used to meet up with evangelistic teams to witness to the lost. The experience of seeing things in the Spirit in advance allowed them to witness to an unsaved man about the supernatural power of the Lord Jesus Christ to save him. He came away from such experiences believing that the supernatural power of God is indispensable to truly effective evangelism:   

     I think inner city work has consolidated my belief that we need the gifts operating because without them in that environment you wont last 5 minutes... We had cases of short term prophesy - Example: we always used intercessory support, and someone saw a 'vision' of a guy sitting on a park bench reading a newspaper. Sure enough when folks went out to share His word, the guy was there and was all ears for the gospel. On another occasion a group was worshiping casually in the city square. They were told by the Spirit to wait for someone (they did not know who), and 30 minutes later a guy walked up to them with a big chain over His shoulder - he had just been expelled from his biker gang, and was again open to the gospel. So we learned to learn by doing, and ended up learning much about moving in the Spirit. We had a call to the street and as we contested the edge of the kingdom, gifts would come into play that the church knows little about because they are fighting a different battle. (Carl Emerson, Help With 1st Corinthians 14:32, Christian Forums)

     Another account which correlates with scripture was related to me by a sister who has long been a part of an intercessory prayer ministry, and as already stated, that appears to be a constant when it comes to this gift; it is experienced by those who give themselves to prayer.

     Nothing is hidden from his sight. Hebrews 4:13. The Lord would wake me up sometimes to pray for people. One time he woke me in the middle of the night and I saw a vision when I awoke. He took me to an area where I was hovering above a house made of stone. This place was foreign to me and he gave me a sense of it’s name “Inverness.” The roof was transparent because I could see what was happening inside this home.
     There was a gathering of people and I could see what they were wearing but could not make out their faces very clearly. They were in deep agonizing prayer over something. Some were walking around praying and all were fervently asking God for a breakthrough. As I watched them, I felt deeply moved and asked the Lord to divinely intervene on their situation according to his will and grant them the petition of their heart. Suddenly I found myself back in bed again. I was intrigued by the name because it was not familiar to me so I looked it up on a map and found it to be a city in Scotland. I noted this vision down and basically forgot about it.
     A few years later, a new Pastor took over one of the Pentecostal Churches in my area. I was not a member of that particular Church but some friends of mine were, so I got to meet the new Pastor. There seemed to be an instant rapport between us but I was unsure why. After getting to know him and his family a little better, I found that he had once held a very high position while working in Scotland. One time, certain unsavory factions tried to destroy his credibility due to his position and investigation of them. In retaliation, they began to discredit him by setting him up. At this time he and his family lived in the city of Inverness and his Christian friends would gather in a little house [made of stone] to pray about the situation. He was exonerated from all accusations held against him and although proven innocent, he felt that the damage had already been done. He eventually left and came to my country and is still Pastoring in that Church today. (Angelina at Christianity Board, private correspondence)

     Yet despite people like these sharing their testimonies online, I still see Cessationists refusing to believe it, and instead insisting that the gifts passed away with the apostles. This staunch hard-headedness leads to yet another negative consequence of their beliefs: Chances are they will never experience what they teach no longer exists.

Additional Consequences Of Cessationist Beliefs

     As already stated, the experience of seeing in the Spirit comes especially to those given to intercessory prayer. Can it be experienced by those who teach it has passed away with the apostles? Purely by God's grace, it is still possible, but Cessationist teaching discourages people from believing such things are from God, and in consequence even if they should experience it they will be afraid to tell anyone, or even honor the experience as coming from God. Rather they will disregard what God was trying to show them through the experience. In this way they essentially eliminate themselves from the possibility of God using them in it, even should they be given to intercessory prayer.
     It should also be noted that Paul appears to have operated in seeing in the Spirit often, making it a genuine spiritual gift to some, and Paul taught that the greater gifts must be prayed for. They will not simply fall on someone, and if Cessationists will not pray for them then they will never receive them.
     Paul's teaching in 1 Corinthians 14 made that perfectly clear that such gifts must be prayed for:

     Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak unto men but God, for no one understands him; however, in the Spirit he speaks mysteries. But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification... so since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, be zealous that you may abound unto the edification of the church. Wherefore let the one speaking in a tongue pray that he may interpret, for if I pray in a tongue my spirit prays but the understanding is unfruitful. (1 Corinthians 14:1-5, 12-13)

   Not only can believers pray for gifts they don't yet have to be of greater benefit to the church, but this passage teaches that they should. If not, Paul would not have been wishing for them rather to prophesy than simply speak in tongues, urging them to pray for greater gifts:

     To one the word of wisdom is being given by the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to a different one faith in the One Spirit, yet to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit... Be zealous for the greater gifts, and I will show you a way according to excellence... Pursue love, and be zealous for spiritual gifts, but rather that you may prophecy.... (1 Corinthians 12:7-9, 31, 14:1)

     Unfortunately the Cessationist interprets passages like 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 incorrectly, partly because of their indoctrination and sometimes also because of a certain faithlessness in the things of God. As a result, they indoctrinate others in false interpretation as well. And by adopting a mindset that such things are not of God, possibly the worst consequence is that those who receive their teaching will reject such experiences out of hand even should they have them. And when presented with the truth, Cessationists are famous for condemning those who operate in supernatural gifts as heretical and "filled with pride." I have seen them use this attack frequently, as if even mentioning what God is doing in one's life can be motived by nothing other than pride or one would not bring it up to begin with.
     To quote one of what could be many of citations here:

     Paul writes, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity (or love), I am become as sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal." In Corinth the tongues-speaking amounted to so much noise because carnality had invaded their exercise of the gift. Even today there is a kind of spiritual prestige associated with tongues-speaking. For a Christian to show off any gift that God has given, manifests pride that is lacking in love, and where love is lacking, the exercise of any gift is worthless.

     Suffice it to say here that if one cannot speak of operating in a supernatural gift without being guilty of pride and a lack of love, then the Lord Jesus Christ Himself must fit this description as well, for when asked if He were the one to come, His response to the disciples of John the Baptist was to tell of them the works God was doing through Him. Whether the Cessationist is willing to believe in such things or not, those who know the truth and teach it must not remain silent on the issue no matter what the accusation. Otherwise, accurate interpretation of the word of God will be lost, and end up buried under a mountain of false teaching disguising itself as "humility."

      John’s disciples told him about these things, and calling two of them, he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’” At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” (John 7:18-23)

Study #1 / 1 Corinthians 5:1-5, 1st Study
« Last post by Hidden In Him on December 02, 2022, 07:47:59 PM »
Excommunication: A Work Of The Spirit, Or Mere Flesh And Blood?

     At some point in the church's history, excommunication became the sole responsibility of church leadership, and wiithin Protestantism this responsibility is today usually carried out by a board of elders. As we're about to see in this next passage, however, during New Testament times it was not a matter of simply leaving this responsibility to men. A closer look suggests that in reality it was the Spirit of God Himself who was excommunicating sinners from the churches, and there are very important reasons why this still needs to be so today.
     The opening passage to 1st Corinthians 5 thus reads as follows:

      Sexual immorality is commonly being reported among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles, such as for one to have sex with [his] father's wife. And here you are having become inflated with pride, and rather did not mourn because the one having done this deed might [soon] be removed from your midst!  For, indeed, I being absent in the body but present in the Spirit have already judged regarding the one having done this thing as being present: In the name of the Lord Jesus, when you have been gathered together in the power of the Lord Jesus, and with my spirit, you are to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit might be saved on the Day of the Lord Jesus. (1 Corinthians 5:1-5)

    Notice Paul didn't say, "Whenever you get this letter, excommunicate him immediately." Rather, his exact wording was, "in the name of our Lord Jesus, when you and my spirit have been gathered together with the power of the Lord Jesus, you are to deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh." They were to act when they were gathered together in the power of the Lord. This expression was consistently used in scripture to refer to the supernatural power of God, which means they were to wait until the Presence of God Himself was manifest among them in a service, and then the Spirit of God Himself would excommunicate the man. This is because the Lord is a discerner of the thoughts and intentions of the heart, and all things are naked before His eyes (Hebrews 4:12-13). When it came to mere men, the Lord's commandment was, "Judge not lest you be judged," because for one thing they do not know the true intentions of men's hearts, and for another they cannot always be counted on to make a just judgment even when they do. The latter was a serious problem during Old Testament times, and as we shall see it is still a problem today.
     The above passage also implied that the Spirit Himself was to make the declaration as well, through some form of divine utterance within the congregation, whether it be through prophecy, tongues and interpretation of tongues, or some other form of Spirit-breathed, Spirit-uttered declaration. It was so the sinner would understand he was not being disciplined by mere men but by the Spirit of God Himself, and that He should repent before the judgment being spoken against Him came to pass. Again, if it had simply been the apostle's decision alone to make or merely been a decision for the elders to take care of, Paul would not have said to wait until the power of Jesus was present among them. He would have simply told the Corinthians to do it immediately upon receiving the letter.
     So why then was it important who does the excommunicating? For one thing, as the apostle Paul himself stated, no one likes being disciplined. It is a difficult thing to endure, and many often resent it. This is why he warned about not despising the discipline of the Lord:

      You have not yet resisted unto blood in wrestling against sin, and you have become forgetful of the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons, saying, “My son, do not disregard the Lord’s discipline, nor faint when He reproves you, for the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and whips every son whom He receives.”
     Therefore, endure discipline. God is dealing with you as with sons. For who is the son whom his father does not discipline? And if you do not receive the discipline which all have become partakers of then you are illegitimate, and not sons. Moreover, we have all had fathers in the flesh as disciplinarians, and we respected them. How much more should we be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live! For they indeed disciplined us for a few days as seemed good to them; but this is for our benefit, in order to partake of His holiness. And no discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but grievous. But afterwards, it renders the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:4-11)

     This passage was about enduring the Lord's chastisements and judgments, with excommunication being included if necessary. But while discipline is hard enough to take when it is truly from the Lord, the typical believer's resistance to it is multiplied many times over if they suspect the ruling is coming down from fleshly men with fleshly motives rather than the Spirit of God Himself, and unfortunately there are numerous cases where this has turned out to be the case, especially in churches where the leadership has a habit of being controlling and manipulative.
     Having been excommunicated for simply seeking to leave Grace Fellowship Church in Davenport, Iowa, the following writer shares a not-all-that-uncommon story, and how grievous spiritual harm can come to Christian families when excommunication is used in an attempt to shame them into spiritual bondage:

     [This] biblical doctrine is being abused, misused, and misapplied for one reason, to control people. Control and misapplication through excommunication are what most cults or cult-like churches do to wield control, and GFC has mastered these techniques... Excommunication is designed to be a tool, in proper biblical churches, to draw people back to fellowship, not to punish them for leaving the church.
     The elders have extensive rule and authority over the church. When their authority is threatened or challenged, they will find a way to get back; ultimately, it is an impossible situation to leave. The truth is that the only way to leave GFC is either by death or excommunication, but never in ten plus years of the life of the church, has anyone left in a manner worthy of mutual agreement.
     The heavy hand of authoritarianism and legalistic preaching and tendencies... is a burden for the children and for those that truly have a desire to serve the Lord, and leads them into great confusion... Most likely, I will never have the opportunity to stand before the congregation and bring witnesses to rebuke a sinning elder or three sinning elders, and therefore, my only hope is that this can be exposed that nobody will ever be hurt again by this misuse of church power and unqualified leadership. (Excommunication - The Abuse Of A Biblical Doctrine. Uncommon Faith)

     As another counsellor of the spiritually abused stated similarly in another article:

     I know of many accounts of wrongful church excommunications, some of them personally from people with whom I’ve spent hundreds of hours. But there are also scores of credible accounts available elsewhere... The stories bear an air of eerie similarity. The people without influence, often abuse victims, are excommunicated, while people with influence — even if they are abusers or abuse enablers — remain ensconced in the church or in a new church because they are friends with the pastor or they are wealthy donors or they did something else to ingratiate themselves with church leaders. The abused, on the other hand, or the people without influence, were punished, often for simply trying to get the elders to listen to truth and refusing to live any longer with lies. (The Problem of Excommunication: A Response to Desiring God. Here's The Joy)

     Another problem with carnal, fleshly-led discipline is that, even should the party in question be sinning, if they feel like the proclamation of judgment is not truly coming from Lord, they may remain in rebellion and continue on in sin as a result. This appears to have been the case with the woman Jezebel in the church at Thyatira:

     And to the angel of the church at Thyatira write: "These things saith the Son of God… I know your works, and love, and service, and faith, and your endurance, and that your last works are more than [your] first. But I have against you that you suffer the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and teaches and misleads My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her time that she might repent of her sexual immorality, but she does not want to repent of it. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and those who commit adultery with her into great affliction if they will not repent of their works. And I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the reins and hearts, and will give to each of you according to your works. (Revelation 2:18-23)

     Notice the text says the Lord Himself repeatedly warned her several times that judgment was coming, but she did not repent. This suggests that even when the gifts are in manifestation and the Lord Jesus Himself is speaking, there will nevertheless be some who question if the utterances are truly from God. How much more so when the leadership of a church doesn't even  the gifts are for today, and thus never manifests the Lord Himself supernaturally during their services, yet expects the membership of their church to believe He is unquestionably the One acting and speaking through them to excommunicate a church member?   

What It Means To Speak "In Jesus' Name"

     Being absent in the body but present in the spirit, I have already judged concerning the one having done this thing as being present: In the name of the Lord Jesus, when you have been gathered together in the power of the Lord Jesus, and with my spirit, you are to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit might be saved on the Day of the Lord Jesus. (1 Corinthians 5:1-5)

     Reading the passage again, Paul specifically stated that they were to deliver the man unto Satan "in the name of Jesus." The words "in the name of Jesus" are not some frivolous tag we are supposed to add to the end of our prayers just to make them sound Christian, nor are they to be used to put words in Jesus' mouth He hasn't actually spoken. Rather, believers during New Testament times spoke in the name of Jesus when they knew His will specifically in a matter, and thus were uttering out of their mouths what Jesus Himself was speaking over a matter, such as when the Spirit of God speaks through believers by means of divine utterance during services.
     It's similar to how an Ambassador speaks in the name of the President of his country unto other dignitaries. In such circumstances, he not dare simply utter anything he wishes, presuming it will carry authority. His hob is to speak only that which his President has specifically said concerning matters, and only then will it. The Faith Movement has done a great deal to corrupt the proper understanding of this practice, however, by presuming to know God's will automatically in many situations, such that you don't need to ask Him. According to their theology, it is always God's will to heal believers and always God's will to prosper them. There is no need to seek His specific will over situations any longer, all that is left is to "use the name of Jesus" on them. Unfortunately, this turns the name of Jesus into a magic formula of sorts, where the phrase is employed like "words of power" similar to what sorcerers do to accomplish self-serving ends. It is what the seven sons of Sceva were doing with the name of Jesus in Acts 19, but that eventually got them beaten up and left bloodied and bruised after a demon would not honor their use of the name like some sort of magic talisman.
     Nevertheless, Faith Teaching today urges believers to "use" the name of Jesus, as if it is merely a tool to an end:
     There are many incorrect teachings that have kept people from enjoying the divine health and healing that Jesus purchased for us on the cross. The gospel of Jesus Christ makes it clear that it is always God’s will to heal. Not only that, He has given every believer the same ability to minister healing... Jesus has taken all of the authority of the enemy away and has given believers the authority to use Jesus’ name. John 14:12-14 says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”  The word “ask” in this scripture means to require or demand.  When you require or demand a sick person to “be healed” in the name of Jesus, Jesus will do it. These signs are evidence that the gospel of Jesus Christ is real. In summary, it is always God’s will to heal. (It Is Always God’s Will to Heal, Freedom Ministries).

     For starters, the notion that it is always God's will to heal is patently false according to scripture. In New Testament times, when members of a congregation involved themselves in especially egregious sins, the apostles made it abundantly clear that it was NOT always God's will to heal but rather to bring judgment against them until they repented, specifically in the form of sicknesses and diseases:

     So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep (i.e. have died). But if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. Nevertheless, when we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:27-32)

     Is anyone suffering hardships? Let him pray. Is anyone encouraged? Let him sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church and let them pray over him, having anointed him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, the Lord shall raise him up. And if he may have committed sins, it shall be forgiven him. Confess, therefore, your sins to one another, and pray for one another that you may be healed. (James 5:13-16)

     In both these passages, sickness is specifically mentioned, and in the second the elders are told to pray and ask for the Lord to heal a brother caught up in sin. But in Faith Teaching, it becomes the believer who "demands" his healing by "using" the name of Jesus like a magical invocation. Yet in the very passage they quoted, Jesus stated, "whatsoever you shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." The Son is glorified because the Son does the work through the believer, speaking thru him after He has determined He will indeed do a work after being asked to. It is never the believer who does the work simply by "using" Jesus name when Jesus has not truly spoken.
      Again, the driving theme here is that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself must be the One who both speaks and acts through us or our words will carry no power and authority, and this is especially true in matters of judgment which are to be pronounced and carried out over believers engaging in especially grievous sins. In the case of excommunication, resentments often arise to it as Satan tries to entice sinners into rebellion, making it all the more important that God Himself be the One doing the excommunicating if any communicating is to be done.

Sin: Always A Serious Matter To The Lord

     When left to the leadership of men, churches are usually sin-ridden, sometimes because there is an overemphasis on "grace," and sometimes because those among the leadership are sinning themselves and therefore lenient on the sin in others. The latter appears to have been the case in Corinth, as it appears the sin this man was committing was of no great consequence to them. Was he related to someone of importance in the church? Possibly, for the same is often true today. If a sinner should happen to be related to the leadership, or a significant source of income to the church, or of some special other benefit to it, the sinned against will be told, "You need to be more forgiving, brother. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." But if the one being sinned against is among the favored class, and God forbid one of the pastor's children, suddenly their sin is a "very serious matter before the Lord."
     This is how the judgments of men are often slanted, and favoritism is shown towards some but not others just as during Old Testament times. But when the Spirit of God Himself judges, there will be no respect of persons and He will not overlook sin. Instead He will be stern in executing judgments upon sinners, especially if they are in leadership, in order to turn them back from their sins. As scripture states, the Lord disciplines those He loves, and in some cases He will bring severe judgments on those corrupting His people, such as was the case with Ananias and Saphirra, with Jezebel who called herself a prophetess and was leading some into fornication, and here with the sinner in Corinth who had to be dealt over his sexual immorality with his father's wife. As Paul said, in the name of Jesus, when the power of the Lord was present, this man was to be delivered into the hands of Satan for the destruction of his flesh, indicating that while it might not have been serious enough in the eyes of the Corinthians, it was a serious sin in the eyes of God.
     Do we treat sin as seriously in the churches today? In most cases, no, and the reason is simple: Jesus is currently now outside the church looking to get back in, as is stated in the book of Revelation:

     Unto the angel of the church in Laodicea write: "The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Ruler of God’s creation, says these words [to you]: 'I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I would have you [either] be cold or hot. Therefore, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of My mouth, for you say, "I am rich. I have acquired wealth, and have need of nothing," and do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I advise you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, so that you may be [truly] rich, and white garments, so that you may clothe yourself, and the shame of your nakedness not be made manifest, and eye salve to anoint your eyes with, so that you may see. As many as I love I rebuke and discipline. Be zealous, therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone will hear My voice and open the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. I will grant to the one who overcomes the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I also overcame, and sat down with My Father on His throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'” (Revelation 3:14-22)

     As was prophetically revealed to the Spirit-filed church over 40 years ago, the Laodicean church runs a prophetic parallel with the modern church, and she has now become so steeped in sin and spiritual ignorance that the Spirit has been completely quenched, and the Lord is now outside the church knocking to get back in. And when He does finally enter back into the churches in earnest, He is going to return to executing judgments upon those engaging in gross sin. This is what the warning, "I will spit you out of my mouth" means. When He enters into intimacy with the church once again (as typified by the dinner setting), He will find their idea of "worship" very distasteful, and thus reject it openly. There will be judgments again as there were during the first century, and He will execute excommunications and judgments against sinners in an effort to purify His bride. But resentments of these things will arise again as well, which is why it will again become imperative that the true church gather again in the power of the Lord Jesus Christ, and speak only what He has truly spoken when they speak in the name of Jesus. As a result, all will once again know that He Himself is the One who is executing judgments against sinners, in hopes of turning them from their sin and restoring them to right fellowship with both God and His people.

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 10