A Modern Reformation (Part 1)

A Modern Reformation (Part 1)
Robert Wurtz II

TEXT. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. (Acts 26:16-18)

Leonard Ravenhill stated in an interview in ca. 1988, “I guarantee that not five percent of people in America and England are genuinely born again of the Spirit. They are born again of a decision. They give up a few lousy habits some of them and some of them don’t. They go right back.” This is a sobering comment. He had lived long enough to see a transition in how folks are brought along into Christ. Decisionism, as it is sometimes called, has left us with a multitude of people that have ‘believed on Christ’ and show nearly no fruit for the effort. Today the greatest fear seems to be that multiplied millions of people around the world will not have their sins forgiven so the whole Gospel is spun to get man’s sins forgiven. But this was only ever a starting point. None now live that remember what Ravenhill was even talking about. It sounds heretical and false. Why? Because we have been sleep walking for decades going along with concepts that have no parallel in previous centuries. 

Genuine Salvation 

Genuine salvation is the process by which a person is gloriously transformed from being a child of disobedience to being a child of God. The children of disobedience are born ‘in Adam’; that is to say, they are under a different head than those that are born again ‘in Christ’. As Jesus said, you are of your father the Devil and the lusts (strong desires) of the Devil you WILL do. When we are born we have a different spirit than after we have been born again. As the old timers used to say, with full salvation comes a whole new desire. We could use many words to describe the children of disobedience; unsaved, without Christ, the lost, unbeliever, etc. The lost live according to the ways of this world and according to the Prince of the Power of the Air and the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience. They are by nature children of wrath (Ephesians 2:1ff). Those who have been born of water only are fleshly (carnal); but those who have been born of the Holy Spirit are spiritual. God’s plan is to take lost man out of old Adam and place him/her into Jesus Christ. This is the work of the Holy Spirit as a person yields to the leadership of Jesus Christ. If we will surrender God will do a work in us to transform us into His children. If we resist and rebel we will remain unchanged no matter how religious we may become. In this lesson I propose,

I. To examine first the three states of unrepentant sinners.
II. To explore the methods of dealing with each ‘state’ of unrepentant sinner.
III. To explore the initial evidence of the born again experience.

I. The three states of unrepentant sinners.

A. The Careless Sinner
B. The Awakened Sinner
C. The Convicted Sinner

A. The “careless sinner” can simply “care-less” about their soul’s salvation and need for God. They are opposed to their own salvation. Some will get hostile or even violent at the proposal of being saved. Upon hearing about God their mind and conscience is stirred which is very troubling. They will most often avoid this state. Sinners are very creative in finding ways to ignore their need for God and press Him as far back in their minds as possible. They do not like to retain God in their knowledge and prefer to sin unabated (unrestrained and unhindered). These people are enemies of both God and themselves. Some people are subtle about it and simply ignore God and believe they are ‘good people.’ Yet others may be in some form of false religion. No matter which category they fall into- they are quite careless about their souls. They are deceived by Satan, taken captive at his will and are fearlessly confident in their sinful condition. They feel no need to consider the vast number of ways in which God is trying to gain their attention at any given moment. They ignore the sight of a church. They skip past Christian TV and radio when skimming channels. They ignore Christian related billboards and bumper-stickers. More than that, they do always resist the Holy Ghost that is using these and many other means to arrest their attention. As Jesus told Saul on the road to Damascus, they do always kick against the goads (pricks). God uses means to alter their direction in live towards Himself- but they resist to their own hurt. They beat the drums as in Tophet to drown the screams; that is, they surround themselves with worldly distractions that bolster their deception and hasten their damnation. God often has to use radical measures to snap a sinner out of a careless state.

B. The “awakened sinner” is someone that has been shocked into at least ‘considering’ their need for God. This happens at times when tragedy strikes such as a loved one passing away or being suddenly killed. It happens when the individual themselves suffer some calamity such as being diagnosed with cancer or falling into financial crisis. It can happen at times of great distress and fear such as the events of 9-11 or the Great Tsunami Disaster. It may also happen at times when sudden danger is upon them such as a Tornado Warning. The job of the minister is to awaken sinners by the truth of the Gospel. The Gospel message pours light into the darkness so that the lost can feel their condition. The Holy Spirit works to convince the person of sin, righteousness and judgment to come. Occasionally God sovereignly shakes a sinner from slumber with prophetic dreams or supernatural dealings (Genesis 41:8, Daniel 4:5, etc.).

C. The “convicted sinner” is a person who after hearing a Gospel message and having been dealt with greatly by the Holy Spirit is convinced of their need for God and the Gospel. They are convinced they are a sinner and need to repent. They are convinced that they need to trust in Christ and turn everything completely over Him. To a lesser or greater degree they understand the Gospel. They are familiar more or less with God and His word- at least enough to be born again. The Holy Spirit has brought them to that place where they are trembling in awe of God and are halting between two opinions (will I serve God or will I serve sin). They are at the crossroads- and must choose whom they will serve. At this time the Holy Spirit is in the role of Jesus Christ. Just as Jesus dealt with the rich young ruler- the Holy Spirit, in the same fashion, is dealing with this person. He is showing them in their ‘minds-eye’ what they must submit to Him in order to be saved and “have treasure in Heaven.” This is a “one-on-one” with the Holy Ghost. This is where the great striving and wrestling happens. The Holy Spirit knows what is standing between Him and them and He is showing it to them. The convicted sinner is made to know exactly what he/she is trading for their immortal soul.

II. The method of dealing with each ‘state’ of unrepentance.

A. Careless sinners require great wisdom to deal with. Proverbs 11:30 teaches us that “He that winneth souls is wise.” Since the careless sinners are opposed to themselves, they are like dealing with someone ‘suicidal.’ Careless sinners are ready at a moment’s notice to turn on themselves and harden even further. Dealing with them requires the wisdom of God. This is why prayer and the leading of the Spirit is important. Sometimes preaching will arrest their attention. Sometimes personal witnessing will do it. Awakening them with the Gospel or waiting for an opportunity to minister to them is a matter of great wisdom and timing. Sometimes as the Lord leads there will seem to be no real opportunity and you must witness knowing there will be great resistance or worse. Awakening sinners is not for the faint of heart and has been the cause of much abuse to ministers from the days of the Apostles.

B. Awakened sinners also require great wisdom in dealing with as not to miss the opportunity to share the Gospel when they are in an awakened state. The enemy is working double-time to stop their conversion when he sees them in this condition. He will distract them and fill their minds with all sorts of rhetoric and lies. He will give them a multitude of excuses as to why they should not listen to God and yield to the Holy Ghost. He will make all Christians into hypocrites in their eyes. The enemy is a master at this. Yet, this is the time to take them through the scriptures leaving nothing out- nor selling the Gospel short of its requirements. A person needs to understand their condition and what salvation is as much as possible. Nothing is more important than this time. Spend the time required to bring them to genuine conversion. This is not a ‘drive-thru’ process; it can take hours, days or even weeks. The tragedy of our day is that we do not take time for reflection in the service and at the altar. This is a very serious and solemn time. Birth is a process. This is the time where they decide their eternal fate. Either heaven or hell will rejoice when it’s all said and done. Don’t yield to the temptation to take shortcuts for any reason. The enemy will fill your mind with thoughts such as “hurry-up” or “this is taking too long.” He will keep you looking at the time. Stay until you know for certain that their blood has been washed from your hands.

C. Convicted sinners are convinced of their sin and know they need to repent. This is a most serious time. The enemy will not give up. He will try to get them to make a compromise with God- short of full surrender. They understand what is required of them. The Holy Spirit is showing them what ‘thing they lackest’ and they are striving with Him. God is trying to establish His Lordship over their life. The old timers would advise, do not give them a place of refuge if they start rationalizing and minimizing their sins. Flush them out until you know why it is that they will not submit to God. Give them time and they will tell you what it is. Maybe it’s a pet sin or bitterness. Maybe they don’t want to reconcile old enmities or make restitution to those they harmed. Maybe they just love their life and don’t want to change. It could be a number of things that we have no idea about. If the Holy Ghost is telling them to do something or to lay something down, don’t dare tell them differently. He knows what is holding them back and so do they; that is to say, He points out what god they want to serve other than Him.

What if they go away sorrowful as did the rich young ruler? Do what Christ did and let them go. Don’t fight against the Holy Ghost by comforting them. Let them feel the full weight of what they are doing; it is their only hope. Let them dwell on it. Do not give them a false assurance. The devil will use your comforting words to fortify them in their sin and eventually damn their soul. Salvation is not a process at this stage. They have been through the process and they know what they must do! They are in rebellion. Be ye not partakers of that rebellion no matter how much the Devil tempts you to do it. God once overlooked ignorance, but now He commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day that He will judge the world in righteousness. Jesus died for them. What more can He do? Reconciliation requires repentance. We can receive and resist at the same time. We must throw down our weapons of resistance and surrender fully to Christ.  


How To Please Everyone and All the Time

How To Please Everyone and All the Time
Robert Wurtz II

Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.
(Acts 9:31)

When Saul finally got genuinely saved, the churches that were dealt havoc finally could rest. There is a great truth here for those that pay close attention. There are people that come into our lives and make havoc, simply because they are moving in a perspective that is not of God. They mean well and may even believe they are right (from their point of view), but they are causing havoc in the your Christian life. Saul was such a person. He was a radical believer in Judaism and believed Christ to be false. He persecuted Christians to far away places. He was the unbelieving Jews ‘go-to’ guy for causing trouble in the churches of God. When he finally got right with God, the people still did not trust him. They were afraid of him. It took time for them to believe he had really changed. 

Fans and Followers

We recently watched a video series called ‘not a fan’ in which a man decidedly went from being a ‘fan’ of Jesus Christ to a genuine ‘follower’ of Christ. What was most revealing is how the man at first was willing to cut any one’s throat he had to in business in order to prosper, but when he finally got right with God ‘for real’ then he went back and made all that bad business right. The consequence was that his finances dropped and they had to move to a smaller home. All the while his wife, that was supposedly a believer as well, rode him like a rodeo bull. She was always trying to make this dear man feel like he was abusing his family for ‘Jesus’ or ‘the church’. She would roll her eyes and make jestures and comments to resist almost anything that was truly a Christian attitude or endeavor. She wanted a comfortable add-on Jesus. She was totally not on the same page as her husband. It even effected the kids because the house was divided. She felt resentful and acted hateful- making his life almost a living hell at times. Just being honest. He was living out Jobs (Jobes) worst fear (that his wife would curse God), but in slow motion. Not that she cursed God with her mouth, but she resented every time the man sacrificed time with family or money for the poor or for the church or for Christ that ‘could’ have gone to the family, etc. Even after the man died she still seemed to be resentful and out-of-touch with who this man was. She was clealy a fan and he was clearly a follower of Christ. There can be no peace when you have that mixture in a group. This dear father and husband, that could have lived like the devil and any other sinner, could have divided his family into the two groups simply based on the attitude described above.  

How to get everyone to get along?

You probably thought I would have some grand ideal? Very simple. When everyone truly gets right with the Lord, become followers and not fans, then they will move in a selflessness that sees life totally different than those that are earthbound. the man’s wife stressed him out all the time trying to force him to choose between the family and God. And this is a ‘selah’ moment for those that will hear; the only reason he was having trouble with her is because she was not on board with really serving God. That’s all it was. If she would have loved God in a way that was genuine they would have been equally yoked together. He never let her hold him back, but he died knowing his wife was just a fan and not a follower. He wrote about his struggles in his diary as a reminder to us of how conflicting ‘fan/follower’ families can be. Perhaps this is why we are told not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. It’s hard to pull together if the two are not agreed. One will have to relent to have peace. Who will it be? Will it be the follower or will it be the fan?


People of the Presence

People of the Presence
Robert Wurtz II
Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:25-27)

God desired to make known to the Gentiles the great mystery of His plan to tabernacle in man. It had been hidden in times past, though in hindsight the early believers could see types and shadows of this mystery throughout the Old Testament. The tabernacle motif is a common theme in both Old and New Testament. It begins revealing God’s dwelling place (tabernacling) among his people. It finds its ultimate fulfillment in God tabernacling in His people. 

Where Heaven touches Earth

In Genesis 28 Jacob is fleeing from his brother Esau that was angry over Jacob gaining the birthright. Passing through the land he grows tired and sets up some stones as pillows to rest his head. He dreamed a marvelous thing; behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. The Lord spoke from above this ladder and promised him the land and a seed much as He had promised Abraham. And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. (Genesis 28:16, 17)  Jacob named this place Bethel.

The House of God

The word Beth-El means house of God. Jacob saw the ladder up to heaven with angels ascending and descending and called the place after this name. He knew he could reach God from there. It was the gate of Heaven. God desired to tabernacle among His people as He had done with Adam before the fall, but even more so. As a sidebar it would be useful to point out that when Nathanael was taken by Jesus knowledge of him under the fig tree Jesus answered him; verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man. (John 1:49-51) This would serve as a sign that Jesus Christ was ‘the gate of heaven’; that is to say, He was Bethel- the House of God. But we are getting ahead of ourselves. 

A Mobile Palace

Later on after the time of Jacob God would give the Israelites the Wilderness Tabernacle as a mobile palace from which He could rule as King in the midst of His people Israel. The first covenant worship was dominated by ceremonies and sacrifices that the tabernacle (and later the temple) utilized. This palace was to be the Oracle; the place from which God speaks. Walking horizontally into the tabernacle was akin to ascending vertically up to the throne room of God. It was all figurative, but in a sense God was uniquely present in His Glory. The Ark of the Covenant represented His throne and the mercy seat was where the blood was offered. Keep this in mind.

A Covenant Agreement

The Old Covenant was a binding contract between God and Israel. It was loaded with ‘if-then’ clauses. If Israel obeyed God would dwell among them and they would be His people. His presence is what made Israel unique among the rest of the nations. The covenant was a means to an end. We have to understand this. The covenant did not make the people unique. Keeping laws was a limited means of making a distinction. The GREATEST distinctive feature of Israel was God’s unique presence among them. And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth. (Exodus 33:15, 16) Nothing is holy if God is not present. (G.W. North)

A Broken Covenant

God always kept His end of the covenant, but Israel transgressed. So there had to be a way to keep the covenant functional by dealing with breaches in the contract. God designed that the covenant be maintained by the offering of blood for transgressions. Almost all things by the law were purged with blood and without the shedding of blood there was no remission. The covenant was serviced in this way in order to allow the relationship between God and Israel to continue. God’s glory ‘tabernacled’ among the people so long as they kept His covenant. 

The Glory Departs

When Israel sinned in the days of Eli and his wicked sons the Ark was carried away by the Philistines and had to be recovered later on. This recovery was made and later David danced before the Lord  as there was great cause for celebration. David decided to purchase Arnon’s threshing floor for the spot to build the Temple (though he could not build it himself). This is the place where the hand of God’s wrath was stayed when he had numbered Israel. This is important. God can build His house in the brokenness and appreciation for God’s forgiveness of our sins. (See Isaiah 66;1-2) 

The FIRE of God

In time the Temple was built and Solomon dedicated it. He brought many sacrifices until an area had to be set aside to contain them all. When the altar was full and Solomon had prayed the FIRE fell. This is always how the Fire falls- when we get totally on the altar in such a way that God will believe us. Solomon understood the altar. He brought a sacrifice that to some might have seemed excessive or even reckless. This is the sacrifice God desires- all out dedication. When that animal was slain it was not coming back. When we come to God in utter offering of ourselves the Fire will consume us in love and zeal for Him. The Sacred Fire was rekindled there near the brazen scaffold for service by the priests. They needed this fire to offer burnt offerings, the incense and for the Menorah. The Glory of returned. God was there. But it would all be short lived. 
The Temple Destroyed
Israel sinned again and would not heed many prophetic warnings. Eventually the Glory departed and the Temple was destroyed. This plays out in Ezekiel. The Ark was lost as it was all carried to Babylon. Here for 70 years Cyrus later sent the Jews to rebuild the Temple. This was called Zerubabel’s Temple and never saw the glory of the previous temple. Herod expanded this temple but as far as we know God never showed up here in the way He did in Solomon’s time. It was abandoned for the most part. God was not there. Yet they continued on oblivious to Moses’ comments; For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? (Exodus 33;16) They created a religion that did not require God’s Glory. Religion has been defined as worship in the absence of God. There was no Ark signifying that the authority of God was no longer in view. This was manifest much later when the Jews decided ‘it is not in heaven’ and usurped all authority from God and gave it to the Rabbis. God wanted to tabernacle among His people but they would not abide by the terms. God will not just dwell with people. There has to be an agreement and the people have to live by it. Yet God did not give up, His plan was right on schedule!
Destroy THIS Temple
When Jesus came into the world we have this language:
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

Our language here is that of tabernacling. Jesus Christ was THE Temple of God while on earth. He said destroy this Temple and I’ll restore it in three days. It was His body the Temple. John said it and later Peter said similarly, “We beheld His Glory”. They saw the tangible evidence of the Shekinah Glory in the miracles, etc. They identified the Finger of God, ie., the ARK or authority of God being manifest in their midst. The Ark had returned in the person of Jesus Christ. Nathanael would see the angels ascending and descending upon Him. 

Christ in You, The Hope of Glory
Jesus told the disciples that it was expedient for Him to go or the Comforter would not come. No man could be in Christ while Christ walked the earth. Our Lord’s death on the cross enabled the ‘Temples of men’ to be cleansed by the blood and readied to receive the Holy Spirit in such a way as described by Steven in Acts 7 and Isaiah 66:1-2. Men always resisted the Holy Ghost and did not want Him near. This is still man’s problem; they want to receive and resist at the same time. It is impossible. To those that truly ‘receive Him’ He gives the authority to become the sons of God. He transforms them by the Spirit by baptizing them into His Body by the Spirit. Simply put, regenerate man is now the Temple in one sense and living stones in the Temple in another sense. Yet for all this Ephesians tells us it is only the EARNEST of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession. It is what the New Covenant provides.
The Celebration of God’s Will Fulfilled!
God is now focused in the lives and spirits of regenerate New Covenant believers. Our bodies are viewed as the ‘tabernacle’ or ‘tent’ (Hebrew booth), that is, a temporary shell that will pass away at physical death and allow the human spirit to enter into the heavenly dwelling of God and Christ. We will then be resurrected and receive a ‘spiritual body’ like unto His Glorious Body. This is the spiritual reality to which the old covenant tabernacle pointed. Zechariah 14 points to a time when there will no longer be a need to distinguish between Holy and Profane as it is described in the Old Testament. God will put away evil and sin. ALL will be Holy. Christ having died on the Cross for our sins supersedes any animal sacrifice, so we know that is not in view here. My hypothesis is that the Prophet is foretelling of a time when all things will be cleansed and we can perpetually offer ourselves holy and acceptable to God (Romans 12:1-2) unthwarted. We will celebrate the fact that God has accomplished what He said out to do from the beginning.

Notice how in Zechariah 14 the phrase “in that day” is used seven times (v. 4,6,8,9,13,20, 21). Compare that with John’s words:

At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. (John 14:20)

In that day (en ekeinēi tēi hēmerāi). The New Dispensation of the Holy Spirit, beginning with Christ’s Resurrection and the Coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Shall know (gnōsesthe). Future middle of ginōskō. Chapters 1 to 3 of Acts bear eloquent witness to these words. (Vincent)

Falling in Hate

Falling in Hate
Robert Wurtz II

Then Amnon hated her exceedingly; so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her. And Amnon said unto her, Arise, be gone. (II Samuel 13:15)

The title of our entry is ‘falling in hate’. It is play on words that is not original with me, but one I recently heard in passing listening to an old sermon. Most understand the concept of ‘falling in love’, but what could it mean to ‘fall in hate’? Our passage gives insight into the answer; then Amnon hated her exceedingly; so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her. How much did Amnon love Tamar his beautiful half-sister? I think we have to define what type of ‘love’ Amnon was moving in before we can answer that. 

Falling in Lust

We learn from the passage that the type of ‘love’ Amnon was feeling was a love that could change and become the opposite of what is typically understood as love. So we know that this is not God’s love that he is moving in or even a natural love one should have for his siblings. Perhaps our best description is lust. James addresses the attitude of Amnon saying:

 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. (James 4:1-3)

Amnon wanted his sister to consume upon his ungodly lust and was willing to deceive and strategize to fulfill it. This behavior borders on the demonic. He looked on his own half-sister with desire to such an extent that he had gone mad. His behavior was exceedingly irrational. Yet, he devised a plan to lure his sister into a trap in order to take her by force. He had it all figured out. He was caught up in the moment to the extent that he was utterly blinded to the reality of what he was planning to do. He had to have known that if he went through with his plan someone would find out. Yet there is a larger question to explore. 

The False Gratification of Sin Itself

It will soon become evident that what Amnon really wanted was not simply Tamar his half sister- she was just a means to an end. Notice what she tells him; Now therefore, I pray thee, speak unto the king; for he will not withhold me from thee. Howbeit he would not hearken unto her voice. (2 Samuel 13:13ff) It cannot be known whether David would have actually given Tamar to Amnon to be his wife or merely rebuked him. (See Leviticus 20:17) Either she was stalling or she was serious. At any rate, his behavior exposes a terrible truth about adamic nature; he did not want her in the sanctity of marriage, he wanted her in the iniquity of an illicit lustful act. 

Why else would he plot and scheme to get her in a vulnerable place and then refuse to heed her counsel? After all, she consented to be with him in the context of marriage. Whether she was serious or not, he would not hear it. Had it been love, love would have waited. Lust is like a raging lion looking for its next victim to consume. The more innocent the victim the higher the sense of defilement. Satan is a defiler and profaner. The antidote for Amnon’s lust was a right relationship in loving holy matrimony, but had that happened it would have extinguished the illicit desire. This is utterly sobering and a clinic on the human condition. The man appears to be intentionally building his own lust to a boiling point and rejecting the way of escape. 

Sin For Sin’s Sake

Old Adam is gratified by rebellion; the last Adam, Jesus Christ, is gratified by obedience to the known will of God. Let’s say for the sake of argument that Amnon could have had his half-sister if he had done things right; but, then it all would not be sin any more. Where would the attraction be? What surfaces adamic sinful lust is the commandment, ‘thou shalt not covet’. (Romans 7:7ff) If the woman had belonged to him it would not have been lust. But, sin is made exceedingly sinful by the commandment that surfaces latent rebellion. It was there all the time. He enjoyed his lust, apparently, and sought to feed it rather than dispel it. To do things right would have dispelled the lust, to commit this heinous sin would maximize it. 

The Let Down 

Sin always makes promises it cannot come through on. What is worse is that Amnon did not have control of his own desire- and as soon as he committed the sin, the lust that was in him turned to a hatred more potent than the original lust. There was no real fulfillment, only a transformation from lustful to hateful. And this is the lesson we learn about moving in ungodly lust- it is always a bitter ending. He didn’t bother to lure her out of the house like he lured her in– he had her physically removed and the door bolted behind her. He hated her exceedingly afterwords. There is an old saying, “the offender never pardons.” What did he think would happen? Now the offender is consumed with a hatred of the offended that brought a madness that surpassed his former irrational insanity. 

A Short Step to Hate

Amnon raped his half-sister and by Mosaic law he was to marry her and could not divorce her. (Deuteronomy 22:29) It is a small step to hatred when a relationship is brought into being by lust rather than God’s love. When the lust is fulfilled, the fight is on. This is the record. This is a cause of much abuse in our times. God calls men and women to love one another, but too often they are moving in a lustfulness that plays out the story of Amnon and Tamar over and over again to some degree or another. Amnon wanted to incite and then fulfill his raging lusts and was in a blind madness trying to do it. This is Satan’s idea of a relationship. Amnon fell in lust and in the end fell in hate. 



The Heavenly Reward

The Heavenly Reward
Robert Wurtz II

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; line-height: normal; vertical-align: top;" value="(A)”> We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; line-height: normal; vertical-align: top;" value="(B)”> for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; line-height: normal; vertical-align: top;" value="(C)”> those who through faith and patience<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; line-height: normal; vertical-align: top;" value="(D)”> inherit what has been promised. (Hebrews 6:10-12 NIV)

Our passage is a great encouragement to those, that by implication, are overlooked in the service of the Lord. The writer states first, God is not unjust. That is to say, God will not withhold the reward that He has determined and ordained for you to receive. He will seek no opportunity to keep back by fraud the wages of the laborers that have worked in His fields (James 5:4). Not that God has ever owed man anything; but rather, He is determined to reward those good works He has proposed. He is the gate-keeper of the Heavenly storehouse where moth and rust doth not corrupt, nor thieves break through to steal. Secondly; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him. Here ‘forget’ is the Greek word epilanthanomai (ἐπιλανθάνομαι) and it means to forget either by carelessness/accident (James 1:24, Matthew 16:5) or intentionally (Philippians 3:13). At any rate, it will not happen with Him; the omniscient God will not forget your work and the love you have shown him

The greater blessing

I have desired no one’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine provided for my needs and the needs of those who were with me. By all these things, I have shown you that by working in this way we must help the weak, and remember the words of the Lord Jesus that he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ (Acts 20:33-35 NET)

Paul said it plainly, I have desired no one’s silver or gold or clothing. He then goes on to tell us that he worked with his own hands while at Ephesus providing for his own needs and the needs of those who were with him. Why? By all these things, I have shown you that by working in this way we must help the weak, and remember the words of the Lord Jesus that he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Think strongly upon those words. He had no desire for anyone’s silver or gold or clothing, though he rightfully could have received of their offerings and support. No one chose this way for him, he chose it for himself. Nobody ever accused Paul of being in it ‘for the money’. He chose the more blessed thing to do, to work with his own hands and in turn give rather than receive. Praise the Lord! Amen.

Serving Christ

Jesus has said plainly that in as much as we have done it unto the least of these, we have done it unto Him. (Matthew 25:34-40) It seems very plain from the reading of the text that the writer may have proactively encouraged these dear saints, that in the midst of persecution and trouble, would have to forgo any earthly compensation or recompense for their efforts. Perhaps their synagogues were receiving of the tithe, but because they were believers in Christ they were not allowed to be ‘partakers of the altar’ (1 Cor. 10:18)? All the while they looked on faithfully discharging their duties. As we say, it will be on their own dime and on their own time. What did God say? God is not unjust (unrighteous); He will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. Man may defraud unjustly or forget unintentionally, but God will remember. Their only compensation in this life will be the blessed joy of giving itself. They may indeed forgo, but God will not forget. Theirs is a Heavenly Reward.    

Keep working!

So don’t quit! No matter how bad you want to. Overlook the ways of men and circumstances, looking on to a day when God will reward. The writer continues, we want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(B)”> for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(C)”> those who through faith and patience<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(D)”> inherit what has been promised. Imitate Paul. Imitate Jesus. Imitate Stephen and James. Don’t get discouraged and lazy just because man could care-less about your labor of love. Keep going! What ever God has called you to do, blindfold yourself if you have to and focus your mind on eternity. You don’t have to tell a soul. Some men’s good works go before, but some follow after. Jesus told us more plainly, Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. (Matthew 6:2) Lay up for yourselves treasure in Heaven, where the Judge of all the earth is the paymaster. He will do right. 

One of the last things Jesus ever said to man in inspired text is found in Revelation 22:12; And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. Time is running out to get about the Master’s work. May we all  show this same diligence to the very end, so that what we hope<sup class="crossreference" style="color: blue; font-family: Times, 'Times New Roman', serif; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(B)”> for may be fully realized.   


Robert Wurtz II

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse [your] hands, [ye] sinners; and purify [your] hearts, [ye] double minded. (James 4:8)

I recall as a teenager a commercial for a toy action figure that promised to be able to turn from man to robot to monster. One could simply turn a knob on the head and rotate the face that you desired; hence, the name, Man-E-Faces. Obviously this is a play on words for many faces. God, that never seems to waste anything of our life experience, has brought that toy to my remembrance many times in my Christian walk. Imagine a person that could put on the face of Christ one minute and the face of something else the next. Our passage describes the phenomena and gives an admonition, Cleanse [your] hands, [ye] sinners; and purify [your] hearts, [ye] double minded. (James 4:8b) Certainly this does not sound like a believer that has received a new heart and a new Spirit? Our Greek word is dipsychos (δίψυχοι) and is apparently a word coined by James. From dis (twice) and psuchē (soul) or “double-souled”, double-minded. This was John Bunyan’s “Mr. Facing-both-ways.” (A.T. Robertson) James 1:8 tells us that he/she is unstable in all of his ways.

The Man of Mammon

Anything that we are splitting our allegiance to God with has the potential of splitting our personality. That may sound like a psychological phenomena, but it is possible for a person to act like a Christian in some situations and become almost someone nobody recognizes in others. Beloved, this ought not so to be. John Wesley has this note on James 4:8, “Draw nigh to God in prayer, and he will draw nigh unto you, will hear you; which that nothing may hinder, cleanse your hands—Cease from doing evil. And purify your hearts—From all spiritual adultery. Be no more double minded, vainly endeavouring to serve both God and mammon.” 

If we give our mind and heart to anything other than God, that thing has the potential to split us into a different person. We will invariably shift our loyalties and perspectives to fit that other allegiance. This is very sobering! We should be the same person every place we are found. In the churches of God there is simply no place for the proverbial Jekyll and Hyde. Wesley specifically points at mammon (money) as a potential cause of this phenomena. Jesus said that we cannot serve God and mammon. Why? Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. (Matthew 6:24b ESV) If a person is serving mammon (money) they will have a money-based perspective and will behave accordingly. This means that the person’s decisions will be based upon what is in money’s best interest and not God and man’s best interest. This has the potential of putting a different face on the person: there is the person they are when money is involved and the person they are when money is not involved. If something reaches in and twists our head around to a different face when mammon is at issue them we are in the cross hairs of James 1:8 and 4:8. 

The Man of _________. 

We have assumed an understanding of “The Man of God” and have briefly looked at “The Man of Mammon”, but now our attention is turned to “The Man of _________.” That is to say, what subject (if anything) brings a different ‘you’ out? Is it sports? Is it politics? Is it business? I have to ask myself what, if anything, brings out a ‘me’ that shocks and disillusions people that are used to me behaving in a Christ-like way? It is not uncommon for believers to perhaps sin or compromise in the heat of the moment, but that is not what I’m referring to. I’m talking about a tendency to become someone else under certain circumstances in an almost predictable way. People start to brace themselves for the ‘you’ they know you’re about to become because now we are on the subject of __________. They don’t expect you to be loving or gentle, but rather predictably unloving, abrasive and difficult. 

Impurity of the Heart

James gives his solution, purify [your] hearts, [ye] double minded. This statement reminds me of Ananias and Sapphira that were prepared to lie to the Holy Ghost over money and popularity because Satan had filled their hearts. (Acts 5:1ff) They may have had a new heart before, but now they have opened the door and Satan has filled it with his lies and reasonings. “The very verb used for ‘filled thine heart’ is the same for the filling by the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:31). Satan the adversary is the father of lies (John 8:44). He had entered into Judas (Luke 22:3; John 13:27) and now he has filled the heart of Ananias with a lie– to lie to the Holy Spirit (pseusasthai se to pneuma to hagion).” (A.T. Robertson) We must identify these impure thoughts when Satan tries to bring them. Here God was trying to build the Church and Satan had filled this couples heart with a conspiracy to deceive even the Holy Ghost for their own personal gain. They were in their own world, just the two of them. There was no one around to challenge them in their thoughts. They served as reinforcement for one another until they went through with the deadly deed. This is why we need a voice of reason in our lives. Maybe they had shut out opposing voices? Whatever they were doing, the enemy was able to fill their hearts as full as if a person were full of the Holy Spirit. That is shocking and sobering to ponder. 

Purify your heart(s)

Again, James gives his solution, purify [your] hearts, [ye] double minded. Purify is a word dealing with ceremonial cleaning. It is described at times as the work of God and others as the work of man. On our end we need to renounce anything that we have allowed, no matter what or how long, to split our soul into two different personalities. A well cannot bring forth both salt water and fresh. A vine cannot yield both fruit and thorns and briars. Double-mindedness is a fruit destroying venture. It is like pulling up a plant and planting it in different soil each time we have a change of heart. There will be no fruit in such a life. Solution? Go through and renounce the thing that is splitting your personality. 


Is it God or the Devil?

Is it God or the Devil?
Robert Wurtz II

And I heard a great voice saying in Heaven, Now has come the salvation and power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ. For the accuser of our brothers is cast down, who accused them before our God day and night. (Revelation 12:10)

A dear brother was recently quoted as saying, “I’ve often noted that the enemy of our souls speaks in condemning generalizations and narratives about our character and identities, while the Holy Spirit’s conviction is precise, touching something specifically that is actionable.” This is true and answers to our passage above. The enemy is not interested in corrective action; Satan is the accuser and his demons are slanderers (diabollis). Hence, we have a good guide as to how to know if a thought is arising from the Holy Spirit or from the enemy. We must ask ourselves, “Is this thought with a view to corrective action or is this thought a generalization meant to inflict damage?” In other words, does it edify? 

As a young Christian I would see things that brought about a reaction; and that reaction was often a combination of truth and the devil’s added 2 cents. We are being influenced and we have to be careful what we are listening to. We have to be familiar with the types of things that God would or would not say. A close look at Revelation 2 & 3 show Jesus speaking to the churches according to their need first what is right and then giving out actionable revelation. This was His pattern in other places as well.* 

A great cause of conflict in our times comes about as the result of a combination of zeal for what is right and an unwillingness to seek God for the solution. If we take matters into our own hands we may take a ‘guns-blazing’ approach and speak from our own heart and counsel and not the counsel and wisdom of God. The wrath of man does not work the righteousness of God. We have to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. 

A simple analogy comes to mind. My great grandmother used to have a policy that if none of her children confessed to a bad deed then she would line them all up and spank them all. Her reasoning? “If I spank them all then I know I’ll get the right one!” Can you imagine the resentment and bitterness such an event would cause? Imagine taking a spanking or watching one of your siblings taking a spanking for something they did not do. This is what happens many times. Folks get thrown into groups and ‘spanked’ by well intentioned believers. They whist not what they do. 

The truth is, not everyone is guilty of what they are accused of. God refused to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah if just a few righteous were found. Why? Far be it from God to destroy the righteous with the wicked. And in the churches of God, He does not pour fire upon the non-guilty parties in any sin. The enemy sees the churches of God as one enemy and treats them as such. God loves His people and seeks to correct them- not to condemn them. So we see then two things: God will not punish all to ‘get the right one’ and God will bring actionable revelation (a plan forward) rather than simply make hurtful blows.    

* “And the crowds were questioning him, saying, “Then what shall we do?” And he would answer and say to them, “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.”

And some tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than what you have been ordered to.”

Some soldiers were questioning him, saying, “And what about us, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages.”

Getting Past Your Past

Getting Past Your Past
Robert Wurtz II

And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. (1 Timothy 1:12-16)

The Foremost Sinner

Early on in Paul’s writings to young Timothy he acknowledges a terrible truth, this is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. For those that know Paul’s past they can understand why he would make such a statement. He was a feared man. Only after he could raise his shirt and declare, From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus (Galatians 6:17) could the people trust that Paul’s violent days were in the past. He was scarred up from persecutions and beatings (2 Corinthians 11:23). It was probably a terrible sight.* Yet Paul calls himself the chief (prōtos) of sinners. Notice he did not say ‘ēn’ (I was), but ‘eimi’ (I am) the chief. His statement is in the first person present. In 1 Corinthians 15:9 he had called himself “the least of the apostles” (elachistos tōn apostolōn). In Ephesians 3:8 he refers to himself as “the less than the least of all saints” (tōi elachistoterōi pantōn hagiōn). This did not mean that he was ‘less’ in the sense of education, revelation, authority, spirituality, etc., but that he was the least worthy to be called. (compare Galatians 2:6-10, 2 Corinthians 11:5.; 2 Corinthians 12:11). He made havoc of the churches of God, even compelling people to blaspheme (Acts 8:3, Galatians 1:13), of men and even women (Acts 7:58, Acts 22:4; Acts 26:11). This sin was exceedingly serious and yet God saw fit to install Paul into his service. The question would become, how will men respond to Paul? Will they forgive as did God? Will they allow him to rise above the past to answer the call?

But For Grace    

But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. (1 Cor. 15:10) Grace is more than unmerited favor, it is God’s divine enabling. The grace of God is what Paul ascribes the credit to for making the chief of sinners into a chief apostle. This is more than just a great success story. This is God demonstrating His longsuffering and mercy coupled with His willingness to completely change a sinner’s identity. No man would have called Paul. He was the least likely candidate for the job. Understand that Paul’s repentance was as notorious as his crime and even though he knew God had forgiven him of such terrible sins, he still acknowledged that he had done them before the people. He wanted the people to know how full of grace God is. He did not boast of his sins. He viewed his sin with repulsion and sorrow. He said, grace has been given to me who am less than the least of all saints. (Ephesians 3:8) This is not a false humility. He really had a handle on what God had done by grace, and he wants us to understand it. Why? That in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. (1 Timothy 1:16) Paul throughout the centuries has proven to be ‘the pattern’ of how God’s grace can radically change a person and install them in their destiny. This is not man’s domain. It is God’s. Sometimes it is necessary to return to God’s word to regain an appreciation for just how low God will reach.   

From the Womb

God’s plan for Paul was not an afterthought. He writes, But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood. (Galatians 1:15-16b) The concept is common in the Old Testament that God’s call is from before we were born. This is an amazing fact. God calls men and women to service and equips them in the work. This is God’s divine prerogative. Those that are the heirs to the righteousness of God that is by faith are moving in justification by faith. This is a tough thing to consider, but we have to decide if we are going to believe God or not. If God called Paul from the womb there was no point in all of his blasphemous acts did He change His mind. He was called and that was that. His actions had a lot of serious consequences, but his life prior to his true conversion had no bearing on the calling whatsoever. Grace made it possible. Man may not have been able to get past Paul’s past, but God knew what He would do all along. Thanks be to God it was His decision alone.

The Reactions of Men

And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
(Acts 10:11-15)

Our passage is one that we ought to really allow to sink down into our ears. Why? There is something about many people that they cannot let go of their’s and other people’s past. Peter was one of these people. They have biases and prejudices and they simply cannot get past them. It is no light thing that Peter actually argued with God about His ability to cleanse something that was once considered common or unclean. God’s response? And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. (Acts 10:15) The AV does not rightly capture the seriousness of what God said. The thought goes deeper than merely “styling something as common.” It means literally, do not thou defile. That is to say, do not profane it by regarding and calling it common. Rev., “make not thou common.” (Vincent)

Peter was profaning that which God had made holy by calling it common and unclean. The word profane means to treat something as ordinary and commonplace that God has separated for a special purpose. God regarded the Gentiles as having been cleansed and made Holy by grace through faith, but Peter was used to looking down on them as second-class citizens. He had done it all his life. Everyone did it. Non-Jews expected to be treated as dogs by the Jews. Gentiles were not allowed beyond a certain point on the Temple mount. This constant treatment gave the non-Jews a complex (as it were). This means they had a stigma in the own minds that tried to strip them of what God had done. Something marvelous had changed the status of all believing non-Jews and believing sinners alike. Peter still struggled though as we learn in the Galatian letter. Old prejudices die hard. They died hard for Peter, but Paul understood. Why? Perhaps it was because he understood the depth from which God had cleansed him.

Entertaining Prejudices 

I have sometimes wondered why Peter would not take hold of what God had told him and simply obey what God had said. He was a man that had denied Christ before men and was worthy of being denied before the Heavenly Father. That was serious business. I don’t know. We will never really know perhaps. I think men sometimes tend to show mercy in areas where they have failed and non-mercy in areas where they have not failed. Some show no mercy because they simply did not get caught. They have forgotten that getting caught did not make the person more guilty, the act of sinning made them guilty long before they were caught. Getting caught just means that now there are additional consequences. To those that did not get caught be not high-minded but walk mercifully and reverently even as God has not seen fit to expose your sins, but has likewise forgiven you. To behave otherwise is sin.

Called to Service

Paul writes, And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into His service. This is God’s doings. The basis on which it happened was that God counted Paul faithful, that is, trustworthy. God knew that Paul would be faithful to carry out his divine commission and that he would be faithful to the truth of the Gospel. This is an important consideration. We can easily get hung up on what qualifies or disqualifies a person from serving the Lord, but the question above all is faithfulness.

We have this pattern in the Revelation, These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. (Revelation 17:4) God is looking for individuals that will answer the call and be faithful to Him and the thing that He places in their trust. What is your past? You cannot possibly be the chief of sinners as Paul already has that title. Do you believe that if Paul could be saved and used of God that He can likewise use you? Not because of your own strength, but because of His grace. The Bible is loaded with individuals that were the most unlikely candidates and yet God used them. You say, “But I’m not worthy.” The question is, “Who is worthy?” We are made worthy because it pleased God, to by cleansing elevate even the chiefest of sinners from the common and unclean to His divine service.

*footnote The marks of Jesus (ta stigmata tou Iēsou). Old word from stizō, to prick, to stick, to sting. Slaves had the names or stamp of their owners on their bodies. It was sometimes done for soldiers also. There were devotees also who stamped upon their bodies the names of the gods whom they worshipped. Today in a round-up cattle are given the owner’s mark. Paul gloried in being the slave of Jesus Christ. This is probably the image in Paul’s mind since he bore in his body brandmarks of suffering for Christ received in many places (2 Cor. 6:4-6; 11:23ff.), probably actual scars from the scourgings (thirty-nine lashes at a time). (A.T. Robertson)    

One Friend At A Time

One Friend at a Time? (Revisited)
Robert Wurtz II

And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him. And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked [him], and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate. And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves. (Luke 23:10-12 emphasis added)

Our passage is a horrific example of how the ungodly make friends; they hated upon Jesus together, and in some diabolic sense were conjoined. However, there is an even deeper mystery here. How could two people turn their hate on a third person and end up with a friendship as the result? We will explore that question in this entry. 

One of the most frequent search queries to hit the Girded Mind blog is the phrase, “one friend at a time.” From this, I gather, that it is evident that people are concerned about this phenomenon. Looking around the Web, I have found relatively few results along this line. Typically, the issue comes up in forums where women are asking why their daughters can “have only one friend at a time.” This is sometimes followed by a response of shock, as if the problem is some rare thing that no-one has heard of. Some people were wondering what the clinical term is for such behavior (if there is one I have not found it yet). Some answers are dismissive as if it’s just the child’s personality or that the behavior is completely normal. If having “one friend at a time” is normal, this world is in deep trouble.  

The truth is, most of us have known about this type of people since we were kids. We’ve been watching this behavior go on since grade school. How does it work? You have a friend one day, and things seem to be well; suddenly, a “new” person comes along and your friend is not your friend anymore. It’s almost as if your friend was switching boyfriend or girlfriend; the old relationship is basically “off,” and the new one is “on.” The new friend gets all the attention, while you, the former friend, are treated like an outcast. They will even avoid you as if they are afraid the new friend will be jealous to see you talking to them. Anyone who has ever experienced this knows how awful it is. 

Walking On Egg shells

In the age of social media, the situation is even crazier. Jealousies in friendships are so profound, that you best not be caught liking some post that your old friend made, or you may lose the new friend  (get de-friended). As if to ask, “You mean to tell me that if you don’t like somebody, I can’t like them either?” That’s right. What happens? The person caught in this trap becomes a slave to the new friend (or jealous friend). It can border on an abusive relationship. In fact, some people don’t need a jealous boyfriend or girlfriend whose “controlling them” (a euphamism generally used on men and women who refuse to allow their significant other to flirt around); their regular friends are controlling them! If they catch you “liking” the wrong post, you’re done! Game over. See ya!

From Friends to Enemies

What happens after the “breakup”? Not only are they no longer your friend, they are no longer friendly towards you. In fact, sometimes the person will treat you like a friend until “so and so” comes around; and then, suddenly, the person acts like they don’t know you or don’t like you. These are destructive games that people play. Sadly, most people who do it have never been confronted about it. It’s normative to them. They may not even notice they are doing it. Nevertheless, there is no need for a degree in psychology or sociology to identify it; we have probably all seen it, or been on the receiving end of it. We thought we offended them, but don’t know what we did wrong. Often that is not the issue at all; it is simply that the person grew up thinking it’s acceptable to allow only one friend at a time in his or her life.

Mono-friend Christians?

We expect to see this thing in grade school, Junior High School, High School, and peradventure College; but what about in the churches of God? The world will do what the world does; but what about those who are professing the name of Christ? What if this type of thing happens in a local church, a youth group, or a cell group? What happens when a young girl attends youth group and one of her so-called Christian friends does this to her? You’re right. She is liable to leave the church and become bitter towards God and Christianity. 

When we see these things going on, is it time to ask our favorite pop psychologist what’s wrong or has God spoken to the subject? Some take this as a harmless behavior, but the truth is, it is extremely destructive. At 10 years old, it is bad enough, but when the behavior continues into adulthood, one has failed to put away childish things. 

As a youth pastor I would see young people doing this type thing and suddenly there is a rift in the youth group. Kids have even been known to quit church over a person befriending them one day and then acting as if they had leprosy the next. It causes people to wonder what has happened, why they are treating them this way. Questions and doubts start swirling just like the hall way in 7th grade. And after the de-friended person has searched their own heart and conscience to see if they have caused the “falling out” and they come up empty; they start to think the other person is a snob, and if that’s what “Christians” are like I don’t want any part of it. 

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I don’t want a friend who wants to be my friend and only my friend — to the exclusion of anyone else. There is something seriously wrong with a person like that. There is something profoundly lacking in their upbringing. As Christians, we are called to love one another — not to divide up and decide who we can be friends with on any given day. The time would fail to scratch the surface of how destructive this type of behavior actually is. It is like a plague and must be stopped.

Were Made Friends

Our passage in Luke 23 is perhaps one of the most psychologically insightful passages in all of the Bible. It reveals the depravity of man in a way that could almost leave the reader in tears. Understand that these two leaders did not apologize to one another for their past differences; they agreed on the matter of the condemnation of Christ, and in that agreement against one man, were “made friends.” Wicked men cannot love one another: this belongs to the disciples of Christ. (Clarke) So we have here a sort-of “demonic propitiation.” They sacrificed Christ to mend their own fences. How sad it is that two people at odds have to make amends at a third parties expense; nevertheless, it happens every day. Numerous are the relationships in this present evil world that subsist by devouring a common enemy. If you have to find a common enemy and destroy him or her in order to be friends with a person; you need to get out of that relationship.

Illegitimate Reconciliation

This is what ungodly and carnal men and women will do — rather than simply love one another. They will be at enmity one day, and then suddenly agree against another person the next day and become friends again. Have you ever seen this? Maybe you have done this? God forbid! Will you notice our passage, there is no apology. No, “I’m sorry Herod” No, “I was Pilate.” No, “How can I make this up.” No, “I will try not to allow it to happen again.” None of those things. These two men put their hand and mouth together against a common enemy and then are suddenly “made friends.” Really?

There is a strange mystery here. Paul touches it in Galatians 5:15; But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. Imagine biting and devouring people as a means of building yourself up and maintaining other friendships. What dastardly behavior! Men and women who really hate each other at heart need a steady stream of blood on the altar of their relationship to give it the appearance of a friendship. They cannot speak to each other except to destroy some other soul. They have no like for each other, so they find a common enemy and agree against her or him. What could be more vexing?

Illegitimate Friendships

When a person recognizes that they are not eye to eye with another person, often they will seek to get back into favor. The question becomes, how will they do it? Like a child that spilled paint in the garage, they know that if they can get a gift for mommy she may not be as angry. What happens? The child picks a flower for mom to make her feel better about him. This is instinctive. We all have this inward sense that if we can just find the right price we can mend a broken relationship or regain favor with a person. (R. Bailey) Gifts are often used in this way. It is really a sad thing because the person giving is doing so typically out of a fearful and desperate sense of duty. This is a very human thing to do. Herod and Pilate were made friends as they put their hands against Jesus. He was a common enemy. This was the price needed to get back into each others good favor. If I might so say, this may happen among the unregenerate, but it ought not so to be in the churches of God. How can a person look the other one in the eye after doing such things?

Christian Reconciliation

Christians are to love one another and reconcile by forgiveness. No Christian should have to be propitiated in order to get back in the good graces of another believer. That is to say, they should not have to buy gifts or do some service to keep a relationship going. They need to simply love one another. People with bad attitudes need a steady dose of ‘propitiations’ to keep them in a good mood. In time it is realized that no price brings about a lasting result. You buy gifts, you do good deeds, and there is no change. This becomes a very high maintenance relationship. I often wonder if this is not how God is frequently treated; so long as the blessing flows the people praise the Lord; but when hard times come it’s, “what have you done for me lately.” May we never be high maintenance friends.

One Friend at a Time?

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (John 13:34ff)

I was watching a video recently that was a satirical depiction of a young girl bound-up on the cellphone and Facebook, ridiculing life and rolling her eyes at everyone and everything. It reminded me of being in high school when I would see young girls (and sometimes young guys) have one friend one day, “diss” them and get another friend the next day. The drama was incredible! When I asked about the behavior I was always told, “It’s because she can only have one friend at a time.” Really? Can a human being be so shallow that they can only entertain one friendship and the rest of the people have to sit back and be dissed?

 I’m not referring to spending time with folks or anything that takes any real effort; I am referring to the attitude that once a person gets a new friend the rest of their friends are suddenly being intentionally ignore — even when spoken to. Friends are not socks that you can put on for a day and then switch out for a new pair. Jesus called the disciples His “friends”, but you never had to worry about him speaking evil about one of the friends to another friend. The Lord Jesus was able to have twelve close friends at one time! He didn’t betray even one of them. I’m persuaded to believe that Satan is the type of person that can only have one friend at a time; leaving all the others to continually feel betrayed while making the one “feel special.” 

I doubt if one were friends with the Devil he would allow one to befriend anyone else. How can we know? Look around. You see this behavior almost celebrated in our times. It’s hard to be real in this generation. I’m thankful to have friends I can be real with; but not everyone is so fortunate. Why? Because multitudes are destitute of Godly friendships and have succumbed to the drama driven sassiness and would be pop-friendships depicted on soap operas and reality TV shows. May the Lord help us!

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