Sunday, May 31, 2015, 5:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “Jesus, Rescue Me.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Corinthians 10 (NASB). Every Thought Captive Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent! I ask that when I am present I need not be bold with the confidence with which I propose to be courageous against some, who regard us as if we walked according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete. Paul addressed these thoughts to the church collectively. Although, in reality, the church is the body of believers in Jesus Christ, there were, even from the beginning, false brothers and sisters and false apostles who came in among them, who met with them, and who tried to persuade the true believers in Christ to distrust Paul and to not follow the true gospel. So, Paul had to write to them in defense of his apostolic authority and in defense of the gospel of our salvation so that they would not be led astray, though it appeared some of them were already being strongly influenced by these false brethren and/or false apostles. One of the accusations against Paul and the other apostles was that they walked (conducted their lives) according to the flesh, i.e. that they lived by the standards of this sinful world. So, Paul set out to dispel that theory and to put it to death. Paul explained that, although they lived in the world, as we all do, they did not wage war as the world does. What kind of war? I believe Paul was making reference to spiritual warfare in which we fight against the forces of evil which are in the world, which come against us, and in which we fight against the temptations of our own flesh which war against us. So, how does the world wage war? When it comes to what the world terms as “evil,” depending on the evil, the world might fight with guns, knives, and bombs, etc., or they may fight with cutting remarks, slander, false accusations, false arrests, persecution, hatred, violence, rejection and by ostracizing those they term as “evil,” even if what they call “evil” is really good. Yet, when the world wishes to embrace what GOD calls evil, but which they might call “good,” they compromise, make excuses, justify, rationalize, twist truth, blend truth and lies together, or give their evil some “godly” false front in order to make it look like the evil is really something good. The worldly church of today is guilty of all of this, I believe. This verse comes to mind: Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! ~ Isaiah 5:20 Paul said, though, that the apostles did not wage war in the way the world did. He said they did not fight with the weapons of the world. The spiritual weapons of warfare he and the other apostles used were, instead, the ones they had received from God Almighty (See: Eph. 6:10-20). They are faith, salvation, truth, righteousness, the Word of God, prayer, and feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace (peace with God). These have divine power, because they are from God, to demolish strongholds, i.e. to defeat these evil spiritual forces in the heavenly realms which come against us, and which try to bring us down. When Satan throws his lies our way, we respond with the truth, i.e. with the Word of God. When he tempts us to sin against God, we respond by resisting him, fleeing temptation, drawing near to God, and by embracing Christ’s righteousness in our lives. When Satan tries to convince us to believe his lies (his arguments against truth), and his deceptions (his made up stories), we have to stand strong against them, we have to expose the lies and the fruitless deeds of darkness for what they are, and we have to bring them into submission and obedience to Christ by revealing the truth of God’s holy word. For instance, there are so many false teachers and wolves in sheep’s clothing within the church today who twist the word of God, who make up stories out of their own imaginations, and who try to pass off their lies as truth. They will throw in scripture to give what they say some sense of credibility, and so that Christians will buy it, but we have to be discerning of error, and we have to pay attention to what they are doing, so that we can see the deceptions, and so we can expose them, reject them, refute them and defeat them. Looking Outwardly You are looking at things as they are outwardly. If anyone is confident in himself that he is Christ’s, let him consider this again within himself, that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we. For even if I boast somewhat further about our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be put to shame, for I do not wish to seem as if I would terrify you by my letters. For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his personal presence is unimpressive and his speech contemptible.” Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when absent, such persons we are also in deed when present. God does not say we should never judge anyone. We should judge sin in our own lives, and in the church, and we should judge false teaching, and error, and we should expose it. That is what Jesus and the apostles did, and that is what we must do. Yet, we should not judge hypocritically or for the purpose to get even with someone or by human standards, traditions, values, culture or by what is seen outwardly only, i.e. by surface evaluations. And, when we do judge, it should be for the purpose of restoration, either to restore someone to fellowship with God or to restore the truth, which has been corrupted by the lies and deceptions of human beings. As well, what we see on the outside may not be a true picture of what is going on on the inside of someone. Certainly, if someone says he or she is a believer in Jesus, but he or she is living like hell, treating God and his word with contempt, and is showing absolutely no regard for truth or righteousness whatsoever, that would certainly be grounds, Biblically speaking, to judge that person not to have had a genuine transformation of heart and mind away from sin and toward God. Yet, we must be so careful that we don’t make quick judgments based in human thinking and reasoning or based in surface evaluations only. When it comes to Biblical error, in particular, we should search out the scriptures prayerfully before God, pray for wisdom and understanding, compare scripture with scripture, interpret scripture within context, and rely upon the Holy Spirit to lead us to all truth. Measuring Others by Ourselves For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding. But we will not boast beyond our measure, but within the measure of the sphere which God apportioned to us as a measure, to reach even as far as you. For we are not overextending ourselves, as if we did not reach to you, for we were the first to come even as far as you in the gospel of Christ; not boasting beyond our measure, that is, in other men’s labors, but with the hope that as your faith grows, we will be, within our sphere, enlarged even more by you, so as to preach the gospel even to the regions beyond you, and not to boast in what has been accomplished in the sphere of another. But he who boasts is to boast in the Lord. For it is not he who commends himself that is approved, but he whom the Lord commends. As well, we need to be so careful that we don’t judge others by our own experiences. I can tell you that I have been the recipient of such judgment on more than one occasion, where someone said that, because he or she had acted in such a way under similar circumstances, that translated to an accusation that I am just like him or her, and that I am doing the same things and for the same motivation. Wow! Yet, we are each unique individuals, wonderfully and beautifully made by God, designed for a purpose, and not one of us is exactly like another, not even identical twins. Just because someone does something we did, and just because we may have done it for the wrong reasons, it is not ours to judge that another person is doing exactly what we did and exactly for the same reasons. Oh, how wrong! We should judge what God calls sin as sin, though. That never changes. So, who does this all apply to? You have probably heard the saying, “If the shoe fits, wear it.” Paul wrote this to the church. Yes, he indicated that some of the people to whom he was referring may not have been of the true body of Christ, but may have just been passing themselves off as fellow believers or as apostles of Christ. His indication was clearly that some of what he was saying, at least, also did not directly apply to everyone in his hearing, by the mere fact of his making mention of “some people” with regard to the issues he addressed. But, then v. 6 comes to mind where he said that he would be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once their obedience was complete. I believe there is an element here in which even the true fellowship of believers had allowed themselves to get caught up in these lies, and so what he was saying, I believe, is that he was giving them opportunity to repent and to obey before he punished those who were stirring things up against him. So, what makes me draw this conclusion? First of all, I believe that is what the Spirit has put in my heart. Second of all, when I then read the next chapter, I could see where he told them that he was jealous for them with a godly jealousy, for he had promised them to one husband, Christ. His concern was that they might be led astray from their sincere and pure devotion to Christ. Why? Because they were putting up with these false teachers who were bringing them a false gospel, and to some extent they were buying into their lies and deceptions. A similar situation existed when he wrote them his first letter. There he warned them not to be misled, because bad company corrupts good character. He said, “Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame” (See: 1 Co. 15:33-34). So, what can we take away from this and apply to our lives? For one, we should test everything we hear and not so easily fall prey to the deceptions of false teaching. Secondly, we should remain in the Word, allowing the Holy Spirit to be our teacher, and we should study the scriptures (not human beings), in context, and pray for understanding from the Holy Spirit, even if it goes against something we have always been taught. I have had my own beliefs shaken on more than one occasion and have had to relearn what the scriptures teach because of where I had been taught wrong. I still remain open to hear from God if I am getting something wrong, and when I am challenged in my faith, I take it to the Lord in prayer, search the scriptures, and seek God’s face to know what is true and what is false, and pray he would direct me to anything I am getting wrong so that I may correct it. And, if the Lord Jesus shows us that we are following a false gospel, we should turn from it, and we should begin to follow him and his word, instead, obeying whatever it is he teaches us. Jesus, Rescue Me / An Original Work / September 18, 2011 Based off of Romans 7:7-8:39 Jesus, rescue me today. Listen while I bow and pray. I need Your help to obey You; Live for You always. Meet me in my hour of need, Lord, As I pray to You. Help me walk in fellowship, Lord, Living in Your truth. Jesus, how I long for You to Change my heart anew. Father, God, my heart’s desire Is to live for You this hour In Your Holy Spirit’s power Living in me now. Teach me to walk in Your love, Lord, Guiding me each day. Help me to show love and kindness To the lost, I pray. Father, teach me to love others As You love always. Holy Spirit come in pow’r. Revive our hearts in this hour. Change our hearts to be like You, Lord; Live for You each day. Help us to forsake our sins, Lord, As we humbly pray. Teach us how to live for You, Lord, Obey You always. Holy Spirit come in power, Revive us today.