The Effects of Sin Upon Beliefs

The Effects of Sin Upon Beliefs
Robert Wurtz II


But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till [there wasno remedy.(2 Chronicles 36:16)

I sometimes wonder what it will take before some people finally turn to Christ sincerely. As a young boy in the seventies, I recall in Sunday School and church being told about all kinds of terrible things that would happen in the ‘last days.’ It would send terror through me. Nevertheless, the truth is, nobody in those days even had the mental and moral depravity to be able to express the level of evil and wickedness that exists in our times. I doubted things could ever get as bad as what the teachers and preachers used to say; but, here we are and in many ways we have blown past their wildest imaginations. Why is this happening? How has it come to this?

The Noetic Effects of Sin

Theologians refer to the condition in which there is an obstinate refusal to acknowledge simple facts about God and His creation they call “the noetic effects of sin.” The fall of man and his and her insistence in continuing in sin has dropped a cloud of darkness over multitudes. Because people refuse to acknowledge God as His creation puts forth its evidence of His existence, He gives them over to their foolish hearts. Denial is, likewise, described by psychologists as a defensive means of coming to terms with difficult facts. People refuse to allow the truth to come into their consciousness. They are stubbornly and deliberately obtuse. This would be bad enough if we were talking about trivial matters; but this is the mentality behind the machinery that is building our culture! 

Some people envision a world that can determine morality independent of God and His word. As Dawkins has put it, “God is no longer necessary.” Nevertheless, we see where it is heading. Recently, an article was put forth in the British newspaper, ‘The Telegraph’ stating, “Killing babies (sic) no different from abortion, experts say. Parents should be allowed to have their newborn babies killed because they are “morally irrelevant” and ending their lives is no different to abortion, a group of medical ethicists linked to Oxford University has argued.”

Experts? Expert in what? Rebellion? In light of this, it is obvious that fallen man is becoming increasingly incapable of rightly choosing what is good and evil (moral). Why? Because of the noetic effects of sin. Sin and rebellion have a direct effect on a person’s moral judgments. This is almost scary to think about. In the 1980s, there was a campaign promoted by the Partnership For A Drug-Free America (PFDFA)using the slogan, “This is your brain on drugs.” A person would say “this is your brain on drugs” and drop a couple of eggs into a hot frying pan. The searing sound and sight gave the impression that drugs fry your brain. In like fashion, sin fries your moral judgment. The more you partake the more dull it becomes. In fact, we can see from scripture that sin hardens a person’s heart. The problem is that it plays out in three ways:  

1. The heart is hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 

2. The devil comes in and further blinds their minds. 

3. God sends strong delusion to those that have pleasure in sin. 


This is the process by which the masses have their judgment totally out of calibration. This is the consequence of rebelling against truth- while enjoying the temporary pleasure of sin. This is how men and women are conditioned to call good evil and evil good.

God has given us an inward “a priori” knowledge of Himself. This is why the Bible never makes a case for the existence of God. People try to put God on trial, but they already know God exists. Moreover, His moral law is the basis of civilized society. When God and His word are removed- the society ceases to act civilized. They may never admit it or they may insist on constantly updating their definitions (v 1.01, v1.02, v1.03, etc.); but their own heart condemns them. This is why they hate Christians. Anyone that says something to awaken their conscience is violently detested. 

We know God is good (moral) because it is His very nature. Like Job, we may not understand at the time what God is doing, but we can trust that He is good. However, indolence and pride rule the day. They reject the light and eventually lose their moral reasoning ability. Ever wonder why its seems impossible to rationalize with people on hot-button moral issues? To them fornication, abortion and to some even infanticide passes muster as “moral.” It is “immoral” to them, to inhibit folk from expressing fornicative acts and prohibiting abortion! And there is no reasoning with some even when the baby is being killed out of the womb. They obstinately refuse to SEE it as immoral. The masses keep on rebelling against what God has told them and then have the nerve to sit back and blame Him for so much of the problems in our times. Amazing! But again, it is the noetic effects of sin on their reasoning ability. The more they sin the darker their mind and reasoning gets. If some of these minds were moral calculators, 2+2 = 6. 


Making ‘Adjustments’

I’m amazed at how easily one can get used to outrageous behavior. Think of the workers in the death camps of WW II that could do their work and go home to their family at night with seemingly no pain of conscience. This ought to shake us. What are human beings really capable of? I think the thing most dangerous to mankind is their proficiency in willful ignorance. They are ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the Truth. Why? Because there is a dishonesty with themselves at the core of their reasoning. The noetic effect of sin has done this. They don’t follow Divine evidence, they tamper with it mentally until it goes in the direction of their wretched lifestyle and evil desires. But what about Christians? Can they be effected by the mindset of the world? Absolutely! This is what Paul expressed in Romans 12 when he said, Do not be conformed to this world.” We have to get away from worldly influences that can mess our minds up. Soon we will think all manor of sin is ‘moral’ and ‘ok’ if we are not careful. 

Universal Madness

Imagine the madness of our times. We have tsunamis wiping out whole cities, bodies washing up on shore by the thousands, earthquakes unsettling the masses in divers places, volcanoes erupting in a wild spectacular combination of molten rock and lightening storm; and yet there is almost a yawn in the mouth of the people. What hardness of heart has allowed even the most spectacular phenomena to have no effect? Sinkholes open up in the earth in South America as if we were facing a foretaste of the Abyss. People seem to carry on as if these foretastes of Hell are merely assessed for their shear entertainment value. Christians being brutally murdered by machete wielding Islamic fundamentalists in third world nations as if they were demon possessed. Men and men and women and women getting married. And then if someone says something about it somehow they are “politically incorrect” or “intolerant.” Has there ever been such high-handedness as we see in our times? It’s almost as if the people have convinced themselves that they have effectively killed God and now are free to act out and do whatever foolery they can imagine no matter how vile.

Where do things go from here?

Imagine a tour bus load of people heading down Pikes Peak with no brakes. The bus is starting to perform all manor of wild acrobatic acts as if Evil Knieval were at the wheel. All the while the people are looking out the windows, popping their champagne and toasting to their fine accomplishments and education. Nobody seems to be hearing the sound of rubber burning off the tires or the creek of the suspension- taxed to its design limits. It’s as if they have convinced themselves that, “Were so educated, we don’t even recognize Newton’s basic laws anymore! Were the generation of the Antinomianists; we do what’s right in our own eyes no matter what it is.” The problem is, the bus is picking up speed and we just passed acceptance of homosexual marriage, and a sign that says, “Sharia Law Ahead.” Stop and ask yourself a question; whether you are an evangelical or an atheist; “Where is this ‘midnight bus to Memphis’ headed?” What will be acceptable in 10 years that would horrify us now? How long until child molestation is legal or until various forms of murder is acceptable? How long until we pass the moral degeneracy of the Nazi’s? Because this bus is rolling on the unlocked wheels of unrestrained wickedness and hardly a rider on board seems to be blushing no matter how reckless and hopeless their plight. 

The Long-Suffering of God

God is waiting today even as He did in the days of Noah. Yet men and women are hardening thmselves more and more. The Galileans are lying dead in the streets and the Tower of Siloam seems to fall every night and folk just keep on as they whist not that unless we all repent we all will likewise perish. It will be too late to mock God when the tide of His judgments are carrying all before it. It will be too late when Hell enlarges itself once again to make room for the bus riders that die by the billions on the way down the mountain. God is not willing that any perish, but man is not willing to hearken unto God and repent. Yet, there will come a point, when the hand of God is directly responsible for the plagues that come upon this earth. There will be no guessing. The Revelation gives a sobering and frightful account, “yet they repented not… but rather blasphemed the one that had power over these plagues…” This is hardness ad infinitum.

Calling Upon God

Hardness brings with it an anger towards God and a destructive self-confidence. Think of Pharaoh. He pursued the people of God after seeing the Finger of God manifest over and over. Soon… he was face down in the water. This is a grim picture of our times. So many are rejecting the Light that they have and partying on as if there is no bottom on this bus ride. The light that now shines is now passing through the prism of God’s longsuffering and grace; but the time will soon come when the rainbow around His throne will turn a brilliant and blinding white as the prism of mercy is gone forever. May men hearken to His voice and receive His grace even now before it is finally too late.  

Rebellion Against God

Rebellion Against God
Robert Wurtz II




For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. (Isaiah 14:13, 14 KJV)


We have a few occasions in scripture where God offers us a glimpse into the origins of rebellion. Isaiah 14 is one of those passages. It is addressed to the king of Babylon. But we must understand that there are principalities and powers in the heavenly realms that are influencing the events going on in the earth. (Ephesians 6:11ff) At a point in the chapter the prophet Isiah begins to deal with the influence behind the throne. The king is suddenly referred to as ‘Lucifer’ in verse 12; a name that means ‘morning star’ or light bearer’. This is none other than Satan or the Devil as he is also known. These verses offer us the most ancient insight into the nature of sin. Lucifer is saying in his heart these five times, ‘I Will’ and God sees it. He is self-conscious and asserting himself in his heart. This is in keeping with God’s gaze upon man’s heart as we read in 1 Samuel 16:7. God has shared with us what He had seen. Obviously this was prior to Satan’s full-on rebellion (actual fall). As a person thinks in their heart- so are they. The king of Babylon is under the influence of this ‘spirit’ to the point where their attitudes are almost inseparable. This allows the king and his kingdom to function as an allegory of Satan and this world. This is important because later on in Israel’s history Babylon will be a place where God reveals important truths about the unseen world.

Perfect in Creation

At some point in the eternal past, God the Creator made everything that exists; things that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him. (Colossians 1:16)  Lucifer, also known as Satan or the Devil was created to be the perfect Anointed Cherub that ‘covers’ until iniquity was found in him. (Ezekiel 28:14, 15)  He, like human beings, are created with an awesome power- a power to say NO to the creator. Without this ability there can be neither virtue nor vice.

We already touched on the beginnings of Lucifer’s fall from perfection as recorded in Isaiah 14:13, 14 where God saw into his heart and beheld the formation of the thoughts he was entertaining. We don’t have all the details- just some thumbnail sketches. Satan was the Anointed Cherub that ‘covereth’. This means he was in some sense the leader of the Cherubim. Ezekiel builds upon Isaiah’s revelation saying, I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. (Ezekiel 28:14) Keep that concept of ‘covereth’ in your mind as we progress on. Apparently Satan was supposed to be covering, but forsook that role and tried to set his own throne up next to God’s. He began to entertain his own will independent from God’s will. It got worse as he grasped at being God. He (Satan or the Dragon as he is known) somehow achieved a following that drew a third of the stars (angels) according to Revelation 12:4. He was responsible for leading in their fall as well as himself falling from heaven. (Luke 10:18) Some have suggested that Satan’s fall was from the stones of fire to the lake of fire with a stop in the spirit world and then the earth in between. At any rate, he is on a downward trajectory that will end in Hell.

The Sin of ‘I’ Worship

For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. (Isaiah 14:13-14)

There was a time when Satan’s focus was God’s will, but at some point (and we are not told when, where, why or how) he desired his own will. He pioneered the notion that a creature can disobey God. The possibility had never been entertained so as to be ‘on the table’ until Satan began his fall. He set himself up to be worshipped, even wanting God to worship him. (Matthew 4:9) He wanted to be the head, so he ceased from covering. We do not fully understand the implications of that, but the angelic host definitely do. The angels understand what it is to be under authority. There is a sentence in the Lord’s prayer that’s informative; Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10) The implication is that God’s will is carried out unthwarted in Heaven. This is not because God is a tyrant, but because the angels love God and understand the wisdom of obeying God. They understand that God’s will cannot be improved upon and obedience is the most important thing of all. The old-timers used to speak of the wisdom of God’s requirements. That is to say that they could see the logic and the ‘right-ness’ of obeying God’s word because it is perfectly capable of bringing about the best effect. God’s word is in harmony with the creation. Satan broke away from this reality and corrupted God’s creation with his sin. Sin causes suffering because it is an alternative modus operandi. Satan’s will is to steal, kill and destroy, but God’s perfect will engenders life. When Satan is behind the behavior of human beings their life engenders that death and destruction. It can do no other.   

Submission as Demonstrated by God (voluntary submission)[1]

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: (Philippians 2:5-7)

Because the nature of Satan rules the day man must look outside fallen humanity to understand what submission and voluntary headship looks like. It is not natural. The world is repulsed by such a notion. The saints must look at the life of Jesus Christ as the example. We will look at this in more detail later, but keep this passage in your mind as we go along. Jesus Christ was the express image of God. His life and attitude patterned for us the attitude and behavior of the Godhead. There is a willful conscious decision to be submissive; a self-less agape love expressed within the Godhead that has always been. This is very important to grasp.

Thou Hast Defiled



Once Satan desired to set his heart as the heart of God- iniquity was found in him. He became a corrupt Cherub, whose destiny from that point forward was Hell itself (Isaiah 14:15). Yet he was not content to be defiled himself, he became a defiler. He was not content to be separated from the goodness of God all alone he wanted others to share his defilement. He is the forerunner of those who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. (Romans 1:32) 

Satan takes pleasure in seeing others break away from their ‘head’, even as he had done and then lured 1/3 of the angels to do. 

We are told in Ezekiel 28:18 that he defiled his sanctuaries. This is the place where he once worshipped God along with the other Cherubim. This is where he once ‘covered’. Once a sanctuary is defiled it must be purged before God’s unique presence can return to that place. This is a great mystery, and we only have flashes of revelation from the scriptures explaining this truth.

It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.  (Hebrews 9:23)


 The Old Testament is replete with revelation into the necessity of ceremonial cleanness, in the light of God’s holiness, etc. Notice the words, ‘the patterns of these things’. This is what the Wilderness Tabernacle was. It was a pattern of the Temple in heaven where God’s unique presence dwelled. Moses made everything according to the pattern he saw- right down to the unique stones that ended up in the High Priests breastplate. 

The revelation in Ezekiel 28:18 is essential because we need to know that this is a primary objective of Satan. God has places that He has ‘prepared’ such as the was the Garden of Eden where He dwelled in fellowship with His creatures. In John 14:1-2 Jesus said He was going away to ‘prepare a place’ for the Saints. In Israel God ‘prepared a place’ for Himself in the midst of the people and would dwell among them so long as they kept His covenant and hearkened to His voice. In other words, so long as they submitted to His headship. He was a husband to them and they were His bride until Satan was successful in luring them away from their head (Jeremiah 31:32, Hebrews 8:9) 

Think of his track record of defilement; from heaven, to the Garden, to the hearts of men, to Israel and even the local churches. Obviously Satan cannot stand to see God’s creation standing in it’s created order of headship. He tried to tempt Jesus in the wilderness to break His headship to God. Jesus passed the test, but Satan came again as the passage implies. Why is he so relentless in trying to incite rebellion against God? He wants to be worshipped and based on his track record would rather anything be worshipped other than God. He desires his will to be done on earth and in Heaven- not God’s. He wants creatures that have the capacity to tell God ‘no’ to do so. His world system tempts them continually to do it. Does he stop there? In no wise! He wants to do in any assembly of the saints what he had done in heaven- to destroy the sense of submission to God; that is, to cease to cover. 


Satan Cast Out



Satan was cast out of this sanctuary in Heaven that he defiled and tried to hijack. There are varying theories on how this played out, but we know for sure that Satan lost his position in Heaven as the anointed Cherub that covers. It only makes sense that after Christ has entered heaven to cleanse the heavenly Temple, Satan would not be allowed to defile this area again. Again, we read in Hebrews 9:23, that it was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. The wilderness tabernacle and later the temple in Jerusalem were purified with the blood of bulls and goats, but evidently the purification of the True Temple in Heaven needed to be purified by the blood of the Lamb of God. In this we learn that Jesus’ dying on the cross has far reaching implications that reached beyond man’s need and in to Heaven itself.
 





[1] Because submission is not natural, as children we are first taught to obey our parents. (Ephesians 6:1-4) As workers we are commanded to submit to our ‘masters’ or employers. (Ephesians 6:5-9) As citizens we are commanded to submit ourselves to the civil authorities so long as there is no conflict with God or His commandments. This is done with the understanding that their authority is given to them by God Himself. (Romans 13:1-6) We are told that the younger should submit to the older. (1 Peter 5:5) In fact, we are told to be submissive one towards another. (Ephesians 5:21) It would be superfluous to give examples from scripture of commandments to submit to God. The scripture is consistent in it’s call for the saints to maintain a perpetual attitude of selfless submission. It is a conscious choice. We must lay down our will and deliberately echo the attitude of Christ; not my will but thine be done.

Cauterizing the Conscience

Cauterizing the Conscience

Robert Wurtz II

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in 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. (1 Timothy 4:1, 2)

Our passage deals with events that would take place after the writing of the text, in latter times. The words could be translated ‘latter seasons’. These times will go on until the coming of Christ at the second advent; times of great deception that are characterized by some departing the faith as a result of demons animating false teachers with both power and doctrine. Paul warns Timothy and then adds, If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. (1 Timothy 4:6 KJV) We need to be aware of the fact that the enemy seeks opportunities to introduce falsehood into the churches of God to get folk to ‘depart from the faith’. That is his primary objective and standard operating procedure (modus operandi). 


Seared Conscience

Some will depart from the faith, by the influence of hypocritical liars. It is strong language, but true. The hypocrisy comes about as the result of a seared conscience. When the conscience is seared the mind is no longer summonsed to consider the truth of an action or idea. The Greek word is the root for our word cauterize. This makes the person very dangerous to the churches of God because they can behave in an ungodly or hypocritical way as if it were normal Christian behavior. Through constant abuse, the conscience can become as senseless and unfeeling as flesh that is seared with an hot iron. This is a most terrible condition. This is the effect of unconfessed sin upon the conscience. This is man refusing to agree with God in what He has said about something. It cooks (as it were) the feeling of the conscience until at last it has no sensation. Where once the sinful behavior wore on the mind, now they can sin without any pain of conscience. This is dreadful state. Men sin and have no sense that they need to confess and repent. Such giving over of a man or woman to sin is among the severest of judgments and makes one a prime candidate to be employed of Satan.  

Synchronized Knowledge

Some refer to an aspect of the conscience as sequent; that is to say, it follows action. God placed in all men a sense in which they can measure right from wrong. This allows man to have a faculty of judgment. The effects of conscience are first seen when Adam and Eve had sinned and then clothed themselves with fig leaves and they hid themselves from the Face of Jehovah (Genesis 3:8). They knew God’s will and that they had transgressed God’s will. It was before their minds. The pain of conscience followed their action. Knowledge of God’s will informs the conscience to function properly. This is why it is important to rightly divide the word of truth. The conscience is being programmed. 


Nevertheless, all peoples have a moral sense as they were created by God in His image. (Romans 1) It may be buried under centuries of darkness but men and women have a sense of what is ‘fair’, and unless their consciences are completely seared they know how people ought to behave towards them and how they ought to behave towards others. This is as simple as anything, but it is amazing how easy it is for some people to diss the golden rule. We have a knowledge of what ought to be and we can compare it to what is happening. 


Conscience and the Nervous System


Everyone knows basic right and wrong. The conscience simply weighs the actions against what is believed to be right. It is like an umpire in our heart making judgment calls. The strange thing is that it is unaffiliated with our own desires. God placed it there as if to give Himself a voice in the heart. This is tied directly into our hard wiring as human beings. “Lie detector tests are based on the science that although we may be very proficient at telling lies, whenever we do so we trigger a kind of spiritual smoke alarm which alters the rhythms of our bodies. This universal sense of right and wrong was sharpened in the Ten Words given to Israel and it had a God-wards factor too in making God the centre of our affections and allegiances.” (R. Bailey) To think that the disruption internally is such that it can be picked up electrically. What then is a seared conscience? When a person has so abused this mechanism through self-deception and repeated unconfessed sin, that they have effectively cut off some of the sensors and it does not detect like it should. It has been circumvented in one of more areas. 


Refusing to Agree


When a person refuses to agree with God about something they have done they are going to suffer the consequences. God says one thing about a behavior or action and they say something else. They will not let God be true. They then substitute their own false religious views. Paul gives an example of this when he writes of those who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. (1 Timothy 4:3) I am inclined to believe that these manmade laws give a show of wisdom in will worship, but actually open the door to much sin and evil. Why? Because God has not placed these restraints on man, Satan has done it in order to give himself an occasion to tempt men for their lack of self control. (1 Corinthians 7:5, Colossians 2:20-23) A concomitant of legalism and mysticism is asceticism. It is the pseudo-spiritual position that revels in rules of physical self-denial. Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch! These prohibitions increase from not handling to not even touching. This same legalism was manifest in Eve’s carnal exaggeration, “You must not touch it, or you will die.” (BK Comm. Genesis 3:3; cf. Genesis 2:16-17) This is not what God said. To say more or to say less than what God said is the same crime; the one path leads to legalism and the other to license.  


Summary


Satan and his demons use people that have a seared conscience. He empowers and counsels them to deceive the churches of God. Men either name the name of Christ and refuse to depart from iniquity or they name the name of Christ and add all manor of manmade requirements to the faith. God’s precepts are carefully articulated to fit the man He created. They are a perfect match. To alter them is to invite disaster; one way or the other. Many with a seared conscience think God’s word is legalism. They don’t see worldliness as a problem. They can behave as sinners with no pain of conscience by simply putting a ‘christian spin’ on what used to be flagrant compromise. Others err on the opposite side as do the Catholics and forbid the priest or the nun from marriage setting themselves up for horrific scandal. 


Satan uses teachers who’s lives do not match their profession. He uses them to alter the face of genuine biblical Christianity. Such is the way of Satan; put the car in the ditch on the right or the left. It matters not so long as it is off the road. Keeping the conscience informed and sharp by spending time in sincere study and reflection in the word of God will provide us with a good conscience. Agree with God. Don’t allow your own personal preferences to trump God’s word. You will sear your conscience and in time be a candidate for use by Satan. He is always looking to deceive. He is looking to provoke or lead believers to depart from the faith.    



The Mind of Satan

The Mind of Satan
Robert Wurtz II

And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest. And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’ “But it shall not be so among you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant.” (Luke 22:24-26 NASB/KJV)

Here we read that the disciples quarreled over who would be the greatest among them. The context has a direct relationship to authority. The argument among them was simply a matter of who should be in charge. Our Lord challenges this mindset from the beginning. He said that the kings of the Gentiles lord it over them. In other words, the Gentiles liked to ‘lord over’ the people. This is certainly one of the reasons why God never wanted a king in Israel save Himself. He knew that fallen man cannot handle authority correctly. A cursory look at history is replete with abuse of power and authority. Jesus said plainly, it shall not be so among you.

The Mentality of Satan

Sin and rebellion are older than the human race. Satan is the arch enemy of all creation. We have this insight into the ‘mind that was in Satan’:

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. (Isaiah 14:12-15)


Notice how Lucifer (Satan) has become self-concious. As the anointed Cherub that covers his role was to exalt God, but now he is dead-bent on exalting himself. He went from holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty to… I will ascend…, I will exalt…, I will sit also upon the mount…, I will be like the most High. This is the trapping of leadership. It snared the Pharisees until finally they decided to kill God- having plotted to crucify him after many former failed attempts. They loved the chief seats (I will sit…), they loved to be called, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi’ and any other name that would exalt them (I will exalt). 

How Can You Believe?

It is interesting how the worldly mindset of pride of position can utterly blind a person to who God really is. Jesus asked, How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? 

(John 5:44 KJV) Life is so short. Politicians do polls to find out what they can do to increase their popularity. Many want to be honored. By worldly standards many Godly men and women have been unpopular, but are greatly believed in Heaven. We have to decide which group we prefer. 

The Mind in Christ

Jesus Christ is the Son of God from all eternity. He is the second person of the Godhead and recipient of the perpetual worship of the Cherubim. He knows what it is to be God. He knew what it was like to create all that is. And yet He chose a staggering means of defeating Satan and his angels. He would do it through the humiliation of the cross.

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 

but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and cbeing made in the likeness of men. 

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:5-8 KJV/NET/ESV)


It may sound cliche’, but it is truly impossible for us to grasp how humiliating crucifixion on the cross was in ancient times. It was the lowest form of degradation reserved for slaves, criminals, and enemies of the state. If offended the ancient mind. The late German professor Martin Hengel’s work Crucifixion in the Ancient World and the Folly of the Message of the Cross is to be regarded as one of the greatest works on the subject. He examines how horrendous and offensive the thought of crucifixion was. The notion that God would save the world through such a means as this was utterly foolish to the ancient world. The cross was an utterly barbaric, inhumane and cruel treatment; it was obscene in the original repulsive sense of the word. And yet Jesus Christ humbled Himself being the Son of God to endure such dastardly treatment. From the throne to the cross is a journey we cannot comprehend in its fullest sense. It was the fullest measure of love poured out on a fallen race. 

Let This Mind Be in You

While Satan is saying in himself, I will ascend…, I will exalt…, I will sit also upon the mount…, I will be like the most High- Jesus Christ was living out in flesh and blood, I will descend, I will condescend to man, I will humble myself unto death- even the death of the cross. That is the greatest contrast our finite minds can conceive, and yet we are told, l
et this mind be in you. Let the mind of Satan be replaced with the mind of Christ. Oh that the Pharisees would have listened when Jesus said to the people, t

he kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’ “But it shall not be so among you.” They were worldly- but Christ was other-worldly. They were moving in the mind of the Prince of the Power of the Air- but Christ came to teach the way of God.


Kingdom Authority

He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself… (John 13:4-10)

The Kingdom of God is not a multilevel corporation. It’s not a Gentile business model. Here are these disciples arguing over who will be in charge and here is their Master… He poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe [them] with the towel wherewith he was girded. No doubt their Zionist hopes were being dashed to pieces before their very eyes. Jesus Christ was not here to set up a Kingdom in which they could be His generals, He was here to show forth the true example of life for all the human race to rise and take heed. This is it- there is no other. Let this mind be in you, for this is the mind of Christ.


Million Dollar Renouncements

Million Dollar Renouncements
Robert Wurtz II
Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed. (Acts 19:19, 20)

      Repentance is getting serious when people start renouncing sinful and questionable practices. It is even more serious when the people begin getting rid of sinful things from their lives. I once said, that the famous last words of a Christian are, “I can handle this.” In other words, ‘I can handle’ something in my life that I know is going to become a stumbling block to my ongoing victory. We have to burn the bridges. These people understood this. These are practical things, but no less important.

    I heard a story of an alcoholic that decided he was going to show the Devil that he had the victory. He went and bought a bottle of liquor and pushed it down in his back pocket. He carried this bottle around for a while and before he knew it he had emptied it! (and not on the ground) The story may have been parabolic, but it demonstrates how people can foolishly play with sin. What says the scripture, Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us. (Hebrews 12:1 NKJV) If it is a snare to you, get rid of it! 

Run! 

     Sometimes the only thing to do is to flee from the sin. Humans are creatures of habit and if we are not careful we may give the enemy an occasion to ensnare us again. An old-timey preacher once quoted Romans 14:22b, Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. The context is a little different, but I think the principal applies. Don’t tempt yourself or God. If Jesus would go so far as to say we ought to pluck out an eye or cut off a hand to prevent ourselves from some sin, how much more ought we to pluck some stone of stumbling from our lives?

Sin Not For Sale
Again we read, them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. Notice that they did not sell them. They wanted these evil documents out of circulation. Burning documents in antiquity was a way of repudiating the contents. These so-called Magical Papyri or slips of parchment with symbols or magical sentences written on them were called Ephesia Grammata or Ephesian Letters. These Ephesian Letters were rolled up into tubes and worn as amulets or charms. The Ephesians wanted nothing to do with this stuff. Get it out of my house and out of my life!  

High-Dollar Renouncements

Burning this mass of books and charms could have taken a long tome to accomplish. What is more sobering is the cost. Scholars tell us that they effectively burned fifty-thousand days wages (Keener. IVP Bible Background, P379). These silver coins would have been either the Ephesian drachma or the Roman Denarius.  By today’s standards an average day of pay in America is $184 a day. [1] The range globally is $1 to $200 as a general rule. Conservative estimates of the value of this material is between $750,000 and $1,000,000. If we estimate that a person works typically 255 days in a year (less weekends and holidays) it would represent 196 years worth of work. However we calculate it or examine it, it was a tremendous expense. This is fruits worthy of repentance. 
No Always Blatant Sin

 Sometimes God will call us to get rid of things that are not necessarily sin, but may become a means of stumbling as they bring sinful memories before our minds. The Holy Spirit might deal with us to get rid of something or renounce a certain action because He knows where it is heading. We have to be sensitive to God and swift to obey. This does not mean I can legislate certain things that are my own convictions. We each have to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. 
I recall many years ago when my dad was Born Again and delivered from alcoholism. He immediately took a different route home from work than the old route. Why? Because he used to go by the liquor store every night. He went home and cleared out all the beer from his home. Some months later I came over and the wine collection was sitting on the curb for the garbage. I asked, “What is that doing out there.” He said he had to get rid of it as it reminded him of drinking. Later on I came home and the record collection was on the curb. “Why the record collection?” He said it reminded him of the parties he used to host/attend where drinking and playing records went on. So Elvis and all of his palls were out on the curb. Why? because that’s what you do when you are bent on making sure you can keep your mind on the tracks. If it’s a hindrance, get rid of it. Don’t keep the snake in your pocket. 

Compromise in the Attic

I had a man once tell me that he was upset because he had backslidden and needed to go back and buy all of his death-metal CDs that he destroyed when he got ‘saved.’ He said he thought that the next time he gets saved he would just put the stuff up in the attic in case he backslid again he would not have to incur the expense. This is not repentance. This is ‘premeditated backsliding’. If you think this way you have already decided you are going back to the world, it’s just a matter of when. This is not what the Ephesians had done. They burned the stuff and never looked back. They didn’t put it on EBAY to recover their expenses. Why would they sell another person the thing that enslaved them? Burn it! Get rid of it. Anything that is an encumbrance to your spiritual life needs to be dealt with.      


[1] Data retrieved US Dept. of Labor 2012 http://data.bls.gov/pdq/SurveyOutputServlet

Nineveh Had No Bible

Nineveh Had No Bible
Robert Wurtz II

Greek scholars over the centuries have tried to define mετανοεῖτε (repent) and similar terms. There is simply no English equivalent. Yet, what may be helpful is to understand our Lord’s use of the word. He states, The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. (Matthew 12:41) To understand our Lord’s concept of repentance we would need to go back and read the book of Jonah. He used the word in a sentence so as to color our understanding. In fact, He is expecting that the Jews would have done something similar as John the Baptist had came telling the people, “Who hath warned you to flee from the wrath that is to come.” But what did He find? did they react like pagan Nineveh? No, he found business as usual. The people that were entrusted with the oracles of God would not repent, but a pagan city known for its brutality did. God help the ones that follow Nineveh in the judgment. 

Works Meet For Repentance

The people of Nineveh did works meet for repentance. As we will learn later, they didn’t have sense enough to know their right hand from their left, but they had enough sense to repent. (Jonah 4:11) How did it happen? First, And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. (Jonah 3:4) This message offered no hope. It was simply a declaration;  Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. This is instructional. The result? So the people of Nineveh believed God. (Jonah 3:5a) This is essential to any persons’ repentance; they have to believe what God has said. That sounds simple enough because the word ‘believe’ gets thrown around so much and it has no real bearing on reality. The people of Nineveh believed so as to proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. This is fruits worthy of repentance.

No ‘Pointers’

You will notice that they were not given a checklist of things to repent of. They were left to themselves to sort it out. This tells me that God knows that we know what is offending Him. There is no need for ministers to stand in a pulpit and start listing off possibilities. Folks will sometimes pretend they don’t know what they need to repent of, etc.; but apparently God is not buying it and Nineveh is the example. They were a pagan society and exceedingly brutal. No Bible. No Sunday Schools. No churches on every corner. This is exceedingly sobering to consider. 

The King Vacates the Throne

We have another facet to Nineveh’s example when we read, For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. (Jonah 3:6)
If you or I are ever going to repent in the biblical sense, according to the definition of Jesus, then the ‘king’ that is in my and your heart is going to have to arise from his throne and lay his robe from him. The king that has been inside you calling the shots ever since you first told your mom (mum) or dad, NO! We have to come off of the throne of our own life and utterly humble ourselves before the true King. This is the key. This is more than outward things, it is an inward change of attitude. What else did they do? Let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. (Jonah 3:9) 

Turning From the Evil

We all have to TURN from our evil way. ‘Evil’ here is our own human independence, no matter how ‘good’ we may esteem our behavior. A person can do works that appear good and yet be in total rebellion against God. Notice that this king and his people did not need a list of things to repent of. Sometimes folk act like they have no idea what you are talking about. These people knew in their own hearts what they were doing wrong and they turned from it in all humility. The results? God believed them and He spared their city. (Jonah 3:1-10)


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Suggested Reading


Roberts. Repentance. 


Repentance


http://mybiblebase.com/mp3/rb/repentance.mp3

Cursing the Land

Cursing the Land
Robert Wurtz II 


For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.  (Hebrews 6:8-9 NKJV)

Our passage is a very sobering metaphor of man and God’s dealings with him. The earth is personified. The cultivator is God. There are two fields (persons) in view; one blessed and one cursed. To add to the sense of ‘curse’ we have these words, whose end is to be burned. Vincent notes that, “There is no thought of, purification by fire, which would be foreign to the subject. Τέλος is consummation rather than termination. Εἰς καῦσιν, lit. unto burning. Comp. LXX, Isaiah 40:16. The consummation of the cursed land is burning. Comp. John 15:6.” Some have supposed that the land is burned over for replanting, but this is clearly not the case.  We have the phrase kataras eggus (nigh unto a curse) similar as in Galatians 3:10; For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. Beside of this flame and curse we have the added truth, it is rejected. Our Greek word here is adokimos and is usually translated in the KJV as reprobate. We have this word in several places in the NT:

Rom. 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 

1Cor. 9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway

2Cor. 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
2Cor. 13:6 But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates

2Cor. 13:7 Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates

2Tim. 3:8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. 

Titus 1:16 They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate

Heb. 6:8 But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.  

Our word adokimos (Strongs 96) is defined as, not standing the test; not approved (Thayer), refuse, worthless (Perschbacher & Kubo), indication of the respect in which the test is not met and the tempted is unproved (BDAG), rejected as false (Liddell & Scott), Hebrews 6:8 ‘rejected‘ (Vines),  denotes testing, hence unattested and inauthentic (Kittell). These definitions, representing most respected lexical scholarship, all concur. If something is adokimos it has failed the test and is hence worthless, near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.

Understanding the Ground

Our passage is similar to other examples in the NT where God is expecting fruit from the land (people). Hebrews 6 has potential apostate believers in view. The concept is that God sends means and those means are not bringing forth fruit as he intended, but rather the ground is bringing forth sin and wickedness. Hebrews gave insight into this phenomena earlier, So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. (Hebrews 3:19-4:2) 

Seed and More Seed

Nothing could possibly be more important than how we respond to God when He is dealing with us. Not the economy, not our health, etc., etc. When God is dealing it is serious business. He begins before we are born by fashioning us in such a way that we can ascertain truth and in some measure know Him. The reformers used to speak of what they termed Sensus Divinitatis and that this is universal. That is to say, we are all born with a knowledge of God. This is what Paul spoke of in Romans 1:19. It is as if God has seeded our hearts and minds with some level of revelation and is watching to see how that revelation will fare. He did not give us this knowledge just to take away our excuses as some suppose; He gave it so we would have a means of knowing Him. It is a starting point. Every human being has it and is responsible for it. Our refusal to acknowledge the knowledge of God that we do possess or if we do not like to retain God in our knowledge, this behavior proportionally effects our a priori knowledge of God and truth. It is as if our resistance to the knowledge causes us to lose that knowledge. The foolish heart darkens in this process. I have termed this as ‘a priori’ knowledge because God has shown it unto us, Himself. It is not the result of logical deductions, etc. or experience.   As surly as we are inclined to assume basic things in life, we are inclined, at the first to assume God exists. George Foxe set out to prove this ‘knowledge of God’ once while traveling to the Americas in the 1600’s. He writes in his autobiography Chapter XVIII:

“The Governor, with his wife, received us lovingly; but a doctor there would needs dispute with us. And truly his opposing us was of good service, giving occasion for the opening of many things to the people concerning the Light and Spirit of God, which he denied to be in everyone; and affirmed that it was not in the Indians.
Whereupon I called an Indian to us, and asked him whether when he lied, or did wrong to any one, there was not something in him that reproved him for it. He said there was such a thing in him, that did so reprove him; and he was ashamed when he had done wrong, or spoken wrong. So we shamed the doctor before the Governor and the people; insomuch that the poor man ran out so far that at length he would not own the Scriptures.”


If George Fox is to be believed, this indian was one example of many that could be given of man having a conscience and its accompanying laws of God to work from. I must admit here that I do not agree with all of George Foxes conclusions, but he does record this anecdote. I think it is trustworthy as it concurs with my own investigations. The truth was manifest in the indian because God had shown it unto him. Do we believe what God has told us that He has done? The question then becomes, what will a person do with that a priori knowledge? Will he/she cultivate it? Will they in some sense respond to this light? If they do not they will surely grow darker and darker inside. God will not impose upon a person like that. I must also state categorically that man is not necessarily inclined to believe based upon more light. Jesus said that if folk that had Moses and the prophets would not believe, they would not believe even if a person came back from the dead. Consider this sobering passage:

Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus. (John 12:9-11) 

These people were prepared to kill Lazarus after he had been raised from the dead. Can you imagine that level of rebellion and madness? What will it take for some people to believe? Obviously it is not more light as is often assumed. Missionaries and ministers at home and abroad, even myself, testify to the fact that knowledge of God is not the problem it is peoples willingness to respond rightly to God when He is dealing with them. I believe eternity will prove God to be true and that every man is a liar. Consider also this account by the late Paris Reidhead, from his classic sermon Ten Shekels and a Shirt:

“If you’ll ask me why I went to Africa, I’ll tell you I went primarily to improve on the justice of God. I didn’t think it was right for anybody to go to Hell without a chance to be saved. So I went to give poor sinners a chance to go to heaven. Now I haven’t put it in so many words, but if you’ll analyze what I just told you do you know what it is? Humanism. That I was simply using the provisions of Jesus Christ as a means to improve upon human conditions of suffering and misery. And when I went to Africa, I discovered that they weren’t poor, ignorant, little heathen running around in the woods looking for someone to tell them how to go to heaven. That they were MONSTERS OF INIQUITY!!! THEY WERE LIVING IN UTTER AND TOTAL DEFIANCE OF FAR MORE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD THEN I EVER DREAMED THEY HAD!
They deserved Hell! Because they utterly refused to walk in the light of their conscience, and light of the law written upon their heart, and the testimony of nature, and the truth they knew! And when I found that out I assure you I was so angry with God that on one occasion in prayer I told Him it was a mighty ….. little thing He’d done, sending me out there to reach these people that were waiting to be told how to go to heaven. When I got there I found out they knew about heaven, and didn’t want to go there, and that they loved their sin and wanted to stay in it.
I went out there motivated by humanism. I’d seen pictures of lepers, I’d seen pictures of ulcers, I’d seen pictures of native funerals, and I didn’t want my fellow human beings to suffer in Hell eternally after such a miserable existence on earth. But it was there in Africa that God began to tear THROUGH THE OVERLAY OF THIS HUMANISM! And it was that day in my bedroom with the door locked that I wrestled with God. For here was I, coming to grips with the fact that the people I thought were ignorant and wanted to know how to go to heaven and were saying “Someone come teach us”, actually didn’t want to take time to talk with me or anybody else. They had no interest in the Bible and no interest in Christ, and they loved their sin and wanted to continue in it. And I was to that place at that time where I felt the whole thing was a sham and a mockery, and I had been sold a bill of goods! And I wanted to come home.
There alone in my bedroom AS I FACED GOD HONESTLY WITH WHAT MY HEART FELT, it seemed to me I heard Him say, “Yes, will not the Judge of all the earth do right? The Heathen are lost. And they’re going to go to Hell, not because they haven’t heard the gospel. They’re going to go to Hell because they are sinners, WHO LOVE THEIR SIN! And because they deserve Hell. BUT, I didn’t send you out there for them. I didn’t send you out there for their sakes.” And I heard as clearly as I’ve ever heard, though it wasn’t with physical voice but it was the echo of truth of the ages finding its’ way into an open heart. I heard God say to my heart that day something like this, “I didn’t send you to Africa for the sake of the heathen, I sent you to Africa for My sake. They deserved Hell! But I LOVE THEM!!! AND I ENDURED THE AGONIES OF HELL FOR THEM!!! I DIDN’T SEND YOU OUT THERE FOR THEM!!! I SENT YOU OUT THERE FOR ME! DO I NOT DESERVE THE REWARD OF MY SUFFERING? DON’T I DESERVE THOSE FOR WHOM I DIED?”
I was there not for the sake of the heathen. I was there for the Savior who endured the agonies of Hell for me. But He deserved the heathen. Because He died for them. My eyes were opened. I was no longer working for Micah and ten shekels and a shirt. But I was serving a living God.”


The Danger of Holding Truth in Unrighteousness

I think this squares well with Matthew 13:11, 12, etc. To him that ‘has’ more shall be given, to him that ‘has not’ it shall be taken away even that he has. That is to say, when a person’s mind, seeded with an a priori knowledge of God, does not bear fruit as a consequence of rejecting truth– it is rejected (adokimos). In other words, if the mind will not acknowledge evident truth, that light is taken away as God’s response to man’s response to Him. He will not always strive with man. To take it a step further, to suppress the truth in unrighteousness, etc. (Romans 1:18, 19) is to invite the wrath of God. IMHO, this is the synergism of reprobation. Faith is right response to the light of grace. Sin is wrong response.     

Dangerous Theology


Friends, we are in grave danger when we have created for ourselves doctrines that widen the narrow gate. The Jews are being warned here as many of them believed that they were saved by birthright. This is not the first time such view endangered the Jews. You will recall that as one writer said, Nebuchadnezzar’s battering rams breached the theology of Israel” laying waste to the land and destroying Solomon’s Temple. John Baptist nailed this idea straightway when he stated, Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. (Luke 3:8) The people trusted that they were the elect of God based on their concept of election. It is not enough to encourage ourselves with theological concepts when God is not testing our concepts, He is looking for fruit. 







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