Saturday, April 29, 2017

JEWELS From The GOSPEL Of JOHN: WANTING A DEBATE - JOHN 4:7-10,19-24

 The following is a series of short exhortations, brief commentary and writings to convey thoughtful meditation on God's Word. I have chosen the Gospel of John as the subject. These articles will not run contiguously on this blog but peppered throughout and in the midst of other articles (though some might be posted consecutively). I pray that these will be a blessing and an edification for the saints.

In our dealings with this terribly lost world of blind souls, who cannot recognize truth on their own, we are often confronted with arguments and barriers. It is job #1 for the enemy to keep them in a blinded state, so that the Light of the LORD will remain unseen by them (2 COR 4:4). It is job #1 for us saints, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb by the grace (unmerited favor) of God, to declare the gospel, prayerfully seeking God's touch upon them (2 COR 5:20-21), that they may perceive the love of God for them (1 JOHN 3:16).

JOHN 4:7-10
7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.
8 (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)
9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

Samaritan. The very word was disdained by pure bred Jews who looked upon these 'half-breeds' with contempt. These were Jews who were abducted and brought as slaves to Assyria (approximately 720 B.C.E.), where they eventually intermarried with the natives. This affected them socially, culturally and religiously and when they returned to the land (Samaria) they maintained much of their ways - much to the hatred of their Jewish neighbors, who would travel far out of their way in journeying from Galilee to Judea (or vice-versa), just to avoid going through Samaria.

Not so with the LORD Jesus: ". . . He must needs go through Samaria." And not just any place in that land, but into the very city of Sychar, a place possibly named so by contempt of the Jews to allude to "drunkenness" and, or "falseness" because the Samaritans were given over (to what the Jews believed to be) idolatry. And Jesus "must needs go through" - because He was on a mission.

Yet when He comes to the well, wearied with His long journey and thirsty- this Man asks a Samaritan woman for some water. She came to the well as that hour (around noon) and not in the relative coolness of the morning, quite probably because she was something of an outcast, and not welcome to the well by other women, who (correctly) perceived her as a 'loose woman' (see vs. 17-18). 


Yet this woman carries with her the cultural barrier between Jews and Samaritans; she questions why Jesus is even speaking with her, much less wanting to receive water from her. Yet the LORD would not be put off by her rebuff. He speaks to her of "living water" - that is, of Himself (JOHN 7:37-38). He beckons her to go and get her husband, and when she confesses that she has no husband, the LORD commends her for her honesty, declaring that she had previously had five husbands, and the one she was with was 'shacking up' with her. This is when she says:
JOHN 4:19-24
19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.
20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.
21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

The shift from cultural and social barriers now turns at the direction of this woman to a religious one. This was no doubt, a long standing controversy and generational contention between Jews and Samaritans. She challenges Jesus on the location for true worship: Mount Gerazim, where the Samaritans contend that Abraham offered up Isaac (GEN 22) or Jerusalem - the location of long held conviction and historical veracity of Jewish worship. It seems an 'either/or' answer is what this woman sought of Jesus; not unlike the answer which the Herodians asked of Him concerning paying taxes to Caesar (MARK 12:13-14). Yet the LORD was not about to get cornered by such a question.
His answer to this woman was the same kind as with the Herodians: Neither the option of Jerusalem or Mt. Gerazim (A or B) was chosen, but C: the truth!

The revelation of God's truth and plan of salvation came from the Word of God Himself (HEB 1:1-8); the written Word was then entrusted to the Jewish nation (ROM 3:2) - salvation indeed is "of the Jews (vs. 22)" in that sense, but like the Samaritans, the children of this world (EPH 2:2-3), the tares planted by Satan (MATT 13:26-28, 38-39), the deceivers and false teachers (2 PET 2:1; 2 TIM 3:13) today want to blend in just a bit of truth with their do-it-yourself-religion, and the latest incarnation of this is the Emergent Church Movement or Emergence Christianity. It is abomination in the sight of God! In another article FROM The MIND of FIRE, I wrote concerning the pollution of God's Truth and Way of salvation:
"In EXOD 20:25 it states:
And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.

"The LORD Jesus Christ is referred to as 'the ROCK' in scripture, as well as that 'stone cut without hands'. I find it interesting then, that if any sacrifice is made on an altar of stone, its not to be of hewn (cut) stone, but natural; in other words any changing of the rock's appearance through human effort would pollute it and any sacrifice offered upon it.

"God will not accept any human design, imagination, efforts in works or elaborate religious creations in regards to the justification He Himself provides for the salvation of mankind!" And might I add He will not tolerate those who would make 'another Jesus' (2 COR 11:4) seeking to change the true and living LORD.
"In NUM 25:1-11 There is an account where Israel committed whoredoms with the pagan nation of Moab (this seduction was performed by the counsels of Balaam, who advised Balak to have the Moabite women go into the camp of Israel and lure their men); in the throes of erotic passions, the Moabite women would bring out their idols, and they would pay homage to these false gods.

This wasn't even done under cover of darkness, nor behind the backs of Moses and Aaron; note vs. 6:
And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

Because of this, a plague from the LORD broke out among the children of Israel, but it was suddenly stopped. How? Did they have an ecumenical meeting with Baalpeor and the leadership of that nation? Did they have a consensus and seek out common beliefs so that they could dialogue and come to a mutually agreeable belief system whereby they could join together and form a peaceful religious association so that they might better their world?
No! Read in vs. 7-8:
And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand;
And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel.

Harsh action? Cruel punishment? An unjust deed?

Listen to what the LORD had to say about this!
NUM 25:10-13
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy. Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace: And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.
Because one man had the zeal, the love for, and awesome reverence for the LORD and His Holy Name, he took it upon himself to stand up for righteousness and bring a stop to the whoredoms and spiritual adultery that had infested the camp of Israel! He slew those who were guilty of High Treason against the LORD GOD Almighty, Creator and Judge of all the Earth! For that, the plague ceased at the command of the LORD, and He blessed Phinehas!"

Getting back to Samaria now, let's see how the LORD deals with this situation:
23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Spiritual worship must be in accordance with truth as found in God's Word; not according to experiential subjectivity or 'what feels right, or good' as is the case with New Age style worship or meditation or contemplative prayer.
There are so many that when confronted with biblical truth say, "Well I believe . . . " and go on and explain their belief system based on their own understanding, information and a hodge-podge smorgasbord of pseudo-spiritual suppositions and dogma. Yet what sort of foundation is this? It is based on self and not Scripture, on one's own thinking rather than the Mind of God as so revealed in the Holy Bible.

Even so-called Christians tend toward subjectivism and will believe this about the Bible, and that, but refuse to believe this or that about the Bible - and as it has been said before: If you pick and choose what you will believe and won't believe about the Bible, then it's not the Bible you truly believe, but yourself!

If truth is sacrificed, specifically the objective truth as found exclusively in the Holy Bible, then worship is vain (MARK 7:7; MATT 6:7) and any relationship with God is unobtainable (ISAIAH 59:1-3).

In our dealings with the lost, we must stay on point, not allow distractions or deflections; our chiefest desire is to lead them to the God of Truth, leading them in the Way of righteousness, and introduce them to the Author of Life (JOHN 14:6). We must not merely point them in the right direction and bid them 'go' but experience the Way, the Truth and the Life for ourselves, daily, and bid them 'come' and 'follow me as I follow Christ' (1 COR 11:1).

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Another Smoke Signal: ESCAPE FROM GRAY WORLD

GENESIS 1:1-4
1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

The LORD God created all things, and made the Earth from its prior condition of formlessness and darkness. He began with the introduction of light, which in His eyes was good. Light is always good and useful, particularly where darkness reigns. It reveals, exposes, illuminates and dispels the unknown, the mysterious, the unfathomable and brings clarity and understanding. Light enables discernment.

God then divided the light from the darkness; these were distinct from one another, in complete contrast, without similarities or commonalities at all.

The same can be applied to the spiritual dimension as with the physical dimension. It is the light of God's Word that brings clarity (EPH 5:13), understanding and discernment (HEB 4:12; HEB 5:12,14). If any claim to have these things, but denies God's Word, they truly have no light in them whatsoever:

ISAIAH 8:19-20
19 And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? 20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them
.


We live in a GRAY WORLD, but truth be told, this condition of 'grayness' began ever since Satan challenged the plain and abundantly clear Word of God. God told Adam that the day that they ate of the forbidden fruit, in that day they would surely die.
Yet Satan opposed that directive from Deity and deceived them by saying "you shall NOT surely die."

He proved himself to be a menace by muddying up the crystal clear water of God's Word. The distinction between truth and lies has been obfuscated ever since those early days and today we can find little evidence in society of stark, bold, clean-cut and objective, absolute truth. Such things are frowned upon, considered "politically incorrect" and "objectionable".

Ecumenical and Emergent proponents view absolute and objective truth as a misnomer for aggressive and close-minded arrogance which is promoted by 'bibliolaters' or those who, they claim, place too high a regard on the Bible and revere this book to the point of worship.

Ecumenism has absorbed some form of Christianity (with just a trace of biblical truth, albeit twisted) to create a world without clarity, without absolutes or certainty, a world of polite, political correctness, where the objective is a kind of spiritual/religious uniformitarianism - a palatable blandness that is heavy on the experiential and light on objective truth.

And anyones experience is just as valid as any other - as are perspectives of such that hold to this uniformitarianism. Everyone is right and no one is wrong (except those who believe in absolutes); all is truth (except for THE Truth, JOHN 14:6) and nothing is wrong. Thus in this GRAY WORLD, it's impossible to make any mistakes, to say nothing of committing 'sin'.

By diluting the Word of God with more and more modern translations, and even more so, these perilous paraphrases of the Bible, people are being weaned from the truth of the Scriptures. And they are gleaning spiritual 'truths' from novels and films, rather than from the pages of Holy Writ!
By the Emergence Movement, people are being taught to question the authoritative, inspired Scripture and persuaded that truth is indeed relative. Thus this world is getting more and more gray all the time.


The Hegelian dialectic is a process being used by the forces of this world to take polar opposites (thesis and anti-thesis) and bringing them together and fusing them into a paren-thesis - from light and dark - to become gray.

The other factor being added into the mix is pantheism - the idea that "all is God, and God is all" and so we merely have to identify with the Deity already within us. Such a view is Eastern in its philosophy and religious persuasion, but it has found its way into the West via Yoga, TM, and more recently, contemplative spirituality. 


In this Gray World, there are no clear compass directions - "north" may not be north. "Can we really understand what it means to head south"? In this world, to be lost and asking questions with an air of blatant uncertainty is something to be admired. To express certitude to tantamount to blasphemy and something to be shunned; certainly disapproved of. 

Where truth is sacrificed, justice will soon be placed on the same altar of relativism.

Truth is not something to be possessed, but to be sought after as we 'spiritually evolve' to higher understanding of the vulgar expressions that the prophets of the Bible declared - these 'gray people' genuinely believe that they have greater and deeper understanding than any prophet or apostle - even the LORD Jesus Himself - because in this spiritual evolution which enables them to comprehend more than all previous generations. Yet in their eyes, this spiritual evolution will continue but never enable them to come to the full knowledge of anything remotely identifiable as absolute truth:

2 TIM 3:5-8
5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,
7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.

Such grayness will make truth that is meant to be seen and understood anemic, tepid, ineffectual at leading people to the Author of Truth - and rather, this 'anything goes' grayness will lead to, and in fact already has led to spiritual anarchy, iniquity, lawlessness:

2 THESS 2:7
7 For the mystery of iniquity [lawlessness] doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.


The only way to escape this GRAY WORLD is by cleaving tenaciously to the inspired Word of God, to know the truth it teaches, and most of all, its Author - the LORD Jesus Christ.

For more on this and closely related issues, I recommend this video entitled, The CHAIR (about 76 mins total time) by Frank Peretti, well known for his novels such as these two books, This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness:






Thursday, March 30, 2017

JEWELS From The GOSPEL Of JOHN: The ENCOUNTER with CHRIST - JOHN 4:1-6

 The following is a series of short exhortations, brief commentary and writings to convey thoughtful meditation on God's Word. I have chosen the Gospel of John as the subject. These articles will not run contiguously on this blog but peppered throughout and in the midst of other articles (though some might be posted consecutively). I pray that these will be a blessing and an edification for the saints.

JOHN 4:1-6
1 When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,
2 (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)
3 He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee.
4 And he must needs go through Samaria.
5 Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.
6 Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.

See now how the LORD is a meek and lowly LORD - though He is LORD of all, Creator God and the Word Incarnate - He conducts Himself in such humble fashion. He understood that because His fame was quickly outgrowing that of His predecessor, John the Baptist, He didn't capitalize on it. Instead, He left Judea and returned to Galilee, far away.

Yet no matter where He went, the LORD was always making disciples - and we dare not forget who we are: we are NOT disciples of a church, we are NOT disciples of our pastors, we are NOT disciples of elder saints who have known the LORD far longer than we . . .
We are disciples, followers, students of the LORD Jesus Christ.
We follow Him to His cross where we learn of His supreme sacrifice.

We follow Him where He leads us to our own crosses and learn to deny self.
We follow Him where He lays upon us His yoke which He bears Himself, and we learn of Him the King of Kings, the Supreme Servant, the I AM That I AM, the LORD and Redeemer.

The LORD's objective was never to acquire fame, or prestige. He was on a mission from the Father and was intent on fulfilling His will. We must always bear this in mind, should the LORD prosper our ministry and we begin to gain a following whose numbers begin to swell to an incalculable degree. Followers in those kinds of numbers can potentially sway us - intentionally or not - in directions that are not the Father's will. This is in essence the difference between those who please God and those who become people-pleasers.


And besides all of that potential drama that the LORD left behind, He had an appointment in Samaria.

This entire scenario is being staged beforehand by the LORD; He prepared the way for the encounter, first of all, with this Samaritan woman, and then with the entire village.


Long before we knew Christ our LORD, before we had any desire for Him or inclination towards repentance, He prepared the way for us, because He had foreknown us: there is nothing our Sovereign God does not know about us: every trait in us, every habit, every decision and choice, every path and tributary we take, every response and reaction.

He knows already who will receive Him, and who will not, based upon their response to the beckoning of the Holy Spirit of sinners to come unto Jesus for salvation.

He travels with inspired intent towards the city of Sychar - a place whose name many have identified as meaning, "abode of liars or idolaters and drunks".
See the Holy, sinless, spotless Lamb of God intentionally zeroing in on this city of Sychar. He would no doubt say to anyone who would be indignant at such a meeting, the same thing He said to the Pharisees who found fault with Him because He kept company with sinners:

MARK 2:17
When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance
.


It was imperative for Jesus to get to Sychar - and meet with this people group that the Jews (His own people) despised - and that feeling was mutual among the Samaritans as well!
Yet the LORD was breaking down social and cultural barriers and doing the unthinkable - reaching out with His message to those that most Jews would never have bothered to give the time of day to!
There have been many that I have known personally who either live in their own 'Sychar' or worse, once tasted of the good things of the LORD, but then turned back to that sin-city. And I have prayed earnestly that the LORD "must needs" go to their 'Sychar' and have an encounter with them, bringing to them the "living water" that only He can provide!

And now the LORD is at the end of this long journey - He finally arrives and finds Himself weary with His travels. He sits down at the well that Jacob gave to his son, Joseph and rests. Here is God, weary in His humanity, needing rest and refreshment from that well. I can well imagine the noon-time sun beating down upon His sweat drenched brow - when a Samaritan woman approaches.

Divine appointments indeed! We shall continue this next time, and in the meanwhile, let us pray for some divine appointments of those loved ones who are still lost in this world of sin and in dire need of an encounter with the Messiah of Israel, Jesus of Nazareth, Whom God has made "...both LORD and Christ..."

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A LETTER To The CHURCH-WOUNDED In “EXILE”

A Special and Timely Message by Gregory Reid: This is a very sensitive message, one I hope to convey with a heart of humility and grace, one I pray will bring a little healing to those who are hurting for reasons beyond your control or choosing. 

There are many who have passed through the fires of being “wounded in the house of a friend,” of being on the receiving end of rejection, misunderstanding and sometimes even dismissal or exile due to rancorous and painful church circumstances and dealings.

Few dare to speak of it, for fear of being viewed as a malcontent, a bitter soul, a troublemaker or worse. But truth be known, there are multitudes, both people and pastors, sheep and shepherds, who have been mangled by the machinery of church professional business dealings and decisions, especially in our purpose-driven and megachurch age.  

For both leader and member, nothing stings more than realizing you have suddenly lost your place, your purpose, your “church family.” Yet for the sake of unity, God requires that you bear the pain of it and say not a word, though you be wronged, though your heart cries for understanding, though your flesh longs to lash out and wound those who have wounded you. 

Many remain church-less, or without a pulpit, afraid to try again. Many have tried other churches – knowing they need to be in fellowship – only to find a church driven by the same machinery and business dealings that broke their lives and their hearts. 
Many, though they would be too proud to admit it, still wait for a call, a text, something from someone in their former fellowship that says,

You still matter. We miss you. We’re sorry if we hurt you.”

But the call rarely if ever comes. It is a desolate thing to be “cut off from the life of the church,” even though you are not cut off from the life of Jesus. One can feel as alone and desolate as Joseph who was sent away by his own family to a house of unfamiliar faces and to obscurity and an unknown future and calling. 

My heart especially hurts for former or current pastors, youth pastors or church leaders and elders who were deemed too old-fashioned, too “Word-based,” not relevant enough, or young enough, exciting enough, etc. and found themselves given the “left foot of fellowship” – often with a smile, a wave and a parting gift (or not!) simply because PROGRESS must be made, and the new paradigm fairly demands that the old guard get off the stage.

After all, we were told by the father of purpose-driven, “What do pillars do? They hold things up…”

The sting when you realize it really is not personal, it is just a business decision “for the sake of the church” can be excruciating, indeed. You realize you were simply a broken cog in an apparatus, easily replaced. As I heard a pastor say after hosting a concert by a formerly sought-after Christian artist who now only saw small crowds, “Look what we have done to our treasures. Shame on us.” 

If you have felt this – experienced this – if you have had to depart from a fellowship because of these changes, or for any reason that you did not foresee or even want – if you are in this Joseph-like place, few words can comfort, though Joseph’s story surely will. Still, this morning, FB Meyer’s words speak deeply: 

“Though stripped of his coat, he had not been stripped of his character. See to it that no one rob you of that! Everything else may be replaced but that!” 

God sees your heart, and your hurt. But as with Joseph, God’s main concern is not what was done to you but HOW YOU RESPOND. Though you may have lost your coat (place) never lose your character! Stay sweet. Refuse bitterness. Love and pray for those you no longer are able to even be with. As in Gene Edward’s A Tale of Three Kings, David said, “In my youth…I was David. In my old age, I will be David still. Even if it costs me a throne, a kingdom.” 

Many have left fellowships under painful circumstances and leave bitter and angry, taking many with them, and starting a new fellowship (which rarely last long.) I do not believe this is God’s way, ever. If you have left, God requires the hardest thing – that you do so quietly and remain in love, in forgiveness, and in Jesus-like character.

That is the coat of character no hard and painful circumstance can take away. Yield that coat and take on the mantle of bitterness, coldness, and anger, and all God was planning for you is at stake. Do not become an Absalom seeking a throne or a Saul seeking to throw spears. Remain a David, even in exile. Does not God surely have an unstoppable plan for you yet? 

Joseph – alone, abandoned by all but God, remained Joseph – a sweet, godly young man even under unbearable grief, rejection, loss, and misunderstanding. And in the end – oh, in the end! God gave Joseph a coat of authority and purpose that only his humble, God-tested character could wear. 

And in the end, even the injuries were made right, because he saw, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good…” (GENESIS 50:20

I write this to those who may have or are feeling the “pain of exile” from a church or even family. God knows your heart. His plan for you has never changed.

May God bless you with a new and precious fellowship with believers for whom the words “church family” are not just words but a way of life. May he grant you grace to forgive those you left behind who may indeed miss you, but who are so caught up in the busy work of church activity that they simply become swept up in the “out of sight, out of mind” way of such things.

Forgive those who injured, especially those who felt it was justified to do so. That may be the hardest. God requires it nonetheless. Wait…heal…trust…

If, after years of faithful service, you find yourself without a place, these words again from A Tale of Three Kings speak:

“But today I shall give ample space for this untelling God of ours to show us His will. I know of no other way to bring about such an extraordinary event except by doing NOTHING! The throne is not mine. Not to have, not to take, not to protect, and not to keep.” 

All things – and you, dear friend, are in His loving care. Wait…pray…heal...and hang on to the character of Jesus through it ALL. God is not through with you yet. The best is yet to be! 

With Jesus’ grace and care, 
Gregory R Gregory Reid

Sunday, March 19, 2017

ONCE A SLAVE, ALWAYS A SLAVE

SLAVERY. The very word produces images of chains, whips, abject conditions of poverty and near starvation.

Our own American history is stained with deplorable treatment of Africans who were brought to our shores and suffered bondage for generations. They were deemed ignorant and inferior and thus, suitable for nothing else but slavery.

We like to think that here in the 21st century that we are more sophisticated and have higher sensibilities, but the fact of the matter is that slavery is still very much a reality. Enlistment into slavery of 'infidels' is still deemed a right by the Quran and the followers of Mohammad. Also, vast networks of illegal human trafficking that induct people into slavery (which according to statistics, as of 2014 included 21 million victims worldwide) is happening all around us!!

In REV 18:13 it mentions,
And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.

And also:
REV 13:16
And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: (see also REV 6:15).

So Scripture states that even in the last days, slavery will be a fact of life; certainly the aforementioned statistics indicates such an increasing trend.

This post is about the slavery of the worst kind - slavery into sin. Slavery into sin takes on many forms - including various addictions to alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling and others.

In AA and similar groups, it is stated that once you develop any such addiction, it is with you for the rest of your life. You can never be free of such things, but always - as long as you don't succumb to it - "in a state of recovery".

Biblically speaking, it is true that a sinner will always be prone to and enslaved by sin. There is no hope that they will be set free of such slavery by any ability of their own. It is an inescapable inherent nature brought to the human race by the fall of Adam. 

ROMANS 6:16a
Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death
. . . 


ROMANS 5:12-14
12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

But this is not at all to say that we sinners can never be free of the sins and addictions that enslave us. The LORD Jesus said:

LUKE 4:18
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised
,


JOHN 8:36
36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed
.


As saints, born of the Spirit of God, we are free from the law of sin and death:

ROMANS 8:1-2

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

And we are to stand fast in the freedom and liberty that Christ won for us by His own blood and atoning sacrifice on the Cross:

GAL 5:1
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage
 (See also REV 5:9).


As citizens of the Kingdom of God, we need not ever experience bondage to sin and death; this is not to say that as God's children, who bear the nature of Christ within, that we do not still have a sin nature: this is the essence of what our fallen bodies are about.
We are absolutely the redeemed of the LORD, whose hearts are redeemed and sanctified; our minds are likewise in the process of being redeemed and sanctified daily as we renew them by the power of God's grace (ROM 12:1-2). Our bodies have not yet been redeemed (but they will be! ROM 8:22-24) and that is why there is an ongoing war against our flesh and the Spirit of God (GAL 5:16-17).


But we have the comfort of knowing that as long as we are walking in the Spirit (basically that's living our lives in following Christ's example) we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh (GAL 5:16), and we are free of getting entangled in any besetting sins.

WE ARE NO LONGER SLAVES - OR ARE WE?

The concept of a slave in one sense is that of a person bound in chains and misery, suffering indignities and oppression. 
Certainly anyone who is bound to sin as its slave (and without the Spirit of Christ) won't see it that way - at least not at first; they can have their fill of "sex and drugs and rock 'n roll" and all the pleasures of this world - and not for a moment think that they are a slave but living 'the high life'.

Until their choice of recreational drug becomes so addictive, that they live only to feed that addiction - even if it means stealing to get it. Until they contract a venereal disease that ruins their lives. Until after years of 'party hearty' it takes its toll on their body. Until their associations and friendships (based on the gang-kind of lifestyle for example) abandon them when serious trouble falls.

ROM 6:23a
The wages of sin is death
. . . 


And that can mean the death of a marriage or other relationship, the death of family ties, the death of financial security, the death of social standing, the death of health - or just plain death. Ultimately it will mean spiritual death (what the Bible calls "the second death" (REV 20:14).) and that is the ultimate fruit of sin.

But there is another kind of slavery, that of servanthood: In the Law given to Israel, anytime someone became indebted to another and had no money to pay the debt, they would lend their services to them. Once they worked long enough, they were freed from service. But there were times when the servant realized that life was better serving their master than it was when they were out on their own. They loved their master, and his family; they were contend with their lodgings and the allotment of food and clothing they were given.

They would commit themselves to their master as a life-long servant. This was known as a bond servant or a doulos. They would pierce their ear and place a gold earring in it, and that was an emblem that everyone understood: this was a person wholly devoted to their master - to ever and always fulfill their will and not their own will (EXOD 21:5-6).

'Slavery in Christ' is nothing like slavery to sin; it is a satisfying, albeit challenging life which is ultimately blessed in both the fruit borne of the Spirit as well as in the relationship of every saint who so pledges themselves to the LORD God and Jesus Christ. We are yoked together with Christ and thereby learn of Him (MATT 11:28-30).


Being a slave of Christ means that I am "dead" to myself: my desires, my objectives, my ambitions and plans, my loves and affections - and I am alive to Christ and find that His desires, objectives, ambitions, plans, loves and affections are growing in my life. And THIS is life more abundant (JOHN 10:10)!

We are in a spiritual sense, "dead men walking - in the Spirit" - dead to self and alive to God, "perfecting holiness" (ROM 6:11; 2 COR 7:1
GAL 2:20).

It's very much like Bob Dylan sang, "Ya gotta serve somebody" - and we will either serve sin, being intent on 'doing our own thing' and thereby denying God as our Creator His purpose for our lives - or serve the LORD.

It's just a matter of determining whose slave you are; but a slave you are and always will be: either Christ's or sin's.
So whose slave are YOU?

For more on this, watch this teaching on ROMANS 6:

DEAD MEN WALKING - IN THE SPIRIT



May the LORD bless you all, the saints of the living God, way too much!!