Beat the Dogs

Dogs are often intensely disliked in the Bible because they were prone to wander around wildly, eat anything (including human remains), and cause trouble, including terrifying people by chasing and barking at them. It is not surprising that the Old Testament refers to greedy spiritual leaders as dogs who are always looking for more and never have enough Isaiah 56:10–11(HCSB) Israel’s watchmen are blind, all of them, they know nothing; all of them are mute dogs, they cannot bark; they dream, lie down, and love to sleep.

11 These dogs have fierce appetites; they never have enough. And they are shepherds who have no discernment; all of them turn to their own way, every last one for his own gain.; they encircle God’s leaders to bark at them in intimidation, hoping to devour them Psalm 22:16(HCSB)For dogs have surrounded me;a gang of evildoers has closed in on me;they pierced my hands and my feet.,

Psalm 22: 20(HCSB)Deliver my life from the sword,my only life from the power of these dogs.

In the New Testament, Philippians 3:2(HCSB) says, “Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers.”
Revelation talks about the dogs outside of heaven’s gates;
Revelation 22:15(HCSB) 15 Outside are the dogs, the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.

Dogs are those people who bark at God’s people in an effort to control them, intimidate them, manipulate them, use them, abuse them, terrify them, harm them, and then devour them. Their barks can be threats, demands, false teaching, relational manipulation, emotional control, pushiness, rudeness, and unfounded criticism.

A good shepherd, a good pastor must consider his responsibility to feed and defend the sheep when considering how to deal with the dogs. When the dogs encircle the flock, it is the shepherd’s duty to take his staff in his hand and beat the dogs with great force until they yelp and flee in defeat. The staff in the shepherd’s hand is often the stinging weapon of strong language, humor, irony, sarcasm, ridicule, and mockery.

Regarding this mighty staff for the beating of the dogs, the renowned Reformed Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon said, “I do not know why ridicule is to be given up to Satan as a weapon to be used against us, and not to be employed by us as a weapon against him (Spurgeon, “The Uses of Anecdotes and Illustrations,” in Lectures to My Students [Zondervan, 1954], 389).

Elsewhere, Spurgeon mentions Martin Luther’s devastating use of humor to beat some dogs in his day. Luther used vulgar, vile and disgusting language to portray how vulgar, vile and disgusting the religious bishops and popes of his day were.

Some of Luther’s sharpest blows were reserved for dogs who refused to argue from Scripture. Luther lost patience with those who could not show him from the Bible that he was wrong. Luther writes: “How often must I cry out to you coarse, stupid papists to quote Scripture sometime? Scripture! Scripture! Scripture! Do you not hear, you deaf goat and coarse ass?”
You think like this, “As I am a crude ass, and do not read the books, so there is no one in the world who reads them; rather, when I let my braying heehaw, heehaw resound, or even let out a donkey’s fart, then everyone will have to consider it pure truth.”From Against the Roman Papacy, an Institution of the Devil, pg. 300 of Luther’s Works, Vol. 41

Luther argued that his theological opponents avoided the Bible: “I cry: Gospel, Gospel, Gospel! Christ, Christ! Then they reply: The fathers! The fathers! Custom, Custom! Statutes, Statutes! But when I say: The fathers, custom, and the statutes have often been in error; matters of this kind must be settled by a stronger and more reliable authority; but Christ cannot be in error — then they are more speechless than fish” (Ibid., 1059).

The problem with dogs is that their bark is worse than their bite, and if the sheep take them seriously they will suffer. So, the best thing a good shepherd can do is beat the dogs with mockery, revealing them to be merely fangless, clawless liars with nothing more than a bark to fear.

Before examining instances of controversial and comedic biblical beatings, it would be helpful to understand the importance of satire as a literary device in the Bible. The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery says,

Satire is the exposure of human vice or folly through rebuke or ridicule. . . . It might consist of an entire book (like Amos), or it can be as small as an individual proverb. One of the conventions of satire is the freedom to exaggerate, overstate or oversimplify to make a satiric point. Overall, satire is a subversive form that questions the status quo, unsettles people’s thinking, assaults the deep structure of conventional thought patterns and aims to make people uncomfortable. . . .

Psalm 1 exhorts us to not sit with those who mock everyone, and to not to scoff God because no one is to mock God. However, God gets to mock a lot of people who take themselves too seriously and him too lightly, thereby needing to be taken down a few pegs for their good and his glory Psalm 2:1-5(HCSB)Why do the nations rebel and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth take their stand, and the rulers conspire together against the Lord and His Anointed One: 3 “Let us tear off their chains and free ourselves from their restraints.”4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord ridicules them. 5  Then He speaks to them in His anger and terrifies them in His wrath:

Psalm 59:8(HCSB)But You laugh at them, Lord; You ridicule all the nations.

Proverbs 1:24-26(HCSB) Since I called out and you refused, extended my hand and no one paid attention, 25 since you neglected all my counsel and did not accept my correction,26 I, in turn, will laugh at your calamity. I will mock when terror strikes you, Indeed, anyone with even a speck of humor and an eye for the details readily sees some very funny satirical mockery littered throughout the pages of Scripture. 1 Kings 18 records the legendary battle Royale showdown between Elijah and the prophets of Baal. When their god failed to show up, Elijah mocked them

1 Kings 18:27(ESV)27 And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.”.

Commenting on this text, Doug Wilson says, “The passage is plain — Elijah mocked them. And in the original Hebrew he is even more pointed. Perhaps your god is off in the bathroom. His prophets are all gathered in the hallway with an anxious look on their faces. Bang on the door louder. He’s been in there a long time”. Martin Luther actually justified his mocking tone by appealing to the Old Testament prophets: “I trust that I am justified in mocking those who mock my God and His Word and work. Elijah, too, mocked the prophets of Baal

Isaiah 44:15–17(ESV)15 Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. 16 Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!” 17 And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!” sounds like late night satirical sketch of a guy who chops down a tree and then

takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!” And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!”

It takes real insight to know which end of a log is for fuel and which is for worship. This kind of thing does not sound like something Jesus would do. Or would he? Would Jesus tell a joke or — even more controversial — mock someone?

Once we realize that Christ was not always engaged in pious talk, we have made an enormous step on the road to understanding” (Elton Trueblood, The Humor of Christ [Harper and Row, 1964], 10). Trueblood goes on to say, “Christ laughed, and . . . He expected others to laugh. . . . A misguided piety has made us fear that acceptance of His obvious wit and humor would somehow be mildly blasphemous or sacrilegious. Religion, we think, is serious business, and serious business is incompatible with banter”.

Jesus was funny. A few funny snippets from God’s Word will suffice to show the humor of Jesus. Matthew 19:24(ESV)24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” Rather than seeing the humor, some guys way to smart and well educated with no sense of humor try to explain that there was a small doorway in a wall somewhere called the eye of the needle that camels would have to take off all their baggage and get down on their knees and crawl through. But what Jesus meant was that it’s hard for rich guys to go to heaven, and he said it in a funny way that some Bible commentators don’t understand, which makes it even funnier.

Jesus was funny when he mocked the guy with a huge log sticking out of his eye, rather than removing it, spent his time criticizing people who had a speck of sawdust in their eye Matthew 7:3(HSCB)Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye? Jesus mocked the superstar extravagant public prayers as if they were the epitome of prayer gurus Matthew 6:5(HCSB)“Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward!  He mocked the fact that some people would make their faces seem so distraught and sad in when they were fasting so people would know how holy they were (Matthew 6:16(HCSB)16 “Whenever you fast, don’t be sad-faced like the hypocrites. For they make their faces unattractive so their fasting is obvious to people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! He also mocked the guys who tithed out of their spice racks but were just absolutely holier than thou jerks.
Matthew 23:23(HCSB)23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You pay a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, yet you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. These things should have been done without neglecting the others.

Jesus’ humor helps us understand the words of Matthew 15:12(HCSB)Then the disciples came up and told Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard this statement? Really? The guys to whom Jesus said their mothers slept with the devil were offended? In Matthew 11:6(HCSB) Jesus says, And if anyone is not offended because of Me, he is blessed.”

The only way to not be offended by Jesus is to realize that we are all sinners who need to repent, laugh at ourselves, and take God seriously but don’t take ourselves to seriously.

A lot of people have an issue with mockery and say that Jesus did mock people but we should not because we are not Jesus and are not perfect like him or perfectly inspired by the Holy Spirit like the Old Testament prophets were.

The problem here is that “the rule” applies equally to everything that Jesus did and all that the apostles and prophets wrote. . . . We will be imperfect as we imitate love, grace, forgiveness, kindness, rebuke, sarcasm, gentleness, and so on. What standard are we using to say we should imitate this part of Christ’s demeanor and refuse to imitate that part of it? What standard do we use to assemble this hierarchy of verbal values? Why do we say, “Imitate Christ in His kindness to the tax gatherers, but never imitate Him in His treatment of the religiously pompous?” Why not the reverse? “Always make fun of religious jerks, but never imitate Christ’s kindness to the downtrodden.” This kind of selectivity is not approaching the Scriptures as the Word of God but rather belongs to the modern day cut and paste pansy, don’t offend anyone, Jesus is a dragqueen sensitive man who never offended anyone and neither should we americanized Christianity.

Perhaps even more controversial than mockery and humor is the biblical usage of strong language. The Bible does, on rare occasions, use very strong language to portray self-righteousness and the religions that promote it in the most disgusting of terms. The Bible does this because religion that promotes self-righteousness by one’s own works is anathema to the gospel(Anathema- someone or something that is very strongly disliked;to be damned or cursed) the only righteousness we have is not merited to us by works but a gift,given to us by grace through Jesus Christ.

Therefore, the Bible uses graphic and disturbing imagery to show how vile to God religion and self-righteous works done in a vain effort to make oneself acceptable in the sight of a perfectly holy and righteous God. One example from the Old Testament is Isaiah 64:6(NET)We are all like one who is unclean,

all our so-called righteous acts are like a menstrual rag in your sight. We all wither like a leaf; our sins carry us away like the wind.

Our study takes us to the verse in the New Testament that has tons of debate surrounding it. Speaking of his religiously self-righteous way of life before meeting Jesus, Paul says, Philippians 3:8(NET)More than that, I now regard all things as liabilities compared to the far greater value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things—indeed, I regard them as dung!—that I may gain Christ,. That little word “Skubala” has been the source of big controversy. Various English translations use words such as “rubbish,” “garbage,” “filth,” “dung,” “refuse,” “worthless trash,” and “dog dung.” Making the entire issue more difficult is that the word is a hapax legomenon, which means it appears only once in the entire New Testament.

Greek scholar and expert Daniel B. Wallace has studied this word in great detail, and he explains: “In Philippians 3:8, the best translation of skuvbala seems clearly to be from the first group of definitions [that is, meaning (human) excrement]. The term conveys both revulsion and worthlessness in this context. In hellenistic Greek it seems to stand somewhere between ‘crap’ and ‘s**t.’”

What Isaiah and Paul are pointedly declaring is that the good works of everyone from devout New age Self Help followers to the Jehovah’s Witness grandmas who knock on doors so that they will be good enough for God to love them — along with the family who thinks they are better than everyone else and able to stand before God on the day of judgment because they avoided alcohol and tobacco — are as cherished a gift to God as a bloody tampon or a pile of crap that a dog leaves in the yard. Why? Because any effort to justify oneself in the sight of God rather than depending solely upon the person and work of Jesus Christ on the cross as the Atonement for our sins as the grounds for our righteousness is a bloody mess and a steaming pile of dung.

At this point, we can either argue with the Scriptures or consider their relevance for our own life. My sincere hope is that we all learn to deal with the speck in our eye before we start using our words, including the ones we blog and text-message, to criticize the words of others. For that to happen, we must see that shepherds and sheep alike are prone to moments and seasons of acting like swine, wolves, and dogs. When the Old Testament prophets attack the idolaters, they are speaking about us. When Jesus publicly criticizes the Pharisees, his words are for us. And when Paul sharply antagonizes the Judaizers, he is thinking of us.

We love it when “those guys” get verbally shot. But we hate it when “our guys” get verbally shot. Why? Because we wrongly think that “those guys” are always the bad guys and “our guys” are always the good guys. However, at varying times and in varying ways to varying degrees we are all religious dogs, and the first step toward safeguarding ourselves is to accept this fact humbly and not only repent of our sin but also of our religious righteousness.

**adapted from Mark Driscoll – Beat the Dogs**

 

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Conversion, Baptism and Hypocrites

Baptism and the conversion to Christianity.

God loves us and offers us salvation as a gift (John 3:16). If we receive His grace, by faith, we have salvation as our eternal possession (Ephesians 2:8-9). Once saved, nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39). Nothing can remove us from His hand (John 10:28-29). If you desire this salvation, if you desire to have all your sins forgiven, if you desire to have assurance of salvation, if you desire direct access to the God who loves you – receive it, and it is yours. This is the salvation that Jesus died to provide and that God offers as a gift.

The rite of baptism expresses the commitment of the believer to die to the old, sinful way of life and be reborn to a new life in Christ.

Romans 6:4–8(HCSB)4 Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life. 5 For if we have been joined with Him in the likeness of His death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of His resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that sin’s dominion over the body may be abolished, so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, 7 since a person who has died is freed from sin’s claims. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him, In Christian baptism, the action of being immersed in the water symbolizes dying and being buried with Christ. The action of coming out of the water pictures Christ’s resurrection. Baptism identifies us with Christ in His death and resurrection, portraying symbolically the whole life of the Christian as a dying to self and living for and in Him who died for us Galatians 2:20(HCSB)20 and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Paul explains to the Galatians the process of dying to self as one in which he has been “crucified with Christ,” and now Paul no longer lives, but Christ lives in him. Paul’s old life, with its propensity to sin and to follow the ways of the world, is dead, and the new Paul is the dwelling place of Christ who lives in and through him. This does not mean that when we “die to self” we become inactive or insensible, nor do we feel ourselves to be dead. Rather, dying to self means that the things of the old life are put to death, most especially the sinful ways and lifestyles we once engaged in. “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires” Galatians 5:24(HCSB)24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Where we once pursued selfish pleasures, we now pursue, with equal passion, those things that please God.

John 14:15(HCSB)15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commands. Water baptism by immersion is the biblical method of baptism because of its symbolic representation of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.

We let ourselves be completely immersed in the water. The Greek word for baptism is Baptizmo which means immersed or immersion. This symbolizes burial with our Lord; we are baptized into His death on the cross and are no longer slaves to self or sin. When we are raised out of the water, we are symbolically resurrected—raised to our new life in Christ to be with Him forever, born into the family of our loving God

Romans 8:16(HCSB)16 The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children.

Is there a such thing as a christian hypocrite?
With these witty but also biting words, Jesus causes his listeners – then and today – to carefully examine their own lives. Are we going about accusing others of minor shortcomings when, in fact, we ourselves are ignoring our own behavior? If so, we are hypocrites. Once our hypocrisy is removed, then we are in a position to help others.

Unfortunately, one obstacle to the acceptance of Christianity that is often raised is provided by Christians themselves. Phrased in many ways, the core of the objection is, “If Christianity is true, why are there hypocrites in the church?” In other words, if Christianity is really supposed to change people, then why do some who profess to believe in Jesus set such bad examples?

Hypocrite –  a person who claims or pretends to have certain beliefs about what is right but who behaves in a way that disagrees with those beliefs

:  a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion

:  a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings

Hypocrisy – the behavior of people who do things that they tell other people not to do : behavior that does not agree with what someone claims to believe

The word is derived from the Greek term for “actor”—literally, “one who wears a mask”—in other words, someone who pretends to be what he is not. Hypo – under Krino – judge, a judging under, like a performer acting under a mask (i.e. a theater-actor); (figuratively) a two-faced person; a “hypocrite,” whose profession does not match their practice – i.e. someone who “says one thing but does another.

The Bible calls hypocrisy a sin. There are two forms hypocrisy can take: that of professing belief in something and then acting in a manner contrary to that belief, and that of looking down or judging others when we ourselves are battling the same sins.

Isaiah 29:13(HCSB)13 The Lord said: Because these people approach Me with their mouths to honor Me with lip-service—yet their hearts are far from Me and their worship consists of man-made rules learned by rote—

Jesus quoted this verse, aiming the same condemnation at the religious Scribes and Pharisees of His day Matthew 15:8-9(HCSB)These people honor Me with their lips,but their heart is far from Me. 9 They worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commands of men.”. John the Baptist refused to give hypocrites a pass, telling them to produce “fruits worthy of repentance” Luke 3:8(HCSB)8 Therefore produce fruit consistent with repentance. And don’t start saying to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you that God is able to raise up children for Abraham from these stones!. Jesus took an equally committed stand against holier than thou attitudes—He called hypocrites “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15), “whitewashed tombs” (Matthew 23:27), “snakes,” and “brood of vipers” (Matthew 23:33).

As children of God, we are called to strive for holiness (1 Peter 1:16). We are to “hate what is evil” and “cling to what is good” Romans 12:9(HCSB)9 Love must be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good. We should never imply an acceptance of sin, especially in our own lives. All we do should be consistent with what we believe and who we are in Christ. Acting is meant for hollywood and the stage, not for real life.

A hypocrite may look righteous on the outside, but it is a façade. True righteousness comes from the inner transformation of the Holy Spirit not an external conformity to a set of rules.

Hypocrisy is not the same as taking a stand against sin. It is not hypocrisy to teach that drunkenness is a sin, unless the one teaching against drunkenness gets drunk every weekend—that would be hypocrisy. Something with porn, sexual immorality,lust,drugs,etc.

Jesus addressed the other form of hypocrisy in the Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 7:3-5(HCSB)3 Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your eye? 5 Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Jesus is not teaching against discernment or helping others overcome sin; instead, He is telling us not be so prideful and convinced of our own goodness that we criticize others from a position of self-righteousness. Romans 2:1(HCSB) Therefore, any one of you who judges is without excuse. For when you judge another, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things.

Once we are delivered from our sins we could go and help others get set free from theirs, but if you are still in your sin you cannot tell another to depart from theirs.

Final thoughts on Christian Hypocrites:

•Many people who claim to be Christians don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Perhaps they are Christian in name only.

•A Christian is called to grow in faith and progress to being more like Christ. This doesn’t always happen instantly. Many Christians continue to struggle with temptation to sin. We are called to put on a new nature and allow the Holy Spirit to transform our lives (Ephesians 4:23-24(HCSB)23 you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds; 24 you put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth. It is not hypocritical to fall. It is hypocritical to deny that you fell and pretend that you were successful.

•A Christian is called to live a life of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience Colossians 3:12(HCSB)12 Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,. Be intentional about letting God change your heart.

•Christians should admit hypocrisy. All of us are hypocrites in some area. Be vulnerable, honest, and authentic with unbelievers. Acknowledge your sin and share how freeing God’s forgiveness is.

Are all Christians hypocrites? Not at all! In fact, the history of the Christian church is filled with examples of selflessness, courage, moral action and reform and many other positive influences on the world. These are not the acts of hypocrites, but of sincere believers transformed by the resurrected Christ and moved by the Holy Spirit.

Until the church and all followers of Christ are glorified, there will, unfortunately, be hypocrites in the church. What’s important to remember, however, is that this does not negate Christianity or the claims of Christ. In addition, accusations of hypocrisy assume that there is a moral standard that hypocrites break. But where does this standard come from? In this sense, the hypocrisy objection actually supports the reality of a transcendent, moral lawgiver (that is, God), rather that argue against Him.

We must also remember that, biblically speaking, Romans 3:23-24(HCSB)23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. 24 They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. In other words, no one is perfect and all are dependent on Christ for redemption, salvation and growth in spiritual maturity. On the one hand, Christians should not act hypocritically, lest we provide critics with a flimsy reason to reject the gospel message.

Shoot the Wolves

Shoot the Wolves

Wolves are heretics, false teachers, and, generally speaking, anyone who ravages the flock and feasts on the sheep. In addition to calling them wolves Ezekiel 22:27-28, Zephaniah 3:3, Matthew 7:15, Matthew 10:16, Luke 10:3 

Acts 20:29, the Bible also calls them dogs and evildoers, empty and deceitful (Colossians 2:8), puffed up without reason (Colossians 2:18), given to mythical speculation and vanity without understanding (1 Timothy 1:3–7), products of a shipwrecked faith (1 Timothy 1:19), demonic liars with a seared conscience (1 Timothy 4:1–2), peddlers of silly myths (1 Timothy 4:7), arrogant fools with depraved minds (1 Timothy 6:3–5), the spiritual equivalent of gangrene (2 Timothy 2:14–18), foolish and ignorant (2 Timothy 2:23), chatty deceivers (Titus 1:10–14), destructive blasphemers (2 Peter 2:1–3), ignorantly unstable (2 Peter 3:16), and antichrists (1 John 2:18). The Bible does not call wolves best-selling authors, bishops, TV Evangelist, Mega- Church pastors, Popes, though the wolves commonly prefer to use those names on their business cards.

Jesus shoots the wolves. Some of you get very frustrated because you want everyone to be treated like sheep, but the problem is most people are acting like wolves. We are supposed to love the sheep and shoot the wolves because we love the sheep. A wolf who cries is still a wolf.

Consider the following example from the New Testament:

Colossians 2:8 – (NLT)8 Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:14-15(NLT)4 But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve. Scripture tells us that “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light,” it means that Satan capitalizes on our love of the light in order to deceive. He wants us to think that he is good, truthful, loving, and powerful – all the things that God is. To portray himself as a dark, devilish being with horns would not be very appealing to the majority of people. Most people are not drawn to darkness, but to light. Therefore, Satan appears as a creature of light to draw us to himself and his lies. Satan presents sin to us as something pleasing and beautiful to be desired, and he presents false teaching as enlightening and life-changing. Millions follow his pied piper songs simply because they do not know God’s truth.

1 Timothy 4:1-2 (NLT)Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons. 2 These people are hypocrites and liars, and their consciences are dead.

1 Timothy 6:3-4 (ESV) “If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing.

Many times when those who stand firm in God’s Word as truth and call out false teachers they are told they have a critical or judgmental spirit, it is because we have stepped on the tender toes of a false teacher that is teaching the opposite of what biblical Christianity teaches. We are told that they are humble people with good hearts, and we need to stop bashing them.

May I suggest that these well-meaning scolders and followers of false doctrines  are possibly venting at the wrong people? The real dividers in the Church can be found throughout scripture.
Romans 16:17-18(HCSB)17 Now I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause dissensions and obstacles contrary to the doctrine you have learned. Avoid them, 18 for such people do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites.They deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting with smooth talk and flattering words.

Many have bought into the truth-be-damned, politically-correct view that it is disgusting and divisive to hold up unsound teaching to the sound teaching of Scripture. But in doing so, these well-meaning folks who yearn for unity are hanging up a neon welcome sign for all sorts of doctrines of demons.

Liberal Christians continue to lift up those who have departed from truth because they want to be seen as loving, and they want the rest of us to pipe down in front of those who do not know or care to know Christ. As if somehow the warnings about wolves from those faithfully contending will chase the unsaved away from the salvation that was just about within their grasp – but we ruined it. As if false teaching will save them anyway.

The Bible is clear that we are not to treat wolves in the same way that we treat sheep. The great Protestant Reformer Martin Luther said it well: “With the wolves you cannot be too severe; with the weak sheep you cannot be too gentle”. Luther also said, A preacher must not only feed the sheep so as to instruct them how they are to be good Christians, but he must also keep the wolves from attacking the sheep and leading them astray with false doctrine and error; for the devil is never idle. Nowadays there are many people who are quite ready to tolerate our preaching of the Gospel as long as we do not cry out against the wolves and preach against the false doctrines or false teachers. But though I preach the truth, feed the sheep well, and give them good instruction, this is still not enough unless the sheep are also guarded and protected so that the wolves do not come and carry them off.

Sheep are to be kind to sheep. Shepherds are to be kind to sheep. But if a shepherd is kind to wolves, that is just another way to let them ravage the sheep. Kindness to sheep is hostility to wolves. Kindness to wolves is hostility to sheep. All attempts to get the wolves and sheep together for some kind of all together universal non denominational lovefest will only result in fat, contented wolves.

Jesus himself was known to shoot the wolves. He sends the most bullets flying in Matthew 23 — the equivalent of a gunfight between him and some of the most devoutly religious people in his day. They started off fighting for the Bible but wound up fighting for religious ideas not founded on the Bible. Jesus says “Woe to you” 8 times then ends with “Snakes, Brood of Vipers”
Commenting on Matthew 23, D.A. Carson says:

Jesus now goes on the offensive, and “offensive” is not too strong a word for much of the language he uses. . . . It shows Jesus as a fierce controversialist, quite willing to make enemies when the cause demanded it. The target was the scribes (teachers of the law, a class of professional interpreters of Scriptures and of rabbinic tradition), and the Pharisees, a religious “party” to which most scribes belonged, and which was devoted to scrupulous observance of the full range of rabbinic legislation. They were, generally speaking, earnest, moral people, and Jesus’ attack here seems to many harsh and unfair. But his concern was not so much with their performance as individuals, but with the system of religious observance which they upheld. In insisting on a huge and growing corpus of rules and regulations, they were in danger of ignoring inner attitudes and motives and of putting adherence to the system before the will of God. (Carson, “Matthew 23:1,” New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, [InterVarsity, 1994])

Standing in line with the Old Testament prophets, in Matthew 23 Jesus pronounces seven woes on the wolves. The language of “woe” was a public, passionate declaration, with some of the guilty present for his proclamation of displeasure, grief, judgment, and righteous anger. Jesus’ words are a devastating series of shots at the wolves in front of the sheep:

Matthew 23:3–33(HCSB)3 Therefore do whatever they tell you, and observe it. But don’t do what they do, because they don’t practice what they teach. 4 They tie up heavy loads that are hard to carry and put them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves aren’t willing to lift a finger to move them. 5 They do everything to be observed by others: They enlarge their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. 6 They love the place of honor at banquets, the front seats in the synagogues, 7 greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by people.

8 “But as for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi,’ because you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 Do not call anyone on earth your father, because you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called masters either, because you have one Master, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You lock up the kingdom of heaven from people. For you don’t go in, and you don’t allow those entering to go in.

14 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You devour widows’ houses and make long prayers just for show. This is why you will receive a harsher punishment.]

15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to make one proselyte, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as fit for hell as you are!

16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever takes an oath by the sanctuary, it means nothing. But whoever takes an oath by the gold of the sanctuary is bound by his oath.’ 17 Blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the sanctuary that sanctified the gold? 18 Also, ‘Whoever takes an oath by the altar, it means nothing. But whoever takes an oath by the gift that is on it is bound by his oath.’ 19 Blind people! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? 20 Therefore, the one who takes an oath by the altar takes an oath by it and by everything on it. 21 The one who takes an oath by the sanctuary takes an oath by it and by Him who dwells in it. 22 And the one who takes an oath by heaven takes an oath by God’s throne and by Him who sits on it.

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You pay a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, yet you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. These things should have been done without neglecting the others. 24 Blind guides! You strain out a gnat, yet gulp down a camel!

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence! 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so the outside of it may also become clean.

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every impurity. 28 In the same way, on the outside you seem righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we wouldn’t have taken part with them in shedding the prophets’ blood.’ 31 You, therefore, testify against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ sins!

33 “Snakes! Brood of vipers! How can you escape being condemned to hell?

This harsh language was undoubtedly very shocking to a bunch of guys who spent their lives studying and memorizing the Old Testament. They had really prayed about it and did not agree that their inner child needed such a spanking, If Jesus did that today all the social media sites would say “ Jesus needed to take some meds and a meeting with Dr. Phil because he was angry and not loving”

These are people that have memorized the entire Pentateuch. Didn’t Jesus tell us not to call people fools? He did. We should call fools fools. That takes discernment.

Our speech should not be judged by the standards of “American politeness, politically correct tolerance, or Pansy Niceianity.”

When he shoots the wolves, a shepherd is not only protecting the sheep but also evangelizing non-Christians. Jesus shot the wolves publicly in front of a crowd. In that crowd would have been an assortment of wolves, sheep, and lost people. By calling the religious people to repent of their proud, hypocritical, unbiblical, unloving, legalistic, and self-righteous religion, he was demonstrating the fact that God, as Paul says in Acts 17:30(HCSB)30 “Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God now commands all people everywhere to repent, For repentance to occur, sinners must be called to repent of their sins, and religious people need to be called to repent of their religion.

Sadly, most gospel preaching is only half true because it calls only the “sinners” to repent of their sin. Porn addicts, fornicators, adulterers, perverts, liars, thieves, and the like are called to repent of their sin.

This is quite good. However, what is often lacking in gospel preaching is an equally passionate call for the smug holier-than-thou religious types to get off their high horse (Jesus called it “Moses’ seat” in Matthew 23) and repent of their religion that is simply another kind of sin.

When the example of Jesus in Matthew 23 is not followed, the result is that sinners just think Christians are mean-spirited, self-righteous, religious prudes who want them to become religious too; The smug religious types cheer on the preaching-to-the-choir preachers who lather the wolves into a frenzy, shouting about how the wicked people outside their church are kindling for the flames of hell. True gospel preaching will not divide people into sinners and righteous, but rather into repentant and unrepentant, with both unrepentant sinners and religious wolves wanting to silence the shepherd and ravage his repentant flock.

We see wolves being shot elsewhere in the New Testament. Paul admonished the Judaizers in Galatia, who thought they were holy because they were circumcised a bit, to go all out and cut the whole thing off. This literally would have meant that these wolves would no longer be accepted as Jews, and not only cut off physically but also cut off spiritually from temple worship. Paul says:

Galatians 5:11–14(HCSB)11 Now brothers, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12 I wish those who are disturbing you might also get themselves castrated!

13 For you were called to be free, brothers; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.

People love to prooftext verses, and they don’t read the context. The guy (Paul)who said “love one another” prefaced it by saying “cut your thing off.”

Paul even names people sometimes who are false teachers. He is saying,”Don’t read their books, go to their conferences, don’t watch them on TV, etc.”

How curious it is that sheep and wolves alike are prone to quote the latter half of this section of God’s Word and argue that we should be loving, as Jesus taught, while conveniently ignoring the part about cutting ones manhood off. Indeed, when the Bible says we need to be loving, we need to read the verses around those words to see how the Bible also exemplifies how to be loving to God, sheep, lost people, and wolves. Apparently, in some cases telling religious wolves to castrate themselves is loving.

Not only does the Word of God record the shooting of packs of wolves, such as Pharisees and Judaizers, but it also names individual wolves to be shot. It is ok at times to call out the names of the wolves as to warn the sheep. Paul says,
1 Timothy 1:19–20(HCSB) having faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and have suffered the shipwreck of their faith. 20 Hymenaeus and Alexander are among them, and I have delivered them to Satan, so that they may be taught not to blaspheme. Later he speaks of “Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth”
2 Timothy 2:17–18(HCSB)17 And their word will spread like gangrene; Hymenaeus and Philetus are among them. 18 They have deviated from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and are overturning the faith of some. and how “Alexander the coppersmith did [him] great harm” 2 Timothy 4:14(HCSB).

Outside of Scripture, one of the most legendary wolf hunters in the history of the church is Martin Luther. He was a good shot with bad popes. Like the Old Testament prophets,Jesus and Paul, Luther used colorful language in order to repulse readers and make them see how vile apostasy and sin really are. Gordon Rupp writes that, for Luther, “blasphemy and apostasy are not simply evil: they are filthy things, which must be described in language coarse enough and repulsive enough to nauseate the reader” (E. Gordon Rupp, Righteousness of God: Luther Studies.

Luther defended his usage of colorful and incisive speech as being both Christlike and apostolic. Luther writes:

It is true, I have, by and large, sharply inveighed against ungodly doctrines and have not been slow to bite my adversaries, not because of their bad morals but because of their ungodliness. Of this I am so unrepentant that I have resolved to continue in this burning zeal and to despise the judgment of men, after the example of Christ, who in His zeal called His adversaries a generation of vipers, blind, hypocrites, children of the devil.
John 8:44(HCSB)44 You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars. And Paul calls the sorcerer a child of the devil full of all deceit and all fraud.

Acts 13:10(HCSB)10 and said, “You son of the Devil, full of all deceit and all fraud, enemy of all righteousness! Won’t you ever stop perverting the straight paths of the Lord? and some false apostles he calls dogs, deceivers, and adulterers of the Word (Philippians 3:2; 2 Corinthians 11:13(HCSB)13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.
If the modern day sensitive ears had heard this, they would probably say that no one could be more biting and intolerant than Paul. Who is more biting than the prophets? But nowadays, of course, our ears are made so sensitive by the mad multitude of flatterers that as soon as we find that we are not praised in all things, we cry out that people are vicious; and when we cannot ward off the truth under any other appearance, we escape from it under the pretext of the irritable, impatience, and immoderateness of its defenders. What good does salt do if it does not bite? What good does the edge of the sword do if it does not cut? Cursed be the man who does the work of the Lord deceitfully! (Luther, What Luther Says, 1057)

Luther never denied that his strong attacks were forceful, passionate and intense. Luther defended his colorful language by appealing to the fact that God’s Word was being attacked viciously by wolves.

Luther reserved some of his strongest and most colorful language for his theological opponents. One such opponent was Erasmus of Rotterdam. “Erasmus of Rotterdam is the vilest miscreant that ever disgraced the earth. Shame upon thee, accursed wretch! Whenever I pray, I pray for a curse upon Erasmus.” Erasmus was the chief translator of the KJV.

For modern ears finely tuned to prefer only tender tones, the words of Luther are perhaps quickly dismissed as the rants of an angry man, as if all anger is bad and less civilized than passive aggression, deep-breathing exercises, gossip and backbiting. The truth is that sometimes Luther’s public speech was fueled by intense anger. Martin Luther, the man who, outside of Scripture, elevated shooting wolves into an art form. Some of you would judge Luther and say he was too hotheaded. Well, we got the Reformation out of it.

Luther said that he has “not been hesitant to bite his adversaries….What good does salt do if it does not bite? What good does the sword do if it will not cut?”

We are told that our speech is to be seasoned with salt

Colossians 4:6(HSCB)6 Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.. You know what salt is? Salty.

What do you think of Christ? Was He abusive when He called the Jews an adulterous and perverse generation, an offspring of vipers, hypocrites, and children of the devil? Paul, too, speaks of dogs, vain babblers, seducers, unlearned. In Acts 13:10 he rages against a false prophet in such a way that he might seem to be insane. He says: “ and said, “You son of the Devil, full of all deceit and all fraud, enemy of all righteousness! Won’t you ever stop perverting the straight paths of the Lord?” Why does he not rather flatter this fellow in order to convert him instead of insulting him in such a way? The truth, which one is conscious of possessing, cannot be patient against its stubborn and uncontrollable enemies.

Ecclesiastes 3:8(ESV) rightly says that there is also “a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”

Discernment is knowing what time it is. Courage is doing what the time requires. While not every church needs a Martin Luther, more than a handful of denominations could use a good shooter, because the wolves have the sheep praying to the demon gods of other religions while encouraging the rams to have sex with the rams and the ewes to have sex with the ewes.

Galatians 4:16(NLT)16 Have I now become your enemy because I am telling you the truth?

These are false teachers. Martin Luther says, “With the wolves you cannot be too severe. With the weak sheep you cannot be too gentle.” My point is that many of us have become worldly, thinking that you only say certain words. Worldliness is not having courage or speaking truthfully. We worship a guy who got murdered. The cross is an offense, and if we don’t speak of it in an offensive way at times, we may be false teachers.

Sometimes the most loving thing you can do is destroy someone’s self made theology before they go to hell.

Holy Spirit,His purpose in our lives

Justification We are saved from the PENALTY of Sin.

Sanctification We are being saved from the Power of Sin

Justification is Instantaneous, Sanctification is not instantaneous because it is not the work of God alone, it is the God working His character in us though the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our Helper to get through Sanctification.


Jesus says in Acts 1:8(HCSB)8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When the spirit comes it gives you power, “You shall receive power . . . and you shall be my witnesses.” 

This is an experience of boldness and confidence and victory over sin. A Christian without power to overcome sin is a Christian who is void of the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 6:11(HCSB) And some of you used to be like this. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Jesus spoke about the Holy Spirit before His crucifixion and resurrection. He said it was promised as a HELPER.

John 14:15 (ESV)“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

Jesus gave the Spirit as a “compensation” for His absence, to perform the functions toward us which He would have done if He had remained personally with us.

The Spirit has many functions, roles, and activities. First, He does a work in the hearts of all people everywhere. Jesus told the disciples that He would send the Spirit into the world to “convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:7-11). Everyone has a “God consciousness,” whether or not they admit it. The Spirit applies the truths of God to minds of men to convince them by fair and sufficient arguments that they are sinners. Responding to that conviction brings men to salvation.

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
The Greek word  for power here is “Dunamis” it is the power for performing miracles, moral power and excellence of soul, power to overcome sin.
Ephesians 5:18 (NLT)Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, The scripture here is present tense meaning to continually be filled. Being filled with the Spirit is not a one time thing.

You will be filled with the Spirit to go out and perform miracles, speak the gospel, say no to temptation, etc. It is the supernatural power to accomplish a task set forth by God. It is not a one time deal and it is done throughout the book of Acts

Acts 4:31 (HCSB)31 When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak God’s message with boldness.
The effect of their fullness was that they spoke the Word of God with extraordinary boldness and Christ-exalting power.

Acts 4:8-10(HCSB)8 Then Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders: 9 If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a disabled man—by what means he was healed— 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—whom you crucified and whom God raised from the dead—by Him this man is standing here before you healthy.

Peter is again filled with the Holy Spirit and speaks with such power that the Jewish leaders were amazed at his boldness in spite of his being relatively uneducated (Acts 4:13).

In Acts 6 we meet Stephen who is full of faith and the Holy Spirit (v. 5). And Luke tells us in verse 8 that he was therefore full of power and did wonders and signs among the people, but especially in verse 10 the leaders could not resist the wisdom and Spirit with which he spoke. His fullness gave him an extraordinary power for Christ-exalting ministry.

In Acts 9:17 Paul is filled with the Holy Spirit at his conversion and the result was that he spoke with such extraordinary power that the Jews of Damascus were confounded (Acts 9:22).

In Acts 11:24 Barnabas was full of the Holy Spirit and faith and the effect Luke mentions was that “a large company was added to the Lord” (as at Pentecost).

In Acts 13:9 Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit as he spoke to Elymas the magician and God gave him the extraordinary power to pronounce Elymas blind for a season (Acts 13:11).

Overcome Sin/Working of miracles

Romans 8 tells us the Spirit will help us stop sinning and do the things that please God. Romans 8:5(NLT) Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. 6 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. 7 For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. 8 That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.

But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) 10 And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. 11 The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

It’s important to remember that the Spirit will not prompt us to do anything that goes against Scripture. People sometimes justify their actions by saying, “My conscience told me … ” We need to make sure we’re listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit, not the voice of our own desires. And we know which is which by checking this voice against the truth of God’s Word.

The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the action by which God takes up permanent residence in the body of a believer in Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament, the Spirit would come and go from the saints, empowering them for service but not necessarily remaining with them. Jesus revealed to His disciples the new role the Spirit of Truth would play in their lives:

John 14:16-17(NLT)16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.

The apostle Paul wrote, 1 Corinthians 6:19–20(NLT) Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

1 Corinthians 6:15-18 (NLT)Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ? Should a man take his body, which is part of Christ, and join it to a prostitute? Never! 16 And don’t you realize that if a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? For the Scriptures say, “The two are united into one.” 17 But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.18 Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.

These verses are telling us that the believer in Jesus Christ has the third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, living in him. When an individual is saved, the Holy Spirit gives the believer the life of God, eternal life, which is really His very nature and then the Holy Spirit comes to live within him spiritually.

Titus 3:3-7(NLT)3 Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. 4 But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, 5 he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. 6 He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. 7 Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life. The fact that the believer’s body is likened to a temple where the Holy Spirit lives helps us understand what the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is all about. The word temple is used to describe the Holy of Holies, the inner sanctum in the Old Testament tabernacle structure. There, God’s presence would appear in a cloud and meet the high priest, who came once a year into the Holy of Holies. On the Day of Atonement, the high priest brought the blood of a slain animal and sprinkled it on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant. On this special day, God granted forgiveness to the priest and His people.

Today, there is no Jewish temple in Jerusalem, and the animal sacrifices have ceased. The believer in Christ has become the inner sanctum of God the Holy Spirit, having been sanctified and forgiven by the blood of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:7). The believer in Christ becomes the habitation of the Holy Spirit of God. In fact, Scripture also says that the believer is spiritually by Christ and by God the Father —the Trinity is involved.

As the Holy Spirit lives in the believer, He brings about some life-changing results:

1) The indwelling Spirit comes to a soul dead in sin and creates new life (Titus 3:5(NLT) 5 he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.. This is the new birth Jesus spoke of in John 3:1–8.

2) The indwelling Spirit confirms to the believer that he belongs to the Lord and is an heir of God and fellow-heir with Christ

Romans 8:15–17(NLT)15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” 16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering..

3) The indwelling Spirit installs the new believer as a member of Christ’s universal church. This is the baptism of the Spirit, according to

1 Corinthians 12:13(NLT) Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.

4) The indwelling Spirit gives spiritual gifts (God-given abilities for service) to the believer to edify the church and serve the Lord effectively for His glory (1 Corinthians 12:11(NLT) It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have..

5) The indwelling Spirit helps the believer understand and apply the Scripture to his daily life (1 Corinthians 2:12 (NLT)And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us..

6) The indwelling Spirit enriches the believer’s prayer life and intercedes for him in prayer (Romans 8:26–27).

7) The indwelling Holy Spirit empowers the yielded believer to live for Christ to do His will (Galatians 5:16(NLT)16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The Spirit leads the believer in paths of righteousness

Romans 8:12-13(NLT)12 Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. 13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.

8) The indwelling Spirit gives evidence of new life by producing the fruit of the Spirit in the believer’s life

Galatians 5:22–25(NLT)22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.

9) The indwelling Spirit is grieved when the believer sins (Ephesians 4:30(NLT)And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. and He convicts the believer to confess his sin to the Lord so that fellowship is restored (1 John 1:9(NLT) But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.).

10) The indwelling Spirit seals the believer unto the day of redemption so that the believer’s arrival in the Lord’s presence is guaranteed after this life (Ephesians 1:13–14(NLT)13 And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own[d] by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. 14 The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.

When Christ calls you out of darkness into His marvelous light , the Holy Spirit takes up residence in your heart, bringing with Him an entirely new life of love, relationship, and service to the Lord.2 Peter 1:3-11(NLT)3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.5 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.8 The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.10 So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. 11 Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Are you a Sheep or a Goat

Throughout God’s Word, the Scriptures, God speaks tough and tender words to his people. He curses and he blesses. His words kill and his words give life. He speaks law from Mount Sinai when He gave Moses the Commandments and he speaks gospel from Golgotha when Jesus died on the cross. This balance between tough and tender speech is rooted ultimately in the character of God himself. Subsequently, Paul calls the church at Rome to consider both the kindness and the severity of God Romans 11:22(HCSB)22 Therefore, consider God’s kindness and severity: severity toward those who have fallen but God’s kindness toward you—if you remain in His kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. Tender words and tough words, spoken in love, fill the pages of the Bible. These words are a gracious gift because they reveal to us the fullness of God so that our speech may echo his. In order to inform and transform our words, we will examine the Word of God to hear his tender and tough words to sheep,goats, swine, wolves, dogs, and shepherds.

The problem seems to be that some go too far, and some don’t go far enough. Some people won’t fight for anything. Some fight for everything.

Christians are to feed the sheep.

Jesus dealt with different people differently, He was harsh to the Pharisees & false teachers(wolves), He was tender to the people(sheep) and he was stern with His disciples. We deal with different people differently, and we have to discern who goes into what category. When we’re dealing with Christians, the effort should be to love, encourage, grow them.

Sheep are the most frequently mentioned animal in all of Scripture. Ezekiel 34:1-6(HCSB)The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy, and say to them: This is what the Lord God says to the shepherds: Woe to the shepherds of Israel, who have been feeding themselves! Shouldn’t the shepherds feed their flock? You eat the fat, wear the wool, and butcher the fattened animals, but you do not tend the flock. You have not strengthened the weak, healed the sick, bandaged the injured, brought back the strays, or sought the lost. Instead, you have ruled them with violence and cruelty. They were scattered for lack of a shepherd; they became food for all the wild animals when they were scattered. My flock went astray on all the mountains and every high hill. They were scattered over the whole face of the earth, and there was no one searching or seeking for them.

Ezekiel 34 is arguably the most comprehensive section in all of Scripture on sheep, false shepherds, true shepherds, and God as the Shepherd. Sheep are consistently portrayed there in less than powerful and awe-inspiring depiction. Sheep are prone to wander because they are foolish. Sheep are prone to follow false shepherds and be led astray because they are not discerning. Sheep are prone to get pushed around, leaving them hungry, thirsty, and weary. Sheep are so defenseless that they are commonly wounded and killed without even putting up a fight. The Bible is clear that Christians are sheep.

Perhaps the most clearly direct words for sheep is found in
Ephesians 4:29–32(ESV) Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

This section of Scripture is incredibly important because it reveals how sheep are to speak to other sheep and how shepherds are to speak to sheep, including tone and content. Paul’s phrase “one another” reveals that; however, there are Christians who would make these the defining marks of all true godly speech. Besides sheep & goats, the Bible also speaks of swine, wolves, and dogs. Thus, any attempt to require that every Christian speak to everyone as if all are a sheep is unbiblical. Why? Because not everyone is a sheep.
Our modern world is a very different world than the agricultural world of the Bible. This difference in lifestyles puts those of us who grew up in cities at a disadvantage when it comes to fully understanding some of Christ’s parables or biblical metaphors. We simply lack the background to truly understand it. For instance, the Bible’s use of goats and sheep as metaphors for Christians is beyond many of us. Most of us in the church seem to be more familiar with sheep. We hear a great deal about them in sermons and their attributes are fairly common knowledge: Christ is the Good Shepherd and we are the sheep

John 10:14-15(HCSB)“I am the good shepherd. I know My own sheep, and they know Me, 15 as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. I lay down My life for the sheep.

We know many of the traits of sheep through studies into Psalm 23 and John 10.

Psalm 23:1-4(HCSB)The Lord is my shepherd;there is nothing I lack.He lets me lie down in green pastures;He leads me beside quiet waters.He renews my life;He leads me along the right paths for His name’s sake.Even when I go through the darkest valley,I fear no danger,for You are with me;Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me 

But our mental picture of goats is usually vague. We may think they regularly eat soup cans and ram into people. We will see that the attributes of goats, however, should not to be taken lightly.

God uses the goat to symbolize evil in numerous instances in the Bible. In Zechariah 10:3 (NKJV)“My anger is kindled against the shepherds,And I will punish the goatherds.For the Lord of hosts will visit His flock,The house of Judah, And will make them as His royal horse in the battle.

Matthew 25:31-34(HCSB)31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

Jesus’ Parable of the Sheep and the Goats tells of His return and of judging the nations. Jesus begins the parable by saying it concerns His return in glory to set up His kingdom (verse 31). All those on earth at that time will be brought before the Lord, and He will separate them “as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left” (verses 32-33).

The sheep on Jesus’ right hand are blessed by God the Father and given an inheritance. The goats on Jesus’ left hand are cursed with eternal hell-fire, “prepared for the devil and his angels” Matthew 25:41(HCSB)Then He will also say to those on the left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels!

Hell was not intended for human occupancy, it was intended for the occupancy of Satan and the fallen angels. Our unwillingness to submit and depart from sin allows us to ride the coat tails of Satan and the demons straight into Hell.

Jesus then ends the discourse with a contrast: “They will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life” Matthew 25:46(HCSB)“And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

The sheep are then given eternal life, but the goats are cast into the Lake of Fire. It should be abundantly clear from this section of Scripture that we want the attributes of sheep and not those of goats!

The core message of the Parable of the Sheep and Goats is that God’s people will love others. Good works will result from our relationship to the Shepherd. Followers of Christ will treat others with kindness, serving them as if they were serving Christ Himself. The unregenerate live in the opposite manner. While “goats” can indeed perform acts of kindness and charity, their hearts are not right with God, and their actions are not for the right purpose – to honor and worship God.

What is it about goats that causes God to use them in such a negative light? Goats have many admirable qualities. They are intelligent, sensitive, playful, quick to respond to individual attention and affection. Sounds good, right?

But wait, there is much more! Goats are inconsistent. They are impulsive and unpredictable & devious. When they are grazing, it is not unusual to see several with their heads through a fence, straining to reach the grass that is always greener on the other side!

Non-shepherds find it difficult to distinguish such sheep and goats, but the shepherd knows the difference and easily separates them. For example, there are differences in behavior: sheep tend to follow; goats go their own way. Hebrews 13:20(HCSB)20 Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus—the great Shepherd of the sheep—with the blood of the everlasting covenant, At the judgment, the Great Shepherd will know the difference and will separate those who followed Him from those who went their own way.

John 10:25-28(HCSB) 25 “I did tell you and you don’t believe,” Jesus answered them. “The works that I do in My Father’s name testify about Me. 26 But you don’t believe because you are not My sheep.27 My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

Differences between sheep and goats

1. Sheep eat grass and a few select herbs. – Spiritual sheep graze on the pure word of God and a few select books, websites and sermons. They are very careful to take in those things that will enhance their understanding of God, not interfere with it.

Goats will nibble on grass and herbs and weeds and trees and paper. – “Goats” will “eat” any thing.

2. Sheep will not try fences,They are content with what they have.

Goats are difficult animals to keep in. they will go under or over or through most any fence, unless of course they decide to just open the gate. Spiritual goats are always trying the boundaries; always trying to see how close to the edge they can get. They are not content with the boundaries placed by God in their lives.

3.Sheep have 1-3 babies at a time. They keep their babies by their side at all times, nursing them frequently. A mama sheep isn’t much of a threat to any predator, but she will stand and fight to the death to protect her baby.

Goats have many babies (2-5) at a time. They leave them for long periods of time coming back only to nurse a couple of times a day. If a predator comes it may fight the predator, But if it comes to a choice between her baby and her own life, she will run away; abandon her kids.

We should be spiritual sheep when caring for our spiritual lambs.

We should “mother” our new converts like sheep.

We should become a part of their lives, helping them to learn to “eat” the pure Word of God.

We need to teach them the dangers of “eating” the wrong things and trying the boundaries.

We should defend them from Satan to the death.

By now, a goat’s characteristics should be clear. They are not evil, but some of their traits could be deadly—spiritually—if found in a Christian. What would we call a Christian who is unpredictable? A goat! Or one who thinks he is above it all? A goat! Or one who independently does his own thing? A goat! What would we call a Christian who wants to take over, has trouble functioning in a group, and does not want to be led? A goat!

Goats in a congregation tend to divide it, leading the sheep astray.

Many of us probably have goat-like characteristics. Some good, some bad. Most of us know these things about ourselves, and we try hard not to admit them. But now that we understand the biblical metaphor about goats, and what Christ says their ultimate end will be, we can look on this side of ourselves in a more urgent light.

Jesus gave Peter a three-fold command to “feed my sheep” in
John 21:15-17(HCSB)15 When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.”

“Feed My lambs,” He told him.

16 A second time He asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.”

“Shepherd My sheep,” He told him.

17 He asked him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”

Peter was grieved that He asked him the third time, “Do you love Me?” He said, “Lord, You know everything! You know that I love You.”

“Feed My sheep,” Jesus said. . Each time Jesus said, “Feed my sheep,” it was in response to Peter’s three-fold declaration of love for Jesus. The setting was one of the last of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances to His disciples on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus prepared a breakfast of fish and bread for them, and then commissioned Peter with the task of feeding His sheep and tending His lambs. Jesus is both our Good Shepherd and the Door of the sheepfold. By describing His people as lambs, He is emphasizing their nature as immature and vulnerable and in need of tending and care.

The second time, the literal meaning is “tend My sheep” (v. 16). In this exchange, Jesus was emphasizing tending the sheep in a supervisory capacity, not only feeding but ruling over them. This expresses the full scope of pastoral oversight, both in Peter’s future and in all those who would follow him in pastoral ministry. Peter follows Jesus’ example and repeats this same Greek word poimaino in his first pastoral letter to the elders of the churches of Asia Minor: 1 Peter 5:2 (ESV)“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers”

The third time, the literal translation is “pasture (tend) the sheep” (v. 17). Here Jesus combines the different Greek words to make clear the job of the shepherd of the flock of God. They are to tend, care for, and provide spiritual food for God’s people, from the youngest lambs to the full-grown sheep, in continual action to nourish and care for their souls, bringing them into the fullness of spiritual maturity. The totality of the task set before Peter, and all shepherds, is made clear by Jesus’ three-fold command and the words He chooses.

What is this food with which shepherds are to feed the flock of God? It can be no other than the Word of God. Peter declares that Christians are to desire the pure spiritual milk of the Word so that by it, we can mature in our salvation.
1 Peter 2:2(HCSB)2 Like newborn infants, desire the pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow by it for your salvation,. As early as the book of Deuteronomy, we see the Lord describing His Word as food for His people who live not by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from His mouth (Deuteronomy 8:3). Jesus reiterates this thought in His temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4:4). The importance of the Word of God as food for our spirit cannot be over-emphasized.

Clearly, the job of the shepherds of God’s people is to provide them with the pure milk of the Word of God so they can move on to the meat and solid food of the spiritually mature (Hebrews 5:13-14(HCSB)13 Now everyone who lives on milk is inexperienced with the message about righteousness, because he is an infant. 14 But solid food is for the mature—for those whose senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil. Pastoral ministry should be primarily one of pastors feeding their people the Word of God. Only then can pastors declare, as Peter did, their love for the Lord Jesus.

We see this in the ministry of Jesus. He speaks to the woman at the well in a loving way. Jesus speaks like this to Zaccheus. Romans 14 shows us this as well. Paul says “It doesn’t matter what you eat or don’t eat. Love your brother.”

Ephesians 4:32 (ESV) “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” This is speaking of sheep. We’re NOT supposed to be kind to wolves or false teachers,swine,or dogs. We’re not to be kind to those speaking false doctrine. Some Christians, when you begin to critique others, quote Ephesians 4:32. We are supposed to be kind, but to one another. We are not to be kind to wolves. The importance of being under a solid leader who preaches just the Word, one that doesn’t put opinions in the Word or taint the Word, or proof texts the Word,One that encourages you and equips you to read and understand the Word is that when the Wolves or the False teachers come in you can discern the truth. Pastors(used that term loosely) that are too afraid to shoot the wolves or call them out are nothing more than hired hands, they are false teachers.
John 10:11-13(HSCB)11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired man, since he is not the shepherd and doesn’t own the sheep, leaves them and runs away when he sees a wolf coming. The wolf then snatches and scatters them. 13 This happens because he is a hired man and doesn’t care about the sheep.

So when the Bible commands pastors to “shepherd the flock” (1 Peter 5:1–3), the expectation is that loving, patient, kind, devoted, and humble shepherds will give their lives to care for their flock like Jesus Christ the “good shepherd” (John 10:11, 14). The Gospels continually report how Jesus shepherded with loving honesty and gracious empathy. In John 4 he sat down at a well with a perverted, outcast Samaritan woman to care for her when no one else would. Similarly, Paul demonstrates the tender care of a good shepherd throughout his ministry.

A Christian cannot stand still, yet not all movement is proper growth. A Christian’s life must move in the right direction, along the path that leads to the Kingdom of God. We do not want to be sidetracked, to follow a road of our own choosing, on a whim or out of stubbornness or independence.

A sheep follows its Shepherd, peacefully moving forward with the flock. He is content to be led because he has faith in Him. A sheep responds to his Shepherd’s voice and goes where He directs.

A goat follows only its own lead, creating disunity when he comes in contact with others in the flock. Because of his independent nature, he often finds himself in contention with the Shepherd for leadership of the flock, leading some astray. A goat often eats things sheep would avoid because they have no value and cause sickness. These are serious spiritual characteristics. Which are you, a sheep or a goat?

Fat Tuesday & Ash Wednesday

There was a festival going on in Ephesus (The city of Ephesus itself was filled with the worship, not only of Diana (or Artemis), but also of Dionysus — according to the ancient historian Plutarch. As with the worship of Diana, that of Dionysus was heavily sexual. This worship, like. the nature religions of the Canaanites, with emphasis on pornographic images and vulgar songs, was supposed to please the god so that he would grant to his devotees the gifts of health and fertility)that involved parading idols before the people so that they might worship and appeal to the gods they were supposed to represent. Timothy could see the faces of the people who put their hopes in dead stone. They sought healing and help and they received nothing but disappointment. Recalling the day he had seen God heal a crippled boy, his heart burned at the thought of misplaced faith and so he took to the street and stood in front of the parade to preach words of true hope and effective faith. They screamed for him to stop and he continued anyway because he had been trained and taught by Paul that the Gospel was worth suffering for. So, he was beaten savagely and dragged by his clothes and arms through the street before those who had such desperate hope stoned him to death and made him a martyr.

Mardi Gras is idol worship, when you have a parade you honor something, when you lift your hands in expectance of a reward you are worshipping. plain and simple.

In light of its sordid origin, should Mardi Gras still be viewed as harmless fun? Does God allow Christians to cast off all restraint and participate in its festivities—drunkenness, lewdness, public nudity, homosexuality, illicit sex, revelry and brawling—which He calls “the works of the flesh” (Galatians 5:19-21(HCSB)Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance—as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.?

Mardi Gras represents a blend of religion and immorality, steeped in ancient pagan fertility rites. Many of the parades celebrate and honor false gods such as Bacchus and Venus; others promote fornication and drunkenness—conduct that ends marriages, breaks up families and destroys lives! Professing Christians should take heed: Drunkenness, fornication and such reveling are among the kinds of conduct that exclude one from inheriting the kingdom of God

I Corinthians 6:9-10(HCSB)Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality, 10 no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom..

This may come as a surprise, but Mardi Gras long predates Christianity. The earliest record comes from ancient times, when tribes celebrated a fertility festival that welcomed the arrival of spring, a time of renewal of life. The Romans called this pagan festival Lupercalia in honor of “Lupercus,” the Roman god of fertility. Lupercalia was a drunken orgy of merrymaking held each February in Rome, after which participants fasted for 40 days.

Interestingly, similar to modern celebrations, the Romans donned masks, dressed in costumes and indulged all of their fleshly desires as they gave themselves to the gods “Bacchus” (god of wine) and “Venus” (goddess of love). The masks and costumes were used as disguises to allow sexual liberties not normally permitted as individuals engaged in “bacchanal,” the drunken and riotous occasion in honor of Bacchus. (The word “bacchanal” is still associated with Carnival celebrations to this day.)

As pagans converted to Catholicism, they did not want to give up this popular celebration. Church leaders, seeing that it was impossible to divorce the new converts from their pagan customs, decided to “Christianize” this festival. Thus, Carnival was created as a time of merrymaking immediately preceding their pagan 40-day fast, which the church renamed “Lent.” During Carnival, participants indulged in madness and all aspects of pleasure allowable, including gluttony, drunkenness and fornication.

It is hypocritical for anyone who claims to seek or serve the true God to participate in a festival that originates from paganism and promotes immoral behavior. Not only should Christians not participate in evil, God commands them to avoid even the appearance of evil 1 Thessalonians 5:22(HCSB)Stay away from every kind of evil. This certainly applies to Mardi Gras.

What about Lent? As noted earlier, the Catholic Church incorporated the 40-day fast that the pagans had been observing and renamed it Lent. This, too, is an unscriptural custom, and should be avoided by anyone striving to obey God.

Any festival or religious observance of pagan origin is unacceptable to God, the “Lord” of the Old Testament—the same Being who later became Jesus Christ. (Deuteronomy 12:29-32(HCSB)“When the Lord your God annihilates the nations before you, which you are entering to take possession of, and you drive them out and live in their land, 30 be careful not to be ensnared by their ways after they have been destroyed before you. Do not inquire about their gods, asking, ‘How did these nations worship their gods? I’ll also do the same.’ 31 You must not do the same to the Lord your God, because they practice every detestable thing, which the Lord hates, for their gods. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. 32 You must be careful to do everything I command you; do not add anything to it or take anything away from it. 

On the night before Lent begins, this system condones the celebration of “Fat Tuesday” which is nothing but drunken, sinful,lustful revelry(lively and noisy festivities with plenty of alcohol and lewd behavior). It is the culmination of a period called “Mardi Gras” which is full of the same decadence(moral or cultural decline as characterized by excessive indulgence in pleasure or luxury.). New Orleans bills its Mardi Gras celebration as a bigger party with more liquor and less clothing.

Where in the world do people get such a perverted set of values? It certainly does not come from the Bible. The Bible clearly and repeatedly condemns such sinful actions at any time. In 1 Peter 4:1-5(HCSB)Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, equip yourselves also with the same resolve—because the one who suffered in the flesh has finished with sin— 2 in order to live the remaining time in the flesh, no longer for human desires, but for God’s will. 3 For there has already been enough time spent in doing what the pagans choose to do: carrying on in unrestrained behavior, evil desires, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and lawless idolatry. 4 So they are surprised that you don’t plunge with them into the same flood of wild living—and they slander you. 5 They will give an account to the One who stands ready to judge the living and the dead.,

In Romans the Bible again condemns such “deeds of darkness” as inconsistent with the life of a Christian: Romans 13:12-14(HCSB)12 The night is nearly over, and the daylight is near, so let us discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk with decency, as in the daylight: not in carousing and drunkenness; not in sexual impurity and promiscuity; not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desires.,

One is not made righteous because he ceases to do a few things for forty days while continuing to do other things that are just as sinful. Nor is one more spiritual because he gives up all sinful practices for Lent with the full intent of resuming the actions the day after “Easter.” God’s standard for conduct is much higher.

Notice God’s command: 1 Peter 1:15(HCSB)”But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct “. Not forty days worth, but all of the Christian’s conduct must conform to the commands of God. Or consider the question raised by the apostle Paul in Romans 6:1-23. He talks to those who had been cleansed and justified by the blood of Christ and asks if they should continue in sin. His answer is simple, “ Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” To the Christian, sin should be a disgusting and detestable path. It should not be tolerable for another second!

The contrast is really very clear. The system which proposes Lent advocates a forty day vacation from sin – and then only some sins, not all sins just the ones you choose to give up for a time. God’s Word commands that the practice of sin be put to death:

Colossians 3:5-9Therefore, put to death what belongs to your worldly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, God’s wrath comes on the disobedient, 7 and you once walked in these things when you were living in them. 8 But now you must also put away all the following: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old self[c] with its practices.

There is a big difference between those two approaches to sin!

Oh yes, it is a more convenient religion for the worldly person to conform to certain outward rituals while one continues to live a life of sin. One might asked, “Then why not choose that kind of religion?” As far as I can see, there are only two reasons to be given:

1. Regardless of how we feel about it, the Bible says such a practice is wrong!

2. Such a religion will lead one to be lost eternally Matthew 7:21-23(HCSB)“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ 23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!’.

Let’s follow what God says every day and put sin to death in our lives. We must not desire to join in the sins of the world around us. The Word of God gives this exhortation:

Ephesians 5:6-12(HCSB)Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for God’s wrath is coming on the disobedient because of these things. 7 Therefore, do not become their partners. 8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light— 9 for the fruit of the light results in all goodness, righteousness, and truth— 10 discerning what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to mention what is done by them in secret.

We must always seek to expose the darkness of sin, examine all things in the light of the Gospel and exalt the path God directs in everything that we do.

From the Catholic Website

Ash Wednesday is one of the most popular and important holy days in the liturgical calendar. Ash Wednesday opens Lent, a season of fasting and prayer.

Ash Wednesday takes place 46 days before Easter Sunday, and is cheifly observed by Catholics, although many other Christians observe it too.

Ash Wednesday comes from the ancient Jewish tradition of penance and fasting. The practice includes the wearing of ashes on the head. The ashes symbolize the dust from which God made us. As the priest applies the ashes to a person’s forehead, he speaks the words: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Alternatively, the priest may speak the words, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.”

Ashes also symbolize grief, in this case, grief that we have sinned and caused division from God.

Writings from the Second-century Church refer to the wearing of ashes as a sign of penance.

Priests administer ashes during Mass and all are invited to accept the ashes as a visible symbol of penance. Even non-Christians and the excommunicated are welcome to receive the ashes. The ashes are made from blessed palm branches, taken from the previous year’s palm Sunday Mass.

It is important to remember that Ash Wednesday is a day of penitential prayer and fasting. Some faithful take the rest of the day off work and remain home. It is generally inappropriate to dine out, to shop, or to go about in public after receiving the ashes. Feasting is highly inappropriate. Small children, the elderly and sick are exempt from this observance.

It is not required that a person wear the ashes for the rest of the day, and they may be washed off after Mass. However, many people keep the ashes as a reminder until the evening.

Recently, movements have developed that involve pastors distributing ashes to passersby in public places. This isn’t considered taboo, but Catholics should know this practice is distinctly Protestant. Catholics should still receive ashes within the context of Mass.

In some cases, ashes may be delivered by a priest or a family member to those who are sick or shut-in.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.

Why we receive the ashes

Following the example of the Nine vites, who did penance in sackcloth and ashes, our foreheads are marked with ashes to humble our hearts and reminds us that life passes away on Earth. We remember this when we are told

“Remember, Man is dust, and unto dust you shall return.”

Ashes are a symbol of penance made sacramental by the blessing of the Church, and they help us develop a spirit of humility and sacrifice.

The distribution of ashes comes from a ceremony of ages past. Christians who had committed grave faults performed public penance. On Ash Wednesday, the Bishop blessed the hair shirts which they were to wear during the forty days of penance, and sprinkled over them ashes made from the palms from the previous year. Then, while the faithful recited the Seven Penitential Psalms, the penitents were turned out of the church because of their sins — just as Adam, the first man, was turned out of Paradise because of his disobedience. The penitents did not enter the church again until Maundy Thursday after having won reconciliation by the toil of forty days’ penance and sacramental absolution. Later, all Christians, whether public or secret penitents, came to receive ashes out of devotion. In earlier times, the distribution of ashes was followed by a penitential procession.

The Ashes

The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. While the ashes symbolize penance and contrition, they are also a reminder that God is gracious and merciful to those who call on Him with repentant hearts. His Divine mercy is of utmost importance during the season of Lent, and the Church calls on us to seek that mercy during the entire Lenten season with reflection, prayer and penance

Lent is a period of fasting, moderation, and self-denial traditionally observed by Catholics and some Protestant denominations. It begins with Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter Sunday. The length of the Lenten fast was established in the 4th century as 46 days (40 days, not counting Sundays). During Lent, participants eat sparingly or give up a particular food or habit. It’s not uncommon for people to give up smoking during Lent, or to swear off watching television or eating candy or telling lies. It’s six weeks of self-discipline.

Lent began as a way for Catholics to remind themselves of the value of repentance. The austerity of the Lenten season was seen as similar to how people in the Old Testament fasted and repented in sackcloth and ashes (Esther 4:1-3; Jeremiah 6:26; Daniel 9:3).

However, over the centuries Lenten observances have developed a much more “sacramental” value. Many Catholics believe that giving something up for Lent is a way to attain God’s blessing. But the Bible teaches that grace cannot be earned; grace is “the gift of righteousness” (Romans 5:17). Also, Jesus taught that fasting should be done discreetly: “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen” (Matthew 6:16-18). Jesus’ command to “wash your face” seems to conflict with the practice of rubbing ashes on one’s face on Ash Wednesday.

Community, Our Family Changes

The church is a family, a community of imperfect people on a spiritual journey together to become more like Christ and less like our old selves. When you get a bunch of people who are imperfect together trying to live a new life, sometimes sparks fly, people get upset, offended, and feelings get hurt.

Colossians 3:12-17(HCSB)12 Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13 accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. 14 Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity. 15 And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful. 16 Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Church is the one place that the littlest thing will keep people from coming back. If you haven’t been offended by someone in church you haven’t been here long enough. We need to learn each other and forgive each other. We need to learn how to live and grow together. People will offend you, talk about you, not tell you hi, but we cannot let that stop us from being part of the community of believers.
Family and community is a very important aspect of church, Jesus emphasized it many times in scripture.

Jesus once used His family as a picture of His relationship with His followers. Matthew 12:46-47(HCSB)46 He was still speaking to the crowds when suddenly His mother and brothers were standing outside wanting to speak to Him. 47 Someone told Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to You.”

Jesus Himself had siblings—brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas, and an unknown number of sisters.

Matthew 13:55-56(HCSB)55 Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t His mother called Mary, and His brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? 56 And His sisters, aren’t they all with us? So where does He get all these things?.

In saying this, Jesus was not disrespecting His family or saying they were not important. Rather, He was likening a close family relationship to the bond He shares with everyone who believes in Him. In fact, Jesus’ bond with believers is even stronger, since it is not marred by jealousy, anger, frustration, or disagreements.

It’s important to understand that conflict between church siblings is not part of God’s plan for the church family. God wants us to live in love and unity with one another. When conflicts do arise we are to learn and grow from them.

There are a few principles that can be applied to any relationship. First, we are to love others in a way that reflects the love of Christ:

1 John 4:7–8(HCSB)7 Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

Second, we are to show kindness to each other, treating those around us the way we want to be treated. Ephesians 4:32(HCSB)32 And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.; Luke 6:31(HCSB)31 Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them. This means that we should not only respond gracefully in the face our siblings’ anger or accusations, but also go out of the way to serve them John 13:12–14(HCSB)12 When Jesus had washed their feet and put on His robe, He reclined again and said to them, “Do you know what I have done for you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord. This is well said, for I am. 14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.

Romans 12:9-17(HCSB)9 Love must be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good. 10 Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not lack diligence; be fervent in spirit; serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. 13 Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. 16 Be in agreement with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Try to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes.18 If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone.

Believers are instructed by Paul to live at peace by avoiding arguments and conflict and playing the role of peacemaker when disagreements arise within our church families.

The bible is a mirror not a microscope, we are to read it and see our faults and change to be like Christ. Not to use to pass judgement on each other.

James 1:22-25(HCSB)22 But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but one who does good works—this person will be blessed in what he does.

WHEN WE LOOK INTO THE MIRROR OF GOD’S WORD, WHAT DO WE SEE?

1. We see our flaws. We see that we are sinners.

2. We also see that Jesus Christ died for our sins so we can now be sons and daughters of the Most High God!

3. We see that by believing in Jesus Christ, we can be

changed forever.

2 Corinthians 3:18(HCSB)17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.

1 Thessalonians 3:11-13(HCSB)11 Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you. 12 And may the Lord cause you to increase and overflow with love for one another and for everyone, just as we also do for you. 13 May He make your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints. Amen.

The first point is that the central requirement of love in the church community is both a gift and a command. Our life together originates in the covenant love of God and so one essential mark of our covenant relationships in church is love. And this love is the work of God. “May the Lord cause you to increase and overflow in love.”

This means that a church community is a bunch of imperfect people on a spiritual journey together. We have been saved from condemnation and transferred from death to life and from darkness to light and from the dominion of darkness to the kingdom of God’s Son, but in this new relation to God we are not yet perfected or completed, but are on the way to becoming what we should be.

The first commitment of the our church community is love. In a sense all else is an unfolding of that. And the commitment of love and holiness is not a static one, because none of us has arrived, but a commitment to strive forward,advance,promote and sustain holiness.

Jesus constantly promoted community among His disciples. He enjoyed being with them.Jesus had fervent desire to eat with His disciples, FERVENT –  very hot glowing exhibiting or marked by great intensity of feeling, Passionate
DESIRE – a longing or craving, as for something that brings satisfaction or enjoyment:

Luke 22:14-20(HCSB) 14 When the hour came, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. 15 Then He said to them, “I have fervently desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you, from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

19 And He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.”

20 In the same way He also took the cup after supper and said, “This cup is the new covenant established by My blood; it is shed for you.

Communion is common unity, common Union. Communion it literally means intimacy. It is the divine remembrance of the life of a holy God invested into the heart of a people to transform the way the did life in front of a culture of people.

Luke 22:19(HCSB)19 And He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.”

Jesus said to do this before He went to the cross, He could’ve waited till after the resurrection because He ate with men after He was resurrected. So if he just wanted them to remember the cross, He would’ve done it after the resurrection and said now do this in remembrance of me. Why did He do it before? Because Jesus didn’t come just to save us from hell. He came to give us permission to gain back what Adam forfeited in the garden. Jesus restored what Adam failed in. FELLOWSHIP with the father. Now instead of the ritualistic slaughter of animals that they had to do in the temple. It is his blood that let’s us into the holy of holies to talk with our father. He didn’t come as fire insurance He came to show us we can live a life free from the bondage of sin and conquer the flesh by a desire and have a hunger to go after God. He conquered temptation everyday and He said when you eat this remember that. Remember that your not at the mercy of your enemy anymore, remember I defeated him at the cross, I defeated him when I snatched the keys of death, hell and the grave. I defeated him with I sit at the right hand of the father forever making intercession for you. Remember your not at the mercy of your flesh anymore, because for 33 years I lived not subject to the desires of my flesh I conquered the desires of the flesh and did not give into temptation. Do this in remembrance of me. And your going to remember that you are what you eat.

John 17:20-22(HCSB)I pray not only for these,but also for those who believe in Me through their message. 21 May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me.22  I have given them the glory You have given Me. May they be one as We are one.

Jesus is showing us that we can come together as a company of people who can come together from all different points of life, different stages of our walk, different races and economic backgrounds because we can walk together in common union. Because we are now part of the family. Romans 8:14-16(HCSB)14 All those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. 15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children,

Paul calls communion “The Lord’s Supper” 1 Corinthians 10:16(HCSB) The cup of blessing that we give thanks for, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ?
Koinonia (COY-NOE-KNEE-A )communion, joint participation; the share which one has in anything, participation, a gift jointly contributed, a collection, a contribution, inter course etc. It identifies the idealized state of fellowship and unity that should exist within the Christian church, the Body of Christ. Any common meal certainly could represent a “sharing”. The koinonia is viewed as much deeper, however, when the meal is associated with a spiritual purpose.
It literally means our courses intertwine. It means my course is intertwined with your course. It is one of the reasons why it is given as a term to the intimacy that goes on inside of the marriage bed. Because it is not just about two people having a physical experience, it’s about two peoples courses being intertwined. Your people will be my people, your God will be my God, where you go I go. It’s the beautiful words of a covenant that says all our people will come together and share a meal and share whatever we have in common that cancels out whatever we don’t have in common. Our courses get intertwined. We are bound together with cords that cannot be broken.

The idea of community denotes a “common unity” of purpose and interests. Thus community and family become closely intertwined, because aiming at a common unity strives to overcome brokenness, divisiveness, and, ultimately gaining wholeness with each of the members, with their environment, and with God. By giving mutual support, friendship and family merge. Both fellowship and community imply an inner and outer unity.

This church will never become a glorified hand washing station,or a museum for saints, or a country club that doesn’t welcome sinners but let us come together as a people who worship, praise and do life together as Jesus did with His disciples. Let us not point the finger at our brother’s and sister’s and their faults but let us forgive quickly, love plentifully and help joyfully. We look at each other’s as brothers and sisters, fathers, mothers, our kids look at the older people as aunts and uncles. It not just something we do on Sunday’s but something we do everyday and our lives start being intertwined. Some of us don’t want that but those that do will ask “how can we get more deeply rooted in Him?” How can we get more passionate about Jesus?” What can we get rid of in our lives to make more room for Him? Jesus lived His life in front of His disciples that caused them to live in such a way that we are still reading and talking about it today. Colossians 3:1-4(HCSB)So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God. When the Messiah, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.