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Welcome / Happy Birthday / Happy Birthday Naomi25 !
« Last post by MoreBloodWine on March 14, 2019, 12:40:56 AM »
Guess what everybody, today is Naomi25's birthday so lets wish them a happy birthday with lots of presents !
Welcome / Happy Birthday / Re: Happy Birthday Heart2Soul !
« Last post by Hidden In Him on February 26, 2019, 01:44:35 PM »
Hopefully you're not working yourself too hard, sister.

Happy Birthday, whatever you're up to today.
Hidden  :)
Welcome / Happy Birthday / Happy Birthday Heart2Soul !
« Last post by MoreBloodWine on February 24, 2019, 12:47:01 AM »
Guess what everybody, today is Heart2Soul's birthday so lets wish them a happy birthday with lots of presents !
Study #20 / 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
« Last post by Hidden In Him on January 09, 2019, 01:29:34 PM »
The Importance Of Not Quenching The Spirit, Part 2

     While congregations could give place to the Devil if they allowed bitterness and strife to enter in, the will of God was that it be the Spirit who manifested Himself among them. And Paul now revealed what such manifestations should look like: Continual rejoicings, incessant prayers, blessings and thanksgivings being offered up to God in all circumstances, particularly in tongues, their continuance of prophetic utterances, and ultimately the complete sanctification of the church in body, soul and spirit. 

     See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue the good, both towards one another and towards all. Rejoice always, pray incessantly, and give thanks in everything, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus towards you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not hold prophecies in contempt, but prove all things. Hold fast to the good, [and] abstain from every form of wickedness. And may the very God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly, and may your entire spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is the One calling you, who will also perform it. (1 Thessalonians 5:15-24)

     The apostle Paul would say essentially the same thing in Ephesians, and in the same order. Instead of giving themselves to conduct that quenched the Holy Spirit among them (Ephesians 4:21-32), they were to give themselves to practices that edified the church (Ephesians 5:18-21):

     Let not the sun set on your provocation, nor give place to the Devil. Let the one stealing steal no more, but rather let him labor, working good with his own hands that he may have something to impart to those who have need. Let no foul word proceed out of your mouth, but only that which is good for edification when needful, that it may bestow grace upon the hearer. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God by which you were sealed till the Day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and indignation, and wrath, and shouting, and slander be removed from you, together with all malice...
     And be not drunk with wine wherein is foolishness, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking unto yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and praising in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks at all times for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father, submitting yourselves to one another in the fear of Christ. (Ephesians 4:25-31, 5:18-21)

     If the absence of genuine supernatural gifts is any indication, it would appear most churches and even denominations today have long since quenched the Holy Spirit among them and now simply operate in the flesh. For many it's no big deal, since they attest that the supernatural gifts were only necessary during New Testament times in order to establish through signs and wonders the Bible as the true word of God in the earth. But on closer analysis the spiritual gifts were actually accomplishing something just as significant that they overlook: The sanctification of the church. Though most downplay its importance, the absence of supernatural gifts today makes the sanctification of most churches a virtual impossibility.

Rejoicing In Trials: A Manifestation Of The Spirit

     To rejoice in the midst of trials was not a normal human reaction. For Christians in the early church, it was evidence that the power of God was present among them, leading them to rejoice even in the midst of sufferings and persecution. This is clear from passages like 1 Peter 1:3-9:

     Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has given us new birth unto a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from among the dead... unto a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time, regarding which you exult, though now if necessary for a little while having been put to grief through various trials so that the proving of your faith, much more precious than perishing gold and proven by fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love, believing in Him whom you do not now behold, yet you rejoice with an inexpressible and glorious joy, receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of [your] souls. (1 Peter 1:3-9)

     Technically, the Greek actually reads here "a joy that is inexpressible and has become glorious." Why? Because in the midst of trials and sufferings it was evidence that the Holy Spirit was present among them, empowering them to not just endure such things but suffer them joyfully in Christ, to their glory. One such instance can be seen in Hebrews. The believers addressed there did not simply endure he plundering of their goods, but accepted this joyfully:

     Call to remembrance the former days, in which having been enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings; partly in being made a spectacle through both reproaches and afflictions, and partly in having become partners with those also going through them. For you also sympathized with my bonds, and accepted with joy the plundering of your belongings, knowing that you have for yourselves a better and [more] enduring possession in Heaven. (Hebrews 10:32-34)

     This was a manifestation of the Spirit of God abiding within them. As he did with the Thessalonians, Paul likewise told the Philippians to "rejoice always" in the Lord in the midst of enduring negative circumstances. They were not to allow any form of anxiety to overcome them but rejoice continually in the Lord. Tempering their anxieties in this way was a work of the Holy Spirit, for the peace and joy they continued to walk in regardless went beyond what anyone or even they themselves could understand in the natural. Their reactions were not the result of rational thinking, but something that could only be accounted for through the presence of Holy Spirit among them:

     Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice. Let your temperance be known unto all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God, and the peace of God that exceeds all understanding shall safeguard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7)

Offering Blessings And Thanksgivings In The Spirit

     Just as "rejoice always" was a command to continually abide in the Spirit, so too were the next two phrases of "pray incessantly, [and] give thanks in everything." These two went together, in that through tongues the Holy Spirit was constantly blessing the Lord and giving Him thanks for His works among them. This is evident from what Paul said about praying in tongues in First Corinthians:

     But now, if I come to you, brothers, speaking in tongues, what shall I benefit you if shall not speak to you in either revelation, or in knowledge, or in prophecy, or in teaching?...For if a trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself for war? So also you, if you do not give intelligible speech by means of a tongue, how shall that being spoken be known? For you will be speaking into the air...  Therefore, let the one speaking in a tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in a tongue my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray in the Spirit, but I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing praise in the Spirit, but I will also sing praise with the understanding. Else if you bless in the Spirit, how shall the one occupying the place of the uninstructed say "Amen" at your giving of thanks, since he does not know what you are saying? For you give thanks well, but the other is not being edified. (1 Corinthians 14:6, 8-9, 13-17)

     They were doing something similar at Pentecost. As Jesus promised, the apostles began to be His witnesses to the world that day, when the Holy Spirit came upon them in fire to proclaim His wonderful works from the dawn of creation:

     But [Jesus] said to them... "you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses in both Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth”... And when the day of Pentecost was to be completed, they were all together in the same place. And suddenly there came out of heaven a sound as of the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared tongues as of fire being distributed unto them, and sat upon each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit was giving them to speak.
     Now there were Jews dwelling in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. Having arisen at the rumor of this, the multitude came together and were confounded, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and marveled, saying, "Behold, are not all these speaking Galileans? And how are we each hearing in our own dialect from which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and those inhabiting Mesopotamia, and Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia... Cretans and Arabians, we hear them speaking in our own tongues the great works of God. (Acts 1:7-8, 2:1-11)

Testing The Spirits Behind Prophetic Utterances

     Do not quench the Spirit. Do not hold prophecies in contempt, but prove all things. Hold fast to the good, [and] abstain from every form of wickedness. (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22)

     Why would they potentially hold prophecies in contempt? Because Satan was sending in false prophets among them to give supernatural credence to false and heretical doctrines that could potentially corrupt the church. One such example was the woman Jezebel spoken of in the Book of Revelation, who together with her family was regularly present in attendance at the church at Thyatira:

     To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God... I have this against you: You tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and teaches and misleads my servants into committing sexual immorality and eating meat sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time that she might repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will cast her on a [sick] bed, and those committing adultery with her into great affliction if they will not repent of their ways. And I will strike her children with death, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches hearts and minds, and will repay to each of you according to your deeds. (Revelation 2:18-23)

     According to the early church fathers, these were the same doctrines preached by the Gnostics, an early heretical sect who were followers of Simon the Magician mentioned in the Book of Acts. According to Irenaeus, he taught that sexual immorality and eating meat sacrificed to idols were both acceptable practices for followers of "Christ." It was also recorded that he and his followers performed "signs and wonders" to confirm their version of "Christianity," but the prophecies, exorcisms and other works of power they accomplished were through the power of demons.
     So was there any way to prove if a prophecy was coming from a demonic spirit or the Holy Spirit? Yes, a very simple way, as described by the apostle John:

     Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits whether they are of God. For many false prophets are gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses Jesus Christ having come in the flesh is of God. And every spirit which does not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard that it should come, and now is in the world already. (1 John 4:1-3)

     They were to prove the spirits by forcing them to confess which "Jesus" they were preaching. The "Christ" taught by the early Gnostics had supposedly not come in the flesh but merely in the spirit. Therefore, if anyone in the congregation prophesied something questionable, they were to ask that spirit if Jesus Christ had come in the flesh. Any spirit that denied this was to be rejected, lest it ultimately begin seducing the congregation into sin. Rather, they were to abstain from "every form of wickedness," meaning not only rejecting the false prophecies being uttered by demons but the sinful practices being promoting by these spirits as well.
     Under such circumstances it is easy to see why some might have held prophecies in contempt. But Paul's command here was not to do away with prophecy altogether in light of these things but to prove all things and hold fast to that which proved to be truly from the Lord. How many today have done away with prophecy completely in fear of what Satan might do, in direct violation of this commandment of the Lord in First Thessalonians?

Without The Gifts, There Can Be No Sanctification

     And may the very God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly, and may your entire spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is the One calling you, who will also perform it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)

      Paul was not addressing them individually but as a church here. The command was to the entire congregation; that they be sanctified and preserved blameless through the power the Holy Spirit, and the manifestation of the supernatural gifts among them. Why? Because it was the Lord Himself who would protect them and preserve them blameless in spirit by exposing evil spirits prophesying falsehoods among them. The Lord Himself would preserve them blameless in soul by rebuking demonically-inspired behavior, lest they give themselves over to things like bitterness and strife (James 3;6-15). And the Lord Himself would preserve them blameless in body by bringing judgment upon the sexually immoral, and/or excommunicating them from among the congregation, just as was referred to in First Corinthians regarding the man who was fornicating with his father's wife (See also 1 Thessalonians 4:1-4):

     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)

     What do these passages imply with regard to the sanctification of the church? It means that without the Holy Spirit manifesting Himself supernaturally among congregations, there IS no sanctification of the church, nor can there ever be. The Presence of the Spirit is what sanctifies congregations, as Paul likewise attested elsewhere, telling the Thessalonians in his next letter:

     But we ought always to give thanks to God concerning you, brothers, who have been beloved by the Lord, in that through the sanctification produced by the Spirit and the faith produced by the truth God chose you unto salvation, to which end, through our gospel, He [even] called you to attain to the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14)

      Through the manifestation of gifts like prophetic utterance, the Lord was exposing and expelling wickedness in all its forms from the Christian congregations. But where does that put us today, now that few operate in such things any longer? Satanists regularly attend churches pretending to be believers in Christ, yet secretly curse and undermine the work of God at every turn, and they usually go undetected because the gifts of the Spirit are not in operation. Fornication and sexual immorality run rampant, particularly in the younger churches, yet such sins are hidden from view and go unexposed because the supernatural gifts are not in operation. And what of those who regularly give their souls over to gossip, slander, bitterness, contentiousness, envy, jealousy, and other such foul spirits? Only when the Lord Himself again returns to exposing and chastising such things through the utterances of the Holy Spirit will there be any hope of again attaining true sanctification in the churches. Until then, preach against such things until you are blue in the face, but they will not receive correction, even from the pastor. Spiritual uncleanness will be the order of the day in every church until the fear of the Lord returns, and the Lord Himself again sanctifies them through supernatural manifestations of the Spirit.   

Study #19 / 1 Thessalonians 5:12-15
« Last post by Hidden In Him on December 02, 2018, 12:32:42 AM »
The Importance Of Not Quenching The Spirit, Part 1

     Even in Pentecostal churches today, few seem to teach on the importance of not quenching the Holy Spirit. Maybe this is part of why we see so little of the gifts being practiced today. But it was clearly a focus of the apostle Paul's teachings from the earliest days of his ministry, and one of his driving points as he closed this first letter to the Thessalonians:

     But we beseech you, brothers, to know those laboring among you, and taking governance over you in the Lord and admonishing you, and regard them exceedingly in love for their work's sake. Be at peace amongst yourselves. But we exhort you, brothers, admonish the disorderly, encourage the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be long-suffering towards all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue the good, both towards one another and towards all. Rejoice always, pray incessantly, give thanks in everything, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus towards you. Do not quench the Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 5:12-19)

     Paul had just gotten through comparing them to "soldiers of light and soldiers of the day," who therefore should not give themselves to spiritual "drunkenness and sleeping," but remain prepared for attacks to come from the enemy at any time:

     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)

     In order to remain strong in the face of such attacks, Paul exhorted them to edify, i.e. spiritually strengthen one another as spiritual soldiers, and since true spiritual edification came only when the Holy Spirit was speaking through them to one another, any activities that quenched the Holy Spirit were to be avoided. Paul mentioned some of these in his exhortation to the Ephesians as well:
     Be angry yet sin not. Let not the sun set on your provocation, nor give place to the Devil. Let the one stealing steal no more, but rather let him labor, working good with his own hands that he may have something to impart to those who have need. Let no foul word proceed out of your mouth, but only that which is good for edification when needful, that it may bestow grace upon the hearer. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God by which you were sealed till the Day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and indignation, and wrath, and shouting, and slander be removed from you, together with all malice. (Ephesians 4:26-31)

    There were certain recurring activities mentioned in the New Testament that were leading to strife, bitterness and infighting within the churches; things like bitter doctrinal disputes, power struggles, and theft and cheating. These activities needed to be corrected, lest their prevalence lead to some giving themselves over to the influence of demonic spirits rather than God.

Watching Lest Churches Give Place To The Devil

     How were believers giving place to Satan within the churches? James mentions one of them clearly. Too many were presuming to be teachers, and then getting into bitter arguments with one another over doctrinal disagreements. But the supposed "wisdom" they were sharing with one another in such circumstances was not coming from the Holy Spirit but from the enemy, since according to James it was "earthly, soulish, and demonic," and leading to them cursing one another:

     My brothers, do not become a multitude of teachers, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation... If you have bitter jealousy and contentiousness in your heart, do not boast and lie against the truth. This is not the wisdom coming down from above, but is earthly, soulish, and demonic. For where jealousy and contentiousness are, there is restlessness and every evil thing. (James 3:1, 14-16)

     Along with letting the enemy have their tongues, another instance was when believers stole from each other, and/or mooched off of one another. This was the sort of provocation Paul specifically named as leading to some giving place to the Devil.

     Be angry yet sin not. Let not the sun set on your provocation, nor give place to the Devil. Let the one stealing steal no more, but rather let him labor, working good with his own hands that he may have something to impart to those who have need. (Ephesians 4:26-27)
     What they were probably stealing here was clothing or money, which was provoking some to anger and resentment, just as mooching off of others by taking bread without working was causing problems elsewhere like among the Thessalonians. These sins needed to be corrected, lest they lead to serious divisions being created within congregations. But chastising those who were sinning could also lead to resentments, which is why Paul urged that those who did such work be highly regard in love for their work's sake. Taking governance over others and correcting them for their behavior was not always easy work, but it was necessary. They were charged with watching out for their welfare, and for the welfare of the congregation as a whole.

     Obey those who have governance over you, and yield [to them], for they watch over your souls as those who will give an account, that they may do this with joy and not groaning, for this is unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:17)

     Let the elders doing well in taking governance over you be counted worthy of double honor, especially those laboring in word and teaching, for the scripture says, "You shall not muzzle the ox that treads the grain," and "The workman is worthy of his wages." (1 Timothy 5:17-18)

Strife Was Leading To Immaturity In The Gifts

     The responsibility to admonish the disorderly fell first and foremost upon the elders, but Paul commanded everyone in the congregation to admonish them, if in no other way then by avoiding and shunning them until they corrected their behavior, as he would tell them in his second letter:
     But we command you, brothers, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to avoid every brother who is walking irresponsibly, and not according to the tradition they received from us.... For even when we were with you we were commanding you that if anyone is not willing to work, neither let him eat. For we hear that some are walking irresponsibly among you, and not working at all but are being meddlers. (2 Thessalonians 3:6-10)

     Satan was using such situations to generate resentments among the brethren. Among the Thessalonians, it appears some did not appreciate having to feed others only to watch those who were not working mooch off them while lazing around and meddling in their personal affairs. So the command was for everyone and not just the elders to admonish such brethren, lest their behavior lead to resentments and ultimately to divisions within the church quenching the Holy Spirit among them.
     A similar situation almost resulted in a rift being created between Gentile and Jewish believers early in the church era, when the Gentile believers took offense to their widows being passed over when it came to the distribution of food:

     But with the disciples multiplying in those days, there arose a murmuring of the Greeks against the Hebrews, because they were overlooking their widows in the daily distribution. (Acts 6:1)

     The potential result of such situations would be spiritual immaturity instead of spiritual growth, as everyone's attention turned from God to petty disputes and resentments. Spiritual immaturity was also present among the Corinthians, and a close analysis reveals it is no coincidence that they were operating in the spiritual gifts with a similar immaturity. In 1 Corinthians 3:1-3, Paul informed them that they were still babes in Christ and unable receive the meat of the word because there were divisions among them. So too would he tell them that they were operating in the gifts more like children than like true spiritual adults, in that many were only speaking in tongues, which without an interpreter was doing almost nothing to edify the congregation:

     So you also, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, seek that you may abound unto the edification of the church. Therefore let the one speaking in a tongue pray that he may interpret... Brethren be not children in [your] minds, but be babes in malice. Rather be mature in [your] minds... If anyone speaks in a tongue, let it be by two or three at the most and in succession, and let one interpret. And if there be not an interpreter let him be silent in the church, and speak unto himself and to God. (1 Corinthians 14:12-13, 20, 27-28)

     How many Pentecostal congregations today walk in the same spiritual immaturity specifically because division and infighting has distracted them from seeking the greater gifts? How many have quenched the Spirit of God among them because their membership neglected to admonish those bringing strife and division to the church?

Spiritually Edifying The Fainthearted And The Weak

     Meanwhile, some were succumbing to the fears of what Satan might do to them through persecution. Paul told Timothy that God had not given Christians a Spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Yet the fainthearted were growing fearful of afflictions, while some may have been growing weak to a place where they might give in to Satan's temptations to turn from Christ to avoid afflictions and persecution. This is what Paul was concerned about earlier in the letter when he told them:

     Therefore, no longer enduring, we thought it good to be left in Athens alone, and send Timothy our brother and a servant of God, our fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and exhort you over your faith, so that none of you should be moved by these afflictions. For 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, as you know. And because of this, I also, no longer enduring, sent to know of your faith, lest perhaps the Tempter did tempt you, and our labor should be in vain. (1 Thessalonians 3:1-5)
     Thus, the fainthearted and those weak to temptations were not abiding in the Holy Spirit as they should. God's was a Spirit of love, power and a sound mind. They needed to be encouraged that Satan would have no victory even over those he managed to kill, hence Paul's encouragement earlier in the letter: 

     But I do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning those who are [now] sleeping, so that you not be grieved even as the rest who do not have hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, so also will God through Jesus bring with Him those who have fallen asleep. For we say this to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are still alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall in no way precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remaining shall be caught away in the clouds to a meeting of the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Therefore, encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

     As for those enduring hardships and afflictions, the proper mentality was that these only built up for them an even greater reward in eternity:

     Though our outward man is being destroyed, yet our inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, gains for us an eternal weight of glory that builds from excellency to excellency, while we look not at the things that are seen but at those things which are not seen; for the things seen are temporary, but the things not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16b-18)

Not Returning Evil For Evil, But Pursing The Good

     Here is the single-biggest contributor to the quenching of the Holy Spirit in congregations. Why? Because returning evil for evil builds a type of momentum that eventually can't be stopped, like kindling that eventually turns into a forest fire that can destroy everything in its path. This is why James taught to be slow to speak. By controlling the tongue, they could stop the momentum Satan was trying to build up in attempting to overwhelm and if possible destroy congregations with strife. James used several analogies to make this same point.

     If we put bits in the mouths of horses for them to obey us, we turn about their whole body. Behold ships also, being so great and driven by violent winds, are [nevertheless] turned about by a very small rudder in whatever direction the helmsman wishes. So also is the tongue a little member yet boasts of great feats. Behold how large a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire [kindling] a world of iniquity. Thus is the tongue becoming established within our membership, defiling the whole body and setting aflame the wheel of momentum, being set on fire by Hell. (James 3:3-6)

     Emotions like anger are powerful things, and once they build up that can be difficult to control, much like a horse getting up to a full run, or a large ship under full sail. But we have been given a bridle and a rudder to turn powerful emotions back and slow their momentum to a crawl, and this is the tongue. The trouble that Christian leadership noticed they were having during New Testament times was trying to get entire congregations to abide by this commandment.

     For every species of beasts, both of birds and of reptiles and of creatures of the sea, is being subdued and has been subdued by the human species. But no one among men is able to subdue the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of death-dealing poison. By this we bless [our] Lord and Father, and by this we curse men who have been made after the likeness of God. Out of the same mouth goes forth blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be. Does a fountain pour forth sweet and bitter water from the same opening? My brothers, is a fig tree able to produce olives, or a vine figs? Nor is a fountain able to produce salty and sweet water... (James 3:7-12)

     Just as Jesus taught that a tree was known by its fruit, so Paul taught that a believer should "speak only that which is good for the use of edifying." Believers in Christ during church meetings were to be fountains through which God's Spirit would spring forth true living water at all times, and not the waters of bitterness that might arise from them if they started returning evil for evil. They were to only "pursue the good," which meant only following up on what the Spirit of God was doing among them rather than what Satan might be.
     Why is it important to understand that our current passage was about operating in the gifts of the Spirit? There has to be ministry in the Spirit in our churches. Without it, we are simply meeting in the flesh, and nothing will come of it. Having identified those actions that will quench the Holy Spirit, Paul will now turn to stressing that they continue in those which would manifest the fires of the Spirit burning among them: Rejoicings, prayers in the Spirit, the utterance of prophecies, and the sanctifying of the entire congregation.

Study #18 / 1 Thessalonians 5:8-11, Part 4
« Last post by Hidden In Him on November 13, 2018, 02:19:57 PM »
Putting On The Whole Armor Of God, Part 4

     Let us now take a look again at what Paul was saying about the armor of God in First Thessalonians. He made some driving points here that he left out in Ephesians:

     But concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to be written to, for you yourselves know accurately that the Day of the Lord comes as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, "Peace and security," then sudden destruction shall come upon them as labor pains upon a pregnant woman, and they shall not escape. But you, brothers, are not in darkness that the Day should overtake you as a thief, for you are all sons of light and sons of the Day.... 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 5:1-4, 8-11)

     As in Ephesians, many think the armor of God was for engaging in spiritual warfare, but nowhere in this text was spiritual warfare mentioned or discussed. The entire context was about preparing for Christ's return as a Deliverer from afflictions and persecution. As in Ephesians, the context was about standing "in the evil day," when persecution would flare up against them. Spiritual armor was needed to protect them against the slander and false accusations that would be leveled against them, when they would be dragged before city magistrates and sanhedrins and interrogated. With the apostles Paul, Silas and Timothy, it sometimes ended in them getting flogged and beaten.
     The driving point here in First Thessalonians was to always be ready for enemy attacks, for they could come at any time. This was evident in what he said in verses 5-7:

     We are not of the night nor of the darkness. So then, we should not sleep as the rest, but watch and remain sober, for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who drink get drunk at night. 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. (1 Thessalonians 5:5-7)

      What he was saying here was that the spiritual army they were a part of must always stay on alert. They could never let their guard down, because if they did like soldiers who got drunk at night and/or fell asleep on their watch, the enemy's attacks would take them by surprise. They had to be "soldiers of the day," or in other words remain vigilant and focused upon one thing only: Defeating their enemy, and not letting their guard down and giving themselves to drinking and sleeping.
     Needless to say, this is what the body of Christ needs today. He needs soldiers He can raise up who will be more disciplined than any army in the flesh, because our enemy never sleeps and is watching our every move. Only if we have trained ourselves to be on guard against him at all times will we succeed.

Why Put On The Breastplate Of Faith And Love?

     Believers are commanded to put on the breastplate of faith and love because these are proofs of our righteousness before both God and man. This can be seen in viewing what Paul said about the armor in Ephesians and then comparing it with what he said about it here in First Thessalonians. There are a few subtle differences, so let us again quote Ephesians to compare the two passages:

     Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the strategies of the Devil, because we are not wrestling against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against [spiritual] authorities, against the world rulers of this dark age, against the spirits of wickedness in the heavens. Because of this, take up the whole armor of God so that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having subdued all, to stand. Stand, therefore, having girded your waist about with the truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having strapped your feet with the readiness of the gospel of peace. Above all, having taken up the shield of faith, with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the wicked one. Also, through all prayer and supplication, receive the helmet of deliverance, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying in the Spirit at all times, and remaining wakeful unto all perseverance and supplication so as to pursue this same need for all the saints, and for me, that in the opening of my mouth with boldness there may be given unto me utterance to make known the mystery of the gospel. (Ephesians 6:11-19)

     To repeat, New Testament believers were wrestling against principalities and powers in that these high-ranking spirits were inciting wicked men under their influence to raise up persecution against the church, with "the evil day" being whenever this persecution would flare up against them. The faithful were to put on the armor of God to help them stand before interrogators. The belt of truth served as a defense against lying witnesses and false testimony; the breastplate of righteousness as a defense against accusations of "sinning" for disobeying authorities, both religious and civil; their feet shod with the readiness of the gospel of peace to potentially convert their interrogators should opportunity arise; the shield of faith as a defense against attacks especially on their faith in Christ; the sword of the Spirit to expose falsehoods with the truth through the use of scripture; and the helmet of deliverance as an encouragement to always continue fighting for the truth, knowing the Lord would continue to deliver them until their ministries were finally completed.
     Like in Ephesians, the helmet was "the hope of deliverance," and like in Ephesians he was talking about deliverance from persecution, only here he described it as coming at the return of Christ, adding "for God has not appointed us unto wrath but to obtain deliverance through Him who died for us, our Lord Jesus Christ, so that whether we watch or sleep we may live together with Him." Like in Ephesians, the focus here was on the living. The dead (i.e. those who "slept") didn't need to worry about being delivered from the wrath to come because they were already dead. But Paul's point was that the Lord had promised to deliver His own who were alive on the earth before His wrath commenced. Thus, whether delivered by the hand of providence (Acts 9:29, 2 Corinthians 11:33), by the supernatural power of God (Acts 14:19-28, Acts 28:3), or at the return of Christ (Mark 13:26, Matthew 24:30), the faithful would be delivered one way or another.
     But there were also subtle differences in the breastplate. In Ephesians it was Righteousness, whereas here in Thessalonians it was Faith and Love. That both are mentioned together suggests they were to be interpreted as one. Thus, the breastplate was essentially "faith which causes believers to act in love," and by acting in love they meant towards their enemies especially, since this teaching was given in context of using a warfare analogy.
     Christ likewise spoke of responding in love in this same context:

     But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who despitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer [him] the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, forbid [him] not the tunic also. Give to everyone who asks you, and from him who takes away what is yours, do not ask [for it] back. And whatever you desire that men should do for you, do likewise unto them. For if you love those who love you, what credit is it to you? For even the sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is it to you? For even the sinners do the same. And if you hope to receive from those to whom you lend, what credit is it to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, that they may receive in kind. But love your enemies and do good to them, and lend, hoping for nothing back, and great shall be your reward, and you shall be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. (Luke 6:27-35)

     In another place, Jesus corrected the teachings of the scribes and Pharisees, for they taught the exact opposite:

     You have heard that it was said, "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth." But I say unto you to resist not evil, but whoever strikes you on your right cheek turn to him the other also... You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy." But I say unto you, Love your enemies and bless those who curse you. Do good to those who hate you and pray on behalf of those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in Heaven. For He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain upon the just and the unjust... therefore you shall be perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:38, 43-45, 48)

     By their own testimony, the apostles obeyed this command, as always in the context of enduring persecution, defamation, character assassination, slander, and ridicule from their religious enemies. These were proofs of their righteousness before all:

     To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, are insufficiently clothed, receive beatings, and wander homeless. But we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless. Being persecuted, we forbear. Being defamed, we encourage. (1 Corinthians 4:11-13a)

The Importance Of Never Taking The Breastplate Off

     Again, by telling them to stay "sober and alert," Paul was saying that like soldiers they needed to remain prepared for attacks at all times. This is because those who proclaim the truth have targets placed on their backs, and the enemy watches night and day for when they might have their guards down. For Christians who proclaim the word, it is no accident if in traffic drivers inexplicably start harassing them, laying on the horn, or otherwise driving rudely; if strangers in the marketplace seem to despise them for no apparent reason, without a word even being spoken; if family or friends turn on them unexpectedly and betray them; even if fellow Christians begin slandering them without provocation or just cause. There are demons driving this opposition, and even if you don't give people reasons to attack you, these spirits will fabricate them in order to make life Hell for you for proclaiming the truth.
     But Christians were to provide good conduct in the sight of all men by walking continually in love, even when vehemently opposed. Walking in love is what Paul referred to as "putting on the armor of light":

     Recompense evil for evil to no one, providing good conduct in the sight of all men if possible, from yourselves [at least] living peaceably with all men, not avenging yourselves, beloved, but giving place to wrath. For it has been written, "Vengeance is Mine. I will repay," says the Lord. Therefore, if your enemy should hunger, feed him. If he should thirst, give him something to drink… [and] be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
     Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For "You shall not commit adultery, you shall not commit murder, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, you shall not lust," and if there be any other commandment, it is [now] being summed up in this word, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Love works no ill towards [his] neighbor, therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. And knowing this, the time, that it is the hour to be awakened out of sleep. For now is our deliverance nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent and the Day has drawn near. We should therefore cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. (Romans 12:14, 17-21, 13:8-12)

     Paul was essentially equating love here to righteousness, because by walking in love believers were fulfilling all of the law simultaneously. But they needed to do so continually, as James also taught. The commandment to "love your neighbor as yourself" was like a mirror believers needed to never turn away from. If they did, they would lose sight of the person they were becoming in Christ, fall back into their old sinful ways again, and begin returning evil for evil once more:

     Therefore, my brothers, let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath, for the wrath of man does not cultivate the righteousness of God. Wherefore... receive in meekness the implanted word which has the power to save your souls. But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if a man is a hearer of the word yet not a doer, this is like a man observing his maturing face in a mirror, yet he observed himself and went away and immediately forgot what he was like (James 1:19-23)

The Breastplate With No Sword Is Meaningless

     As strange as this may sound, in terms of fighting the spiritual war against the kingdom of darkness, it is of little value to walk in love if we are not proclaiming the word of truth. The sword of the Spirit is what the enemy fears because it is what has the power to convert men's souls, and he largely concentrates his energies on those opening their mouths to speak God's word.

     And [Jesus] opened His mouth, and taught them, saying... "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in Heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt becomes tasteless, with what shall it be salted? It is henceforth good for nothing, but to be thrown out, and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world, a city being situated on a mountain that cannot be concealed. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket but upon a lampstand, and it shines for everyone in the house. Thus, let your light shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in Heaven. (Matthew 5:10-16)

     Jesus here informed them that there was no way they could avoid persecution. Because He had chosen them as His disciples, they were now like a city being situated on a mountain where there was no way they could avoid drawing attention. He had placed them like a lamp on a lampstand, so their responsibility now was to let their light shine and not back away out of fear of persecution. As He told them elsewhere, they were to proclaim it even if threatened with bodily harm:

     If you should suffer on account of righteousness, blessed are you. But be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled, but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give a defense to every man who requests a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear, having a good conscience, that whereas they may speak against you as evildoers they may be made ashamed who speak evil of your good conduct in Christ. (1 Peter 3:14-16)

     Here, love is mentioned in connection with giving a defense of the gospel, which suggests again that their good conduct was a defensive weapon, designed to protect them against accusations of unrighteousness. Others were "made ashamed" of speaking evil against them when they treated them with love, kindness, and humility despite being mistreated and falsely accused.
     But likewise today, without the sword of the Spirit we are not a threat to the enemy. Certainly we must walk in love, but the Lord professed very clearly that He did not come to send peace on the earth but a sword. It is because the sword of His word is what threatens the enemy's territory, and translates men from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His dear Son.

Stephen's Speech: The Armor Of God In Action

     In closing, one of the best examples found in the word of God on how the armor of God was being used is found in Acts, Chapter 7, where Stephen gave his speech before the Sanhedrin. He was dragged before them to give a defense for why he was supposedly speaking evil of the Jewish temple, and saying Jesus of Nazareth was going to supernaturally destroy it:

     Then they produced men, saying, "We have heard him speaking blasphemous words against Moses and God." And they stirred up the people, and the elders and the scribes, and having come upon him they seized him and brought hm to the Sanhedrin. And they set up false witnesses, saying, "This man does not cease to speaking words against this holy place and the law. For we have heard him saying that this Jesus the Nazarene will destroy this place, and change the customs which Moses delivered unto us." And having looked intently upon him, those sitting in the Sanhedrin saw his face as the face of an angel.
      And the high priest said, "Are these things so?" And he said, "Men, brothers and fathers, listen..." (Acts 6:11-7:2)

     These were false accusations, and exaggerations of what Stephen likely taught. What the New Testament believers were now teaching was that the Jewish temple would be destroyed by the Romans, and that the church had now become the true temple of God on earth (Matthew 24:1-2, 1 Corinthians 3:16, Ephesians 2:13-22). But because Stephen was preaching Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, whom they had crucified, they bore false witness against him to vilify him by suggesting he was somehow in favor of the Jewish temple being destroyed.
      Despite these false accusations, Stephen remained girded in the belt of truth. And once he began to address them, the word of God began cutting through these lies and exposing what Satan had spoken through the false witnesses. Stephen traced through the history of Abraham and his descendants to show how God had specifically chosen the land of Israel to be the place where His people would serve and worship Him (v.7). The tabernacle was the first makeshift temple built in the wilderness (v.44), but eventually King Solomon built a true temple for the Lord in Jerusalem (v.47). But Stephen then used the sword of the Spirit by quoting Isaiah 66:1-2 to prove from the word of God that the Lord ultimately never desired to dwell in temples made by human hands but in the hearts of men, a teaching the Jewish leadership were still unwilling to hear:

     But the Most High does not dwell in temples made by hand. As the prophet says, "Heaven is a throne for Me, and the earth is a footstool for My feet. What house will you build me?" says the Lord, "or what place for My rest? Has not My hand made all these things?" Oh stiff-necked and uncircumcised in hearts and ears, you always contradict the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you as well. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who proclaimed in advance the coming of the Righteous One, whom you became the betrayers and murderers of, who received the law by the ordinations of angels yet did not keep it. (Acts 7:48-53)

     By calling them "stiff-necked and uncircumcised of hearts and ears," Stephen was telling the Jewish leadership they were still carnally-minded, and thus contradictory to what the Holy Spirit was now teaching. But while this was a rebuke to them, it was not spoken in hate. Before Stephen even began his speech, they noticed how he had the face as it were "of an angel, which meant the anointing of God rested heavily upon him, and holiness, purity and love were visible on his countenance. He then began his speech by addressing them with endearing terms, saying, "Men, brothers and fathers, listen." Even when they began stoning him to death, Stephen still displayed love in his heart for them by asking God not to hold that sin to their charge (v.60).
     Thus, from beginning to end, Stephen remained clothed in the breastplate of love and righteousness. Whether he consciously understood "the armor of God" teaching yet or not (given that Paul's letters were not written yet), he nevertheless walked very powerfully in it, and thus served as one of the greatest examples in New Testament times of what a true soldier of Christ was supposed to look like.

Welcome / Happy Birthday / Re: Welcome to the site Naomi25 !
« Last post by Hidden In Him on October 30, 2018, 01:09:20 AM »
Huh...good point. I hadn't actually considered that, to be honest....that if we're looking for it to be Antichrist, then it's not likely he'd be among the very Church he is going to persecute. Sort of changes the angle of it a bit, doesn't it?

Yeah. Doesn't make much sense.

I was never introduced - or subjected, LoL - to Historicist interpretations of scripture when I came to Christ. I guess I just didn't force it, but left it up to God's timing as to when He would explain end-times prophecy to me. I had friends who got deep into it, but I didn't get the sense that they were all that accurate. But while I never was introduced to Historicism or Preterism all that much, I sure have read a lot of it lately. ChristianityBoard is overrun with those interpretations now, as well as several others.
Welcome / Happy Birthday / Re: Welcome to the site Naomi25 !
« Last post by Naomi25 on October 29, 2018, 08:17:38 PM »
Huh...good point. I hadn't actually considered that, to be honest....that if we're looking for it to be Antichrist, then it's not likely he'd be among the very Church he is going to persecute. Sort of changes the angle of it a bit, doesn't it?
Welcome / Happy Birthday / Re: Welcome to the site Naomi25 !
« Last post by Hidden In Him on October 29, 2018, 06:58:16 PM »
Hi! Quick question: how is it spiritualizing if we see an actual person come into the Church with deception? I suppose the word "Temple" is not being taken 'literally', but often Paul uses the word temple in non-literal ways in the NT, so isn't there an acceptable precident there?

Hey sister! Just seeing this or I might have responded sooner.

Well of course that would be a literal phenomenon. I was simply talking about the application of the verse. Certainly people corrupt the church, which is supposed to be the temple of God, all the time. What I was saying was that ultimately the references to the Antichrist entering the temple in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 are literally in reference to an actual man and an actual temple first and foremost. Only then are they to be interpreted spiritually, and only then if the reference is to Satan himself rather than the Antichrist, since the notion that the Antichrist himself would somehow corrupt the church is entirely foreign to scripture.   
Welcome / Happy Birthday / Re: Welcome to the site Naomi25 !
« Last post by Naomi25 on October 28, 2018, 12:58:46 AM »

Well, this is a spiritualized application of the prophecy, which I have no problem with so long as it doesn't completely replace the literal one, which has precedence. But about this spiritual application, yes, certainly that is correct. Revelations 18:2 is about what will become of the denominational church in the end-times, so your application applies. 

Hi! Quick question: how is it spiritualizing if we see an actual person come into the Church with deception? I suppose the word "Temple" is not being taken 'literally', but often Paul uses the word temple in non-literal ways in the NT, so isn't there an acceptable precident there?
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