Fight for Joy! Blog
Where Jesus Changes Everything
“Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12). No one can possibly fail to see the lawlessness that pervades our society today. On Tuesday, the nation watched as FBI Director James Comey laid out the case against Hillary Clinton for her total disregard for Federal Law and common sense over her handling of classified information. I don’t know about you but I sat in stunned disbelief as he announced there would be no recommendation for an indictment. As one who holds a TOP SECRET National Security Clearance, I am sure I would already be in jail had I been found to have mishandled only a fraction of the classified information Mrs. Clinton and her staff mishandled. One thing is for sure, there is no longer such a thing as the rule of law. Lawlessness is now firmly entrenched in our society and world.
Jesus foretold this lawlessness in Matthew as one of the signs leading up to His return to this world. I do not believe He is referring to lawlessness in a purely civil sense. I am sure He has in mind lawlessness as it relates to God’s law, as well. Consider how far we have come as a society in just a few short years. That which the Bible clearly calls evil society now calls good. Religious freedom, something not necessarily promised to us in Scripture, is now a thing of the past. Anyone who disagrees or takes a stand on purely religious conviction is shunned, ostracized, and destroyed. To me, it is like a giant whirlpool sucking everything and everyone towards the center of the vortex. I witnessed one such whirlpool as I sailed from Alaska to Washington a few years ago. As the outgoing tide increased in velocity it caused the waters of the intercostal waterway to begin to rotate until it looked something like the picture above. I am thankful the ferryboat captain chose to steer clear of this whirling vortex rather than sail through it. Such a picture is an excellent illustration of how lawlessness works. Society moves further and further away from God and morality at a faster and ever tightening pace.
Lawlessness, according to Scripture, will abound in the last days. Lawlessness, properly understood, is a life of disobedience to the law of God—a deliberate trampling upon His law. It is mankind’s contempt for God and his decision to do as he pleases. The Psalmist writes, “The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying ‘Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!’” (Psalm 2:2-3). Such is the irony of man’s rebellion—devising, conspiring, and scheming against God and His ways. The Bible, however, reveals God’s response to such foolishness. “He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying, “But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain” (Psalm 2:4-6).
I can almost hear the Lord saying, “Scorn My law all you want to but there is a payday coming and it is coming very soon for My Son will soon return and establish His Kingdom which He will rule with a rod of iron and destroy all those who do evil.” Perhaps this is why the Psalmist writes a few verses later, “Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” (Psalm 2:12) I do not know about you but as the tide of lawlessness rolls over the world and the rotating vortex of destruction sucks in anything and everything it can, I am taking refuge in Jesus. I would encourage you to do the same. The world is on a collision course to meet the God of the universe face-to-face. It will not be pretty. John writes, “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds… And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:11-15). How will you fare when you meet God face-to-face? Will you perish in the way, as the Psalmist writes, or will you join Christ upon Zion—His holy mountain?
“See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many’” (Matthew 24:4). Deception is defined as acts to propagate beliefs that are not true, or not the whole truth (as in half-truths or omission). Deception can involve dissimulation, propaganda, and sleight of hand, as well as distraction, camouflage, or concealment. There is also self-deception, as in bad faith. In the context of Scripture, bad faith is understood as taking a position that is either known to be false or is false but believed to be true. In either case, the one holding the position is self-deceived. It is interesting to me that Jesus, when speaking of the time period just prior to His return to this earth, said more about deception than He did anything else. In Matthew 24, He warns against being deceived three different times (Matt. 24:4-5, 11, 23-24). There are at least 25 instances in the New Testament where the biblical writers warn against being deceived. This is why it is crucial for us to understand not everyone who claims to speak for Christ actually does. In fact, I would venture to say no one speaks for Christ as He has already spoken for Himself in His Word given through His Prophets and Apostles. The warning is clear: Don’t be misled.
“Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints”(Jude 3). I just returned from another outstanding annual meeting of the Pre-Trib Study Group (www.pre-trib.org). The meeting took place at the Sheraton Grand Hotel near the Dallas/Fort Worth airport. This was my fourth opportunity to attend, having also attended in 2007, 2008, and 2011. The conference did not disappoint, proving once again to be Christ exalting, biblically focused, and academically stimulating.
Several papers were presented by various scholars around a common theme: Contending for the Faith in the Last Days. Dr. Thomas Ice began the conference with a paper on, “What Does the New Testament Teach about End-Time Apostasy?” Mike Gendron (www.proclaimingthegospel.org) presented a paper giving an overview of “Roman Catholicism’s Drift into Apostasy.” Tom McMahon (www.thebereancall.org) presented a paper on, “Psychology in the Church,” which to me, was the best paper presented at the conference. The so called church growth movement was discussed by the Monday evening banquet speaker, Paul Smith, where he discussed the church growth movement and how it was used to change the church’s focus from theology to sociology. Several other papers were presented, all focusing on end-time apostasy in the church.
“Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Whenever we think of Christian persecution our thoughts normally turn to those believers of yesteryear. It seems today’s brand of American Christianity knows little if anything of persecution. But persecution is a reality in many places around the world. For example, on Sunday morning, November 4, 2012, suspected Muslim extremists hurled a grenade onto the roof of a Kenyan church, killing a chaplain and injuring several others. In Tanzania, Christians have lost churches, homes, cars, and livestock in recent attacks. In Iran, the ruling elite continues their crackdown on Christian churches. All around the world many are being persecuted for their faith in Jesus. Some are threatened, some are beaten, some are imprisoned, and some are slaughtered—all because they dare to name the name of Jesus . Little is reported in the secular media, and little is known, it seems, by the Christian church in America. But the persecution of Christians is a reality and it is a reality that may very well be fast approaching American Christianity—or to put it another way, true Christians in America.
“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; avoid such men as these” (2 Timothy 3:1-5). It has been my custom for several years to write an article at the end of the year summarizing events from a prophetic angle. Normally, this article finds its way to the blog, email subscribers, and the newspaper around the first of the year. However, I see no point in putting off what I surmise to be the biggest end-times stage-setting event of 2012. And this despite the fact terrorist are this very moment reigning rockets down on Israel from Gaza with Israel poised to respond with overwhelming force any moment. So what is this stage-setting event of which I speak? Jan Markell of Olive Tree Ministries (www.olivetreeviews.org) refers to it as, “A birth pang of biblical proportions!” The rest of us refer to it as the 2012 U.S. election.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). When I think about the America in which my precious little boy is growing up, I shudder. In fact, I almost get sick to my stomach. I literally fear for his spiritual safety. There is a war raging and everything godly is in its crosshairs—particularly as it relates to the family. The Bible refers to this conflict as a struggle against all things evil. It is a war with far greater consequences than any man-fought battle. No believer is exempt from this war. We are either part of the solution or part of the problem. There is no in between. There are no sidelines. There is no break. Your options are battle stations, battle stations, battle stations or “shipwreck in regard to your faith” (1 Tim.1:18). The war is to extend God’s kingdom and destroy the kingdom of Satan and sin. But it appears the church is losing the battle, at least in America.
America is in a spiritual and moral freefall. To use aviation speak, we are in a graveyard spiral. We think we’re flying straight and level when in reality we are in a tailspin quickly approaching our demise. Just look around you. The clash between a biblical worldview and every other worldview is reaching a lethal level. A satanic anti-Christian spirit is growing increasingly hostile towards true believers. The family is under attack. There is a movement afoot to radically redefine marriage to accommodate the homosexual agenda. The thing that frightens me is the true church seems silent on this issue while the pseudo-church embraces and even promotes this lifestyle and agenda as something godly. Those who do speak up are quickly demonized as bigots, liars, and hateful fear mongers. It sort of makes one wonder how they’d label Jesus, especially since they often build a straw-man argument that He never taught on such matters. It has gotten so bad that the lines between scripture and reality have blurred to the point most so called Christians can’t or won’t even take a biblical stand on the matter.
“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form”(Colossians 2:8-9). I have written on numerous occasions regarding the fact that we live in an age of remarkable theological and biblical confusion. This should come as no surprise as Jesus said on the Mount of Olives that deception would be one of the primary signs we are living in the last days. He said this three times in Matthew 24. If He says something once, it’s important. But to say it three times means it is seriously important. “See to it that no one misleads you” (Matt. 24:4). “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many” (24:11). “For false Christs and false prophets will arise…” (24:24).
False theologies, religions, and other belief systems have been around since sin entered the world. Some of these belief systems are so well package that even some in the Church are deceived. A recent article appearing in USA Today drives this point home: “More U.S. Christians mix in 'Eastern,' New Age beliefs.” Did you know that many theologically conservative churches offer “Christian” Yoga classes to their membership? Or how about this—a Bible professor at a Christian university in Minnesota says there just might be “common ground” with Buddhism and Christianity when it comes to “meditation.” I doubt the kind of meditation he has in mind is that found in the Scriptures. Eastern religions with their practice of meditation and self-revelation are considered to be exemplary and valuable in today’s society. Yoga and other meditative practices are heralded for their “positive” physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits. But what many believers fail to realize is you can’t take something pagan and dress it up in Christian lingo and make it “holy.” In other words, there is no such thing as Christian Yoga. There are several reasons I could offer in support of this, but suffice it to say, Yoga is thoroughly Hindu and cannot be divorced from it or its pagan gods. Yoga postures are designed to form one's body into the likeness of man, animals, birds, insects, snakes, fish, and many more--all of which are revered as gods in Hinduism. Therefore, the words of Christ and Paul serve as a strong warning to believers: “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception.” Elsewhere, Paul writes, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God (your body) with idols?” (2 Cor. 6:14-16). These are all rhetorical questions, meaning the answer is obvious—NOTHING! Christianity has nothing in common with this garbage! Therefore, if you are thinking about doing “Christian” Yoga, don’t. If you are already involved with it, stop! Repent of your sin and ask for and receive God’s forgiveness. Run from “the elementary principles of the world,” and pursue a pure devotion to Christ, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3).
Many Christians have been duped into thinking there is nothing wrong with Yoga and other Eastern meditative practices, all of which are designed to put the practitioner into an altered state of consciousness. According to one apologist, “believers who think they’re just exercising are being swept into a [false religious system].” Authentic Christians are to stand against such evil. We do this by running to the Word of God and resting in and believing His warnings and promises. Regardless of how physically, emotionally, and spiritually positive something might seem on the surface, if the Word of God says it’s evil, then it’s evil and is to be shunned and avoided. All pagan practices are inherently evil. “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them… Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:11, 15-16).
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