Escaping the Corruption of the World

Robert Wurtz II

As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Peter 1:3–4 NKJV)
For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. (2 Peter 2:20 KJV)

I have chosen these two passages to illustrate that Christians who have escaped the corruption of the world can, in fact, become entangled again in it. Our Greek word for pollutions is the root for our English word miasma. It means a noxious and oppressive stench. This stench is the result of the corruption that exists in the world because of lust. This agrees with the later context when Peter expresses this corruption and stench using the rank term vomit (dog vomit).

The means of escaping this corruption in the first place is the exceeding great and precious promises that are part of the New Covenant. The means of entangling again in the corruption is the lies spoken by covetous and lustful false teachers who, like Balaam of old, are prepared to destroy God’s people for money. Because they carry the title of minister or preacher, they also carry a certain reverence among the people — who believe their doctrine and suffer the undoing of their first experience of liberation from sin and this present evil world. The Balaam types are servants of corruption — overcome with covetousness (lust) and utilize lies and the world to lure others into the same web of bondage that they are in. This is precisely what Balaam of old did. When he could not curse the people of God, he devised an evil plan to lure them into sexual immorality and idolatry (Numbers 25:1ff, 31:16, etc.).
Balaam was the ultimate “traitor to his class.” He was supposed to be a prophet who spoke God’s word and called them to remember their covenant with God. Instead, he loved the wages of unrighteousness (profit) and did the exact opposite. As a result of his lies and schemes, Israel stumbled and suffered judgment. In modern times we have to be aware of the Balaam types who would encourage us to sin against God by alluring the people into covetousness (lust) by gross doctrinal error. This error can be anything from the prosperity heresy to unconditional eternal security.
The Corruption in the World

The world is relentless at trying to put our minds in the clouds or in the gutter. Whichever one gleans the most profits they care not. The whole enterprise of advertisement is designed to cause people to covet a product. Peter tells us that true believers have escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. They are partakers of the Divine nature. However, we still have to guard ourselves against lust. Paul said he had not known lust except God had said, “thou shalt not covet.” Lust is a desire that seeks to control you. It can be good or bad, but the Greek word epithumia is usually used in a bad sense. Consider this incomplete list of things that Israel was forbidden to covet (lust after):

 

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s (Exodus 20:16).

 

Let’s modernize this list a little and make an application.

HouseWomen (or men)

Servants (male or female)

Ox (truck)

Donkey (car)

Or anything else ______________. (Fill in the blank)

 

Try this exercise to understand lust:

 

Do I want my neighbor’s house?

Do I want my neighbor’s spouse?

Do I want my neighbor’s car or truck?.

Do I want my neighbor’s ________.

 

Covetousness is when we have an inordinate desire for someone or something. This is the true meaning of lust. It is a strong desire that seeks to control us. However, we need to state plainly that we are born with good, God-given, natural desires for everything from food to procreation. Nevertheless, if we seek to find fulfillment in these natural desires we will inevitably overuse them. Like putting gasoline on a fire we can inflame natural desire into an unnatural lust. This is what the world seeks to do with all of its adverts. It is trying to stir up strong desire so that the desire will motivate us to act (buy a product, commit a sin, etc.).

We must also by way of disclaimer say that it is a different thing to acknowledge that your neighbor has a nice house, etc., or to recognize the beauty (within limits) of a spouse, etc. This does not necessarily imply desire. However, when you look so as to desire and long for it (or them) you are moving in covetousness (lust) which is also a form of idolatry. To set your affections on something other than God is lust and hence idolatry. We are to set our affections on things above and not on the earth.
How can we, who have escaped the corruption of the world through lust, guard against being re-entangled with it? We must first monitor our own affections and make sure our heart is not drifting towards covetousness (lust). If it is we must identify the cause and remove it from our lives. Anything that is throwing the proverbial gasoline on the fire of our desire has to go. Otherwise, we will be entangled again with the very things that God once delivered us from. Paul’s adds additional direction in Colossians 3:1ff:
If you then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:1–3 KJV)
Jesus once used the word epithumia (lust) in a good sense when He told the disciples that “with desire I have desired to eat the Passover with you before I suffer.” (Luke 22:15) Hebrew idiom doubles words for emphasis. With strong desire the Lord desired to eat the Passover with the disciples. He had powerful affections, but they were set on things above — things that relate to our relationship with God and one another. Moreover, Colossians 3:1-3 tells us that if we are truly in Christ (having more than just the theology of it, but have truly received His Spirit), we share in His experience with Sin. Jesus (unlike Adam) conqured Sin and died to Sin. If we are born again in Christ we share His experience with Sin just as we shared Adam’s failure and slavery to Sin by our first birth. Being born again we can reckon ourselves dead indeed to Sin (see Romans 6). Dead people don’t respond to stimulus. They are dead to it. Likewise, we must set our affections on things above and recognize that we are dead to Sin in Christ.

Overcoming Evil and Keeping a Good Spirit

Overcoming Evil and Keeping a Good Spirit
Robert Wurtz II

 

Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. Therefore “IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM; IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP COALS OF FIRE ON HIS HEAD.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:17-21 NKJV)

I wish to focus our attention on the final verse, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” This verse, for the unbeliever, is counter-intuitive. It makes no sense. How can evil be overcome by doing good? Certainly, it is not the “natural” approach to dealing with evil. And we must take into account Romans 12:16 which reminds us that sometimes it is not possible to live peaceably with all men. We should strive to do so in as far as it depends on us. Nevertheless, our passage and context speak to us in a general way without regard to extraordinary circumstances.

The first question we need to consider is, what does it mean to be overcome of evil? The Greek word for overcome is nikao and it’s the same word used for the famous tennis shoe, Nike. It means to conquer. The literal rendering of the verse is, “Stop being conquered by the evil (person or thing).” The verb is in the passive imperative — meaning that we have an obligation to stop be conquered this way. When we are overcome of evil we are lured into an ungodly response to the evil. We have taken matters into our own hands. When this happens we have been defeated, even if it seems we have won the argument or fight.

The second question is, “What does it mean to overcome (conquer) evil with good?” The context tells us that when we do good to people who do evil to us that we “heap coals of fire” upon their heads. This is meant metaphorically. Fire is a picture of powerful emotions. It can be understood in a simple sense as anguish. People of a rational character feel awful when they mistreat a person who treats them with kindness. Even the irrational must deal with the cognitive dissonance they feel when they do wrong to those who are good to them.

The late Greek scholar A.T. Robertson comments on this verse by telling us to “drown the evil in the good.” This is a provoking thought. We should heap such good upon the person that they are smothered by the kindness. This ought to cause them extreme emotional distress and possibly change their minds about their behavior. Who knows? They may even apologize for their actions.

If we fail to follow God’s instruction in our passage, we will end up taking matters into our own hands. At that point, we have been overcome (conquered) by the evil. The consequence of this is that we become bitter and hostile to the person. We may become hostile in general — spoiling our Christian testimony. The state of enmity that we allowed to develop will begin influencing our heart and mind and will continue until we recognize what has happened and renounce our wrong response. If we don’t, a beach-head for the devil opens up and he comes marching in. The whole atmosphere of our heart and mind becomes darkened by hate, hostility, and evil and we risk being poisoned beyond hope.

But there is hope, so long as we are willing to go God’s route. God wants us to maintain 24/7 a good and loving spirit. We are not doing that if we are angry and hateful. In Jude, we are told that the evil angels left their first habitat and came into great judgment as a consequence. He then reminds the saints to “keep themselves in the love of God.” Why? Our habitat is “in the love of God” and not in an atmosphere and attitude of hate. When we move in hate and anger we, like the evil angels, have left our designed habitat (if you will). The solution? “Keep yourselves in the love of God.” It is imperative, not optional. As with Paul in Romans, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

The Relationship Between Pleasing God and the Presence of God

The Relationship Between Pleasing God and the Presence of God
Robert Wurtz II
“And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.” (John 8:29 KJV)

“So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”
(Romans 8:8 KJV)

“But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.” (1 Thessalonians 2:4 KJV)

“No man that warreth entangles himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” (2 Timothy 2:4 KJV)

I have selected these four (of several) verses from the New Testament that emphasize pleasing God. It has been said that “Man’s greatest glory is when God puts His applause on a man or woman’s life.” A person’s highest ambition ought to be to hear the word of our Lord declare to them, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” We were created to please God. It is our destiny.

Drifting Away

The doctrine of justification by faith seems to have nullified (or some think it has) many Christians responsibility to please God. Perhaps it is because we have placed such great emphasis on it that many Christians believe that Christ pleased God for them in their place — therefore they have no reason to please God themselves. However, the scripture clearly teaches that Christians have an obligation to please the Lord. In fact, this is the essence of Christ-like-ness, to please the Lord in all things.
“By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” (Hebrews 11:5 NKJV)

The life of faith is one that pleases the Lord. It responds rightly to what God reveals. Enoch walked with God and pleased God. These things go together. Enoch understood from early times that if one wants to walk close to God they have to live a life that is “well-pleasing” to Him. This Greek word is that of a slave pleasing his master. Enoch didn’t do his own will and walk with God. That would have been impossible. The key to understanding Enoch’s relationship with God is that he responded to God in faith in such a way that God could believe him. Later Abraham would experience a close walk with God as well when he responded rightly to God in faith. In fact, Abraham was known as “the friend of God.”

Biblia

 

In modern times songwriters sing of being “a friend of God” and then turn around and commit adultery and divorce their wives. Enoch and Abraham never flouted God’s word and then pretended to walk with Him or be His friend. They took pleasing God seriously and their lives are left for us as a record and example to follow. There is and has always been a direct relationship between pleasing God and having a close walk with God.
When Israel obeyed God to the fullest they were always victorious. From priest to prophet — all people who were in service for the Lord were expected by God and man to live a life well-pleasing to Him. Obedience was paramount. Saul learned this the hard way. God is not interested in our burnt offerings — He is interested in our obedience. However, when sin came into the camp big problems came with it. God refused to drive their enemies out from before them. Why? Because they disobeyed Him. It was the pattern of their lives. Over time it got so bad that they were put under bondage by the Assyrians and then carried off by the Babylonians.

It may sound blasphemous, but God prefers obedience to any sacrifice… including the shed blood of our Lord Jesus. It is nonsense to think that it is better to sin and ask God to cover it with the blood of Christ than to simply obey and please God to begin with. Moreover, if there had been a way to get a man on track without Christ shedding His blood, righteousness would have come that way. Asking God for forgiveness should be an occasional matter — it should not be the response of people who try to live in sin and then walk with God.

I suggest that a great tragedy in modern times is that many Christians have no concept of their need to please God with their lives. As a consequence, they are not really walking with God. Their concern is forgiveness of sins rather than pleasing God. What happens? There is no real power in ministry. Christians are living powerless lives and trying to minister in a state of powerlessness. Moreover, they come into meetings, turn on the “heaven” feature on the keyboard, flip on the purple lights and smoke machine and sing about the glory of God. It is manufactured. Why? Because in an environment where people do not strive to please God and walk with Him — there is no way that God’s real glory can possibly be revealed.

For some reading this — it is a new concept. Others will decry legalism. Yet it ought to be common sense that priests and prophets could not have functioned in their ministry with sin in their lives. There would have been no power. Today ministers fish for information and then regurgitate that information in the form of personal prophecy to give the impression that the so-called prophet has heard from God. What really happened is that they heard some information through the grapevine and are feigning prophetic insight. And it fools even the sharpest of believers. But understand that this is not how Ahijah discerned the wife of Jeroboam. And the Lord said unto Ahijah, “Behold, the wife of Jeroboam cometh to ask a thing of thee for her son, for he is sick; thus and thus shalt thou say unto her; for it shall be, when she cometh in, that she shall feign herself to be another woman.” (1 Kings 14) He didn’t hear “through the grapevine” that she was coming and then pretend to hear from God.

In Isaiah 66:1-3 one of the qualifications for being a dwelling place of God was to tremble at God’s word. This means obeying God and walking with Him. When this is a reality in our lives God will move among us and through us. The Fire of God will be present in the ministry. Without God’s TRUE presence (and not the manufactured sort) we are preaching dead religion to people. The only way to have the presence of God is to commit ourselves to pleasing Him in all areas of our lives.

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