People Who Must Be Avoided

People Who Must Be Avoided
Robert Wurtz II

“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses (stumbling blocks) contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.” (Romans 16:17-18 KJV/ESV)

Paul’s abrupt warning about trouble makers within the church is both swift and stern. Having in the previous verse told the saints to greet one another with a holy kiss of charity, he then states plainly, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses (stumbling blocks) contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” Clearly, the people Paul has in view are enemies of the love and unity that Christ seeks to establish among the saints. The late renowned Greek scholar A.T. Robertson tells us that these people are to be marked, which is the Greek word skopeo and means “to keep an eye on so as to avoid.” These people are agents of division and sources of stumbling, which is the Greek word skandalon. This means a person could actually fall in the faith because of these people’s actions. Those who cause division rather than unity and stumbling rather than helping are to be marked out and avoided. This is the plain reading of the text. 

Another late renowned Greek scholar Marvin Vincent tells us that these people are known for causing disturbances within the churches. He adds an explanation of the word “avoid” when he writes, “Avoid is the Greek word ekklinate and is better translated as turn aside. Not only keep out of their way, but remove from them if you fall in with them.” (Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament) Sometimes we end up getting mixed up with professing Christians that we don’t realize are truly evil people until God’s removes the blinders from our eyes. Sometimes we feel an inward conviction that we need to remove from these people and can’t figure out why. It can be a very confusing thing when it happens. However, the Holy Spirit knows what they are doing behind the scenes and He is driving us to mark out and turn aside from them. 

Only after being away from their influence do we start to see some of the things they have a pattern of doing. For example, they will drop pieces of information about people (usually their rival) that is intended to undermine the person or cause you to lose confidence in them. They will flatter you and then undermine the person they are attacking. These divisionists’ strive to be “in the know” because this is how they get the precious information they use to cause strife and division. They surround themselves with people who “know where all the bodies are buried” (to use a 20th century political expression). These people think they are their friends, but in reality they are accomplices who are just being used for the information they possess or can acquire. Information is an asset to troublemakers in the churches; especially secret information (confidential). They will use it against their rivals or to gain and destroy influence.

I once knew a so-called Christian to boast that he could, “pick up the phone and call ____ and the person he called would never speak to their Christian brother again.” Sound unbelievable? Believe it. Not even Hollywood could make this kind of stuff up. This is the level of evil that some so-called Christians and ministers are moving in. They are actually boasting that they are proficient at sowing discord among brethren — a sin that God considers an abomination on the level with homosexuality (Proverbs 6:19). I have known of a so-called pastor to boast that he could use his influence to destroy other peoples’ influence in ministry and that from the pulpit. What happened? I was naive and could not see the evil that was going on. This was why the Spirit will move us to mark and avoid people in this way. Sometimes we are deluded and can’t see something that should be totally obvious.



If you know a person, no matter what their title (pastor, prophet, preacher, teacher, bishop, clergy, brother, sister, deacon, etc.), who is known to cause disturbances within the churches; who cause division among saints and churches; and who cause the saints to stumble (skandalon) because of their actions, you as a Christian have a God given mandate to mark that person and avoid them. If you are in company with that person(s) you are to remove yourself from them no matter who they are. 

Damnable Carnality

The Greek word for divisions (dichostasias) is found in two other verses in the New Testament:

For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? (1 Cor. 3:3)

Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, (Galatians 5:20 KJV) 

The church at Corinth (who also abused the gifts of the Holy Spirit), was rife with the effects of people who were causing the very thing Paul warned the Romans about (divisions). They too needed to mark off and avoid these type of people. Keep in mind that the word “divisions” is translated “seditions” in Galatians 5. In other words, they are moving in the realm of the flesh in the name of ministry and are in danger of damnation themselves (Galatians 5:20-21). Do not fall in with them or bid them God-speed lest you partake of their evil deeds. There is no need to pray and ask God if you should hang around. He will not tell you in prayer to disobey His clearly enunciated word. 

Their Motivation?

Paul tells us plainly that such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. This is clear from the fact that they are unconcerned with what Christ is concerned about. They are serving their own “belly.” A.T. Robertson tells us that this can be more literal than figurative (Phil. 3:19). Like the sons of Eli they fleece the people for everything they can get until the very worship of God is despised (1 Samuel 2-14-17). In other words, they are so self-indulgent that people who watch them don’t want to serve God anymore. This is how devastating to the cause of God their self-indulgent ways are. They think the church owes them a lavish living. Whereas, had they been concerned about the kingdom of God they would orient their lives so as to make great sacrifices for God and His kingdom. Rather than always wanting to turn a profit on the ministry, they seek to be profitable for the ministry. Big difference.     

 Their Method of Operation

 They pull off their destruction by smooth talk and flattery (and) they deceive the hearts of the naive. Christians who put the best construction on peoples’ actions are the most susceptible to these characters. People who don’t believe that Christians are capable of such things simply watch them smile and shake hands with people… listen to their smooth talk and flattery… and are like sheep to a slaughter. it’s not until they are an object of their behavior that they say, “I would have never believed they were like that.” They are now the prime victims and were once their biggest fans.

“Smooth-talk” or “good-words” is from the single Greek word Chrestologias. A simple definition is that they use a smooth and plausible address which simulates goodness. Key word is “simulates.” It is false. We all know what a smooth-talker is. In fact, some who have never read these verses can identify these type people as smooth talkers and not trust them. They know a smooth talker when they see one. Others don’t see it. 

Notice what the effect is, they deceive the hearts of the naive. Our word translated naive is the Greek akakos and it means unsuspecting and innocent (Vines). These people are not naive in the sense of lacking experience and judgment, they simply have a Christ-like tendency to be guileless. This is how the deceivers gain such a foothold and is why they must be marked and avoided. They are extremely dangerous to the kingdom of God because the kingdom is filled with people trying to do the right thing. These deceivers come in and take full advantage of this Christian characteristic. To mark and avoid these people cuts against the grain of their desire for love and unity. But you cannot befriend such a snake. You have to mark and avoid them no matter how uncomfortable it is. 

Paul’s Final Appeal

“For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil. And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.” (Romans 16:19–20 KJV)

Paul trusts that the Roman’s propensity to obey God will outstrip their propensity to be trusting and welcoming. He adds an encouragement, I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil. Our word simple here refers back to the people being “naive” or “harmless.” He wants them to have that character trait, but it must be tempered with the wisdom necessary to identify and avoid destructive and divisive people when we encounter them.        

Minding Our Own Business

Minding Our Own Business
Robert Wurtz II

Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man? Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.” (John 21:20–22 NKJV)

But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing. (1 Thess. 4:9-12)

John 21:22 is a rebuke that is a little tough to receive in this sensitive age. In fact, I can’t recall ever hearing this verse addressed (though I’m sure many have done it). As a child it always struck me as stern or possibly rude. I figured it probably hurt Peter’s feelings. It is the type of statement that I would try to avoid telling a person. Just being honest. It makes me uncomfortable just thinking about it. However, what if a person really needed to be told “…what is that to you? You follow Me”? It would take a good deal of courage or a very insensitive person to carry it out. Obviously the Lord Jesus courageously spoke the truth to Peter and He did it out of love.


Imagine what may have happened had the Lord not handled Peter’s curiosity the way He did. He may have made a practice of always being in peoples’ business. Even among the “chiefest apostles” that would have been inappropriate and dangerous. Peter may have made a practice of intruding into other Christian’s relationship with God — rather than encouraging them to obey the Spirit’s leading. This is a great problem in the twenty-first century. Too many Christian leaders believe they have a God-given right to intrude into areas of peoples’ lives that are between them and the Lord alone. 

Paul spoke of young widows who, unless they remarried, might “(…) learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not.” (1 Timothy 5:13 NKJV) This was a general concern. The verse is a vivid picture of idle tattlers and gossipers. (A.T. Robertson) People who have too much time on their hands are prone to cause all kinds of trouble. As Proverbs warns us, “where there is no tale-bearer strife ceases.” (Proverbs 26:20) Moreover, It is an honor for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.” (Proverbs 20:3 KJV) 



The Greek word for idle in I Timothy 5:13 means to be “without work.” In this case they wandered around stirring up trouble. Tattlers (gossips) is from a Greek word that means “to boil up, to throw up bubbles, like blowing soap bubbles.” Busybodies means they are busy about trifles (non-issues) to the neglect of important matters. They say things to people that are not necessary to say. In effect, they are always intruding into things that they have no business being involved in. This is a very destructive habit and must be dealt with. 

 Minding Things

In the English speaking part of the world where I live the concept of “minding” something is a little strange. For example, In England the subway (tube) cars have warnings to “mind the gap” so that you don’t fall between the train and the walkway and injure your foot or worse. In the central USA we may say, “Mind your parents” or “Never mind what I said.” To say, “mind your own business!” is a stern rebuke. However, Paul writes to the Thessalonians, “But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business…” In other words, we are to stay busy enough that we don’t have time to meddle in other peoples’ affairs that are not our business.

Paul urges an ambition to be quiet or calm, to lead a quiet life, including silence (Acts 11:18). To do your own business (Greek prassein ta idia). To have the habit of attending to our own affairs (Greek ta idia). Restless meddlesomeness is condemned here in 1 Thess. 4:9-12 and Paul alludes to again in 2 Thess. 3:11 in plainer terms. It is amazing how much wisdom people have about other people’s affairs and so little interest in their own.  (A. T. Robertson)

There is a contrast in the verse if we look closely. First, there are the people who get busy increasing more and more… laboring in what God has called them to do. These people are fruitful. They are at work doing the Lord’s will and building the kingdom of God. Second, there are people who are tearing the kingdom down as fast as the laborers can build it. They roam around from house to house stirring up trouble… destroying people with their gossip. Some even boast of how much influence they have — to destroy ministries and relationships if they take a notion. They use their gossiping as a means of blackmail and control. In other words, if you don’t dance to their drum, they will destroy you behind your back. You’re at work making a living, while the gadabouts go around destroying the works of your hands. Judging by the way the Lord Jesus responded to Peter (what is that to you? You follow Me), it makes me wonder what He would say to some of these idle tattlers and busybodies?             

It is common in secular society to have people meddling in other peoples’ affairs — but it ought not so to be in the churches of God. I recall the story of a logging company in the northwestern United States that once had a problem with productivity. It happens that work had slowed to the point that the owner came to the site to see what was going on. After a short time observing the situation he came to a sad conclusion. Speaking of the site supervisor he remarked, “He is more concerned about running off Dave than he is getting logs pulled.” The supervisor despised Dave. He was always worried about what Dave was doing — even when he was doing a decent job. In fact, it got to the point that no matter what Dave did–he could do no right. The supervisor treated him bad so long and so often that he began to hate Dave. It was no longer about work. It was “personal.” The supervisor was obsessed with “running off Dave” and in the process nearly killed the logging company.

It is a hard saying but I am glad the Lord rebuked Peter the way He did. Not because I want to see Peter put in his place, but because we needed to know that what Peter was doing was wrong. His actions were bad enough to warrant a sharp response from the Lord. If it was wrong for Peter it is wrong for every Christian or minister. He was telling Peter, “You let me worry about John; you worry about yourself.” As Paul put it… aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business. That is good advice — but more than advice. It is a directive from God.  

The Destructiveness of Division

The Destructiveness of Division
Robert Wurtz II

Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. (I Corinthians 1:10, 11)

Paul really hits the ground running in his letter to Corinth. The situation is serious and he intends to nip it in the bud. Their behavior was completely unacceptable and was becoming a reproach on Christ. Therefore, it is no accident that Paul takes up his pen in the power of the Holy Spirit and gives for some a crash course on basic Christianity and for others a refresher. 

Paul had received word from Chloe’s household that trouble was brewing at Corinth. Though they were proficient at moving in the gifts of the Spirit and working in ministry, there was a crack in their foundation that had to be dealt with before everything that had been built simply flew apart. Paul puts his finger on the problem in the 3rd chapter when he diagnoses the people as “carnal.” For though he had sown to them spiritual things, they were still moving in the flesh (carnality Gk. sarkikos). “It is a bold and cutting figure, not without sarcasm, but necessary to reveal the Corinthians to themselves.” (A.T. Robertson)

Are You Not Carnal? 

We have a definition of carnal when Paul stated, “For you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?” (1 Cor. 3:3) Rather than living in the Spirit – they were walking in the flesh. In other words, they were behaving just like “mere men” – unregenerate men. God has called the churches and His Saints to be an expression of the kingdom of God in the earth. We are God’s representatives on earth. We’re supposed to be demonstrating how the kingdom of God does things. What happens when the image of Christ is distorted in the churches because of carnal behavior? What happens when Christians begin to imitate the world’s behaviors and conflicts? Paul lets the church know it was Chloe’s house that brought this to his attention and then he lists three things as evidence of their carnality: envy, strife, and divisions. 

Envy comes from a root meaning zeal and it can be a good or a bad thing. When it turns to jealousy or envy it can lead to our second problem, strife. This means “long and complicated disputes.” The KJV’s strife is from a Greek word that is translated as rivalry by the ESV. Where there is rivalry there is sure to be division. Webster defines a rival as “a person or thing competing with another for the same objective or for superiority in the same field of activity.” Rivals do not operate in unity though technically they could be on the same team. Rivals typically view their opponent as the enemy. In the churches of God this leads to our final word divisions. In Classical Greek the word for division (schismata sci÷smatameans the rending of material such as a garment or cloth. It is torn in two. The jealousy and envy led to a rivalry that lead to the tearing apart of the church.

The Road To Rivalry

It is a tough pill to swallow, but in modern times rivalry is often a direct consequence of setting up denominations and churches in a worldly organizational structure that creates “positions” and “offices” of authority to be filled. Jesus told the Disciples that we are not to be organized like the Gentiles, but His words have been ignored in the main stream (Matthew 20:25-26). What happens? People are asked to vote on whom they want to lead them or who the person they feel the Lord is calling to the position. As surely as Jesus warned us and then commanded us to avoid it, this model is a recipe for total destruction. One group is hearing God say ____ should be voted in while the other group says God is saying ____ should be voted in. Each group is sure of their spirituality and that the other group is “missing it” or under the influence of the Devil (demons). All the while both groups have fallen into the trap of carnality and are in the cross hairs of Paul’s warnings in I Corinthians 1-3 and Galatians 5. While lauding themselves as spiritual – they just became the epitome of carnality and don’t even know it. Majority rule is democracy and the kingdom of God is not a democracy. We are called to come together in the mode God has established and seek His will until we can agree in unity as to what to do. In other words, 51 to 49 or a two-thirds majority may work in the US Senate, but it is an abomination to the kingdom of God. After all, one of the greatest flubs ever made in the Bible came when Joshua and Caleb were out numbered 10 to 2. That was an 83% majority and they totally missed God. 

What happens? Factioning begins. Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Because the names are ancient and far removed from our situation, we can’t see ourselves in this passage. But what if you and I replace Paul, Apollos, Cephas and Christ with rival ministers in our church or denomination? Think of some names. Think of some people that are jockeying for positions within the organization. They believe they are called, it’s God’s will, and that is that. If they don’t get in they are disillusioned at best and bitter at worst. 

Everyone a Prophet

Can you imagine being in an environment like Corinth where it seemed like everyone was moving in the gifts of the Spirit? (1 Cor. 12:7,11) Even the women prophesied. (1 Cor. 11:4) Paul asked them, How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, everyone of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation.”  Everyone believes they are hearing from God! Everyone. How could you counsel these people once the infighting begins? They would seem to be the most high-minded and impossible to coach people on earth. “I’m hearing from God – so don’t tell me anything!” Really? They each have a red phone on their desk (hotline) and when they pick it up – God answers? Paul dealt with these “super spiritual” folks by calling them carnal.


 Understand that as soon as the voting begins the rivalry begins. Why? Because positions have been created by men and they have to be filled by men. Then we ask God to tell us who He wants us to put in our man-made positions? What if the next time the people are handed a little white paper to write a name on, everyone just goes ahead and writes it as a sentence, “I am of ____” or “I am of _____.” Then maybe we’ll understand the magnitude of what we are doing. We need to seek God’s will until we can agree upon it in unity – not in a majority.

The Scourge of Schism

What happens? One group believes “their man got in” while the other group believes “we missed God” – just like the Republicans and Democrats every two years after election day. Then each group tries to rally their troops to right the wrong the next election. But it doesn’t end there. In fact, it is just beginning. An undercurrent of strife develops that begins to eat away at the very foundation of the churches. The one group feels slighted and is offended… envy develops and a feud is in the making. The other group tries to hold their position so they don’t get voted out in the next election. Pretty soon everyone is looking at the other as the enemy and questioning motives. Everything each side does gets interpreted and spun so as to fuel the feud. Then they are seeking little subtle ways to retaliate or dig at one another. Oh, nobody will admit as much. Of course not. Were all too spiritual and what were doing is of the Lord. Really?

The scourge of schism is so profound in many circles that it is going to take God to intervene to bring correction to all of the mess that we see. There are no Paul’s to bring correction. We have God’s word on the matter, but few are paying attention to it. We give lip service to infallibility and authority and mock the very things God has said. We could end this all today by simply abandoning our traditions and get right with God. God calls the envious, rivalry and strife-laden behavior as rife carnality (a hidious sin) – while everyone keeps on pretending they are pleasing the Lord. All the while few – if any – are prepared to put an end to it all.

Dwelling in Disunity 

Why pray for revival if we are going to go on grieving the Holy Spirit behind the scenes? Will God honor the feuding that goes on between rival groups? I think about Jesus who deals with people coming to the Judgment seat. Here were people that were doing all kinds of “wonderful works.” You know, works like Judas was doing while he was stealing from the money bag (see John 12:6, Luke 9:1ff). They are duped by the ancient notion that miracles authenticate ministry. In fact, they believed their miracles were evidence that they were saved. How shocked they must have been when Jesus told them to depart from Him, “you workers of iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-23) Could some of these people have been Corinthians who were moving in the gifts, but were as carnal as unregenerate men? It is insane to go on behaving badly and then tell ones self that because it appears God is doing miracles that we must be pleasing Him. He is happy with us or He wouldn’t work miracles among us. Really? Ask Judas how that works out. 

Paul jumped right in the middle of the situation at Corinth and sought to get them back on track. Otherwise, why pray for a move of God? So we can be sure and get that position that we feel “is God’s will for our lives?” What’s the use of even praying when were not right with one another? When there is, as James says, bitter envy and strife in our hearts? What says the scripture?

Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. (Matthew 5:23-25)


The divisive and rival carnality is such a stench in the nostrils of God, that He will not accept our worship if we don’t get things right. How can we do something as basic as love one another in an environment of rivalry? We may give lip service to it – but who is treating their rival like they would want to be treated? This is why Paul wrote I Cor. 13. to the Corinthians church. They needed to learn to love one another. How can you do the most basic Christian things when everyone is expected to suit up and pick sides?

I am convinced that we will fake another move of God before we see one – while His people refuse to come together in unity and simply love one another. Away with the rivalry. Away with the politics. Let’s be the church or take the sign off the building. 

  



The cruelty and confusion of jealousy

The cruelty and confusion of jealousy
Robert Wurtz II

Set me as a seal upon your heart,
As a seal upon your arm;
For love is as strong as death,
Jealousy as cruel as the grave;
Its flames are flames of fire,
A most vehement flame. (Song of Solomon 8:6 NKJV)


I have given a lot of thought over the years to a great subject that has perplexed me since childhood. From the Tex Avery’s cartoons that made fun of the “mother-in-law” to the cold wars that existed in families since I can remember. In particular, I have been disturbed by watching generations of women that seemed to almost hate their mother-in-laws. I would try to objectively look at the situation and figure out why the hostility existed? Most of the time mother-in-laws are stereotyped as nosey trouble makers; but then I looked at cases where it was obvious that this was not the case. 

Hate without a cause

I watched as women would enter families hostile from the start and without cause. The situation was so serious that from childhood I trained my sons not to marry a woman that would come in and seek to divide our family through these type of unwarranted hostilities. I didn’t understand the mechanics of the phenomena, I just knew I wanted no part of it. As a youth pastor I would tell our students, “Your life will be either heaven or hell on earth, depending on who you marry.” 

No new thing under the sun

Many years have passed since those days. It seemed to me that the mother-in-law was being treated as if she were the man’s ‘Ex-wife’ or ‘Ex-girlfriend’, rather than his mother. Armed with this hunch I started to do some research and came across this article: Why wives are programmed to fight their mother-in-laws. I found it to be very insightful and a must read for all families that are struggling with these tensions. Consider some of these comments from the author:

 ‘It’s a tragedy,’ she says. ‘This impasse divides women who should have so much in common, and who could benefit from each other’s friendship. It causes both sides terrible unhappiness and distress.’ Like Dr Apter, I’m convinced that the rivalry is so ingrained that it doesn’t matter how lovely your mother-in-law is. I should know, because my mother-in-law Sharon, who’s 66, is actually a charming, kind and reserved woman. In fact, if anything, I have more in common with her than I do with my own mother. Like me, Sharon is a lawyer. Like me, she’s extremely nosy. I should have warmed to her from the outset. Yet I still managed to find fault with her and be so mean that I get embarrassed just thinking about it. She didn’t ring at inappropriate times or make snide comments about my housekeeping skills. I was just programmed to be on the defensive.”

I was quite troubled by the words, Like me, she’s extremely nosy. I should have warmed to her from the outset. Yet I still managed to find fault with her and be so mean that I get embarrassed just thinking about it.” One of the reasons she is so concerned now is that she is bracing herself for having to deal with her own sons wives when they get married. It is a sad state of affairs and ought never to be among born-again believers in the churches of God. When the mother-in-law is relegated to the position of asking all of her life, “what did I do wrong” when she had done nothing wrong at all then something is terribly amiss. Has God spoken to this matter? Indeed He has. But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. (Matthew 5:22 KJV)

Jealousy?

If the author of the article is right then my perceptions have been right. The question is, what to do about it? Well, obviously, there is a need of repentance on the part of the one that is angry without a cause. The writer in the article would become angry when her husband and mother would meet for lunch. She then admits to the source of the problem, “I should have been touched by his loyalty and love. Instead, I just seethed with jealousy.” 

Remedy


In Christ we are delivered from the Adamic influences of Sin, but we are still human. The remedy begins when there is an admission and acknowledgement of the problem itself. The author of the article suggests the problem is “programming” because her own mother-in-law was not the typical stereotype trouble maker, but a nice lady that she should have liked and been close to. As Christians we never have the right to just dislike a person or treat them with hostility, no matter how many excuses we can come up with. It would be a sad thing to end up in hell because of a refusal to repent of the anger without cause and treat someone so close as this with at the very least common respect. She is not his ‘Ex’, she is his mother. It is just sad to me that now the writer realizes how bad she acted towards her mother-in-law and is bracing herself for what her sons wives will do. My only advice for young married women would be not to sow such things and then you won’t be as apt to have to reap them. Treat them how you will someday want your daughter-in-laws to treat you. Sow love to your mother-in-law and it will return to you. Selah.  

Obstacle to the Outpouring (Part 2)

Obstacle to the Outpouring (Part 2)
Robert Wurtz II

For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. (James 3:16)

This entry is a follow-up to Obstacle to the outpouring (Part 1) and is intended to be applied on an ‘as fits’ basis. It is intended to serve as a devotional piece that we might prayerfully and openly search our hearts as God seeks to pour out His Spirit in these desperate and difficult times.

  

At the risk of being redundant I wish to speak to this matter of unity a second time. In our previous entry we examined how God refuses the offering of those that knowingly harbor ill-feelings towards their neighbor. God has shown repeatedly that His primary concern is that we love one another with a pure heart- fervently. This means that we cannot isolate individuals from our love and expect God to pour out His Spirit upon us. It is not OK, it has never been OK and will never be OK. It is sin, has always been sin and will always be sin. It is folly to try and excuse the behavior. 


Refusing to be reconciled


Spiritual people seek reconciliation. Carnal folks just go on living like sinners harboring grudges and all manor of evil bitterness. Those two sentences are as simple of thing that a person can say along these lines. A person cannot please God when they do not love. In fact, they are not even saved no matter what they attempt to do for God- practical or supernatural. One of the more troubling things in our times is that many things are passed off as ‘spiritual’ and most of them a demon possessed person can do. Consider what our Lord said;


Many will say to Me in that day, Lord! Lord! Did we not prophesy in Your name, and through Your name throw out demons, and through Your name do many wonderful works? And then I will say to them I never knew you! Depart from Me, those working lawlessness! (Matthew 7:22-23 MKJV)


A person can prophesy, cast out devils, work miracles and still end up in Hell in the end- having never known Christ. The sad thing is, the people in this passage act as if they never saw it coming. Keep in mind that Jesus is prophesying here about what will happen at the White Throne Judgment. He states emphatically that many are going to say this to Him, Lord! Lord! Did we not prophesy in Your name, and through Your name throw out demons, and through Your name do many wonderful works? They mistakenly believed that the evidence of their right standing with God was that they moved in the supernatural in spite of how strongly He told them otherwise. Nothing could possibly be more false than to equate the supernatural with spirituality. In fact, this passage renders moving in the gifts as almost meaningless when it comes to a person’s spiritual state. A person can do all of this and not even be known of Christ. In fact, many people throughout the ages have believed that they are known of Christ because they move in the supernatural. That is truly sobering. Based on our passage, many people are therefore seriously deceived and are going to continue to be deceived in spite of teachings that alerted them even to this passage. Somehow folks look at it and say, “It’s not talking about me.” Well, the only way we can know that for sure is if we are moving in the Fruit of the Spirit. 


By THIS shall all men know


 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:35)


When was the last time a crowd was drawn to a person because they loved everyone and exhibited the fruit of the Spirit? You’re right, probably never. The reason is that men and women are drawn to the sensational. When was the last time you heard someone say, “We really believe this person is the ‘real deal’ because we have witnessed how they love the brethren?” We don;t hear it. It even sounds strange for me to infer that spirituality is determined in this way. It’s as if for the last 50 years man and God are working from different playbooks. Many are not even on the same page with God. It seems that while God is looking for men and women with evidence of love, joy and peace- men are looking for people that prophecy, cast out devils and are miracle workers. Amazing. This is why they are ripe for deception. Sadly, many are looking for the supernatural and don’t bother to discern what spirit a thing is of. For example, we need to know certain things to listen for when a word of knowledge goes forward or a sermon is preached. Does it cause a shrill in your spirit or does it draw you to God? What did James say?
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. (James 3:17-18) Notice that James says categorically that Heaven speaks with words bathed in the fruit of the Spirit. Yet a person can angrily make comments and get more ‘amen’s’ than when another person is speaking the truth in love. This is because folk are entertained by bitter envy and strife. What spirit is the thing of? That’s what we need to know. What is the energy source backing the comments? Anger is not the same thing as anointing and it does not work the righteousness of God. 

Sobering conclusions 

In our mini series we have examined in part 1 how God does not accept the prayer, worship and praise of those that regard the iniquity of non-love in their hearts. If I have ought against my brother or sister the Lord will not hear no matter how dramatic I get. In this entry we have explored the importance of ministering from the Spirit of God and the fruit of the Spirit rather than some other spirit. The devil can counterfeit many of the things that we see go on in Charismatic circles, so we need to know the source of inspiration. As one writer has stated it, Anybody who shrugs off that warning or treats it lightly does so at the risk of his own soul. The greatest single danger in this end time is not sickness, nor poverty, nor persecution. It is deception. If anybody says, “It could never happen to me,” it has already happened to that person, because that person is saying something could never happen that Jesus said would happen. That is a sufficient indication that such a person is deceived. “ If there is bitter envy and strife in the house, everything becomes suspect no matter how radical or supernatural. Many will spend eternity in Hell after doing ‘many wonderful works’. They overlooked the teaching of Jesus as if it did not apply to them preferring to be deceived by the works of their own hands and the words of their own mouth. 


This is akin to Zedekiah the prophet of Ahab, But Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah went near, and smote Micaiah on the cheek, and said, Which way went the Spirit of the LORD from me to speak unto thee? And Micaiah said, Behold, thou shalt see in that day, when thou shalt go into an inner chamber to hide thyself. (1 Kings 22:24-25) We must guard against the spirit of Zedekiah that says that God only speaks through me and my friends. Paul sought to thwart this very attitude when he told the Corinthians that though he moved in the spuernatural in a host of ways- if he did not have love it profited nothing. (1 Cor. 13). Why? It is the main thing God is concerned about. If there be bitter envy and strife in the house the ‘gifts’ of the Spirit are at risk to become weapons in the hands of the enemy spilling the very blood of the saints in the midst of the congregation. We cannot allow the wrath of man to try to work the righteousness of God. If the people do not react to your ministry- give it to God. Don’t get upset and take it out on people or get a bad spirit and want to quit. It is not about me- it is about the glory of God. We need to truly walk out that reality. 


Before we endeavor to do anything for the Lord we ought to ask ourselves some probing questions:


1. Am I angry at someone?

2. Do I hold bitterness in my heart towards __________?
3. Am I wanting to strive with __________?

4. Am I motivated by God’s love at this moment?

5. Am I sowing the fruit of righteousness in peace?
6. Am I behaving peaceably and gently?
7. Are my motivations pure? 



    

  

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