The Apple Of God's Eye

March 5, 2011

Spiritism: Fraud Or Fact?

Can men actually communicate with departed spirits? What about the witch of Endor? What does the Bible say of spiritism?

Granted, there is trickery and deception. Houdini, one of the greatest trick artists of modern times, exposed numerous frauds. So also have Thurston, Walsh, Gearson and many others. Some leading spiritists have been convicted of plain dishonesty or common fraud and imprisoned. Yet not all spiritism is fraud or sleight of hand!

When all the frauds, the tricks, the deceptions are carefully and scientifically sifted out, there remains something to be accounted for—some real supernatural events that cannot be explained away!

Wicked spirits in control

Whether or not human beings like to admit it, the Bible plainly teaches that supernatural powers control and operate this world. The apostle Paul was inspired to write that human beings must struggle “against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against wicked spirits in high places” (Ephesians 6:12, Authorized Version, marginal reading).

Jesus Christ never contested Satan’s claim that all the nations of the world were his. Said Satan: “All this authority” —the control of the nations—”I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be yours” (Luke 4:6-7). Little wonder, then, that spiritism should be manifest in a world controlled and operated by spirits in high places!

Modern spiritism had its birth at Hydesville, N.Y., in 1848. It began with the famous Rochester knockings heard by the Fox sisters. Now, spiritism has obtained millions of followers. It is a religion masquerading under the name of Christianity. (more…)

December 22, 2009

Does Luke 16:16 Prove God's Law Is Abolished Today?

http://www.hem-of-his-garment-bible-study.org - The link between the Old and New Testament is the law of God!

Many make long and eloquent arguements to prove that Luke 16:16 means God’s law has been done away.

“The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.”

Some say the “law and the prophets” is a clear reference to the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and that the New Covenant is dramatically different from the ‘ministration written on stones. So here, critics of God’s law wish to separate the Ten Commandments from what they say is a new moral code of the heart. But this is not what Jesus meant at all.

What, then, did Jesus mean by the statement, “The law and the prophets were until John?” When Jesus spoke of the “law and the prophets,” He was referring to the Old Testament, and meant that, until the coming of John the Baptist, the Old Testament scriptures were all that was available. The New Testament had not yet been written. It says nowhere that the Gospel of the Kingdom of God does away with the law of God. In fact, Christ says in the very next verse:

“And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail”  (verse 17).

Have the starry heavens or the planet earth passed away? Jesus said it would be easier for them to perish or be destroyed than for even one tiny part of God’s law to pass away! THAT is the clear interpretation, and this is backed up by very clear scriptures throughout the New Testament – scriptures which are conveniently ignored by critics.

Christ is indeed talking about obedience to the law of God. Those who disagree say the Old Covenant is no longer in force, which of course by their interpretation nullifies God’s law through the New Testament covenant. No one can deny that the Old Covenant is dead, but that does not mean the law of God is dead. Let’s explain!

Which laws are in force today?

How can you know which laws are no longer binding today? Which laws are we to observe?

The Bible is a book about law, and even a cursory read of this book shows that Jesus Christ did not come to do away with His Father’s law! You can find many references in the Bible to the Ten Commandments, but you can also read a lot about the statutes and the judgments. Then there are the ceremonial rituals and offerings. But which laws are we supposed to observe today?

The mistake lies in assuming the Ten Commandments make up the Old Covenant and that when Christ came, the New Covenant did away with the Ten Commandments and established only grace and promises.

Another mistake is to assume that the Ten Commandments didn’t even exist until God gave them to Moses on tablets of stone; that are simply part of the ritualistic law of Moses.

To begin to understand the truth about the laws discussed in the Old Testament, we must first establish the fact that God’s law existed long before Moses at Mount Sinai! In fact, God’s law existed long before Adam and Eve. Few people realize this fact.

Statutes and Laws Prior to Moses

Abraham was commended for obeying God’s commandments. But it also said he kept God’s statutes and laws. What was this referring to?

Webster’s Dictionary defines statute as, “an established rule or law.” God’s statutes usually command or forbid certain things, in addition to the Ten Commandments. Gesenius’ Lexicon says this about statutes: “An appointed law, a statute, an ordinance…used of the laws of nature [as prescribed by God]…a custom observed as though it were a law.” God’s statutes are based upon the Ten Commandments.

Judgments are binding decisions by judges based on God’s previously revealed law. These decisions are used to settle similar future disputes and to render a sentence or verdict.

God gave statutes and judgments for the general well-being of the people—for the protection of everyone’s legal rights. They are all based on the principle of love toward God and love toward your neighbor.

The difference between them is summed up in these terms: “In general, the Ten Commandments apply to individual conduct, the statutes to national or church affairs, and the judgments to decisions rendered according to the principle of the Ten Commandments and the statutes.”

Law in effect prior to Moses

God’s law was very much in effect prior to the establishment of His covenant with Israel. God revealed His commands and laws to Israel because during their captivity, Israel had lost much of the knowledge of God’s way. They were in bondage to an idol-worshipping nation (Exodus 16:28). This was said before the nation even reached Mount Sinai! God gave them His truth at Mount Sinai because they had lost it. God had to reveal His law to them again before entering into His covenant with them.

“And the Lord said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? See, for that the Lord hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. So the people rested on the seventh day” (Exod. 16:28-30). God had to remind them that this was holy time and they weren’t to violate it by looking for manna. They had lost the knowledge that it had been established long ago (Gen. 2:2-3). Again, this instruction occurred before the Israelites arrived at Mount Sinai.

The commandments were NOT instituted at Mount Sinai and were NOT part of the Old Covenant. So once the New Covenant arrived, it cannot annul what was never ratified under the Old Testament. In other words, the dissolving of the Old Covenant could not destroy what it did not bring into existence! The Ten Commandments, which God gave in written form to Moses on Mount Sinai, were not new. Only the codified form in which God wrote them was new.

What is the law of Moses?

The Bible, on several occasions, refers to the law of Moses, but it never says the law of Moses is the Ten Commandments. The law of Moses comprises the statutes and judgments God gave to Moses to give to the Israelites. The difference between the law of Moses and the law of God is that God spoke the Ten Commandments. Moses delivered the statutes and judgments.

Yet we read in Luke 2:22, 39 that the “law of Moses” is called the “law of the Lord.” This is because all law comes from God. He is the lawgiver. Remember that these statutes and judgments had no sacrifices with them originally. The sacrifices were added later. The law of Moses then had two parts: civil and ritualistic. The part given before the sacrificial laws we are to keep and never forget (Mal. 4:4).

When Christ defined the two great commandments in the law in Matthew 22, He quoted out of the “book of the law” (Lev. 19:18; Deut. 6:5), which we are told to remember. Christians are told to obey these two basic laws which God gave to Moses for the people. The civil law of Moses expounds how the Ten Commandments are to be applied. We are to keep this part, not in the letter only, but now in the spiritual intent, as brought out in Matthew 5-7.

Then why are we told in Acts 15 that the Gentile converts do not have to observe the law of Moses, except for four points? (Acts 15:5, 28-29). The answer is cleared up in Acts 21:21. The law called into question involved the customs, mainly circumcision, which were instituted long before the law of Moses. The spiritual intent is not done away today. Just like the Ten Commandments, they are still in force; but like the Passover, the manner of circumcision has been changed. It is now of the heart (Rom. 2:29).

This controversy did not involve the spiritual intent of the civil law of Moses, but the ceremonial additions to it. These scriptures are not saying that adultery or murder is okay now. The Ten Commandments are not being discussed or done away with here.

The four points mentioned here were originally part of the civil law; but they were also added to the ceremonial law to prevent these pagan customs from being practiced by Israel with their sacrifices. The Gentiles ate their sacrifices with the blood. They strangled their animals, presented them to their idols and committed fornication in their religious ceremonies. Because these four points were also included in the ritual laws, some new converts may have thought they were abolished along with the sacrifices when Christ fulfilled them. So the four points mentioned in Acts 15 had to be specifically declared to still be in effect. They remained binding after the abolition of the physical sacrifices and washings.

The civil laws regulating tithing, clean and unclean meats, sexual cleanliness and the annual Sabbaths, for example, are still in effect for the New Testament Church because they help explain what sin is.

Conclusion

God’s spiritual laws describe God’s character and enable us to know what God is like. Since the character of God is unchanging (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8), God’s spiritual law is unchanging. God has lived by this way of love for all eternity.

The only laws that are no longer binding are the ceremonial laws, fulfilled by the sacrifice of Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit. Today we offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God (Rom. 12:1-2) in obedience to God’s eternal spiritual law.

We can’t ignore what Christ told a young man seeking the way to eternal life, “If thou wilt enter into life, KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS” (Matt. 19:17). How clear!

December 7, 2009

Does God Condone Public Nudity?

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The account of Genesis is very brief and merely summarizes conversations and events. But filling in omitted gaps and details becomes somewhat more clear from what we learn from later passages, and from history.

In the creation chapter of Genesis 1, it is written that God instituted the very first marriage in history:

“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Gen. 2:24).

Notice that marriage came from the mind of God and naturally, as Creator, God instructed Adam and Eve in the right purpose and use of sex. It was He who made the male and female sex organs (verse 27), pronouncing them “very good” (verse 31) and there was no sense of shame between Adam and Eve in regard to their nakedness (Gen. 2:25).

Where did the concept of shame regarding nakedness come from? Notice that in the very next verse, Satan begins to discredit revelation (God’s teaching) as the fountain source of knowledge. And as soon Satan was done with the every first lie in history and Adam and Eve sinned by eating the forbidden fruit, their eyes were opened and they knew that they were naked, sewing fig leaves together to make themselves aprons (Gen. 2:7).

Something now had changed. A sense of shame came about them in regard to their nakedness. And when they heard the voice of God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, both hid themselves from His presence.

Now God already knew what they had done, but their very words “I was naked and I hid myself” confirmed their sense of shame in the presence of God who asked:

“Who told you you were naked?” (verse 11)

This was a new attitude and God rightly asked who put this thought in their mind. Of course it was Satan, and not God! Remember, while God instructed them in the true and right knowledge of sex and marriage, they were naked. But nothing in all in what God taught them gave them any sense of shame towards sex. Satan had implanted this evil idea in the effort of making what God designed appear to be contaminated and degrading.

God clothed Adam and Eve

Now under what circumstances and why did God clothe Adam and Eve? During His first instructions to both after their creation, it was a situation of husband and wife. They were married by God and as long as they were the only two humans on earth – alone by themselves – God gave them no instructions to cover their bodies. It was not necessary because God is present everywhere – omnipresent – anyways. When a husband and wife today are alone in the privacy of their bedroom, God is invisibly present. But when other people (mankind) are introduced, then we read that God Himself clothed Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:20-21).

Yes, God made them coats of skins Himself. The word “clothed” here is inspired as “labash,” which means the donning of apparal or raiment. It implies the idea of adorning or decorating, rather than concealing or covering (hiding) a thing.

Shamefulness in hiding nakedness is implied in the word “kasah.” In the incident of Noah’s drunkenness, he apparently had been violated by Canaan, son of Ham. hem and Japheth, also sons of Noah, backed up with a garment on their shoulders, “and covered the nakedness”of their father (Gen. 9:23). Here, they were hiding, or concealing the result of a sinful act. Here also is the word “kasah” used for the act of covering.

Both labash and kasah imply the covering of nakedness, but the difference is that labash is of purpose and intent, adding attractiveness rather than adding shamefulness, while kasah implies concealing due to shame.

Public nudity though is not approved by God, who intended to keep men and women from exposing their pubic regions, except in the privacy of marriage. God designed sex for use only between a husband and wife whom God has joined in holy wedlock. He designed sex for righteous uses—and one of them is to bind husband and wife together in a loving relationship unshared with any other. The very privacy of this marriage relationship makes it sacred, makes husband and wife dear to each other in a special way never shared with another in adultery. This entire sacred relationship is greatly impaired, or destroyed, when shared with any other. That is why fornication and adultery are so harmful to their participants, and therefore capital sins.

The private, sexual act between a man and wife in marriage prevents temptation by others that could lead to sinful, wrong use in the carnal mind. Of course, mankind has long forgotten these instructions, and the filth and vulgarity in this age is something to behold. With the Internet today, you can view all kinds of nudity and perversion. But what’s wrong with that? Undue exposure of the female body is automatically lust-arousing to the carnal male mind.Young people can wreck their lives before even learning how to live. They’ll grow up and become addicted to lustful sex and never be able to understand the real beauty of a family. Solomon was told by his mother, “It’s not for kings to get into such slop as that.”  Perversion is all around us, and if we focus on it, we’ll give in to it, because it’s such a strong pull.
God does not condone public nudity, sex outside of marriage, homosexuality or other perversions because he wants us to focus on family. He wants sex between a loving husband and wife to hold that family together—to strengthen that union. It is a type of the family of God!

November 23, 2009

Jesus Christ: Once Divorced, Yet Twice Married?

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Strange as it may seem, Jesus Christ already had a wife! In Exodus 19 and 24, the LORD of the Old Testament, Jesus Christ Himself (I Cor. 10:4) made a covenant with ancient Israel at Mount Sinai. This covenant was a marriage agreement. Notice Jeremiah 3:14: here the LORD (Christ) commands His wife, “Turn, O backsliding children … for I am married unto you.”

But ancient Israel did not carry out her part of the marriage covenant. She was an unfaithful wife (Ezek. 16). God had made His righteous Law a part of that covenant. But because of sin, which is the transgression of that Law, God had to separate Himself from His wife (Isa. 50:1; 59:1-2). “And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce” (Jer. 3:8).

Though He put her away, the marriage covenant Christ anciently made with Israel was binding until death. Neither party was free to marry another (Matt. 19:3-9). However, Christ’s death on the stake freed Him from that marriage (Rom. 7:1-4).

Human marriages fail as a result of broken laws. Breaking laws again by allowing divorce and remarriage, contrary to God’s law, would only create more misery. To fully understand that God hates divorce, we have to prove and understand from the Bible that human marriage is a type of the coming future marriage to Jesus Christ. Look at what God says in Mat. 19:8:

“He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so,” (Matt. 19:8)

He warns us to be very cautious in our thoughts and dealings with divorce, which is never an acceptable choice to God, not even for reason of adultery, addiction, spiritism, criminal or immoral conduct.

God’s Laws on Divorce Simplified

The laws of God concerning marriage and divorce are really quite simple. Jesus Christ explained them so that even a little child could understand them. “And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt. 19:4-6).

Here Jesus Christ cut through a lot of chaff and human reasoning. He showed that man was created for marriage and what God had joined together should not be “put asunder.” Some people in Christ’s day did not like His answer. Men still don’t like this answer. But this law is the foundation of the marriage institution and it is the basis of family life. As Mr. Armstrong stated, this “is the Divine law on which the stability—or the fate of a nation rests!” (Ibid).

The intellectuals and lawyers of Christ’s time quizzed Christ a little further on this issue. Remember, they didn’t like His answer. “They said unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry” (Matt. 19:7-10).

This was a stinging answer from Christ. He said that Moses allowed them divorce because of the hardness of their carnal hearts. In other words, ancient Israel could not understand the spiritual dimension to God’s purpose for marriage or live by the spiritual laws concerning marriage. Jesus Christ was essentially putting God’s truth about marriage and divorce “back-on-track.”

Christ was very clear here that God never intended to allow divorce—“from the beginning it was not so!” Christ also stated that to separate what God had joined together and remarry another is committing adultery.

In these verses, Christ allowed an exception to God’s rule—“except it be for fornication.” Simple enough, right? No, we also need to know what the word “fornication” means.

The Porneia Controversy

What exactly does the word “fornication,” as used by Christ in Matt. 19 mean? This word in the Greek language is porneia. It does not mean adultery in marriage, nor does it give adultery as a reason for allowing a divorce. Granted, the Greek porneia has more than one meaning. So does the English word, “saw.” It may mean “did see,” or it may mean an instrument with jagged teeth for cutting through wood. We determine by its use in the sentence, in the context of that sentence, which meaning of the word applies. So it is in the case in which Jesus used the Greek word porneia. The translators of the King James Bible in 1611 knew that Jesus intended the definition “fornication” as an act prior to marriage.

Consider what Jesus said in Matthew 5:32, “But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”

Consider that! If in this case porneia should have been translated “adultery” instead of premarital fornication, then, in the English look how absurd would be Jesus’ statement. He would have said, whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of adultery, causeth her to commit adultery. In other words, he divorced her for the sin of adultery, and causes her to commit again the same act for which he divorced her. That would not make sense!

Further, same sentence (verse 32): “whosoever shall marry her” (that is put away for adultery) “committeth adultery.” He who would marry this particular divorced woman would be committing adultery only because she is still the wife of the man who divorced her! To say that Jesus gave adultery as grounds for divorce introduces confusion, and misrepresents what Jesus said to be ridiculous!

The simple fact is that the word “porneia” does describe premarital sexual relations—a capital sin. Jesus Christ used porneia to describe illicit sexual relations prior to marriage—only! He was not describing illicit sexual conduct after marriage.

Marriage not binding in case of premarital adultery

The only way that a man marrying a divorced woman commits adultery is if the woman is still the bound wife of the man who divorced her. But when Jesus gave the only grounds as premarital fornication, that can mean only that the marriage was not binding—God never bound that marriage in the first place. The woman had committed fornication prior to the marriage, had not told the man, and therefore he was defrauded—the marriage was never binding! Why? Because God knew, but the man did not. God never bound that marriage. The man was unknowingly defrauded. If she had told him, and he forgave her anyway, then the marriage would have been bound by God. In that case if he divorced her he did not do so legally in God’s sight, and he caused her, by marrying another, to commit adultery.

In both Matthew 5 and Matthew 19, both the translated English words ‘fornication” and “adultery” are mentioned. In the original Greek the word translated “fornication” was porneia, and a different Greek word was used for adultery, moicheia. If Jesus had meant “adultery” to be the only grounds for divorce and remarriage, he would have used the word moicheia instead of porneia. The very fact He did use the Greek porneia in the same sentence with moicheia shows definitely He did not intend porneia to mean adultery—unfaithfulness after marriage.

So, porneia does not mean adultery. Even God and Jesus Christ show us through the Bible that an adulterous act is not grounds for divorce.  “They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD” (Jer. 3:1). Ancient Israel played the harlot with God, and God actually encouraged Israel to return unto him.

A liberal ministry often fails to address two other scriptures related to the laws governing marriage and divorce. Paul wrote to the Romans, “Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man” (Rom. 7:1-3). Paul shows here very clearly that only death can sever a marriage bound by God. In essence, if a man and a woman married and could live forever, then their marriage would be forever! Our marriage with Christ will be forever. Christ already is spirit. We will become spirit at the first resurrection. Because we will live eternally, our marriage will be eternal. Our human marriages must picture our marriage to Christ in faithfulness.

Paul also taught, “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife” (I Cor. 7:10-11). Paul explains here that if married people divorce, they must either reconcile with their mate or remain single.

Only two reasons for divorce

First, Jesus gave fornication (prior to marriage) as the grounds for nullifying a marriage. This clearly was a form of fraud. When discovered (in nearly all cases) immediately after marriage, it simply meant God, knowing of this fraud, had actually not bound the marriage—and what followed therefore was actually an annulment, not a divorce.

However this did not apply in cases of marriages by unconverted people. God never bound them anyway—they were bound by man’s law, and any divorce and/or remarriage would be according to man’s civil law. But the church would not apply this annulment if the couple had continued living together for a period of time. There could be other types of fraud—such as marriage enforced at the point of a gun.

The second cause for divorce is based on 1 Corinthians 7. Paul there speaks, verses 8-9, to the unmarried and widows. In verses 10-11 he speaks to the married. Beginning verse 12 he speaks to “the rest.” If a converted man has a wife…if she be pleased to live with him, he must not divorce her—he has no grounds for divorce and remarriage.

Likewise the woman in God’s Church, if she has an unbelieving husband, and he is willing to live with her despite her religion, she shall not leave him (verse 13).

But if the unbelieving one leaves—cuts off the marriage because of the Church member’s religion—let him or her depart. Now notice this! The believing Church member is not given grounds for breaking off the marriage. It is only IF the unbelieving one leaves—severs the marriage relationship—then and only then is the believer (Church member) no longer bound and free to obtain a divorce (verse 15).

This could occur in at least two ways. 1) The believing Church member has been newly converted, and the mate refuses to live with him or her because of the religion. 2) Both had been in the Church, but one falls away, turns bitter against the Church, refuses to live as husband or wife with the still loyal member. In this case the embittered one, leaving the Church, has become an unbeliever.

We must take special note of several facts:

“Fornication” or premarital sex is grounds for annulment, not divorce. With this understanding the only cases for allowable divorce and remarriage within God’s Church are: the case of an unconverted mate departing the marriage over religion; or the case of a member becoming an unbeliever and then departing the marriage. The converted mate is then free to remarry, but only within God’s Church. Why? See II Cor. 6:14:

“Do not keep company with those who have not faith: for what is there in common between righteousness and evil, or between light and dark?”

Believers should not marry unbelievers, as this scripture shows. it creates confusion and disharmony.

We must remember that God hates “putting away.” If a Christian is already married to an unbelieving mate who is please to dwell with him, it would be a grave sin for a that member to manipulate an unconcerted mate to leave a marriage. Living with an unconcerted mate can be difficult at times, even if that mate is kind and supportive. But that is not a valid reason for “pushing” that mate out of a marriage.

Again, we must look at marriage to an unconverted mate from God’s perspective:

Now Paul gives an important reason for the converted mate continuing in the marriage, IF the unbelieving one is willing. Notice I Corinthians 7:14: “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now they are holy.”

To thoroughly understand this we need to go clear back to Adam and Eve. When God drove them out of the Garden of Eden, and with sword-flaming angels barred anyone from going back in—or having access to the tree of life (the Holy Spirit)—God said, in effect:

“You have made your decision. You have rebelled against me, denied me as your God, your Revealer of knowledge, your Ruler. Therefore I sentence you and the World that shall be born from you to 6,000 years of being CUT OFF from me—except for the VERY FEW I shall specially call into my service to prepare for the Kingdom of God.”

Jesus confirmed this when He said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44).

Now the nation of ancient Israel was specially called by God the Father for a special purpose—even though they were still cut off from receiving the Holy Spirit.

But the unconverted mate is put in a special category—not called necessarily to receiving the Holy Spirit or spiritual conversion—but simply NOT CUT OFF from God. They are free to seek God, if they will, and to become converted. They are placed in a special category, neither converted, or CALLED for God’s special duty in conversion—but, on the other hand, NOT actually CUTOFF—not in the category Jesus spoke of, saying no such unbeliever CAN come to Jesus, except by special call to salvation by God the Father. They are free to seek God and to seek conversion IF THEY WILL—not CUT OFF!…

If the husband or wife who is IN the Church divorces the unbelieving nonmember who is willing to continue the marriage, that Church member puts the unconcerted mate in the CUTOFF category—whereas such nonmember mate might have been saved for eternal life in God’s Kingdom.

We must never forget that the only way to fully understand the Bible on the issue of divorce and remarriage is by seeking God’s will.

Christ will soon marry again. Only this time He will marry a repentant, forgiven, sinless “spiritual Israel.” This is the New Testament Church soon to enter the Kingdom of God. Read Revelation 19:7: “The marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready.”

Sources:

  1. Why Marriage! Soon Obsolete? by Herbert W Armstrong
  2. WCG Pastor General’s Report, 1980, Herbert W Armstrong

September 15, 2009

Is It True Homosexuals Are "Born" That Way?

How do human sexual emotions develop? Why do certain youths develop into homosexuals or transvestites? You may be in for a surprise — or a shock! It does not automatically happen that a young man and woman become sexually attracted to each other. Nor does it automatically happen that they want to deeply love, cherish, marry and protect one another. These emotions or desires are not all inherited or innate in the human constitution.

Not Inborn

Heterosexuality — sexual desire toward a member of the opposite sex — is not altogether inborn. Nor is homosexuality — sexual desire toward a member of one’s own sex. Nor, for that matter, are other sexual feelings or fears about sex.
Human beings are not born with an inherited sexual orientation or sexual instinct that drives them irrevocably in a certain direction.

There is a reason why many homosexuals assume they were “born that way”; why they assume their sexual attractions and emotions are as natural to them as the color of their eyes. Genetics and hormones play a part in developing human sexuality, but not in the way many think. And individual responses to cultural, parental and personal experiences play a very big part in molding human sexual feelings. But, in addition, there is critical knowledge beyond biology and cultural studies that is missing in modern education about human sexual and emotional development.

Scientific sex research is late on the scene. It began just after the middle of the 19th century. Sex researchers have indeed gained certain knowledge and understanding about genetics, hormones and environment and their combined effect on shaping human sexuality. Yet, “the impetus behind the homosexual urge contained in the male bond remains unexplained,” writes psychologist C.A. Tripp in summarizing such research in his book: “The Homosexual Matrix,” page 53. But the missing impetus is explained in the pages of your Bible!

Humanity through the ages has rejected essential knowledge from the Creator. Researchers, rejecting revealed knowledge, are looking for answers to damaging human problems — sexual and otherwise — only by their own limited physical tools of discovery and reasoning. They look for answers in the physical makeup of the human body or brain when the major problem is a spiritual matter — a problem in the spiritual attitude, motivation and desires of individuals.

Researchers have developed theories to explain individual human sexual feelings, problems and motivations without understanding the true nature of human nature. We must understand this first. Then we can rightly use the added demonstrable discoveries of human sexual research.

Why has humanity been plagued with so many sexual problems? Why sexual fears and phobias? Why so many unhappy intimate marital relationships? Why so many damaging feelings among human beings and between the sexes?

The Great Deceiver

Since the beginning of time, Satan has worked in human cultures to pervert attitudes, emotions and relationships. He implants selfish moods and attitudes which humans believe are only inborn feelings. Some human minds, during early childhood, have allowed and accepted wrong moods or feelings of attraction to the same sex. This process starts so early in some that many homosexuals and lesbians think these are totally inborn human feelings.

Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden of Eden and from contact with God’s Spirit. Ever since, humanity, as a whole, has been cut off from God’s Spirit, which would have guided them in the right ways of living and to life itself.
Mankind was given 6,000 years to develop societies under Satan’s sway and experience the results. The terrible results are recorded in the Bible, and, frequently, secular history. Genesis, the introductory book of the Bible, alone records the experience and tragic consequences of almost every type of wrong human and sexual act — as a warning to humanity in all generations. But much of humanity has refused to learn. Human beings today are merely repeating these ugly experiences of previous generations — though we like to think of many of them as new.

Through the ages God has called a few people to walk in his ways. God gave his laws and inspired the Bible (II Tim. 3:16) so mankind would not be totally without knowledge of the way they should live. So they could, if they wanted to understand, find the cause of human problems.

Most humans though have rejected such knowledge. They have failed to heed the instruction of revealed knowledge from their Creator. Many educated don’t believe there are fallen spirit beings influencing and deceiving all humanity (Rev. 12:9); they don’t believe that Satan is the unseen ruler and god of this world (II Cor. 4:4).

But the apostle Paul revealed, contrary to the enlightened education of this world, how Satan injects his wrong attitudes, desires and emotions into unwary minds:

“Wherein in time past ye [now converted Christians] walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.”

With what results? “… [fulfilling] the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind” (Eph. 2:2-3). There are no inborn limits or controls to what the human mind can entertain but that which an individual learns or chooses to restrain.

Here are the damaging moods, desires and attitudes produced by Satan’s “get” way in those who yield to them: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest … Adultery, fornication [sexual immorality], uncleanness [any physical, moral or sexual uncleanness], lasciviousness, idolatry … hatred … strife … envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like (Gal. 5:19-21).

Satan and his host inspire attitudes of rebellion, selfishness and lust in human beings. They can insinuate wrong thoughts and desires in minds that are vulnerable to them, even those of young children. But not everyone is equally vulnerable. How any one person responds to various thoughts or emotions depends upon his culture, upon his upbringing and experiences, upon his learning and internalized values, upon the strength of character. In short, the direction of an individual’s sexual feelings and values depends upon what thoughts and emotions are allowed in his mind and developed from infancy on.

How Sexual Sin Enters

Humans are born with sexual emotional capacity. If wrong and damaging emotional and sexual feelings take root in human minds, it is because humans allow and do not resist them. Perhaps they don’t realize they should. Perhaps they choose not to resist when they could. Perhaps certain temperamental or emotional weaknesses may make some more vulnerable to certain sexual temptations than others. Some wrong experiences leave deep impressions. Other misleading emotions, feelings and desires, repeated enough, become deeply learned and conditioned in the human mind.

“Habits are at first cobwebs, then cables,” goes an old Spanish proverb. Satan well understands this deep conditioning in human minds and emotions. He works to thwart God’s purpose through them. Though many deny it, all humans have been deceived (Rev. 12:9). All become, in one way or another, the slaves of various deceptive sins, pleasures and feelings (John 8:34; Heb. 3:13). They can’t shake or escape them all on their own power.

It takes strong spiritual power from God, as well as high human motivation and effort, to break the damaging cables of wrong thinking and feeling and then learn the right thinking and emotions revealed in the law of God. A person’s most important sex organ is his or her brain!

If a person is properly guided in youth by proper role models, example and teaching, he or she will come to respect and desire to adopt the correct sexual identity. Each will develop respect and love of the opposite sex and develop a right heterosexual desire. Each will also prepare to serve and love, in a right way, other human beings of all ages.
But sex education and emotional feelings are not primarily learned by formal instruction. Sex education and emotional feelings about sex automatically start from infancy with the way parents and other influential persons treat others of their own and the opposite sex, and how they treat children. Additional verbal or formal instruction merely reinforces learning.

Wrong sexual feelings develop not only out of a wrong culture but also out of ignorance. Many parents have failed to teach their children age-appropriate knowledge about sex. Hush-hush about sex in homes has reaped a fearsome price. Many young people are not taught any right and wholesome attitudes about sex. They are taught no right standards of sexual conduct. They are not taught that certain sexual practices are wrong or damaging and why they are to be avoided. They may have had improper examples of what it means to be a loving, caring male or female. All this may distort a young person’s view of sex and right relationships with one’s own and the opposite sex.

The seedbeds of unfortunate emotional or sexual feelings may be laid in the earliest years of life. Many young persons do not understand their feelings and emotions because they lack proper association or communication with understanding or concerned parents who could help to evaluate their feelings. Without the proper parental example of love, concern and guidance, wrong or misguided affectional feelings toward others can begin to stir sexual feelings and start a wrong pattern of association in the mind.

Millions of individuals simply follow peer practices or any exciting erotic emotion or thought that crosses their minds. They seem “natural.” But what they may not realize is that wrong thoughts and feelings (adulterous, homosexual or otherwise immoral) can be learned not only from others, but from their own uncontrolled thoughts — and these thoughts are not always natural, but can be injected into their minds unknowingly by an evil spiritual source — by Satan or his demons.

Individuals may have allowed themselves to respond to such emotions or patterns so early in life that they become a “natural” part of the way they have always felt. They look back on their life and conclude they must have been “born that way.”

Misguided Choosing

Humans seek excitement — something to fill the void, emptiness or loneliness of their lives. What they need is a sense of worth to themselves and others. WheneWrong Sexual Feelings, ver wrong sexual or emotional seeds are allowed and cultivated in an attempt to fulfill these needs, they will grow — in youth or even after one is married. Scripture warns us, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7).

To some, extramarital involvement or homosexual thoughts or acts (a person may not even realize what they are) seem a way to find affection, gain attention, recognition, security or money. Maybe they seem a way of proving sexual prowess or masculinity. Maybe they seem the only option available, given one’s lack of confidence or misled desires, feelings or fears about the opposite sex.

One wrong thought, uncontrolled or accepted, leads to still more. Maybe a person doesn’t know he should resist temptation. Maybe he doesn’t care. Minds that feed on wrong emotional or erotic thoughts in various fantasies will eventually have them ingrained as desires and emotions. Too many cop out and totally blame others for their problems and emotions in life.

One’s society or culture may be partly to blame. Parents may or may not have set a right example in their relationships and teaching. Satan may have tempted. But individuals also repeatedly allow themselves to respond to wrong ways of living and thinking.

Godly Sexuality

God is very concerned about the cultural and family environments of human beings. Family and environment are where the foundations of human relationships and sexual feelings, values and ideas are established. A variety of forces in the world is trying to change the concept of family life and the social learning environment so that any sexual experience becomes acceptable.

God’s laws and awesome purpose for human beings still stand. Sin — the breaking of God’s law (I John 3:4) — damages, arrests, limits or prevents full human maturity and godly development. It restricts the proper development of values, outlook and goals in life.

Sin, and sexual sin in particular, distorts wholesome feelings to one’s own and the opposite sex. It subtly destroys health and minds. It works to destroy respect, appreciation and ability to successfully experience the God-ordained family unit. It undermines the proper example and teaching that adults should be giving to children and future generations.

Wrong sexuality opens the door to rapid degeneration and physical and spiritual disease of the human body, mind and spirit. The end results are greater and greater social evils. Only if humans follow God’s revealed laws about right relationships to God and between the sexes can true happiness, fulfillment and social stability be achieved.

The Real World of Sexuality

Many unfortunate human sexual and emotional feelings exist — some too obscene to describe (Eph. 5:12). All these warn us of the great varieties of sexual/emotional conditioning that can happen to improperly controlled minds and lives.

The majority of males in most cultures are heterosexually oriented. But even heterosexuals allow their minds and sexual feelings to be diverted by wrong desires. Some heterosexuals develop a degree of homosexual interest (some feelings of bisexuality). Heterosexual males with effeminate (female) mannerisms also exist.

Feminine heterosexual females again are the majority. But there are also masculine-mannered females. The latter, however, may still be heterosexual and maternal in interests.

There are many masculine-appearing (even super-masculine) male homosexuals and, at the other extreme, effeminate (or “swish” type) male homosexuals. There are all degrees in between. The effeminate type are usually only a small proportion of male homosexuals but, because they are more noticeable, are often erroneously stereotyped to represent the whole.

Female homosexuals (lesbians) are often typically feminine in outward appearance and manner. Others are very mannish (“butch” or “dyke”). There are all degrees between these appearances and mannerisms. In modern cultures, not all homosexuals are readily discernible from heterosexuals by outward appearances.

There are as many variances in appearances, shape, personality, temperament, preferences in attractions and professions among homosexuals as among heterosexuals. The vast majority of homosexuals of both sexes clearly identify themselves with their gender, but prefer their own sex sexually.

Other Unfortunate Conditioning

Transvestites are persons who cross-dress on various occasions. Research indicates most of these persons are males with heterosexual inclinations, although some have homosexual interests. The majority of transvestite males identify themselves as males but have learned to get an erotic or emotional kick out of wearing items of clothing of the opposite sex, or in passing as a member of the opposite sex. Some can function sexually only after doing so.

This distorted emotional condition can often be traced back to early repeated cross-dressing by parents, siblings or by the person himself at some time. Such dressing began to produce exciting emotional or sexual responses that were repeated and cultivated.

God commanded the law of Deuteronomy 22:5 to prevent such distorted emotions: “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.”

The law of Deuteronomy 22:5 also is intended to discourage another human distortion: transsexuality – males or females who feel they have the mind and emotions of the opposite sex and are trapped in the wrong physical body. Often such feelings have been traced back to very early childhood upbringing that deprecated or ignored the child’s true sex or caused them to experience or value only the feelings and emotions of the opposite sex.

Effeminate mannerisms in males may be due to rearing in a totally, or nearly exclusive female environment. Maybe a male wasn’t allowed or encouraged to identify with a male and male outlook and thinking. The person picked up certain female ways of acting or feeling about things.

Effeminate mannerisms may also be a way of portraying non-aggressiveness or reveal that the male does not want to be treated or threatened as an ordinary male may be. Many of these males still have heterosexual interests.

Effeminacy is harmful because it damages a male’s proper leadership and thinking in a family unit. The learning and conditioning of human sexual interests and emotional feelings are strong. So strong, in fact, that a person assigned the wrong sex at birth for some sex organ abnormality and then raised as a person of that assigned sex, readily develops the expected heterosexual interests for that sex even though his or her true genetics and hormone levels are of the opposite sex. These rare occurrences are sometimes not discovered until puberty changes force the true sex to appear.

The book:  “Sexuality and Homosexuality — A New View” by Arno Karlen, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York, contains other backgrounds and causes of damaging sexuality.

Sexuality Not Private

Human sexuality is more than one’s gender or a sexual act. It is not just a private matter as so many want others to believe. Human sexuality is a total way of thinking, acting and feeling. One’s sexuality affects the way one responds to his or her own and the opposite sex, to marriage, to the family experience and to every aspect of life. That’s why sex has so much impact on human lives and culture. It’s the reason why the Creator commands men and women to develop it rightly.

Source: The Plain Truth, July/August 1984

June 18, 2009

The Apostle Paul: Commandment Breaker Or Keeper?

www.art.com/MILLIONS of professing Christians assume Paul taught Christians to disobey the Ten Commandments. If you keep the Law of God, it is claimed, you are under a curse! You probably have heard this teaching from childhood and have assumed it to be true.

To be sure, many have sincerely thought and assumed that this is New Testament teaching. But God commands us to quit assuming — to “prove all things …” (I Thess. 5:21).

Does it make any difference to God whether you obey Him?

How to Begin

Some of what Paul wrote is admittedly difficult to understand. Peter was inspired to say that Paul wrote “some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable WREST, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (II Pet. 3:16).

But on the other hand, Paul also wrote much which is clear, plain and EASY to understand. In those passages it would be impossible to misunderstand what he is saying.  The logical way to understand Paul’s teachings about the Ten Commandments is to go first to his plain, clear, straightforward statements on this subject. Only when we first understand these, are we ready to intelligently study Paul’s more difficult passages.

However, because the natural mind of man has a built-in hostility toward God and His Ten Commandment Law (Rom. 8:7), men don’t follow this logical approach. Instead of understanding Paul’s difficult statements in the light of his PLAIN, CLEAR, easy-to-understand words, many do just the opposite. They totally discard, reject and IGNORE Paul’s direct, straightforward, UNMISTAKABLE statements about the Ten Commandments. They then twist and distort his more difficult-to-be-understood statements.

What Paul Clearly Taught

Now what are some of Paul’s clear statements about the Ten Commandments? One such statement is found in I Corinthians 6:9-10. Here Paul warns: “Be not deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers… nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

In this one short passage the Apostle Paul names the breaking of FOUR of the Ten Commandments — idolatry, adultery, stealing and coveting — and dogmatically states that any found guilty of breaking these commandments will not inherit God’s Kingdom! And he warns us not to deceive ourselves by thinking otherwise!

Notice another unmistakably clear and easy-to-understand passage: “Now the works of the flesh … are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry… wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21).

This passage repeats two commandments — those pertaining to adultery and idolatry — and adds one more — the command against murder.

This makes a total of FIVE commandments which Paul has specifically and unequivocally stated Christians must keep if they are to inherit or enter God’s Kingdom. And since idolatry, which is mentioned in both of these passages, automatically breaks the first commandment, which is “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3), Paul has actually commanded obedience to six of the Ten Commandments in just two short passages!

Now turn to Colossians 3:5-9. This passage reads: “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of DISOBEDIENCE… But now ye also PUT OFF ALL THESE: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. LIE NOT one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds.”

This scripture names and condemns disobedience to two more of the Ten Commandments — bearing false witness, or lying, and taking God’s name in vain through blasphemy and filthy talk. (See also Ephesians 4:29.)

Next open your Bible to Ephesians 6:1-2. Here we read, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise.” This is a direct quote from the commandment in Exodus 20:12. Yet here Paul explicitly COMMANDS Christians to obey it!

This makes a total of NINE commandments which Paul has distinctly and separately named as being binding on Christians. Only the Sabbath command is left. Let’s see what Paul taught about it.

Paul and the Fourth Commandment

Every argument imaginable has been advanced against the command to keep holy the day God made holy (Ex. 20:8). Some want to use time as they please. They don’t want God telling them what to do! Some hate this command more than any other, it seems. It is the “test commandment” to show who God’s people really are.

Did Paul obey this commandment? Did he personally keep the day God made holy — and did he teach others to obey it? Let’s not just guess or assume. Let’s examine the Scriptures and “prove all things.”

In Acts 13 we have the account of Paul and Barnabas coming to Antioch in Pisidia. There they “went into the synagogue ON THE SABBATH DAY, and sat down. And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on” (Acts 13:14-15).

Then Paul stood up and spoke, preaching Christ to them.

“And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the GENTILES besought that these words might be preached to them THE NEXT SABBATH” (verse 42).

Now since Paul was preaching “the grace of God” (verse 43), here was his opportunity to straighten out these Gentiles. Notice what Paul did.

“And the NEXT SABBATH DAY came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God” (verse 44). Here Paul waited a whole week in order to preach to the Gentiles upon the day God made holy!

But this is not the only passage showing that Paul obeyed this commandment. In Acts 18:1-11 there is the account of Paul living with Aquila and Priscilla for one and one-half years (verse 11). During this time we read that he “reasoned in the synagogue EVERY SABBATH, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks” (verse 4).

Notice it! This New Testament passage tells us that Paul labored the six working days and taught in the synagogue every Sabbath for one and one-half years!

Likewise in Acts 17:2, Paul “as his manner was, went in unto them, and three SABBATH DAYS reasoned with them out of the scriptures.” It was Paul’s MANNER — his CUSTOM — to keep God’s day holy. Did he follow Christ in this? Certainly! Jesus, “as his custom was… went into the synagogue ON THE SABBATH DAY” (Luke 4:16).

It was Christ’s custom to keep the Sabbath. Paul followed Christ and he commands Christians: “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (I Cor. 11:1). Paul kept the fourth commandment and he commands Christians to follow him in this regard.

For a final clincher of this fact, turn to Hebrews 4:9. Here, according to the original inspired Greek, Paul makes the direct statement, “There remaineth therefore a sabbath observance to the people of God.”

This passage is obscured in the King James Version which reads, “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.” But the word translated “rest” comes from the Greek word sabbatismos and, as the marginal readings in many Bibles show, means “keeping of the Sabbath observance.” Because the King James translators didn’t believe this verse meant what it said, they translated sabbatismos by the obscure word “rest.”

This verse, then, tells us point-blank that those who really are God’s people will be keeping holy the day He made holy.

What Will YOU Do?

The evidence is overwhelming! Paul personally kept ALL TEN of God’s Ten Commandments. In doing this he followed in the steps of Jesus Christ. This is why Paul could say, “Be ye followers [imitators] of me, even as I also am of Christ.”
Christ taught obedience to the Law. In John 15:10 Jesus said, “I have kept my Father’s commandments….” He says to His true followers, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love.”

The question for us today is: Are WE willing to follow Christ, too? If we, like Paul, are crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20) and Christ lives His life in us by His Spirit, Christ IN us will still keep God’s Ten Commandments, for He is the SAME, yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

There are hundreds of additional New Testament passages covering obedience to God and His Law, both from the writings of Paul and others. We have, however, given sufficient information to prove conclusively and beyond a shadow of a doubt that Paul DID teach obedience to the Ten Commandments.

Don’t be deceived by those who teach disobedience! Many who hate God’s Law are very skillful at putting a clever twist on certain of Paul’s more difficult passages to make it appear that the Ten Commandments are “done away.”

Heed Peter’s warning! Don’t be deceived!

Source: Tomorrow’s World, January 1972

June 8, 2009

Do Nicolaitians Have A Connection To Santa Claus?

“Nicolaitan” means “a follower of Nicolas.” It comes from two Greek words — “nikos” and “laos”. “Nikos” means “conqueror” or “destroyer,” and “laos” means “people.” The original Nicolas was a conqueror or destroyer of the people! That was Nimrod — the original archrebel, who conquered the people and founded a man-made civilization within two centuries after the Flood!

While he was alive, Nimrod put himself in the place of God. When he died, his admirers continued to WORSHIP him as a divine hero. They called him “Baal,” a name found throughout the Old Testament, meaning “master” or “lord.”

Nimrod also had other names. One, commonly used throughout Asia Minor, was “Santa.” (See “Lempriere’s Classical Dictionary”). “Santa Claus” is but a shortened form of “Santa Nicholas” or “Saint Nicholas.”

Many unknowingly honor this Nicholas even in our day by by observing customs associated with December 25th. Christmas originally was the “Saturnalia” or birthday of Nimrod. Of course, these customs handed down from ancient paganism have been renamed and made to appear innocent and good!

Nicolaitans in modern times

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says:

  • nik-o-la’-i-tanz Nikolaitai: – The Sect: A sect or party of evil influence in early Christianity, especially in the 7 churches of Asia. Their doctrine was similar to that of Balaam, “who taught Balak to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication” (Re 2:14,15). Their practices were strongly condemned by John, who praised the church in Ephesus for “hating their works” (Re 2:6), and blamed the church in Pergamum for accepting in some measure their teaching (Re 2:15). Except that reference is probably made to their influence in the church at Thyatira also, where their leader was “the woman Jezebel, who calleth herself a prophetess” (Re 2:20; compare 2:14), no further direct information regarding them is given in Scripture. The Nicolaitians were one of the heretical sects that plagued the churches at Ephesus and at Pergamum, and perhaps elsewhere.

Irenaeus identifies the Nicolaitans as a Gnostic sect:

“John, the disciple of the Lord, preaches this faith (the deity of Christ), and seeks, by the proclamation of the Gospel, to remove that error which by Cerinthus had been disseminated among men, and a long time previously by those termed Nicolaitans, who are an offset of that “knowledge” falsely so called, that he might confound them, and persuade them that there is but one God, who made all things by His Word” (see Irenaeus Against Heresies iii 11.  1; ANF vol. 1, p. 426) There is also historical evidence of a Gnostic sect called Nitolaitans a century or so later.

The doctrine of the Nicolaitans appears to have been a form of antinomianism: a belief that is based upon a recognition of the mercy of God as the ground of salvation. However, it goes astray in the mistake that man can freely partake in sin because the Law of God is no longer binding. It held the truth on the gratuitous reckoning of righteousness; but supposed that a mere intellectual “belief” in this truth had a saving power.

James 2:19 refutes this error:

“The devils also believe, and tremble”; reminding us that belief of and by itself is not enough for salvation, especially when held to the light of James 2:20, which says: “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”

No one will argue that salvation is a free gift, based upon God’s grace alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). but from there we have to go on and do something, as the very next verse admonishes us.  “We are created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10).  The faith of God produces action; leading to a desire for holiness and obedience. (1 John 3:18, Titus 2:11-15, 1 Peter 1:15-16, Revelation 14:12)

There are certain religions  today which still teach the heretical doctrine of holding to the freedom of the flesh and sin, and teaching that the deeds of the flesh have no effect upon salvation. But is this biblical?

The Bible teaches that Christians are supposed to “die” to sin and the deeds of our “flesh”: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:1-2)  “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” (Romans 6:11-13)

Today, the doctrine is now largely taught that the gospel of Christ has made God’s law of no effect: that by “believing” we are released from the necessity of being doers of the Word. But this is the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which Christ so unsparingly condemned in the book of Revelation.  “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” (James 1:22)

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