of the Two Wines
(or the Two Covenants)
No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new
Intro ... Discerning the wine
We are not talking about sampling here: Tasting. Coveting. Looking upon the wine when it is red. Or sparkling. Swishing and swashing. Sipping and spitting ... with style that is. Being civilized, culturalized, mature, moderate human beings. Distinguishing the quality of the vintage, with its seasoned content, and richness of texture. Groping over a glass of processed liquid, containing modified poison. A liquor for class, and socialites of distinction. A modish mood altering drug. Professionally packaged, labelled, and presented. Sold as a beverage of measured affluence and respectability. A picture of prestige ...
Ladies and Gentlemen, Seduced and Seducers, Saints and Aints!!! ... please hear ye this (and this is not aimed at the lost by the way - but the apparent saved): Booze of any type (whether the refined attractively presented variety, or back ally moonshine); at it's best ... a stumbling block!! At it's worst ... a destructive substance!! Is there any other way to look at it, as Bible believing Christians that is? If we are deceived there is! And deceive it does:
Pro. 21:1. "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise."
What does one glass of wine say: "go on ... another one wont hurt!!"
Then again ... I could have a blind spot? Or then again ... maybe you have!? Drinking tends to do that!
Is this the doctrine of devils I'm pushing? Nope! The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking. Meaning ... a glass of wine is not going to damn you from entering heaven. Salvation is not a matter of what you eat or you don't eat. Being a moderate drinker will not stop you from being saved. Neither will the odd ciggy (if Charlie Spurgeon tickles you pink). But it will hinder God's blessing. Furthermore, drinking wine could be the first step into being deceived. It will certainly be the next step. It will certainly ruin your witness. And it will certainly bring confusion to the unbelieving. (Urrrrrp ! * # ! *... will it ... really!!??)
Again: The alcoholic, booze, grog, plonk, firewater variety: At it's best ... a stumbling block!! At it's worst ... a destructive substance!!
Did you know that there is a similarity, even an allegory, between the two wines in the Bible, differentiating religion from the bona fide ... the Old Covenant from the New Covenant in other words (where I have found that there is still many Christians around who do not realize there are two main covenants in the Bible).
Allow the mystery to begin and unfold! Keep reading please:
First the natural:
An expose on Modern Wine
(and how it relates to the spiritual)
Let me do some explaining here: It has always been a principle in the scriptures that the natural comes first which is followed by the spiritual. Trouble is, and a real effective trick of the Devil ... when many of us come to Christ we are thrown right into trying to get-it-together in the spiritual first, without getting-it-together in the natural. Then we blame our "old" friends for giving up on us, as they can't handle our conversion. When we are actually blind to the fact they can spot a phoney a mile away, and don't want a bar of it, as they suddenly find their good friend has gone away onto another, unattainable plain, sitting on "cloud nine". This is how subtle and deceiving religion is. We forget that Jesus took thirty years getting-it-together in the natural (and was He rejected by His friends and family at this stage?). This is before Jesus was a teenager:
Luke 2:40. "And the child grew (in the natural - physically, socially, mentally), and waxed strong in spirit (He was being established in the innerman - characterwise), filled with wisdom: (learning how to handle people and difficult situations) and the grace of God was upon him (and He was not making out to be anyone but learning to live and coexist with everyone)."
In becoming a teenager: V. 52 "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature (all round growth in the natural), and in favour with God and man (no one saw Him as odd or weird - but someone everyone wanted to be around)."
Now let's get it from the scripture in what I am trying to convey ... first the natural, then the spiritual, as a principle right through scripture (1 Cor. 15:46):
"Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual".
As the Lord did with the parables and as the Lord did with the covenants ... the Lord always deals in the natural first in order to understand the spiritual. The natural is a metaphor of the spiritual in other words, as biblical truths in the natural are reflected in the spiritual. For example: First we had the physical temple then we had (or have) the spiritual temple. First we had natural Israel of the flesh, then we had a spiritual people called-out and belonging to a spiritual Jerusalem. First we had the inferior shadows and types under the Old Covenant, now we have the better and lasting real things in the spiritual ... and so on! Now let's relate this to the obvious mention of wine throughout scripture and see how it serves metaphorically (first physical wine as a symbol and example - then spiritual wine):
Why all the confusion with wine?
Firstly, there are a few things we need to clarify here:
- The history of wine and when it was first recorded in the Bible as an intoxicating drink.
- Why scripture sometimes refers to it as a blessings and sometimes as a curse.
- Why sometimes in scripture we are encouraged to drink it and other times it is clearly discouraged.Pre flood there is no mention of drunkenness. Was it because, in the physical sense, there was nothing to get drunk on before this densely populated Old World was destroyed?
The reason there is no record of drunkenness before the Flood would be due to the pre flood era of the earth being a different world than what it is now. This is because there were three vast amounts of water found in Genesis One ... one being a hugh underground water system to balance temperature control and for natural irrigation purposes. There was also a 'water covering' established on the earth (the ocean) and the other being locked in the firmament above (a water canopy in other words). This water or vapour canopy which existed around the earth would have inhibited cosmic radiation from entering the earth's atmosphere, harming and damaging the life elements, unlike our world at present. This was also the reason a person's life span lasted almost a 1,000 years as the earth was continually watered without the aid of wind and rain, being lush and teaming with abundant life, compared to the present (as mountain loads of fossil discoveries have proven). A bit like what researchers have created with the Eden Project in Cornwall, England. It is also the reason why the fermentation process of fruit juices would have been different, until this world was destroyed when the water canopy collapsed and the bowels of the earth spewed forth it's liquefied content (Gen. 6:11) causing great upheaval and major catastrophe everywhere.
Therefore, the vintage Noah and his family were akin to would've been the pure juice variety, whereas, after the Flood, man would have been subject to a far greater amount of alcohol content. Hence, two types of vine produce in the Bible ... one being pure and the other having passed through a decaying process, which was responsible for corrupting the righteous man of God, Noah, at the beginning of this new world.
If anything on The Radical Pilgrim has caused much controversy, it has been on the subject of wine. One reason has been due to our religious education. There has been a general reluctance to let the sword of God's word cut asunder the root cause of the present mixture of the religious and the authentic in our lives, and in the Body in general. If we could see clearly here a mystery hidden in the wisdom of God, to make wise the foolish in Christ, and foolish the wisdom of man, then our adversary "religion" (for what it is) would be exposed, and dealt a major blow. Possibly it's biggest defeat to date. But then again ... we've always got our own little precious pet opinions to hang onto and doctrines of men we hold dear.
Secondly, the on going wine debate could be due to an existing bad habit from the past that may now be lying low in ones life, hidden in the midst of religious flurry, undetected, and therefore not dealt with. As Isaiah 28:7 declares: "they also have erred through wine"!
How did they err? My Bible clearly says through wine they erred, which clearly confirms Proverbs 20:1 that wine deceives! These are two verses that are always ignored by the "Christians Can Booze" lobby, for some reason.
The third reason for the controversy of wine has been through a simple genuine misunderstanding in the use of words. In this age of superficiality (possibly the most synthetic of all time) language has (particularly English) been devalued and cheapened, whereby words have lost their original meaning, or been added with another meaning, even to the point of being corrupted.
You see our Bible was given to us in it's complete unadulterated English form in the Seventeenth Century, when it's language had not been cheapened with shallow meanings. If we take a passage of scripture to apply to our lives, we first need to be confident that each word means what it was meant back then (400 years ago), when the translators were penning them under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Actually, this is not a difficult task, as the Author has left us with relevant record today, if we are prepared to search out a matter, and let His word prove itself.
Therefore, let's take a look at a few passages in the Bible f 'instance:
Deut. 23:2. "A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD".
Is. 36:12. ... "that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?"
James 2:3. "And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing".
So here we have three random misconstrued words today, taken from the holy scriptures:
- bastard ... a word which became an insinuation; is now a foul, vulgar word.
- p--s ... a word used so coarsely and vulgarly (crudely slang for booze) it can now only be used in bad taste.
- gay ... a once pleasant, colourful word, which has largely lost it's true expressive meaning being now aligned with the word 'queer' and sexual perversion.There are other words we could use that have recently lost their value or changed their meaning, such as awesome for example, as the word 'awe' is used a lot in scripture. Here's another more common one this time:
- merry ... which once usually meant happy and cheerful, now usually means being tipsy.Lastly, we will add one more (obvious) word to our exercise:
- wine ... extract from the grape, now largely known only as alcoholic beverage.Do you get it? Once-upon-a-time wine was known as juice from the crushed grape, the fruit's liquor, whether fermented or unfermented, rotten or sweet.
Therefore, the original meaning of wine back in 1611 when the Bible went public (and therefore God's intended meaning for all time) was "the juice extracted from grapes" whether it was preserved in this condition, or gone-off (gone rotten) as fermented juice.
This argument has been challenged by the notion grape juice is always fermenting, and is harder to preserve than ferment. Not so! Before pasteurization was invented late last century (that's the nineteenth one - updating this) wine actually took more work to alcoholize as a beverage than preserve, because of the lack of technology for the fermentation process, so the vintage would not become spoiled. In regards to producing the pure stuff, it's just a matter of boiling (just one of a few methods) then sealing. We've done it ourselves, and a year later ... still wonderful, pleasant to the taste buds, appetizing juice. Have you tried it?
More proof? ... Easy:If you find a dictionary printed fifty years ago, or so, you will see clearly wine quite often had a dual meaning ... fermented or unfermented fruit juice. If you go back further in time you will see the dual meaning was more prevalent, until you reach a time last century (the nineteenth) and before, where this was the accepted and general meaning. So what was meant by wine then, may not necessarily mean what wine is today, on late twentieth century understanding that is:
- Platutus, BC 200: even mustum signified both wine and sweet wine.
- Aristotle says of sweet wine, glueukos, that it would not intoxicate.
- Homer, in the Odyssey, tells us that Ulysses took in his boat "goat-skin of sweet black wine, a divine drink, which Marion, the priest of Apollo, had given him - it was sweet honey - it was imperishable, or would keep forever; that when it was drunk, it was diluted with twenty parts water, and that from it a sweet and divine odour exhaled."
- Hippocrates: "Sweet kinds of wines (oinos) do not make the head heavy."
- Polybius: "among the Romans the women were allowed to drink wine which ... very much resembled Aegosthenian and Cretan gleukos (sweet wine), and which men use for the purpose of allaying excessive thirst."
- Dr. Ure, Dictionary of Arts: "Juice when newly expressed, and before it has begun to ferment, is called 'must', and in common language 'new wine'."
- Littleton, Latin Dictionary (1678): "Must (gleukos), new wine, close shut up and not permitted to work."
- Chamber's Cyclopoedia 6th edition (1750): "Sweet wine is that which has not yet fermented."
- Charles Anthon, LL.D., Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, article Vinum: "The sweet unfermented juice of the grape was termed gleukos."
- Mandelso, c. 1640, speaking of palm wine: "To get out the juice, they go to the top of the tree, where they make an incision in the bark, and fasten it under an earthen pot, which they leave there all night, in which time it is filled with a certain sweet liquor very pleasant to the taste. They get out some also in the day-time, but that (owing to the great heat) corrupts immediately; it is good only for vinegar."
- Augustine Calmet, Dictionary of the Bible, born 1672: "The ancients possessed the secret of preserving wines sweet throughout the whole year."
- Parkinson, Theatrum Botanicum: "The juice or liquor pressed out of the ripe grapes is called vinum (wine)."
- Captain Treat, in 1845, Dr. Lee's Works: "When on the south coast of Italy last Christmas, I enquired particularly about the wines in common use, and found that those esteemed the best were sweet and unintoxicating ... The Calabrians keeps their intoxicating and unintoxicating wines in separate apartments ... I found that the unfermented wines were esteemed the most. Great pains were taken in the vintage season to have a good stock of it laid by."
- Pliny, when speaking of a wine called Aigleuces that is always sweet: "That wine is produced by care. They plunge the casks, immediately after they are filled from the vat, into the water, until winter is passed away and the wine has acquired the habit of being cold." Being kept below 45o F, the gluten settled to the bottom, thus fermentation was prevented.
People of Excellence Vol. 7/10 Nov. '98. Used by Permission.
- Martin Luther, Hitlers Spiritual Ancestor, by Peter F. Weiner: “I have brought on headache by drinking old wine in the Coburg, and this our Wittenberg beer has not yet cured."
- Cato, the ancient Roman statesman, said: “If you wish to have must [grape-juice] all year, put grape-juice in an amphora and seal the cork with pitch; sink it in a fishpond. After 30 days take it out. It will be grape-juice for a whole year” (De Agri Cultura CXX).
- Pro. 31:4. ... "it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes (novices) strong drink".V.27. "It is not good to eat much honey".
Why? Because it makes one feel sick for a start ... although honey is very good for you. Too much sugar (usually the white processed stuff) can give headaches. Long term, sugar can cause diabetes. We fed our cat on a diet of supermarket cat biscuits because that is all he wanted to eat (spiked with catnip?). Result; his bladder crystallized and couldn't function. After days of agony he spent another three at the vet after an operation to clean him out and to save his life.
What we (animals included) eat CAN corrupt the body. If you don't believe this because it goes against your doctrine (or emotional grain) could you please do me a favour? Drink four or five chocolate thick shakes a day for four or five years and see what happens? One man did, and died, as his arteries corrupted and blocked, starving his heart (the organ that is) of vital oxygen. If what I'm saying is not true then there would be no authority in the words of Paul as Philippians 3:19:
"Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things."
Therefore, what we eat or drink CAN corrupt the body. And alcoholic beverage, as it is a sedative and a drug, goes further as it corrupts the mind, as "whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise", according to scripture.
Furthermore, what we take in CAN add fuel to the flames of sin (speaking of alcohol here), understanding the following is not through food but what is already in the heart ( 20-23):
"And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man."
Only an unadulterated idiot would deny all these things can be fuelled by adding alcohol to beverages and consuming it. To the degree that this happens, is dependant to the degree it is consumed and what's already in the person's heart. Scripture is clear that adding these things to our lives can fuel the fires of sin which are already there to be triggered and made manifest. This would no doubt take away the new heart of the believer. Here it is:
Hosea 4:11. "Whoredom (flirtation) and wine (alcohol) and new wine (juice beverage) take away the heart."
The Lord always detests a concoction ... a mixture (which makes a clear metaphor of the spiritual). Meaning ... even shandy consumption during carousing times can be deceptive. Like a little leaven can leaven the whole lump. The little bit of poison to get you going in other words.
Why does God detest a concoction? Simply; because God will not share His glory with anyone else. And secondly; God deplores the faith being compromised with the world and the way being tainted with a mixed message. F'instance ... "there are many paths to God, depending on your preference, or culture, upbringing, or what religion you have been born into." All these excuses (or should I say fables) are just crazy notions and rantings before God and would be best not used on the day of judgement. A concoction of juice being mixed with alcohol is not only disapproved by scripture (because it takes away the heart - robs you away from God in other words), but is also used as a metaphor of how God hates a (spiritual) mixture ... whoredom at best, and idolatry at worst! The very reason old wine (the booze stuff) is used as a metaphor of religion (dead works and inferior ways of obtaining salvation) as new wine is used as a metaphor of eternal life (or new life in the Spirit). Very simple! Too simple that the clever, overly qualified, and those that celebrate "human" brilliance, miss the mark by an infinity of time. Being not mindeful of "they that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine (a concoction)."
Conclusion: God hates a mixture (a fruit salad of poison and pleasantries together) whether in the natural (which is metaphor of the spiritual anyway) or in the spiritual. The reason ... it takes away the heart. It undermines or removes our pureness of heart towards the true things of God, in other words.
Comparing the just juice version
- Gen. 9:21. "And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent."
No doubt Noah was drinking the intoxicating version here as we explained earlier on.
- Gen. 27:28. "Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine".Here we see that wine is a gift from God, and all gifts from God are good and perfect. Therefore, as a gift, wine can be partaken and enjoyed.
We could write pages on comparing the apparent contradiction of wine in scripture. However, the example above is adequate to get the point across ... one is scripture condemning drinking wine and the other approving it. The answer only found by rightly dividing the word of truth, as ... the first scripture is referring to alcoholic wine, whereas the other is referring to non-alcoholic wine.
Okay, just one more:
- Pro. 23: 29-30. "Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine."
Again, there is no doubt here that scripture is condemning wine and its use. Because here it is alcoholic and addictive, unlike the following verse:
- Amos 9:14. "And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them."
Here wine is a shared blessing accompanied by eating the fruit of the land. Because here it is pure liquefied fruit from the vine. This is why Jesus referred to good wine as the fruit of the vine:
Luke 22:18 (also Mark 14:25). "For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine (juice), until the kingdom of God shall come."
If the juice had gone off, would He not have used a different expression for wine? Within this context here is another verse from the Old Testament:
Deut. 32:14 ... "thou didst drink the pure blood (juice) of the grape."
Couldn't be any clearer could it? Here's another one:
Gen. 49:11 ... "the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood (juice) of grapes".
Therefore, the wine here was in no doubt the produce straight off the vine, and not from the vat. Crushed, not processed in other words. When sojourning in the wilderness the Lord provided the children of Israel the choicest of vines, so a refreshing drink could be made by simply crushing a bunch of grapes in a cup, and drinking the extracted blood ... as fresh juice. An instant refresher!
"Whattabout when the believers on the day of Pentecost were accused of being drunk on new wine," you might say!
On more than one occasion when my wife and I have been out for a meal or function, with friends celebrating or just having a good time, we have been made fun of by being accused of being drunk on grape juice or lemonade. Sounds reminiscent of Acts 2: 12-13 to me!
Here, in Acts chapter two, timid folk all of a sudden became bold! Uneducated ... authoritative! Those that lacked ... assertive! There was a commotion in town. Unlearnt and low class people (along with the mid and upper) were miraculously preaching and proclaiming Jesus of Nazareth, with confidence and clarity, heard in languages common to those who were visiting from abroad. How could guilty, unbelieving sceptics react to this, some saying, "What meaneth this?" Others mocking said, "These men are full of new wine" ... "Ho ho ho!!! They're drunk on grape juice!!"
Think about it! New Testament scripture is stacked with verses commanding abstinence from drunkenness. If this event in Acts two can be proven to be believers acting disorderly, in a drunken state, because they were drunk with the Holy Spirit of God (again making God into a liar) then this would open up a can of worms to all proportions, where anything would "go" when we gathered together. It would also be the vital proof the "laughing and crying revival" were claiming all along.
This is why many of the elect have been deceived in our day. They have influenced themselves with the doctrine of the Nicolaitans instead of the Bereans, and not checked things out. Hence, gross spiritual delusion of all proportions, breaking out everywhere, with (un)holy madness and bedlam, on an unprecedented scale in Christian gatherings, in the name of revival and spiritual renewal.
Furthermore, the verse in Ephesians 5:18: "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit", is not a sanction as claimed by the 'moderation only' party, but is actually an indictment against the use of alcoholic wine by scripture. Even though Paul was not deliberately making a direct case against wine here, but excess ... divorcing the Holy Spirit from anything fanatical or extreme.
"Whattabout 1 Tim 5:23 ... "Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities?"
This scripture, probably the most common to support the 'moderation only' stance, is the most unreasonable argument of all. First, for argument sake, say this is intoxicating wine. What does it say? ... use a little wine! Did you get that? ... use a little! For what purpose? ... As a medicine! Not just as a beverage! It does not say with a friend, to 'round off' a meal, or on a special occasion ... but for health reasons!
Recently (for medical reasons) I did a fifteen day fast (I must have been utterly desperate). This was not a big deal (easy to say now), but the fact was I continued on with my full employment (which was a physically demanding job) for the duration of my fast, with no drop in production, or slow down due to fatigue. My fast ... total abstinence from all food except water, with a little portion (about fifteen percent) of grape juice. And boy; was this small portion of juice a luxury! Point: My life continued on in a healthy, uninterrupted way, (as already mentioned) with increased sharpness.
Paul was telling us here in the book of Timothy to use a little bit of grape juice (unfermented wine) with our water (it was a beverage by the way!), for the sake of our health. Contrary to this "new age" health fanatics and 'water junkies' (those that are dependant on taking a plastic waterbottle with them everywhere to sip from ALL day) say we are to drink heaps and heaps of pure water a day. Paul said it was good for your health to use (include, add) a small portion of fruit (grape) juice. A bit more practical advice from Paul wouldn't ya say!
By the way ... if I am wrong here, and it happened to be a wee bit of adding the alcohol stuff Paul was mentioning, this was only sanctioned on the grounds it was for medical purposes and not as a beverage. Which means, this would still eliminate the 'drink for pleasure' booze socialites anyway.
Brats and godly order
In regards to 1 Cor. 11:21, another misquoted reference: "For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken."
This verse must be taken in context with verse 33- 34: "And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come."
These passages are to do with the Corinthians being a disorderly, disrespectful and problem riddled bunch. One of the main reasons Paul had to write to them. When they came together to eat and honour the Lord, some were hungry and some were drunk. The hungry would 'pig-out', whereas others would arrive tipsy and disorderly, not discerning this was Christ's body to be cherished and given honour and respect, when they gathered at someone's particular home.
Moreover, this is the same fleshly scenario today as Christians conform to the world of instant gratification, fast foods and on-the-spot convenience, let alone give into Toronto and Pensacola type experiences, instead of conforming to the word. I know of one bunch of "brothers" and their families who were thrown out of a pizza parlour (about the time I wrote this) for misbehaving and being disorderly. These guys took advantage of the fact that you could eat as much pizza and dessert as they liked ("the special" going that day). Also, they couldn't understand why the manager took exception to them abusing it and taking it much further, into a practical bun fight and outta-control spectacle for all the other families to witness, dining out that particular evening. If these brats habitually "gave thanks" before they tucked in, whose name was it done in? I guess Galatians 5:13 is really appropriate here:
"For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh".
A few years ago we were invited (along with other guests) to a couples home for 'a meal come evening'. Due to circumstances beyond our control we were running a little behind schedule, so upon arrival we asked them to wait ten minutes or so, while we went and picked up our take-a-ways. The idea was to share and partake together. On arriving back soon after, we found everyone had eaten and appeared to look a little uncomfortable. We were a little taken back. They couldn't wait! Moreover, this occasion was not one out of the ordinary, as I must confess we had been guilty in similar manners, until I read Paul's command in 1 Cor. 11:33:
"Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another." Not forgetting to mention 1 Cor. 14:40 also: "Let all things be done decently and in order."
Why did Paul exhort the Corinthians to eat at home first? If it is the decent and orderly thing for folk to wait for others (better for the character), then of course there might be a few mild hunger pangs. Especially with those with young toddlers. We learnt this one when we decided our wee bairns weren't going to confine us to home from the time they were nappy (diaper) bearers. So we made sure they had a wee snack before we left home. On some occasions, we still accommodate the whole family (my wife and myself included) with a hot cuppa and wee snack before heading off. No problem waiting for the snatch'n grab free-for-all after we arrive.
Look at these following words ... sobriety, watchfulness, vigilance, temperance, good behaviour, self control, chastity, and a sound mind (all New Testament words by the way - in de English!), can only come about by abstinence. Abstinence from impulsiveness, licence, greediness, and of course ... alcoholic beverage! The modern term for wine.
Jesus and wine
After all the facts, some would still insist Jesus provided the grog at the party. Amazingly, some of these folk would say Jesus was against drunkenness contrary to Him encouraging it (on their terms) by producing booze in bulk.
It is now a scientific fact that alcohol effects (generally speaking) men different from that of women. On average it usually takes considerably more quantity of alcohol to effect a mans judgement due to his larger build, size of the pancreas, and hormonal make-up. Also, it has a different effect ... a man loses his virility, whereas a woman is aroused (dependant on the amount consumed of course). Hence, the common appearance of evil ... setting the mood of the evening with wining and dining, then taking the lady home to dim lighting, light music, accompanied with a bottle of bubbly. Fooling yourself, but not the neighbours. Married couples are excluded of course (who wouldn't want to get married)!
The scriptures say in Hosea 4:11: "Whoredom and wine (the intoxicating version) and new wine (sweet juice) take away the heart."
As already covered in part, this is none other than the method of mixing drinks to make them more presentable, respectable, and acceptable. A concoction! A fabricated mixture! Like mixing romance with burning desire, truth with error, or the bona fide with religion. I can remember being introduced to this party culture at the age of four by being poured shandies (mixing beer with lemonade) at booze-ups at our home. In this environment, it is then only a matter of time before you move onto beer, then stronger drinks.
The wedding function at Cana would've started out okay, but what is feasting without good wine? Usually, the pure sweet variety with the feasting first! Then as the day progressed into the night, as the good stuff started to delete, it would have been mixed with the old carousing stuff, setting off a new tone for the evening. As intoxication took over, the old would be considered better, sometimes ending the party in drunken revelry. There are many ways to look at it ... "drowning ones sorrows". Or if you have problems socializing ... "dutch courage". Or for those who just want to rage ... "letting your hair down". Or how about a smorgasbord of all these things adding wild flavour to the party!
However, Jesus provided the best for last, ending the celebration on a bright note ... no downers or aggro, or no hangovers or memory loss. "Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof", as Proverb says!
"Whattabout those who can handle their drink and know how to control themselves in an orderly civilized way?" someone may protest!
This proves nothing! I've met and worked with people who are calm and collected about the way they handle their dope smoking lifestyle. Some; just like some clean shaven, professional, "respectable" alcoholics, have held down good jobs for years, without departing from their one and only spouse. Then there are others who once succumbing to the temptation of the dreaded drug (whether beverage or another substance) have hit rock bottom virtually over night, becoming a social right-off. Again, if Jesus did provide the plonk at the party, we would have difficulty in receiving the plain language of Proverbs 23: 19-20:
"Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way. Be not among winebibbers (excess drinkers); among riotous eaters of flesh ".
Notice it doesn't say be not among drunkards but winebibbers. People who may not necessary be drunk but occupy a lot of their time drinking in other words, which would rule out drunkards automatically anyway. Just as drunkenness and gluttony are considered equal sins in scripture, so is socializing with both winebibbers and gluttons.
"But Jesus mixed with winebibbers, tax sharks, and loose women!!" you might say.
Jesus spent three years of His thirty three years on earth going to the lost sheep of the House of Israel, even to the rabble and the riffraff, with the sole intent of demonstrating and bringing the kingdom of heaven to them. There is no record He pursued fellowship in the circle of brats, losers and the dodgy prior to this. Although He would certainly not have snubbed them in the snobbery sense. Again, can you rule out certain passages of conflicting scripture to prove others standing alone?
With the absence of Joseph after He was twelve years of age, most of Jesus' time would have been spent minding His own business (as a carpenter) and managing His own affairs; as Head and provider of the home. Didn't the eldest brother usually replace the dad and look after the mum and help bring up a family of younger siblings, after something had happened to the dad? Therefore, because Jesus would have been faithful in handling the small things (in the natural), His Dad in heaven would've entrusted Him with the big things (in the spiritual) to look after. Hence ... Jesus' threefold ministry as prophet, priest and king! Also, remember, it wasn't "for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink"!
Revelling, banqueting, and our walk
Is. 5:12. "And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe (music and celebration), and wine (carousing), are in their feasts (partying): but they regard not the work of the LORD, neither consider the operation of his hands (God is not in the picture)."
Over my lifetime I have been in many places, sober, and playing in bands or socializing, where the commotion of noise (music and carousing), and the mixture of booze and ungodliness have been the essence. In this type of atmosphere there is no regard for God. He is completely out of the picture. That is why all the revelling and ungodly stuff is dished up, to block out God and any conviction of the Holy Ghost; so man can frolic, romp and rage, and ignore true life and reality. It is also the reason Christians giving themselves over to wacky spiritual manifestations will trun away completely the Spirit of truth. Christians who go to revelling places just to socialize have got it wrong (unless there is good reason, through work situations or functions) as it is the wrong spirit in which to try and witness. In fact, you can't witness when you are not only on their ground, but embracing their spirit, because the Devil and the world has got you on the back foot.
Conclusion: Just as the Old and the New don't mix, neither does the booze scene and God's saints (the sanctified ones) unless you are there specially as a light from heaven, sancified in your heart.
In Jeremiah Thirty Five we find a good parallel of being a true spiritual pilgrim in the New Testament era: "while in Rome, don't do as the Romans do!!" Or while in the city, be as a Rechabite and not as the Babylonians (please read the whole chapter thoughtfully). The major parallel of being a true pilgrim in this sense (verses 5- 6) was abstaining from alcoholic wine. Do you want to be a real Rechabite? Do you want to be a true pilgrim? Do you want to be a faithful priest ministering in the true sanctuary of God unto the true God of Israel? Then it's time for the 'old' heave ho treatment, or leaven extraction! Or even fermentation extraction!
Relating to fermentation
Did you know that Jesus would've also used unfermented grape juice at the Last Supper in accordance with the law of Moses, which required abstaining from all fermented substances during the Passover feast. It is obviously the wisdom of God that the word wine is absent in the appropriate verses here, where Jesus mentions 'the fruit of the vine'. The law forbade the partaking and presence of fermented substances in Jewish homes. Which meant the absence of leaven, yeast, or any other substance capable of producing fermentation in the Jewish homes as Ex 12:19:
"Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses".
This also means that alcohol beverage would not have been allowed during the Passover. Hence, in turn, none of these things would've been present at the last supper. Nor at the Upper Room prior and during Pentecost, for that matter, as they were Jewish believers gathered. When the Spirit fell booze was out of the question. How can one get around this one?
Leaven was basically (and figuratively speaking) a pervasive, subtle, and fragrant substance that acted as the added ingredient by man, for zest, stimulation and religious experiences, in all things pertaining to living-it-up in the here-and-now. Does God need an added boost though? That's why we are exalted to be filled with the Spirit not wine (the booze stuff)!
Matt. 16:6. "Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees (the religious devotees who will spoil you with their smooth speech and eloquent oration).
What we need to be aware of here is that anything that is truly of God is unspoilt, with no added touch or flare. What is of God is base, raw, open and plain, with nothing showy or sophisticated. The "fair dinkum" goods in other words. These things in Him are to be valued, treasured, treated with the utmost respect and counted as dear. With God in the picture all these things are non addictive, sweet and pleasant, which "maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it."
To the contrary, what is of man is spoilt and tarnished, because it has added appeal and added flavour, being leavened with polished, spiced up, religiosity. This is nothing more than showy, sophisticated, and strutting itself in an ostentatious way. To be ravished, indulged upon and intoxicated with. Meaning, it is something becoming yet addictive, with a nasty sting on the end of its tail.
This is why we are exalted to be filled with the Spirit and not wine (the booze stuff). Therefore, the bread unfermented and the wine unfermented, in relation to the Lord's table, are the bare essentials in supping with our Lord. No party poppers here. Nor streamers, balloons, or confetti for that matter. As God takes us "as is, where is". Therefore, the only way to take God ... is for what He is, and Who He is. Our attraction to our Maker is for no other reason. No fancy dressers, Santa costumes, or cosmetic makeups. As Dad, our Creator, sits us on His knee, without pretence and without guile. After all, children are always sober and well behaved on their Dad's knee, are they not?
Leaven stands for corruption
1 Cor. 5:6. "Your glorying (skiting) is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven (corruption) leaveneth (corrupts) the whole lump?"
The Lord wants it booted out of our lives. That's what is false, religious, superficial, and deceiving:
1 Cor. 5:7. "Purge out therefore the old leaven (corruption), that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened (uncorrupted). For even Christ our passover (not the physical ceremonial one) is sacrificed for us".
This means the passover as a ceremony is over (fulfilled in Christ) and our feasting in God is absent of any injected/infected fermentation from man. This is an eternal, ongoing event, in spirit, in simplicity, in sincerity, and in truth!
1 Cor. 5:8. "Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven (outwardly - religion), neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness (inwardly - the heart); but with the unleavened (uncorrupted) bread of sincerity and truth."
We have looked at wine in the natural, how the Bible presents it as two opposing beverages ... one natural and pleasant, the other potent and harmful. Either as a substance standing by itself, or as a substance with a supper (meal). Of course, one can go over board here. Yes, it's true ... one can get hung-up on the 'taste not/touch not' thing. Of course there are many around who only drink socially and moderately, in innocence or in ignorance. True; it is better to drink in moderation and have your house in order, than to not drink at all and your house be in disorder. However, if drinking is a stumbling block then we must do as the verse declares ... "Abstain from all appearance of evil (not just evil by itself but what appears as evil)" ... purging out every bit of leaven. Making sure we are not giving any weak brother an excuse for licence or to stumbling. How does it go? ... "but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD"!
Lastly, if wine (the grog stuff) is sanctioned under the New Covenant then can you imagine Jesus slipping into the local tavern for a couple of jugs before a "crusade"? Then, with a touch of dutch courage, storming into the Temple (with the smell of alcohol on His breath) and chasing out the money dealers? Their excuse of course would be that the mad prophet had too much to drink!
Is booze sanctioned or encouraged under the New Covenant? Nay! If you answered yea by the way, you would have some explaining to do when it came around to the scriptures condemning drinking the boozy wine right through the Bible, which I have already covered. Therefore my conclusion, and only conclusion, repeating again:
The alcoholic, booze, grog, plonk, firewater variety ... at it's best, is a stumbling block! At it's worst, is a destructive substance! That's it in a nutshell!
Now we will look at wine as a biblical metaphor, and hopefully see the picture unfold. Jesus paints the picture in Luke 5: 37- 39. If light can be shed here through this allegory, then hopefully a whole area of religious conditioning will come under scrutiny and dealt with, as we compare and dissect the Old from the New ...
Next the spiritual:
An exposť on Modern Religion
(in comparison to the new life)
The old and new don't mix
"And no man putteth new wine (the new life) into old bottles (old structures); else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. But new wine must be put into new bottles (new containers - reborn people); and both are preserved."
Here's how it worked, expounding on the above verse: In order for new wine to be kept as unspoiled juice, it was necessary to seal them in fresh new skins for preservation. If the fresh blood of the grape was to be placed in old mouldy structures, it would contaminate, fermenting the juice in the process, causing both the damage of the structure and the loss of the wine. By incorporating the new together (both the skin and the juice), both would be kept (the believer in the freshness of the Spirit) and so fulfil their functions.
Here's how it works when man rejects the above process:
"No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better."
In practice, this is another story of those who have become accustomed and hooked on the old substance (tradition or religious licence), then introduced to the New, preferring instead to stay with the Old due to their dependency on it. Little wonder multitudes are affixed by religion!
Rejecting the new wine from above
The rigid structures of the Old were finished and done away with. The new wine from heaven was being poured out into the new flexible vessels as Jesus had fulfilled the law and the prophets, and was ushering in a new and living way.
Unlike Moses who died (representing the law), we don't have to veil our faces, hiding from others a temporary fading glory, of uppers and downers, of a momentary experience gone sour, and fleshly failures. Under the New Covenant the veil is rent away. The glory of God is no longer concealed, but is on going. Forever. God is no longer left on a mountain, who has now become attainable, because we now have complete and unhindered access to Him, through the rent veil. Therefore, God is no longer limited to a physical temple, in one fixed abode, simply because His people (the new flexible structures) become the Lord's abode here on earth, where He can set-up home (the kingdom of God within the believer), filling the new vessel with His very being.
The tragedy is, many would prefer the old wine version, the drug potion instead. You see, religion (as mentioned) is zestful, intoxicating, and addictive. It acts as a spiritual sedative, robbing you away from what's real. In other words, the old wine stupefies. It deceives and takes away the heart. Each glass you drink will say the Old is better. It sets up a pseudo experience. A counterfeit. A 'get by'/'make do' feeling. Something you become dependant on, rather than the presence of God.
Furthermore, if we reuse what is old, rigid, and obsolete, the wine will contaminate, then burst out, leaving the structure dry and empty. With no Holy Ghost, no glory of God, and no blessing. Only what man can conjure up to replace the blessing with ... such as a (cheap) equivalent, an (easy) alternative, a (gloss) exchange, or a (manufactured) substitute. Aka ... what is termed religiosity in a nut-shell!
The two extremes
The woman at the well was a Samaritan ... right? Moreover, the Samaritan half-castes did not worship God subject to the law and the temple, but out in the mountain ... right? To them God was not confined to a set of regulations. On the other hand Jesus was a Jew. The Jews worshipped God through the law. They had the truth in regards to His nature and principles, conveyed through Moses.
Therefore, the Samaritans came to God in spirit (not rigid) and the Jews served God in truth (rigid). However, Jesus did not say the Father was now seeking those who would worship Him in spirit, nor did He say the Father was now seeking those who would worship Him in truth. Two half truths may I add. Jesus said the Father was now seeking those who would worship Him in both spirit and in truth. "In spirit and in truth" was the new criterion! With one bunch doing it in a regimented way, or the other doing it in licence, this was not what the Lord was after. God was after a people who were free in the Spirit, whereas, on the other hand, were also confined to the limitations of the scriptures as their safety back-up, to avoid excess and extremism, and going into error.
Religion is very convenient, as it comes in many varieties, under many labels. It can be very brash, or it can be very subtle. It can be well meaning and very level headed. Or it can be extravagant and in excess. If the old wine bottle is intact; you have a rigid, legal, disciplined, variety; producing formalism and regimentation. Hence, the Dark Age version. The stuff that comes out of Abbeys. If the stiff old structure bursts, you get a spiced up "fancy free", loose variety, producing excess and liberalism. Hence, "happy clappy" Charismania, counterfeit revival, excess and fanaticism, and New Age substitutes. This is the two extremes of religion that always misses the mark. A bit like' the good cop bad cop scenario', in order to find away into the minds of its adherents.
Picture Paul on the island of Malta collecting firewood in Acts Chapter Twenty Eight (a very practical fellow this Paul). Suddenly a snake latches onto his hand. The seemingly warm hospitable islanders react in horror accusing him of being a foreign villa , reading the situation as divine judgement against Paul. A little while longer, when nothing visibly happens to Paul (obviously through divine intervention) they swing to an opposing opinion that Paul must be superhuman or something, to have survived such an ordeal like this.
You see this was a real (pre) dark age mentality, veering off into superstitious extremes. You were either scum or divine (the same way the Jews are viewed, or those with prominent callings are generally treated today ... persecuted or over-elevated). Which of course is ignorant, fickle and unbalanced thinking. Today, it comes in a more refined, marketable package. Let's first read John 1:17 f'instance:
"For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."
If the Devil can't get you by the law ' thing' then he'll swing you right over to the other extreme ... either taking grace away over board, into what is called the "luv gospel", producing licence. Or he will take you over the other way, too far into truth; majoring on using the correct procedures, producing legal format. Rightly dividing the scriptures gives you the even keel in Jesus, walking in the way, not looking and being swayed to the right or to the left.
Now let's take a further look into the extremes of religion:
The spirit of licence is generally found in parallel with a revival situation. When a genuine sovereign move of God breaks out, the enemy (Satan) will pull every trick in the book to thwart it, because it will mean genuine conversion and souls being won into the eternal kingdom. Something the Devil hates above all things.
Persecution sometimes is too obvious. It will help blow the devils cover. Setting up a duplicate revival, in hidden opposition, running parallel to the real thing, is far more effective. Especially if the move of God lacks mature word based leaders who will exercise discernment and expose deception. Many innocent moves of God have fizzled in the past due to a corrupt mixture being injected into the spiritual awakening, allowing false teachers to infiltrate and take "the move of God" over into excess and fanaticism. Catch the (unscriptural) phrases will you please:
"To get a touch from the Lord is sooo real!" "Feeeel the Spirit's touch!" "Spread the fire!" "Soak up the Spirit!" "Scooop up the Spirit!" "Breathe in Jesus!" "Holy laughter madness!" "Holy shaking!" "Holy drunkenness!" "God wanting to bark or howl!" "Uncontrollable frolicking!" "Just let gooo and open yourself up!" "Open your mouth and let the Lord take over!" "God is outta control!" "Catch the fire!" "You need to throw out your theology and go with the flow (giving yourself over to hypnotic spirits)!" "He's the reason for the season!" "He's the real thing!" "We serve a contemporary Jesus!" "The best is yet to come!" "Say a little prayer to Jesus, she'll be right (sometimes sung as a haka - invoking ancestral spirits for supernatural power)!" "The hour of power!" And much more!! (NB: These terms are not out of my imagination but straight from the lips and pens of so-called revivalist and "Holy Ghost" preachers).
Fanaticism is not of God. I can think of two great revivals this century that have commenced in innocence and simplicity (a regular pattern actually), and ended up going down the gurgler because they were allowed to be hi-jacked by man:
"The Welsh Revival" early this century ... commenced with a little miner called Evan Roberts who spent most of his spare time agonizing over his fellow Welshmen in prayer and on his knees in his bedroom. According to him, his friend Jessie Penn-Lewis, her husband and small circle of friends, the revival lasted only one incredible year. According to the impostor preachers and their associates, who hi-jacked "the move" and exploited the hungry masses ... it lasted three years. The truth is the last two years were full of froth, bubble, and false wind; along with excess, emotionalism, and fanaticism; before fizzling then fading into the past. And what were the Welsh left with? Desolation. Empty songs of nationalism. Empty chapels all over the country. With the prime of the lads from that era, who could have 'been', returning home later in wooden boxes from the Great War, if their bodies were found and identified.
In our time there was "the Jesus Movement" of the late sixties. Its beginnings ... phenomenal and sovereign! All over the United States (and parts of the Globe including New Zealand) young people were dropping out, and turning onto the drug induced counter culture, and heading for a big black hole on the West Coast. "Cali-phony is the place you ought to be" was more than just a Hillbilly song, as the Flower Children era spilt out of San Francisco with "free love" (anything goes as long as it feels good) being exported across the Western world. God intervened and repentant dope ridden, 'eastern thought' crazed hippies were finding the reality of Jesus outside organized religion. "Drop in" houses replaced "free love" houses, as godly discipline was established, and the Authorized Bible upheld.
Like all revivals, many incredible miracles took place, with signs and wonders following the believers, not the other way round. Then soon after came the hucksters and the "Johnny come latelys", jumping on the band wagon and turning something innocent into something "cool", "groovy", and "hip". Followed by a so-called "change of heart" by the "open minded" established churches (who happened to be anti from its offset) "looking-in" for that "injection of life", and liquidating what looked like the shallow remains of a passing fad. After about three and a half miraculous years, the Jesus People were finally assimilated back into "the system" by 'the religious fifth column'.
Mighty America (who had just dropped the Bible and 'talking to God' in the education system) was given its chance. Instead it reaped a humiliating defeat from a third world Asian peasant army. This was followed by Watergate, the Iranian Hostage Crisis, the marine massacre in Beirut, the White House being defiled by a naughty president. The quagmire of Iraq (written since). Now the moral collapse of a great nation. What's next in line ... martial law? More climate catastrophes (updated since Hurricane Catrina)? Then impending desolation?
The most effective way the enemy can keep the Spirit of God in check is luring the saints into excessive liberty and non restraint, allowing the purity of the gospel to be confused with a mixture of outward sensationalism and fanatical behaviour. Or on the other hand ... embracing politics and patriotic fever. Or allowing the religious establishment to absorb and exploit the "move of God". All these things are more than just a real and present danger, but always a death blow to a genuine move of the Holy Ghost.
If believers can be kept in the straight jacket of rules and regulations without the freedom of walking in the Spirit, then revival will not even have a chance from the word "go"! A good illustration is using a domineering husband who uses all the verses in the Book about wives being in subjection to their husbands. I know a so-called man of God who controlled his wife so much, to the point she was not even allowed to think for herself, that she took a gun then took her life too. How very tragic! Futhermore, this man had the audacity to minister and conduct her funeral service as a "worthy servant" of the most High.
To enforce rules and standards on others without God's grace, is self conceit and arrogance at its peak, hiding behind a cloak of spiritual piousness. To put your own requirements and conditions on people hiding behind the Lord's name, with or without moral content, is manipulation and control. The old fashion and biblical term is called witchcraft.
I remember many years ago my wife (as a young woman) sharing right out of the blue, how she was going to let her pierced ears grow over, as she felt it was wrong for a child of God to mutilate our Saviour's temple. This was her own decision, made from an inner conviction, not because she was compelled from outside sources like a church doctrine or an over bearing hubby (sometimes I pass the test). Neither was it anything to do with a club's rulebook.
It is scriptural for a man to have short hair and for a woman to have long hair (her God given covering, not a manmade veil). However, who is to say when long hair starts or short hair finishes? Do we rely on mans "set standard" (whatever that would be), or do we allow God to reveal to us direct to the inner man through His word?
Many have made doctrines about music. Quite often these are just theories based on opinion, prejudice, or biasness. However, if one is maturing in God, endeavouring to stay word based, ridding himself of guile, and has the Spirit of the living God living within; then He will witness to what is foul, aggro, sensual, rebellious, and anarchic. On the other hand, if someone wants to get hooked on rock'n roll, rap, death metal, or whatever (even if it is considered "sanctified"), and wear all the latest, even "Christianized" pagan paraphernalia that goes with it, that's up to them, they pay the consequences (if it was not instigated by God in the first place) ... but as for me and my house (as I said before), we will serve the LORD.
In 1 Corinthians 11:16 Paul said this in regards to visible cultural appearance:
"if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God."
In other words, if wrangling about small points that have nothing to do with one's salvation is going to cause division, don't worry about it, get on with the things that are for building one another up. Maturity will take care of the rest. Sure, there has to be open rebuke and disciplinary measures taken when a brother or sister is being blatantly unruly or into immorality. However, putting legalistic requirements on people makes the church, or the eldership, a substitute for the Spirit of truth, and stifles the life, joy and the blessing from the Lord. The very reason Paul said, "Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy"! The same reason he made the believers aware of this, "because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage".
Man plays the Holy Ghost by getting in the way. However, Jesus is still always the way ... and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty!
More on grace and truth
It is true that some preach the truth while others preach love. One leads to the extreme of serenity, while the other leads to the extreme of sentimentality. We need the balance of both and not go too far one way that we become too hard, neither go the other way that we become to soft. It is also true that "the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." We need both! Take for example there are twenty scriptures in the Bible relating to both mercy and truth being married together. For example, Ps. 25:10:
"All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies."
The two must go hand in hand ... "as a just weight is his delight."
Error is basically a truth taken to extreme. Isn't this how denominations are formed? Like when a group takes one man's revelation from the Lord and build a thing on it, instead of seeking the full counsel of God. One group may place the emphasis on water baptism, while the other lot place it on Spirit baptism, and so forth. F'instance, take the word obedience to the extreme, then you would be of no practical use. You wouldn't be able to make decisions because God had not spoken. You might not take a job (even in a desperate situation) because you never heard from the Lord.
In other words, because you didn't receive a specific word for a specific occasion, you used it as an excuse to remain passive in the faith or indifferent to responsibility.
However, most of our walk is not like that at all. How would we mature and learn to make right decisions? God called Abraham. Right! But how many times did the Lord speak to Abraham direct, in specific detail? Very few times in all his life! Abraham spent most of his life making his own decisions (some good, others reckless), learning, being practical, everyday. This is how we increase in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
If you over emphasis a scripture (a truth), taking for instance "praising the Lord in all and every situation", without balancing them with other parts of scripture, you end up in a place where you can't relate on a rational level anymore. By operating like this you will find you are unable to respond in a compassionate way when you are placed in awkward situations, like say ... at the scene of a bad accident. Or when someone has been seriously beaten up. Imagine the certain Samaritan one day, when coming across the badly beaten man then stopping and saying, " PTL", before walking on! With this type of attitude non Christians would view us as loopy. Especially if we just said "Alleluia" then moved on, when someone just got word of a tragedy in their family. This would not be weeping with those who weep nor showing a tender heart, but acting "spiritual" to brush-off awkward circumstances or get out of showing mercy with good deeds and acts of compassion to those in need.
Here's how more of this religious nonsense acts: They call it "the power of praise". Meaning, if you want to scare the devil in a situation, just keep singing a praise song over and over again, so the notion goes. This is more of what some of these religious clubs teach ... "The louder the noise, the greater the weapon against the enemy, and the more he gets scared and flees". Whatta lot of toffee rot! Of course "Christian" mantras and chants don't scare the devil one iota but may feed, or even soothe him. Religious spirits thrive on religious "praise and worship" as well as on all repetitious forms. These things simple soothe the whole (religious) atmosphere; opening peoples minds to emotional manipulation through the apparent "gifts" and "leading of the Spirit". After all, Lucifer is a musical being, who thrives on both ceremony or commotion.
Today, we have "the power of praise", "the power of luv (if love was just another attribute of God - replacing God is love)", "the power of prayer (yes, talking to God can be institutionalized)", "the power of positive thinking", "the hour of power", plus many more New Age phrases, sung and celebrated in "Christian" organizations. The truth is ... our power (or His power) is completely dependant on the finished work of Calvary and released in our lives through realizing our frailties and weaknesses, and placing our dependence on Him. This comes by experience by the way, as we apply our lives to the word of God daily.
Back in the Victorian era Mother England was busy establishing her version of "the truth" on a global scale under a firm British stiff upper lip, treading on a few toes in the process, due to the absence of a bit of 'humble' pie. The 'counter culture' of the late sixties was the last straw in rebelling against this out moded era, ushering in the 'free love' new morality. Look where the rot has taken us now! By spilling into the Church, we now have gross immorality everywhere, permeating from the leadership down to grassroots. This is what happens when we get hooked on "love" without truth. When we adopt the world's slogans ... "all ya need is luv!" ... instead of the complete word of God. Or when we place mercy on a pedestal above integrity. This is the wishy-washy variety that's always easy to sell: "God luvs you - so nothing else matters!"
Here's more from the 'prosperity' and 'seed faith' camp: God wants the best for me! The 'speak it into being' industry: "Blab it and grab it! Claim it and frame it!" This is nothing more than the spirit of materialism (or covetousness) under the banner of "luv", hiding behind a facade of spirituality. Usually truths from the Bible taken way over board, in other words.
Ps. 85:10. "Mercy and truth are met together (there we have it)" ... "righteousness and peace have kissed each other"!
This is what ya call true peace and harmony!
Here's another area where we can be taken over board in, through what we do with righteousness and peace. By generally being self-centred creatures, we humans love to embrace peace but usually shun righteousness. We even try to invent another meaning to replace the word righteousness using well established words like justice or rightness. Anything to avoid the cross. Hence; modern bible perversions being promoted more than ever.
Today, words like peace, safety, and security, are key words in political correctness. They fit the tab. Promote peace and you're "kool", "clean and green", "up with the play". People aren't stupid ... mention the word righteousness and they'll see you, or accuse you, of being some holier-than-thou up-yourself geek!
Without being sanctimonious or trying to be patronizing; try pointing to the biblical Jesus, that's the Lord's righteousness, then they are without excuse! "Peace signs", "the dove", "the olive leaf", "the rainbow", make very effective New Age symbols, slogans and banners, don't they? However, remember ... false prophets are usually good ambassadors of peace:
Is. 33:7. "Behold, their valiant ones shall cry without: the ambassadors of peace shall weep bitterly."
Things have not changed today ... they omitt the cross or dilute the gospel, to the point of peace at any cost, even if it means making war:
Micah 3:5. "Thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that make my people err, that bite with their teeth, and cry, Peace; and he that putteth not into their mouths, they even prepare war against him."
Remember also, Anti-christ will use peace to destroy many, as the world is morally and socially (and militarily) disarmed in the name of peace. Give peace a chance? said John boy. Not in your life son, without first making peace with God on the grounds of His Son! Because true peace (that surpasses human understanding) can only be found at the foot of the cross by accepting the Lord's righteousness. We can either brush it off, or end 'up the Khyber' by establishing our own. Here's the condition for peace, Brother ... Isaiah 26:3:
"whose mind is stayed on thee"!
Others would rather keep their mind on carnal things, or on what is highly esteemed by man, from saving a plant from extinction, to saving the whole planet, believing education will achieve this in the end. However, they tend to forget or are ignorant of the fact, that this happily married couple are only found in the Lord:
Ps. 89:14. "Justice and judgement are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face (can't escape these two)."
It's so easy to justify anything. In this age we have become masters and experts of it. It's been said that Sodom had no Bibles. The old world only had one preacher, namely Noah. Up until Jesus' day they had the law and the prophets. Today, we have both the Old and the New Testaments, the Holy Book complete; along with the record of history. And look where we are? How we love justice, but how we loath judgement. How it is now considered "inappropriate" to judge, to weigh things up, to make correction, to use absolutes, to call a spade a spade, to name things for what they are ... "murder", "adultery", "treason", "sin"! Relying on justice without judgement breeds contempt, enflames politics and prejudice, by dividing communities instead of pursuing true reconciliation. However, true reconciliation can only come through having true reconciliation with God first. True satisfaction is only found here.
Religion doesn't satisfy ... "But godliness with contentment is great gain" ... when experienced together.
Because sincerity is not enough! It must always be coupled with truth:
Jos. 24:14. "Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth"
Meaning, being genuine is good, but it is not good enough. It's what we do with Jesus (the scriptural Jesus that is) that counts. He is the issue, and nothing else!
Many "churches" are sincere. Many churchites are sincere. Many New Agers are sincere. Judas Iscariot was sincere. He genuinely believed Jesus was wrong. It's what he did with the truth that was to his detriment. He even repented with remorse after betraying Jesus to the point of making retribution by returning the loot. But in the end ... what did he do with Jesus? What did Pilate do with Jesus? This is the issue! What are they doing with Jesus which is called Christ? Do they give Him the brush-off, or do they fall at His feet with tears and adoration? Jesus is still as always the issue, as well as the answer, and the bulls eye. The world doesn't want it, so it will keep missing the mark presenting a falsified balance. This way man can pussyfoot around with issues that arn't issues as far as God is concerned, in order to avoid what God decrees.
Pr. 16:2. "All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits."
Folk would rather talk about, expound on, muse over, or be entertained by the scriptures, but they would never want to act of them and be changed. That's religion in a nutshell!
As already covered before, true worship is not outward, but from the heart. It cannot be found within human bounds or set-practice, but is only experienced in spirit and in truth:
John. 4:23. "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him."
Recapping again, the Jews had the truth of God's word (the Old Testament) but were bound by their tradition in worshipping God. The Samaritans didn't have God's word (did not no the restrictions of it) and were therefore free to worship outside of structure, in spirit (a bit like today where you have the Pentecostals more into the Spirit and the Evangelicals more into the structure). Christ reconciles both under the New Covenant. Therefore, the Lord is now seeking out a people who can come to Him beyond the bounds of time and locality, beyond the restrictions of man-made dogmas and structure; in sincerity and truth, twenty four hours a day. When true service would not be limited to a human boundary like format or ritualism, but found in the heart, the life, and the very breath of the genuine believer.
Phil. 3: 2-3 ... "beware of the concision (the mutilators - who destroy the truth). For we are the circumcision (of heart), which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."
This means worship cannot be conjured up, psyched up, pumped up, or organized. Music can be nice, but it's got absolutely nothing to do with defining true worship. People cannot be manipulated or engineered to give true worship. They will not rely on vibes, warm fuzzies, feelings or emotions to turn their heart toward heaven. There's no such thing as "worship" leaders under the New Covenant. The presence of God is a 24/7 assurance, and acknowledging and serving Him biblically, is true worship.
The two Israels
Just like the Two Wines we find Two Nations in scripture ... one is representing the natural first, then we have the spiritual revealed.
Rom. 2: 28-29. "For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly (Israel in the flesh - natural Israel; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly (Israel of the Spirit - spiritual); and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God."
There is much confusion in regards to the interpretation of Israel in Christian circles. Again, we need to see this as a mystery just like the two wines, in order to avoid extremes. The Lord in His wisdom is presenting one word (same name) for two types, to be spiritually discerned by the spiritually discerning. From scripture there is obviously two (types of) circumcisions ... the natural one being inferior and a mere shadow of the latter spiritual one. As in all aspects of typology in scripture ... for example:
Two countries (Israels):
Mal. 4:4. "Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgements (Natural Israel)."
Gal. 6:16. "And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God (Spiritual Israel)."
Two cities (Jerusalems):
Gal. 1:17. "Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus (Natural Jerusalem, capital city of natural Israel)."
Heb. 12:22. "But ye are come unto mount Sion (obviously two Zions), and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem (Spiritual Jerusalem, capital city of spiritual Israel)".
As we are on the theme of exposing extremes it takes little discernment to see the extremes in Christendom towards Israel and the Jews. One lot go all gooey and lovey dovey over the nation of Israel and it's people, as if the Israelis can do nothing wrong and are elevated to some level of impeccability. Their love affair is so fixated they can't see that at the heart of the Jewish religion they wont even acknowledge Jesus at all (although most religions acknowledge Jesus in some way or another, whether He was a prophet, or a good moral teacher). If someone converts to Jesus the Messiah, their particular family will sometimes even hold a funeral service for them. As far as they are concerned, their particular son or daughter who claims to have found their Messiah no longer exists. They are out in the cold!
Then there is the other bunch who claim the people of Israel are not Jews at all, but impostors. In this particular case the question that should be asked is ... why do these people who claim to be Jews want to learn Hebrew and go bananas on making Israel their homeland? Also, why is the Torah (which has preserved their identity for centuries) so important to many of them in regards to life and culture?
The other accusation against the Jews is they are guilty of murdering Jesus. Like the first ideology just mentioned, this view taken to extreme can be used against the Jews making them scapegoats to cover a multitude of sins. Hence, the papal crusades, the inquisition, and the holocaust. In fact, there is a curse reserved for peoples or nations who persecute the Jews:
Gen. 12:3. "And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee".
Look at the decline of mighty Great Britain when they did a U-turn on the State of Israel just after the Second World War. Now the mighty US of A is in for a hiding as they have just officially denounced Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Who is guilty of murdering the Son of God? Answer:
Acts 4: 27-28. "For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles (the Romans and the non Jewish world), and the people of Israel (the Jews), were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel (this is where "church" counsels lead) determined before to be done."
Both Gentiles and Jews alike (the whole world) are guilty before God for what was done to Jesus!
Please take note of the word counsel. Nothing good ever comes out of religious or political counsel. This is the organization of man and his methods. Uniting together, whether it is Church and State, or ecumenical wingdings, man has a way of making counsel against the Lord and His anointed. As it was at the commencement of the grace period ... Rome (now as the Vatican) counselling with the Church (again, with the Jewish Hierarchy), so shall it be at the conclusion of the grace period ... a united council against Jesus Christ and His remnant. This time God's remnant will be the scapegoats.
In as much as we love Jerusalem, as any other Christ rejecting city or people, without prejudice; our affection is to be set on the Jerusalem above, the eternal (celestial) city of God. That's why Paul wanted to put everything into perspective with the Judaized bewitched Galatians:
Gal 4:25-26. "For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is (the geographical natural city), and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all (both Jew and Gentile in Christ Jesus)."
John also drove home this truth:
Rev. 11:8. "And their dead bodies (the two end time prophets) shall lie in the street this time (notice; not like dogs outside the camp this time, but abominably inside the gate before the whole world) of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified."
There is so much focus on this great city, capital of a tiny great nation that lies at the centre of the world. The only place which in fact connects the three continents ... Europe, Asia and Africa. A city which is politically, culturally, and spiritually important to the three great faiths of the world ... Judaism, Islam, and apostate Christianity. A city of compromise. A city which rejected the prophets and slew them outside her gate. A city which rejected Messias, the anointed one sent from God, and slew Him outside her gate. A city which will reject God's last two prophets before the final close of this age. And in the very words of Jesus found in John 5:43:
"if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive."
Coming soon ... The False Prophet, the False Messiah ... winning his way by treaty settlement, to make His point clear in Jerusalem. The very city Jesus prophesied over. Read Luke 13:34:
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord."
A city admired, and coveted. A city of grandeur, intrigue and culture. Of the modern day traveller. An appealing tourist destination with much history and many attractions. A city of blood and terror and of controversy and confusion.
Paul spiritualized her as a mother ... as Hagar (the Arab question), of Mount Sinai (breaking the law), of being in bondage with her children (blinded from the gospel of true deliverance).
John spiritualized her as Sodom (given over to sin), as Egypt (aligned with the heathen world), reminding us where the promised Redeemer was despised and tortured to death ... outside its gate. A city which shares the gross guilt and blame with the rest of the world in conspiring against the Lord and His Anointed. Soon she will be brought to her knees because of her compromise. Moreover, she will call out to the One whom she persecuted (Zec. 12:10), which was partly fulfilled at the cross when a remnant turned to true God through His Son:
"they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn."
Jesus, after dealing with this city and throwing the false messiah into the bottomless pit, will set up his headquarters here, ruling the world from it's capital and centre, in righteousness and peace. This will be Messiah's 1,000 year reign on the earth. In the mean time, the whole world (both Jewish and Gentile), unless individuals repent, are in the same boat (Eph 2:12):
"without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel (spiritual Israel), and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world".
As in the words of Jesus of Nazareth:
"Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all (both Jew and Gentile) likewise perish."
For those who don't know the Lord ... this is the very reason Jesus came to earth ... bearing the good news of salvation, that man could be forgiven for his rebellion and going his own way, and be reconciled back to His Maker through what Jesus accomplished on the cross. Very simple, that a child could make it into heaven ... by partaking of this new wine from heaven.
Two sets of commandments given (testaments, covenants)
Although these were two types they only differed in presentation: The former were written on stone, and were an inferior shadow, presented as the cold letter of God's immutable precepts to one (chosen) physical nation. They were in essence written commandments that were dry and without living breath. Basically to prove a point (as our guide and tutor in other words), proving ... "we couldn't make it with God and needed His outside intervention." This was the Ten Commandments of old. The law of Moses.
The latter ... God's eternal code written within, on the believers heart, where the Spirit of God lives to put sinews of life on. This is where man could respond from a desire within and help from above. A new commandment, in other words. Also known in the New Testament as the royal law, the perfect law, the law of liberty or the law of faith. The law of Christ is another. As Hebrews 7:12 says, "For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law." No longer was it retribution to our enemies, but to love and prayer for our enemies, that by all means some might be saved. It is where Jesus did not come to destroy the law or the prophets, but to fulfil them, and take them further, where sin was dealt with in the inner thoughts and desires of the individual.
Two churches (two peoples called out)
One group were called out of Egypt (bondage) to be a wilderness people dependant on their God. Instead, they wanted an earthly pastor (king), set up an elaborate fixed church (the Temple), with an elaborate set of rules and traditions added on ... who compromised with other nations, trading with and taking on their methods of worship and false gods. A picture of God's people today, called out of the world to simplicity in Him. Instead, settling down to the status quo, establishing their own empire, under a ruler with their own rules, their own name, and compromising with other faiths along with their range of methods and images of God. This is why Paul wrote this for the followers of the new way:
1 Cor. 10:6. "Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted."
However, out of both people groups, God is setting up His own remnant, who will stick to doing things His way, and for Him only. This way the Lord gets the total credit and glory for anything we can overcome or achieve in Him.
Rom. 11:5. "Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace."
"Not by might, nor by power (nor by the methodology of man). But by His Spirit ... saith the Lord!"
This is the church of God ... a people, both Jew and Gentile together, called out of the world and false religion, where as one new man they can worship God in spirit.
Religion - a false balance
While we have been on the subjest of balance and rightly dividing the word of truth, it must be made clear here that the Bible does not say an imbalance is an abomination to the Lord, but a false balance is.
Pr. 11:1. "A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight."
Being a loving Dad our heavenly Father makes much allowance for spiritual babes and novices of the faith. This is called growing in grace. He knows that once we begin our pilgrimage in Him, we are going to make mistakes, probably plenty, if you are like me. Personally, I found it absolutely amazing how things just seemed to fall into place when I first came to the Lord. As the months and years progressed, I got away with less, as I had to learn to stand on my own two feet, make my own decisions, and become responsible. The Lord refuses to think for us. It's Satan who wants to intrude into our minds and take over. He will use his "spiritual " heavies, and theological bullies to achieve this, along with religious experiences and spiritual niceties thrown in, as he would take us into excess. Remember, what was said about the good cop/bad cop scenario?
Now that I'm older (and hopefully a little wiser) I can choose my friends, what I allow into my home, and set my own lifestyle. F'instance, if I choose to not allow alcohol into our house, that's my privilege. I won't set rules for you in your home. If it's okay to drink then don't hide it when I come round to visit. In fact, if drinking is scriptural, then you should be out in the open with it, supplying it as a part of your supper, giving people the option along with other goodies when being hospitable. And please don't quote me that "stumbling block" rubbish!! Whattabout the content on your TV, your videos and DVDs, and magazines for that matter? Or the music you getta buzz from? There's no point teaching it, if you are not openly practising it. Why be ashamed if YOU are right!?
We don't eat pork, animal fat, or shell fish in our home, and try to avoid refined food as best as we can. Like Daniel, we avoid the morsels of Babylon (or try to). That's junk food, quick and easy substitutes etc,. to make money for the multicorporations who don't care a razz about your health or wellbeing. We try to stick to a biblically centred lifestyle as much as we can (true ... keeps the cholesterol level and blood pressure down). I've got no choice (genetically that is) ... it's either shape up, or block up (arteries that is) and go home (upwards that is) maybe pre-maturely.
How we choose to live is our privilege and business. Isn't it prudent and less expensive trying to avoid visits to the doctor, dentist, or insurance man if you can? Isn't it wise refusing indifference of any sort? Isn't it common sense trying to avoid an unmotivated, lax, attitude, and accomplish more through absorbing higher energy intake? Don't worry! We certainly wont put it on you, or make a doctrine out of it and acknowledge also that "bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come" We are not under the doctrine of food, or 'taste not or touch not', or "how to keep fit", but grace. What you eat and drink or how you keep healthy is not our concern, and is not a condition for entering into the kingdom (Rom. 14:17). So please don't judge me on this, and I wont judge you on yours!
Now let's re-examine Romans 12: 1- 6:
"Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks."
While we tread the pilgrims path down here on "planet earth", we have been taught that one is free to eat meat while another is not. One man is free to see there are no special days while another will still see a day as special in honouring the Lord. Now this certainly does sound sweet and scrumptious, but is it just another way to keep us on milk and prevent us from the meat of the scriptures like 2 Tim. 2:15:
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth"!
F'instance ... who was Paul addressing when he made this notion in Romans Twelve? Answer, to, "Him that is weak in the faith"!
For what purpose may I ask? To, "receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations"!
In other words, Paul was urging older more mature believers in the Lord to accept a newcomers opinion. He was telling the more experienced to make allowance for the brother who was weaker in the faith, and not for the purpose of passing judgement on his views, but for who he was in Christ. All for the purpose of granting him space to grow, as he would in time (through abiding in the word) realize this by revelation:
- he is free (to make choices) to eat animal flesh or other foods!
1 Tim. 4: 1- 5. "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry (good news for Priests), and commanding to abstain from meats (good news for Adventists), which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer (received by revelation and experience)."
Repeating it again ... granting the weak and new born in Christ space to grow, as he would in time (through abiding in the word) realize by revelation:
- he is free (to make choices) not to be bound by any holy day this side of grace!
Gal. 4:9-10. "But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years."
The whole point of Paul's admonishing here was allowing grace to work in a young (disadvantaged) believer, who was pressing forward, and learning the freedom to make his own choices by the word, and not through the compulsion of church dogma or others having dominion over his faith. If this was an older more experienced brother endorsing these things by doctrine or creed, then obviously he would be considered going backwards into bondage in need of instant reproof.
Paul was 'hang-up' free:
1 Cor. 10:23. "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not."
In other words; we don't force our opinions of food and holydays on others who are being established in the faith, or (nicely) imply it to them, yet we respect their babyish views. We must allow them to come to this understanding on their own, by revelation; as by relationship and growing in grace are we free every day in worship, in making our own choices in what we take in, wisely taking into account not all things are good for you.
In regards to a holy day ... in the New testament Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, who said: "The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath (Mark 2:27-28)". It was never intended to be a drudgery. The Israelites had slaved seven days a week, for hundreds of years, under their masters in the land of Egypt. Now God was giving them a break, a day off once a week, where they would be (or at least, should have been) continually grateful and mindful of their Maker.
For a few months we as a family tried to keep Saturday as a family day of rest, from all forms of labour that is. It was a nice idea with the intent to honour the Lord together as a family. Even though we tried to keep it low key and non compulsive, we still found it an impossibility to keep. Somewhere along the line you still had to commit yourself to labour and fit in with each others plans. The only way for it to work would be to make it a complete law thing. Even then you would not be able to clean your teeth or change the loo paper. What about if you forgot to fill your car up with petrol and Granny was having a heart attack on the other side of town? You can't just get technical about one thing and leave everything else undone! Yip!! ... the law is impossible to keep. And trying to keep it is bondage!
Did Jesus scrap the law? ... The ceremonial (ritualistic) law He did! The law as contained in the ten commandments ... nope!! One was to get ourselves right with God (the set ordinances) because we couldn't keep the other (the moral law - the ten commandments). He didn't come to do away with the moral set but to fulfil them. To put the Spirit in them as Acts 7:38 proves:"This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us".
Attaining the impossible
You see the word Babylon and Religion are virtually one and the same. One is presented as a position (where one's responses lie), whereas the other is presented as a condition, or practice (of the heart). Babylon derived from Babel (many voices/confusion) means the gate of God. Therefore, it signifies many ways to God resulting in confusion. A great thing to exploit if you want to smokescreen the truth.
Religion means finding God through externalization. Relying on our own effort, or righteousness, to make it. A great way to keep people busy so they don't really get time to think. A great way to give them a sense of adulation and elation. Therefore, according to James, perfect religion could only be achieved when one could master his own tongue on a consistent basis (1:26), without one iota of gossip, malice, or guile, spilling out vocally. Because this would reflect perfection of the heart. Repeating again ... perfection of the heart that is! Is there any such thing?:
"Matt. 12:34 ... for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."
How on earth could one achieve this? Perfection of the heart we are talking about! How on earth could one change his or her own heart with the evidence of blamless and perfect speech control? Impossible? ... Of course!
Pure religion would become a reality when one would visit the widow and orphan, and stay uncorrupted from the world (James 1:27), with every act done by this person in the complete interests of those in need and not for self. Which would mean going much further than being a Princes Di (how was her private life?). Or even a Mother Teresa (who worshipped the Virgin Mary), who was also a great PR for the Vatican and its propaganda machine. Again, how can one stay continually pure, even for one day, and remain a total "goodie goodie"? Impossible? ... Yes!! How could one measure up before a Holy God, when He say in Matt. 5:48:
"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."
Or, how about ...
"Be ye holy; for I am holy." 1 Pet. 1:16.
Impossible? ... Yes!! Jesus said in Mark 9: 42- 47:
"if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire (Origen and other cranks have taken this literally would you believe, the reason why the Modern Versions support self castration?)"
If we are inadequate to meet God's holy demands, yet desperate to be acceptable to God, then we would have to take drastic steps as Jesus suggested ... for it would be better to enter Heaven with nothing, or severely handicapped, than entering hell with everything. This is just what God's law exposes outside of grace:
Fix! Predicament! Hopeless situation! Quandary! Catch '22! Dilemma! Human puniness! The frailty of man! Human inadequacy! Who on earth can save me?
Is it possible to become holy? Is it possible to become perfect? Answer from Luke 1:37:
"For with God nothing shall be impossible".
His name is Jesus! He has paid the complete price at the cross. The impossible has become possible, in Him. He has granted us His righteousness, even though we never deserved it, and if we would only embrace His free gift. Because it is only when we receive Christ's finished work on the cross the Lord no longer sees our sinful state, but the righteousness of His Son. Simple! Totally efficient! Meaning, Jesus' payment on the cross cannot be added to, or watered down, with no need to ever be repeated again. Once and for all, the New Cov declares! Calvary was perfect so imperfect man could be redeemed through the Saviour.
The 'fig rig' continues
However, this salvation plan is a bit too easy and simple for prideful man to swallow. He would rather work things out his way, and for himself. The very reason the cross has become his stumbling block. Man would rather substitute God's way of salvation with something more clever and accommodating for his appetites and pleasures. Mans methods actually go back to the beginning of time, to the great cover-up in the Garden. This is where man provides his own means, rejecting God's way ... the shedding of blood.
Religion is all about making short cuts, by-passing the cross by providing substitutes for God's plan of salvation: Good works, self-effort, anything but the blood of Jesus! Oh, it will include the cross as an additive or an adornment, for those who happen to be "that way inclined"! Think of an Easter recital here, or a religious procession, uplifting christened items, to get the picture. These things may include the gospel as a lovely oration. It will make a good story. Even a moving piece of drama. How about a sombre musical mood, or an inspiring movie? However, it will not make the cross everything, because it's job (position) is to promote Babylon (confusion). This way the heathen can't find it, and Christians lose it, while everybody is happy, because everybody is still in the same boat, unaccountable to God. Where, contrary to the doctrine of Universal Salvation, and contrary to the gospel of the Neoevangicals, Charismatics and New Wave "firm believers" ... where there is no repentance to God, then there is no forgiveness! Moreover, when there is no forgiveness, there is no redemption either.
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